imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Labor must take the road of class struggle!

by Fred Bergen Thursday, Oct. 05, 2006 at 3:54 AM
f_red_bergen@yahoo.com

A Working Class Emancipation labor bulletin

download PDF (480.5 kibibytes)

A Working Class Emancipation labor bulletin

October, 2006

Throw out the union bureaucrats, betrayers of the workers!

Labor must take the road of class struggle!

by Fred Bergen

The partial general strike of May Day, 2006 showed the way forward for

the labor movement in the United States. The strikers were immigrant

workers, most of whom were not represented by any union. The

reverberations of the political force and unprecedented mobilization of

May 1 are still being felt. But in order for the demands of the

immigrant workers and their allies to be achieved, the current reformist

and pro-capitalist leadership of the labor movement must be thrown out

and replaced with a leadership that is committed to the class struggle

and democratically accountable to the rank and file.

An unstable, polarized economic and political situation

In 1936, during the deepest and most politically volatile economic crash

yet experienced by US and world capitalism, establishment economist John

Maynard Keynes spelled out imperialism's life-support strategy for the

coming century: a permanent war economy paid for by government

borrowing. The Great Depression was signaled by the catastrophic

stock-market collapse of October, 1929, but the market collapse was only

a symptom of a crisis of overproduction that wreaked havoc on the

capitalist economies of the world. In the planned economy of the Soviet

Union, where capitalism had been abolished, economic growth continued

steadily, despite the abuses and mismanagement of the Stalinist

bureaucracy that had strangled Soviet democracy.

Karl Marx explained that the technological innovations that capitalism

is constantly applying to increase labor productivity, and thereby

profits, inevitably lead to periodic crises in which the masses of

workers and poor people are unable to buy back enough of the

commodities, products of their labor stolen from them by their bosses,

with the wages that the bosses pay them. This is the meaning of

overproduction. Factories grind to a halt, mass layoffs devastate the

cities, food, housing, and basic necessities are destroyed or put

off-limits while millions go hungry and homeless, and the noble words of

peace treaties and international accords crumble into dust as

imperialist governments mobilize their armies in a mad scramble for new

colonial markets to overcome the overproduction crisis. Small investors

and pensioners are ruined, and the biggest of the big banks and

monopolies gobble up bankrupt properties to strengthen their positions

for the next economic cycle.

Keynes understood that overproduction was at the heart of capitalism's

crisis. Unlike Marx, who analyzed capitalism so he could arm the workers

with the theoretical and organizational weapons to overthrow the rule of

the bankers, bosses, and landlords, Keynes searched for ways to extend

the life of a dying system. He advised the imperialist governments to

finance the debt of the capitalists in overproduction crises with large

government spending projects.

Liberal followers of Keynes hope that these spending projects would be

for public works like education, health, and infrastructure. But they

can't wish away the fact that the world's imperialist governments are in

a constant struggle for hegemony over the oppressed countries in Africa,

Asia, and Latin America, and whichever government falls behind in the

doomsday arms race will lose the cheap labor, captive markets, and

monopolies on raw materials from its oppressed colonies. Keynsianism is

therefore the official ideology and theory of the military-industrial

complex. But the Keynsian permanent war economy only postpones

capitalism's systemic crisis, and makes it all the more catastrophic

when it finally breaks out. Keynes himself understood this, and he is

famous for his answer to questions about the long-run implications of

the massive government debt caused by his deficit-spending strategy:

speaking for the parasitic class he dedicated his life to advising, he

said, "in the long run, we're all dead". But his dark, cynical

prediction applies equally well to the billions of workers and peasants

worldwide, unless we organize to end capitalism's mad march toward

fascism and war.

Throughout the past year, the capitalist media in the US has obsessed

over the prospect of a collapse of the "housing bubble". The US

capitalist economy is running on fumes. The national debt is at over

eight trillion dollars [1], consumer debt (credit cards, mortgages,

tuition and car loans, etc.) is over two trillion dollars [2]. When will

the lords of Wall Street and the other imperialist banks call in their

loans? The problem for the capitalists is that they can't pay the

workers enough to pay the rents and home mortgages back to them. When a

capitalist raises wages, he not only loses profits, he loses ability to

invest those profits in productivity-increasing technology or in

money-making real estate. He stumbles and falls behind in the race

against his fellow exploiters. His backers and partners demand a higher

return, or his head will roll. The speculative base of the US economy is

the reason why the financial markets watch indicators of "consumer

confidence" so closely: if the economy were organized around providing

for actual human needs, instead of generating profits, it would not be

vulnerable to crises when workers realize that their wages are not

enough to cover their costs of living. But this is not possible under

capitalism.

Nor will the capitalists willingly freeze or lower rents and mortgage

debt (in effect, increasing wages), because to do so would be to take a

loss on their real estate investments, the very same part of their

fortunes that they hope will safeguard them through periodic

overproduction crises during which they are forced to abandon or sell

productive factory and warehouse capacity at a loss. Obviously,

something has to break.

And when it breaks, don't expect rents to go down. A major aspect of the

systemic crisis in the real estate market is that while rents have gone

up (the average rent for urban workers has increased 134% between 1980

and 2005), [3] the return on investment for landlords, measured by the

inverse of the price-to-rent ratio, has been declining [4]. In other

words, the banks are grabbing a bigger share of landlords' profits. So

when the landlords feel the pinch of the loss on their investment in the

apartment buildings themselves, combined with the shrinking profit

margins from their tenants' rents, they will need rents to rise in order

to pay their debts and stay profitable. The big banks, using their

powerful influence in the legislatures and city halls, can be expected

to help the landlords squeeze more out of their tenants in order to

protect their own investment in the landlord's mortgage debt. Meanwhile,

about 3 million people are homeless in the US every year [5], and

housing reformists estimate that a full-time worker would need a wage of

.78 per hour to afford a modest two bedroom apartment. [6]

As with the housing market, which many capitalist economists think could

push the economy over the edge into its next collapse, so with every

major problem confronting society, the capitalists have no answer but to

make the workers and oppressed people pay for the collapse of their

speculative adventures with lower wages, union-busting drives, and the

massive fraud being committed by the bosses on the retirement pensions

of workers in the airline and auto industries.

The Iraqi adventure deepens imperialism's crisis

US imperialism's quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan looms over the whole

political and economic situation. The war is unpopular among the masses

of workers and poor people, measured both by opinion polls [7] and the

unwillingness of youth to enlist in the military. Despite the Pentagon's

billion per year recruiting budget and the poor job prospects for

high school graduates, the military has had to turn to a de facto draft,

indefinitely extending the tours of duty of currently enlisted soldiers

with the universally-hated "stop loss" orders.

