Paper of the Sympathizing Section of the International Workers League (Fourth International) in the United States March 2018 / www.lavozlit.com / Facebook.com/VozdelosTrabajadores / www.litci.org / US $1 (donation)
ON MARCH 8TH: TAKE ACTION FOR WOMEN'S RIGHTS!
HOW DO WE BUILD WORKING CLASS POWER? ...pg. 5
END THE WARS AT HOME ...pg. 20 AND ABROAD
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: The Struggle for Public and Affordable Housing in Midtown, San Francisco Chicago Transit Workers and Allies Fight Back La crisis de la vivienda en San José Justice for David Cole: AFSCME’s Struggle for Racial Justice at UC Berkeley No to War Against North Korea! Ruling Class Consensus on Israel and Palestine Iran 2017 Protests: Changing the Story of Iranian Popular Resistance International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggle Manifesto End the Persecution of Sebastian Romero and of all Activists!
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Let’s Organize Mass Actions on March 8th!
By Florence Oppen
The election of Trump and the nomination of an expli-
citly anti-abortion (and homophobic) Vice President, Mike Pence, made clear that reproductive rights are going to be even more on the chopping board. The culture of passive acceptance to losing rights cultivated by the liberal elites has emboldened the Christian Rights and made the struggle harder. Yet, fortunately the massive participation in Women´s March, the International Women Strike platform and the #metoo movement are marking a break with that. Let’s build a mass movement for women and reproductive rights!
Trump Increases War on Women In Late January President Trump delivered strong support to the anti-choice movement, as thousands of participants attended the annual March for Life event in Washington. During the campaign, Pence threatened to eliminate abortion rights during a public town hall in Michigan in July during the campaign: “We’ll see Roe v. Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs”. A first step in that direction is the threat of the new Trump administration to make the Hyde Amendment from 1977 (which bans the use
of any federal funds for abortion, unless the pregnancy is a result of rape, incest, or if it is determined to endanger the woman’s life) into permanent law. Until now it is an amendment attached annually to Congressional appropriations bills and has been approved every year by the Congress. Trump’s endorsement of the March for Lives in January follows over one year of vicious attacks against full access to reproductive health care for women. In a direct assault against working class women’s ability to access reproductive healthcare, the Department of Health and Human services established an exemption for employers. Organizations claiming freedom of religion could opt out of providing health plans covering birth control. Despite attempts to block this measure, Trump continues his assault against the right to abortions, contraceptives, and gender-affirming health care services. Most recently, he announced he would be expanding protections for health care professionals who object to providing necessary medical procedures including abortions and gender reassignment surgery on the grounds of religious freedom. These protections would most certainly result in restricted access to contraceptives as well.
NATIONAL The Silent Erosion Of Abortion Rights And Ongoing Alt-Right Assault on Women’s Bodies What has played out in the last 15 years is a bi-partisan neoliberal assault on women’s rights geared at depleting the content and material access of abortion and reproductive rights for women. An erosion that began under Bush, accelerated under Obama period. Today the situation is worse: 58% of U.S. women of reproductive age lived in states that were hostile toward abortion rights. According to the Guttmacher Institute “29 states have adopted enough abortion restrictions to be considered either hostile (6 states) or extremely hostile (23 states) to abortion rights, with Iowa and West Virginia entering the hostile group for the first time.” Despite the 1973 Supreme Court ruling Roe vs Wade which legalized abortion in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute, today: Gestational Limits: 43 states prohibit abortions generally except when necessary to protect the woman’s life or health, after a specified point in pregnancy, most often fetal viability; Public Funding: Only 17 states use their own funds to pay for all or most medically necessary abortions for Medicaid enrollees in the state. 32 states and the District of Columbia prohibit the use of state funds except in those cases when federal funds are available: where the woman’s life is in danger or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. In defiance of federal requirements, South Dakota limits funding to cases of life endangerment only. Insurance Coverage: 11 states restrict coverage of abortion in private insurance plans, most often limiting coverage only to when the woman’s life would be endangered if the pregnancy were carried to term; Refusal to perform abortion: 45 states allow individual health care providers to refuse to participate in an abortion. 42 states allow institutions to refuse to perform abortions, 16 of which limit refusal to private or religious institutions. Mandatory Counseling: 18 states mandate that women be given counseling before an abortion that includes information on at least one of the following: the purported link between abortion and breast cancer (5 states), the ability of a fetus to feel pain (13 states) or long-term mental health consequences for the woman (8 states). Waiting Periods: 27 states require a woman seeking an abortion to wait a specified period of time, usually 24 hours, between when she receives counseling and the procedure is performed. Overall, the Guttmacher Institute reports that since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973, states have passed 1,193 laws to limit access to abortion, and 401 of these abortion restrictions have been passed since 2011, constituting 34% of all abortion restrictions enacted for the whole period. One might ask: what did the Democratic Party and the Obama administration do to stop this massive and silent erosion of abortion rights? Nothing, not even a public debate or a national campaign. This silent and complicit attitude reveals the true commitment to the liberal sector of the ruling class towards the rights and liberation of oppressed
sectors. Despite opposite rhetorics, both the Republican and Democratic Party have collaborated in making the right to perform an abortion a virtual reality in ⅔ of the country.
The Role of the Catholic Church and Right-Wing Evangelical Groups Many Church leaders defend a conception of the family that singles out motherhood as women’s defining role, and that maintains social and political inequality between men and women in the private and public sphere. We know that the Catholic Church has been historically at the forefront of most of the worldwide anti-abortion campaigns. Today in the United States, it is not anymore the Catholic Church coming after women’s rights, it is also the evangelical Christian Right which took on this issue in the 1980s, and which strength is growing. Both religious blocks are constituting a reactionary united front with some sectors of the Republican Party (and the silent acquiescence of some sectors of the Democratic Party) to restrict abortion rights in many states and attack women. We believe their arguments must be defeated and their true purposes exposed. In their campaigns these reactionary institutions sway away from scientific arguments, and use instead classic rhetorical communication tactics in their attempt to reframe abortion as a “murder”, and their opposition to it as a “prolife” campaign. Indeed, who could argue in favor of murder or against life! They are however full of hypocrisy. The Catholic Church while it considers abortion as one of the worst sins, it has repeatedly failed to act to protect the youth it abuses and sanction sexual predators in its ranks. In 2002 after another the sex abuse scandal by priests exploded in Australia, Cardinal George Pell stated that “ abortion is a worse moral scandal than priests sexually abusing young people.” The Catholic Church’s does not treat all lives equally, to say the least. It has still to prosecute a single priest that abused a child, yet it is more concerned about the futures or potential lives than the ones already existing which have been harmed by their leading members. Furthermore, we don’t see the Catholic Church (or the Evangelical right) put 100,000 people in the streets to condemn racist police murders, the opposed wars and military operations of the U.S. government abroad, or defy the constant raids and deportations of immigrant families. These forms of life deprivation and mistreatment are not seen as an existential threat to their beliefs. They are to ours as socialists for we mobilize for those actions in big numbers. Yet suddenly they are extremely worried and concerned over a form of life that has still to flourish, and they pour massive ressources to put more than 100,000 in the Washington D.C. March for Life, and 50,000 people in the streets in San Francisco, 35,000 in Los Angeles just to mention 2 of the more than 70 cities were local rallies were held in January 2018. In our view as socialists this is not a debate between pro or anti life, this is about protecting and expanding women’s reproductive and sexual rights. It is also a matter of defending all rights of contraception and sexual education in the schools.
NATIONAL We also do not believe that abortion rights are a matter of “religion” versus “atheism”, even less linked to spiritual beliefs people might have. It is possible to separate the domain of science and one’s own spirituality, actually it is what most people do. Scientific evidence proves today that a foetus is not a person, and up to a number of weeks of gestation, the basic organs and sensibility of a living being are not develop - let alone any form of human consciousness. It also proves that abortion procedures today can be painless when done in a legal and safe clinic. Actually 80% of religious affiliated Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. These Americans like us see abortion as a political and healthcare right, and not as a threat to their spiritual beliefs. This shows than more of a matter of religion, it is a political question of equality. Therefore it is important to reframe the question starting from what is at stake for all living women, and not starting from scientific misconceptions or hypothetical beings. Are we going to defend ful political equality between men and women, which includes women’s full autonomy, or are we going to say women need to ask for permission and consent from someone else to take care of their own body, health and family life? Are we going to support the rights of a living woman to make a free health and family choice, or are we going to leverage against her the rights of a so-called “unborn child” which is not yet a person? For us as socialists the struggle of free abortion on demand goes to the core of the kind of society we want. It encapsulates a struggle for full political freedom and equality for women in our society, it also emcompasses free singlepayer healthcare for all, so our rights are met with existing material means. And the move to regulate reproduction and ban abortion is an attempt to use religion and scientific falsehoods to take away basic human rights of choice, to oppress and demoralize women, to cut on one reproductive healthcare and planned parenthood social rights. It is a full blown attack on women and working class families to which we need to respond united.
The Significance of the International Women Strike Platform These attacks have not gone unchallenged though and have been paralleled by increasingly intense dissent by women across the country - evidenced by the Women’s March and the explosion of the #metoo movement. For the second year in a row, millions of women and their allies took to the streets to protest patriarchal violence against women and the policies that prevent women’s full control of their bodies. While many women were galvanized again by the two last January marches, the current leadership of these events, crippled by the influence of the Democratic Party, is attempting to channel their momentum towards elections (see the “power to the polls” march theme) - focusing upcoming efforts on registration drives and building rallies to promote democratic politicians. This year it was reportedly more difficult to contain “messaging” at this year’s rally than at last march because pressure form below is rising, asking for a concrete plan of action to continue the struggle. The De-
mocratic Party and their corporate feminist allies will not be the ones to provide this leadership. On the opposite, they are an obstacle for that. The International Women’s Strike platform emerged as an independent and grassroots leadership to develop the potential of the Women’s March in sustained, democratic and independent direction. It also emerged with an internationalist and anti-capitalist perspective. This is we we believe the most urgent task and opportunity to fight for women’s liberation is to build an independent and real base of the IWS platform. If IWS takes on this challenge of building a working class base and succeeds, it can play the key role of constituting a working class a united front of committed socialist and radical activists, union organizers and student leaders, class sectors of all genders to build a unified movement that goes beyond protesting Trump and targets the true material root of women’s oppression - the capitalist economy. Capitalism makes relies on unpaid reproductive labor, the over-exploitation of women, and the control and limitation of their reproductive rights. It also fosters violence on women by treating them as sexual objects.
On March 8th: Let’s Build Independent Mass Actions for Women’s Rights! This year we are mobilizing once again with the International Women Strike Platform which has called for a “strike for labor rights, equal rights for all immigrants, equal pay and a living wage, because sexual violence in the workplace is allowed to fester when we lack these means of collective defence,” and is proposing to organize “a day of mobilization of black and brown women, cis and bi, lesbian and trans women workers, of the poor and the low waged, of unpaid caregivers, of sex workers and migrants.” This year the IWS Platform has began to develop a labor focus with the goal of building a base in local unions to mobilize for women’s rights from an anticapitalist, non-corporate perspective The Bay Area International Women Strike Committee has made a special call to the Labor Movement to join in the day of action: “We call on local unions, both elected officials and rank and file workers, as well as labor councils to actively engage with this re-emerging independent, non-corporate and grassroots women’s movement, for we believe our unions and working class women have been and should continue at the center of this struggle.” So far several union locals have endorsed officially the call for action: AFSCME 3299 (service workers at the UC), Berkeley Federation of Teachers, UC-AFT (librarians and lecturers), UAW 2865 Berkeley Unit (Academic Student Employees), AFT 2121 (faculty at San Francisco City College) and CFA-SFSU (faculty and librarians in San Francisco State University). Many workplaces and schools will see local actions and disruptions, and in the Bay Area local rallies will be held at San Francisco and Berkeley on March 8th. By building a base for IWS we are building this working class front through actions like this and more to come. building a base and an antisexist pro- women’s liberation consciousness the working class for our future actions. Come and join us!
How do We Build Working Class Power?
