Tag Archives: jamie dimon

Janitors Call Me, Jamie, and He Does, Maybe

New Orleans   At the end of a fascinating planning meeting in a living room in Austin during a welcome all day of rain, I thought I would add some fun to the end of this productive session by making a suggestion that when the new organization got up and running with a website, here was a good, effective use of a video.  We then huddled around to enjoy the cute, clever version of “Call Me, Maybe” done by Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU) strikers from several elementary schools that I ran yesterday.  One of the participants in the organizing meeting asked if we had seen a similar effort by Houston janitors on strike last month at the JP Morgan Chase building there.  I hadn’t but we found it on Youtube and pulled it up:

In trying to force the company’s hands, the union had produced this video as part of an on-line campaign to support the strikers I learned later.  The hook had been that one of strike leaders had managed to get within earshot of Chase CEO Jamie Dimon at a Washington hearing and he had yelled back, “call my office,” and so they were.  The on-line campaign involved advertisements that SEIU paid for on hundreds of websites in a half-dozen major cities around the country.  I was told that Dimon did finally call the janitors back, though that was harder to clarify from a Google search.  At the end of the line, Houston janitors settled after a 4-week strike involving 3000 janitors for $1 raise over 4-years, so, everything being equal which we all understand it never really is, I would say the strike was successful.

And, the on-line campaign and the video tactic?  Probably less so.  Youtube says there were about 2000 hits on the video over the last 6-weeks.  That’s respectable of course, but nothing to Jamie Dimon and Chase other than an annoyance in all likelihood and hardly a game changer.  The fact that Chase and SEIU Local 1 are both headquartered in Chicago and that all of the major strike targets were big multinational companies with Houston branch offices makes it more likely that this was an old-school union pressure and leverage victory that was impossible without janitors hitting the street in Houston, but likely settled in the way many of these building service strikes are handled.  The video was likely great for morale for the strikers and their supporters and absolutely another valuable arrow in the tactical quiver, but no more than that.

The real value is likely in the shadow of what one sees in the Chicago teachers video as a model for this type of thing.  The teachers have gone from 14000 hits when I first looked 24 hours ago to over 20,000 now as I write this, but what makes both work is the fact that when the viewers like us are reached the strikers are humanized.  In the Chicago case these were elementary school teachers who were obviously united, talented, and the kind of people you would love to have leading your own children in the classroom sending a message not just to Mayor Rahm Emmanuel but to their own students.   You also got the feel that they had done this on their own rather than through some union public relations firm or communications department.

Regardless the teachers – and the janitors – are teaching us and raising the bar.  As organizers we’ve always said that “actions have to be fun,” and both in these videos set out to prove that axiom and put the pressure on at the same time.

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Organizing Plans with News from Walmart, Facebook, Spain, and Florida Voting Suppression

Meeting of the Latin American organizers

Mexico City    The annual meeting of the ACORN International board continued its meetings for a second day in Mexico City, as they conferred on fundamental issues of support for existing work, self-sufficiency and support and expansion into new areas like Sicily and Liberia.  Additional reports were heard from Mexico on the Neza water campaign and received from Argentina.  Planning meetings of the Latin American staff and leadership spent valuable hours at a great local coffeehouse, Denmedio, appropriately facing Solidarity Square, firming up the Remittance Justice Campaign and plans to organize coffeehouses and other enterprises in our cities to support the organizing.  Other meetings consolidated the leadership training schedule and organizing plans for Local 100.   Solid progress was made on all fronts topped off, appropriately, with a Friday night visit to see the Lucha Libre Mexican wrestlers!

Reading the papers on-line was almost as wild.

Florida continues to want to make a place for itself in voter suppression by gaining access to Department of Homeland Security information on immigrants so that it can data match voter lists for any slips.  It seems the fears of immigrant rights advocates about the Secure Communities Act are fully confirmed as the continued Obama consolidation of this steel fist in a soft glove strategy becomes a potential Republican voter suppression tool, even as other studies like those of the Pew Center establish that the state managed voter registration systems are now in complete chaos.

Walmart seems to be conceding that the bribery problems in Mexico may be even worse than previously revealed and though hinting that there may be problems in other countries, they have not revealed bribes in China or India, which I have argued are very likely branches that have sprung from the roots of this corrupt corporate culture.

The rise of informal workers in the European economic crisis in places like Spain where a day’s work and wage is being bartered for hardly 50 euros, as reported by the Times, threatens to undermine the last of the social contract even in its last bastions of defense against neo-liberalism.   Europe is the new Asia perhaps?

It seems that the arrogance of Jamie Dimon and JP Morgan Chase has led to losses of $3 billion (and rising) rather than the $2 billion earlier reported.  Hedge funds have continued to profit from Chase’s problems, proving that a billion here and a billion there are still something more for sharks on Wall Street than friends across the counter.  Nonetheless, Dimon’s board and shareholders looked the other way.

Finally, Joe Ricketts owner of Wrigley Field, founder of Ameritrade, and a billionaire with buffalo in Wyoming (sorry about that!), proved that haters still rule the world in some sectors with a kerfuffle even rejected by the Romney campaign that he underwrite a $10 million campaign of race baiting and race hating against Obama via the sputtering and aged rhetoric of Rev. Jeremiah Wright.  Good to see that there was pushback in Chicago which is not yet located in the “new” South and he was sent scurrying.  All of which is not to say that we cannot expect similar mess on the airwaves and elsewhere in the coming presidential contest, but it certainly goes to prove that other side of the coin on the old saw:  “just because you are rich, does not mean you aren’t stupid,” rather than “why aren’t you rich, if you are so smart?”

Dilcia Zavala from ACORN Honduras in Tegucigalpa showcases the entry to Denmedio

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