Tag Archives: worker’s rights

Overpass Light Brigade: 2013 A Year of Collaborations and Light

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The Overpass Light Brigade was definitely visible in 2013.

The Overpass Light Brigade was definitely visible in 2013.

Milwaukee, WI -  In 2013, the Overpass Light Brigade (OLB) worked hard to shed light on issues ignored by the mainstream media. Along with the other 40 affiliates comprising the nationwide Light Brigade Network, OLB is a vivid example of the power of collective action to drive public debate. Eight collaborations this past year between OLB and other groups exemplify the power of the light brigade medium.

350.org/No KXL: Alberta Tar Sands Extraction

This past year, OLB collaborated several times with groups resisting the exploitation of the Alberta tar sands and fighting to address the climate crisis. In one example, OLB joined forces with 350.org to present an illuminated message as part of the nationwide Draw the Line day of action. In another, OLB teamed up with local NOKXL organizers, who are training local people to engage in peaceful civil disobedience to stop the Keystone XL pipeline as part of the nationwide Pledge of Resistance.

Idle No More: Penokee Hills Mine/Sand for Hydraulic Fracking/Water Rights

The growing Idle No More movement, which works for indigenous rights and land and water protections, collaborated closely with OLB in 2013. The two groups organized several events opposing the Penokee Hill iron ore strip mine in northern Wisconsin, sand mining for hydraulic fracking, and the recent creation of a statewide wolf hunt. They also worked together to support indigenous treaty rights and access to water resources.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin: Women’s Rights

This year, Governor Scott Walker and the GOP-controlled Wisconsin legislature attacked women’s rights by passing a mandatory ultrasound bill. This regressive legislation forces women to have the invasive procedure before they can have an abortion. It also mandates that doctors providing abortion services have admitting privileges at a hospital, reducing the number of locations where the procedure may be performed and needlessly forcing women to travel great distances to access services. To pressure legislators, the Holders of the Light displayed messages right in front of the Capitol in Madison. OLB also worked with the group Focus on Jobs, Not Vaginas! to take the fight to the National Governors’ Meeting in Milwaukee.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin asked OLB to make a short film, titled “Be Visible.” This powerful short was directed by Emmy nominee Brad Lichtenstein, and featured the personal stories of woman forced to rely on the vital services of Planned Parenthood in their time of need.

These messages were all held on the Capitol lawn in Madison in July, when the Walker Administration passed his mandatory ultrasound bill.

These messages were all held on the Capitol lawn in Madison in July in solidarity with women across the country, undergoing similar attacks on their reproductive rights.

Solidarity Sing Along: Freedom of Speech

The Solidarity Sing Along, a daily singing protest at the Wisconsin State Capitol, came under attack this past summer. Scott Walker cracked down on the peaceful singers, rewriting a series of administrative rules to force them to get a permit and accept liability for singing in their own statehouse, and then arresting people for noncompliance. Several OLB messages supported the singers and their fight.

Poster and messages created by Overpass Light Brigade.

Poster and messages created by Overpass Light Brigade.

Palermo’s Pizza Workers Union: Labor Rights

Workers continued their year-and-a-half-long strike and boycott against Palermo’s Pizza in Milwaukee, after the company fired and intimidated employees for union organizing activities. They decided to march 18 miles to take their message to the company owner’s home, and OLB stood in solidarity with them.

Milwaukee Teachers: Strengthening Public Education

Teachers continued their fight to improve working and learning conditions in the Milwaukee Public School system. When the School Board refused to negotiate a new contract, the educators worked with OLB to deliver messages directly to School Board directors’ homes, and turned out en masse with lighted letters at public School Board meetings.

Milwaukee Public School educators held this message at the back of a full public School Board meeting in early February.

March Against Monsanto: Food Sovereignty

OLB helped bring visibility to two major March Against Monsanto actions this past year. The international movement is fighting against the food giant’s threats to consumer safety, ecological health, and family farmers’ welfare.

Wisconsin Jobs Now: Fast Food Workers Rights

Fast food workers went on strike several times in 2013, and the Holders of the Light shone boldly in solidarity. Wisconsin Jobs Now, which led the effort to organize workers in Wisconsin, worked with OLB to organize several actions in support of the nationwide strikes.

2013 was a pivotal year for the Light Brigade Network. The group forged new collaborations, tackled fresh issues, and expanded into areas where they had previously had no on-the-ground presence. At the dawn of 2014, they are stronger than ever, and ready for another year of light activism.

Photo credit: Dusan Harminc

Photo credit: Dusan Harminc

 

Resolution/ Revolution from Overpass Light Brigade on Vimeo.

Light Brigade Network Beams Evening Messages Through Walmart Black Friday Sales

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The Overpass Light Brigade in Milwaukee and other light brigades around the country shined their feelings about Walmart during Black Friday sales.