Written by Yusef El-Baz
What does it mean to build working-class power in
our time? As socialism gains traction in the United States, most visibly by the rise of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and the less visible and smaller growth of Marxist collectives around the country, socialists are debating strategies and tactics to build the power of our class and the potential for socialism. We all agree that workers cannot create socialism if they donâ€™t have the power to make it happen. Power is the ability to influence the course of events in society. Since the capitalist class controls the government, the police and military, and the means of communication, they get to use their power to keep us slaving away for them. When they fire us, close down our schools, cut our healthcare, shoot us and deport us, and evict us from our homes, the capitalist class demonstrates in more acute fashion their social power over the rest of us. In socialist discussions, we have two general trends with divergent views on how to build proletarian power: the social-democratic trend, as embodied by the DSA, believes that we can achieve a socialist society via a strategy of electing socialist or progressive candidates into the halls of power, who can then implement radical reforms and undo corporate control. Their tactics, from my observations in San Francisco, include gathering signatures, educating tenants on their rights, and building alliances with other pro-Democratic Party organizations in order to form a coalition modeled after the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), relatively successful electoralist organization in Richmond, California. The fact that dozens of self-described
socialists have won city council and mayoral seats in the last few months provides power to this social-democratic line of argumentation. While I hold strategic differences with DSA as a national organization, I acknowledge the diversity of opinions within DSA and value the work Iâ€™ve engaged in with its members. My hope is to continue on this path. The other trend, what I will call a Marxist approach and I acknowledge an existing contention over how we define these terms - and the one I agree with, argues for a different path to power. We believe that achieving socialism will require a revolutionary seizure of power by a workingclass that has achieved unity and consciousness through a process of directly, militantly fighting the capitalists and drawing the proper reflections from these experiences. While socialist faces on city councils can be productive, our primary focus is on nurturing workplace councils and unions that can strike, tenant councils that can withhold rent and resist evictions, and neighborhoods that can check the power of the police and ICE while we reorganize our blocks on a communal, democratic basis to meet our needs. These are only a small sample of the kinds of struggles that lay the basis for workers to overcome the gendered and racial divisions through raising demands that empower our entire class, particularly its most oppressed sectors. Throughout this process, we seek to build unity with the workers who demonstrate the greatest level of consciousness and militancy; they are the building blocks of a revolutionary political party that can lead the struggle for state power. While there may be a place and time for tactical alliances with liberal forces, socialists are in a position of weakness in relation to them unless we have our own base
NATIONAL of support which we can leverage to challenge the gradualist and electoralist strategy of pro-Democratic Party organizations. The Richmond Progressive Alliance, social democrats’ best argument for their politics, has achieved important reforms around wages, housing, and taxing the rich. Their success, and that of other ‘socialists’ elected into office, reflects a radicalization in the mood of the workingclass that provides leverage for the RPA’s parliamentary maneuvering. As a “corporate-free” coalition, its underlying assumption is that we can achieve a just society through a gradual process of reforms implemented from within the bourgeois state. I believe this to be unrealistic on two grounds: for one, it mistakes the bourgeois parliament as the locus of actual decision-making in our society; the dominant sectors of the ruling class decide major social decisions in closed corporate boardrooms and then present them to politicians to rubber stamp, as demonstrated by the Republican tax bill. Second, administering a large-scale set of reforms as socialists in office (free healthcare, higher wages, jobs for all, etc.) would require an increase in taxes that depends on the profitability and stability of the capitalist system. Keeping profitability high enough to implement progressive reforms, particularly in times of austerity and low rates of capitalist profit, would mean slashing wages, cutting social services, and laying workers off. Such actions would embroil us in the structural demands of running an unstable and inherently undemocratic political system and potentially make us indistinguishable from capitalist parties themselves. Such a ‘socialist’ party loses the moral and political legitimacy required to lead a militant working-class to defeat the capitalists. As socialists, we know the power of the ruling class is not absolute. Our past and current struggles also shape the terrain we operate on. SF-DSA members are involved in valuable work in educating tenants, training labor organizers, providing community services, and mobilizing members for marches. I believe a successful socialist movement will need to coordinate these efforts into one coherent revolutionary strategy that aims to build a base of support amongst the working-class. To do this, we need to commit to the long-term work of building organized power over the ruling class’ strategic sources of control - warehouses, ports, hospitals, communications centers, neighborhoods, etc. Such class power gives us the opportunity to contest the worst brutalities of capitalism, implement a revolutionary program which stretches beyond what an organization like the RPA is willing and able to offer, and challenge the existence of the system itself. The ability of socialists today to carry this out remains limited as of now, but we know the tide is turning. Our class is starting to move in response to the crisis we face and this provides socialists with the opportunity to organize an actual political base. When our co-workers or neighbors demonstrate a desire to speak politics and resist injustice, we should listen and encourage them to become organizers and socialists who participate and lead in the struggle. This is the basic labor involved in building a revolutionary socialist party, which is the conscious political expression of
workers seeking their liberation. Without this vital instrument, we will be left defenseless against those who do have a serious orientation towards power: the capitalists, fascists, and myriad reactionary organizations who are prepared to exploit crisis and chaos. Fascism, world war, and military dictatorships riddle the 20th century. Each example, such as fascist Germany, Spain under Franco, Pinochet’s Chile, among many others, testify to the tragedies we face when we aren’t prepared as a class to defeat the bourgeoisie. In all of these historical cases, social democratic political parties - the German SPD, the Socialist Parties in Spain and Chile - paid homage to workers and socialism in their press while in practice they did everything in their power to halt the revolutionary upsurges of those same workers. The social democratic philosophy of an electoral, gradual approach towards liberation failed on its own terms. When the German capitalists appointed the German Social Democratic Party to run the capitalist government during the revolution of 1918 - a dream come true for these reformist socialists - they lied and manipulated millions of workers who still believed in that party’s ability to fight for socialism. When German workers called on their Socialist leaders to defeat the capitalist class and fulfill its own program, the leaders held them back and blunted their capacity to defeat the capitalists. As workers gained experience and broke ranks with them in the uprisings in the years that followed, the German Social Democrats unleashed the freikorps, the proto-Nazi formation within the German military. These eventually came to destroy the German proletariat along with the German Social Democratic Party itself, whose counterrevolutionary policy opened the door to fascism. Italy went through a fundamentally similar experience years before. By the time the Spanish Revolution broke out in the mid-1930s, its working class faced off against a Franco military supported by a fascist Germany and Italy on one side, and a liberal bourgeois state propped up by Stalinist Russia on the other. Past defeats in those nations left the Spanish working-class isolated and attacked on multiple fronts. How would it have ended differently if the revolutionary wave that achieved power in Russia in 1917 found success in Germany and Italy? History cannot be rewritten, but its lessons can strengthen our foresight if we are willing to listen. One current struggle in San Francisco brings to light this historical political division. In San Francisco, the mecca of tech and real estate development, a small but symbolic and long-standing housing struggle is taking place at the Midtown Park Apartments in the city’s Western
NATIONAL Addition District. After more than two years, many of its tenants continue to wage a rent strike and organize against the planned demolition of their building by City Hall and its non-profit managers. Socialist organizers from La Voz, the DSA, International Socialist Organization (ISO) and anarchists assist - or have assisted in the past - the tenants in organizing and building community support for their struggle, The socialists from La Voz argue for both the need to deepen organizing within Midtown and to expand the housing struggle by creating a citywide tenants’ union that can wage direct campaigns against landlords and push for rent control and pro-tenant legislation.While DSA members have joined the Midtown Support Committee as committed members, strategic differences remain; their close relationship to Democrat Dean Preston, their petition drive for free legal support for tenants facing eviction, and their tenants rights bootcamps are all elements of a useful and well-intentioned political project that still operates on the same gradualist, electoralist approach that characterizes social democracy . My intention isn’t to equate the German Social Democratic Party with the current DSA membership nor to call all of them socialdemocrats, but rather to propose a long-term strategy that will prepare our class to challenge those who seek to contain and divide it. To dive more deeply into a housing strategy as a case study in social-democracy and Marxism, let’s look at the DSA’s drive for free lawyers for any tenant who faces evictions in San Francisco. For one, the DSA’s push to include all evictions - including owner buyout and late/non-payment of rent - rather than only “unfair evictions”, as the original bill states, is important and valuable. We need to take on demands that uplift our entire class, particularly the most vulnerable; leaving out those evicted due to an owner buyout or late/nonpayment of rent leaves out huge swaths of tenants and plays into the hands of the landlords, who look to justify their rampant dispossession and robbery of tenants by pursuing “fair” evictions. No such eviction exists for a socialist. On the other hand, I think there are ways in which that campaign and the petitioning tactic can be broadened in a way that increases the collective unity among tenants and the visibility of the DSA and other socialist currents among those tenants. If I am a tenant who receives free legal advice to address an eviction, I’ll value the support. But how does that actually build up my ability to organize my fellow tenants to stage rent strikes and stop police from evicting our families? How does it develop my knowledge of socialism, history, revolution? To do this - in other words, to build a political base among tenants - we need to research the problem, conduct inquiries into what tenants want to fight for and then organize alongside them, carry out political education - which the DSA is beginning to do with their tenants’ rights bootcamps - and unite tenants from the various districts into one combative tenants union. Building a socialist lawyers’ caucus would be useful in this regard as well. In this context of socialist basebuilding and mass organizing, a petition drive can also tap tenants into assemblies, marches, blockades, and
strikes with the potential to force the state and landlords to concede to our demands. Not only do we get the signatures we want, but we activate the person as an organizer. Some on the left call this “organizing the unorganized.” One starting point for collaboration involves both deepening our involvement at Midtown. A victory in this campaign would provide a powerful moral boost to a demoralized and scattered tenant population. In addition, we can begin building a solidarity network where an initial team of organizers supports tenants against landlords in order to lay the ground for a future tenants’ union where tenants themselves carry out the work in a coordinated fashion across the City and the Bay. The work of the Philadelphia Tenants’ Union, and the role of the Philly Socialists organization, might provide valuable clues to inform this labor. The newest layer of DSAers who joined during the Bernie moment bring energy and numbers to the broadly-defined socialist movement, but do not yet constitute an opposition to the strength of the decades-old national leadership of the DSA, whom are firmly entrenched in their subordination to the Democratic Party. We can expect the political division in the DSA between those who want to take a revolutionary base-building approach and those who want to continue the DSA’s electoralist history to sharpen around the 2018 elections. While the dominant leadership within the DSA remains committed to working with Democrats, the DSA’s massive growth has produced a variety of political currents within it, including revolutionary ones, such as its Refoundation Caucus. Marxist collectives might find it useful to build links with them around common political work. Revolutionary parties have historically formed through the political articulation of revolutionary currents that ran through various organizational forms, as opposed to one small sect mushrooming into prominence. While it will take many years of consistent political labor through cycles of working-class resistance to forge a mass revolutionary party, our practical work and programmatic interventions we conduct today should prepare us to play a leadership role for the time when millions of Americans reach revolutionary conclusions. But we have to be willing to remain principled and strategic while we lay the groundwork for such ruptural moments, no matter how small our beginnings are or how long the march to power may be. The tendency to abandon a long-term revolutionary perspective for short-term reforms or socialist faces on city councils can be very attractive. But without a strategic revolutionary program and a mass base, this tendency can reduce us to crabs in the capitalist barrel and eventually make us indistinguishable from capitalist parties. When our class does radicalize, our association with the oppressor would destroy the credibility we need to lead a revolutionary struggle. Like Mao once said, a revolution is no dinner party. It is a life and death struggle between two opposing forces. For our side to win, we must build up our class power through unions, strike committees, tenants’ councils, self-defense organizations, and educational and cultural institutions. This is the ground upon which a revolutionary party can emerge and nurture these mass organs through the peaks and valleys of struggle, in preparation for the class war’s most acute stages.
The Struggle for Public and Affordable Housing in Midtown, San Francisco
Written by La Voz San Francisco
At the end of 2017, after almost 2 years of tireless
and militant struggle by the residents of Midtown Park Apartments, San Francisco’s Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH) and Mercy Housing were forced to come together to hear residents’ and community allies’ concerns over demolition plans. During large public meetings held in October and November, tenants and their supporters mobilized to send a strong message that rejected the proposed demolition plan and reaffirmed their commitment to fight instead for equity ownership. Initially, both MOH and Mercy Housing refused to budge, insisting on moving forward with plans to demolish all buildings and replacing them with high-density, mixed income units with retail on the ground floor. Since that time however, they have been pushed back by the strugglefight back to revise their demolition plans. This revision, while a huge victory, is only a partial success since it still calls for the demolition of at least one of the buildings at Midtown. The demand for equity ownership remains central because it it the only way to safeguard against what has historically happened at Midtown. Namely, broken promises and selling residents out to developers. On a broader scale, the struggle at Midtown is key to fighting the privatization of public housing in San Francisco
and reversing a growing trend of privatizing public housing across the nation: we need real public housing for SF workers.
Midtown Park Apartments: A victory in the face of redevelopment Midtown Park Apartments is located in San Francisco’s Western Addition-Fillmore neighborhood. In 1948 when the Fillmore was declared a “blighted” neighborhood by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, it was a vibrant district internationally renowned for its jazz venues and clubs, and home to a wealth of Black-owned homes and businesses. None of this mattered to local politicians though and 10 years after this designation, the City’s Redevelopment Agency (RDA) - headed by Justin Herman - began acquiring properties in the area through eminent domain and bulldozing them. Over the next 20 years, one hundred square blocks were lost - 883 small businesses were closed, 2,500 Victorian homes were demolished, and nearly 30,000 residents were displaced - most of them permanently. Residents responded to this devastation with sharp resistance, forming the Western Addition Community Organization (WACO) in 1967. With deep roots in the working
INTERVENTION class communities of color targeted by the racism of redevelopment, WACO waged a determined struggle against Justin Herman and the RDA’s vision of the Fillmore. Herman lamented over what he characterized as a “passing flurry of proletarianism” as WACO mobilized community pressure to prevent displacement and to win some notable legal fights. In the context of this devastation, and thanks to strong community organizing and persistent pressure, Midtown Park Apartments opened in 1968. One of nearly 30 affordable housing properties built following redevelopment, Midtown was opened with the intention of reducing the impact of redevelopment through offering affordable, relocation housing to those displaced. Today, Midtown is home to 139 families consisting of long-term Western Addition-Fillmore residents, Asian, Latino, and Eastern European immigrants, seniors, and veterans. Nearly one-quarter of those at Midtown have lived there since it’s opening in 1968. Midtown residents are largely working class, and after surviving the ruins of Justin Herman’s civic redevelopment, they are again forced to fight his legacy of racist, anti-working class policies aimed at removing them from San Francisco.
