“We know that capitalism, which is already racial, gendered and violent, is not inevitable. And there’s nothing natural about it,” says Robyn Maynard. In this episode of “Movement Memos,” host Kelly Hayes talks with Rehearsals for Living authors Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson about about organizing and parenting amid catastrophe, and how organizers can build new worlds…
Archive for category: #solidarityeconomy
As we build collective power with coworkers, negotiate with management, and make demands of employers, workplace democracy is a way of talking about having a say. But what does that mean?
The post We Should Demand Democratic Workplaces, But What Does That Mean? appeared first on New Politics.
The challenges facing the communes intensified after Hugo Chávez’s death in 2013.
NLF Highlights for December
Table of Contents
- Why We Need Debtors’ Unions/Andrew Ross, New Labor Forum
- Reinventing Solidarity Episode 37:”Why We Need Debtors’ Unions”
- The Debt Collective
- “Fifty Years Defending & Chronicling America’s Mistakes,” Friday, December 9th, 2022, 3pm-5pm, CUNY SLU Event
Why We Need Debtors’ Unions
By Andrew Ross, New Labor Forum
Debts are inseparable from labor because they are the wages of the future. When we sign a loan we are committing the fruits of our labor to be performed years hence. And debt has always been used to deepen labor exploitation: from the debt slavery of antiquity and early modernity, down through centuries of peonage involving indenture, sharecropping and bonded migrant labor to today’s payday loan-sharking and wage garnishments for unpaid loans.
Read the full article here
A dramatic increase in national consumer debt began in the mid-1980s and currently stands at 16.5 trillion dollars, making it a key feature of capitalism in the 21st century. Average household debt today in the U.S. – mortgages, car loans, student, medical, and credit card debt – now exceeds $96,000 and is therefore greater than the median household income. Andrew Ross discusses debt as a crucial labor and social justice issue and describes the groundbreaking work of the Debt Collective.
Listen here: SLU.CUNY.EDU/PODCAST
- Some older Americans are building cohousing communities instead of moving into senior living.
- Cohousing refers to living arrangements in which residents own a unit and share common spaces.
- Residents said cohousing helped them avoid social isolation and lead their most authentic lives.
Carolyn Salmon, 82, and her husband used to live in a retirement neighborhood of about 500 homes just outside Port Townsend, Washington, but they never felt as if they were part of the community.
“We basically never saw our neighbors,” Salmon told Insider. “We had a little group that would get together about once a month for dinner, but other than that we had no other real contact with them.”
That was until 2014, when the Salmons and a group of eight other seniors began developing Quimper Village, a cohousing community in Port Townsend for people ages 55 and older. The group purchased nearly 3 acres of land and helped finance the construction of the 28-unit community, which was completed in 2017. The couple then purchased their 1,300-square-foot home in the community for about $400,000.
The Salmons are part of a growing coalition of older adults who are choosing to live in cohousing communities with people who are about their same age.
Quimper Village is a 28-unit self-governing condominium community about a mile outside downtown Port Townsend. Residents work on one of several “teams” that handle the village’s affairs, from landscaping and gardening to financial planning, according to its website. The website also highlights amenities such as a bocce court and an art studio, which residents also manage.
Cohousing emerged in Denmark during the 1960s and describes a living arrangement in which residents own or rent their own home but also share a common house — which may include amenities like laundry and a shared kitchen — with their neighbors.
Salmon said the group decided to build Quimper Village because more traditional senior-housing options in the area were scarce or were in locations that didn’t have a lot of nearby grocery stores.
“Maintaining community and close relationships isn’t always easy to do,” Salmon said. “But this place gives us the ability to drive less and do the things that build friendships.”
Cohousing is an example of how the senior-housing industry is evolving
Since 2005, 17 cohousing communities for older people have cropped up across the US with another six more in development, according to an online directory maintained by a researcher at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
The move comes at a time when the cost of more traditional senior-living options is at an all-time high and occupancy rates and construction activity for these housing units are still below their pre-pandemic levels, according to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, or NIC, a nonprofit senior-housing research firm. Senior-living facilities include assisted living, memory care, and independent living. Nursing homes fall under a different category because Medicaid can reimburse their costs.
“The senior-living industry is evolving,” Beth Mace, a senior economist at NIC, told Insider. “Partly because of what happened during the pandemic, but also because developers are trying to figure out exactly what this cohort wants.”