The Light Brigade Network - Scenes of rabid shoppers pushing, shoving, stampeding, and punching their way to new flat screen televisions and tablets have been plastered across American’s televisions and computers since Black Friday sales opened Thursday. However, some of the groups that have visited Big Box retailers for Black Friday sales this year have had another more peaceful purpose. These groups didn’t show up for the hottest new door buster sales, but, instead, shined lighted messages against the madness unfolding before them.

The “protestors” are orderly and respectful, in sharp contrast to the manipulated greed of the shoppers and the avarice of our unrelenting consumer culture.

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Members of the Overpass Light Brigade held this message outside a Walmart in Milwaukee.

Overpass Light Brigade – PDX held this message for Walmart shoppers in Portland.

Overpass Light Brigade – Massachusetts walked this message right under Walmart’s front entrance before being asked to leave.

The Northern Illinois Light Brigade teamed up with Occupy Naperville and Illinois Jobs With Justice for this message.

The Occupy Gainesville Light Brigade also visited a local Walmart for Thanksgiving Black Friday Sales.

Overpass Light Brigade - Austin also spent time in front of Walmart.

Overpass Light Brigade – Austin also spent time in front of Walmart.

The Atlanta Light Brigade helped the group For Respect, who are currently helping organize Walmart workers around the country.

Overpass Light Brigade held this message over busy traffic in San Diego.

Overpass Light Brigade held this message over busy traffic in San Diego.

 

 

Protestors Descend Upon Scott Walker’s Governors Convention

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Milwaukee, WI - This weekend, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is hosting Governors from around the U.S. at the Milwaukee Convention Center. Protestors were there to greet them this afternoon and a large police presence was there to greet protestors.

Massive MPD Presence

MPD have blockaded off the east end of the Milwaukee Convention Center and set up a mobile surveillance trailer for this weekend’s Governors Conference.

The first noticeable thing when approaching the Milwaukee Convention Center was that the entire eastern portion of the block was barricaded off from pedestrians with signs that warned, “Security Zone. Restricted Area. Do Not Enter. Per Order of the Milwaukee Police Department”. Behind the barricades were, at times, ten officers and a mobile video surveillance trailer that had 4 separate cameras attached to it. There were also five mounted officers at two different locations.

Because of the barricades erected by MPD, protestors were forced to assemble on the other side of Wisconsin Avenue away from the convention center, so the demonstrators decided to instead march around the intersection, effectively placing them right in front of the convention center several times and attracting greater visibility for their action.Marching Past Governors ConventionMarching on the Governors ConventionAfter circling around the Wisconsin Avenue intersection several times, the group settled in across the street, where speakers from Occupy Milwaukee, Move to Amend of Southeast Wisconsin, Amalgamated Transit Union, and Citizen Action of Wisconsin spoke on issues pertaining to the governors in attendance including Move to Amend, women’s rights, and racial profiling in Milwaukee and around the nation to name a few.Art Heitzer Addresses Crowd

Here are the governors who were in attendance Friday for the National Governors Association conference:

Jan Brewer (R) of Arizona, John Hickenlooper (D) of Colorado, Daniel Malloy (D) of Connecticut, Jack Markell of Delaware, Neil Abercrombie (D) of Hawaii, Pat Quinn (D) of Illinois, Terry Branstad (R) of Iowa, Martin O’Malley (D) of Maryland, Mark Dayton (D) of Minnesota, Phil Bryant (R) of Mississippi, Jay Nixon (D) of Missouri, Dave Heineman (R) of Nebraska, Chris Christie (R) of New Jersey, Pat McCrory (R) of North Carolina, Jack Dalrymple (R) of North Dakota, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Alejandro Garcia Padilla (Popular Democratic Party) of Puerto Rico, Lincoln Chafee (D) of Rhode Island, Dennis Daugaard (R) of South Dakota, Bill Haslam (R) of Tennessee, Gary Herbert of Utah, Peter Shumlin (D) of Vermont, John de Jongh Jr. (D) of Virgin Islands, Earl Ray Tomblin (D) of West Virgina and Walker (R) of Wisconsin.

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Next Protest at the Governors Convention is Saturday.

Tomorrow at 1:00p the group “Focus on Jobs, Not Vaginas!” has organized a “Welcoming Party” for Walker and the other GOP “Vagina Demagogues.” Join them @ 400 W. Wisconsin. The Facebook event page is right here.

More photos from today’s protest can be found here.