Reclassification of Midtown: From Ownership to Public Housing In 2007, the Board of Supervisors adopted resolution 325-07 titled, “The principles that will guide the City and Midtown Park Apartments' residents in formulating a longterm ownership structure and development plan for Midtown Park Apartments, a 140-unit residential development owned by the City and County of San Francisco.” Citing the historical promise of ownership, the continued diversity of residents, and the property’s role in keeping working class people housed in San Francisco, the then Board of Supervisors publicly affirmed their commitment to make good on the City’s promise of ensuring homeownership as a way to prevent further displacement. And, although owned by the city of San Francisco, Midtown Park was unique in that it was not classified or operated as public housing and it’s rents were set by existing rent control laws. In December 2013, just two days before Christmas, Midtown residents were notified that their lease with the City had been terminated. Midtown Park Corporation - the tenant-run board responsible for managing day-to-day operations at Midtown for decades - was stripped of all power. One month following, in January 2014, the City transferred the lease to Mercy Housing - Northern California’s largest, development-oriented, housing nonprofit. Since that time, Mercy Housing has implemented policies common to public housing properties but unheard of at Midtown including regulations on overnight guests, restrictions on use of common spaces, and, most important to understanding the motivation behind the transfer of the lease, income certification.
Income Certification vs. Rent Control: The Privatization of Public Housing The city is using tricky tactics to cover up the privatization of public housing, using a 2012 federal housing policy, Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), approved by the Obama administration and continued by Trump. RAD established income certification of public housing tenants as the criteria for distributing federal housing funds to local housing agencies. Income certification, which appears to be nothing more than an innocent bureaucratic step, is used as a way to “regulate” rents but it operates differently than rent control laws. Income certification requires tenants to certify their income annually to their landlord, whereas rent control does not determine which percentage of wages should go to rent, it is just intended to keep the rent at an affordable price. Subsidized rents are set at 30% of the documented income. For all but 33 of the 139 families at Midtown this new regulation meant a sharp increase in rents - in some cases as high as 300%. In 2012, the RAD program was unveiled by HUD and was marketed as an “innovative” solution to the housing crisis faced by many states. RAD allows for cities to transfer their public housing stock to private operators in order to access private financing to address federal budget shortcomings. To be sure, these shortcomings are very real and drastic. Even without looking at the data, anyone who has lived in public housing can tell you that due to years of neglect by cities their homes are nearly uninhabitable. A study conducted by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities found that between 2006 and 2016, HUD’s budget for public housing repairs decreased by 53%. In 2017, the budget for public housing repairs was just $1.9 billion compared to 2000’s budget of $4 billion.
SF Mayor Office and SF Developers Are Benefiting From This Privatization Push Despite years of Midtown residents’ rents being subject to San Francisco’s rent control laws - and documented proof of the application of this law - Mercy Housing and the Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH) have refused to concede the demand that rents be returned to their original rates. Looking at numbers it’s no surprise why the City has chosen to favor income certification over rent control. The sale of just two buildings at Midtown will bring in $91 million in profit, $60 million of which comes in the form of income tax credits. These income tax credits are part of RAD and HUD will only grant them to cities for certified, public housing units. While most cities have parceled off their public housing stock in increments, San Francisco went all in - transferring 100% of public housing stock to private operators by 2015. This public-private collaboration was rolled out with certain supposedly “progressive” caveats in San Francisco - namely, that all public stock transferred, be sold to non-profits for managing. So, while the city still owns the land that public housing sits on - including at present the land at Midtown the lease is held and run by nonprofit developers.
INTERVENTION Real Public Housing for Working Class Families - The Socialist Perspective As socialists, we reject the premise that the only solution to the housing crisis is a partnership between public and private entities. We support instead, a real public housing policy, controlled and operated by the individuals who live and work in this city. You donâ€™t have to look very far for where funding for a social housing program would come from either. In 2014, itâ€™s estimated that the city lost nearly $34 million in tax revenue thanks to the late Ed Leeâ€™s Central Market/Tenderloin Payroll Tax Exclusion - also known as the twitter tax. Rather than force the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes, the city has gone out of their way to make life more livable for them at the expense of working class people and their families. This is not a crisis of funding but rather of priorities. If, for example, the federal government has $700 billion for
war, then they surely have more than enough money to not only provide affordable housing for every single person who needs it, but to maintain that housing through regular maintenance and repairs. The allure of the affordable housing solution posed by the City and supported by non-profits is strong given the depth of this crisis. Working class and poor people however, need and deserve a better alternative. What is needed to challenge and overcome the limitations of the solution imposed by the federal government, and supported by non-profit developers, is a militant, independent fight back. Such a struggle would demand the immediate transfer of ownership to the residents at Midtown, the protection and expansion of rent control laws, an emergency moratorium on evictions and, the expropriation of all empty apartments. This alternative will not come from city hall and is instead possible only through a united front of tenants, housing rights activists, socialists, and labor to defend the right to housing for all working people.
Chicago Transit Workers and Allies Fight Back! Written by a ATU 421 comrade
Transit Workers and allies are speaking out against
fare increases, work speed-ups, unjust firings and unequal pay between workers. These problems have only increased during Democratic Party Rahm Emanuel's administration and his appointments to the Chicago Transit Agency (CTA). CTA has shown their lack of public accountability and respect to working people in Chicago and their outward hostility towards the two union locals that represent bus and metro workers at CTA.
With Budget Cuts, Fees Go Up and So Does the Pressure on Transit Workers Corruption and mishandling of public funds is one of the main reasons why the CTA is broken and looking to fire workers and increase in fares. In 2018, transit fares went up by $0.25 per ride, the first increase since 2009, to $2.50. CTA officials mention that the fare increase is to cover the $33 million deficit in state public funding, which is a true problem. They fail to mention, however, their own responsibility in the dire situation of the transport agency.
It is clear that the austerity policies of Gov Rauner (Rep). which included more than $200 million of state cuts in the current budget to human services, agriculture programs and transportation are hurting working people and especially public workers. Unfortunately more is to come, as Rauner’s new budget proposal for next year includes an even more vigorous attack to the unionized public sector: “In his fourth budget proposal — just weeks before a primary election — Rauner is seeking to cut $228 million for Chicago teacher pensions, and $101 million from university pensions.” It is important to note that management officials at the transit agency show a purposeful lack of respect for the complex and dangerous work done by transit workers, who are treated as replaceable cogs in the Chicago transit system, while creating work speed-ups which ramp up the grueling and dangerous nature of our work. This continual focus on “productivity” takes a toll on bus and metro driver’s bodies with repetitive injuries and extreme mental stress. In addition transit workers are inevitably verbally and physically assaulted, or involved in vehicle accidents, and in most cases instead of supporting the workers in this unhealthy and
INTERVENTION dangerous working conditions, managers use their massive surveillance of our work alongside punitive and excessive discipline policies. When there is an accident, or an attack to a bus driver, the go-to practice for the CTA managers is to fire the worker. In the manager’s corporate and legalistic minds, it is most “cost-effective” and “safe” to discipline or fire an innocent worker, even when they have the proof he or she did everything by the book. As a result the union has been embedded in an utterly and exhaustive defensive battle, where local union stewards spend several hours every week defending their co-workers and implement their existing rights, instead of being able to organize to improve their working conditions. Recently ATU 421 workers approved a contract that does not increase fares nor contains cuts to services at this time. After two years without a contract and discussion of striking among workers, the CTA gave an increase in wages for workers that does not even cover cost of living increases. The CTA forced into the contract a super-exploitation of a section of the workforce who have minor criminal records. The contract does not address some of the main concerns of workers and passenger such as: Dangerous sleeping and work schedules. Not enough time or safe locations to use the washroom. Violence from the legitimate anger of the passengers, the too-high bus fair and a massive cut in government services for people with mental and physical disabilities, the homeless, and the poor. Repetitive stress injuries and a criminalization of workers who try to take time off work to heal or help our family. Massive surveillance of our work alongside punitive and excessive discipline policies. Two-tiered working conditions. Forcing us to pay more for less health care.
CTA’s Pattern of Corruption and Mishandling of Public Funds The Chicago Transit Authority network is the U.S. second-largest transit agency. It provides around 240 million rides annually in the Chicago area, and has around 10,000 employees. CTA’s former president Forrest Claypool led an ongoing austerity and anti-worker mandate firing roughly 900 employees, mainly bus and train drivers between 2011 and 2015. He left CTA in 2015 to become the CEO of Chicago Public Schools. Yet he was finally forced to resign amid serious allegations of ethic violation, being accused of engineering a “full-blown cover-up” during an ethics investigation concerning the school system's chief attorney. Two years ago newspapers revealed that current CTA president since 2015, that Dorval Carter Jr, was collecting a pension as a supposedly “retired” public employee since 2009 while working as a lawyer for Obama. Carter benefited from a little known early retirement program, - except Carter did not retire. He was thus “double-dipping as a federal government official while also collecting a pension from the CTA [which] allowed Carter to take home a combined taxpayer-subsidized income that reached $283,679 a year, records show. Now 57, Carter collected $754,762 in pension payouts between November 2009 and this April, when he accepted Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s offer to return to the CTA for his
third stint there, this time as its $235,000-a-year boss.” What a way to set an example as a public servant! Additionally CTA’s recent history is plagued with cases of nepotism, favoritism in awarding contracts, and misuse of public funds, like it was the case with the 2006 projected “superstation” which was never built and has been long-abandoned. According to NBC reporters the projected cost of the station was “somewhere between $771 million and $1.5 billion”. LaurenceLawrence Msall and the Civic Federation (an independent government research organization) calculated that by 2015 $400 million had already been spent and counting. The problem is that CTA’s got in debt for this project: "The original bonds were going to be 12 years," he said. "And when the Chicago Transit Authority refinanced those bonds, they pushed out the payments another 12 years, adding that “the taxpayers and the riders of the CTA will be paying for this project, 20 years after it was stopped...," he said." This means Chicagoans are paying for this absolutely irresponsable planning and financing move roughly until 2026.
Transit Workers and Riders Organize This untenable situation had to stop. Thus, after the fare hikes were announced in December 2017, transit workers who had been unjustly fired and their allies drafted and organized around a petition to the CTA with the following demands:
• “Lower the fare. Expand public transportation, especially to the communities that need it most. • Go on a massive hiring campaign to train front-line public transit workers and pay all of them at unionscale wages and benefits. Immediately return to work all of the unjustly fired transit workers. Hire transit retirees as advisers and trainers, etc. • The work must be slowed down to safe speeds. More needed breaks and days-off from the stress of the work must be provided to workers. • Transit workers and passengers are the experts who are directly affected by transit – we must directly make the decisions. We call for greater worker and community oversight and direct control of transit scheduling, work-flow, infrastructure, and budgets.” The petition started with over 100 handwritten signatures from transit workers at one bus garage and is now spreading online. The goal is to build a public campaign in support of public workers and organize rank and file workers to organize through their unions to put an end to management’s constant harassment and attacks. In addition transit workers from ATU Local 421 (bus transportation workers) and Local 308 (railway transportation workers) are beginning to hold common meetings and identify common issues they share. The point of unity of their campaign is now expanding, for one of the key issues they have identified is the existing inequality between workers’ pay and working conditions across sectors and jobs. They have thus decided to start organizing also for “equal pay for equal work” campaign.
Ready to Organize to Enforce their Contract and Demand More By La Voz San Francisco
San Francisco teachers went through a whole year of inten-
sive organizing for their contract campaign in 2017, and were preparing for a strike. They reached a tentative agreement in November 2017 before the strike vote was held and eventually ⅔ of the workers ratified the contract. Here is an interview of a teacher involved in the contract fight organization, speaking about the demands and needs of SF teachers as well as the gains and limitations of the current contract. He also talks about the need to organize an active base in the union to enforce and fight for important additional demands.
Can you tell us about the major issues UESF teachers face which were at the center of their bargaining campaign? Our most recent campaign for a new contract had three central planks epitomized by our slogan for, “Safe, Stable, and Supportive.” Fundamentally these three issues encompass the struggles that the educators in our union face. The greatest overarching threat is one posed by the inadequacy of our wages. Even the highest salaried members of our union such as Counselors, Social Workers, Senior teachers, cannot afford to rent in San Francisco. Thus the situation is even more difficult for para-educators, security guards, and other support staff who earn half as much as their credentialed counterparts. The next most important overarching issue for the members of UESF was support. The quality of the education we deliver is severely impacted by inadequate funding. Understaffing is rampant, at the time when contract negotiations began there were as many as 500 open positions around the district. Special education support is grossly inadequate. Educators are given impossibly large workloads. Most schools lack programs or resources for stu-
dents with the greatest need. Lastly, but by no means least, the issue of Safety was central to the campaign. In years prior our union protested the discriminatory disproportionate suspension of students of color, especially African American boys, and demanded that the district implement a program of individualized progressive discipline. The school district interpreted this agreement as little more than a moratorium on suspensions of any kind. Likewise plans for progressive discipline have not been implemented at most schools. The district’s inaction has created a chaotic atmosphere for both students, and educators, in schools across the city. While the contract negotiations did secure us nominal gains in wages, and healthcare benefits, ultimately the situation for the membership is no better than it was the year prior. Our wage increase is not sufficient to ameliorate the staffing shortages we face, or provide housing stability for the majority of the membership.
UESF teachers ratified in December 2017 a tentative agreement by 70% after an intense contract campaign. Did bargaining manage to get you all your major demands, like the 16% wage increase? The bureaucracy in the union twisted the settlement into a victory but in reality very few gains were made. The bargaining team accepted the district’s initial offer around wages of 11%, but agreed to an additional 5% increase conditional upon the passing of a parcel tax. This is the area where the membership was most severely cheated. In the previous contract negotiation, where there was minimal membership mobilization the old leadership actually secured more money, 12.5%. Lastly the old leadership tried to assert that because the
UESF teachers rally for contract battle in front of SF CIrty Hall
San Francisco Teachers
INTERVENTION settlement was approved by a 70% margin that the membership approves of the work they did. In reality that “70%” misrepresents the facts. Only 1800 members of our over 6500 member bargaining unit actually voted at all. In other words less than 20% of the total membership actually approved the settlement.
