On Sunday July 21st, my girlfriend Gina and I, and her mother Carol, decided to confront Trump supporters on one of Frederick Law Olmsted’s last surviving parkways in Buffalo, N.Y. The rallies consisted of two factions. The first was an anti-Trump group gathered at Elmwood Ave and Bidwell, consisting of 200 People and a podium, with several speakers including a church singing group from St. John’s Episcopalian Church singing peace hymns protesting children in cages, especially migrants and asylum seekers.
The rally was so good on the anti-Trump side, I even met my old retired psychologist, wow, who will I meet next? Because the organizer was wary about who could speak at the podium that there were 20 people ahead of me. Therefore, I didn’t get a chance to speak on behalf of Social Democrats, USA. I decided to picket on the sidewalk with my girlfriend, hoping to get the passing car’s attention to look at our signs. My sign said, “Keep the Kids, Deport Trump!” My girlfriend sign said “In Our America, No Human is Illegal, Etc. Etc.” As cars passed by, beeping, hissing and supporting Trump, I referred to the caravan as “Mindless grinning bulldogs.” Another passerby grinned at my sign most awkwardly to which I returned the smile and said, “My Grandmother was a refugee.”
My girlfriend was the lucky one, a family that came in from Clarence, N.Y. admired her sign the most. The wife cried and asked where she could get a sign like that. We told her that she could get one from the Western New York Peace Center. After the speeches were done, the anti-Trump protesters decided to trickle over to the pro-Trump rally where some 50 pro-Trump supporters were surrounded by Buffalo Police Officers. What some anarcho-libertarians would consider a kumbaya, immediately turned into a shoting match where two guys fought over a sign that was held, and was reported by Channel 4 News in Buffalo.
One anti-Trump supporter asked me and my girlfriend and her mother if we were going to lock horns with the other side. I replied, “I already got my dose of Sean Hannity in my twenties.” A recent psychological journal article pointed out the difference between pro and anti Trump supporters. The conclusion of the article stated that Trump supporters will never understand logic or facts in politics because they too are driven by emotions and most of all fear, fear of emigrants, fear of minorities.
In 1986 I was working at Detroit Metro Airport when one of our MD-80s crashed during takeoff. About 150 people were killed instantly, except for one infant (still an unexplainable miracle). The accident investigation revealed that the pilots did not properly set the flaps for take-off. That’s a routine step in their procedure, but they missed it because they were distracted. Our airline was going through a merger at the time and the pilots were all nervous about how they would fare. Our industry is heavily unionized, and seniority will make or break your life. The pilots on this particular flight were discussing the merger in the cockpit while they were awaiting takeoff clearance from ATC. Fifteen minutes later, they would all be dead.
Very professional workers can still make mistakes. In the airline industry we refer to the causes of these errors “human factors”. These factors include poor communication, fatigue, distraction, etc. Human error analysis and correction is a major focus in aviation. We don’t have a choice; mistakes are deadly. We have worked during the past 30 years to imbed safety into every facet of our operations. And it shows. U.S. airlines transport 885 million passengers a year. During the past 10 years only one person has died due to an accident. Compare this to the 250,000 people who die each year in the U.S. due to medical error. No other industry comes even remotely close to our safety record. It’s something we are very proud of.
Union workers have been central to developing this safety culture. They have developed error reporting and analysis programs with management. Workers must be free to say “I made an error” without fear of losing their job. That error has to be analyzed so that it can be prevented from happening again. Other industries could learn much from observing airline processes. And while I would say that all the unions in an airline work together in accomplishing these safety goals, they don’t usually work together on other matters. Airline unions have varying history and missions. Unions that are not grounded in workers rights and socialism view their mission as simply representing their members for their collective benefit, not part of a wider movement. From my personal experience I can say that the IAM has always done a stellar job standing up for all workers, not just their members. I remember union leaders telling members that both the janitor and the mechanic have to pay the same price for bread, even when mechanics wanted to throw the baggage handlers or stock clerks under the bus during contract negotiations. I always gave the IAM leadership credit for teaching the stewards these basic lessons. We don’t historically see this in flight attendants and pilots unions.
That’s why I have been so encouraged by Sara Nelson and the Association of Flight Attendants. When the Federal shutdown idled employees and caused others to work without pay, Sara recognized the threat to the flying public caused by a human factors error. At the same time, President Trump dismissed the impact by saying that these workers would all get their back pay and they should be able to go for a month without a paycheck. But the threat is real. Very professional workers, when distracted from their duties by outside factors, can and will make errors. Sara and her coworkers exhibit a safety consciousness that informs everything they do. Further, a new assertiveness by women has allowed her to take the lead on this matter in an industry still dominated by men. It wasn’t the pilots who publicly alerted the nation to the danger, and it wasn’t the mechanics who ended the shutdown, it was the flight attendants. This is something inconceivable when I hired into the airlines in 1980.
Sara is today calling for a nationwide day of action by all flight attendants if the government is shut down again. You should follow Sara on twitter @flyingwithsara. The AFA-CWA are members of AFL-CIO.
SDUSA Endorsement of Representative- elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ Resolution on Establishing a House Select Committee to Plan a Green New Deal
Social Democrats USA does not approve of the House Democratic Leaderships rejection of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to establish a House Select Committee to Plan a Green New Deal. Instead, they are reviving a mostly toothless House Select Committee on the Environment. The reasons why SDUSA supports the creation of this stronger Select Committee is summarized in the statement below that was approved by the SD National Committee at their last meeting.
The resolution introduced by Representative Ocasio-Cortez to establish a House Select Committee to plan a Green New Deal is one of the most significant social, economic and ecological proposals to be advanced in decades. The National Committee of Social Democrats USA endorses the resolution and urges the new Democratic- controlled House of Representatives to approve it as soon as possible.
For decades demagogues have profited by frightening the working people of the country into believing that environmental progress can only be made at a cost of the loss of jobs and lower standards of living. Now, when untrammeled corporate greed has caused a climate crisis around the world, everyone, regardless of circumstances, is in danger from the massive assault on our common environment. At the same time the economic, social and political conditions of the great majority have become worse. Inequality of income and wealth is at levels not seen since the advent of the original New Deal. As usual in an unrestricted capitalist economy, the last recession was solved by placing the burden on the backs of working people, at a cost of millions of jobs and homes.
Medical outcomes are worse than in other developed countries and costs are higher. Millions of young people are crippled by student debt, and childhood poverty continues to climb. It is past time to take the approach of the Ocasio-Cortez resolution: a comprehensive, planned approach to the crises we face, an approach that recognizes the interdependence of the environment, the society and the economy.
It’s time for social democracy.
Massachusetts Social Democrats will sponsor a forum on November 28th on the topic of “What’s Ahead for Massachusetts Progressives?” Outstanding speakers include State Senator Jamie Eldridge, Jeff Ballinger (the SDUSA endorsed candidate for Congress) and Benjamin Bloomenthal (former candidate for State Representative). The speakers are expected to discuss challenges to progressives in the MA State Legislature, the Congress and the Democratic Party. The meeting will be held at Christ Church, Zero Garden Street (near Harvard Square), Cambridge, MA and will begin at 7:30 PM.