Posts filed under Take Action

Support needed for The Red & Black in Portland

I just read this note from the Red & Black Cafe’s page on Facebook. If you’re not familiar, the Red & Black is a worker-owned co-operative restaurant in Portland, Oregon. The food’s all vegan; the ingredients are mostly organic, and either locally sourced or Fair Trade. The worker-owners are organized as an IWW shop, and directly manage their own workplace. It’s also an important hub for the anarchist community in Portland, providing a venue for regular talks, films, and other community events. I just sent $50; which is more than I can really afford right now, but the Red & Black, and places like it, matter. A lot. Any mutual aid you can send their way — or anyone you can tell about this situation — will really help. (The website doesn’t seem to have a post about the current situation yet; but you should be able to use the PayPal donation buttons in this post. I just attached a note to the donation asking them to put it to use wherever it would be most helpful.)

From the Red & Black collective, via Facebook:

The Red & Black is in trouble. Our finances have reached a crisis point. This situation has been brewing for many months as our cash flow slowly dried up. To be blunt: we are unable to make our mortgage payment on time and we’ve bounced checks to some of our vendors and staff. A couple of days ago at our collective meeting we contemplated shutting our doors for good.

So what happened? Like many other local restaurants after 4+ years of recession (depression?): we need more business. In this economy many people have less money to eat out. Our situation is compounded by the fact that we have never had anything near a comfortable amount of working capital. We attempted to raise sufficient capital during the fundraising drive we held when we decided to buy our building. While we did raise enough money to make our down payment, we were far from our goal. This left the collective financially vulnerable to the point that a slow month could bankrupt us. . . .

While there are several things we do that don’t make a lot of business sense, financially, they are things we refuse to compromise on. We are welcoming to unhoused folks who often can’t afford to spend money at the cafe. We make most of our food from scratch which is labor intensive and because our ingredients are (mostly) organic, they are more expensive.

We are also much more than just a restaurant. We are a community space; specifically we are a radical, queer-positive safer space; an important hub for many overlapping grassroots political projects, a cop-free zone, an amazing vegan restaurant, a music venue, a hangout and meeting space for Industrial Workers of the World union members, a low income collective household upstairs— the list goes on.

In order to meet this challenge head on we’re making changes that we believe will not only avert catastrophe, but put us on a path of financial sustainability. The most dramatic and immediate change is that we’ve decided to work without pay until we can turn this situation around. This decision is both difficult and easy to make. Difficult because we, as individuals, can’t afford it for long and because we are a closed union shop with the goal of paying ourselves a living wage. But the decision is also easy because the alternative is something none of us want: losing the Red and Black.

So we are fundraising $20,000 in donations, gift certificates and merchandise sales. This amount would not only cover our current obligations, it would mean having an adequate amount of working capital for the first time. We would be able to afford to go back to a paid wage, to purchase adequate equipment, fix the window, and keep the building. This is a crucial time for the Red and Black and we need your help! . . .

Please visit our website www.redandblackcafe.com to donate and Twitter @redandblackcafe for updates on our hours and menu. . . .

Guatemaltecan Trade Union Leader Killed, Others in Danger: FW Luis Ovidio Ortíz Cajas

R.I.P. FW Luis Ovidio Ortíz Cajas, and three bystanders — Bildave Santos Barco, Fredy Leonel Estrada Mazariegos, Oscar Alexander Rodríguez — murdered last week in Guatemala City. From Amnesty International USA:

URGENT ACTION

TRADE UNION LEADER KILLED, OTHERS IN DANGER

A trade union leader was shot dead on 24 March in Guatemala City, together with three other men. He may have been targeted for his trade union activities. Other members of the trade union may be in grave danger.

Luis Ovidio Ortíz Cajas was shot on 24 March at around 8.30pm as he walked to a shop near his home in the capital, Guatemala City. He was a public relations secretary of the Executive Committee of the National Trade Union of Health Workers (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Salud de GuatemalaSNTSG). A group of men were playing cards outside the shop. As Ovidio Ortíz was about to go into the shop, a young man got out of a white sedan car and started shooting at him and the group playing cards, with what a local source said was a 9mm pistol. Another local source said that Ovidio Ortíz was shot about eight times, twice in the head and six times in his upper torso. The other men who died as a result of the attack were: a farmer, Bildave Santos Barco, who was shot twice in the head and died instantly; Fredy Leonel Estrada Mazariegos and Oscar Alexander Rodríguez Lima who died later in hospital. Two other men were wounded.