Pitfalls of the Parcel Tax The parcel tax itself is highly problematic. The law was written by a charter school advocate, and is designed to siphon working class educators into the pockets of charter school directors, non-union administrators, and online education. Overall the tax will finance a permanent 5% raise to the total salary of the educators in UESF, however the additional funds will all be directed away into the hands of parties that are actively working to crush our union.
What happened with the process of strike preparation? How was the decision not to hold a strike vote made? Initially the bargaining campaign started strong. Efforts were made by the new president, Lita Blanc, who ran on a platform of reform, to include more members, make the process more transparent, and democratic. Less then half way through the campaign the old bureaucracy, who constituted a majority of the bargaining team, undid the changes that had been made. In the beginning, bargaining surveys were sent out to learn about which issues mattered most to the membership. Afterwards, additional organizers were brought on to reach out to each school. The organizers were asked to help coordinate and support local actions at each school, and mobilize members to demonstrations designed to pressure the district into offering better terms. In the first three months the membership responded enthusiastically. They attended rallies, held site demonstrations, but the old leadership did not receive warmly their energy. Quickly, talk of striking began to spread. Rather then harness the momentum of the membership the leadership continued to negotiate during the summer break, which prohibited members from participating. Once the 2017-2018 school year began the old leadership fired all but three of the new organizers and gave management of the contract campaign over to the union’s executive board, effectively derailing the whole campaign.
What could the union have done better to prepare for a majority strike and what are the steps ahead? There are a number of steps that the union could have taken to better prepare for a strike. Despite 55% of the membership signaling on their bargaining surveys that they supported the establishment of a strike fund one was never made. Additionally, open bargaining would allow the membership to own the process more. The way negotiations are conducted presently, all discussion between the union and the district is done in private. Additionally, the bargaining team does not even offer to let the membership vote on the positions they take. Each time when our demands around 14
wages were reduced the membership was never consulted. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, a shift in attitude, or a shift of narrative would better serve our efforts to win a strike. Members of the bargaining team made no secret that they opposed striking, and pressured members at their sites not to strike. However, considering that the leaders who derailed this most recent strike have conducted bargaining the same way for more than a decade it is unreasonable to hope they will change of their own fruition. Ultimately, if we are to initiate and win a strike we will need sweeping structural changes to the way our union is run, and an entirely new leadership.
I think it'd be useful to hear more about the pitfalls of the current leadership and what rank and file activists need to do to organize themselves and challenge the district effectively. Presently, our union leadership does not support membership self-organization of any kind, however self organization, and direct action, are the most effective strategy for enforcing, and expanding our contract. The first key step is joining, or establishing, a Union Building Committee at one’s own school. Every site is supposed elect at least one representative who the membership may rely on for matters of council, however the more members the UBC has, the stronger it becomes. Members have complete control over their site committees, and thus may run them democratically. Administrators are supposed to approach each UBC about matters of school governance pertinent to the members of our bargaining unit, which is to say most matters. Therefore, if members face a problem, even problems that aren’t explicitly outlined in our contract, if they have a union building committee, they and their peers, can make collective demands of their administration, and demonstrate if their demands are not met. Additionally, collaboration with parents is pivotal. Since our foremost objective as educators is to support, and uplift our students, we frequently may find aid from parents, who wish for their children to have the best possible quality education. Site administrators frequently buckle under pressure from parents, to whom they are directly accountable. Thus, they make irreplaceable allies.
Can you talk about some current struggles happening at sites where you believe local union organizing and base building could play a key role? While the contract fight has ended, struggles abound. All over the city educators are still struggling to implement and enforce fair progressive discipline. Many schools are also experiencing a sharp increase in their overall class sizes, since our contract has never imposed a hard class size cap, including within special education. In some schools the pupil to support ratio has been changed from 12 students per support staff member to 28 students. Lastly there is an ongoing fight lead by security guards in the district to reclaim an hour of their workday that was illegally cut more than a decade ago, in direct violation of their contract.
La crisis de la vivienda en San José Por La Voz - San Jose La crisis de la vivienda en San José: expansión capitalista y aburguesamiento del espacio urbano
a ciudad de San José, localizada al sur de la Bahía de San Francisco, es descrita por autoridades locales como el centro urbano, económico y político de Sillicon Valley. “Rodeada de playas y bosques de secuoyas”, la ciudad se presenta como una fuente de desarrollo económico, avance tecnológico e innovación. El condado de Santa Clara, dónde San José está localizado, es una de las áreas dentro de los Estados Unidos con el mayor incremento de empleos asociados a los sectores de servicios especializados de información, internet y software Entre 2010 y 2015, en este condado se crearon 171.000 nuevos puestos de trabajo. Sin embargo, solo 29.000 nuevas viviendas fueron construidas. La escasez de viviendas ha sido aprovechada por los propietarios para subir los precios de la renta, los cuales se han incrementado un 75% durante los últimos cinco años. Así las cosas, los únicos que pueden pagar la renta son los trabajadores especializados de las empresas de tecnología. La clase trabajadora más pobre, es decir, aquella que recibe menos de 40.000 dólares al año y es predominantemente latina, asiática y negra, es la más afectada por este aumento. La situación de San José es similar a la de otras zonas del área de la Bahía de San Francisco. Un informe reciente estableció que cerca de 30% de los habitantes de la Bahía, aproximadamente 1.45 millones de personas no tienen la capacidad de pagar sus viviendas. La cara más visible de esta crisis son las cerca de 10.000
personas sin techo (también llamadas homeless) deambulando cada noche por las calles de San José. Cabe aclarar que esta cifra no incluye los “sin techo invisibilizados por las estadísticas”, es decir, aquellas familias que no duermen en la calle, pero que sí lo hacen en sus carros, en garajes y en sofás de amigos. La crisis de vivienda es presentada como un efecto colateral y “no planeado” del boom económico de la zona. La Voz de los Trabajadores no está de acuerdo con este análisis, pues este poco examina cómo se produce la riqueza en la zona, quiénes la tienen y cómo hacen para acumularla. El crecimiento económico del sector de tecnología en San José tiene características bien particulares: no ha sido un crecimiento para todos. Así como a unos les han aumentado notoriamente sus salarios, a otros, por el contrario, se les hace cada vez más difícil ganar lo suficiente para sobrevivir. En la zona, el desarrollo tecnológico ha venido de la mano del incremento de la brecha entre ricos y pobres. Ni aún en San José, uno de los lugares más ricos del planeta, la expansión capitalista del sector de tecnología ha conseguido beneficiar a todos. ¿Adónde va todo el dinero que producen las empresas de tecnología? En su mayoría, ese dinero es acumulado por los dueños de las empresas y otra parte se destina al pago de sus empleados especializados. La parte de esa riqueza que se entrega a las autoridades municipales bajo la forma de impuestos se usa exclusivamente para mejorar la infraestructura urbana de los barrios donde viven los ricos y los empleados de las empresas de tecnología, al igual que para “optimizar” áreas urbanas con el fin de seguir atrayendo esos negocios. La optimización, que no es otra cosa que el aburguesa-
INTERVENCIÓN miento del espacio urbano, consiste en el acomodamiento de zonas urbanas solamente para los sectores más acaudalados de la sociedad, a expensas de los sectores más empobrecidos. El aburguesamiento del espacio de las ciudades es desplazamiento urbano forzado, pues el argumento de fondo de esos procesos de optimización es que el desarrollo tecnológico es más importante que las vidas de las familias trabajadoras de la zona. Es la clase trabajadora de San José, de ingresos medio y bajo, la que tienen que vender sus casas o negocios, acosados por la llegada de nuevos proyectos urbanos, o la que se ha visto obligada a mudarse constantemente cuando los precios de la renta, los servicios públicos y los alimentos se vuelven imposibles de pagar. La gentrificación es un proceso constante frente al que hay que informarse y estar preparado para actuar de manera organizada. Durante este año, la empresa de tecnología Google, uno de los gigantes empresariales que operan en el área, indicó que pondrá en marcha la creación de un extenso campus tecnológico en el corazón de San José. Este proyecto, planeado para convertirse en una súper villa tecnológica, generará 20.000 nuevos puestos de trabajo y será tres veces más grande que las oficinas de trabajo que Google tiene – llamadas Googleplex– en Mountain View. Recordemos que Googleplex es actualmente el mayor complejo empresarial de Estados Unidos. Ahora bien, el aburguesamiento del espacio urbano ha sido fuertemente enfrentado en nivel local. Asociaciones comunitarias y juntas barriales se han unido en un movimiento social amplio que exige, por un lado, poner en marcha mecanismos de control de la renta y, por otro lado, frenar proyectos de innovación urbana que pasan por encima de las comunidades. La respuesta de las autoridades y políticos locales ha sido desastrosa. Durante el pasado mes de julio de 2017, el periódico New York Timespublicó un artículo reseñando el proyecto de ley que la bancada del partido demócrata quiere pasar en el Senado del Estado de California en relación con el problema de vivienda. La propuesta, liderada por el político Scott Weiner, busca restringir las capacidades de las organizaciones comunitarias para ponerle freno a los proyectos de infraestructura que buscan abalanzarse sobre sus barrios. Varios líderes de organizaciones que defienden el acceso justo a la vivienda de calidad, como la Agencia para el Desarrollo Económico de la Misión o Calle 24-Distrito Cultural Latino, advirtieron que esta ley puede “exacerbar el ciclo de gentrificación y desplazamiento en barrios como la Misión en San Francisco. Además, autoridades locales, como el alcalde de Santa Bárbara, manifestaron que la ley podría beneficiar al sector de la construcción, al mismo tiempo que impediría que las comunidades pudieran expresar sus opiniones y desacuerdos con los proyectos de renovación urbana. El aumento de los precios de la vivienda y los procesos de aburguesamiento urbano, es decir, las actividades de innovación urbana solo para unos sectores privilegiados a expensas del desplazamiento de las familias trabajadoras más pobres, que son principalmente comunidades de color, no se van a detener en el corto plazo. Por el contrario, aumentarán y provocarán que más familias estén obligadas a 16
abandonar sus hogares y sus barrios. Solo una acción colectiva organizada puede enfrentar esos procesos.¿Quiénes deben organizarse? La Voz de los Trabajadores considera que las familias trabajadoras son las que deben organizarse para enfrentar este problema de la vivienda de forma colectiva, puesto que detrás de la crisis de vivienda lo que hay es una crisis laboral. Detrás de la crisis de la vivienda hay una crisis laboral Se nos ha dicho tradicionalmente que los sin techo –los homeless– son personas sin empleo y en muchos casos con problemas de consumo de droga o graves desórdenes de salud mental. Aunque algunos lo son, lo cierto es que una buena parte de los sin techo que viven en el área de la Bahía de San Francisco son trabajadores. Apretujados en pequeños automóviles parqueados por las noches cerca de iglesias o centros de refugio, cientos de familias trabajadoras duermen en las calles sin acceso a una residencia permanente, a un lugar donde cocinar y acceder a servicios de baño. ¿Por qué si son familias donde uno o dos de sus miembros tienen empleo están durmiendo en la calle?, ¿por qué si son trabajadores sus sueldos no les alcanzan para pagar una renta mensual? En un reciente artículo, el medio de comunicación The Nation argumentó que uno de los principales factores detrás de la crisis de la vivienda en el área de la Bahía es una crisis laboral desconocida o, por lo menos, ocultada por los grandes medios de comunicación y por las autoridades de la ciudad. La crisis laboral consiste en una variedad de procesos que desembocan en el desmejoramiento de las condiciones laborales de la clase trabajadora no especializada de San José. Esta clase trabajadora son hombres y mujeres de origen latino, asiático o negro que realizan los trabajos peor remunerados de la sociedad. Aunque esta fuerza laboral mantiene las empresas funcionando y en últimas instancia son las personas claves para la producción de bienes y servicios básicos para el área, las y los trabajadores se ven condenados a un paulatino deterioro de sus condiciones de trabajo ( jornadas de trabajo más prolongadas con salarios más bajos). A diferencia de quienes trabajan como diseñadores o ingenieros en las grandes empresas tecnológicas, los trabajadores no especializados (sin título universitario y con estudios secundarios y primarios incompletos) no reciben los frutos del boomeconómico: sus salarios son sobrepasados por un incesante incremento del costo de vida, tienen menos acceso a la educación, el transporte hacia sus sitios de trabajo empeora cada día, y sus barrios llegan a ser zonas con problemas de crimen, drogadicción e infraestructura en continuo deterioro. Los estudios más recientes se refieren a este fenómeno como “el callejón sin salida” en el que por lo menos 500.000 personas –algo así como 10% de la población del área de la Bahía– se encuentran atrapadas. El cambio en las condiciones de producción económica ha dejado a una parte de la población sin posibilidades de mejoras salariales. Sin oportunidades de educación gratuita, las generaciones más jóvenes de familias latinas, asiáticas y negras, no pueden acceder a los puestos de trabajo que ofrecen las compañías tecnológicas. Esto no es un problema que se resuelva con “ganas de
INTERVENCIÓN querer mejorar o progresar” sino, más bien, es un problema estructural. La falta de acceso a la educación y las estructuras racistas que definen los programas de reclutamiento laboral impiden que las familias trabajadoras puedan acceder a mejores puestos de trabajo y, por lo tanto, sus ingresos no mejoran. Según un estudio de Job Train, cerca de 50% de la población del área de la Bahía no tiene título universitario. La imposibilidad que tienen los trabajadores no especializados de conseguir mejores puestos de trabajo no es el único elemento que contribuye a empeorar sus condiciones de vida; otro elemento importante son los procesos en los cuales los patrones convierten trabajos de tiempo completo en empleos de tiempo parcial (part-time). Esto incrementa la inestabilidad laboral sin que haya una ley que le ponga freno a estas prácticas patronales. Por ejemplo, recientemente, SaveMart y Lucky, dos conglomerados dedicados a la venta de alimentos y otros productos, redujeron la jornada de 8 hs a 5 hs para buena parte de sus trabajadores de la limpieza y de servicios generales. A las y los trabajadoras les redujeron sus salarios y les disminuyeron la cobertura de salud para ellos y sus familias. Además, es importante mencionar que se les está obligando a realizar en cinco horas lo que antes hacían en ocho. Varias iniciativas comunitarias, como Sillicon Valley Rising, han denominado este fenómeno como subempleo y han argumentado que no se puede hablar en buenos términos del boom tecnológico cuando por cada empleo de un trabajador especializado (un tech-worker), cuatro trabajadores no especializados (low-cost workers) pierden la capacidad para sostener sus familias. Este supuesto boom de prosperidad debe ser más que cuestionado cuando casi 60% de toda la fuerza de trabajo no especializada que vive en Sillicon Valley no tiene capacidad para pagar la renta mensual. Es preocupante que los sectores más afectados por la crisis de la vivienda y la crisis laboral que alcanza el corazón de Sillicon Valley son sin duda las mujeres trabajadoras cabezas de familia y cualquier trabajador indocumentado. La clase trabajadora de San José está siendo atacada por varios flancos: la crisis de la vivienda, bajos salarios, redadas, discriminación y racismo.
