Monthly Archives: June 2008

Fascist Anti-Immigrant Raids Attack All Workers

In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

POSTVILLE, IOWA, May 29 — The above statement by anti-Nazi Pastor Martin Niemöller is clearly related to the U.S.-Homeland Security Agency’s immigration police (ICE) attack on undocumented immigrants. The Des Moines Register reported (5/12): “Months in planning, Monday’s raid involved 16 local, state and federal agencies, led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).” The largest single workplace raid in U.S. history saw 389 workers — mostly from Guatemala and Mexico — arrested in minutes at the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant. They were herded onto buses and interned at the National Cattle Congress Fairgrounds, some 80 miles away in Waterloo. There they were kept in a makeshift camp, behind a chain-link fence, watched by armed immigration officers for three days until processed and sent to jails state-wide.

Nearly 300 have pleaded guilty to reduced charges of document fraud and will serve short prison sentences before being deported, while others await immediate deportation or have been placed on temporary release for compassionate reasons.

The appearance of dozens of buses, helicopters and heavily-armed ICE, state and local cops resembled a scene from a Nazi-era film. And the aim is the same: to terrorize workers.

Rosa, a 40-year-old mother of two, was working on the kill floor that morning when she heard the cries of “la migra” — a warning about ICE cops — ringing through the plant and saw her friends drop their tools and run. She slipped into a freezer and hid among the dead chickens, sitting alone in the cold for several minutes, thinking that everything was over. She would be caught, sent back to Mexico with nothing. The better life she had planned for her children was not to be.

The plant, which produces kosher and non-kosher products, was already a hell for workers, paid less than Iowa’s $7.25-an-hour minimum. The ICE investigation revealed abuses like a supervisor covering a worker’s eyes with duct tape and beating him with a meat hook.

But that wasn’t the main aim of the raid. The company has not been charged with anything, even though accused for years with many health violations. Not much has changed since Upton Sinclair wrote his novel “The Jungle,” exposing horrendous conditions in the meatpacking industry in Chicago and across the Midwest.

The aim of the raid, and many others occurring nation-wide, is not really to arrest those “guilty” of “identity theft.” Its real aim is to terrorize undocumented workers, and all workers, into working for less and less, thereby reaping increasing super-profits for a capitalist system desperate to pay for its wars and economic crisis.

The lie spread by the bosses’ media — and by many of their lapdogs among the union “leaders” — that immigrants are “stealing jobs” from citizen workers is exposed by the fact that, according to a report in the NY Times (5/31), Iowa bosses can’t get enough workers. The state has the second lowest unemployment rate in the country, 50% less than the national rate. Iowa employers are desperately seeking employees. Why? “Companies want to be in Iowa because wages are lower than elsewhere in the nation or region,” says the Times. While the bosses in general approve the idea of terrorizing workers into accepting lower wages, there’s a section that doesn’t want the fascist attackers to go “too far,” to scare off workers from filling these low-wage jobs and limiting their profits.

This fascist attack occurs alongside the growing imprisonment of undocumented workers (see page 2 on the growing U.S. prison population). El Nuevo Herald (Miami Herald Spanish edition), reports (5/28 ) that the jail in Del Verde, Texas, is filled with arrested undocumented immigrants, even though this hasn’t stopped the flow of these immigrants. This and other jails throughout the Southwest are big money-makers for private prison companies that run many of them. The border is also militarized as U.S. and Mexican rulers put their Plan Mexico into operation, under the guise of “fighting the drug cartels,” thereby militarizing the entire region.

The essence of Pastor Niemöller’s 60-year-old declaration is that all workers and their allies must oppose these growing fascist attacks. We in PLP are organizing exactly that, and across all borders.

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Liberal Bosses Use McClellan to Bushwhack McCain

The liberal, imperialist wing of U.S. capitalists had two main motives in publishing former Bush press secretary Scott McClellan’s book, “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.” Firstly, in “revealing” that the administration based its Iraq invasion on lies — no weapons of mass destruction (WMD’s), no links between Saddam Hussein and bin Laden/9-11 and no Iraqi greeting the U.S. as “liberators” — the former Bush press secretary damages Bush clone McCain’s election prospects. The NY Times (June 1, 2008 ) calls it “McCain’s McClellan nightmare.” The British liberal Independent (May 30th) gleefully wonders, “Has McClellan handed victory to Obama?”

