"Tonight We Riot" is a brutal 8-bit side scroller about worker liberation

There's a lot of overlap between the friends of mine who are fervent video game enthusiasts, and those who are the most belligerent anarcho-syndicalists / anarcho-communists / other Revolutionary Leftist sects — and they have all been singing the praises of "Tonight We Riot," the video game that even Variety calls, "an unapologetically political, socialist game about worker liberation in the face of overpowering capitalism." The official description reads:

A revolutionary crowd-based retro brawler

In a dystopia where wealthy capitalists control elections, media, and the lives of working people, we’re faced with two choices -- accept it or fight for something better.

Tonight We Riot doesn’t have just one hero. Instead, you play as a movement of people whose well-being determines the success of your revolution.

Essentially, it's a retro 8-bit throwback to games like "Streets of Rage," he game is the brainchild of Pixel Pushers Union 512, a worker-owned video game cooperative out of Texas. Except instead of controlling one character with a melee weapon and a limited life, you get a chance to control the entire rioting crowd as they work together to lob molotov cocktails at the bootlicking mechs sent by the evil capitalist overlords determined to quash their solidarity.

I'm not much of a gamer myself, but I might have some free time on my hands soon with this quarantine, and this looks pretty damn delightful to me. You can check it out on Nintendo eShop, Itch.io, Steam, or Good Old Games. Read the rest

Here are some songs about unions and workers' rights, to raise money for COVID-19 relief funds

I've had a busy few weeks of moving and renovating my home in the middle of a pandemic while also trying to work a full-time. So naturally, I decided to relax by … making a 4-song live EP of protest songs about unions and workers, to raise money for the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund for essential workers. Today in particular is not only International Worker's Day, but the music site BandCamp is also waiving their fees their day — so 100% of money you send my way for this pay-what-you-want album will go directly to workers in need.

There are worse ways to celebrate May Day, in my humble opinion.

Essential Songs for Essential Workers — Live From Quarantine [Thom Dunn / BandCamp]

Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund

  Read the rest

It's International Worker's Day, so here's a look at a day in the life of a labor organizer

Nastaran Mohit is the organizing director of the NewsGuild of New York, which represents more than 24,000 journalists and media workers in the US and Canada. I've met her through her work with the Wirecutter Union, and she's also helped to organize workers at The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Buzzfeed, and more.

Teen Vogue recently published a great piece on Mohit, breaking down a day in her life — which is, as one might imagine, made even more complicated by the coronavirus pandemic. But Nas keeps fighting the good fight, doing crucial work at a time when media layoffs are more and more common. Solidarity matters, and there is power in a union.

Nastaran Mohit: A Day in the Life of a Union Organizer [Allegra Kirkland / Teen Vogue] Read the rest

Coronavirus outbreak leads to beef production cuts at Cargill plant in Canada that supplies McDonald's patties

The plant is “built around efficiency,” keeping workers in close quarters and making it impossible to social distance, Cargill says

Smithfield Foods, Inc. recently closed a major pork processing plant in South Dakota, after workers were sickened with coronavirus in what has since become an outbreak hotspot.

Now, U.S.-owned Cargill is cutting production at one of Canada's biggest beef-packing plants, after several dozen Cargill meat processing workers there were confirmed ill with the new coronavirus. Read the rest

Four US senators write Jeff Bezos to ask how Amazon protects workers from COVID-19

Four senators, including Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, have written a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to ask what measures are being taken to protect warehouse workers from COVID-19. The coronavirus outbreak that causes this deadly disease has now infected more than 20,000 people throughout America. Read the rest

What the late, great James Connolly got right about socialism and oligarchies

I've written here before to mention that I perform lengthy sets of Irish folk music around St. Patrick's Day*, and there are quite a few of those popular pub songs that include (well-deserved, IMHO) shout-outs to James Connolly, a stalwart champion of workers' rights who was executed by British soldiers after the 1916 Easter Rising. As I get older, I haven't found myself getting more conservative, like the Boomers told me I would; instead, I find myself realizing more and more that James Connolly was right about a damn lot of things.

One of my favorite writings of his — which I find I reference in casual conversation more than I should probably admit — is this piece on the differences between "state monopolies" and "socialism." Originally published in the June 10, 1899 issue of Workers’ Republic, this short essay impressively articulates the differences between centralized government control of a society, and what it means to actually put that ownership into collective public hands.