presupuesto del Departamento para Vivienda y Desarrollo Urbano (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development). Lo segundo es que las organizaciones sindicales existentes deben tomar la decisión de poner recursos y toda clase de esfuerzos para promover la sindicalización del resto de la clase trabajadora, sobre todo de los sectores de ingresos más bajos, para luchar por un incremento de salarios y ponerle freno al aumento del costo de vida. La campana Fight for $15.00 y el proceso de organización sindical en TESLA son pasos correctos en esa dirección. Tercero, los sindicatos, que tienen el poder de enfrentar a las grandes compañías, deben apoyar y promover la formación de organizaciones comunitarias de base en los barrios populares para hacer causa común con ellas y luchar por salarios dignos, soluciones reales a los problemas de vivienda, educación, y programas de capacitación, sin discriminación ni preferencias por género, raza o estatus social. Algunos sindicatos, ONGs y políticos colaboradores del gobierno han venido levantando tímidas demandas contra las corporaciones de tecnología para lograr soluciones parciales a la crisis de vivienda que ya está generalizada en toda nuestra comunidad trabajadora. A grandes problemas, grandes soluciones. No podemos irnos por las ramas y es necesario exigir a las grandes corporaciones multimillonarias una solución de fondo a la crisis de vivienda, una financiación seria al sistema educativo, y programas de capacitación a bajos costos para que la clase trabajadora no especializada pueda acceder a los puestos de trabajo especializados que ofrecen las grandes corporaciones. Los sindicatos deben tomar estas banderas de manera independiente, dejar de seguir la política pro-corporativa del partido demócrata y, en cambio, poner en marcha iniciativas para conformar un frente de la clase trabajadora que proteja las condiciones de vida de nuestras familias.
¿Cómo nos organizamos frente a estas crisis de vivienda y laboral? La solución para acabar con la crisis de vivienda no vendrá del partido demócrata que aboga y deja correr los proyectos urbanos que favorecen a los ricos y a los empleados de cuello blanco privilegiados, pues estos seguramente generarán más procesos de aburguesamiento de la ciudad y desplazamiento intraurbano. La solución es hacerle frente a la desigualdad social que está generando el desarrollo económico de las grandes empresas de tecnología. ¿Cómo lo hacemos? Lo primero es descartar de una vez por todas que la solución vendrá del gobierno federal. En marzo de este año, la administración Trump anunció que recortará en seis mil millones de dólares el "The Jungle" en San Jose
Justice for David Cole: AFSCME’s Struggle for Racial Justice at UC Berkeley By La Voz - East Bay
The struggle for workers’ rights and racial justice came to
a head at UC Berkeley on Thursday, February 1st when David Cole, a 51 year-old African American campus employee and AFSCME 3299 member, was violently detained and arrested by UC Berkeley Police (UCPD) during an AFSCME-initiated picket action. The picket, which brought out over 150 students and workers from several campus unions including UC-AFT, UAW 2865, UPTE and the Teamsters 2010, was 2018’s first major labor action at UCB. In addition to the demand for a fair contract, the action commemorated the first day of Black History Month and paid homage to the legacy of two Black AFSCME members whose deaths sparked the 1968 Memphis Sanitation workers strike. The violent actions of the UCB police and the complicity of the university administrators in this violence show us that in terms of the university’s priorities, not much has changed in the intervening years. The parallels between these two eras of struggle - 1968 and 2018 - were laid bare in a widely circulated video documenting Cole’s arrest by UCPD in which he was detained, aggressively thrown to the ground, and pinned to the street. Cole sustained injuries to his head, nose, and leg. He was hospitalized, then taken into custody and booked by Berkeley police department for trumped up charges of resisting arrest, obstruction of justice and vandalism. As several witnesses interviewed by local media as well as the video corroborate, Cole was attempting to protect other peaceful protesters from threatening motions of a driver and did not resist arrest, but was merely confused as why he was being so aggressively handled by the police. Students and workers from the aforementioned unions responded that day by rallying outside of the Chancellor’s office California Hall, one of the main administrative buildings on campus, to demand Cole’s immediate release and that charges be dropped. AFSCME 3299 represents 24,000 workers across the University of California system, making it the largest UC union. 3299 represents custodians, cooks, maintenance workers, gardeners, among others on the campuses. as well as Pa-
tient Care Technical Workers at the UC medical centers. This union, which is comprised largely of workers of color, is one of the most militant at the UC and represents some of the most exploited workers on campus. After months of contract negotiations, they have reached impasse as the UC has failed to move on their demands of benefit protections, fair wages, job security, job training, educational opportunities, and career growth. Insultingly, UC offered a 0% salary increase over the next 5 years. In order to win the needed salary increases and other benefits, the union is preparing for an economic strike. Other campus workers and students must prepare to stand in solidarity with AFSCME workers in their fight for dignity. In response to the students’ and workers’ pressure, the UC Office of the Vice Chancellor sent out a disgraceful email throughout campus defending UCPD’s repression against Cole, painting him as a criminal, and de-contextualizing the union action and racial justice commemoration in which he was participating. The message also ignored the pervasive racist campus climate that students, faculty, and workers of color face at UCB. During the February 1st action, workers and students took to the streets - a traditional and common action done at most UCB protests and pickets - and were forced to relocate onto campus after at least one car drove towards the direction of the peaceful crowd. The UC has painted things very differently in their email claiming that a, “vehicle then pulled forward and stopped on Bancroft Way. At that point, the UC employee began to advance in the direction of the driver...The driver of the vehicle flagged down a police officer for assistance and complained that the UC employee had damaged his car. The driver requested a citizen’s arrest and under California law, UCPD is obligated to arrest the individual on the citizen’s behalf. When a UCPD officer attempted to detain the UC employee, he became uncooperative and disregarded instructions from the officer. The officer requested assistance and he and other UCPD officers then moved to physically detain him. Due to the UC employee’s resistance, multiple officers were needed to take him into custody.”
INTERVENTION To put the UC’s budget priority in perspective, just this past September, the UC administration spent $4 million dollars on police security to protect white supremacists and neo-nazis, including Milo Yiannapolous, during the so-called “Free Speech Week.” And let us not forget the $175 million discovered by a state auditor last April that the UC Office of the President (UCOP) hid away in secret reserves while waging tuition hikes on the students. UC’s commitment to protecting racists and reactionaries, while repressing black workers on campus and financing the executive class on the backs of students and workers speaks volumes to who the UCPD are there to serve and protect. AFSCME (and several other campus unions) has been in contract negotiations with the UC since last Spring and has reached impasse after seeing no movement on some fundamental workplace demands around job security, wage increases, and career growth opportunities. This is following last year’s Teamsters’ contract negotiations, where, after months of tension, representatives of the 11,000 administrative, clerical and support workers across the 10 UC campuses were pressured into minor wage increases and 401(k) retirement plans instead of the wage increases and enhanced pension plans that the union, in order support its workers in dealing with rising cost of living in California, had been demanding for more than a year. AFSCME’s impasse also comes on the heels of UC pressuring the American Federation of Teachers to accept a meager 1.5% wage increase in their last librarian contract - the same amount given to all non-union staff. The message to workers in the UC is clear - we are de-valued, demeaned, and degraded on the job. But we are not demoralized, and demand better. UC rejection of all of AFSCME’s key demands (including UC’s proposal of a O% wage increase over five years) means that the union has filed with the state labor board for impasse, where the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) will evaluate each party’s case for why no more movement at the table can be made and, if PERB sees fit, appoint a mediator. If after a series of steps no agreement can be brokered, UC can unilaterally impose their “last, best, and final offer” and AFSCME 3299 will have the right to strike. The union remains committed to seeing this fight through to the end, to secure a future for students, patients, and families. In an interview immediately after his release from Berkeley Police with local news outlet KPIX 5, David Cole stated: “I have three stitches in my eye, one in my nose. My leg is bothering me, my foot is bothering me. But I’m going to be okay. I just want to thank you to Local 3299 for helping me...hopefully this ordeal will get over with and be done and we will win our contract”. Mr. Cole’s resolve is a message to all workers in the UC system that we can come together and fight for and build a better workplace and education system where workers like Mr. Cole - and all workers - do not have to face the violence, intimidation, and systematic disrespect that UC currently exacts on those who challenge its norms. Over 100 workers and students rallied and picketed together on February 8th to support AFSCME 3299 demands’ that the University drop all charges against David Cole, a full and fair remedy for unjust actions taken and injuries sustained be granted, suspend the officers involved pending an in-
dependent investigation, and implement system-wide police reforms to protect the rights of all students and workers engaged in non-violent protest. Speakers from this day of action emphasized both the specificity of David Cole’s violent arrest - that it is no coincidence that the police targeted one of the few Black men at the action - as well as the universal nature of the action. Stated Abdullah Puckett, internal vice president of the Black Student Union, “We’re letting the [UCB] administration know that we don’t tolerate this type of thing. We in the Black Student Union are standing here today to say that we are united with the workers who make it possible for Black students to be in this institution. Just like it was people who looked like us who built these institutions, even though people like us weren’t allowed to go to these institutions”. He also noted the connection between the police state and slavery - that the police force as we know it was developed to enforce and protect the system of slavery and cannot be separated from these violent, anti-black, antiworking class roots. Professor Nikki Jones, Associate Professor in the AfricanAmerican and Diaspora Studies Department at UC Berkeley spoke to the fact that this month marks a 50-years anniversary in wake of urban uprisings across the country, the vast majority of which were sparked by a negative police encounters. She explained that “President Lyndon Johnson appointed a commission to answer three seemingly simple questions: what happened, why did it happen, and what can be done? In answering the president’s charge,” she noted, “the report did not shy away from the topic of race or racism. Instead, the federal report linked the problems of racism to histories of racist violence, racist housing policies in American cities that turned ghetto neighborhoods into tinder boxes for the uprisings the commission was called on to explain and ultimately prevent in the future.” We must hold this analysis as we look at the recent events of anti-black and anti-worker violence at UC Berkeley. A leader from the Black Staff and Faculty Organization highlighted that “Workplace discrimination is alive and well at Cal. There’s lots of experiences of Black staff and other staff of color that are dealing with numerous issues with managers with the broader institution the same way students are. And so ultimately, we need to see our struggles, all of our struggles as workers, as students, all interconnected. Because the same system that isn’t giving justice to David Cole right now, is denying justice for a lot of staff on this campus, and a lot of faculty on this campus.” Emphasizing this solidarity, Michael Avant Executive Vice President of AFSCME 3299 concluded that Cole, “came out for freedom of speech...and the UC system tried to take that away brothers and sisters...Now it’s time for us students and workers to continue to stand together, to continue to stand together as one, because we are one”.
Statement of Anti-War Spring Actions 2018
he time is now to return to the streets to make our voices heard. Join us on April 14-15 for united, nationally coordinated regional mobilizations to challenge the war makers and defend humanity. The future is in our hands. – End U.S. overt and covert wars, drone wars, sanction/embargo wars, and death squad assassination wars. — Close of all U.S. bases on foreign soil. Dismantle all nuclear weapons. — Bring all U.S. troops home now. Self-determination not military intervention. U.S. hands off the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America. End military aid to apartheid Israel. Self-determination for Palestine. The U.S. cannot be the cop of the world. – $Trillions for human needs… for jobs and social services, quality debt-free education and single payer health care. No to anti-union legislation. For $15 and a Union Now. – Defend the environment against life-threatening
fossil fuel-induced global warming. For a just transition to a 100 percent clean, sustainable energy system at union wages for all displaced workers. — No to white supremacy, police brutality/murder. End racist mass incarceration. Black Lives Matter — No human being is illegal. No to mass deportations. Yes to DACA and TPS (Temporary Protective Status) The U.S. government and its leading Pentagon generals openly and repeatedly threatened nuclear war or massive military intervention against sovereign nations. Such is the case today with North Korea, Iran and Venezuela. Simultaneously, U.S. military forces are at war in several nations including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. Hundreds of U.S. military bases circle the globe in more than 170 foreign countries at the cost of $trillions while these same $trillions are subtracted from critical social programs at home. $Trillions in tax cuts and corporate bailouts are granted to the super rich while the war at home takes on virulent racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, Islamophobic and homophobic forms. Join us!