Secondly, by further discrediting the Bushites for hyping Hussein’s non-existent WMD’s, it helps prevent them from launching a unilateral attack on Iran before they leave office (although that still might be possible). The U.S. rulers’ liberal faction knows that tackling Iran will require far greater military force than the missiles and bombs the Bush gang once seemed tempted to use. Recalling the 750,000-strong multi-national force they were able to muster for their 1991 Iraq invasion, the liberals are forcing Bush & Co. to work through the United Nations.

The NY Times editorialized (6/1), “Having long taken a back seat to the Bush administration in publicly challenging Iran’s nuclear program, [UN] inspectors last week moved into the driver’s seat, demanding that Tehran come clean on any progress it has made toward building a bomb….The Americans have handed over the wheel on the confrontation with Iran. After challenging Iran’s atomic efforts with everything from diplomatic crusades to shows of military force, the Americans backed off late last year, based on a new intelligence finding that Tehran had suspended work in late 2003 on the design of nuclear arms. Now, in the waning days of President Bush’s second term, it would be difficult — politically, diplomatically and militarily — for them to try to press for a new confrontation.”

Aiding Liberal Imperialists  Seeking Larger Forces for Wider Wars

Turncoat McClellan helped sell Bush’s on-the-cheap warmaking, Rumsfeld’s hi-tech “shock and awe” invasion which failed to win a war but managed to kill one million Iraqis. But McClellan now serves the more powerful multilateral camp of U.S. bosses. His bestseller resulted from a year of close collaboration with Peter Osnos, publisher of PublicAffairs press and a senior fellow at the Century Fund, a liberal, ruling-class think-tank. A recent Century Fund study, “America’s Slide From Leadership to Isolation,” blames the current Iraq fiasco on “too few U.S. boots on the ground” and “U.S. abandonment of collective security for a unilaterally driven agenda.” It concludes, “In coming years, U.S. political leaders will almost certainly have to adapt their styles and aspirations to global leadership to the international rules of the game that the United Nations embodies” — although, again, that depends on what U.S. rulers think they can get away with on their own.

U.S. global leadership — that is, imperialist domination, with junior partner allies — is also the goal of another of McClellan’s newfound backers, billionaire currency swindler, election fixer, Rockefeller ally and liberal “philanthropist” George Soros. Osnos got his big start as an officer in Soros’s Human Rights Watch and has published six Soros books through PublicAffairs. After buying votes in various pro-U.S., anti-Russian electoral “revolutions” in Eastern Europe, Soros now calls for U.S.-led multi-national military action against Chinese influence in Darfur.

Another liberal McClellan enabler is life-long war criminal Richard Holbrooke, vice-chairman of Perseus investors, the firm that owns PublicAffairs. Holbrooke was an aide to ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge in the U.S. genocide in Vietnam in the 1960s and advised Bill Clinton’s bombing of Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s. A nominal supporter of Hillary Clinton, Holbrooke recently jumped on the Obama bandwagon by conceding his nomination at a May 26 debate in Toronto.

McClellan didn’t jump ship alone. His older brother Mark, also a former GOP stalwart, joined the liberals last year. As Bush’s head of Medicare/Medicaid until 2006, he made those agencies blank-check factories for giant drug companies. Today, Mark McClellan heads a program at the liberal Brookings Institution that studies ways of federalizing health care and subordinating Big Pharma’s profits to the rulers’ larger war agenda. McClellans’ opportunistic fence-jumping reflects a major, ongoing effort by the imperialists to win as broad a base as possible to their cause. The coming elections are, of course, their main focus.

Book Benefitting Obama

Scott McClellan’s Iraq “exposé” chiefly aids Barack Obama. Hypocritically feeding on widespread anti-war sentiment, Obama proposes an Iraq exit strategy. But his platform demands 92,000 new soldiers towards “making the finest military in the world…best-prepared to meet 21st-century threats.” (Obama 2008 website) Voting for Obama as an anti-war candidate would thus be a grave political error. Voting for anyone, in fact, can’t help at all.