Death of Democracy in Detroit

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Lane and Lisa

Detroit, MI - This weekend I had the chance to visit the massive city of Detroit as part of a workshop, as a member of the Overpass Light Brigade, for the Allied Media Conference (AMC). As a first-time visitor to the city of Detroit, the first thing I was awakened to was the incredible breadth of ruined, blighted, abandoned and foreclosed buildings and homes. City residents and elected leaders are saddled with the infrastructure of a city built for 1.7 million people but the racist and neoliberal policies of the last several decades have decimated Detroit and other midwestern cities like it across the country, reducing its population by one-million residents. This reality has left remaining residents with an absurdly oversized city, built entirely around the automobile with less than half of the tax revenue the once-thriving metropolis enjoyed.

The ruins abandoned ruins of the once mighty Michigan Central Station.

The abandoned ruins of the once mighty Michigan Central Station.

“Nothing symbolizes Detroit’s grandiose rise and spectacular fall like Michigan Central Station. No other building exemplifies just how much the automobile gave to the city of Detroit — and how much it took away.” This monumental building stands ruined and rusted, a lasting symbol of what Detroit once was. For this very reason, we held an “ENDGAME” message with the towering remnant behind us.

Endgame meaning: ”the final part of a game, battle, or political process when the result is decided.”

End Game

The city’s recent fortunes have worsened, as Governor Snyder has decided to deal with the city’s struggles to right itself from the failed policies of the past by disenfranchising the predominantly African-American people of Motor City. Snyder has appointed an “emergency manager” who has been given the authority “…to over-ride the votes of local citizens and the decisions and contracts made by their locally elected mayor and city council. The manager has the power to abrogate previously signed union contracts with city workers and sell city assets to pay off the city’s creditors.” In response to this draconian action from Gov. Snyder we thought it was necessary to prop up one more message that shined the truth on what has happened in Detroit and other cities in Michigan.

End of Democracy

Flickr photo album of other Overpass Light Brigade actions.

Striking Milwaukee Fast Food Workers Join A Growing Movement

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Wisconsin State Representative Mandela Barnes speaks to striking fast food workers.
The Overpass Light Brigade kicked off the Milwaukee fast food worker strike on Tuesday night by displaying this message over I-43 for drivers leaving downtown.

The Overpass Light Brigade kicked off the Milwaukee fast food worker strike on Tuesday night by displaying this message over I-43 for drivers leaving downtown.

Milwaukee, WI - Hundreds of fast food workers didn’t show up to work in Milwaukee on Wednesday. Instead they decided to stand up in a one day collective action called “Raise Up MKE“ demanding a living wage ($15.00/hr) and the ability to organize a union without reprisal from bosses. They became the fifth city (Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, and New York City) in the nation to organize and strike in the last month for better working conditions in what appears to be a growing movement.

Striking worker leave the Milwaukee County Courthouse after rallying for 45 minutes.

Striking worker leave the Milwaukee County Courthouse after rallying for 45 minutes.

Workers rallied in front of several local fast food locations successfully coaxing other workers to join them. After making several stops around Milwaukee many workers descended upon the Milwaukee County Courthouse, where they rallied for about 45 minutes before finally marching down Milwaukee’s most prominent thoroughfare, Wisconsin Avenue, where other striking workers met up for a massive rally in front of Grand Avenue Shopping Mall, shutting down Milwaukee’s busiest street. There several speakers spoke in support of the striking workers, including Wisconsin State Rep. Mandela Barnes, Jennifer Epps-Addison (Citizen Action of Wisconsin), and Rev. Willie Brisco (MICAH).

Hundreds of striking fast food workers rally in front of the Grand Avenue Mall in downtown Milwaukee.

Hundreds of striking fast food workers rally in front of the Grand Avenue Mall in downtown Milwaukee.

Striking workers state that their current wages are not enough to support themselves and their families. Many workers complain that their employers have limited their hours under the critical threshold of thirty hours to evade national healthcare law provisions that would require the employer pay health care benefits. This current dynamic pushes many fast food workers and other low wage workers onto government assistance programs. These costs are then passed on to the rest of society, while the corporations, who employ them, rake in record profits and pay out unprecedented bonuses. Current fast food wages have not kept up with inflation while corporate executive pay has ballooned for decades. It is more than time that low wage workers be paid living wages and given stronger protections to organize unions. After all, shouldn’t workers who get up everyday and contribute to society be afforded the ability to purchase housing and food for their family?

Wisconsin State Representative Mandela Barnes speaks to striking fast food workers.

Wisconsin State Representative Mandela Barnes speaks to striking fast food workers.

The Reverend Willie Brisco speaks to striking fast food workers assembled in front of a downtown shopping mall.

The Reverend Willie Brisco speaks to striking fast food workers assembled in front of a downtown shopping mall.

Before marching on Grand Avenue Mall, striking workers met up in front of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

Before marching on Grand Avenue Mall, striking workers met up in front of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

Poster put together by the Overpass Light Brigade in response to the fast food worker movement.

Poster put together by the Overpass Light Brigade in response to the fast food worker movement.

Find more photos here:

Flickr Album