One question: how can activists organize themselves against economic inequalities?

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UMME HOQUE

Organizing Director of Collectif Dette

Right now, families are buried under $ 140 billion in medical debt. People put their groceries on credit cards, pay their rent with payday loans, and borrow to go to college. Throughout the pandemic, the rich got richer as more than seventy million people lost their jobs, disproportionately women of color in low-paying jobs.

These injustices existed before the pandemic, and are now worse because of it. To organize against this, we need to focus on tackling the real systemic inequalities. We must rebuild by understanding that the real debts we owe are to each other. Everyone involved should be part of local and national community groups, self-help organizations and unions, including Debt Collective, a debtors union where I organize with other debtors.

We need to focus on the fundamental problems of capitalism and a broken democracy, not just looking for simple solutions. It is only by organizing ourselves through movements and through the working class that we can cancel unjust debts and gain health care, education and housing for all.

DELIA VARGAS

McDonald’s worker and leader with the fight for $ 15

Last year, officials at McDonald’s in Oakland, Calif., Where I work, told us to wear dog diapers on our faces to protect ourselves from COVID-19. No real masks, diapers made for dogs.

The management did not prioritize our safety. And of course, nearly a dozen of my colleagues and some of their families have contracted COVID-19. Dog diapers were a symbol of the disrespect we were shown at work. We knew we had to do something.

So we launched the longest strike in McDonald’s history, which lasted more than 40 days. After some colleagues sued, a judge ordered management to follow new security measures. As part of the settlement of the lawsuit, an executive and employee committee will meet monthly to discuss how to keep our workplace safe.

Collective action is powerful. We will continue to fight together against inequalities and mobilize around new solutions to make our voices heard.

CHUCK COLLINS

Director of the program on inequalities and the common good at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he co-edits Inequalities.org

We must take advantage of the growing public awareness that extreme inequalities in income, wealth and opportunity are destroying our lives and our society.

The American public has viscerally experienced how the pandemic has accelerated existing extreme inequalities, as frontline workers, disproportionately women and people of color, have been sent in the viral crosshairs. Billionaires pay millions to hide billions of billions in taxes, and that money flows into local housing markets and drives up the cost of housing for everyone else.

We need to push for policies that “raise the floor”, increasing wages, benefits and protections for low-wage workers. But we also need to tax the rich to break the concentrations of wealth and power that distort democracy.


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