The solution to the capitalists’ endless wars and their ceaseless attempts to trick us into supporting them lies outside their fruitless electoral process. It lies in building a communist party dedicated to the long-term struggle of overthrowing the deadly profit system.

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Prison Slave Labor: Fascism U.S.-Style

Slavery is being practiced by the system under the color of law. Slavery 400 years ago, slavery today, it’s the same thing, but with a new name. They’re making millions and millions of dollars enslaving blacks, poor whites, and others — people who don’t even know they’re being railroaded.
–— Political Prisoner Ruchel Magee.

This “land of opportunity” now boasts a prison population of nearly 2.4 million, higher than any other nation, ¾ of a million more than China, which has four times the population of the U.S. California alone has over 160,000 inmates — more than France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan and the Netherlands COMBINED. These five countries have a total population eleven times that of California. They are no less racist than the U.S. but have a different policy in treating non-violent offenders.

According to a U.S. Justice Department Report, as of this year, 7 million people are in prison, on probation or on parole. That means 1 in every 32 Americans is in the system. ( Seventy percent of all prisoners in the U.S. are black or Latino.

This massive imprisonment of millions is part of U.S. rulers’ efforts to control the working class and especially the potential rebellion of the most oppressed, the black and Latino workers. It occurs in the context of the virtual elimination of welfare under Clinton — when the big leap in the prison population took place — and the slashing of wages and jobs of all workers. Facing sharp economic crises and heightening inter-imperialist rivalry over energy supplies, U.S. rulers must exercise tight   control over U.S. workers and try to win them to support — or at least not fight against — the rulers’ increased exploitation, even more intense racism and preparations for wider wars. As brother Ruchel Magee says (above), slavery today — of which this mass imprisonment in U.S.-style concentration camps (and the threat of it to millions more) is a part — has a new name. That name is fascism.

History of U.S. Prison Labor

Prison labor has its roots in slavery. After the 1861-1865 Civil War, a system of “hiring out prisoners” was introduced in order to continue slave labor. Freed slaves were charged with not carrying out their sharecropping commitments (cultivating someone else’s land in exchange for part of the harvest) or petty thievery — which were almost never proven — and were then “hired out” for cotton picking, mining and building railroads. From 1870 until 1910, 88% of “hired-out” convicts in Georgia were black. In Alabama, 93% of “hired-out” miners were black. In Mississippi, a huge prison farm similar to the old slave plantations replaced the system of hiring out convicts. The notorious Parchman plantation existed until 1972.

Capitalist Rehab….Exploitation

Prison labor is a pot of gold for the bosses: no strikes, unions, health benefits, unemployment insurance or workers’ compensation. This is one of the main reasons for such high incarceration rates in the U.S. At least 37 states have legalized the contracting out of prison labor by private corporations that mount their operations inside state prisons.

These companies contain the cream of U.S. corporate society: IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores and many more. All of these businesses reap extraordinary profits from the economic boom generated by prison labor. Just between 1980 and 1994, such profits rose from $392 million to $1.31 billion.

Inmates in state penitentiaries generally receive the minimum wage for their work, but in Colorado, they’re paid about $2 per hour, well below the minimum. And in privately-run prisons, they receive as little as 17¢/hr for a maximum of six hours a day, or about $20 per month. The highest-paying private prison is the Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) in Tennessee — prisoners receive 50¢/hr for what they call “highly skilled positions.” At those rates, it’s no surprise that inmates find federal prison pay “very generous” — possibly $1.25/hr, eight hours a day, and sometimes overtime.

Private Prisons

The prison privatization boom began in the 1980s, under Reagan and Bush, Sr., but reached its height in the 1990s under Clinton, when Wall Street stocks were selling like hotcakes. Clinton’s cuts in the federal workforce led to the Justice Department contracting with private prison corporations for the incarceration of undocumented workers and high-security inmates.