Socialism properly implies above all things the co-operative control by the workers of the machinery of production; without this co-operative control the public ownership by the State is not Socialism – it is only State capitalism. The demands of the middle-class reformers, from the Railway Reform League down, are simply plans to facilitate the business transactions of the capitalist class. State Telephones – to cheapen messages in the interest of the middle class who are the principal users of the telephone system; State Railways – to cheapen carriage of goods in the interest of the middle-class trader; State-construction of piers, docks, etc.

Read the rest

Workers sue McDonald's over McSexual Harassment

On Tuesday, McDonald’s Corporation was sued by a group of workers in the state of Michigan who say the global fast-food chain allows pervasive sexual harassment to run rampant at its restaurant locations. Read the rest

Apple cleans up Siri's privacy problems, screwing over workers in the process

Good news everybody: Apple's really sorry about recording our conversations with Siri. In a statement issued earlier today, the company's talking heads stated that they realized that the '...haven’t been fully living up to our high ideals'. The letter goes on to say that, to make up for their eavesdropping shenanigans, Apple's going to be making a few changes to how Siri does its thing.

From Apple:

First, by default, we will no longer retain audio recordings of Siri interactions. We will continue to use computer-generated transcripts to help Siri improve.

Second, users will be able to opt in to help Siri improve by learning from the audio samples of their requests. We hope that many people will choose to help Siri get better, knowing that Apple respects their data and has strong privacy controls in place. Those who choose to participate will be able to opt out at any time.

Third, when customers opt in, only Apple employees will be allowed to listen to audio samples of the Siri interactions. Our team will work to delete any recording which is determined to be an inadvertent trigger of Siri

This of course, is great news for anyone that uses Apple's Siri voice assistant. Unfortunately, that less people will be needed to snoop on the conversations between the companies customers and their tech likely means that some resources will need to be shifted around in order to accomoda—wait, what?

From The Guardian:

Hundreds of Apple workers across Europe who were employed to check Siri recordings for errors have lost their jobs after the company announced it was suspending the programme earlier this month.

Read the rest

British Columbia passes law prohibiting employers from taking tips

Employers in British Columbia will no longer be able to skim worker's tips, according to a story in the Read the rest

"I am an Uber employee and I support the drivers’ strikes."

“The authenticity of the following anonymous op-ed has been verified by Medium’s editorial staff.” Read the rest

GE dumps century-old railroad division on Wabtec, almost 2,000 factory workers strike

GE Transportation workers were told after merger their new employer “wants to turn this into an Amazon warehouse,” says labor union.

Federal workers must show up and can't strike even when not paid in Trump's Shutdown

Did you know all those hundreds of thousands of U.S. government workers who aren't getting paid during Trump's 18-days-and-counting shutdown still have to show up for work, even if they are not getting paid? Hard to believe, right? Read the rest

Amazon eliminating monthly bonuses & stock awards to help pay new raises for warehouse workers

Amazon is eliminating monthly bonuses and stock awards for warehouse workers and other hourly employees, apparently to help pay for raises. The internet retail giant pledged earlier this week to raise pay to at least $15 an hour. Read the rest

Pressured by union, Disney World raises minimum wage to $15

All Disney resort workers will be paid at least $15 an hour by 2021, reports Charles Pulliam-Moore.

This is another win for workers, as just this past July unions representing almost 10,000 Disneyland employees won their own fight for a $15 minimum wage.

Disney’s revenue, generated in part by the labor of its parks and resorts workforce, increased by 6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 to $4.7 billion.

Read the rest

Some U.S. poultry factory workers wear diapers at work because they're denied bathroom breaks

People who work in chicken and turkey processing plants run by America's biggest poultry producers are routinely denied bathroom breaks. Because of this, some resort to wearing diapers while they're at work on the processing line, Oxfam America said in a report released Wednesday.

`They are in danger of serious health problems,' says the report. Read the rest

WATCH: Walmart's leaked internal anti-union propaganda video

Walmart has fought against unionization at every step of the way, including producing videos to dissuade workers from organizing. Read the rest

A map of the worst countries in the world in which to be a worker

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), a trade group alliance that works to improve laborers' rights around the globe, released its Global Rights Index this week. Countries are ranked from 1 (best) to 5 (worst) on a scale of how well they guard workers' rights. Cambodia, Qatar, and Guatemala were among the worst offenders. Read the rest

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