Verizon Strikers — and Honkers
I went to the Newark Museum to see the "Ajiaco" show (see post for tomorrow, August 11th) before it closes this Sunday, then walked to NJPAC to see the setup for tonite's "Sounds of the City" concert.* Along the way, on the far side of Washington Park from the Museum, I saw these strikers outside the Verizon Building.
There was noplace to take a foto that would include the entire group except from the west side of Broad Street, so I had to time my shots to exclude traffic.
I realized within a minute or two that some drivers honked their horn in support as they passed. So I decided to take a little video to try to capture that. Unfortunately, the only time anyone would be honking is when traffic was passing, and I was on the far side of Broad Street, so traffic got in the way.
Not everyone honked, of course, but many did, mostly — and I don't know why — in northbound traffic, on the far side in the video. Part of the problem may be that the strikers did not set up, as they should have, large signs at the corner of both ends of their demonstration to say something like this:
VERIZON STRIKE PICKET LINE:
HONK IF YOU SUPPORT US!
As it was, the only way people would know they were about to pass a picket line is if they knew that in advance, as from the news or having passed in the morning. If they merely chanced across the strikers, they could honk only if they realized quickly what they were seeing. Some drivers didn't honk until they were nearly past the picket line. A fair number of cars passing by on the side of the street by the picket line (east side) honked. Few passing by on the side of Broad Street away from the building honked, tho some bus drivers did. Was it just position that explains the different levels of response?
The traffic nearer the strikers was heading north, from Downtown. The traffic farther away was heading south, into Downtown. Did that have anything to do with the difference in honk-support? If so, why so?
I crossed Broad Street and asked a striker who was holding both a sign and a union flag if this is the headquarters of Verizon, and he said no, that's in Manhattan, on West Street. I said something like, "At least you're doing something", and he said 'Thanks for your support.' I wasn't in my car, but I'd have honked.
The video below, 52 seconds in length, captures the energy of the strikers — how long did they keep that going? — and the support of passing drivers. I have to say, I was pretty proud of being a New Jerseyan.
I have been participating in online comments areas at Huffington Post/AOL recently (5,979 comments since May, using my "Fanetiks" ID, all of them viewable at HuffPo) and have been horrified at the massive attack on workers' rights by Radical Rightists whom I call "swarmers", because they swarm every online comments area/readers' forum that deals with any political or economic issue, and leave masses of short, savage, anti-union, anti-Liberal, anti-Obama, antihuman remarks of the most monstrous kinds, in order to mislead people into thinking they constitute majority opinion in the United States. I think there must be a central website and mailing list to alert them as to articles to swarm and talking-points to make, because this has to be organized. It might even be paid.
One hears, largely from the Radical Right swarmers themselves, (seemingly preposterous) accusations that George Soros pays a nickel per post to Liberal commenters, which prompts counter-accusations from Liberals that the Radical Right swarmers are paid a nickel per post by the Koch brothers. I don't know if anybody is paid anything for online comments, but there is a suspicious uniformity in the points made in the horrendous, hate-filled, sociopathic remarks of Radical Right swarmers, and many of their comments are very short, one or two lines, as tho the writers really are paid by the post.
In RadRite hate comments, one of the unions active in the Verizon picket line, the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) is singled out for specially vicious attacks, as corrupting, even buying the Democratic Party at the behest of Soros and other "Socialists", "Marxists", and "Communists". I'm not exaggerating in the slitest. That is the kind of rhetoric that swarmers flood the Internet with, and the racism of the anti-Obama remarks is astonishing in this day and age. If you point out that, for instance, comparing the First Lady to a monkey is racist, they immediately say you are playing the "race card", as tho making racist remarks is fine, but confronting the racists on them is a mindless, hackneyed, and invalid, kneejerk response. These 'people' actually seem to think that readers will believe their craziness. In any case, I am glad the SEIU and IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) are on the picket line standing with Verizon strikers here in Newark.
I then walked to NJPAC and walked around while the bands set up and a DJ played. What should I see, not four blocks from the Verizon picket line, but this Verizon pavilion in the vendors' area!
I walked on and saw that there were in fact TWO Verizon pavilions in the vendors' area! It's sad, really, that there is so little solidarity among working people now. Even if the people staffing these pavilions were private contractors, not Verizon corporate employees, is it really too much to wish that working people would stand with other working people when huge, and hugely prosperous corporations are trying to destroy employee benefits, in order to enrich the already rich corporate managements and major shareholders?
In the immortal words of "Chester A. Reilly", central character of a Forties radio show and Fifties sitcom, "The Life of Riley", "What a revoltin' development this is!" ("Riley" was played, in the bulk of the TV series, by William Bendix. I had never heard the name "Bendix" before, but when we moved to Monmouth County, I saw there was a plant of the now-defunct Bendix Corporation in Eatontown, near Fort Monmouth (which Fort may or may not be closing). The Army Signal Corps, like so much else in the military, has been moved to the South, part of the multi-trillion-dollar transfer of wealth from the North to the South — for which the South is so deeply grateful (that's sarcasm, folks). They even moved the Signal Corps time capsule from NJ to GA. Cue Chester A. Riley again.
* This post speaks to events on Thursday, August 11th. I'm just backfilling a day I skipped till now.