Private prisons are the biggest business in the prison-industrial complex. About 18 corporations guard 10,000 prisoners in 27 states. The two largest are CCA and Wackenhut, which together control 75%. Private prisons receive a guaranteed payment for each prisoner, independent of the cost to maintain each one.
In these prisons, inmates may get their sentences reduced for “good behavior,” but for any infraction, 30 days are added, increasing profits for CCA. According to a study of New Mexico prisons, CCA inmates lost “good behavior time” at a rate eight times higher than those in state prisons.

The rulers find themselves in another risky situation: these same workers they oppress so viciously are among the ones the rulers need to arm to serve U.S. imperialism. They can be won to become part of the future red working-class army. One reason the rulers need someone like Obama is exactly to win black workers and youth (now reluctant to join the military) to fight in the many imperialist wars needed to stop U.S. rivals in the Middle East and elsewhere. A key role of our Party is to build internationalist and revolutionary consciousness among black, Latino and all workers so that imperialist war can be turned into class war for communism and an end to racism.

U.S. Prisons and Black Workers

In the U.S, black people comprise 13% of the population, but constitute half of the country’s prisoners. A tenth of all black men between 20 and 35 are in jail or prison; black workers are incarcerated at over eight times the white rate.

The effect on black communities is catastrophic: one in three male African-Americans in their 30s now has a prison record, as do nearly two-thirds of all black male high school dropouts. These numbers and rates are incomparably greater than anything achieved at the height of the Jim Crow era.

The number of young black men without jobs has climbed relentlessly, with only a slight pause during the economic bubble of the late 1990s. In 2000, 65% of black male high school dropouts in their 20’s were jobless — that is, unable to find work, not seeking it or incarcerated. By 2004, the share had grown to 72%, compared with 34% of white dropouts. Even when high school graduates were included, half of black men in their 20’s were jobless in 2004, up from 46% in 2000. Incarceration rates climbed in the 1990s and reached historic highs in the past few years. In 1995, 16% of black men in their 20’s who did not attend college were in jail or prison; by 2004, 21% were incarcerated. By their mid-30’s, 6 in 10 black men who had dropped out of school had spent time in prison.

Most of the states with a majority of black prisoners are in the South where cheap prison labor helps keep wages down for the growing auto, steel and other basic industries in that are becoming key for the U.S. war machine. However, Maryland, not generally viewed as a “southern state,” has the largest percentage of black prisoners — 77%. Wisconsin, with a tiny black population of 6%, has a black prison population of 48%. And Mississippi, the state with the largest black population, 36%, has a black prison population of 75%.

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Baltimore Youth Fighting for Job Funds

Baltimore students protestingBALTIMORE, MD, June 2 — On May 30th, students, teachers and education advocates gathered at the Inner Harbor amphitheater to protest Mayor Sheila Dixon’s refusal to appropriate $3 million toward knowledge-based jobs for 750-1,000 young people through the Peer 2 Peer (P2P) network. P2P Youth Enterprises, a coalition of approximately 20 local youth groups, organized the demonstration. They then marched to the Legg Mason plaza and announced a hunger strike, commencing that evening. The protestors chanted and gave speeches on education, followed by an open mic session featuring socially conscious hip hop and spoken word poetry.

P2P has been engaging in activities from workshops to overnight camp-outs in front of City Hall to demand these funds. “It’s outrageous that the City is not giving $3 million to young people to do positive work,” said a public school teacher. “When the City schools were predominantly white, about 20% to 40% of the city budget went to education. Now that the City’s student population is 90% African-American, the portion of the City budget devoted to education is just 11%, a severe, racist cutback that hurts all students, no matter what their racial background.”

The Baltimore City Council voted 11 to 3 against the P2P funding. Many speculate that pressure from Mayor Dixon forced that negative vote.

Two weeks ago, when the coalition began a four-day, overnight campout in front of City Hall, Dixon appeared and told the young people they ought to just get jobs at Target. But P2P seeks funding for programs like tutoring and mentorships, so young people can be paid to teach other youth important skills, like algebra, debate and video production.

