California to grant reparations to descendants of slaves

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Additionally, Amazon workers are voting to unionize and Philly is launching a wealth tax campaign.

Historic Vote in California to Provide Reparations Only to Descendants of Slaves

The California Reparations Task Force voted 5-4 to provide reparations only to Black Californians who can prove their direct lineage to their enslaved ancestors, reports Cal Matters. The decision brings the state closer to becoming the first in the United States to pay African Americans for the harms of slavery, but the exact terms remain controversial, according to the Guardian. The type of proof people need to document their lineage has yet to be decided.

Previous amendment suggestions were much broader in their notion of eligibility, with a plan to provide up to 2.6 million African Americans with reparations.

Kamilah Moore, the chair of the task force, defended the landmark decision by Tweeter that “the overwhelming majority of black residents in California will benefit from reparations”. She also said that granting eligibility to those who could not trace their lineage would “harm victims of slavery”. Civil rights lawyer Lisa Holder, however, argues that reparations must address current and future harms. “The system that people are advocating here, where we splice things together, where only a small slice benefits, is not going to reduce the harm of racism.”

The task force was created in September 2020 to study and recommend remedies. It will publish a detailed proposal for repairs in June 2023.

The next Amazon Union vote is still up in the air

Unionization could be on the horizon for Amazon as warehouse workers in New York and Alabama finalized their union elections this week, Reuters reports.

The city called it “the culmination of an intensely watched campaign that has taken on outsized implications for the future of the company’s burgeoning warehouse workforce.”

But the results remain up in the air as workers dispute the eligibility of hundreds of ballots based on “voter dates of employment, job classification,” among other issues. The disputed ballots will likely decide the final outcome of the count which is currently too close to call. In Staten Island, “yes” votes were leading as hundreds of ballots remained to be counted by the end of Thursday, while Bessemer, Alabama, appeared to be leaning toward “no.”

It’s the second time workers in Bessemer, Alabama have tried to unionize as Amazon’s previous election interference gave employees a new vote. Voter turnout among workers in Alabama was considerably lower this time around, as it fell to 39%, from more than 50% of workers who voted in 2021.

Organizing efforts in both cities shared similar campaign proposals, but Staten Island warehouse workers faced a number of different challenges. While Bessemer employees are supported by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), New York City labor organizers operate independently. The Amazon Labor Union (ALU) relies heavily on online funding, volunteers, and other pro bono help.

“Other campaigns, they have 4, 5, 6 million dollars to campaign. We don’t have that. We spent less than $100,000. I have a weekly budget,” ALU chief organizer Christian Smalls told The City.

Organizers were facing a massive campaign from Amazon to steer people away from unionizing. The warehouse giant’s recent efforts have included large 10ft banners, as well as a website and social media campaign asking people to vote no. Employees are also required to attend mandatory training meetings which could intimidate workers.

“It is up to our employees to choose whether or not to join a union. It always has been,” Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said. “If the union vote passes, it will impact everyone on the site, which is why we hold regular information sessions and give employees the opportunity to ask questions and learn what it is. could mean to them and their daily lives working at Amazon. .”

Philadelphia launches wealth tax campaign

Philadelphia City Councilwoman Kendra Brooks launched the “Philly’s Wealth Tax” campaign on Tuesday in an effort to tackle economic inequality.

The proposed tax would tax stock and bond wealth at a maximum rate of 0.4%, excluding pension funds, mutual funds and foreign exchange trading funds. The tax has the potential to generate as much as $150 million to $400 million a year, reports CBS News.

Funds from this proposed tax would be used for municipal services and improving homelessness and youth programs, among other things.

The campaign aired on Zoom, as local and national leaders came together to address disparities that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. “We need a real recovery. We don’t want to go back to our normality. We want a recovery that prioritizes neighborhoods hardest hit by Covid and decades of divestment,” said Brittany Alston, research director at the Center for Action on Race and the Economy (ACRE).

Senator Elizabeth Warren joined the Zoom call, pointing out that the top 10% pay less tax than the bottom 99%. And as the nation struggled to endure the pandemic, billionaires saw their wealth double.

“The American tax system is broken and it allows the rich and powerful to get richer and more powerful at the expense of working families. This is not the America we want to be,” Warren said.

Learn more about the campaign here.

Solcyre (Sol) Burga was an Emma Bowen Foundation Fellow with Next City for the summer of 2021. Burga is completing her degree in political science and journalism at Rutgers University, intending to graduate in May 2022. As a Newark native and immigrant, she hopes to elevate the voices of underrepresented communities in her work.

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