Democratic critics of the Bush administration's war in Iraq attack Bush

from the right. In an August 1 press release [8], House Democratic party

leader Nancy Pelosi said, "Under President Bush ... our Army could not

respond to a crisis. ... [T]his failure to maintain military readiness

is unacceptable and dangerous." Democratic Senator Jack Reed called for

more military spending, saying "The Administration must provide

necessary funding to the Army and the Marine Corps to reset and

recapitalize their equipment before the readiness of these forces are

decisively compromised. And, they must do this without the budgetary

gimmicks that they have consistently employed to avoid the hard choices

of funding our soldiers and continuing to support our domestic needs."

Neither higher military spending for newer military technology, nor a

more intensified recruiting campaign, can overcome the fundamental

strategic problem faced by US imperialism in Iraq and Afghanistan: its

forces are tired and demoralized, while the resistance fighters enjoy

broad popular support that grows with each revelation of imperialism's

atrocities.

The Democrats offer no way out of the crisis: their program is fight

imperialism's wars with more brutality and more troops

The quagmire of the US occupation is increasingly turning the generals

toward the savage tactics of 21st century total war against the civilian

population of Iraq and Afghanistan, exemplified by the rape of the Iraqi

city of Fallujah by the US generals in 2004. This was a monstrous crime

that history will remember along with the bombings of Hiroshima,

Nagasaki, Tokyo, and Dresden, as incontrovertible proof that the most

depraved and menacing terrorist threat facing the people of the world is

US imperialism. In the first televised presidential debate of 2004,

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry criticized Bush for

hesitating in his initial assault on Fallujah in April, saying "What I

want to do is change the dynamics on the ground. And you have to do that

by beginning to not back off of the Fallujahs and other places, and send

the wrong message to the terrorists. ... You've got to show you're

serious in that regard." [9]

Kerry and the Democrats have repeatedly criticized Bush for not

supplying enough troops to occupy Iraq, and for not invading or menacing

other countries. The millionaire cable executive Ned Lamont, a darling

of the "anti-war" liberals who defeated Bush's favorite Democrat,

Senator Joe Lieberman, to win Connecticut's Democratic primary, told the

readers of the Wall Street Journal [10],

"Our national security has ... been weakened, because we stopped

fighting a real war on terror when we made the costly and

counterproductive decision to go to war in Iraq. ... [T]he bottom line

means everything. ... I am a fiscal conservative and our people want

their government to be sparing and sensible with their tax dollars. ...

We start with the strongest, best-trained military in the world, and

we'll keep it that way. ... [W]e'll get stronger by changing course. We

must work closely with our allies and treat the rest of the world with

respect. We must implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission

[11] ..."

But neither the Democrats nor the Republicans dare to try the remedy

that is being whispered by all the military officers, the reinstatement

of the draft. Behind platitudes about supporting the "volunteer

military" (when there is nothing voluntary about joining the military

because there are no good jobs available, and no other way to pay for

higher education), the politicians of both capitalist parties fear that

the cure offered by conscription would be worse than the disease. They

know that if the draft unmasks the completely coercive and unjust nature

of this rich man's war to hundreds of thousands of new working-class

conscripts, the level of resistance within the military ranks, which is

now confined to a small number of brave individual resisters and has an

overall social-patriotic and reformist political character, could grow

into a mass movement with more radical goals.

Thus, US imperialism has nowhere to turn but to increase the oppression

and exploitation of the working class at home, to make the workers pay

to extricate it from its disastrous military adventures abroad and

collapsing economic bubble at home. We have already seen how the

domestic front of the "war on terror" means a rollback of the elementary

rights gained by the workers to pensions, social security, and union

contracts. The mounting debt from the permanent war budget is used by

both Democrats and Republicans to justify undermining Social Security

and Medicare. In 2002, it was then-Homeland Security director Tom Ridge

who intervened to break the back of the ILWU West Coast dockworkers,

threatening a Taft-Hartley injunction and intervention by federal

troops. "Homeland Security" was a convenient pretext for the

union-busting bosses at Chicago's O'Hare airport for the mass firing of

latin@ workers in 2002, including Elvira Arellano, who has now become a

symbol of resistance to the racist, unjust anti-immigrant laws. It was

Iraq-hardened troops who were sent by Bush and Kathleen Blanco, the

Democrat Louisiana governor, to "shoot to kill" the stranded survivors

of Hurricane Katrina - an ominous lesson for the reformists who refuse

to call for the defeat of US imperialism, and instead seek to build

popular-front coalitions around the demand to "bring the troops home".

Look what they were brought home to do!

Both wings of the capitalist party - the Democrats and Republicans - are

committed to defending US imperialism and its interests in the Middle

East. They both confront the same problems: a fundamental weakness of

the domestic economy, based on speculation, debt, and Keynesian

government spending, the worldwide popular resistance to their efforts

to grab new colonies to offset the crisis (Afghanistan and Iraq) or

intensify the exploitation of old colonies (much of Latin America, and

the militant labor movement in South Korea, for example). Their

differences are that the Republicans basically defend Bush's failed

tactics in the Iraq war, using racist and nationalist demagogy, while

Democrats use racist and nationalist demagogy to criticize the Bush

administration's war plans from the right: primarily Bush's inability to

intervene militarily against Iran, North Korea, and other isolated

holdouts against the US capitalists' dreams of uncontested world domination.

Except for a scattered offering of socialist candidates, the upcoming

congressional elections will not offer the workers and oppressed people

in the US a chance to voice the growing opposition to the war in Iraq.

On the contrary, despite the efforts of some Democratic candidates to

capitalize on anti-war sentiment, we predict that the aftermath of this

November's elections will be an intensified and barbaric offensive by

imperialism in Iraq, Afghanistan, and possibly against new targets such

as Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Sudan, Somalia, Korea, or even China, combined

with a fierce round of union-busting, layoffs, and racist terror against

blacks, latin@ immigrants, and other oppressed nationalities on the

domestic front.

Whichever capitalist party gains control of Congress must first make

good on its campaign promises, not to the millions of workers and poor

people, but to those who bankrolled their campaigns and put them in

office: Wall Street, the banks, and the big industries. Whichever party

this is, it will mean imperialist war abroad and war against the workers

and oppressed at home. The presidential election of two years ago

provides the model. While the election results were inconclusive, and

quite possibly stolen from black voters by corrupt and racist Jim Crow

politics in Ohio, they gave Bush and the Democrats the mandate to launch

the greatest crime of the Iraq war so far: "Operation Phantom Fury", the

bipartisan rape of Fallujah in November-December of 2004.

