Monthly Archives: April 2009

Immigrant Workers’ Rally Protests Racist Cop Harassment

ORANGE, NJ, April 8  — Eighty immigrant workers, along with members of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Essex County, the Family Success Center, PLP and the ACLU, demonstrated against police harassment at the Bravo Supermarket parking lot where hundreds of workers gather to seek day work. At this lot, the racist police drive through, lights flashing, chasing the men from the sidewalks and the lot, onto back streets. On March 11, unprovoked, the police fired pistol shots above the men’s heads.

Obama and the liberals’ talk about “immigration reform” is just a cover to super-exploit immigrant workers even more and, through the DREAM Act, try to win them to join the army and fight in the rulers’ endless wars. These ideas were spread in up to 100 CHALLENGES distributed among these workers here.

Workers have gone to the Family Success Center several times to seek help getting back wages for weeks of work when criminal employers have deliberately cheated them. During meetings, a PL’er has pointed out that this system of layoffs, pay robbery and unemployment is one of the many ways the profit system survives, by dividing us and driving down all our wages.

One of the employers that hires these workers is a former East Orange cop who has been indicted on 22 counts of insurance fraud! The legal system released him to continue his criminal activity.

The signs at the demonstration at the supermarket read, “To Be Human is Not to Be Illegal”; “We Are Workers, We Are NOT Criminals”; and, “We want to be part of the community.” Channel 47, a Spanish-language news show, broadcast the demonstration at 6 and 11 pm. As soon as the supporters and media left, two squad cars pulled up and the police forced all the workers off the parking lot. But the workers have already returned to the lot, and so has PLP, with more issues of CHALLENGE, which workers ran to grab and read. Six of the workers have signed up to join PLP’s May Day celebration.

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Capitalist Crises: Boom for Bosses, Bust for Workers

The bosses’ media has pointed fingers at various causes of the current economic crisis: seedy mortgage brokers, “deadbeat” homebuyers, “stupid” investment bankers, greedy and arrogant CEOs, Ponzi schemers like Madoff, and now AIG executive bonuses. They claim the root cause is the “subprime mortgage” fiasco, the housing market collapse, the financial industry crisis and the freezing of credit. Except for workers trying to keep and/or buy homes, all the above characters are part of the problem. And all of the above crises have contributed to what increasingly looks like a Depression,

But all these explanations don’t really explain what’s at the heart of this worldwide debacle for capitalism: fundamental laws governing the inner workings of the system itself. Over 140 years ago after decades of struggle by workers against capitalist exploitation, Karl Marx, in his work “Capital,” revealed important laws of capitalist development. In that and other important works, Marx described two: the tendency of the overall rate of profit to fall, and the occurrence of periodic crises of overproduction as the necessary result of a competitive and unplanned system of production. Communists say that only revolution to overthrow capitalism can end this system’s “boom-and-bust” nature.

Real Wages Falling Since ‘73

The rate of return on capitalist investment (rate of profit) in the “developed” economies (U.S., France, Britain, Germany, etc.) has been falling since the end of the 1960s (see interview with Robert Brenner in “Asia-Pacific Journal,” 2/7/09). This happened despite the fall in real wages since 1973, which should have caused the rate of profit to increase. The profit rate fell because emerging capitalist economies in Europe and Asia began producing “the same goods that were already being produced by the earlier developers, only cheaper.”

Bosses in the more developed economies tried to hold on to their dominant positions by pouring money into new technology. However, this only made the problem worse, for two reasons. Firstly, more high-tech upgrades led to even greater overcapacity in industry, with goods flooding the world market. Secondly, the higher the percentage of total capital invested in plant and machinery, the further the rate of return on capital investment tends to fall. Profit can only be made off of human labor power, not from machinery (see box).

As their economic position worsened, U.S. and Western European bosses cut real wages, increasing racist exploitation to attack ALL workers. They used their control of the government to cut back “social wages”, i.e. social service benefits for workers paid for from taxes. But these attacks on their income meant workers were less able afford the products that the bosses had to sell in order to realize their profits.

Fed’s Policy Led to Toxic Assets

The solution? The U.S. bosses’ state, particularly the Federal Reserve, encouraged the massive use of public and private credit. Government budget deficits increased dramatically in the 1970s and 1980s. In the 1990s, the Fed deliberately kept interest rates very low. This induced a huge increase in private borrowing and encouraged investment in financial assets like stocks, bonds and more exotic instruments like bundles of mortgages (see CHALLENGE, 12/08). Prices of these assets soared. In addition, workers bought more and different products using borrowed money, credit cards and refinanced mortgages.