“Target is not a comparison to Peer 2 Peer,” said one P2P organizer, nor is P2P an after-school or summer program, as misrepresented by the bosses’ media. It’s a year-long program designed to create jobs and prepare youth for careers in a knowledge-based economy.

The $3 million figure would come from the annual interest earned on the City’s $88 million rainy-day surplus emergency fund, not from the fund itself, as inaccurately portrayed by the capitalist media. “The state of youth in Baltimore City is definitely an emergency,” declared a P2P youth leader.
One excuse offered to refuse funding is “a sluggish economy,” yet City funds are going into the build-up of tourist areas like the Harbor.

As the event concluded, committed hunger strikers were transported to a church where nightly shelter is being provided.

The young people view the hunger strike as necessary to attain their goal, with no plans to end it until the mayor and the City Council grant their demands.

Progressive Labor Party applauds the selfless commitment of the hunger strikers and all their many supporters. But we recognize its limitations. In general, hunger strikes seek to embarrass the rulers, but the rulers really have no shame. After all, capitalism starves millions of workers worldwide.

P2P activists stepped up the level of struggle by bringing many supporters to the Mayor’s Night-In, which she had promoted as an opportunity for youth and adults to talk about solving problems in various neighborhoods. The vast majority of participants were P2P supporters, who spoke out very forcefully, essentially taking leadership of the event away from the politicians. At one point the mayor physically grabbed the microphone to defend herself and to accuse adult P2P supporters of misleading P2P youth.

However, she received meager applause, compared to the overwhelming repeated applause for P2P speakers, a vigorous standing ovation for the hunger strikers, and powerful applause supporting the $3 million for P2P youth jobs.

In a broader sense, political awareness is growing, learning how politicians and the government, though claiming to represent all people, are really puppets for the ruling class of big business owners. Some of the young activists recently attended PLP’s May Day march in New York City.

It’s becoming clearer that the government is not neutral but really a dictatorship of the capitalist class. The government is theirs, not ours.

Even if a reform victory is achieved — winning $3 million — the rulers, having state power, can always take it away later, as they’re doing in cutting wages for millions of workers. This is especially true, given the bosses’ need to direct resources toward carrying out imperialist oil wars in Iraq and elsewhere.
Capitalism cannot be reformed, nor can it solve the problems it creates for the working class. We need a future in which the working class shares the fruit of all the value our labor produces. Only communist revolution can achieve this.

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Teachers Oppose Bosses’ ‘Reform’ to End Pensions, Cut Vital Services

MEXICO CITY, May 29 — Thousands of teachers from many parts of Mexico, including Guerrero, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tlaxcala and Mexico City, participated in a massive march here to protest the reform of the law of the Institute of the Social Security in Service of the State Workers (ISSSTE), which plans to reduce pension benefits and increase retirement age. Members and friends of PLP distributed thousands of leaflets exposing capitalism and calling on teachers to fight for communism.

In their fascist offensive, the bosses and their imperialist backers have dealt a new blow to workers by reforming this law, thereby giving workers’ savings to the banks and financial institutions. These “reforms” mean the end of pensions for the retired, removal of the right to housing credits, slashing child-care services and a severe cut in medical services.

In the short term, this will affect the workers of the Federal Commission of Electricity (CFE), of PEMEX (the state-owned oil company) and of public companies. Even though the more pro-U.S. imperialist bosses support the “reform” all the other Mexican bosses represented by different capitalist political parties, including the opposition López Obrador and the PRD are behind it.  (This situation is facing workers worldwide — see page 5 on France’s workers facing a similar attack.)

Currently more than 20 million Mexicans eke out their existence on wages equal to barely twice the minimum and many even less than that. These hungry masses lack a revolutionary organization. PL’ers must continue exposing the bosses and their neoliberal and state capitalist policies and keep organizing the workers to build a communist system where exploitation, poverty and unemployment will not exist. We must have confidence in the great potential of the working class to make a revolution and run society.

During the march there were many insults and anger directed against President Felipe Calderon and Elba Esther Gordillo, “leader” of the teachers’ union, but the problem isn’t only these puppets and the Social Security Reform. The whole capitalist system is rotten and must be destroyed.