The Communist Party USA published a statement in the People's Weekly

World on September 2 [12], as part of their campaign to "Take Back

Congress," which calls on "a mighty united front of every section of the

people being hurt, in the first place labor, African American, Latino,

women and youth voters" to put the Democrats back in control of Congress

in the 2006 elections, in order to "defend democracy". Even the

Stalinists of the CPUSA can hardly support the Democrats with a straight

face anymore, and have to justify their support for war hawks like

Marine Corps officer and senator John Murtha by explaining that "Even

Democrats who don't seem so different from their Republican opponents

will shift the balance in Congress". But when even the current standard

bearer for the imagined "progressive" wing of the Democratic party, Ned

Lamont, is criticizing Bush for not opening new fronts in the "war on

terror", this hardly seems plausible. The same issue of the PWW hails

the AFL-CIO's decision to give an unprecedented million of union

members' dues to the Democratic Party election campaign in 2006. [13]

If the Democrats, taking advantage of the growing popular hatred for

Bush and the political support of the union bureaucrats, are able to

take back Congress this November, it will be a mandate for them to carry

out their program, the program of the bankers, bosses and landlords - as

Ned Lamont promised to the Wall Street Journal, an "entrepreneurial

approach" of cutting the budget (meaning, cutting social programs that

benefit workers and poor people), winning the "war on terror" (meaning,

more Fallujahs in Iraq and more imperialist war in general), and

"economic recovery" (on the backs of the workers, such as the recent

announcement by Ford Motor Co. of ten thousand more firings). Whichever

party wins Congress this November will have to respond to the

unavoidable realities of the capitalist market and the undeniable

demands of the party's capitalist backers for a way out of their crisis.

Labor must prepare for this inevitable confrontation: the stakes could

not be higher.

Gearing up for the police state

US imperialism, facing disaster in its current military campaigns in

Iraq and Afghanistan and economic stagnation at home, is like a wounded

beast: lashing out desperately against even the slightest provocation.

To the police state that is still being fortified with more

anti-democratic powers five years after the pretext of the Sept. 11

terrorist attacks, it doesn't matter if the enemy is a revolutionary

movement or the most tame kind of pacifism and reformism, that in the

final analysis props up imperialist rule: Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib,

and the shadowy world of "extraordinary rendition" are imperialism's

rehearsal for ruthless repression against all dissent on the domestic front.

The cruel and arbitrary repression that the police state has long

practiced against blacks and other oppressed nationalities in the US is

beginning to be employed against even the most mild kind of political

dissenters. Liberal environmentalists have been the targets of a "Green

Scare" that included wiretaps, grand-jury investigations, police

infiltrators, and turncoat informants. The foolish acts of a few

middle-class environmentalist vandals have been used to bring

extraordinary repression down on a harmless reformist movement. The

Department of Defense has been monitoring Quaker meetings. [14] Members

of the Green Party, a failed capitalist party that campaigned for John

Kerry in the 2004 presidential elections, find themselves on government

"no-fly" lists. [15]

The wild overreaction of the government to these minor threats is a

symptom of its unstable position. As part of the working class,

immigrants, especially the large populations from Latin America, are a

much bigger potential threat to bourgeois rule. Latin@ workers are a

combative layer of the US working class. Immigrants are especially

concentrated in low-wage service sectors of the work force [16] due to

racist laws that discriminate against immigrants and non-English

speakers. These sectors have an even lower unionization rate than the

already low rate for US industry [17], and because of this and other

obstacles latin@s have a lower unionization rate than black or white

workers. [18] On the other hand, latin@ workers have, on average, the

most to gain from union membership: the average weekly wage of a latin@

union member is 4 per week higher than the average non-union wage, a

difference of nearly 50%, while for the working class population as a

whole, the union wage increase is only 9 per week, or 29%. [19] The

higher union wages also reflect the fact that despite the highly

publicized "Justice for Janitors" campaigns and others like them, unions

remain concentrated in higher-skilled and white-collar job

classifications, especially government jobs. Nevertheless, it is a

commonly held belief among professional union organizers that latin@

workers are more willing to join unions and participate in organizing

campaigns, despite the personal risks involved.

Especially when it needs to impose cutbacks on the working class in

order to extricate itself from its systemic crisis, US imperialism can

little afford to allow the combative spirit of the latin@ workers to

spread to broader layers of the working class. This motive, along with

the super-profits that can be gained from the intense exploitation of

immigrants, is what is driving the bipartisan campaign of racist

persecution against immigrants. And it is in this area that the

anti-democratic tendency of US capitalism in decline toward police-state

repression is starkly revealed. From the deployment of armed military

patrols to the border, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of

immigrants every year who cross in harsh, remote desert areas, to the

budgeted construction of 40,000 new prison cells for captured

immigrants, to the construction of a fortified wall on the Mexican

border, police state repression is already a reality for millions of

latin@ workers. The immigration bureau of the Homeland Security

bureaucracy alone employs 15,000 agents and staff to spy on immigrants

in over 800,000 "alien cases", and kidnaps and deports over 383 people

every day. [20] As it runs into the built-in collapse of Keynes' "long

run" prognosis, the government that murdered Chicago Black Panther Party

leader Fred Hampton in his sleep on December 4, 1969, will not hesitate

to turn this immense repressive apparatus against anyone, "citizen" or

not, that it considers a threat.

May Day and the labor movement

The combative spirit of latin@ immigrant workers was boldly demonstrated

on May 1, 2006, when they went on a one-day general strike to protest

HR 4437, proposed legislation that would have increased state repression

against immigrant workers and their families. The strike shut down the

country's major meat-packing companies, California's central valley

agricultural zone and other farming areas, truck transport at the port

of Los Angeles, and Goya Foods. Thousands of businesses in the tourism

and food service industries were shut down or severely restricted. Small

businesses in latin@ neighborhoods of major cities closed for the day,

and millions of workers filled the streets of every major city and many

towns in the US to protest the racist attacks on immigrants.

This was not the first massive, spontaneous explosion of protest against

anti-immigrant racism. In 1994, the Republican governor of California,

Pete Wilson, pushed Proposition 187 onto the state ballot, a ballot

initiative that sought to mobilize the ultra-right racist vote for

Wilson's re-election campaign by blaming cuts in health care, public

education, and other services on immigrants, demanding proof of

citizenship to receive public services, and requiring teachers, social

workers, and medical workers to report suspected illegal immigrants to

the INS. Throughout the fall of 1994, hundreds of thousands of immigrant

students and their supporters held massive walk-outs to protest Prop.