The trade union of which Ovidio Ortíz was a member has campaigned for many years on issues of corruption in the management of the country’s public health facilities, and in December 2010 filed an official complaint against the previous Minister of Health, accusing him of corruption. On 22 March the trade union’s Executive Committee reached an agreement with the Ministry of Labour regarding seniority-based annual pay rises (bono de antigüedad) for health sector employees.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

Call on the authorities to order an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of Luis Ovidio Ortíz Cajas and the three other men (Bildave Santos Barco, Fredy Leonel Estrada Mazariegos, Oscar Alexander Rodríguez Lima) killed on 24 March, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice;

Urge them to take immediate steps to provide all necessary protection to SNTSG members, in accordance with their wishes;

Remind them that human rights defenders, including trade union leaders, have the right to carry out their activities without any restrictions or fear of reprisals, as set out in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 11 MAY 2012 TO:

Attorney General
Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey
Fiscal General de la República
Ministerio Público
15ª Avenida 15-16, Zona 1, Barrio Gerona
Ciudad de Guatemala,
GUATEMALA

Fax: +502 2411 9210

Twitter : @mpclaudiapaz

Salutation : Estimada Sra. Fiscal General

Minister of the Interior Lic. Mauricio López Bonilla
Ministro de Gobernación
6ª Avenida 13-71, Zona 1,
Ciudad de Guatemala,
GUATEMALA

Fax: +502 2413 8658

Twitter: @mingobguate

Salutation: Dear Minister / Estimado Sr. Ministro

And copies to:

Health workers’ trade union
Sindicato Nacional Trabajadores de la Salud de Guatemala - SNTSG
Email : sindicatodesalud@yahoo.com

. . .

Additional Information

Trade unionists in Guatemala face dangerous conditions due to their work on labour rights.

Byron Arreaga, a member of an administrative workers’ trade union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores Administrativos del Segundo Registro de la Propiedad (Trade Union of Administrative Workers for the Second Property Registrar, SITRASEREPRO) was shot dead in the north-western city of Quetzaltenango, on 13 September 2011. See UA 293/11, AMR 34/013/2011 - : http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR34/013/2011/en

Idar Joel Hernandez Godoy, a finance secretary in the Sindicato de Trabajadores de las Bananeras de Izabal (Trade Union of Banana Workers, SITRABI), was shot several times by individuals riding on a motorcycle on 26 May 2011. Amnesty International called for a thorough and impartial investigation into the killing. See the press release, http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/guatemala-urged-investigated-trade-unionist%E2%80%99s-killing-2011-05-27

Hunger strike at Pelican Bay State Prison

Received this morning in my inbox from a friend involved with Nevada Prison Watch. The solidarity e-mail campaign is from Change.org; the notice about the hunger strike comes from California Prison Focus, a member of Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity.

From: A. Parker
Subject: Please sign the petition to support the demands of the prison hunger strikers in Pelican Bay State Prison, California

Please sign the petition to support the demands of the prison hunger strikers in Pelican Bay State Prison, California, who will start an indefinite hungerstrike on July 1st.

http://www.change.org/petitions/support-prisoners-on-hunger-strike-at-pelican-bay-state-prison

Prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison (California) are going on an indefinite hunger strike as of July 1, 2011 to protest the cruel and inhumane conditions of their imprisonment. The hunger strike was organized by prisoners in an unusual show of racial unity. The hunger strikers developed five core demands. Briefly they are:

  1. Eliminate group punishments. Instead, practice individual accountability. When an individual prisoner breaks a rule, the prison often punishes a whole group of prisoners of the same race. This policy has been applied to keep prisoners in the SHU indefinitely and to make conditions increasingly harsh.

  2. Abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria. Prisoners are accused of being active or inactive participants of prison gangs using false or highly dubious evidence, and are then sent to longterm isolation (SHU). They can escape these tortuous conditions only if they “debrief,” that is, provide information on gang activity. Debriefing produces false information (wrongly landing other prisoners in SHU, in an endless cycle) and can endanger the lives of debriefing prisoners and their families.

  3. Comply with the recommendations of the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons (2006) regarding an end to longterm solitary confinement. This bipartisan commission specifically recommended to make segregation a last resort and end conditions of isolation. Yet as of May 18, 2011, California kept 3,259 prisoners in SHUs and hundreds more in Administrative Segregation waiting for a SHU cell to open up. Some prisoners have been kept in isolation for more than thirty years.

  4. Provide adequate food. Prisoners report unsanitary conditions and small quantities of food that do not conform to prison regulations. There is no accountability or independent quality control of meals.

  5. Expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates. The hunger strikers are pressing for opportunities to engage in self-help treatment, education, religious and other productive activities…. Currently these opportunities are routinely denied, even if the prisoners want to pay for correspondence courses themselves.

    Examples of privileges the prisoners want are: one phone call per week, and permission to have sweatsuits and watch caps. (Often warm clothing is denied, though the cells and exercise cage can be bitterly cold.) All of the privileges mentioned in the demands are already allowed at other SuperMax prisons (in the federal prison system and other states).