Some teachers said that the positive reforms to Social Security were won with over a century of struggle and now the bosses are taking them away with one stroke. This is the essence of capitalist “reforms”: they give workers only crumbs and can take them back at any moment. We need to fight, not for reforms but for a communist world, where workers in Mexico and globally will control society for the benefit of the international working class. Long Live Communism!

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Chile’s Students Hit Privatized Education, Seize Schools

SANTIAGO, CHILE, May 28 — For the third successive week, high school and college students have militantly protested a new law which could privatize public education. Students demonstrated on May Day and then again on May 16 (Day of the Fighting Youth) when students took over several colleges and high schools immediately after “socialist” President Michelle Bachelet gave a national speech on education. In one school students hung a banner reading, “If education is a merchandise, students must be rebels.”

Today, the “carabineros” (riot cops) brutally repressed a planned student march, attacking several thousand gathered in Santiago preparing to march to the Ministry of Education. The cops said they “had no march permit.” Some 337 students were arrested battling the vicious police attack. Over 600 were arrested nationwide during this day of protest. The cops beat students viciously as they were being loaded into police vans.

The government’s proposed General Education Law offers some crumbs like computers and a few scholarships, but each municipality would control education, opening the door to privatization. Students say they want free public education like their parents received, not a few computers or scholarships.

Chilean youth, like youth worldwide today, had a reputation of being non-political, but the reality of a local and international capitalist system bent on making workers and youth pay for its crises and wars, is impelling young people to realize they must fight for their interests.

Education under capitalism, whether free or privatized, is based on promoting bourgeois ideology and building the next generation of exploited workers the bosses need. The best education these youth can acquire is in the class struggle against capitalism and its stooges.

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‘Market Reality’ Fascism Hits Axle Strikers Jobs, Wages Cut in Half

DETROIT, June 1 — The recent sellout contract signed between American Axle and the UAW is a perfect example of how capitalism works and where its priorities lie: destroying the lives of thousands of workers and turning U.S. industry into a low-wage haven. The immigration raids spreading throughout the Midwest and Southwest are no accident. They’re aimed at terrorizing ALL industrial workers, immigrants, undocumented or citizens, into accepting even lower wages. A worker who falls for any kind of racism is betraying his/her own class interests.

Axle workers are the latest victims of this fascist attack. The Axle bosses say the new contract “addresses market reality.” (NY Times, 5/29/08, and all following quotes) After their 87-day strike, this is how that “reality” hits the workers:

• Within a year, 2,000 of 3,650 union jobs will be eliminated.
• “Wages and benefits would be cut at least in half.”
• “Most new work will be going outside the United States.”
And this is how “reality” meets the company’s bottom line:
• “It expected to save about $300 million a year under its new contract.”
• “American Axle…lined up $1.4 billion in new…business for the next five years and…85 percent of it would be sourced abroad.” (“Operations in Mexico and overseas helped the company earn $37 million in 2007.”)
• Wages in Axle’s new plant in Guanajato, Mexico will be barely $1.50 AN HOUR.

What about the union? The bosses say the UAW “jointly addressed” this market reality “in this new set of agreements.” Yes, it “addressed” more than half the workers onto the street and cut the wages and benefits of the remainder more than half. To say the company has the union leadership in its hip pocket is putting it mildly.

This swindle follows the pattern set by the Big Three automakers and the union. GM just announced that one-fourth of its workers, 19,000 (adding to the 34,410 who left in 2006), are taking the company-offered buyout. Of these 19,000, JPMorgan auto analyst Himanushu Patel “predicted GM won’t replace 15,000…and will hire 4,000 [at half the pay] for total annual savings of $2.1 billion.” (Associated Press, 5/31)
Forty years ago, UAW President Walter Reuther was acclaimed for signing a contract with a “guaranteed annual wage.” Hundreds of thousands of laid-off U.S. autoworkers can now testify that the only “guarantee” under capitalism is job- and wage-cuts for workers and maximum profits for the bosses. And the racism of the bosses and UAW hacks has hit black autoworkers even harder, devastating cities like Detroit and Flint.