No to War Against North Korea! By Florence Oppen
The U.S. Government Needs to Destroy its Own Nuclear Arsenal!
ince taking office in early 2016, President Trump has been verbally escalating the tensions and war threats against North Korea over the latter’s right to develop nuclear weapons. Kim Jong-un has responded in kind , and the media continue to feed and profit from the spiral of militaristic and racist rhetoric. For U.S. and North Korean workers however, and for workers and peoples all over the world, a nuclear conflict is no joke, for it is always working people who get slaughtered in imperialist ventures and the consequences of a nuclear war would be catastrophic for the future of humanity. . Yet to truly understand what is going on, it is not enough to blame both sides equally, as liberal elites and news anchors are suggesting. The two sides are not equal: the US is an imperialist power and North Korea is a poor and isolated semicolonial country. Further, the memory of US crimes during the Korean war and the long history of colonial oppression and subjugation of the Korean peninsula remain fresh in the minds many North Koreans. Unfortunately, most U.S. workers do not know this history because their own government and corporate media are complicit with that violence. For us socialists, however, it is key to educate ourselves on others peoples’ history and political experiences, and refuse to perpetuate the collective amnesia of imperialist violence and the media intoxication forced upon us. Workers and oppressed communities in the US ought to propose an alternative way forward towards a de-escalation of this conflict and world peace—one that diverges from those tradi-
tionally offered by Democrats and Republicans. Any real attempt at peace, however, needs to start by acknowledging our own government’s past crimes and demanding the dismantling of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and demilitarization of our society.
Trump Escalates Rhetoric Against North Korea to Escape Political Crisis In his recent provocations, Trump began calling North Korea’s president “Little Rocket Man” and undermining his own Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, mocking him publicly for “wasting his time” negotiating with the KimJong Un regime. In recent tweets he wrote that “being nice [with North Korea] has not worked in the last 25 years” and defended the use of military force instead of diplomacy and economic sanctions. This latest episode of tensions started in early in August, in response to some nuclear tests carried by North Korean authorities. Trump then threatened the Kim Jongun regime saying it would face “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if the tests and arms race did not stop. Later in September he repeated his threat to “totally destroy North Korea,” and began referring to Kim Jong-un as “Rocket Man” or “Little Rocket Man”. In response, Mr. Kim called trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” and threatened to “definitely rame “him with “fire.” Many Americans and people around the world are becoming increasingly concerned with these threats of war and rightly so. However, there is an unacceptable consensus amongst most of the corporate media, the establishment parties and the U.S. political class: that Kim Jong-Un
INTERNATIONAL is simply an “irrational” and “crazy” leader, and that he must be stopped by any means necessary from further developing nuclear weapons and that North Korea must eliminate all of its current nuclear arsenal. As socialist in the U.S. and around the world, we think this is a biased and unilateral view of what is happening, one that is extremely dangerous for working people across the world. We believe it is racist to simply portray the North Korean hatred of the United States as “irrational” while ignoring the crimes committed by the U.S. against the North Korean people and the social and historical basis of Kim Jong-un’s reactionary and defensive nationalism. Furthermore, we need to strongly contest the nationalist and supremacist narrative that the United States government should play a vigilante role in world affairs. The self-proclaimed mission of being “the leader of the free world” has proven to be a mere cover, after the Vietnam defeat, to continue wars and aggressions abroad. Given the number of wars, war crimes, financed coup détat and tortured carried by the U.S. government, we strongly disagree with the U.S. government having any moral or political legitimacy to carry that mythological mission to save civilization and defend peace. It is symptomatic that the Trump administration is using once again warmongering to artificially rebuild the social base and support it has lost because of its failure to implement its program of reforms. At the time when working people are becoming either furious with a government that is attacking them, or increasingly disillusioned with a government that promised to “make it right for them”, war and racism against North Koreans seems to be the perfect escape valve. When Trump is not attacking Muslims, he is terrorising and deporting immigrant communities or waving the “North Korean nuclear threat” flag, which sounds disturbingly similar to the “weapons of mass destruction” lies that justified the destruction and occupation of Iraq.
North Korea’s History of Colonialism and Occupation North Korea is a country of 25 million people which was formed as such after the partition of Korea in 1948, when the north was occupied by Stalinist armies of the Soviet Union and the south by U.S. armies. Before WWII, Korea had endured a long colonial occupation and domination by Japan between 1910 and 1945. After the 1910 annexation Japan imposed a form of settler colonialism, sending 170,000 Japanese to the Korean peninsula and expropriating Korean farmers of their land through an imposed land reform. By the mid 1930s half of the land was in the hands of Japanese landowners, transforming Koreans into tenant farmers with high colonial taxes. It is calculated that during WWII Japan forced 1.2 million Koreans into forced labor in mines and factories to support the war efforts. Under Japanese rule tens of thousands of women were recruited by force (the “comfort women”) to be sex slaves of Japanese soldiers. After WWII, the Soviet Union and the U.S. created two puppet governments in a divided Korean peninsula. Kim Ilsung, the grandfather of the current president, became the first President of North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) in 1948 with the support of the Soviet Union.
He was one of the leaders of the resistance forces against Japanese colonial rule. In the 1930s, Kim Il-sung and his militias had sought refuge in Siberia where they only found partial support by the Soviet Union. But in 1945, when the USSR formally engaged in the war against Japan, it began to give more open support to elements of the Korean anti-colonial resistance and supported Kim Il-sung´s rule after the liberation of the Korean Peninsula. In South Korea, the U.S. backed the Syngman Rhee regime, an openly anti-communist, right-wing nationalist dictatorship, which moved to kill and jail its political opposition. Syngman Rhee was a Princeton graduate who was groomed by the U.S. and his regime, comprised of many of the elites who collaborated with the Japanese occupation, particularly targeted Left, anti-colonial and working class opposition forces. By 1950, 30,000 alleged “communists” were put in jail by the Rhee governments, and 300,000 suspected sympathizers of communism sent to “re-education” camps.
U.S. War Crimes Against the Korean People During the Korean War The Korean War began in 1950, when North Korea invaded South Korea (Republic of Korea) with the project of re-uniting the Korean people kept separate by the Cold War conflict between the U.S. and the USSR. The U.S. organized a coalition of other imperialist forces (U.K., South Africa, France, Belgium, Philippines among others) to support and expand the rule of the South Korean government further north. In addition to the USSR, the North received the backing of China and was more militarily ready for war. The Korean War lasted 3 years and ended up with almost identical borders with the still-existing buffer called the “demilitarized zone” (DMZ) along the border. However, the death toll of approximately 3 million people—around 20% of the total population—was devastating. On the U.S. side, the Korean War was waged as an “anti-communist” crusade and what happened before and during the conflict is crucial for understanding why there is a widespread anti-American sentiment among the people of North Korea. The war crimes committed against the Korean population during the Korean War will and should not be forgotten as easily as they have been censured in the U.S. by our own government and media. During that war the U.S. military “dropped on the Korean peninsula more bombs — 635,000 tons — and napalm — 32,557 tons — than during the entire Pacific campaign against the Japanese during World War II”. The indiscriminate U.S. carpet-bombing of North Korea destroyed more cities in that country that in Japan or Germany during WWII. The brutal destruction of the country's infrastructure, cities and land, on top of the killing and injuries of millions of civilians was not enough. General Douglas MacArthur was contemplating using nuclear bombs to win the war in 10 days and surround the country with a radioactive belt: “I would have dropped between 30 and 50 atomic bombs on his air bases and other depots strung across the neck of Man churia from just across the Yalu River from Antung (north western tip of Korea) to the neighborhood of Hunchun ( just north of the northeastern tip of Korea near the border of the
INTERNATIONAL U.S.S.R.)…. “It was my plan as our amphibious forces moved south to spread behind us—from the Sea of Japan to the Yellow Sea—a belt of radioactive cobalt. It could have been spread from wagons, carts, trucks and planes. It is not an expensive material. It has an active life of between 60 and 120 years. …For at least 60 years there could have been no land invasion of Korea from the north. The enemy could not have marched across that radiated belt.” Fortunately enough his plans did not go through, but the fact that he contemplated that genocidal “solution” is not easy to forget for the Korean people. Given this history, it’s only understandable that the North Korean regime left the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons treaty in 2003 and began a plan to develop its own nuclear arsenal to defend itself from the United States. But the North Korean militarization project also responds to the contradictions of the Kim Jong-un dictatorship.
Kim Jong-un and the Nature of the North Korean Regime The North Korean regime, which calls itself “Communist” is today a brutal capitalist, reactionary and nationalist dictatorship in a very poor country. It must be clear that the Korean people deserve a true democratic government that serves their needs and U.S. workers should do everything possible to assist their Korean brothers and sisters in that task. But, needless to say, this has nothing to do with backing the Trump government´s military aggressions and economic sanctions against the regime. The evolution of the North Korean regime, monopolised by the Kim dynasty, is similar to the degeneration of the bureaucratic Soviet Union and the restoration of capitalism, but at a faster pace. The only major difference is that, contrary to Russia, the regime was not the product of a genuine popular and workers revolution, nor did it enjoy a few years of true soviet democracy. It was from the beginning a top down regime. The anti-worker character of the so-called socialist regime was visible in the priorities given to the planned economy. Although, as our comrades pointed out, “between 1953 and 1963, the country’s GDP grew 15% a year, with the building of an industrial complex focused on the production of armaments”, improvements in the production of consumer goods and food were not considered a priority. The North Korean regime also developed a singular political culture based on the “Juche” theory of autarky, independence and self-reliance. What began initially as a Korean “version” of Marxism-Leninism was quickly turned by Kim Il-sung into a principle that “superseded” Marxism and became an ideology of the superiority of the Il-sung dictatorial regime. Since the main economic partners for North Korea’s development were China and the USSR, the restoration of capitalism in both countries at the end of the 1970s and 1980s respectively, led to the de-facto restoration of for-profit production in North Korea. As the IWL comrades point out, the country faced a huge economic crisis and famine in the 1990s, and “Kim Il-sung opened the economy for foreign investment, with the formation of joint ventures of private/ state-owned enterprises, created free zones under the con-
trol of large multinationals, and even sold islands to Chinese businessmen for tourism investment.” When Kim Jong-il, son of Kim Il-sung, took over the de-regulation of the economy, the rise of food prices continued, which only worsened material conditions for workers. Today, North Korea is a capitalist dictatorship with a chronic economic crisis. As the PSTU comrades point out, “the very members of the ruling party are becoming big capitalists under the protection of the state. Meanwhile, workers receive US$ 30 a month on average, while the cost of living doubles that. The capitalist economy is so large that about 40% of the population of the country is involved in some type of private business, as bosses or as employees. Only in the retail market, there are 1.1 million workers.” Like in China, the growing social contradictions between the very rich and the rapidly impoverished working masses is sparking conflicts. But in the case of North Korea, this transformation is happening in a very poor country. North Korea has a total GDP of $28 billion (less than the GDP of the poorest state in the United States, Vermont, which has a GDP of $31 billion), and an annual GDP per capita of $1,600, compared to $8,100 in China and $57,600 in the United States. In this context it is very understandable that the only way for for Kim Jong-un (who assumed power in 2012 and has increased the privatization of services and industries) to prevent a mass uprising in his country and maintain power is to push the program of “nuclear development” as a way to appeal to North Korean nationalism. After all, Trump and many other American leaders have used the same tactic—appealing to American patriotism and the “war against terrorism” to regain popular support.