A succession of asset “bubbles” — first the dot com/technology stock market “bubble” of the late 1990s, then the housing and credit “bubbles” of the 2000s —  were basically speculation sanctioned by the government and Fed. But these bubbles only temporarily postponed the day of reckoning. Again, only labor creates actual value under capitalism, not writings on pieces of paper, or computer entries. The huge increase in speculative investment pulled U.S. and other “developed” capitalisms further away from the labor-created method of wealth accumulation.

Thus, the two laws of capitalism revealed by Marx interact with each other. Both contribute to the inevitability of crises as long as capitalism exists. It’s the anarchy of capitalist production and the system’s competitive nature that generate these built-in problems, which are always taken out on the backs of the working class. Communism, a planned, cooperative system of production based on our class’s needs, not bosses’ profits, would abolish these capitalist relations.

The above Brenner interview estimates that capitalism can solve the global economic crisis without major imperialist wars, including World War III. He argues that “[t]he world’s elites want more than anything to sustain the current globalizing order, and the U.S. is key to that.” The Russian revolutionary Lenin wrote that inevitably rival imperialist powers settle their economic competition by war. This is proven by the history of capitalism — one war after another, and now world wars.

Bosses’ Solution for Disputes: War

Thus, thinking the bosses can peacefully solve their disputes produces deadly consequences. Rising rivals of U.S. imperialism like Russia, China and their allies will not, and cannot, stop short of trying to take down the top dog. The fight to control oil and to use that control to keep or gain number-one status continues. Wider war plans are being prepared right now.

Meanwhile, the bosses are casting the weight of the economic crisis onto us. As we unite unemployed and employed to fight these attacks, remember: the bosses need our labor, but we don’t need the bosses or their crisis-ridden, exploitative system. The working class under the leadership of a mass PLP will put an end to this sordid chapter in the history of humanity.

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May Day, the Historic Struggle of the Intern’l Working Class

On this May Day, the international working class is under sharpening fascist attack while the drums of inter-imperialist rivalry beat louder and millions are slaughtered in widening war. World capitalism is pushing its economic crisis onto workers’ backs with mass racist unemployment and wage-cuts, and throwing hundreds of thousands of workers out of their homes.

We can’t be misled by Obama’s promise that the stimulus package will help workers survive this crisis. Capitalism doesn’t work for the working class and cannot be reformed to change that. Masses of workers are fighting back around the world. From general strikes and militancy against the bosses across Europe to strikes in Guadaloupe and Martinique to the fight against budget cuts in Los Angeles and the ongoing 9-month-long Stella D’Oro workers’ strike in the Bronx, workers are saying “make the bosses take the losses.”

May Day (May 1) is the working-class’ international holiday. This year, millions of workers around the world will march to commemorate this important day. It is the day when the world’s working class “holds a review of its forces, mobilized for the first time as One army, [under] One flag…[to] make the capitalists and landowners of all lands realize that today the proletarians of all lands are, in very truth, united.”

May Day was born in the heroic struggle for the 8-hour day when 350,000 Chicago workers went out on a general strike on May 1, 1886 and shut down the city. On May 3 the cops murdered six McCormick Reaper Works strikers. The next day thousands of workers marched in protest into Chicago’s Haymarket Square. A bomb was thrown by a police agent, killing four workers and seven cops, and wounding 200 workers in what became known as the Haymarket Massacre. Nine demonstration leaders were framed for “instigating a riot.” Four were hanged. In 1891, the then Illinois Governor freed those still imprisoned, declaring they had been convicted unjustly.

At the 1889 meeting of the Second International -— a working-class organization patterned after the First International led by Karl Marx — the world’s workers decided to honor the Chicago strikers and martyrs by mobilizing as “one army, with one flag.” May Day had begun. Ever since, with communist leadership, it has symbolized workers’ demands and class interests, united in the fight against capitalism.

Capitalism creates a world in which workers and youth, infants and the elderly, are dying in unprecedented numbers from hunger, poverty, curable disease, war, death squads, police terror and a poisoned environment. Poverty, racism and war do not spontaneously lead workers to communist revolution, or the red flag would fly over most of the world. Communist revolution can only come about when millions of workers are politically conscious of how the world works and how to change it. This can only be accomplished by the efforts of a mass, international, and revolutionary communist party.

In 1971, the Progressive Labor Party picked up the red banners of May Day in the U.S. It has organized May Day marches and activities in many countries for 39 years, to unite workers around their universal demands, regardless of capitalist-created borders. These include opposing imperialist war, racism, the special oppression of women, wage slavery and fascist police terror, while championing unity of all workers — immigrant and citizen, Asian, Latin, black and white.

