From Adolph Reed: Support Taj Mahal Workers

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Signatures of Princeton faculty, from which Icahn is an alum, would be particularly useful, according to Adolph.

Dear Carl Icahn,

The recent vote by union members at the Taj Mahal Casino to authorize a strike has prompted us to write to you in the hope of averting a costly work stoppage.

Today in America the gap between rich and poor has widened to a point not seen in decades. As Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and his co-author recently wrote:

The American economy no longer works for most Americans. We pride ourselves on being theland of opportunity and creating the first middle-class society, yet profound and largely overlooked changes have put the middle-class life increasingly out of reach for the majority of Americans. At the same time, we have enabled a small percentage of the population to takehome the lion’s share of economic gains.1

You have observed yourself,  “I think there’s too much of a divergence between the very wealthy and people who haven’t had opportunities.”2

We agree. This inequality threatens the democratic principles upon which this nation was founded. The solution to the problem is not to eliminate the benefits that enable workers to gain a foothold in the middle-class and allow their children a platform from which they can afford to go to college and follow the American Dream. Yet this is precisely what you have done when you decided to cancel health care and pension benefits at the Taj Mahal Casino. Almost 2,500 Taj Mahal workers, some who have worked there since it opened, lost their health insurance on January 1, 2015. A recent survey of 500 union members at the Taj Mahal indicates that 44% have no insurance and an additional 23% are relying on government-subsidized health insurance.

The solution is to strengthen the middle class in the same way that it has been strengthened since the New Deal and the National Labor Relations Act that supported workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively—through decent wages and access to health care and secure retirement for working people.

Right now, you have the opportunity to set a standard for employers, not just in Atlantic City where you pulled $350 million out of the Taj Mahal in the last five years, but throughout the country. Are you going to try to make a few extra dollars by cutting people’s salaries and benefits and provoke a strike in the process, or are you going to invest in your workforce, and by extension the next generation, by providinga livable wage and benefits?

Workers at the Taj Mahal Casino are fighting for an America with less inequality. We support them and call on you to invest in the future by investing in the workers.

Signed,

John MacKay Yale
David Sanford Mount Holyoke
Catherine Liu UCSB
Nikhil Singh NYU
Andrew Hartman Illinois State
John Costa U Utah
Eric Fink Elon University Law School
Carl Schimmel Illinois State
Mark Lause U Cincinatti
Stephen Taylor UIUC
Julie Rosenfeld U Missouri
Anthony Galluzzo Colby College
Karen Miller LaGuardia College (CCNY)
Luke DuBois Brooklyn Tech
Barbara Partee UMass
Sumanth Gopinath U Minnesota
Chad Pearson Collin College
Jason Eckardt CUNY Grad Center/Brooklyn College
Stephen Phillion St. Cloud State University
Rosemary Feurer Northern Illinois University
Wahneema Lubiano Duke University
Noam Chomsky MIT
Sylvain Bromberger MIT
Martin Bresnick Yale
Joseph Lough UC Berkeley
Carl G. Estabrook UIUC

Michael McIntyre DePaul

 

 

1 Joseph Stiglitz, “Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy,” The Roosevelt Institute, p.7. http://www.rewritetherules.org.

https://philanthropy.com/article/No-8-Carl-Icahn/155493.

Left Anti-Electoralism and Neoliberalism: A Response to Arun Gupta

1) Arun Gupta is correct in his recent Counterpunch piece.  Elections cannot build movements and they can also undermine them-the election of Obama being the parade example (as I attempted to communicate  many times in 2007 and 2008, always ignored). They can, however, confer state power ON movements as we know from Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Rafael Correa in Equador and Evo Morales in Bolivia-to mention a few cases.

2) Elections can also serve to delegitimize center left parties pushing institutionalized neoliberal austerity as we demonstrate by the single digits now acquired by PASOK in Greece and the Spanish PSOE.  The same road is being pursued by the British Labor Party-deservedly humiliated a few weeks ago. (Update: I have argued here that the Sanders candidacy should be seen in this light-its role will not be to reform and unreformable DP but to fatally expose and delegitimize it.)

3) Given 1) and 2),  it follows that it’s a good thing that Chavez, Correa and Morales were not anti-electoralists. If they were, Latin America would still be suffering under neoliberal austerity and Noam Chomsky would not be celebrating it as a model for successful populist insurgencies.

4) It’s also a good thing that that voters turned down PASOK and the British LP setting stage for Corbyn. It’s also a good thing that Spain voted in several Podemos mayors possibly anticipating a victory in subsequent national elections. It’s also (on balance) a good thing that an anti-austerity party, (Syriza) won in Greece. These constitute the beginning stages of a left challenge to entrenched capital. And while there will be inevitable retreats, mistakes and defeats, this is what progress looks like.  It is a rare bit of good news.

5) Bottom line: Fighting neoliberalism requires protest movements acquiring state power and then exercising it to restore a minimally sane and decent distribution of society’s wealth and resources. Given that state power is non-violently acquired via elections fighting neo-liberalism means competing in elections. Anti-electoralism of the sort endorsed by Gupta and others means capitulation to neoliberalism.  Those endorsing it won’t like this conclusion, but it is the fact of the matter.

The Left and Sanders: Six Arguments for Critical Support

1) Greens and other third party advocates are wrong in thinking that by attacking Bernie Sanders, they put themselves in a better position for the general election and after.

2) That’s because the stronger the Sanders candidacy, the more the Democratic leadership’s inevitable attempt to destroy it will look like a coup.

3) The more it looks like a coup, the more likely Sanders supporters will view the Democratic Party as the politically and morally bankrupt entity it is.

4) And Sanders supporters will be more inclined to see the need for building a 3rd party and possibly support the Greens and other independent left formations subsequently.

5) On the other hand, if the Sanders candidacy peters out, the inevitable Clinton victory will be seen as legitimate. Greens should work to prevent this.

6) Bottom line: Greens and others on the independent left should support rather than undermine Sanders, positioning themselves to pick up the pieces after the crash.