The George Floyd uprising, the massive Juneteenth Oakland port blockade, gig workers protesting outside CEO’s houses: All of these in the past month have shown that the power of labor and social justice resistance is alive and well in the United States. And indeed around the world, as the 17th annual LaborFest (July 1-30)—whose theme is “Resistance, Revolt, and Building a New Future—points out in an action-packed month of talks, film, art, music, performance, and much, much more. It all kicks off with an art show July 1 called “The Future Challenges Us Now,” curated by Duckworth Artists.
Most of the events are free and online, making it easy to tune in to the connections the fest makes among global struggles occurring in our time. Below are just a few of the happenings in the first week alone that will have me glued to my laptop with one fist raised. (And possibly on my bicycle for the Chris Carlsson labor history tour as well.) See the full Laborfest 2020 schedule and information about how to watch here.
July 2: South Africa & COVID and Class struggle – Video and Report by Martin Jansen Workers World Media production director in South Africa, Martin Jansen, screens a video documentary on the effect of Covid-19 in South Africa and the systemic problems that worker face. Despite the promises of the Freedom Charter public health care for all is still not a reality for the working class of South Africa.
Discussion after the screening with Martin Jansen. 9am, free. More info here.
July 3: “Sir, No Sir” – The GI Movement to End the Vietnam War This feature-length documentary focuses on the efforts by troops in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War to oppose the war effort by peaceful demonstration and fragging their officers. The racism in the military and the use of the military by Trump to crush mass protests have important lessons to working people and veterans. Following the film there will be a panel of working class veterans during Vietnam and later. 6pm, free. More info here.
July 4: SF Mime Troupe – Tales of The Resistance – Original Radio Serial Can the revolution be social distanced? Find out this Summer with the San Francisco Mime Troupe as they present 4 series of original political comedy audio plays, broadcast bi-weekly, each written and performed by Mime Troupe veterans and newcomers, and each in a different style. Each episode will be about 25 minutes long,, and presented as podcasts and as radio shows on stations across the country. All day, free. More info here.
July 5: 1934 San Francisco General Strike—Presentation by Gifford Hartman Eighty-six years ago a great battle took place between striking workers and the police and National Guard along the waterfront besides the piers of San Francisco’s Embarcadero. We will look at the causes of the 1934 General Strike and why it was successful. How was the strike organized and why are the issues from that strike still relevant to working people today? And how did the union invite black workers into its ranks to prevent racist exclusion from breaking their strike? This Zoom presentation will show photos and video clips from the strike, with a chronology of how a two month long waterfront strike along the entire West Coast exploded into a 4-day general strike that shut down all commerce in San Francisco. 10am-noon, free. More info here.
July 5: Labor History Bike Tour with Chris Carlsson From the pre-urban history of Indian Slavery to the earliest 8-hour day movement in the U.S., the ebb and flow of class war is traced. SF’s radical working class organizations are shaped in part by racist complicity in genocide and slavery. From the 1870s to the 1940s there are dozens of epic battles between owners and workers, culminating in the 1934 General Strike and its aftermath. This is an entirely different look, during a four-hour bike tour, at San Francisco labor history. Noon, $15-$50. More info here.
July 5: Internecine Warfare, Class and The George Floyd Uprising In the midst of the warfare between both the Democrats & Republicans the racist murder of George Floyd has led to the biggest mass protest in the post-war period. At the same time, more than 44 million workers have lost their jobs with no plan in place to put people back to work. George Wright will look at the reasons for the internecine warfare and the inability of both parties to have a solution to the racist system and growing social and economic conditions. 7pm, free. More info here.
July 6: AB5, Tech Robber Barons And Slavery – With Journalist Steve Hill and Edward Escobar UBER, Lyft and other gig transportation platforms are spending over $120 million to overturn AB5 which required these companies to provide workers comp, social security and other protections. Will this law destroy the gig companies and what is the reality for gig workers and the future of work. 7pm, free. More info here.