This May Day we must stand as one class, with one interest: to destroy the capitalist murderers with communist revolution and build a world based on production to fulfill the needs of our class. On this May Day, international workers’ solidarity must meet the bosses’ assault head-on. With PLP building international unity and a base for rebellion and revolutionary communism among industrial workers, soldiers, and students we can fight the bosses’ racism, nationalism and patriotism, and unite the world’s workers to destroy the scourge of capitalism forever. PLP is marching to win workers, soldiers and youth to realize our great potential to overthrow the war-makers and build a communist world based on serving the needs of the international working class! Join the march and join PLP! J Assemble with

PLP: NY- May 2, 11 am, Linden Blvd. & Flatbush Ave.

LA- May 1, 11 am, Olympic & Broadway

Seattle- May 1, 3:30 pm, Judkin Playground

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Worldwide Fight vs. Crisis Needs Communist Leadership:Workers in Europe Seize Factories, Bosses

Militant, mass demonstrations hit London and other European cities protesting the G20 meetings while the big imperialist powers bickered about how to handle the capitalist economic meltdown. There was also a demonstration attacked by the cops in Strasbourg, France, during NATO’s 60th Anniversary meeting where the European rulers decided to send a very limited amount of extra troops to aid the U.S. war over oil-gas pipelines in Afghanistan.

Workers are angry. A common chant in many of their protests — from Dublin to Paris, from Rome to Athens — is, “We won’t pay for their crisis!” Workers in the U.S. and elsewhere should follow their example in upping the ante of class struggle against the capitalist attacks. However, the anger and class hatred of these workers are being misled by union hacks, fake leftists and ruling-class politicians who build nationalism and illusions that voting for a “lesser evil” capitalist is the solution.

Nationalism and racism hold back these struggles. GM workers in Germany and Sweden limited their demands to to keeping their plants open since they are “more efficient” than others, which weakens and divides international workers’ solidarity. Meanwhile, racism against immigrants and non-white citizen workers is growing throughout the continent. Anti-racism is vital to these fight-backs.

General Strike in Greece

On April 2, a massive general strike in all industries shut down Greece, with huge marches in Athens and nationwide, protesting G20 policies and their own right-wing government of Prime Minister Karamanlis. Most schools, ports and department stores in most big cities closed down. TV, radio and newspapers were affected.

In Athens there were three marches by different union groups, including heavy contingents of workers — mostly women — from the United Textile company whose 14 factories are suffering mass layoffs. The Finance Minister is demanding United Textiles fire 950 of the 1200 workers at these plants before approving a “survival plan” for the company. Hacks of two unions are accusing each other of betraying this struggle, but neither are supporting workers’ occupation of the plants. This is no surprise, since these sellouts also refused to support the mass rebellions of young workers and students that hit Greece last year when the cops killed a young student.

France: Caterpillar Workers Seize Bosses, Continental Workers Burn Tires in Paris

Striking Caterpillar (CAT) workers at the Grenoble and Echirolles plants held five bosses in their offices after management refused to discuss a 733 jobs-cut in a workforce of 2,800. After netting a $3.5-billion profit in 2008, CAT announced it would eliminate 22,000 jobs worldwide based on an estimated 55% drop in orders.

CAT, the world’s largest manufacturer of construction equipment, produces much of that large machinery in France and provides armored vehicles for the British army and several other countries. It also makes the D9 armored bulldozers with which the Israeli army razed Palestinian housing. CAT CEO James Owens was Bush’s nominee to a trade advisory board and is now on Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

The “CAT-napping” is just the latest in a series of similar actions throughout France:
• March, 2009 — The boss of Sony France was forcibly held at the Pontons-sur-Adour plant.
• Workers seized the industrial manager of the 3M factory at Pithiviers near Orléans.
• Riot police had to rescue the billionaire chief executive of the retail and luxury group PPR after workers protesting 1,200 job cuts blocked his taxi for over an hour as he left a meeting.
• Union delegates at the FCI plant near Paris held two directors in the meeting room until police intervened. They were supported by striking workers who have been picketing around the clock for six weeks against layoffs and plant closings.

On March 25, workers from the German-owned Continental Tire factory in Clairoix converged on Paris to burn tires on the city’s main boulevard, demanding the government bail out the company. Continental is moving its work to Timisoara, Romania where the average monthly wage is 280-420 Euros ($375-$500). In Clairoix it’s 1,700 Euros (over $2,000). Continental is closing two plants in France and another in Germany. It broke its promise to keep work at the Clairoix factory through 2012 after workers had made big concessions in 2006.

On March 16, angry workers burst into a board meeting and pelted the bosses with eggs and shoes. The bosses held their next meeting, under strict security, 600 miles away in Nice.

