It isn’t just the actions of tax-dodging corporations like Bank of America and Verizon that have infuriated activists. Blackwater, the private mercenary firm that recently changed its name to Xe Services, is also being accused of owing millions in back taxes.
Camden County Manager Randell Woodruff alleges the company owes around $2.9 million, including penalties and interest. Yet, the United States government permits multibillion-dollar companies to play by a different set of rules, while average Americans are asked to sacrifice their pensions and social services.
While Erik Prince gallivants around the planet, his pockets stuffed with untaxed revenue, educators and union members marched in the streets of Philadelphia yesterday to protest the state education budget that contains a 54 percent cut to public higher education spending.
Students like Azeem Hill approach the issue of education cuts, which oftentimes lead to tuition hikes, less myopically than some political leaders. “Youth violence is one of the reactions to educational deprivation,” Hill said. “The more we send to jail, the more crime we can expect down the line.”
In Florida, citizens joined a national day of union-led rallies honoring the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination by protesting Governor Rick Scott’s appearance at an economic forum. Florida’s rally was one part of more than 1,000 groups holding nationwide protests as part of the “We Are One” demonstrations. WR1 emphasizes that King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1968 while standing in solidarity with sanitation workers who were demanding their dream: the right to collectively bargain for a “voice at work and a better life.”
The WR1 chapter in Michigan attracted more than 500 supporters in downtown Muskegon. Participants carried signs that read “Stand Up For Workers Rights” and “Unions also are We the People.” Meanwhile, more than 700 anti-union bills, many of them similar to laws in Wisconsin and Ohio, have been introduced in nearly every state in the country. Quite literally, labor is under attack, according to this protester in Detroit, where hundreds of union members rallied downtown yesterday.
"The pay cuts, the tax on pensions, it’s just too much," said Horace Stallings, a grounds worker at Wayne State University and an AFSCME member who marched along with other members down Woodward.
"We can’t take it. It’s anti-labor to the core."
In New York City, more than 1,000 people, mostly local union members, rallied against budget cuts at City Hall. As Pat Gibbons from Communications Workers of America Local 1101 put it, “We want our fair share because we do the work.”