Since 1999, Michigan has lost 143,000 auto jobs — 45 percent of the total lost nationwide.

No matter what gains  workers make through bitter struggle, when capitalism’s market asserts itself — through global competition, the drive for maximum profits, economic crisis and the needs of imperialist wars — the workers wind up at the bottom of the heap. After all, the bosses control the government and this state power is used to enforce the laws of the capitalist market. That’s why PLP says this system can’t be reformed. “Market reality” won’t permit it.

The only lasting victory that can be won from the Axle workers’ three-month battle is for the workers who bought and read CHALLENGE and came to PLP’s May Day events to join the Party in building a movement that aims to eliminate this system and its profit-driven markets so workers can hold state power and use it on behalf of the working class. Our goal is to establish a communist society in which workers come first and there is no “second” — profits, bosses and their labor lieutenants will be buried six feet under.

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Urges El Salvador Guerrilla Vets to Join PLP

El Salvador — At the end of the 1970’s there were nine people in my family including seven brothers and sisters. The government army came into my settlement, killing children, youth, old people, and women; in my family four brothers were killed because they were suspected of helping the guerrilas.

In 1979, when I was 24 years old, I was pursued by the National Guard because of my revolutionary ideas. I joined a military detachment of the ERP (Revolutionary Peoples’ Army). We had massive confrontations with the government’s army at the same time that they bombed us. When we were invaded by the enemy in a combat zone, we sometimes spent up to eight days without food. After battle, we went to an area that was under the control of the guerrilas where we got our political and military training.

In 1989 we carried out a military campaign where I fought in the city of San Miguel, in the eastern part of the country. I spent nine days in a trench, seeing many of my comrades fall from the enemy’s weapons, and seeing the suffering of the civilian population from the bombings. But we also attacked and showed our political resolve and military strength, as we forced the army to flee and struck mortal blows. Hundreds of soldiers and police fell, brought down by the revolutionary shrapnel of the armed people. Here we were true to our slogan of struggle: victory or death.

At one moment when we were ambushed by the enemy army, a soldier in the bosses’ army (who today is my friend) warned us about this ambush, from which I escaped unharmed. This helped me understand that solders in the government’s army were winnable since most aren’t won ideologically to the bosses’ side.

Since the end of the armed struggle, as a disabled veteran of the war, I’m a member of ALGES — Association of the Disabled from the War in El Salvador. The ideas of a revolution to change society had me frustrated for a time, as I feel that I had been fooled by the high leaders of the guerrilas. After the war, many of them became brazen servants of the capitalists, while my conviction and that of my fellow disabled and dead fighters was to fight and win for the working class.

I then met a club of PLP and when I heard the strength of their political ideology, it didn’t seem foreign to me. Here I see true revolutionary ideology, which is the fight for communism. I hope that this story helps many fellow veterans of the war to join the Progressive Labor Party since the commitment to fight for the working class must continue.

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‘War on AIDS’ Needs War on Capitalism

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 15 — Over 120 public health workers and students met at the annual meeting of the MWPHA (Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association) with the goal of launching a more intense HIV/AIDS advocacy. Speakers and workshop participants attacked the “social determinants of disease” — lack of housing, jobs, and youth development programs, and widespread substance abuse. Most attendees wanted to break out of their small boxes and form a strong unified movement to demand more resources from the federal and local government.

Scrambling for small grants for NGOs and trying to help resolve complicated individual problems of AIDS sufferers is not enough! Most participants felt that the war on AIDS should be joined with a war on capitalist institutions. Reflecting higher levels of awareness, a speaker attacked the “war on drugs” as a war on people. Others noted that the phony “war on terror” drained resources from public health programs. Attendees agreed to testify at city council budget hearings and did so the next week.

This MWPHA conference moved from the traditional public health education to pushing for aggressive political pressure on the system to beat the factors that sharpen the devastation of AIDS. A virus may cause HIV/AIDS, but capitalism and its racist impoverishment of millions transform it into an epidemic by increasing peoples’ vulnerability.