These bold actions are good but demanding to “save our jobs” without international solidarity with workers in Romania is a dead-end for the working class.

Visteon Workers Occupy Factories from London to Belfast

“They’ve treated us like dogs….But the workers in Ireland occupied so we thought now it’s our turn to do something,” declared a British Visteon worker as he and 100 of his co-workers occupied the Enfield factory in north London. Another added, “While [British Prime Minister] Gordon Brown was living it up with the G-20, we were losing our jobs. Brown says he has a big plan to save the world, but how about…our jobs?”

The plant’s 200 workers built parts for Jaguar and Land Rover. On April 1, they were fired ten minutes before the end of their shift, and told they would have to ask the government for their last seven days’ pay and would not collect any benefits.

Workers also occupied two Visteon plants in Basildon and Belfast Ireland. Over 50 workers slept inside the Basildon plant and many more were on the road outside. About 100 workers protested outside the Visteon Customer and Technology Centre. Showing solidarity, the office staff there walked out to join them.

Visteon was spun off by Ford in 2000; the majority are ex-Ford workers. One who worked for both companies for 25 years warned, “We know that if we’re going to get anything we’ll have to fight for it. Over the years we’ve given a lot of ground, maybe too much. We’ve even bought our own tools on occasion, just to help the company. And this is how they repay us.” Another declared, “A lot of us are in danger of losing our homes. We’re determined to stay because we have nothing to lose.”

All workers, students and youth should send messages of support to the Visteon workers to: stevehart@unitetheunion.com.

Huge March Against Fascist Berlusconi

On April 3, hundreds of thousands of workers protested the economic policies of Silvio Berlusconi’s fascist government. (His ruling party recently fused with remnants of Mussolini’s old fascist movement.) The huge march in Rome started from five different points and converged on the Coliseum.

The marchers opposed government plans for mass cutbacks in education and public services and demanded an improved policy towards immigrants — super-exploited and persecuted because of racism. But the CGIL union federation leading the march, and the different politicians addressing the rally, just want to replace Berlusconi with their own brand of capitalist rule. They have no real solutions to the deep crisis of Italian capitalism hit hard by the worldwide financial meltdown.

The bosses and their pundits parroted nonsense about the “end of history” — meaning the end of class struggle — after the implosion of the Soviet Union, but workers never stop fighting as the system bails out billionaires’ while millions lose their jobs. But to turn that fight into the beginning of the end of capitalism, the main ingredient needed is a revolutionary communist leadership. May Day 2009 is the day to raise the red flag of communist revolution worldwide. That is the lesson CHALLENGE and PLP bring to the world’s workers. Join us in making it possible!

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Obama Ups ‘Body Count’: Afghan Deaths,U.S. Jobless

Barack Obama won 62 million votes on a “peace” platform — that slated 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan — while promising “to create new jobs.” Instead, his brief regime has relentlessly attacked workers with intensifying war and economic misery.
Obama is sending 21,000 more GIs to Afghanistan now and backs his generals’ demands for an additional 10,000 this fall.

U.S.-led forces have slain 27,000 Afghan civilians since 2001. Obama’s surge can only worsen the death toll.

The U.S. war machine’s new commander-in-chief is also stepping up airstrikes into Pakistan. One such raid killed a dozen civilians on April 1. More than 400 people have died in the Iraq war since Inauguration Day. Bush Sr.’s invasion, Clinton’s sanctions and bombings, and Bush Jr.’s invasion and occupation took over two million Iraqi lives. Obama, despite his lies about “withdrawal,” is extending the U.S. oil war’s body count while pledging to keep combat brigades in Iraq.

Domestically, it’s workers’ livelihoods that suffer mass extermination. According to doctored government figures, at least 1.7 million jobs have disappeared on Obama’s watch, so far. The true figure, counting “discouraged” workers and part-timers who can’t find non-existent full-time jobs, is double that. And his scheme to “save Detroit” forces both job- and pay-cuts on autoworkers.

Obama can’t and won’t bring either peace or prosperity because he, like all politicians, serves his nation’s capitalist class. Obama’s top advisors, hailing from major corporations and ruling-class think-tanks, are tightly tied to the dominant, imperialist JP Morgan Chase-Exxon Mobil-Rockefeller wing of U.S. capital, as CHALLENGE has often noted.

Obama’s bailout of Citigroup, AIG & Co. further exposes his true class loyalty. It wipes out shareholdings that include workers’ pensions and 401Ks, but guarantees billions — via AIG’s bailout money — to creditor banks like Goldman Sachs.