Residents want to live their most authentic lives
Barbara Chase, 71, said that to earn the respect of her peers and clients while working as a corporate-management consultant she always felt as if she needed to hide the fact that she identified as a lesbian.
Chase retired in 2020 and moved into a cohousing community for LGBTQ seniors and allies ages 55 and up called Village Hearth just outside Raleigh, North Carolina. Chase said she purchased a 1,150-square-foot unit for about $385,000 when she moved in.
She said that decision had helped her live her most authentic life and avoid more corporate senior-living operations, where a growing number of seniors feel as if they have few support options, according to research from the National Center for Elder Abuse.
“As I was nearing retirement, I thought to myself, ‘I don’t want to spend the last sliver of my life in the closet,'” Chase told Insider. “To me, it means the world to live among people who embrace you, and help you preserve your dignity and self-respect.”
Chase considered more traditional senior-housing options, but none of the nearby places offered the same level of activity that she was looking for. At Village Hearth, Chase said, residents are responsible for everything from maintaining the property to planning and cooking community meals.
“We make collective decisions together about how we’re going to treat one another,” Chase said. “And that is the true meaning of community.”
Cohousing can help avoid social isolation
Karen Erde, 70, moved into PDX Commons in Portland, Oregon, in 2018 after retiring from a long career as a family physician. The 27-unit complex requires at least 80% of its residents to be above the age of 55, while younger homeowners can make up the remaining 20%, according to its website.
Erde said she moved into PDX Commons because it was the only cohousing community in Portland where she could live among people her own age and not have roommates who were generations younger than her. The community is also within walking distance of the Belmont Library, Laurelhurst Park, and pharmacies like Walgreens. Erde purchased her 1,065-square-foot unit for about $585,000, she said.
“I like kids and all that stuff — I raised three children of my own,” Erde told Insider. “But I’m not really interested in raising anybody else’s kids at this point of my life.”
Though Erde describes herself as an introvert, living at PDX Commons has allowed her to be more social, she said. Erde chairs the community’s communication committee, which helps spread the word about PDX Commons. She said she also helped community members solve computer issues and worked with other retired medical professionals who live in the community to develop the local COVID-19 guidelines.
It is also comforting to know that help is always nearby, Erde said. When Erde had her knee replaced in 2014, she said, her friends and family would have to drive 20 to 30 minutes to her townhome in Portland to help her cook and clean up around the house. If something similar happened today, Erde said, she has a group of friends at PDX in nearby units who would pitch in.
“I’ve been around other senior-living facilities where they have activities and people generally get to hang out with each other,” Erde said, “but I never got the sense that the people there actually wanted to live together.”
Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez defined communes as the key blocks to building socialism from the bottom up.
The development of “green capitalism” forms the subject of Adrienne Buller’s new book, The Value of a Whale. According to Buller, the ideology of green capitalism seeks to “preserve existing capitalist systems and relations in response to an unprecedented threat” while at the same time “ensuring new domains for accumulation in the transition to a […]
At Kaiser Permanente in California, 2,000 mental health care workers have been on strike since August 15. They say Kaiser consistently fails to provide adequate staffing and wages, with patients waiting weeks or months for a second appointment.
Two thousand mental health care workers with the National Union of Healthcare Workers walked out August 15; their contract has been expired since September 2021. (National Union of Healthcare Workers / Twitter)
Psychologists, social workers, therapists, and chemical dependency counselors are in the ninth week of an open-ended strike at Kaiser Permanente in Northern and Central California.
The 2,000 mental health care workers walked out August 15; their contract has been expired since September 2021. They’re members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), which split from SEIU in 2010.
NUHW says Kaiser has failed to provide the staffing and wages to retain adequate and diverse staff — yielding unsustainable workloads and dangerous understaffing. After a mental health intake visit, even patients in crisis may wait weeks or months for a second appointment.
Clinicians also report managers pressure them to prescribe next appointments when an appointment is available, rather than when they think the patient needs it — a practice that’s dangerous for patients and demoralizing for mental health workers.
“It’s like if someone was given a cancer diagnosis, and the treatment prescribed was chemo twice a week,” said Sarah Soroken, a family and marriage triage therapist, “and we gave them a third of the chemo treatments they needed.”
