#NJRR​ Live: Community Bargaining, More Than a Contract

Welcome to this Week’s Episode of #NJRR Live!

Welcome to #NJRR Live! Thank you so much for tuning in for our podcast. Revolution Radio is a grassroots network meant to bring platforms to activists fighting for social change. Corporate media wants to distract us from the important things happening in the world. Don’t let that happen! If possible, please help us spread our message by donating. You can even join our Editorial Board for access to a “virtual backstage” for shows and the chance to meet guests and contribute to interviews! Tonight’s guest host could tell you just how great it is to be an editorial board member because she is one.

Tonight, we welcome Kim Meudt to the podcast. Kim is an activist from Bellmawr in Camden County, New Jersey who does work for the Green Party. She has worked in the healthcare field for two decades. Kim comes to us with encouraging news: she has received the COVID-19 vaccine! Kim encourages anyone in the audience who is able to go get their shots because we need 70-80% of the population to get vaccinated before we can return to a semblance of normalcy.

Impeachment Season 2: Bullshit Reloaded

We bring our writer, Leah, in to discuss the second impeachment of Donald Trump. This is the second day of impeachment and the panel so far can agree that it has been a dumpster fire. Brian has been involved in labor litigation before and he can testify that this defense was unprepared because he knows what unprepared looks like. It was obviously a poorly constructed last-minute effort. 

Rather than just working with what they have, Donald Trump’s legal team has built a mountain of bullshit. Some of the people who will vote to equip Trump are the same who were fearing for their lives just a month ago because of the violent insurrection that Trump incited. Why they would still vote in Trump’s favor is beyond Brian. “You need way more therapy than can ever be had by a person.” 

[#NJRR Live February 10th Episode with Brian Powers featuring Leah Giannantonio, Kim Meudt, Kristen from NJ21United, and Richard Moser]

Right-Wing Ridiculousness

It is ludicrous that people would not vote to impeach Trump at this point. Kim reminds us that no matter what happens in this impeachment, Trump is miserable. The PGA tour wants nothing to do with him, many people in the Republican party now longer support him, and now corporations don’t want to donate to senate Republicans. Companies don’t want their products to be associated with him, the screen actors guild kicked him out, and he can’t even complain about it on social media. 

Are you busy this Saturday at 12:00? No? Now you are! Come to our Organizing 101 class taught by Brian, where you can learn about communities of interest, 1 on 1 organizing, surveys, mobilizing, and more. The class is available for anyone interested in learning how to get started organizing, or for more experienced organizers there are opportunities to lead. The lessons can be applied to a wide range of organizing tasks! This video seminar will be approximately 90 minutes and is free of charge to our editorial board members or 20$ for anyone else. Seating is limited to 7 participants to maintain an intimate group so that questions can be heard. Get your ticket now before they sell out!

Tonight’s Panel

Although we have to talk about important issues like the impeachment, that doesn’t mean we like to do it. We now welcome our guests to the panel and shift the discussion from distasteful corporate politics to grassroots organization. One of our guests tonight, Kristen, is a high school teacher and a member of NJ21United. She got her start as a student activist at Rutgers. NJ21United is a coalition of educators and community members who are passionate about public education and workers in New Jersey. 

We are also joined by Richard Moser, an organizer who writes for https://befreedom.co/. He has spent his life in the movement; he was a full-time staff labor organizer for 18 years. Richard spent most of this time in the area of higher education but he also taught high school and has a Ph.D. in History. He has written several historical books. Richard helped inspire Brian to start the revolution radio network about 3 years ago when they met up in a coffee shop and he told Brian that he was happier doing his own thing in life rather than engaging in corporate labor. 

Fighting For Remote Education

Although any parent knows that dropping children off at school can be a relief, the sad reality is that it is just not safe to do so right now.  NJ21United took the lead in pushing to maintain a statewide crisis distance learning model. Governor Murphy was pushing for all of the schools in New Jersey to open up again in person but NJ21 knew this was not the right call for anyone involved. After being pressured by NJ21, Governor Murphy ended up letting individual school districts decide whether to remain open in person. The problem with that is that there is now no consistency in safety protocol between districts. 

Brian laments that we have not been using school buildings as community centers that would be ideal for distributing vaccines and/or testing for the virus. For this to happen, the schools would need to be operating on a remote model. Kristen reports that school staff gets the best response when they approach the community with their needs rather than addressing the local board of education. This is because these boards listen more to the community than they do to teachers. At the end of the day, boards of education will cater to those whose tax money is paying their salaries. According to Kristen, engaging with the community often means organizing by branching out to communicate needs. 

Labor Organizing

Brian asks Richard about an article he wrote recently for https://befreedom.co/ regarding the power of the labor movement. Richard states that strike and threat of strike are two of the most powerful tools that workers that are being mistreated have against their employers. One mistake that some unions make, says Richard, is not asking for enough concessions. 

Often, union members are hesitant because they don’t want to be too demanding. However, advises Richard, this is not the most effective bargaining technique. When strike or threat of strike can become involved, it’s advisable to make a big ask of your boss and then press the advantage. A fatal mistake workers make is to concede before the negotiations have even started asking. 

Illegal But Not Impossible

Kristen asks Richard for advice about what kind of actions NJ21United might take since teachers striking is illegal in New Jersey. Richard explains that strike should not usually be the very first tactic used. For example, teachers might engage in a sickout protest. There are many tricky workarounds that are basically still strikes without technically being strikes.

The best way to stay connected to NJ21United is through their Facebook page, where they post what they’re up to, including paid seminars for teachers. Richard also has a Facebook and continues to organize and write. We want to thank our guests, our guest host, and our audience for being here for another episode of #NJRR Live. We will see you on Tuesday for the Idavox Report, and until then, stay safe.

-Leah Giannantonio, for Revolution Radio

#NJRR Special Reports: A Tribute to Kevin Zeese on New Jersey Revolution Radio
#NJRR Live: Unions. Which side are they on?
#NJRR Live: “Getting The Shot” Resistance to Vaccinations

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