White House Job No. 1: Wars to Save U.S. Oil Empire

Obama’s U.S. capitalist masters face sharpening political, military and economic competition from imperialist and regional rivals. Thus, he’s expanding military operations in the Mid-East and Central and South Asia to protect U.S. bosses’ most important single source of profits, oil, and its control as a weapon against its rivals.

But threats to Exxon Mobil’s and Chevron’s “black gold” keep mounting. Energy-thirsty China is building attack submarines and aircraft carriers to challenge U.S.-Navy dominance over oil routes. Iran’s oil baron mullahs exert growing influence in Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria, which surround Saudi Arabia, U.S. imperialism’s grand profit prize. Putin’s Russia, which supplies energy to much of Europe, using it as blackmail, seeks a new empire that includes a nuked-up Iran.

Obama is pouring $10.5 billion in lethal military aid into already nuclear, unstable Pakistan in hopes of rooting out Taliban and al Qaeda forces there.

At home, Obama’s “stimulus” won’t reverse U.S. capitalism’s inevitable descent into decay. U.S. workers’ real wages have declined over the past three decades. Yet producing useful goods here, with aging plants and infrastructure — increasingly costly to upgrade — has become, in the main, less profitable than in rival countries.

So U.S. finance capitalists turned from investing in cars, appliances and textiles to trading basically worthless “paper” instruments like bundled bad mortgages and credit default swaps, and at exorbitant prices. Fraud disguised as finance boosted U.S. earnings rates for a time. But the current bust lays bare U.S. bosses’ fundamental and widening global profit disadvantage.

Rival Rulers Draw Daggers at G-20 And NATO Summits

Obama’s feeble effect at recent G-20 and NATO summits underscore U.S. rulers’ deepening predicaments. Rising capitalist powerhouses China, India, and even Brazil played 800-pound-elephant roles at the G-20 economic confab in London, new threats U.S. bosses can’t deal with. Pundits said G-20 was more like the failed 1933 central bankers’ meeting in London, which highlighted the insoluble economic disputes that led in large part to World War II.

Meanwhile, Obama’s attendance at NATO’s 60th birthday party gained only token support for the U.S.’s Afghan war. Only Britain, whose Mideast-focused Shell and BP tie it to the Exxon-Chevron-Pentagon agenda, pledged more than a few hundred soldiers. The NATO festivity also unintentionally prompted a 20,000-strong pro-Russian protest in Ukraine’s capital Kiev against president Yushchenko’s bid to join the U.S.-led war coalition.

World War III Needs Spur U.S. Infrastructure Schemes

If Obama does, in fact, overcome a dysfunctional Congress to create jobs, it won’t be to revitalize GM’s Pontiac sales, but rather to beef up U.S. infrastructure, enhancing its capacity to wage world war. Felix Rohatyn, a major U.S. imperialist strategist, has written a book, “Bold Endeavors,” which recounts past huge U.S. public/private undertakings that enhanced “national security.” These include transcontinental railroads, the Panama Canal and interstate highways.
Rohatyn urges Obama to rebuild rails, ports and roads to make the U.S. not just more productive but better able to withstand attack and project its considerable military might overseas. U.S. rulers, and servants like Obama and Rohatyn, understand that, ultimately, recovery lies in destroying rivals’ productive capacity (including human capital) through war and forcibly seizing their territory, raw materials and markets.

War-maker, job-destroyer, union-buster Obama nevertheless enjoys a high 66% approval rating, according to pollsters. Many people, who rely on government to solve their problems, believe his election struck a blow against racism. But Obama, by winning workers to support the government, actually helps U.S. rulers get away with racist murder, quite literally in their Iraq and Afghan slaughters.

Unemployment under Obama, approaching 30 million and counting, hits black, Latino, and immigrant workers hardest. Obama’s military cold-bloodedly targets unarmed Arabs and Asians.

For workers, supporting Obama, or any agent of the class enemy, is a big mistake. Rather we need to organize to destroy the profit system, which can’t provide us a living but often deals us death. That is our revolutionary, communist Party’s long-term aim.

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‘Scabs in Blue! Scabs in Blue!’

Stella D’Oro Strikers Face Bosses’ System and Its State

BRONX, NY, April 1 — On a rainy, cold afternoon, chants of “Scabs in blue! Scabs in blue!” rang out as the bosses’ cops stopped Stella D’Oro strikers and their supporters from marching from their picket line to a local supermarket. They wanted to urge neighborhood workers to support this strike by boycotting Stella D’Oro products. As a PL’er addressing the rally explained, Stella strikers are fighting not just their own bosses but the capitalist system and its state. The strikers very much liked the front-page article in the April 8th CHALLENGE championing their struggle — one of the very rare strikes in the U.S. today showing multi-racial, working-class unity against the bosses’ attacks.