Stable affordable housing is at the forefront of this battle; without it, consistent treatment is almost impossible. But pressure on the system, however bold and militant, is not enough. Capitalism must be overthrown to get at the root of the problem. Too many activists in the HIV/AIDS movement are still far from embracing this goal. But, step by step, some progress is being made.

PLP members’ active in this struggle have led regular public outreach in Ward 8, the lowest income area in D.C. These actions began only with condom distribution and education, and have progressed to community speak-outs and rallies. The stage is set for more intense struggle — confronting politicians and city agencies in their offices around demands for housing and drug treatment. PLP must win more people to its politics to turn struggles like this into schools for communism.

The building of a revolutionary party amid public health struggles is hard work but is the only way forward. We have launched study-action groups that explain how communism can destroy capitalism and its epidemics, but political theory among our friends remains weak. This opens the door to the Obama/Democratic Party deception, taking grants from the archenemies of public health like Pfizer and other drug companies, and a belief that building NGOs will show the way forward.

At this vital time, during growing racism and fascism in the U.S., a financial crisis and endless imperialist wars abroad, we must intensify our struggle to win our friends to step forward and join the communist PLP for the long-term struggle to destroy the racist root cause of AIDS/HIV.

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French Rulers Put Squeeze on Workers’ Fight-Back

PARIS, June 1 — Due to sharpening imperialist competition, French President Sarkozy is now ignoring most of France’s union “leaders” leaving them virtually paralyzed. While these misleaders plead with the government to negotiate, and organize symbolic 24-hour protest strikes, Sarkozy steamrolls right past them with plans to dismantle both the welfare state and the unions.

To pursue its imperialist agenda, the French government needs a docile workforce and ready cash. For example, while visiting Iraqi officials today, foreign minister Kouchner offered them French military instructors to train the Iraqi army. In return, the Iraqi prime minister offered to buy state-of-the-art military technology from France, one of the world’s leading exporters of arms and aircraft.

Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari said “there is an urgent need for French companies to be more present here in Iraq.” Sarkozy wants European Union imperialism to penetrate Iraq in the next six months. Therefore, the government is playing hardball with the unions here.

On May 22, thousands struck and over 450,000 demonstrated in 153 cities protesting government “reforms” to force workers to work longer for smaller retirement pensions. But Sarkozy intends to push his reform through, consulting the unions only on precise points and without trying to get approval from even the most sellout unions (Le Figaro, 5/23).

The main teachers’ unions called for another 24-hour strike on May 24 against government plans to axe 11,200 jobs next school year, but while 15,000 demonstrated in Nantes, the action was only partly successful elsewhere. The following day Education Minister Darcos announced the cuts would be maintained and “protest marches won’t change a thing.”

That hard-line position was enough to bust up the union coalition. On May 27, three teachers unions said they were “suspending” the protest movement.

The government then busted up union unity around another 24-hour strike against retirement “reform” planned for June 17. When the smaller unions split with the bigger ones (CGT and CFDL) over the latter’s back-door agreement with the bosses’ organization MEDEF, the government then double-crossed the whole business with a measure undermining the 35-hour work-week.

With the union misleaders at loggerheads, Sarkozy is attacking on yet another front — introducing a bill to make it easier to shift public workers from one ministry to another, and even to shift them out of the public sector altogether.

The government has been able to play off these union misleaders against each other because they’re all competing to become the government’s “preferred negotiating partner.” The big losers are the workers.
Only communist leadership, dedicated not to negotiating with the government to “improve” capitalism, but to overthrowing the government and the capitalist system, offers a way forward for the working class here.J

French Government Boxes in Undocumented Immigrants

PARIS, June 1 — A January 7 government circular which legalizes undocumented workers in dribs and drabs is keeping them at the mercy of the bosses and their government. The circular provides for the legalization of workers who can produce a job contract, proof they’ve been working for three months and a promise from their boss to pay the costs of legalization. But each prefecture is allowed to apply the law as it sees fit.
The result is a feudal system in which legalization depends on a worker’s relationship with his boss, and the boss’s relationship with the prefect. Another aim is to smash the strike movement for legalization launched by undocumented workers in April.

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