187, especially in Los Angeles. Most public school teachers and many

other social service workers were strongly opposed to the proposition -

one LA teacher told the an interviewer on National Public Radio, "My job

means nothing if there are people in my school who are going to turn

kids over to the INS.". Over one thousand teachers in Los Angeles alone

pledged to disobey the law. [21] Unions, including the California

Teachers' Association and the AFL-CIO of California, declared their

opposition to the ballot initiative. But they never mobilized their rank

and file members to struggle against the racist law. Instead, they

formed a coalition, "Taxpayers Against 187", along with bourgeois

lobbying organizations and the Sheriff of Los Angeles county (we suspect

that the LA cops, remembering the lessons of the LA rebellion against

racism two years earlier, feared being associated with such a blatantly

racist law). Taxpayers Against 187 campaigned on the premise that there

were more efficient ways to oppress immigrants: "Sure there's an

immigration problem," said Joel Maliniak, the organization's spokesman,

"But the answer is to strictly patrol the border and strictly enforce

laws about hiring illegals". [22]

The attempt by the labor bureaucrats to position themselves as reliable

friends of of the police and the anti-immigrant racists demobilized the

mass struggle against Prop. 187 and helped the measure to win in the

1994 elections. Instead of taking the side of the workers and oppressed

and leading the fight against this racist law, the labor bureaucracy

backed the Democratic challenger to Wilson, Kathleen Brown, who opposed

187 because she thought using federal police and military forces against

immigrants was a more reliable method than relying on nurses and

schoolteachers to rat on their patients and students: "What we really

need is for the Federal Government to properly police our border and

enforce laws already on the books." [23] President Clinton answered her

call when he launched Operation Gatekeeper in October of 1994, the

military occupation of the Southwest border that has caused the deaths

of over two thousand immigrants since then.

The strike of May 1, 2006 was an expansion of the militant defensive

struggle against Prop. 187 to a nationwide level. Again, the spark was

an odious, racist legislative proposal, HR 4437, that would have

threatened millions of immigrants, and even "legal" residents who helped

immigrants in one way or another, with arrest, imprisonment, and

deportation. HR 4437 was an integral part of the bipartisan campaign to

whip up a mass national chauvinist hysteria in support of US

imperialism's wars following the terrorist attacks of September 11,

2001. Again, latin@ workers and youth boldly took to the streets,

shutting down major corporations and school districts. And again, the

labor bureaucracy stabbed them in the back. Instead of backing the

strike, the union leaders ignored it. When it became clear that the

strike was going forward despite the massive raids staged by the

government on April 20, they rushed in, not to mobilize their members

with anti-racist, working class demands, but to neutralize the movement

and contain it within limits acceptable to the bosses.

"Comprehensive reform" vs. full citizenship rights: how labor

bureaucrats betray the workers

The militant fight-back mood of many latin@ workers presented the union

bureaucrats with some thorny rhetorical choices: how to fake solidarity

with the workers while pledging their loyalty to the racist, capitalist

state? They needed a slogan that meant nothing, that could allow them to

pretend to support immigrants rights while still backing the same racist

Democratic party, and the answer was "Comprehensive Immigration Reform".

It's hard to find any politician who's against "Comprehensive

Immigration Reform". President Bush, addressing a racist anti-immigrant

rally on the Texas-Mexico border, said, "I'm going to talk today about

comprehensive immigration reform. ... There's an important debate facing

our nation, and the debate is, can we secure this border and, at the

same time, honor our history of being a land of immigrants? And the

answer is, absolutely, we can do both. And we will do both." [24] When

supporters of Elvira Arellano, the Mexican worker and labor activist

famous for her courageous resistance to the government's attempts to

deport her, asked the Democratic Senator from Illinois, Ricard Durbin,

to intervene in her case, he refused, citing the need for "comprehensive

immigration reform". [25]

The AFL-CIO leadership clarified what it meant by "comprehensive

immigration reform" in a March 1, 2006 resolution [26] adopted in San

Diego. The resolution had nothing to say about ending the racist

police-state repression against immigrant workers. Instead, it

complained that "the lax enforcement of labor and employment laws has

given too many unscrupulous employers the economic incentive to recruit

undocumented workers, and has penalized those employers who abide by the

law because it has put them at a competitive disadvantage."

While the AFL-CIO leaders promote the illusion of the capitalist state

as an even-handed mediator between immigrant workers and their bosses,

the fact is that enforcement of laws against the hiring of undocumented

immigrants means raids, kidnappings, and deportation for the workers.

Labor "law enforcement" for the bosses' government means enforcement of

the Taft-Hartley act, a law that violates the 1st amendment protection

of free speech and the 13th amendment prohibition of involuntary

servitude, by banning strikes. When the government threatened to send

federal troops to break the ILWU Pacific coast longshore workers' union

in 2002, that was their kind of "enforcement".

The resolution asks the imperialist government to be kinder to its

subjects in the colonized world, concluding with "Reform of immigration

laws must consider the root causes of migration, and must take into

account the global economic policies, as well as U.S. foreign policy

that are pushing workers to migrate. Without rising living standards

abroad for workers and the poor, the pressure for illegal immigration

will continue. U.S. foreign policy, as well as trade and globalization

policies, must be grounded upon a coherent national economic strategy,

as described in An Economic Agenda for Working Families, adopted at the

AFL-CIO's 2005 Convention." This ridiculously utopian document [27]

hopes that the United States and the other imperialist powers will

"replace 'free trade' agreements with fair trade agreements that protect

fundamental workers' rights."

The March 1 resolution reveals that "comprehensive immigration reform"

has nothing to do with full citizenship rights for all immigrants:

despite calling the land of slavery, Jim Crow, death row, and the

Minutemen a "nation of citizens", the AFL-CIO does not propose

citizenship rights for anyone: it limits its demand to "[r]eforms [that]

must provide a path to permanent residency for the currently

undocumented workers who have paid taxes and made positive contributions

to their communities." In other words, the racist status quo! And who,

may we ask, is to determine which immigrants have paid enough taxes and

made sufficient "positive contributions to their communities" in order

to get on this "path"?

Yet this patriotic moralizing is the constant refrain of the labor

bureaucrats. AFSCME president Gerald W. McEntee issued a statement on

April 10 [28] supporting "comprehensive immigration reform" which said,

"AFSCME calls on Congress to pass legislation that will allow

hard-working immigrants to earn their citizenship." Terrence M.