Sometimes strikers talk with cops at a picket line or demonstration. Cops, however, are not neutral. They serve to protect the interests of the bosses and their system. Has a cop ever arrested scabs for dangerously racing their cars through a picket line or arrested bosses for falsely accusing strike leaders of harassment? Hell no! Has a judge ever issued an injunction to prevent bosses from hiring scabs to break strikes? Never.

At today’s picket line the cops invented laws to limit the effectiveness of strikers and their supporters. First they said we couldn’t cross the street in front of the factory. Then they said if we left the picket line in front of the factory, we couldn’t return to resume picketing. Finally when we tried to march on another route, they said that we couldn’t walk on the sidewalk to the supermarket because we needed a march permit.

Although the multi-racial group of over 150 strikers and supporters wanted to press forward, a score of cops with guns at their sides were able to stop us. Later, at a closing rally for today’s action, a strike supporter from the Professional Staff Congress (college teachers’ union) declared that if the cops didn’t protect the Stella bosses, the workers might have won this strike long ago. Like the speaker said, “We’ll be back!”

While the Stella D’Oro strike is about trying to maintain prior levels of pay and benefits, this strike has proven that the capitalist system benefits only the bosses. What we need is to smash the bosses’ system with communist revolution!

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May Day Brings Communist Politics to LA School Struggle

LOS ANGELES, April 4 — “I move that UTLA adopt the motion calling for a one-day strike on May First,” said a comrade in the teachers union (UTLA) House of Representatives. This motion had passed overwhelmingly in four of the nine area meetings two weeks previously.

On March 13, nearly 9,000 teachers and health and human services personnel got pink slips for June layoffs. The jobs of many classified workers are threatened too. In response, teachers, other school workers, parents and students are fighting back and PLP is giving communist leadership.

The day of the layoffs saw walkouts and spontaneous demonstrations. Since then, there has been much more organized struggle, including before-school picketing and some militant job actions where teachers and students walked in an hour late. More actions are planned, with students, parents and non-teaching employees. Hundreds of “Petitions to Save our Schools” are circulating charging teacher layoffs as racist — layoffs of new teachers hit schools with black and Latino kids (the vast majority) the hardest — and an attack on the whole working class.

PLP members and friends are active in these struggles, linking these layoffs to the deep crisis of capitalism. The capitalists’ goal is profit at all costs; our goal is the well-being of ourselves and our class, to have decent jobs, raise our families and survive. These two goals are directly contradictory. The bosses demand more and more of the value workers produce (which is all value) through cuts and taxes to prop up their banks, profits and expanding wars in the Middle-East for control of oil and gas resources to maintain their empire.

We advocated an illegal strike against layoffs and cutbacks, calling for a one-day work stoppage on May 1 — joining with immigrants organizing for an immigrants’ rights march that day — in an action to defend the education of the children of all workers. From the start, the union leadership opposed the resolution, saying it would be too difficult politically to organize a one-day strike on May Day, the same day that immigrants were marching, because so many teachers are both anti-communist and anti-immigrant.

These fake leftists are seen nationally as “progressive,” but when it counts they’re unwilling to fight for the unity of the working class or to defend the rights of immigrants and their children. “Our message will be diluted in the immigrants rights march,” said a member of the Board of Directors. A young teacher responded, “May Day represents the international working class, and we support a one-day strike in defense of our teachers, our students, and their families.” The union leadership put forward, and narrowly won, a substitute motion for a membership vote to ratify a one-day work stoppage — any other day in May but May Day!

Many were angry. Of 250 teachers at the meeting, 100 took CHALLENGE. There are real victories here. By making May Day a mass issue we’ve raised with students, teachers and other school workers the real meaning of May Day — International Workers’ Day.

May Day is the day when workers worldwide fight for our class, against the racist exploitation and wars of the capitalist bosses. It’s been our day since 1886, when workers in Chicago fought for the eight-hour day, and has been celebrated around the world ever since. PLP has brought the fight for internationalism and communist revolution back to May Day.

That’s why we’re having a PLP contingent within the immigrants’ rights march, to champion this communist nature of May Day. This is distinct from the march organizers who support the liberal rulers’ plans to exploit immigrant workers for super-profits in low-wage jobs and use their youth as cannon fodder in the bosses’ imperialist wars.

The struggle is helping our friends see the nature of the capitalist crisis. We say shutting down Los Angeles on May Day would be part of building up to a strike to shut down the school system until all jobs are restored. More importantly, it would help to build unity for the long-term fight to destroy the profit system. We’ve explained that we should have no illusions that even a militant strike will reverse all the attacks. This is a contracting capitalist system in crisis — one built into the system based on profits for a few at the expense of millions of workers.

