Open Thread: “There Is No Justice, Unless You Make Your Own”

A little uplift for your morning. Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnick explain their latest “short, opinionated documentary” for the NYTImes, “Occupy Bakery”:

We first met Mahoma López, the subject of this Op-Doc video, in April 2012 at a secret meeting in a McDonald’s on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. We’d spent the previous autumn documenting the Occupy Wall Street protests. Mr. López had reached out to the Occupy movement for help with his struggle to improve conditions at his workplace — the original Hot & Crusty bakery and cafe at 63rd Street and Second Avenue. At first he seemed a quiet, humble worker — the kind customers often overlook as they wait in line for sandwiches and coffee. But Mr. López would not be invisible for long…

In the early 20th century, immigrants were at the forefront of the labor movement that helped build our middle class. Today, when the fastest growing job sectors are retail and food preparation, the struggles of low-income workers and their families matter more than ever. Turning these jobs into living-wage jobs while fixing our broken immigration system would lift millions out of poverty and benefit our entire economy by increasing consumption and tax revenue. Mr. López’s story is part of a growing wave of low-wage and immigrant workers organizing across New York City and around the country that has the potential to spark this kind of change.

It’s time we admit it: America runs on the labor of the undocumented. Their struggle for rights, inside and outside the workplace, is an inseparable part of our democratic project.

Well worth the seven minutes, take my word.

12 replies
  1. 1
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    BoBo and Chunky BoBo and MOU and MoDo notwithstanding — when the NYTimes is good, it is very, very good.

    Thank you for linking, Anne Laurie.

  2. 2
    Keith G says:

    Fight…simply fight. Sometimes the fight will be lost, but good still will come of it. And sometimes the fight will be won and important gains are achieved. I think many of the native left have forgotten this. Hope the immigrant left will help us remember.

    Tom Petty was playing in my head as I watched:

    Well I won’t back down, no I won’t back down
    You could stand me up at the gates of hell
    But I won’t back down

    Gonna stand my ground, won’t be turned around
    And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
    Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down

  3. 3
    PurpleGirl says:

    I know that store, although I’ve usually shopped at one of the other locations. That store is a few blocks north of the bus stop for the Q60 bus that I take home.

    Retail and some construction in NYC does depend on low-wages and immigrants (legal or not). One of my grandfathers was a day laborer and always talked about unions. His paisanos always told him “Joe, you have 8 children, you need the work, stop talking unions.” Same as it ever was.

  4. 4
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    There is justice, and then there is just-us. We do have a choice.

  5. 5
    Another Halocene Human says:

    I scrolled too fast past the kitty angel posts on the weekend because I had a lot of problems going on already and couldn’t deal. I went back last night and saw it was THE kitty.

    John, I’m so sorry. You put up a beautiful homage to an unmistakable cat. And what a way to take your grief and turn it into something positive by raising money for the animal shelter. I’m going to have to remember that.

    My crazy bitey cat has wormed her way into my heart entirely. When she gets old and sick I’m going to be gutted. :(

  6. 6
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @PurpleGirl: Back then they used to shoot and imprison union activists.

    Now they just fire your ass. Eh, I’ll take now over then.

  7. 7
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Another Halocene Human: Well, when my grandfather came here from Sicily there were 4 children, and there were 4 more born here. My mother was planted in Sicily and barely made the passage here before being born. And my grandfather lived to 80-something. But his union talking didn’t make life easier for the family.

  8. 8
    Another Halocene Human says:

    Somebody asked the other day how there could be moderate conservatives upset with the verdict when it seems so many liberals supported it.

    Well, liberalism is a coalition, we don’t all agree with each other. Also, some people think it’s better to crow about how “right” they were on their “call” than worry about details like justice how we have a civil society going forward.

    I have been avoiding FB because I didn’t want to know how many MORE of my white coworkers were going to #racefail after this (I was sooooo pissed when the case broke open, oh, and white people around town were starting some shit, it was just horrifying). However, this guy I know who is very funny and also North Florida born and bred, you know, statistically likely to be Dixiecrat/GOP resentment politics dude, confided to me (he knows I’m a Northern agitator) that he is so tired of his partner on his road crew this summer … that he’s been talking about Zimmerman non-stop… and he just doesn’t understand how someone could HATE so much, life is too short. Btw, mr hate radio is from Pennsylvania. That’s just by the way, not a South apology thing, b/c around here there are plenty of racist crackers (Florida (white) natives) for various levels of racist, mildly suspicious to full-blown resentment-hatred. (And some of them have Black blood relatives!! Get over your durn selves already.)

  9. 9
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @PurpleGirl: It’s interesting how different ethnic groups came over with different politics. The IWW was full of Estonians and Finns (according to my reading on the subject) who barely spoke English. They had a coed union too instead of a “women’s auxiliary”. Radical, I know…

    African Americans were very skeptical of unions until the Brotherhood of Sleepingcar Porters won recognition in the 1930s. The CPUSA and CIO were active in the South trying to organize wall-to-wall during the same period (Blacks and whites together). Labor (for example, AFSCME) had close ties to the Civil Rights Movement in the 50s and 60s (SLC, etc) after CPUSA and CIO went away. Blacks born into that era are like unions’ best customers. Millennials, though, don’t seem to know. (I’m shocked how little some of them know about 20th century history. Of course, others surprise me at how educated they are. I guess I naively thought everyone under a certain age would have seen Eyes on the Prize but it’s hit or miss.)

  10. 10
    currants says:

    Thank you, Anne–wonderful to see!

  11. 11
    Trollhattan says:

    McDonalds–WalMart with fries–helpfully advises its workers that to balance the household budget on McDonalds wages, get a second job. Thanks, McDonalds!

  12. 12
    EthylEster says:

    FPer quoted someone saying: America runs on the labor of the undocumented.

    Yes. But most anti-immigration folks would deny that. I don’t know what to do about it.
    My fellow Americans are really pissing me off these days.

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