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wmtc: marxism 2011 program notes: workers fight back: lessons from wisconsin

These are my notes from the 2011 Marxism conference in Toronto. The series starts here.

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How can we stop the right?Christine Beckermann, member of ISMay 29, 2011

With the emergence of the Tea Party in the US, Rob Ford’s election in Toronto, and now the Harper majority, we are told that this reflects a shift in people’s ideas, that the public is moving to the right. Is that true? Let’s examine it.

The Tea Party began as a response to the stimulus package after the mortgage foreclosure crisis. Most Tea Party electoral gains were

. . . → Read More: wmtc: marxism 2011 program notes: workers fight back: lessons from wisconsin

wmtc: marxism 2011 program notes: how can we stop the right?

These are my notes from the 2011 Marxism conference in Toronto. The series starts here.

* * * *

How can we stop the right?Christine Beckermann, member of ISMay 29, 2011

With the emergence of the Tea Party in the US, Rob Ford’s election in Toronto, and now the Harper majority, we are told that this reflects a shift in people’s ideas, that the public is moving to the right. Is that true? Let’s examine it.

The Tea Party began as a response to the stimulus package after the mortgage foreclosure crisis. Most Tea Party electoral gains were

. . . → Read More: wmtc: marxism 2011 program notes: how can we stop the right?

wmtc: something you didn’t see in the corporate media: thousands occupy may day in toronto

wmtc: memo to children’s aid: people with disabilities can be capable parents

This story makes me so angry and frustrated. I can only imagine how the parents feel! I’ve reached out to some activists I know who are people with disabilities for suggestions on how we can support this family. A disabled couple in Mississauga are fighting to keep their newborn son after social workers threatened to take the boy away unless he receives round-the-clock care from an “able-bodied attendant.”

Maricyl Palisoc and her partner, Charles Wilton, are the parents of a healthy month-old baby boy named William. Both parents have cerebral palsy, a disorder that limits their motor skills and

. . . → Read More: wmtc: memo to children’s aid: people with disabilities can be capable parents

wmtc: the lessons in tpl’s struggle

With the Toronto Public Library workers back at work after a ten-day strike, here is an assessment of their settlement, from a TPL librarian (my friend and comrade) who is active in the union. The lesson is it’s better to fight than to run away when you are a city-worker union dealing with the Tory assholes that dominate these days.

We got a better deal than anyone else in TO, with a host of concessions beaten back and even a couple of small improvements to benefits.

However, we still gave up too much on the job security provision. Partly, we

. . . → Read More: wmtc: the lessons in tpl’s struggle

wmtc: how you can support striking tpl workers

An open letter from my friend and comrade Jonathon Hodge. See below for picket schedule.

Dear friend/neighbor/colleague,

Many of you are library users, or know someone who is, and so many of you are affected by the current work stoppage at the Toronto Public Library. Those of us who work in the library system do not take this step lightly.

The Toronto Public Library Board is pursuing a course that will severely undermine the library services that Torontonians hold dear. Already, budgets cuts have resulted in the loss of over 100 full-time equivalent positions, including the entire office for services

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wmtc: support your local library – support tpl library workers!

As you know, the staff of the Toronto Public Library is on strike.

Rob Ford is using the financial crisis as an excuse to “privatize everything that isn’t nailed down” (his words), including the library. Branch closures are still an issue. Service cuts loom. In times of austerity, working people need the library more than ever – and the library should be free, public, and open to all.

A quality library means quality staff. More than two-thirds of TPL staff is part-time, working without benefits and often without adequate hours to make ends meet. Today at noon, library workers and

. . . → Read More: wmtc: support your local library – support tpl library workers!

wmtc: celebrate international women’s day 2012

Today is International Women’s Day.

We’ve come a long way.

And we’ve still got a long way to go.

Globally, the picture looks much worse.

See the current issue of Socialist Worker for a collection of IWD stories, including one by yours truly.

At today’s IWD March in Toronto, the theme is “Reclaim Our City: Together We Are Stronger!” Details here.

wmtc: you can fight your excessive water bill

I’m posting this for Googleability.

If you’ve received an excessive water bill, there may be an error in your reading, even if the water meter is working correctly. My partner and I recently filed a small claims lawsuit against the Region of Peel to recover excessive water charges we were forced to pay. The judge awarded us a full refund, plus court fees, plus money for our time and effort, plus interest.

