Racism, worker rights and the FedEx shooting

The mass shooting April 15 at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis took the lives of eight workers and injured seven more. Half of those slain were members of the Sikh community, and one was a young African American woman. The murderer, 19-year-old Brandon Hole, killed himself after the shootings took place.

There have been many hate crimes against Sikhs, especially following the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center. Haters ignorantly linked the turbans worn by Sikh men with Osama Bin-Laden. In 2012 six people were killed and four injured in an attack on a Sikh house of worship — a gurdwara — in Oak Creek, Wis.

Immediately following the Indianapolis massacre, the Sikh Coalition explained in a statement: “It was no accident that the shooter targeted this particular FedEx facility where he had worked and knew was overwhelmingly staffed by Sikhs. This was not a crime of convenience or a spur of the moment attack; it was one of methodical planning and selection which echoes the targeting of Asian American spa parlors in Atlanta exactly one month ago. The people that were shot and killed were not random targets.” (sikhcoalition.org)

Historically and now, white supremacists from the Klan to the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys have never had trouble obtaining the tools they use to terrorize the Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Arab, Muslim, Jewish, LGBTQ2S+ and other communities. They can get weapons, explosives, lumber and fuel for cross-burnings, propaganda leaflets, media access, rally permits, police protection — and in this era, internet and social access.

Young white men with white-supremacist views — the profile of many mass shooters — have no trouble gaining access to firearms, including semiautomatic weapons. 

We are all told the fascists have a First Amendment right to spread hatred. But racist ideology — recklessly fomented during the Trump administration — fuels racist violence.

Like Amazon workers, FedEx workers need a union

The white supremacy driving so many mass shootings is the number one tool that capitalists use to keep the working class divided — and unorganized. 

Package handlers and drivers at FedEx earn on the average $14-15 an hour; drivers at UPS make about $10 an hour more. The difference? FedEx, number 70 on the Fortune 500 list of wealthiest companies, is nonunion. Lower wages have helped FedEx earn billions in profits annually, most recently almost $900 million in the quarter ending Feb. 28.

Safety of the workers who make them rich is not a priority for FedEx bosses. Last November, Leanell “Troy” McClenton filed a wrongful death lawsuit against FedEx over the 2019 death of his son, Detate Young, who was killed on the job when an unlocked door holding piles of packages swung open. Young, who was in the way, was crushed.

Workers at the FedEx World Hub in Memphis, where Young worked, complain about the speed of work and the dangerous conditions. Thousands of the company’s 500,000 workers worldwide have tested positive for COVID.

At the Indianapolis facility, workers are required to lock off their phones while on the job. This meant they could not call for help after their co-workers were shot. Their relatives, frantically calling to find out if they were among the victims, could not reach them. 

This is the 21st century high-tech version of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist tragedy in New York City and the Imperial Foods chicken processing plant fire 80 years later in Hamlet, N.C., fires which killed 146 and 25 workers respectively. In both cases the workers were locked in by the bosses. 

Without a union, the workers did not have a voice to demand safe working conditions.

Union YES! White supremacy NO!

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