Instead we need a system run by and for the working class, not the bankers, to eliminate the bosses and organize society to produce for the needs of the working class, not for profits. We need communism, not socialism (which retained banks), for a world without money, bosses or borders. Our success will be measured in expanding CHALLENGE networks and recruiting more PLP members!

Building for May Day Amid Capitalist Carnage in Detroit

DETROIT, April 6 — “Why are we marching? What are we going to get out of it?” she asked. A PLP member responded, “We’re marching to build a movement. We’re marching to show the workers in NYC, and those we bring, that there’s a movement growing that’s out to overthrow this system and fight for communism, equality, no bosses and no profits.”

“YES!” shouted the American Axle worker from the couch. “That’s what we need!”

That exchange captured the mood of the May Day committee meeting here last week. Bringing a busload of workers and youth to march on May Day will be our answer to the overwhelming racist oppression that has laid waste to Detroit and stolen the future from our youth. This is our answer to the bankers and auto bosses who grab billions in salaries and bonuses while destroying jobs and boarding up homes.

Here, more than 50% of all black males are unemployed and the jails are full. There are no supermarkets or movie theaters but there are curfews against our youth and plainclothes cops harass students inside the schools. Forty thousand homes are boarded up, more empty homes than homeless people, because under capitalism if the bosses can’t sell it for a profit, it can’t be used, no matter what the need.

We met in the shadow of GM world headquarters, while the Obama auto task force, led by two former investment bankers, was forcing chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner into a retirement worth about $23 million. With the global financial crisis deepening, the federal government is taking direct control of the fascist restructuring of the shrinking auto industry. GM was given 60 days to come back with a bigger list of plant closings and job cuts, and still more wage, health care and pension cuts from the UAW. Chrysler was given 30 days to form a partnership with Fiat. These conditions must be met in order to get more government money. If not, both companies will be forced into that financial chop shop known as bankruptcy court.

The ruling class is using Obama to whip the auto industry into fighting shape after having been routed on their home turf. CEO Wagoner’s ouster means an even more fascist crackdown on GM workers who should realize they are in great danger. GM’s pro-capitalist UAW “partners” will be asked to deliver even deeper wage and benefit concessions, including retiree health benefits. The message to the workers is clear: if you don’t give it up, we’ll take it in bankruptcy court. Many illusions that auto workers have in Obama are being challenged, if not smashed.

Fiat said it was eager to merge with Chrysler, especially after Obama said he would bless the deal with $6 billion in federal aid. G.M. said it would “take whatever steps are necessary to successfully restructure the company.” So far, all is quiet at UAW headquarters at Solidarity House, as these miserable low-lifes finally face their own mortality. They hitched their wagon to U.S. imperialism 50 years ago, and now they are feeling every bit of the decline of their masters.

Unlike them, we shed no tears for the bosses. We will build a new communist world on their graves. We fight for the laid-off truck driver and his family, the high school students, the hospital, county and hotel workers, the American Axle worker and his partner and their 8-month old baby boy. After the four-month American Axle strike in the winter of ‘07-’08, two-thirds of the workers lost their jobs, and wages were cut in half. At the ratification meeting at King H.S., workers tore up the contract and shouted down their leaders. One year later, the flicker of communist revolution still burns. This May Day it will burn a little brighter.

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‘DREAM Act’ is Attack on Immigrant Youth

LOS ANGELES, April 7 — We’re fighting to bring people to march with PLP on May Day for internationalism and communist revolution. There were immigrants’ rights marches here the last two Saturdays, giving us a good start. The immigrants’ rights groups are mobilizing for Obama’s “ comprehensive immigration reform” and the DREAM Act. We’re fighting in the streets, schools and factories to make this a struggle to unite the whole working class against the capitalist crisis and show the solution is communism. In the March 28 march, when PLP youth answered every liberal chant with a different one, many others joined in. When we chanted that we’ll have a world without borders, a good section of the march took it up.

Then on April 4, about 2,000 mainly Latino immigrant workers, marched through downtown Los Angeles in support of the DREAM Act, re-introduced in both houses of Congress on March 26. The latest version of this immigration legislation puts undocumented immigrant youth on a path supposedly to citizenship if they’ve lived in the U.S. for at least five years, graduated from high school and completed two years of either college or military service. But the DREAM Act does not change an undocumented immigrant youth’s current ineligibility for government financial aid for college.

