Chicago erupts against Trump

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MORE than a week after Donald Trump’s election as next US president, protesters continue to take to the streets in the US and elsewhere to condemn the billionaire’s xenophobic rhetoric.

In Chicago, about 200 people marched from Federal Plaza to the Trump Tower on Saturday, vowing to create a ‘movement’ against the president-elect’s policy proposals targeting immigrants, Muslims and other minorities.

They carried signs and chanted slogans including, ‘No Trump! No KKK! No racist USA.’ The demonstrators said protests will persist in the city unless Trump abandons his ‘war’ on immigrants and other minorities.

‘An openly racist, sexist man . . . is about to occupy the White House,’ said John Beacham, an activist with ANSWER Chicago, the group that organised the rally. This isn’t a moment. It’s a movement. We need to do this ourselves.’

Advertising the march, the group’s facebook page said: ‘Say no to racism, sexism, and war! We must continue the wave of resistance to a Trump presidency. We cannot let an open racist, sexist and bigot rule this country or threaten the people of the world.

‘We must stand with immigrants, Muslims, women, LGBTQ people, communities of colour and all those who are in danger and will be under attack during a Trump administration.

‘We must organise and unite. We must do this by and for ourselves. Waiting for the Democrats – all of whom are “wishing Trump success” – to defend us is a dead end. If we fight, we can win. If we wait for those in power to save us, we will be waiting a long time. Let’s build a united front movement of the people to defend our communities, defeat Trump and beat back the racists, sexists and bigots.’

As protesters marched from Federal Plaza to State Street, shoppers and tourists lined the streets and in some cases chanted along. ‘We’re coming for you Trump,’ the demonstrators chanted as they approached Trump Tower in downtown Chicago. Organisers said Trump’s presidency and recent cabinet appointments would be met by resistance and daily protest rallies.

‘Our voices are stronger than Trump’s hate,’ said local activist Andy Thayer, who was one of the speakers at Federal Plaza. ‘I deserve a president who leads by example.’ Anti-Trump protesters also rallied outside the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Centre in Washington, DC, where a far-right group was holding a conference.

The anti-fascist demonstrators carried signs and chanted slogans against Trump and the National Policy Institute, a Virginia-based group devoted to immigration reforms based on racial separation, whose president was addressing the conference.

One of march organisers, David Thurston said: ‘We’re here to show our opposition to the National Policy Institute.’ He added: ‘They have tried to make far-right wing anti-black and anti-immigration sentiment mainstream.’

People also staged anti-Trump protest rallies in Austin and New York City. In Toronto, Canada, at least a thousand people took to the streets to rally against Trump on Saturday afternoon. Protesters gathered at Nathan Phillips Square before marching down Bay Street toward Trump International Hotel and Tower, where they clashed with a smaller group of Trump supporters.

Police intervened as tensions mounted between the two groups, separating them by barricades. At least one person was arrested at the rally. Anti-Trump protesters shouted, ‘No way, KKK!’ at Trump supporters who carried signs reading, ‘Make Canada Great Again.’

A protester said she participated in the rally to do her part to protect Canada from the spread of xenophobic sentiment. ‘Sometimes we think, “Oh, they’re just our crazy neighbours next-door. We don’t have to worry about that here”,’ Jennifer Mitchell, 29, told CBC Toronto.

‘But we had a justice in Hamilton who wore a “Make America Great Again” hat in his courthouse. We have a woman who’s trying to become the leader of the Conservative Party, who wants people to prove their Canadian values,’ she said. That’s disgusting and that’s not what I stand for,’ Mitchell said.

Trump’s campaign had been hit with many controversies since its inception in early 2015. But the real estate tycoon still managed to stun the world by defeating the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, in the November 8 election.

Meanwhile, 21 US states are fighting a new Federal rule that will see more than 4 million US workers become newly eligible for overtime pay on December 1st. The new Fair Labour Standards Act will be a boost to some workers’ wallets while others will keep the same pay but work fewer hours.

The new rule would make time-and-a-half mandatory for anyone earning less than $47,476 a year. It would more than double the salary threshold under which employers must pay overtime to their white collar workers. Overtime protections would apply to workers who make up to $913 a week, or $47,476 a year, and the threshold would readjust every three years to reflect changes in average wages.

Based on projections, it is expected to rise to $51,000 by Jan. 1, 2020, after the first update. The Department of Labour estimates that nationally 4.9 million workers will receive the overtime protection. The industries most affected by the new Fair Labour Standards Act rule will likely be retail and hospitality.

The overtime threshold was last updated in 2004 and now covers just 7% of full-time salaried workers, administration officials said – down from 62% in 1975. The higher threshold will lift that ratio back to 35%, Labour Secretary Tom Perez said. Perez has spearheaded the administration’s effort and has worked on formulating the rule for the past two years.

The new rule is intended to boost earnings for middle- and lower-income workers, Perez said, which have been stagnant since the late 1990s. Overtime pay hasn’t received as much attention as nationwide efforts to increase the minimum wage, but it could have a broad impact. As many as 21 states are fighting the rule because of the time-frame for implementation.

‘The overtime rule is designed to restore the intent of the Fair Labour Standards Act, the crown jewel of worker protections in the United States,’ Perez said in a statement.

‘I look forward to vigorously defending our efforts to give more hardworking people a meaningful chance to get by.’

The measure would shrink the so-called ‘white collar exemption’ that exempts workers who perform ‘executive, administrative or professional’ duties from overtime and minimum wage requirements. Overtime has become a sore point for many managers, assistant managers, and management trainees in the fast food and retail industries.

They have complained in lawsuits against such chains as Chipotle and Dollar General that they spend most of 50- or 60-hour workweeks staffing cash registers, mopping floors, or performing other tasks typical of regular employees. Yet they don’t get paid time and a half when they clock more than 40 hours in a week.

The retail federation warns that many of the affected workers will have their hours reduced to below 40 hours a week. Others might receive overtime pay but would have their base wages reduced so their overall income would remain the same.