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Here’s a story you may not be hearing about anytime soon on KPFK — Pacifica, the nonprofit foundation that runs 90.7 FM in L.A., as well as four other progressive radio stations around the country, has retained a high-powered labor-bashing firm. Jackson Lewis LLC, described by the AFL-CIO as “America’s number one union-buster,” is on the Pacifica payroll. “All we do is work,” its site announces – right next to its “Union Free” portal.
Those with long memories of past internecine battles at Pacifica will hardly be surprised to hear about the latest turn of events. This, of course, makes it no less depressing. At a time when right-wing forces are waging war against the rights of American workers to be represented by a union, now is certainly not the time for Pacifica to side with labor’s antagonists.
I am an office assistant at the Venice Beach Care Center, a medical cannabis dispensary. I’m also a student at Santa Monica College studying kinesiology. I love my job because it gives me a chance to give back and make a difference — some people who live in pain have chosen an alternative way of healing to manage their sickness, and we are here for them. My job also gives me a chance to interact with people, sharpen my communications skills and develop compassion for patients who need our help.
Every day I wake up and realize I’m a part of something new and historical — and I hope that people’s views of the medical cannabis industry and of employees like myself are changing. Just like other American workers, I dream of a better life for myself — the future I create starts here today, small and local.
Working at the dispensary has made it possible for me to put myself through school and help support my mom.
The federation eloquently and accurately inveighs against “excessive corporate influence” in the political process, calling for “greater balance . . . transparency and disclosure . . . restoring Congress’ ability to regulate campaign spending,” and “abolishing corporate ‘personhood.’” If necessary, the AFL states, we should pass a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. To be sure, all of these things are true: Citizens United is bad for democracy in general, and especially bad for labor, as it makes the political playing field further unbalanced in favor of corporations and the wealthy.
In the spirit of full accounting, though, let’s acknowledge that the ruling does give labor something: For the first time in the modern history of a presidential race,
Anyone involved in the United Farm Workers campaigns of the 1960s and ’70s will tell you how critical those efforts were – not only to the well-being of farmworkers, but to the participant’s identity and the development of his or her views on labor and the world.
Many activists, like myself, were not vineyard or orchid pickers, but merely college students who helped organize local boycotts and picket lines far from the state’s embattled valleys. Yet even we sometimes glimpsed first-hand the epic human struggles that were transforming California’s agriculture, as I did during a brief summer stint in the 1973 grape strike outside Fresno.
To this day sense impressions remain vivid: The stifling 104-degree heat of the picket lines; the revivifying cold of the Kings River at night; the sweet sound of Superior Court Judge Peckinpah (Wild Bunch director Sam’s brother) ordering the release of thousands of farm workers from jail after they’d been arrested for protesting;