O'Sullivan, general president of the Laborers' Union, told the National

Press Club on January 19, 2006, that "comprehensive" reform was

"essential for business and commerce", and bowed before his police-state

masters to endorse the deadly militarization of the border, saying "To

be sure our borders must be secure. ... It is not honest or fair to

simply ignore the 11 million undocumented workers who are already here."

That is, a "path to citizenship" for workers that are here today, but

tough luck for immigrants facing racist "border security" tomorrow.

The March 1 resolution claims to oppose the "guest worker" provisions,

but the very same resolution proposes that the bosses be allowed to

determine immigration laws and quotas to suit their own needs: "We

recognize that our economy may face real labor shortages in the coming

years ... [W]e should focus on a meaningful solution that guarantees

full workplace rights for all workers, both foreign-born and native, and

also permits employers to hire foreign workers to fill proven labor

shortages." The same paragraph that promotes the empty promises of "our

democracy" for immigrants shows that the AFL-CIO leadership believes

that the bosses should decide who should be allowed to immigrate to the

US - in other words, only as the invited "guests" of their exploiters.

The position of Change To Win, a federation that broke away from the

AFL-CIO in the summer of 2005, is even worse, if only because Change to

Win explicitly supported the alternative to HR 4437 that was backed by

Bush and the Democratic Party, the Hagel-Martinez bill, S. 2611. Change

To Win chairwoman Anna Burger praised the reactionary police-state

measures in Hagel-Martinez, saying "The ... bill will improve our

national security by strengthening our borders with more personnel and

more advanced technology to prevent illegal immigration." Advising the

government on how best to enforce its racist laws, she says, "We should

not squander our enforcement resources arresting and detaining

dishwashers, janitors, farmworkers, and nursing home or construction

workers." [29]

When President Bush gave his 2006 State of the Union speech to Congress,

calling for "stronger immigration enforcement and border protection

[and] a rational, humane guest worker program that rejects amnesty,"

[30] Burger thanked him, saying, "The President ... addressed the issue

of immigration reform. And we welcome an approach that combines border

security with a respect for immigrant workers. ... America needs

comprehensive immigration reform that creates order, takes control of

our borders, sets out a path to legalizations and citizenship and raises

standards for all workers." [31] How can the government combine deadly

armed patrols hunting down immigrant workers in the desert with "respect

for immigrants"? It's simple, when, to the capitalist government and its

lackeys in the union bureaucracy, "respect" is just another empty phrase

in hypocrisy's cynical vocabulary.

Their words and their deeds

The May Day strike jolted the political situation in the US with a

powerful shock. It sealed the defeat of the ultra-racist Sensenbrenner

bill, HR 4437. But it takes more than a one-day general strike to stop

the imperialists' racist war against the workers in the US. This

requires an organization that can unite the workers of all nationalities

around a program of demands that links the struggle for the most

elementary measures of justice and dignity to the struggle against the

capitalist state of oppressors and exploiters. As we have shown, far

from mobilizing broader layers of the working class for their common

interests in solidarity with immigrant workers, the labor mis-leaders

rush to sell themselves, and the workers they treacherously

misrepresent, as reliable partners of the US capitalists. The most

important part of the labor bureaucrats' class-collaborationist platform

is their support for the Democratic party. Their first and last

motivation is to turn every episode of working class struggle away from

an independent direction and toward the next Democratic party election

campaign. And so it was with the immigrants rights movement of 2006.

The Service Employees union and UNITE-HERE (the hotel, restaurant,

laundry, and textile workers' union), both members of the Change to Win

federation, have joined with a gaggle of reformist lobbying groups to

form the red-white-and-blue "We Are America Alliance," to promote - you

guessed it - "comprehensive immigration reform". The WAAA produced

thousands of placards for immigrants rights rallies on Labor Day

proclaiming, "Today we march, tomorrow we vote". The WAAA's "Democracy

Summer" campaign promises to bring one million new immigrant voters to

the polls in November. "The message in Spanish to Congress that 'today

we march, tomorrow we vote' was as American as balloons popping at a

political convention. For organizers of those nationwide demonstrations

over changes to immigration law, mañana dawns with the Nov. 7 elections.

Whatever action Congress may take, activists are pledging to mobilize 1

million new voters from newcomers to the USA," says the USA TODAY in an

article featured on WAAA's website. [32]

Who can immigrants, that is, those who are not denied their voting

rights, vote for? The AFL-CIO and the SEIU have endorsed Lt. Colonel

Charlie Brown, a Democrat, for California's fourth Congressional

district, whose campaign says:

"Charlie believes that in order to adequately address the illegal

immigration problem, we must first secure America's borders with more

agents and greater deployment of security technology. Charlie also

believes that addressing the root cause illegal immigration begins with

enforcement of employers who knowingly hire illegal labor and encourage

lawbreakers. Finally, Charlie opposes amnesty, and believes that illegal

immigrants who are already here must be fined, punished, and put at the

back of the line." [33]

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi from California, endorsed by the

AFL-CIO and the SEIU, attacks Bush from the right:

"The record is clear: for more than five years, the President has failed

to secure our borders and to enforce our immigration laws. Republicans

in Congress have abetted that failure by repeatedly underfunding the

border patrol, refusing to hold the President accountable, and fighting

among themselves to destroy real immigration reform.

Seven times over the last four and a half years, House Republicans

rejected Democratic amendments to increase resources. Had the

Republicans not rejected all these amendments, there would be 6,600 more

Border Patrol agents, 14,000 more detention beds, and 2,700 more

immigration enforcement agents than there are now." [34]

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat endorsed by the AFL-CIO and the

SEIU, calls for the "orange card", a torturous new system of spying on

immigrant workers. We'll let her explain this new system, but it has a

familiar Democratic Party refrain: "get to the back of the line."

"[A]ll undocumented aliens who are in the United States as of January 1,

2006, would immediately register a preliminary application with the

Department of Homeland Security. At the time of the registration, they

would also submit fingerprints at the U.S. Customs and Immigration

Service's facility so that criminal and national security background

checks could commence immediately. ... It would also create a more

precise registration system that would allow the immediate inflow of

information into the Department of Homeland Security to be processed

electronically ... This would be the first step.

Under the second step, petitioners would submit a full application for

an orange card in person by providing the necessary documents to

demonstrate their work history and their presence in the United States.

Their application would also require that they pass a criminal and

national security background check that would be carried out based on

the information and fingerprints from the preapplication; they

demonstrate an understanding of English and U.S. history and Government,

as required when someone applies for their citizenship; they have paid

their back taxes; and they would pay a ,000 fine. ...

