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Ending the Issue of Race

August 19, 2011

This story here regarding the pending suit the US government has filed against Panda Express reminds of a tactic employers have used historically to dissolve unions.

I’m not suggesting that workers at this particular Panda Express were trying to form a union or organize the labor there–if we look at the history of the restaurant industry, it has been very difficult to organize unions. But I think it is important to look at this one particular case because it provides a textbook case of using race as a weapon to divide workers.

One important strategy when it comes to organizing labor is creating a class identity. Creating solidarity among workers reminds them that they are from the same social class, thus they are fighting for the same objectives, such as an improvement in working conditions, better benefits, higher wages and so forth. However, the best way to destroy efforts of class identity is by introducing race as an issue in order to cause conflict and racial tension.

When one group is favored such as the case where Asian employees work more hours and are given more favorable tasks to do than their Latino counterparts at Panda Express, it will doubtless create a rift since one group benefits over the other group.

We have to remind ourselves that we are all human beings–every one of us has received 23 chromosomes from each parent, with the rare exception of gene mutations. Race should not become an issue, especially when we are all part of the human race. Solidarity!

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