May 1, 2012

  • Labor, immigrant rights groups, Occupy hold events in New York
  • Activists gather at Hershey shareholder meeting in Pennsylvania to draw attention to labor practices
  • Labor rules to protect foreign workers blocked by corporations’ court challenge
  • Protesters in California link immigrant rights and economic justice
  • March in St. Petersburg showcases defense of LGBT rights
  • In Montreal, tuition hikes and lay-offs are focus of protests

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Clashes continue in Bamako after counter-coup try

In Mali,  clashes continue in the capital today after an attempted counter coup last night. FSRN’s Amadou Timbiné reports from Bamako.

Gun fight broke out in Bamako Monday night, following an attempt by forces loyal to the ruling juntato arrest a senior officer of the ex-President’s body guard. Several soldiers and civilians were reportedly killed or wounded. Sporadic gun fire continues downtown today and many residents of the capital say they are extremely worried. Lieutenant Mohamed Issa Ouedrago is a  spokesperson for the junta. “Some ill-intentioned individuals have attacked army barracks, the State TV and the International Airport of Bamako in order to destabilize the process of returning to constitutional rule. Some individuals are now detained by our armed and security forces.” The confrontation comes days after the junta leader, Capt. Amadou Sanogo, rejected a plan by the Economic Community of West African States to send troops to the capital. Their mission is to protect the transitional government, while the north of the country is occupied by rebel groups. The coup leader said Mali’s soldiers do not need foreign intervention to stabilize the country, but they need equipment to fight terrorists and invaders. Amadou Timbiné, FSRN, Bamako.

Hundreds of Caterpillar workers on strike in Illinois

Hundreds of workers at an  Illinois  machinery plant went on strike today after talks between the union and Caterpillar, Incorporated ended yesterday. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers turned down a contract offer that would freeze their pay for the next six years, double their health care costs and do away with pensions. According to a company spokesperson – the offer was competitive.

Nurses strike at 10 California hospitals

And in northern California, nurses at 10 hospitals are back on strike  today – Tina Bachemin reports from Berkeley.

The California Nurses Association has been in contract negotiations for more than a year. The main issues include sick pay, reduced worker benefits and increased health care premiums proposed by Sutter Health Corporation. This is the third time in the past seven months that Sutter nurses have held a one day strike. The hospitals are open with replacement workers. Although the strike is only supposed to be for a single day, the replacement nurses are scheduled to work a minimum of five days. So the hospital chain will lock out the striking nurses until Sunday. During the last action, a patient at one of the Sutter hospitals died as a direct result of substandard care by one of the temporary nurses. Tina Bachemin, FSRN, Berkeley.

20 arrested at 2011 anti Stop-and-Frisk protest in NY court

Twenty people arrested last year while protesting the NYPD’s Stop and Frisk policy are on trial today in  New York’s State Supreme Court. Rebecca Myles reports.

Among the 20 protesters on trial are Dr. Cornel West, Reverend Earl Kooperkamp and social comedian Randy Credico. The group is accused of two counts of disorderly conduct stemming from a protest outside a Harlem police precinct last October. The prosecution claims they blocked the sidewalk. But World Can Wait’s Elaine Brower, one of the protesters on trial, says video evidence proves their innocence. “Each of the defendants are going to take the stand and explain why we are involved with this Stop Stop-and-Frisk group and what we think about this policy.” Yesterday a judge ruled that the protesters could not claim their actions were justified because they were trying to stop an even more serious crime. The New York Police Department says its policy of Stop-and-Frisk has led the city’s record levels of low crime; activists and plaintiffs contend the policy is racist, and unfairly targets blacks and Latinos. New York police stopped and frisked more than 680,000 thousand people last year, 80 percent of them were minorities. Rebecca Myles, FSRN, New York City.

Federal civil rights lawsuits filed against NYPD, J.P. Morgan Chase

A handful of New York City elected officials, reporters and citizen journalists filed legal actions yesterday against local law enforcement authorities, a major bank and a property management company alleging their civil rights were violated during Occupy Wall Street protests last year. Plaintiffs include five New York City Council members who claim the NYPD, the Metropolitan Transit Authority and J.P. Morgan Chase among others robbed them of their rights to free speech and assembly. The suit seeks an independent monitor to oversee the NYPD  and to protect the public’s right to assemble.



Labor, immigrant rights groups, Occupy hold events in New York

Starting off our May Day coverage, we go to New York City where labor and immigrant rights groups collaborated with Occupy Wall Street to organize multiple events with the theme, A Day Without the 99 Percent. The events included a picket, rally, march, student walkout and teach-in and they took place across the city. FSRN’s Jaisal Noor reports.

Activists gather at Hershey shareholder meeting in Pennsylvania to draw attention to labor practices

As protests continued on Wall Street, activists also took the message directly to the communities where corporations operate. In Pennsylvania, activists gathered at the annual shareholders meeting for Hershey Company, drawing attention to what they call unfair labor practices, including child labor in Africa and exploitation of guest workers in the US. For more we go to Mitch Troutman with the National Guestworker Alliance. He took part in the action at Hershey today and he joins us on mobile phone.

Labor rules to protect foreign workers blocked by corporations’ court challenge

Hershey isn’t the only US company accused of exploiting foreign workers. Widespread abuses led to a new set of rules from the Labor Department, which were set to go into effect last month. Labor advocates and law experts say the changes are necessary to give workers basic rights. But a federal judge blocked the rules, after corporations filed a lawsuit saying the new policies would be burdensome. FSRN’s Alice Ollstein has more.

Protesters in California link immigrant rights and economic justice

May Day actions are also taking place across California. In Oakland, a video posted by activists today showed a double line of police in helmets standing in front of Wells Fargo bank as protesters chanted. Also in Oakland, protesters are taking part in Occupy Child Protective Services to raise awareness about the system’s impact on families. A “No Work, No School and No Business Day” is being called for in the Bay Area.  In San Francisco, unionists called off occupying the Golden Gate Bridge, and rallied at the Ferry terminals where workers planned a strike to shut down morning service. In Los Angeles, participants will march from West LA to Downtown. Citizens in Silicon Valley and San Jose are also demonstrating.  After several years of smaller May Day turnouts, organizers are getting more people in the streets by uniting under two causes: economic justice and immigrant rights. FSRN’s Karin Argoud talked to organizers in Santa Rosa, where another rally is taking place.

March in St. Petersburg showcases defense of LGBT rights

Demonstrations also took place in cities across Russia, with the support of trade unions and government leaders. But many were paying close attention to a rally in St. Petersburg where a diverse coalition of groups marched to express their political demands and in solidarity with LGBT activists. FSRN’s Ekaterina Danilova reports.

In Montreal, tuition hikes and lay-offs are focus of protests

Several May Day demonstrations are taking place in Montreal today, including the Anti-Capitalist Convergence demonstration and the annual union march. Striking students are also out in full force, continuing 12 weeks of protests against tuition fee hikes in Quebec. This May Day has increased significance in the province of Quebec. Thousands of workers are affected by the shut-down of aircraft repair company, Aveos Fleet Performance and a lock-out at mining giant, Rio Tinto Alcan. FSRN’s Lillian Boctor talked to organizers and participants about today’s actions in Montreal.

Those were the voices of Marie-Eve Lamy a spokesperson for today’s Anti-Capitalist May Day Demonstration, Jerome Charaoui, a striking student from the Universite de Montreal, and Mostafa Henaway, Community Organizer at the Immigrant Workers Centre.

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