For most working-class immigrant youth it’s far easier to join the military than enter college, which is prohibitively expensive. In effect, the DREAM Act offers undocumented immigrant youth the promise of citizenship in exchange for service to U.S. imperialism. In fact, the timing for this Bill fits right into Obama’s current effort to send more troops to Afghanistan. The Pentagon has been a major supporter of the DREAM Act. It would result in 279,000 newly eligible people for either college enrollment or the military, and 715,000 more between ages 5 and 17 in the near future. A contingent of PLP students and teachers participated in the march, leading chants for international working-class unity, and distributed leaflets that explained the fascist nature of immigration reform proposed by the U.S. ruling class.

We passed out 1,600 leaflets which called for marching on May Day with PLP for workers’ unity and communist revolution. We also distributed about 400 CHALLENGES. After the march the PLP group, mainly Latino immigrant high school students, analyzed the illusions created by the DREAM Act among immigrant youth and the need to understand how these type of reform movements ultimately serve the ruling class’s efforts to build patriotism and recruit youth into their army. We also discussed organizing against imperialism in the military. Participating in this DREAM Act march helped PLP youth understand the importance of fighting for revolutionary communist politics that expose how immigration reform potentially can lead workers into supporting U.S. imperialism. The group of students and teachers also vowed to redouble their efforts to bring more youth to march with PLP on May Day.

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Salvadoran Bosses’ ‘Lesser Evil’ Preserves Profit System

EL SALVADOR — “If Funes wins, we’ll be more controlled by the right and the fake left,” remarked a comrade at a PLP communist school.

In the recent Presidential election, the FMLN’s Mauricio Funes won with 1,350,000 votes, 51.2% of the electorate. Thousands of workers celebrated in the streets of the country’s main cities, shouting, “Yes we could”; “The people united will never be defeated”; and, “Today is different. Funes is President.”

When Funes and the FMLN’s political commission declared victory, they said there were no winners or losers in this election — the victory was “for everyone”; that change had come and there were no distinctions between right and left.

It was very different from the speech people expected, which is why the right celebrated too. That same week, Vice-President-elect Sánchez Ceren stated, “Not all the promises made by the FMLN during the election can be fulfilled.”

The liberal rulers paid for much of Funes’ electoral campaign. They represented the group “Friends of Mauricio Funes,” which includes millionaire businessman Nicolas Salume. He also financed the previous campaign of Antonio Saca (the outgoing President from the right-wing Arena party). Two sectors of Funes supporters made a deal for the FMLN to continue to control the mayors and the representatives while the capitalist “Friends of Funes” would pick the cabinet ministers. The bosses made sure that whoever won would continue capitalist policies.

The workers who see Funes and the FMLN as the solution within the capitalist system to the international crisis of unemployment, poverty and hunger will be frustrated since capitalism is in decline; none of these politicians can solve the crisis. Actually, they’re part of the problem.

The sharpening inter-imperialist rivalry is also reflected here. Funes said he would follow the governing model of Obama and Brazil’s Lula, while an FMLN group continues to insist that Funes must offer an opening to Cuba, Russia and China through Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.

The international capitalist crisis is intensifying here. The bosses can’t keep hiding the emptiness of state coffers, so empty that subsidies for energy, transportation and rent can’t be paid. Fiscal collections, consumption and sales have declined, and, according to the Central Reserve Bank, the country’s projected growth rate is nearly zero. This is one of many countries affected by the crisis due to its dependence on remittances from families in the U.S., down $250 million in the last year.

Progressive Labor Party has shown the only way forward amid the international capitalist crisis is to sharpen the workers’ struggles worldwide; this country is no exception. Only the working class can save the working class.

During the election campaign, union and social group leaders diverted the working class from any sign of protest against the bosses or their system. But PLP continued to struggle against, and denounce, the deals among the bosses who financed Arena and the FMLN.

This election was a multi-million dollar campaign by the FMLN and Arena. The FMLN leadership paid $36 million to the media companies while 20,000 people are losing their jobs.
All these electoral events are aimed at lining up both the leaders of the capitalist system, as well as the workers, behind a group of bosses, whether in the U.S., Europe, Russia or China. All of these latter forces face the growing necessity of wider war and World War III, a war over international markets.

Now, after the elections, workers’ anger is starting to surface. A worker on a local radio program said, “This Funes has already shown he’s allied with the right. He just won the election and he showed his capitalist leanings. He’ll respond to the capitalists’ interests, like those of his friends who financed his campaign. As the saying goes, ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune.’”
The election results mean a change in the governing party but not in the capitalist political and economic orientation. Those capitalists who now hold State power won’t change the way they exercise it.

Whether there’s a neo-liberal or a state capitalist government, both are bad for the working class. There’s only been a superficial change among the bosses.
The only solution for workers is the long-term struggle for the dictatorship of the working class and communism through the growth of an internationalist PLP. To all workers: lets all march worldwide on May Day!

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