The Debate Around Nuclear Weapons: the Real Danger, Uneven Forces and Unfair Rules The core of the current conflict between the United States and North Korea, however, is about nuclear weapons and who has the right to have them. Yet it is impossible to begin any serious discussion on the use of nuclear weapons and their danger to humanity without calling out the crimes committed by the only state in history that has ever used the weapon against civilian population twice: the United States. On August 6th 1945, President Truman, a Democrat, ordered the bombing of Hiroshima and, three days later, of Nagasaki. Both bombs had an estimated death toll of 200,000 people in Japan. Of course we all know that this took place in the context of WWII, and the argument made to justify such an atrocity is that it was a “necessary collateral damage” to defeat the government of Japan. But this is not an uncontested truth, but rather a retrospective justification of barbarism. Indeed, many evidences and voices inside the U.S. military have argued the opposite. The 1946 United States Strategic Bombing Survey, which reviews all evidence from the U.S. military concluded that “even without the atomic bombing attacks, air supremacy over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion” and that “certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan
INTERNATIONAL would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.” Moreover, fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, the Chief of Staff to President Truman, stated five years later that “the use of [the atomic bombs] at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons … The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages.” Even Republican President Eisenhower argued in his memoirs that “Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary.” All of this history that has been covered up and even erased is important to consider which country is the greatest nuclear threat to humanity today, and which state has a record of irrational use of violence against civilians. It is clear that the U.S. government has no moral or political authority to play the gendarme role in the world and claim the right to regulate and authorize the use of nuclear violence. Before the United States can speak to the world about nuclear weapon use with any credibility, it has to be held accountable for its past crimes by working people from all over the world, including the Japanese and American people directly impacted by these atrocities. The second key issue that needs to be addressed is the state of nuclear weapons possession today and the nature of the rules set to regulate them. Since 1945 and despite all its claims to “peace”, the U.S. has frantically continued the arms race and is today incomparably armed with nuclear weapons. According to Time magazine, which relies on the Pentagon´s data, “As of July 8, the United States has 6,800 warheads, according to data from Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris at the Federation of American scientists. 2,800 of them are retired, 4,000 are stockpiled, and 1,800 are deployed. The total number of U.S. warheads is second only to Russia, which currently has 7,000 of them.”On the other hand, as of July of 2017, North Korea might have a maximum of 20 warheads. Other sources point at the fact that it could develop up to 100 maximum by 2020. These facts alone should be enough to argue that the North Korean people should be allowed to have their own nuclear program for self-defense as long as the United States fails to dismantle its own. Yet there is a third argument that needs to be explained and debunked which is the supposed U.S. commitment to “non-proliferation” and de-escalation. One of the arguments used by the U.S. government (Obama did it before Trump) to bully North Korea and Iran regarding their own sovereign military plans is that the U.S. is enrolled in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) signed in 1968 – a treaty that allows the US to still have more than 6,000 warheads! – and that North Korea unilaterally left the NPT in 2003. This view implies that there would be some a possible setting for negotiation with fair rules on nuclear weapons. But this is not the truth. The countries that developed nukes want to keep their monopoly and prevent others from having them
in order to assert their arbitrary military power. There is not moral or political fairness in the NPT. the role of the NPT is to function as an alliance of powerful countries that have built nuclear arsenals to prevent their political enemies from developing them. The proof is that 3 of the major nuclear weapons states (Israel, India and Pakistan, with 80, 130 and 140 nuclear warheads respectively) have never even bothered in joining the NPT. The United States has never demonized these three countries as it has done with Iran and North Korea, much less threatened them militarily because they are military and economic allies in two key regions – especially Israel which last year alone received $3.8 billion in public “taxpayer” money.
Against Imperialist Aggression and for a Worker-Led Disarmament of the United States Given the previous context and history, we must begin our analysis of the US-North Korea conflict by asserting that there is an unfair and dangerous monopoly of nuclear weapons led by the U.S., which needs to end. This monopoly is not only a threat to the North Korean and Iranian people, but a danger to all humanity. We must first demand the immediate disarmament of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and that process needs to the supervised and led by workers. Our end goal is the total abolition of nuclear weapons and for historical, political, and economic reasons, this must start United States. Second, we must assert the right of all countries to selfdefense from imperialist aggression—a right which includes developing equal weaponry. We are no fans of the North Korea and Iran building a nuclear arsenal, but we are more concerned about the U.S., France, Israel, the U.K. and many other countries already having one. We do not see how we could tell poor, semi-colonial countries to stop developing their weapons when imperialist countries which have initiated numerous wars, occupations and used nuclear weapons against civilians are free to have them. To build real trust and peace among peoples, we must start by disarming the powerful. Third, we believe that the only social and political force that can lead this key process is the organized working class, allied with oppressed communities and nations. We do not think a capitalist state that follows corporate interests will lead us to peace. This is why we say that only through the development of workers councils and through the establishment of a socialist government with democratic, workers control of production (including military production) will we be able to successfully eliminate all nuclear weapons.
• Hands Off North Korea! No Economic Sanctions, No Military Aggression! • The U.S. Government Needs to Destroy its Own Nuclear Arsenal! • For Workers Democratic Control of All Existing Nuclear Weapons!
Ruling Class Consensus on Israel and Palestine By John Leslie, Socialist Action
Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the spar-
ked protests in occupied Palestinian territories, the Middle East, and across the globe. (1) Despite sharp criticism from some Democratic party leaders, the party has voted to support the move. In June of 2017, the Senate voted 90-0 to pass a resolution reaffirming support for Jerusalem as the “undivided” capital of Israel. The resolution was Co-sponsored by 17 senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D). Liberal darling, Bernie Sanders, voted for the measure. The resolution seeks to impose a “two-state” solution “through direct, bilateral negotiations without preconditions.” It would effectively force bantustan-like conditions on the Palestinian people. Bipartisan support for Jerusalem as the Israeli capital reflects the US ruling class consensus in support of the Israeli apartheid state and the dispossession of the Palestinian people. (2) According to a United Nations study, home demolitions in the occupied territories “were continuing at the highest rate since the United Nations started collecting such data, and included the demolition of donor‑funded humanitarian facilities serving vulnerable communities.” The UN also reports that the construction of illegal settlements, built on stolen Palestinian land and in Occupied Syrian territory (Golan Heights), has more than doubled. (3) The continued construction of illegal settlements creates the facts on the ground to provide the Israelis with the rationale for annexation of land and the forced expulsion of Palestinians from the occupied territories. As part of the backlash against Trump’s Jerusalem declaration the Palestine Liberation Organization withdrew recognition of Israel and unexpectedly endorsed Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). Trump has vowed to move the embassy by 2019.
Trump’s Ultimatum at Davos The Trump administration has already withheld $65 million in funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) which provides aid to the Palestinians in January. During the meeting of international capitalist interests in Davos, Switzerland, Trump threatened to cut off aid to the Palestinians “unless they sit down and
negotiate peace.” This is clearly “negotiation” with a gun to the heads of the Palestinian people. (4) The Trump administration and both ruling class parties are accomplices to an ongoing criminal action -- to the systematic violation of the human rights of the Palestinians. This insistence that the Palestinians “negotiate” leaves aside the reality that the Israelis have continued to violate the terms of every peace agreement made with the Palestinians. Israeli is a colonial-settler state -- an imperialist and racist colonizing project -- that was built on ethnic cleansing and theft of land. Following Israel’s declaration of independence, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly expelled from the new state. Hundreds of communities were destroyed and replaced with Israeli towns. The so-called Palestinian citizens of Israel are an oppressed nationality who face a second class existence, denied equal access to resources and education. Jewish immigrants automatically receive citizenship under the “law of return” which defines Israel as a Jewish state, while Palestinians who were born in the country are barred from returning to their homeland. It is noteworthy that Jewish immigrants from European countries and the US are treated well by the state of Israel, while African and Middle-Eastern, or “Mizrahi,” Jews are discriminated against. The People of Gaza live in what is effectively an openair prison under conditions of a brutal blockade. In the West Bank, theft of land and water, home demolitions and toxic waste dumping continues. Settlers attack Palestinians and destroy crops.
A Democratic Palestine The notion of a “two-state” solution is increasingly discredited in popular opinion. While the imperialist powers excuse and back Israel’s actions, the apartheid state continues to violate the human rights of Palestinians and to create the framework for more ethnic cleansing and, eventually, the unlawful annexation of the rest of historic Palestine. The solution to this crisis is the building of a democratic, secular and socialist Palestine with equal rights for all. The right to return for Palestinians must be guaranteed. Only recognizing the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to self-determination can end this catastrophe. 25
Iran 2017 Protests: Changing the Story of Iranian Popular Resistance
By La Voz - East Bay/Oakland
Since Thursday December 28th, Iranians have once
again taken to the streets. Thousands, perhaps more, have protested in mass displays of general discontent, voicing economic, social, and political demands. These mark the largest protests since the 2009 millions-strong uprising against the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also known as the Green Movement. Anytime there is popular resistance in Iran, global and regional powers quickly make efforts to exploit the situation through meaningless “support” in order to advance their own cynical self-interest. This is an unfortunate reality that every Iranian knows well, yet this geopolitical noise never has—and likely never will—make the people shy away from demanding all, yes all, that is due to them.
The Roots of the Protests: Neoliberal Policies The protests started in the city of Mashhad, the country’s second largest city, where protesters chanted explicitly economic demands. Facing water cannons and tear gas, they
spoke against the rising cost of living and government mismanagement of the budget, corruption, and high prices. In nearby smaller cities, protesters chanted “Down with High Prices,” “Down with [President] Rouhani” and “Down with the Dictator.” Days before, President Rouhani had submitted an austerity budget which cut cash transfers to the poor and raised fuel prices by 50%, among other measures. While calls for protests were shared by word-of-mouth through social media, it is unclear where these calls originated from, even among many of those who participated in the first Masshad protests. Some believe that the protests were originally called for by conservatives to the right of centrist President Rouhani as a way to undermine him. If so, the protests quickly spread beyond their control and erupted into general anti-government protests targeted against all political factions. The austerity budget became the last straw and pushed people to voice their general economic frustration and take to the streets. Young people have also participated heavily in these protests, no longer able to face a precarious future while the youth unemployment rate remains above 30 %.
INTERNATIONAL While expansion of higher education has been fairly successful under the Islamic Republic, the creation of so many credentialed young people with highly limited job openings has exacerbated a youth unemployment bulge. Protests soon spread to other cities such as Kermanshah, where the local population was devastated by a recent earthquake in which government relief efforts proved incompetent and corrupt. One key difference of these episodes from the 2009 uprising and previous nationwide protests has been that they have expanded in poorer cities in the periphery rather than the relatively better off capital Tehran. While demands have at times been contradictory, one of the most repeated chants across different cities has been “employment, bread, freedom.” Some have demonstrated discontent with all factions of the government, chanting “reformists, conservatives, the story is over,” (eslaahtalab, osoulgara, dige tamoome maajera).” Indeed, while the conservatives have tried to pin the country’s economic problems solely on President Rouhani’s latest austerity budget, in reality most major factions in the Iranian political scene across the spectrum from reformist to conservative have supported some form of neoliberal economic policy. In 2006, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called for a privatization “jihad,” announcing that 80% of the public sector economy should be privatized. Various factions of the state have also supported import liberalization and labor deregulation. One of the most visible effects of neo-liberalization in Iran has been widespread labor deregulation. A 1990 labor law that offered some forms of social insurance and pensions to workers was gutted in the early 2000s so that enterprises which employ fewer than ten workers were exempted. Workers’ strikes have occurred frequently in the last decade, including in recent months, among manufacturing workers, civil servants and government workers, sugarcane workers, bus drivers, and teachers among others. These workers protest months of unpaid wages and layoffs. Independent workers’ organizations have supported the protests, denouncing the “poverty and misery of millions of people, unemployment of millions of workers and youths, the beatings of street vendors and the killings of Kurdish koolbars [porters who carry goods on their backs and transport them between the Iran and Iraq border], the imposition of wages several times below poverty level on workers, and the imprisonment and torture in response to any demands of social justice and freedom.”
Unrest Grows and Contradictions of the Protests As the unrest grew, diverse and at times contradictory chants increased. Some denounced misplaced priorities in the government budget, demanding that the government should prioritize making the lives of Iranians easier, rather than spending money on intervention in Syria. Yet others chanted more uncritically nationalist slogans like “Neither Lebanon, nor Gaza, my life only for Iran.” Yet still other protesters denounced the lack of internationalist solidarity in such a slogan and quipped back with “Whether Gaza, or Iran, Down with the Oppressors!”
While the Iranian Revolution was powered in part by demands for economic justice and equity, the gap between rich and poor has continued to expand in highly visible and volatile ways. As Amir Arian argues, “Iranians see pictures of the family members of the authorities drinking and hanging out on beaches around the world, while their daughters are arrested over a fallen head scarf and their sons are jailed for buying alcohol. The double standard has cultivated an enormous public humiliation.” Facing a toxic combination of youth unemployment, neoliberal policies, social control, and compulsion of conservative norms, young Iranians brave the streets time and again to demand a better future. While there was widespread cross-class participation in the early days of the 2009 uprising against the disputed reelection of conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the demands then centered on political freedoms. Yet these current protests have refocused debates about Iranian popular resistance in a direction that more explicitly acknowledges class. A recent study conducted by sociologist Kevan Harris, who has conducted years of fieldwork in Iran and has had access to important statistics and archives, disputes a fairly common perception that the poorest Iranians are allied with the most right-wing elements in the Iranian political scene due to the association of these elements with certain welfare organizations that provide modest financial aid. This study, conducted via a random sample of thousands of Iranians, found that on the contrary, “individuals linked to welfare programs currently or formerly associated with conservative politicians or factions…are not voting differently on average than people linked to welfare programs associated with technocratic or moderate politicians or factions.” Again, this would support the position that people are disappointed in many, often opposing, factions whether reformist, centrist, or conservative/hardliner. These protests are important displays of popular discontent with the status quo. It is true that their demands have been contradictory at times and that they suffer from a lack of leadership that can provide alternatives. It is also true that U.S. imperialists, as is their fashion, will try to take advantage of the events in whatever way they can. Indeed, in many families, family members have been divided about joining, with some taking to the streets to voice important demands while others are wary of both the volatile domestic factionalism and external foreign intervention. Iranians know well that U.S. imperialism has been part of the problem, as sanctions have clamped down on their access to vital medicines and fuel, bestowing economic hardships. Yet they also know that the Iranian government has continued to advance austerity and mismanage the budget, that employers go months without paying workers’ wages, that young people await a precarious future of insecurity. Even if protests once again do not result in any immediate change, the centering of working-class and marginalized sectors in these events against all the forces against them has suddenly changed the story of Iranian popular resistance, a story that will continue to unwind for many years to come.
International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggle Manifesto Originally published @ laboursolidarity.org
The International Labour Network of Solidarity and
Struggle constituted on March 2013 after our meeting in Saint-Denis (France) is the product of years of exchanges and common work between several of the founding organizations. In this way, and on the basis of common trade union policies and practice, we have been able to bring together trade unions, trade union trends and tendencies from numerous countries of the Americas, Africa and Asia.