Worse and Worse
Pandemic death, illness, isolation, and unemployment have yielded a second pandemic of mental illness and substance abuse, which health care providers have struggled to keep up with.
At Kaiser, an NUHW survey found that the attrition rate doubled from 2019 to 2022; 76 percent of the clinicians surveyed cited an inability to “treat patients in line with standards of care and medical necessity” as a factor in their decision to leave.
“I have never been able to have enough appointments, but now it is mostly six to eight weeks [between appointments], said Kim Hollingsworth Horner, a child and teen psychologist at Kaiser for twenty-two years and a member of the union bargaining committee.
“After COVID, it’s so much. We’re gambling with people’s lives.”
Kaiser clinicians also have no ceiling on how many patients they are assigned.
Sabrina Chaumette is one of two black clinicians at the Oakland clinic, and one of one hundred workers who struck on Martin Luther King Jr Day last winter. Kaiser had agreed to recognize the holiday then backtracked on it.
Having so few clinicians of color to serve the predominantly black population of Oakland is “racist and unsustainable,” Chaumette said, and it’s layered on top of so many other racial disparities that affect patients’ health: the impacts of COVID, discrimination, poverty, violence, gentrification, and generational trauma.
In diverse California, Kaiser has also canceled some services for Spanish-, Hmong-, and Chinese-speaking patients. The providers who supported those populations, as well as LGBTQ folks, have largely left for private practice or other work.
Health Care Strikes Surge
Another fifty Kaiser mental health workers in Hawaii joined the strike on August 29.
Across the country, labor activity among health care workers has surged since the pandemic. The praise for “essential” workers quickly rang hollow when employers did not match it with increased wages or adequate staffing for patient safety or to prevent burnout.
According to Cornell University’s strike tracker, the number of strikes in the first six months of 2022 in the health care sector (twenty-one strikes) was more than double the number for the same period in 2021 (ten strikes).
New Law in Effect
Kaiser, which is both a chain of health care facilities and the HMO that covers them, insures about 40 percent of Californians, through company and individual plans, and through the state Medicaid plan, MediCal.
That makes Kaiser’s inability to provide mental health treatment a huge public health risk, the union argues.
NUHW is pairing a legislative strategy with its bargaining fight. The union won passage of a safe staffing law for mental health services, Senate Bill 221, which took effect this past July.
The new law requires HMOs and insurers to provide mental health patients with follow-up appointments within ten days, if needed, after their intake — thus implicitly requiring Kaiser to hire enough clinicians to see all those patients.
It will be interesting to see if the union is able to pair the regulatory power of the State of California with direct action to bring a giant like Kaiser to an agreement.
It is legally Kaiser’s responsibility to make sure its patients get treatment. NUHW members are pushing Kaiser, which has canceled thousands of appointments because of the strike, to pay for out-of-network appointments in the interim.
“The Most Active We’ve Ever Been”
NUHW and Kaiser have agreed on wage increases but remain at odds over proposals to give practitioners more time to complete their work outside of patient time (for instance, coordinating care for patients with other medical professionals, schools, families, and social services) and ways to reduce the time between appointments for acute patients.
NUHW president Sal Rosselli announced today that Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg, a longtime mental health care advocate and a former leader in the state senate, will mediate negotiations between Kaiser and the union.
“I hope within days we come to a resolution,” Rosselli told strikers at a rally in Oakland, the Sacramento Bee reported. “Our hope is a tentative agreement, and that tentative agreement must include a fundamental change in the relationship, where Kaiser executives agreed to collaborate with you, with our clinicians, to finally fix the behavioral health system.”
Since the majority of the Kaiser strikers work at smaller offices and clinics around California, they have rotated picket lines among different offices and the Kaiser headquarters in Oakland.
Patients and their families have been vocal on their therapists’ side, speaking at picket lines and rallying with elected officials for support. NUHW has been organizing patients to report canceled appointments to the state, leveraging additional pressure from the Department of Managed Health Care to push Kaiser back to the bargaining table.
The experience has already yielded a more militant membership, in Hollingsworth Horner’s estimation. “I’m a steward, and in my experience this is the most active people in Fresno have ever been,” she said. “This is one of the successes of this strike, so far. Unity among members is stronger than it’s ever been.”