Plebeian Glenn

I'm Glenn - a Trotskyist, fan of folk and soul, and aspiring motorcycle rider.

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The following account is based on a story told to me by a friend who is a millwright. I thought I’d share his story:

It’s been a day.

The company I now work for does maintenance at several different companies, one of them being a mid-sized tool & dye manufacturer that supplies the auto and aerospace industry. Due to the recent cuts in wages for new auto workers, the owners of this tool company (or company of tools) have lowered wages for new hires. They make $12 an hour for heavy work. We’re talking metal grinding, welding, machining, assembling, casting, woodworking, the works. But that’s sort of an aside.

Along with cutting wages, the company has decided to cut even more corners to feed the bottom line. This affects every facet of operations, from the sourcing of materials, to safety training, to frequency of maintenance, to hours worked. If you can make it worse, it’s happened at this company. It’s likely happened at every other manufacturer, laws of the almighty market and all, but the severity of the situation makes itself felt more keenly the closer you are to the source.

A lot of this deterioration is pretty inconspicuous, especially if, like most workers, you come in day in day out expecting to have a safe working experience and quality materials to work with. It could be something as simple as a drill bit being used a few inches past its recommended life span, or a few steps being shaved off the usual inspection routine to save a couple of minutes per part.

Mostly, the drills keep drilling and the parts pass muster. Oh, there are a couple of close calls here and there, probably more than the older workers remember seeing, but well within “accepted limits”. Maybe a frayed grinder disc accidentally catches and chips off the sharp edge of a tool, narrowly avoiding giving someone a lobotomy. Or maybe the forklift engine catches fire while transporting a load of compressed gas, because the company “forgot” to conduct routine maintenance (it costing money and all). These are both recorded incidents at this factory, occurring within the past two years.

Sometimes, those extra centimetres or seconds that make all the difference between mishap and tragedy decide not to show up to work. Today was that kind of day.

Today a tool assembly worker had his hand crushed underneath 700 pounds of aluminum, as he lifted a large tool with an overhead crane. One of the four hooks affixed to the corners of the object was structurally compromised and gave way just three feet off the ground, dumping the load onto the worker’s hand, who had been steadying it.

This man lost his right hand today. The owners are vacationing in the Maldives.

Was it preventable? Sure. The crane hadn’t received routine maintenance in several months, although the manual clearly specified (in bold type) that quarterly inspections were necessary. Other workers in that section reported having barely an hour of training with the equipment, which comes with an array of hooks and hoists and which is used to transport objects of varying sizes and shapes. On one of my trips to the factory, I saw that same crane swinging what looked to be a 1 ton piece of aluminum in a wider arc than is safe (no arcs are safe, the crane’s gotta be perpendicular to the ground).

Other workers told me today that they had asked for more training with the crane, preferably with the material handling company that installed it. They were told that the hour they had with the in-house lead hand was all they needed, and it would be a waste of time and company money to do otherwise.

At the time of the accident, another worker who was polishing metal nearby instinctively dropped the small pencil grinder he was using in a futile, but brave, attempt to somehow prevent the accident. The grinder, which was still on, tore through his jumpsuit and left a nasty gash on his thigh.

The sad, horrible irony of it all is this: Due to the accident, our maintenance company had to take apart and inspect the crane from top to bottom. It turns out that due to negligence, some of the ball bearings in the hoist had deteriorated to such an extent that another accident was not only possible, but likely, and within the next few months at that.

It took a horrible accident to prevent one of even more tragic proportions. I’m not privy to how this will all play out in the legal arena, but I do know that one man is in hospital and another scarred, for what are, for the owners at least, peanuts.

radicalarchive:

'If America Should Go Communist', Leon Trotsky, Pioneer Publishers, Socialist Workers Party, United States, 1957.

If When

radicalarchive:

'If America Should Go Communist', Leon Trotsky, Pioneer Publishers, Socialist Workers Party, United States, 1957.

If When

Canada’s government engaged in mass surveillance of protest groups

Canada's government is planning to spy on all protests and demonstrations.

Responding to the June order from the GOC requesting across-the-board information on all public demonstrations in the country, Wesley Wark of the University of Ottawa, an expert on intelligence, noted that the practice represented a fundamental breach of Canadians’ constitutional rights. “The very nature of the blanket request and its unlimited scope I think puts it way over the line in terms of lawful activity,” he told the Ottawa Citizen .

Wealth of richest 400 Americans surges to $2.29 trillion

An OECD report shows that income inequality is at its worst since the 1800s.

The wealthiest 400 people in the United States had their combined net worth grow thirteen percent to $2.29 trillion this year, amidst a surging stock market and record corporate profits. The figures come from the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans, compiled every year since 1982 by the American business magazine of the same name.