Network Manifesto Two years later, in June 2015, we organized a new international meeting at Campinas (Brazil). This time we have collectively assessed the positive evolution of our network, notably its increase in size but also the distance that we still have to go to create a common international weapon for all the trade union forces who demand and practice a unionism of struggle that is anti-capitalist, autonomous, democratic, Green, independent of bosses and governments, internationalist, and which fights against all forms of oppression (sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia). Workers democracy and self-organization are also included as part of our shared reference points. The 3rd Meeting has taken place in Madrid (Spain). It has been an occasion to further our joint work over the ques-
tions cited above. We have also dedicated the necessary time to consolidate our sectoral networks, for it is from the reality of the companies and services in which we work that we understand trade unionism. Given that patriarchal oppression is a burden for all humanity and that we need to fight it back, this theme has been our priority in this 3rd Meeting. We have to fight against machismo with no demagogy, including within the trade union movement and within each of our organizations. We need to be an example. In general, we have updated our analysis, our proposals, and our strategies of action on the basis of the reality of male,female and gender non-conforming workers in every country. We have done so with the aim of achieving our demands, and with them the construction of the society we want for tomorrow.
The Bourgeois Governments Promote a Social War against all Workers Regardless of Gender The economic, financial, environmental and social crises are linked together and feed on each other. The global crisis of capitalism shows the dead end of development based on an increasingly unequal division of the wealth produced by the exploitation of workers, the deregulation of the financial system, the widespread extension of the free market and
INTERNATIONAL the contempt for ecological constraints. In order to ensure the profits of shareholders and employers, the future of banks and global organizations (World Bank, International Monetary Fund, global organisation of trade, etc.) governments and employers attack workers’ rights with increasing strength. All workers regardless of their gender, are still suffering the consequences of one of the biggest crisis of capitalism, the one that began in 2007. Our current situation is characterized by an unprecedented attack against workers’ standards of living workers, an attack that aims at guaranteeing the profits of the bankers and the big companies. Imperialism and the bourgeoisie carry out a social war, cutting salaries, pensions, and rights, and increasing poverty and inequality. The economic and political system today is plundering numerous countries. It forces millions of people to leave their countries to survive while at the same time denying their rights under the pretext that they are immigrants! The destruction of public services, the suspension of all social rights, attacks on workers’ rights, the scorn on trade union freedoms, the development of insecurity and unemployment in order to put pressure on the population… These same methods are used in all countries! To achieve their goal, they use all means possible: criminalization, the law, arrests, police interventions, military occupations, and the restriction of every sort of collective and individual rights. Repression is one of their weapons against those who resist, oppose and develop alternatives. Our solidarity, irrespective of borders, is one of our responses. Attacks against social protections, pensions, salaries, working conditions, social insurance, public services and democratic freedoms are part of a strategic project by capitalism designed to permanently change the balance of forces between the ruling class on the one hand and the workers and people on the other. This project is part of a globalized capitalism, an economy which challenges social regulations, legislation and the conditions and the rhythms of work. This is producing and increasing insecurity in the world of work. The question of health and security at work, the general conditions of the quality of life for employees amongst the people, will become of decisive importance in struggles and demands. In countries in which a situation of under-development persist as a result of the ongoing forces of colonialism and imperialism, social conditions condemn people en masse to die of hunger, to be sold as slaves or even to emigrate, frequently putting their lives at risk, to countries where they then face high levels of discrimination. Colonialism and imperialism still oppress vast numbers of people throughout the world; trade unionism must fight against these forms of domination. The right to land is a particularly important question in many countries, especially in those that are victims of colonialism and imperialism. We need to act against that, struggling for true agrarian reforms in unity with the social movements that also fight for these rights. More widely, the climate emergency forces us to incorporate this question into our trade union practices. Indigenous lands continue to be destroyed by capitalism. We wel-
come and support the fights of the indigenous peoples for a sustainable environment, access to clean water and human dignity. The threat of an imperialist war is increasing. The International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggle calls for workers to unify in their opposition against any imperialist intervention and to strengthen the movements against war and militarization. In 2017, the struggles against oppression became even more important. The year opened with a massive mobilization of women in the US against Trump. Later, the 8th of March, a day of action for the rights of women, came down in history as one of the biggest global mobilizations. Also, in the US the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the Marchas da Periferia in Brazil and others in Latin America and Africa are an expression of the struggle against racism. There were important LGBT actions against homophobia and transphobia and violence. The immigrants’ struggle in the US and in Europe also gained massive relevance. We are against all form of colonial expression and oppression, that is why we repudiate the Zionist government of Israel and defend the freedom of Palestine; for the selfdetermination of all oppressed people. Some years after the “Arab spring”, massive mobilizations against oppressive regimes are still ongoing. Our network supports all these struggles in their defense of the workers´ rights and of democratic freedoms in those countries. The mechanism of debt is stifling our countries and impoverishing us: their debt is not our debt and we will not pay it! It does not seem likely that the economic and financial policies presented as an incentive for the recovery of demand will guarantee a strong and durable economic recovery. The political theories of government assume that the capture of institutional positions at the level of the state would allow, despite the classical instruments of public power and the institutional framework in place to serve capitalism, the imposition of a new political direction that would include a new social compromise involving all social classes seem to us illusory. The evolution of the economic-political block leads to a radicalization of the social and ecological fights in general and the fight between wage-earners and the system of domination in particular. Because of this, we reaffirm our commitment to build and strengthen the international unity of all workers, regardless of gender, in a struggle against the criminalization of social movements, against structural adjustments, against reforms and privatization, and against all form of oppression and exploitation.
Strengthen the unions to break with capitalism The trade unionism we stand for doesn’t support agreements with the existing powers to validate anti-social measures. Our trade unionism has the responsibility to organize resistance internationally and to construct, through struggle, the necessary anti-capitalist social transformation. We wish to create a system in which exploitation has been banished, based on common needs, on an egalitarian redistribution of
INTERNATIONAL wealth between all those who create it (that is, the workers), on the rights of workers and a development which is ecologically sustainable. The independence of the trade union movement which mobilizes and fights effectively is key for this period. In effect, the issue is to break the system’s strategy of capitalist domination which is trying to impose an historic defeat on the workers. This defeat would ruin our ability to organize, and ultimately leading to the benefit of a managerial trade unionism. Indeed it would see the disappearance of the workers movement at the same time that a larger proportion of the world population is being proletarianised, often under social conditions that are more and more difficult. We affirm our opposition to state trade unionism and our support of one that is pluralistic and democratic. It is in no way contradictory to the fight for united trade union action, for workers’ unity and unity of all those who are exploited and/or repressed. On the contrary, we have nothing in common with those who claim to be in the trade unions while they manage pension funds and are corrupted by the ruling class. This same ruling class which in addition has made corruption the normal practice of a whole group of political leaders. Our trade unionism is allied to the defence of all workers, and the support of profound social changes. It is not limited to the issue of economic demands, it encompasses issues such as the right to housing, land, equality among all people regardless of gender, to anti-racism, to the struggle against homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia, to the environment and anti-colonialism etc. The interests that we defend are those of the working class (active workers or retired, the unemployed and young people in education and training). These interests link up with those of peoples from all parts of the world. We face head on the employers, the governments and institutions which are at their service and we insist on our independence from all ruling class organizations. International trade unions exist; as trade union networks which have been created based on the type of work or geography. From one part of the world to another, our trade union histories, our trade union structures and our trade union affiliations are different. However, what is most important is what we share. We are determined to go forward with a plan of international coordination of trade union struggle. We wish to share our experiences, to enrich ourselves through resistances and knowledge of all, to build unity across borders, to put in place international workers’ solidarity. Faced with a crisis which strikes people in all countries, and for which capitalism is responsible, it is necessary to coordinate and unify our struggles. We make a call for trade unions to join us in the construction of this unity of union action, a unity that is necessary to fight back social cuts, win new rights and build a different society. The construction and the reaffirmation of the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles is very important in a world in which the economy is increasingly globalized. We need unified struggles against the companies and the bourgeoisie that internationalize their business. This
entails the development of solidarity actions, actions and campaigns coordinated worldwide whether by professional categories, sectors, countries, and continents. It is our duty to give these objective fights a strategic, anti-capitalist orientation. We have decided to strengthen, enlarge and make more effective an offensive trade union network: of struggle, democratic, autonomous and independent of employers and governments, green and internationalist, and built change through collective struggles. We will fight against all forms of oppression (sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia). After the meeting on January 2018, we have concrete objectives and common commitments. Together we will decide what they are and how to bring them to a successful conclusion. We will always act in support of international solidarity and notably against all anti-trade union repression. Our fight is against all forms of oppression, notably that against women, black people, immigrants and LGBT. We will take united action in a coordinated manner to support the struggles and international campaigns, reaffirming the right to self-determination of all peoples. We will strengthen and widen international work in the sectors of transport, education, call centres, industry, commerce, health, etc.) and on interprofessional issues (rights of women, black people, LGBT, migration, housing, environment, health and work …) We will pursue research to deepen our understanding on the crisis of capitalism and the alternatives. We will assemble together the means necessary for the success of our common project: websites, email lists, coordination of related sectors, etc. The organisations that belong to the Network will make these known by means of their own communication tools (links in their websites, articles in their journals, logos in their pamphlets, dissemination of joint texts within every organization, and so on). For greater effectiveness we will coordinate our member organizations and organize our network by region; South America, Europe, Africa… We will organize a week of mobilizations and international struggle during the second week of October 2018 with the common theme “against austerity and budget cuts, for the defence of the rights of workers. We will not pay for the crisis!” The form this action takes will depend on the concrete situation in each country. The international day of women's fights next March 8th is an important moment for the feminist struggles and thus for trade unionism. The International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggle will support the women’s strikes that will take place on that day. On April 25th, 2013 at least 1135 people were killed in their working place in Dacca, Bangladesh, in the fire of Rana Plaza. They were assassinated by the capitalist that forced them to work without any respect for their safety. The International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggle will take part in the demonstrations that will be organised next April 24th to condemn this economic and political system that kills the people it exploits.
INTERNATIONAL The organizations of the International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggle will take the necessary actions so that May 1st becomes an international day of trade union struggle. The struggle of the Palestinian people is a symbol of many other expressions of resistance. The International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggle will be actively involved in the initiatives that will take place on 15th May 2018 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nakbat. We continue to support the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. Beyond the multiple actions that we organize in each country, the International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggle calls for an international day of solidarity with the migrants to be celebrated yearly. Union action against multinational corporations is essential. Our sectoral coordination groups are useful tool in that fight but we must also liaise with the social movements also acting upon this question. The International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggle will be involved
in those joint campaigns that fall within our understanding of trade unionism. We need time to coalesce at an international level. Every year, those who direct capitalism in our countries meet in Davos (Suiza) in order to organize our exploitation and the sack of the world. The International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggle will organize a day of demonstrations, in whatever form may be appropriate in each country, coinciding with the following editions of the meeting. This is a proposal for both trade unions and social movements beyond our own network. It could also take the form of an international demonstration against the World Economic Forum. By means of these actions, we will mark our opposition to capitalists and the governments that serve them. In the face of the capitalist encroachment and pillage of public goods that are essential for life, the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles will launch a campaign in favour of their reappropriation and advancing the self-management of these goods by workers and users.
End the Persecution of Sebastian Romero and of all Activists! By the PSTU [United Socialist Workers Party of Argentina] - an IWL-FI section
Mauricio Macri’s [President of Argentina] govern-
ment, just like many in other countries, is showing to what point it is willing to go to impose an austerity plan, which is capitalism’s international policy. However, thousands of workers, retirees, students, categories, and political, social, and Human Rights’ organizations spent the night protesting outside the Congress to show they are against those plans. They were received with sticks and bullets, gases and rubber bullets used not to disperse but to injure. People resisted the repression by the gendarmerie [armed forces] with whatever they had on their hands. Many comrades were wounded, some seriously, like an activist injured with a lead bullet who was left bleeding, and another one that lost an eye. There were more than 50 people detained. The same ones that attacked the demonstration that had many elderly are now making a campaign about “the violent ones,” specifically accusing the PSTU [United Socialist Workers Party of Argentina - an IWL-FI section] and one particular comrade, who appears throwing a firework, as is usual in every demonstration, just to discredit the mobilization and deviate the attention from the 50 detainees and the police brutality. Sebastian Romero was a FIT [The Workers' Left Front
-a socialist electoral coalition] candidate, besides being a well-known labor & people’s activist, & was at the front line of the protests for housing together with his neighbors, as well as defending the General Motor workers’ jobs when the U.S. multinational imposed 350 layoffs. He was also in solidarity with many other working-class struggles. Now, Macri’s government, through a prosecutor, had made an official order to detain him. This is an attack on all popular and labor movement organizations; a “witch-hunting” against the PSTU and any organization that mobilizes in defense of our rights. We repudiate the order of prison and the government’s media smear campaign. We surround Sebastian with solidarity and defend him and all the activists that are still detained. We demand immediate freedom and denounce the campaign orchestrated by those who, on a daily basis, generate social violence like hunger, misery, and unemployment. We make the government and the security forces responsible for anything that might happen to our organization and militants. To assume this defense is to defend the right of all workers to demonstrate and to defend themselves from repression. Please send your adhesion and solidarity to email@example.com.
La Voz/ Workers' Voice magazine/newspaper: www.lavozlit.com Workers' Voice is the Sympathizer Section of the International Workers' League-...
Published on May 18, 2018
La Voz/ Workers' Voice magazine/newspaper: www.lavozlit.com Workers' Voice is the Sympathizer Section of the International Workers' League-...