If you have received a water bill that is 10 times (or more) your normal rate, and there are no leaks or plumbing issues in your home, and

. . . → Read More: wmtc: you can fight your excessive water bill

wmtc: in which we kick peel’s butt!

Win? That doesn’t even begin to describe it. This was a rout. When the smoke cleared, we were celebrating and they were gasping for air.

$429 and change that we should never have been charged? Check.

$175 in court costs? Check.

But wait, there’s more…

$100 for our preparation time,

plus

$400 for our inconvenience, for a grand total of $1104.47 plus interest. Not credits on our account, either. Cold cash, baby!

The judge said, “Frankly, I’m surprised that Peel’s legal department would have let this go this far. You could have offered a settlement just to expedite this.

. . . → Read More: wmtc: in which we kick peel’s butt!

wmtc: our day in court

Remember our crazy water bill? And how tried to fight it?

In the end, we had no choice. We had to pay the bill or Peel would have disconnected our water. After that, our only recourse was to file in small claims court to try to recover the excess payment. We did so, and we had a mandatory (and useless) settlement conference. The trial is tomorrow.

Allan has been working on our case for a long time and is beyond sick of it. Being a classic pessimist, he is convinced we will lose and just wants to get it over

. . . → Read More: wmtc: our day in court

wmtc: love a librarian: keep toronto public library public

Tell Mayor Ford you want a free, public Toronto Public Library. Go here.

wmtc: rob ford’s latest strategy in the war on toronto public library: slash, downsize, then try to privatize

From Maureen O’Reilly, library workers’ union, Toronto Public Library (emphasis mine):

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It hasn’t taken Ford and company long before launching a new attack on our public library.

Frustrated that we stopped him last month from wreaking massive reductions to open hours and slashing programs and services, such as the children’s literacy program and the Bookmobile, Ford and his allies have a new strategy to achieve their goal of off-loading our public library to private interests.

Today, they are targeting the librarians and other people who serve you at your neighbourhood branch, and the attack is

. . . → Read More: wmtc: rob ford’s latest strategy in the war on toronto public library: slash, downsize, then try to privatize

wmtc: fightback works: peel parents win, for now

Community meetings, rallies, emergency mobilizations, and a five-hour Council meeting ended with the Peel Regional Council voting not to close 12 publicly-funded daycare centres – yet. The Council voted unanimously to stop the rush to closure and instead set up a task force to explore the options.

According to this story in the Star, the current daycare arrangement serves 800 children. Fewer than half of those are subsidized, and 4,000 children on the waiting list to get in.

The answer is simple. Don’t cut public services: expand them.

Roll back the corporate tax cuts, require everyone to pay their

wmtc: save peel region public day care

Tomorrow, Peel Region Councillors will vote on whether to end publicly financed, union-staffed daycare services in Mississauga and Brampton.

A report from an audit by KPMG – released only days ago – recommended closing five daycare centres in Brampton and seven in Mississauga. In less than a week, Councillors are putting this to a vote. What’s the rush? Why are the Councillors avoiding input from the people whose lives would be affected by the closures?

Closing these 12 daycare centres would eliminate around 800 child care spaces and almost 300 jobs. The goal is supposedly saving the Region money, but

. . . → Read More: wmtc: save peel region public day care

wmtc: is m.p. lizon a bigot or just plain ignorant? you make the call

A few weeks ago, I learned that my new Conservative MP, Wladyslaw Lizon, brought to the attention of Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney the shock and horror of a woman wearing a veil during a citizenship ceremony.

Mr. Kenney, equally horrified (and similarly Islamophobic), issued a directive that forces women to choose between their personal comfort and becoming Canadian citizens. (My response is here; scroll down.)

Now the Member of Parliament for Mississauga-East Cooksville again displays how much he understands and respects the people in his culturally diverse riding. He sent out a survey asking,

. . . → Read More: wmtc: is m.p. lizon a bigot or just plain ignorant? you make the call

wmtc: ten reasons i like being a library page

I needed to get a job as a library page in order to be “in the system” at the Mississauga Library. Job openings rarely, if ever, go external. Since after I earn my degree, I want to work as a librarian in Mississauga, and I was advised by several people that a page job is the way in. So this was a career move, a necessity. I never imagined I would love the job – but I do!