New steps to wider war in Middle East

23,000 Marines have been dispatched to conduct regime change in Syria.

The ultimate goal of the US intervention, as Obama administration spokesmen have repeatedly declared, is the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is allied to Iran and Russia, the two main targets of American imperialism in the region.

Student leaders threaten to escalate Hong Kong protests

While a narrow layer of super-wealthy tycoons has prospered, the living standards of the majority of working people have fallen. Jobs in manufacturing have been replaced by low-wage positions in service industries that benefitted from a growing numbers of tourists from the Chinese mainland. Despite declining real wages, the cost of living, especially housing costs, have risen sharply. The waiting time for public housing has blown out to ten years, forcing the low paid into makeshift accommodation and what are known as “cage homes.”

radicalarchive:

"Power to the Vanguard: Original Printed Materials from Revolutionary Movements Around the World, 1963-1987. From the Collection of Brad Duncan"
October 17 - December 27 @ Trinosophes, 1464 Gratiot, Detroit
I am very honored that my personal collection of radical literature will be the focus of an exhibition at Trinosophes in Detroit, Michigan! The exhibition will feature posters, pamphlets, broadsides, and paper ephemera from 1963-1987, and will focus on national independence struggles in the Third World, women’s liberation, the rise of Marxism in the U.S. New Left, and the Black Liberation Movement worldwide.
On the evening of October 17th the exhibition will debut to the public and we’re celebrating with a party. The next day, Saturday the 18th, I’ll be giving a lecture on the materials at 1pm.
Trinosophes is one of the most exciting and dynamic gallery and performance spaces in the U.S., which is part of why this is so exciting. It’s a huge space located in Detroit’s Eastern Market that features remarkable visual art shows and historical exhibitions alongside music performances that range from Free Jazz (the genre the venue is most closely associated with) and experimental music, to traditional music from around the world (Arabic folk, Malian griots, etc), to songwriters like Bill Callahan and Bonnie Prince Billy. And it’s also a cafe with homemade donuts.  Which is all to say it’s an amazing place!
The exhibition will be up through the end of the year. If you’re going to be anywhere near Detroit this fall you should really check it out. Or tell your friends and comrades! You’re guaranteed to like the material, and also Trinosophes is ridiculously cool and you’ll love it.
See you in Detroit!
Regards,
Brad Duncan

radicalarchive:

"Power to the Vanguard: Original Printed Materials from Revolutionary Movements Around the World, 1963-1987. From the Collection of Brad Duncan"

October 17 - December 27 @ Trinosophes, 1464 Gratiot, Detroit

I am very honored that my personal collection of radical literature will be the focus of an exhibition at Trinosophes in Detroit, Michigan! The exhibition will feature posters, pamphlets, broadsides, and paper ephemera from 1963-1987, and will focus on national independence struggles in the Third World, women’s liberation, the rise of Marxism in the U.S. New Left, and the Black Liberation Movement worldwide.

On the evening of October 17th the exhibition will debut to the public and we’re celebrating with a party. The next day, Saturday the 18th, I’ll be giving a lecture on the materials at 1pm.

Trinosophes is one of the most exciting and dynamic gallery and performance spaces in the U.S., which is part of why this is so exciting. It’s a huge space located in Detroit’s Eastern Market that features remarkable visual art shows and historical exhibitions alongside music performances that range from Free Jazz (the genre the venue is most closely associated with) and experimental music, to traditional music from around the world (Arabic folk, Malian griots, etc), to songwriters like Bill Callahan and Bonnie Prince Billy. And it’s also a cafe with homemade donuts.
Which is all to say it’s an amazing place!

The exhibition will be up through the end of the year. If you’re going to be anywhere near Detroit this fall you should really check it out. Or tell your friends and comrades! You’re guaranteed to like the material, and also Trinosophes is ridiculously cool and you’ll love it.

See you in Detroit!

Regards,

Brad Duncan

No to Scottish independence under bourgeois terms! For the unity of the Scottish, English, Irish, and Welsh working class!

Come all of you workers who toil night and day
By hand and by brain to earn your pay
Who for centuries long past for no more than your bread
Have bled for your countries and counted your dead

- Dick Gaughan, Workers’ Song

This summer saw an increase in shootings, many gang-related, on the streets of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods. Youth, in particular, are at risk: From 2008 to 2012, more than 1,100 of the city’s 2,389 homicide victims were under the age of 25.

The politicians and media offer no explanation for these conditions beyond a need for more police, with some even calling for the National Guard to be deployed. But residents offer a different take—that after years of increasing inequality and cuts to social services, some youth in the city feel they have no future and find that gangs bring money and status that is otherwise hard to find.