If the application is approved, each individual would be issued what I

call an orange card. I selected orange because the color had no

connotation I could think of. This card would be encrypted with a

machine-readable electronic identification strip that is unique to that

individual. The card itself would contain biometric identifiers,

anti-counterfeiting security features, and an assigned number that would

place that individual at the end of the current line to apply for a

green card. ... It would become their fraud-proof identifier, complete

with a photo and fingerprints. ...

The third step is that on an annual basis, each individual who applies

for an orange card would submit to DHS documentation either

electronically or by mail that shows what they have been doing in that

year, the work they have carried out, that they have, in fact, paid

their taxes that year, and whether they have been convicted of any crime

during that year, ... and they would pay a processing fee. These

three steps, plus the required wait at the back of the green card line,

clearly indicates that this is not an amnesty program.

The legalization in the orange card must be earned, and it must be

earned over a substantial period of time. It would be available to all

who are here from January of this year.

... assuming there are between 10 and 20 million undocumented aliens

already in the United States who would have to pay a ,000 fine, if 10

million came forward, that alone would raise billion. ...

[T]his amendment will ensure that individuals who apply to this program

remain productive and hard-working members of their communities. The

amendment requires that individuals must work for at least 6 years

before they may adjust their status. Realistically, from what we know

about the number of green card petitioners legally waiting in other

countries for their green card, it is much more likely that they would

have to wait a longer time before the process is completed. Again, this

is not amnesty. ..." [35]

In New Mexico, the AFL-CIO endorses Democrat Governor Bill Richardson,

infamous for his support in 1999 of the racist persecution campaign

against Chinese-American scientist Wen Ho Lee, and for his declaration

of a "state of emergency" on the Mexican border in August of 2005 in

order to fund more troop deployments to the border. The AFL-CIO and the

UFCW also endorse Janet Napolitano, the Democratic governor of the

neighboring state of Arizona, who joined Richardson's racist border

provocation.

Also in Arizona, Jim Pederson, the Democratic challenger (endorsed by

the AFL-CIO) to Republican Senator Jon Kyl, says he will "will work

across party lines for comprehensive immigration reform". [36] Just what

does "comprehensive immigration reform" mean to Pederson?

"Compel the federal government to pay the 7 million owed Arizona for

incarcerating foreign nationals and expand the State Criminal Alien

Assistance Program (SCAAP) program, which provides grants to border

states that bear the brunt of Washington's failed policies. ... Improve

coordination and intelligence-sharing between federal enforcement

efforts and state and local law enforcement. ...

Recruit, hire, and train at least 12,000 new, highly-qualified Border

Patrol agents over the next five years. ... Expand the capacity for

detention facilities for foreign nationals. ...

Undocumented workers would be eligible to participate [in a guest-worker

program] if they pay a fine, undergo a criminal and security background

check, and pay back taxes. ... After six years, guest workers would be

eligible to apply for permanent residency, provided they pay a fine

[another fine?!], learn English, and successfully complete a series of

U.S. civics courses. After five additional years, they would be eligible

to apply for citizenship." [37]

For a revolutionary workers party

The workers movement has no hope of advancing when it is tied to the

Democrats, a capitalist party that represents interests completely alien

to the multinational working class. The union bureaucracy is the chain

that binds the working class to the Democrats and thus to their enemies,

the bosses: not only because union members and other workers might trust

the union presidents to be looking out for their interests, but

primarily because the conservative union bureaucracy prevents the

unions, and the millions of organized workers they represent, from

forming the base of a mass workers party.

The reformists, such as Socialist Appeal and Socialist Organizer, call

for a labor party [38], because they choose to ignore the fact that the

US labor bureaucracy, despite the many defeats handed to it by the

bosses in the past 25 years, is not moving leftward and away from its

class-collaborationist politics: every indication shows that it fears

the class struggle more than ever. There is a labor party in the US, and

even its most fervent boosters among the reformist socialists admit that

it is in a sorry state: formed in 1996, the party has not yet run a

single candidate in its ten years of comatose existence. Its own rules

prevent it from presenting candidates unless an overwhelming level of

support is guaranteed before the campaign has even begun. Who ever

thought that the point of political campaigning was to gather support!

The Labor Party's extreme timidity at upsetting the apple cart of

Democratic Party politics stems from the fact that this party is not a

party of the laboring masses and their most militant and radical

elements. It is a party of their bureaucratic misleaders, the labor

lieutenants of capitalism. As a party of the labor bureaucrats, the

Labor Party will not be an instrument of the workers struggle to remove

them, and thereby to break the chains binding them to the bosses - in

fact, the Labor Party flatly refuses to interfere in "internal" union

affairs. [39] What the working class urgently needs is something

altogether different: a revolutionary workers party that fights for a

break with the capitalists and their parties. This can not be done

without a revolutionary upheaval inside the unions that throws out the

dead weight of the union bureaucracy and brings the masses of workers,

organized and unorganized, into a class struggle against the bosses and

their government. There must be a party to lead this struggle. A party

based on the union bureaucracy can't throw out the union bureaucracy, it

can't break with the Democrats, and it outright admits it! If only its

"socialist" supporters were half as honest.

Centrists won't fight the labor bureaucrats

The majority of self-proclaimed socialist groups have a position on the

labor bureaucracy that can be summed up as "critical support" - and when

push comes to shove, very light on the criticism and heavy on the

support. We revolutionaries do not give one ounce of support to the

labor bureaucrats, because they are the representatives of the bosses

within the workers' organizations. We will defend them against the

bosses' anti-democratic union-busting attacks, which are actually aimed

at the rights of the rank and file, while at the same time insisting

that only a revolutionary leadership can reverse US labor's losing streak.

The common refrain among the centrists and opportunists, who want to

take leftist positions without isolating themselves from the union

bureaucracy and the comfortable world of "progressive" non-profits, is

that the mighty tide of an upsurge in the workers' struggle will, so to

speak, "lift all boats". In the May 5, 2006 Socialist Worker, Lee Sustar

measures out varying amounts of praise and criticism for the union tops,

and tries to make a positive example of the March 31, 2006 press release

[40] issued by Teamsters President Jim Hoffa, because he criticizes the

guest worker program proposed by Bush and the Senate Democrats. "Hoffa's

position falls far short of amnesty," acknowledges Sustar (the ISO

doesn't support full citizenship rights for all immigrants, only

amnesty, which leaves the question of equal democratic rights

unanswered, and tacitly accepts the racist criminalization of immigrant

workers). Damn right it's far short. In fact, Hoffa's superficial

opposition to guest worker programs is an accidental result of the

Teamster leadership's anti-immigrant national chauvinist politics, and

just like his opposition to NAFTA based on national-chauvinist

anti-immigrant demagogy, it is poisonous to the working class and the

labor movement. Sustar concludes that "[Hoffa's position] does reflect

the fact that millions of immigrant workers are on the move. And when it

comes to deciding labor's position on immigration issues, that is what

will matter most." Socialist Worker's pollyannish belief is that as long

as the workers are "on the move", things will work out in the end. This

is a dangerous misconception. If there is to be a victorious upsurge in

the workers struggle, it must consciously aim to sweep out these fakers

and betrayers, because the bureaucrats are firmly anchored to the

capitalist bedrock.