For more information and continuing updates, visit http://www.prisons.org/hungerstrike.htm

PETITION LETTER

Grant the 5 Core Demands of the Pelican Bay SHU Hunger Strikers

Dear Warden Lewis, Secretary Cate, and Governor Brown:

We support the prisoners on hunger strike in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) of Pelican Bay State Prison and those in other units joining them. We strongly urge you to grant their five core demands as soon as possible.

[Your name]

Mutual Aid: left-libertarian philosopher Roderick Long vs. the Tax Mafia

This is from Roderick’s blog. I’m sure just about everyone who reads this blog regularly already knows who Roderick is, but for you irregulars out there, he’s a friend and an old teacher of mine, a left-libertarian, Anarchist philosopher and one of the founders of the Alliance of the Libertarian Left, and a swell guy who definitely doesn’t deserve anything like this. Nobody deserves anything like this, but this in particular hurts. So let’s do some mutual aid and go ALL out for a comrade and a friend.

Please pass the word about this to anyone who might be able to help in any amount. (Not many people can chip in $8,000 for random anarchists in distress, but there might be a few hundred people who can chip in $20 in the name of mutual aid, which comes to the same thing.) Also, if you know anyone who might be able to help with the legal situation, please pass the word along.

UPDATE: Read this update on the situation. It looks like it may be the government-cartel Credit Mafia rather than the Tax Mafia that inflicted the levy based on a decades-old bill with no notice or warning. The original document says one thing; the creditor’s attorney now claims another. Either way, Roderick could still use the help.

Request for Emergency Help

I’ve never asked for money on my blog before, but I’ve just been hit with a major financial emergency.

Several months ago, the Alabama Department of Revenue decided I’d underpaid on state taxes from ten years earlier. (I wasn’t aware of having done so, but I don’t have those records any more and so can’t prove otherwise.) After they’d added on interest and late fees, the total due was about $12,000. I submitted a request form to pay it off in installments; they never said yes or no to the request form, but I kept sending in payments and they kept cashing them, which led me to be more sanguine than in retrospect I should have been.

Then suddenly today, without warning or announcement (either from the tax department or from my bank), the tax department completely cleared out my checking account, and my savings account, and my mother’s checking account (I guess because we’re joint on it), leaving me $8000 overdrawn to boot.

I found out the money’d been taken only by checking my balance online today – and I had to go to the bank in person to find out it was a tax levy (the online balance had no information about who’d withdrawn the money).

My college salary doesn’t start up again until September, and I have no relatives from whom to borrow, so here I am with no money (or actually, negative $8000) for food, rent, or bills for the rest of the summer.

I haven’t had a chance to contact either the tax department or a lawyer yet (having spent the afternoon waiting and waiting at my bank), but I’m not exactly optimistic about getting a swift and favourable resolution.

Which is why I am desperately requesting help. If you can help, please let me know whether it’s a gift or a loan, and send either via PayPal:

or to my snailmail address:

Roderick T. Long
402 Martin Ave.
Auburn AL 36849

— Roderick Long, Austro-Athenian Empire (2009-07-21): Request for Emergency Help

UPDATE: Read this update on the situation. It looks like it may be the government-cartel Credit Mafia rather than the Tax Mafia that inflicted the levy based on a decades-old bill with no notice or warning. The original document says one thing; the creditor’s attorney now claims another. Either way, Roderick could still use the help.

Mutual Aid: support Infoshop.org

Received in my inbox a few days ago. I don’t know what their current financial condition is, but these are trying times for all kinds of community projects. Infoshop.org is an invaluable resource for the anarchist community online, and they’ve been working really hard lately on a fundraising drive to to make sure that the project has the base of donations that it needs to keep on running and remain economically sustainable. If you can help, any donation will go a long way towards sustaining anarchist projects online.

From: chuck
Date: 6/11/2009 8:41pm
Subject: Support Infoshop with a donation

We are asking our fans and users to send us a financial donation so we can continue our operations. Recently we’ve gotten several generous donations from supporters. We really appreciate this support. While those donations really help out our project, we are asking our other regular readers to consider donating today or in the near future.

We appreciate the support that many of our users extend to our project in the form of story submissions, comments, promotion and financial donations. Every month, over 100,000 users visit Infoshop News and another 50,000 visit Infoshop and associated websites. This makes Infoshop the most popular English language anarchist website and one of the most popular independent news sites.

We aren’t asking for much. A $20 donation can make a big difference. You can contribute to “AMP” with a donation via PayPal (which takes all credit cards) or by mailing a check or well-concealed cash to our snail mail address:

AMP
PO Box 7171
Shawnee Mission, KS 66207

Online donation options: http://www.infoshop.org/page/Donate

Thanks!

Chuck Munson
for Infoshop.org and Infoshop News