As I’ve mentioned, I work in the Children’s Department of the Central Library, a large, vibrant room with programs, games, computers, reference

. . . → Read More: wmtc: ten reasons i like being a library page

wmtc: sweet victories! ford budget defeated, tarsands pipeline dead for now

If Rob Ford and Stephen Harper are both unhappy, this must be a good day!

Yesterday the voices of reason on the Toronto City Council united to defeat Rob Ford‘s most dangerous budget cuts. There will still be cutbacks, and layoffs, and there is still a fight. But note this: Public sentiment was key to moving some councillors behind Colle’s motion. Thousands of emails clogged their inboxes, almost 13,000 Torontonians filled out surveys on which services they cherish and hundreds of people made deputations to various committee meanings, including two that went all night.

And today President Obama has

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wmtc: rally for toronto! today in nathan phillips square

Rob Ford might be losing weight, but Toronto is losing vital public services and good jobs – if the mayor and his friends on City Council have their way.

If you live, work, or go to school in Toronto, come out to defend your city.

WHEN: Tuesday, January 17, 5:30 pm

WHERE: Toronto City Hall, Nathan Phillips Square

WHY: Toronto is a vibrant, liveable city and we want it to stay that way

wmtc: in which i begin my first library job

It’s finally happened: I’ve been placed as a page! I begin my training this Thursday at the Central Library in Mississauga. This is a huge, beautiful library, a five-minute drive from our house, and right next door to YMCA that Allan and I belong to.

I’ve been waiting for this job to open up for two years, as several branch libraries in the Mississauga system were closed for renovation. You may recall, over the summer I was practicing for a shelving test, which I then passed. That was in July, and since then I’ve continued to wait.

This

. . . → Read More: wmtc: in which i begin my first library job

wmtc: emergency rally to defend occupy toronto: 5:00 today

Message from Occupy Toronto:

OCCUPY TORONTO IS BEING EVICTED. Mayor Rob Ford has angrily taken to television, even gritting his teeth, to say he wants protesters “gone NOW”. City Manager says by midnight force will be used, but mayor is pressing for even faster.

Ford and the judge point to upset neighbors as the ultimate cause of the eviction, but only eleven people in the neighborhood came out to a meeting to discuss plans to get rid of us, numerous neighbors and local businesses are in support (some because we brought them business, and some because they support our message).

. . . → Read More: wmtc: emergency rally to defend occupy toronto: 5:00 today

wmtc: saturday, november 19: evict ford: occupy toronto

EVICT FORD. OCCUPY TORONTO!

Rally and marchSaturday, November 19 at 2:00 p.m.Assemble at St. James Park, King Street east between Church and Jarvis

In just a few weeks, the Occupy movement has become a global phenomenon, with over 1,400 protests worldwide. In Toronto, a peaceful occupation has been underway at St. James Park, raising demands for economic and social justice for everyone. Polls in Canada show that a clear majority of people support the protests.

But now Mayor Rob Ford is trying to evict the protesters. We think it’s time to evict Rob Ford instead. Ford’s attacks

. . . → Read More: wmtc: saturday, november 19: evict ford: occupy toronto

wmtc: message from ofl president sid ryan: occupy toronto tonight!

This is a message from Sid Ryan, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour.Dear Sisters and Brothers,We have just learned that the Toronto Police have served eviction notices to Occupy Toronto protesters at St. James Park (Jarvis St. and King St.),… . . . → Read More: wmtc: message from ofl president sid ryan: occupy toronto tonight!

wmtc: monday in toronto: "my own government labeled me a terrorist and attempted to murder me"

My own government labeled me a terrorist and attempted to murder me. My story is strongly relevant for activists today in this climate of an unending ‘war on terror.’S. Brian Willson, Vietnam War veteran and peace activistS. Brian Willson, a Vietnam Wa… . . . → Read More: wmtc: monday in toronto: "my own government labeled me a terrorist and attempted to murder me"

wmtc: urgent! new threat to toronto public library: make your voice heard

Read and sign the petition!From Our Public Library::* * * *The first order of business of Mayor Ford’s handpicked Toronto Library Board was to cut 100 librarians and other staff.Even though there is not a single children’s librarian in the entire s… . . . → Read More: wmtc: urgent! new threat to toronto public library: make your voice heard