While today it conceals its chauvinist position against Mexican truck

drivers under a gloss of paternalistic concern, the racist position of

the Teamster leadership has not fundamentally changed since the time

when they, along with the entire AFL-CIO, fought against NAFTA on a

basis of racism and chauvinism, claiming it would "steal American [sic]

jobs". The August 2006 issue of the official Teamster magazine carries

an article by Charles Bowden entitled "Holding The Line" [41] (against

Mexican truckers). The article warns that new "NAFTA Highways" mean that

"Mexican truckers will deliver the freight and freely drive all U.S.

highways." It accuses Mexican truckers of drinking and driving, and

buying the services of prostitutes, all in a patronizing tone that,

while acknowledging that the Mexican truckers are "pawns in a game",

clearly wants no Mexican truckers driving on US roads. And in a

union-bureaucrat refrain that should be familiar to our readers by this

point, it demands that the capitalist police step up "enforcement"

against Mexican drivers: it demands more drug, alcohol, and safety

inspections for Mexicans. After decades of the "war on drugs" bringing

racist cop terror to black and latin@ ghettos across the US, Socialist

Worker is setting up a union leadership that calls for more "anti-drug"

enforcement against Mexicans as a positive example!

This is no way to fight imperialist capitalism. We revolutionaries

oppose "free trade" agreements that trample on the rights of workers and

poor farmers, because it is the corporate lords of Wall Street, not

Mexicans, who are taking away everyone's jobs. The solution is to

organize the unorganized and fight for full citizenship rights for all

immigrants, neither of which the Teamster leadership will do because of

its treacherous accommodation to the national chauvinism of the US

capitalist class.

We should not be surprised that the International Socialist

Organization's Socialist Worker overlooks this point, because it is the

same ISO that backed the union-busting "green" lawyer Ralph Nader for

President in 2000 (and again in 2004), even when he aligned himself with

the ultra-right racist Patrick Buchannan and offered himself to the

Teamster leadership as a more national chauvinist alternative to Al

Gore, promising to hoe a tougher line against normalizing trade

relations with China. [42]

The California supermarket battle and the New York transit strike

Aiming to cash in their profits from a round of mergers and

consolidation in the supermarket industry, the Albertsons, Safeway, and

Kroger chains conspired to break the United Food and Commercial Workers

union in southern California in 2003. Safeway, which owned the Vons and

Pavillions chains, offered a poisonous contract to the UFCW members:

drastic cuts in health care and retirement benefits, and the institution

of a two-tiered wage and benefit system, with new hires getting a worse

deal than those hired before the new proposed contract. The workers went

on strike on October 11, 2003. Albertsons and Ralphs (owned by Kroger)

locked out their workers in solidarity with their fellow capitalists.

The chains admitted that they shared profits with each other to weather

the strike and lock-out.

This defensive labor struggle gained wide support in the multinational

working class of southern California and the entire US. The UFCW members

were workers in one of the lowest-paid industries in the country, and

they were fighting to defend health care and retirement benefits that

every worker knew were under attack. Solidarity actions against the huge

supermarket chains were organized across the country. But the union

bureaucrats of the UFCW, the AFL-CIO (of which the UFCW was then a

member), and the other unions stabbed the strike in the back. Faced with

their greatest fear, the mobilized power of their own members, they

acted to starve the strike and make peace with their corporate masters.

Two weeks into the strike, the UFCW leaders stopped picketing at Ralphs

and urged people to shop there, as a show of "good faith" to the company

that was locking out the UFCW's own members and sharing its profits with

Safeway. [43] The union leadership did everything it could not to

endanger the profits of the national grocery chains. It never sought to

extend the strike beyond southern California except with isolated and

ineffectual "informational" pickets. In another suicidal gesture of

"good will", the UFCW leadership called off pickets at the supermarket

warehouses, [44] ending a successful alliance with Teamster truck

drivers, and allowed these strategic choke-points of the supermarket

chains to operate, supplying scab goods to the retail stores. Then just

before Christmas of 2003, the UFCW leadership took a stab at the

striking workers' morale by cutting strike pay from 5 per week to

just 0, all while UFCW local and international tops continued to pull

in six-figure salaries. The UFCW put millions of dollars of concessions

on the table, offering to make the workers pay 0 to 0 each per

month for health benefits, but the supermarket chains smelled blood and

demanded more: Safeway wanted billion in savings over the three year

contract. The strike dragged on, sabotaged from the start by the

class-collaborationist union bureaucrats, until the bankrupted and

exhausted members voted on Sunday, February 29 to end their strike,

giving in to nearly all of Safeway's greedy demands.

The defenders of the union bureaucracy had a lot to cover for after this

terrible defeat. Workers World called the strike a "heroic example for

all labor". "Bravo to the 70,000 Southern and Central California grocery

workers, a work force that is 60-percent women and almost 50-percent

people of color, who endured a strike/lockout for nearly five months,"

writes Workers World's John Parker. [45] At least he didn't call for an

encore! The article uncritically reprints UFCW President Doug Dority's

hypocritical eulogy to the strike he helped to murder, and hails the

"unprecedented unity ... from other unions". If there was so much

"unprecedented unity" and "heroism", why was the strike such a

disastrous failure? The only unity that the labor misleaders

demonstrated was their unity with the bosses.

The defeat of the 2003-2004 grocery workers strike showed that the UFCW

grocery workers had no revolutionary organization that was capable

taking the strike out of the hands of the union bureaucrats and

mobilizing the power of all of organized labor to defeat the greedy

schemes of the grocery giants. The possibilities demonstrated by the

cut-off of the supply warehouses showed that a stronger strike, and a

better outcome, was possible. But the union bureaucrats refused to let

it happen. Parker places the blame on on the supermarket bosses and the

government, which sent a "mediator" to intervene against the union. If

an army is defeated in battle because its generals refuse to arm their

troops, is the enemy to blame? Parker's conclusion teaches us nothing,

but more importantly from the perspective of the Stalinists at Workers

World, it lets the labor bureaucrats off the hook.

The ostensibly Trotskyist newspaper, Socialist Action, took a more

left-wing line on the supermarket defeat, placing the blame squarely on

the sell-out union bureaucrats "[UFCW members] were betrayed from day

one by a hardened bureaucracy that is skilled at maneuver and deception

but still fearful that a resurgent membership might see through their

pretense and take union power into their own hands to fight the bosses

until victory," wrote SA's Jeff Mackler. [46] Socialist Action's actual

practice in the unions, however, reveals that this position is nothing

but empty fake-Marxist posturing.

In the December, 2000 leadership election of New York City's Transport

Workers Union (TWU) local 100, Socialist Action, along with most of the

reformist left, supported the "New Directions" slate, headed by Roger

Toussaint, as a "reform" alternative to the corrupt leadership of local

President Willie James. But the New Directions slate, including SA

supporter Marty Goodman (who now sits on the TWU local 100 Executive

Board), showed early on that they might have offered new faces for the

union bureaucracy, but no new direction. New Directions was motivated by

the shameful endorsement of racist police-state Republican Rudy

Giulliani for Mayor by the TWU 100 old guard, but it did not offer a

socialist alternative, which effectively made ND the Democratic Party

slate. ND came to power, not by honestly fighting for a class-struggle

alternative to the disgusting corruption of the TWU 100 bureaucracy, but

by dragging their own union into the capitalist courts, inviting the

courts and the cops to do their dirty work for them, to the detriment of

the TWU 100 membership. ND sued local 100 in 1994 for million, and

got a court order forcing the union to mail its election leaflet. Leo

Schwartz writes in Socialist Action:

"The [TWU 100 corruption] scandal deepened when an ND supporter, in an

April 27 letter to [New York State] District Attorney Robert Morgenthau,

requested a financial investigation of the local in light of the Mack

findings. The letter led to an ongoing U.S. Department of Labor audit

(with a promise not to indict!) and an investigation by the TWU

International.

In June, after a Local 100 Executive Board spending review committee was

repeatedly stonewalled, ND - using the threat of legal action - obtained

copies of union officers' credit card charges." [47]

This kind of union-busting behavior by so-called "reformers" is to be

expected of a faction that is an unprincipled amalgam of ex-socialists,

fake-socialists, and plain-old opportunists. But SA's endorsement of the

traitorous union-suing tactics of New Directions shows that, far from

organizing a fighting vanguard of union militants in TWU local 100 to

"take union power into their own hands to fight the bosses until

victory," SA took the opportunist shortcut of joining an unprincipled

combination that invited the bosses' government to fight their own

union! We revolutionaries say, cops and courts, hands off our unions:

labor will clean its own house!

In the Fall of 2005, the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority

(MTA), the owner of the city's bus and subway services which serves as a

lucrative slush fund for the city's real estate and financial barons,

demanded that the members of TWU 100 accept a two-tiered contract full

of give-backs to the bosses: raising the retirement age to 65, imposing

pay deductions for the pension plans, and a deadly work speedup plan of

cutting out conductors, making "one person" trains. The white

billionaire city fathers were itching for a confrontation. On December

8, governor George Pataki threatened to bring in the national guard to

drive the subways and buses, and the New York Post blared the threat on

its front page the next day. The TWU membership, 34,000 mostly black,

Caribbean, and latin@ workers who were already sick of the dictatorial

and racist practices of the MTA bosses, refused to take the contract.

Defying New York's union-busting Taylor law, they walked off the job at

3 AM on December 20, 2005, and within hours their strike demonstrated

the awesome potential power in the hands of the workers: New York was

paralyzed, gridlock snarled Manhattan's streets that were not closed off

by the city authorities, and the city government estimated that it lost

one billion dollars in sales taxes in three days.

The bosses bared their fangs: On December 20, State Supreme Court judge

Theodore Jones found TWU local 100 in contempt, and fined the union one

million dollars per day. The capitalist press pulled out all the stops

to whip up a racist lynch-mob frenzy against TWU 100 and its black

Caribbean president, Roger Toussaint. "Throw Roger from the train!"

screamed a front-page editorial in the December 21 Daily News, which

openly incited to lynch-mob murder of the union's president. "Jail

'Em!", bellowed the front page of the December 22 New York Post. But

support for the transit workers remained high in this city of immigrants

and oppressed workers who knew first-hand the racist, repressive forces

that the TWU members were challenging.

TWU International President Michael O'Brien crossed the picket line even

before the strike began, warning Local 100 that the international union

would not support their strike. And in the Brooklyn courtroom on the

morning of December 20, lawyers for the TWU international sided with the

state's attorneys against local 100, disavowing any support for the strike.

By bringing the city government to its knees with a solid, powerful

strike, the TWU members won the battle, but Toussaint and the New

Directions leadership handed them a defeat. At union rallies, the TWU

100 leadership put cop "union" president Pat Lynch on the platform as a

"labor ally", when he represented the city's thugs who were enforcing

the union busting Taylor law against the strikers and would throw

Toussaint himself in jail on April 24, 2006.

Abandoned by the Democratic Party and his fellow union bosses, and under

threat from the cops that he posed as his "friends", Toussaint and the

majority of the TWU 100 executive board called off the strike on

December 22. The rallying cry of the strike was "no contract, no work,"

but the TWU leadership, without consulting the members, sent the workers

back to work without a contract, snatching a defeat for the workers from

the jaws of victory.

Workers World endorsed Local 100's leadership's strike-stopping

betrayal. A lying article by Milt Neidenberg began with "The 34,000

members of Transport Workers Union Local 100, led by President Roger

Toussaint, decided to suspend their powerful three-day strike today."

[48] The 34,000 striking members were never allowed to decide, and their

rejection of the contract offer that resulted from the cancellation of

the strike indicates their widespread

Report this post as:

Local News

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A12 5:39PM

lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Doxa du lobby A25 2:03AM

Tech workers organize A24 6:24PM

Architect Stephen Francis Jones A24 3:01PM

UN Forum Wrestles with Economic Policies 10 Years After Financial Crisis Islands Call for A24 12:34PM

Xyloglossie attitudinale A23 8:07AM

Shadowgun Legends Hack and Cheats A23 7:24AM

What does the Quran Say About Islamic Dress?? A21 4:15PM

Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée A20 11:22AM

The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion A20 7:14AM

Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service A19 5:52PM

The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally! A19 4:01PM

The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder A19 11:48AM

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges A09 4:18AM

Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes A08 10:33PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy