Monthly Archives: August 2011

Church Meet Backs Strikers, Hits Anti-Muslim Racism, Afghan War

CHARLOTTE, N.C., June 26 — Among the 4,000 people attending a nationwide Unitarian Universalist convention here, there was sharp debate over issues that directly affect the working class: support for an upcoming supermarket strike, scapegoating of Muslims and withdrawal from Afghanistan.

One resolution called for support for 62,000 Southern California supermarket workers, who will probably go on strike. This would be the biggest labor action in the U.S. since the last Southern California supermarket strike, in 2003 — the biggest fight-back against the notion of “shared sacrifice.” A few objections arose: that boycotts might hurt unionized workers not on strike or that not shopping in certain areas would be impossible. These arguments were countered by one speaker, saying that this detracted from viewing the action as class struggle. The vast majority of delegates voted to support the strike in a variety of ways.

One issue that caused debate was whether representative Peter King’s hearings attacking the Muslim community were related to pressure for continued war in the Middle East. Most attendees agreed racist, hate-inspired King’s assault must be stopped. However, many weren’t prepared to support the idea that the “war on terror” is in reality one of control over resources. With that clause removed, the resolution passed. But all delegates present had been exposed to contradictions in Obama’s promises for withdrawal. The issue of CHALLENGE with an editorial on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline as well as an article about demonstrating at King’s office was sold to 99 delegates.

The resolution on ending the Afghan war was opposed by those who felt it was not of immediate concern (resolutions are categorized as “Actions of Immediate Witness”). The retort came quickly that getting out NOW gave the motion immediacy! While that resolution didn’t receive the 2/3 vote necessary, the specter of this longest war put all else in perspective.

The final plenary voted on an attempt by the trustees to eliminate all Actions of Immediate Witness completely. If it had not been defeated, the most significant debate would have been abolished, along with the chance for delegates to bring issues to the floor. Top-down forces are still at work to divert anti-racist and pro-working-class struggle from even appearing on the agenda.

Historically, there has been movement to organize caucuses into all-black and all-white groups, with emphasis given to “multicultural” ideas. This has been countered by a consciously multi-racial caucus that called lunchtime meetings to strategize our anti-racist presence.

Next year, much business as usual will be set aside when we meet in Phoenix, AZ, with the intent on making the immigration issue primary. While the sentiments of many church-goers are on the side of support to immigrants, what actions are taken on the streets of Phoenix most certainly will be led by rank-and-file members.

This is a vital point. The last act of the last plenary was a neo-fascist move by the moderator to appoint an Accountability Committee to assure that no unapproved actions take place. What makes this committee so dangerous is that two members have been appointed from the Allies for Racial Equity (the all-white group) and the Diverse Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (the “people of color” group), both led by racist, anti-communist misleaders. These two groups have been instrumental in fighting against multi-racial Unitarian Universalism. We have bad news for them: we will organize forces for street actions of immediate witness right there in Phoenix

PLP Anti-Racist Summer Projects Haiti: Picket Lines, Health Clinic, Freedom School

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI, July 18 — Health workers, teachers, and students from the U.S. joined with our counterparts in a show of international solidarity in the class struggle. The first week of the Summer Project included organizing a health clinic and a freedom school. By relying on friends and comrades we were able to see 150 patients from two tent camps.

More than one million are forced to live in tents because the January 2010 earthquake either destroyed their homes or made them structurally unsound. The people in camps have been waiting on the government for help while trying to survive in these “temporary” facilities for the last year and a half.

The goals of the health clinic included trying to provide clinical health services and building awareness of public health issues like cholera, asthma, high blood pressure, and diabetes. We provided information and had discussions on how many of these diseases are related to social class, and ones’ ability to access clean water, enough food, and medical care. Many complained of gastrointestinal ailments that may have been due to a lack of food; also vaginal infections which may have been attributed to frequent douching, which changes the pH of the vagina.

In the clinic’s waiting area, people said that they were disgusted with the government’s inaction, and the UN troops which occupy Haiti. We were told that the troops spend most of the time on the beaches, and raping women. We used this opportunity to have political discussions on the struggle against our common enemy, the capitalist ruling class.

Haiti is a vivid example of capitalism’s use of racism to exploit workers. It has kept black workers there in virtual slavery for centuries and now has failed to alleviate the suffering from the earthquake that tore the country apart. This has produced super-profits for imperialist bosses.

One of the highlights of the week was when we joined workers on their picket line. About 800 workers had been laid off from the mayor’s office, but were never paid what they were owed. They sued and won in court, but under capitalism, the courts are just another branch of the government, working for the interests of the ruling class.

The workers have still not been paid after four years of struggle. We chanted in French/Kreyòl, “Workers Should Be Paid,” and “Justice for Workers.” We heard drivers’ horns blow in support of the picketers from the busy street. International solidarity was the order of the day.

The freedom school was attended by many students eager to exchange ideas that spanned broad social issues. The classrooms were overflowing with students enthusiastically discussing what is taught in the schools and what ideas are important to the working class, as well as the unity of teachers and students, and an analysis of capitalism and imperialism. Ninety percent of the schools in Haiti are private, so many have no opportunity for an education. People hunger for more education.

The friends we have made in Haiti signifies many new opportunities for building PLP. The future is bright!

Students, Teachers Blast ‘Education Genocide’

CHICAGO, July 18 — “Brizard, you can’t hide, education cuts cause genocide!” rang through the streets of downtown Chicago on July 6. (Brizard is Chicago’s new schools CEO.) Students and teachers marched against Chicago Public Schools (CPS) bosses and the banks that steal millions from the education system.

The march was the closing event of an all-day National Conference to Fight Back for Public Education, organized by various “progressive” caucuses and union leaders.

PLP Exposes Fascist Assault on Public Schools

PL’ers participated on different levels. They advanced the Party’s politics, charging that the assault on public education is part of the bosses’ plan to step up fascist attacks and prepare our class for larger imperialist wars.

Many conference participants called for an “end to corporate greed” and to have the bosses pay “their fair share.” But workers have no “fair share” when it comes to their exploitation by the bosses who grab as much of the value produced by the working class as they can.

The Party exposed the fact that the cuts in education and health care were racist — falling most heavily on black and Latino workers and students — a product of capitalism, not just “bad capitalists.” Students from Farragut H.S., who are close to the Party, really brought this point to the fore as they led the chant, “How do you spell RACIST?!… CPS!”

Marchers Free Student From KKKop Attack

These students, guided by the leadership of PLP, were finally given the vehicle to express their anger and frustration at the system. They were so good at it that a kkkop pulled one of them from the march for chanting “FIGHT BACK!”in his ear.

Immediately the marchers chanted “Let him go!” and he was quickly released. Even after the harassment, the student was not intimidated and led the marchers to chant, “They say cut back, WE SAY FIGHT BACK!”

This march was the final event of a week-long Summer Project here, followed by a PLP-hosted “reflection dinner.” Two students and one youth worker from Farragut spoke at the dinner about their experiences. The students thanked the Party for the “love and support” during the march, one saying he was happy not to be in jail.

The youth worker told a PL’er who he works with that he “felt at home.” He went to the New York Summer Project the following week and, after months of struggle, has now joined the Party. Five students now want to be in a PL study group.

We didn’t get the banks to stop robbing the working class, but we recruited a new comrade and brought more people closer to the Party. Building PLP and the movement for communist revolution is how we measure success within our activity in mass organizations.

The bosses can always take away reforms, but the might of the working class led by PLP fighting for a communist society is the only way to gain the life our class deserves. The more we recruit to our revolutionary army, the more we can defend our class from the bosses’ attacks now and prepare ourselves to take the offensive in the future.

Memorial Service:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many members and friends have asked what we are doing to remember Milt Rosen, founding chairperson of PLP. Progressive Labor Party has established a fund to honor Milt and Harriet Rosen. The International Solidarity Fund will be used to continue our work training young leaders in the 25 countries where we have members and to spread PLP ideas all over the globe. This will help turn the idea of one worldwide communist party into reality.

Memorial Service:

 Los Angeles on September 25, 2011

 Brooklyn, New York on Sunday, October 9, 20ll at 2:00 pm

Old First Church, Corner of 7th Avenue and Carroll Street

Make checks payable to CHALLENGE Periodicals. Write “solidarity fund” on the subject line or give to your local PLP club. Send to PO Box 808, Brooklyn, NY 11202

‘Our Union’s in bed with the Bosses…’ Brookdale Rank-and-File Must Unite and Lead the Struggle

BROOKLYN, N.Y., July 29 — “So what they’re talking about doing here is building a whole working-class movement, beyond our union,” stated one Brookdale worker to another at a home visit by PLP members. Despite torrential rain, we met to discuss the ongoing struggle at Brookdale Hospital, which foreshadows the even bigger racist cuts coming from the Obama-Tea Party circus, such as the $655 billion federal cuts in Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. Brookdale Hospital and its 3,500 workers, in the majority black and Latino working-class Brownsville neighborhood have been stripped bare by the racist bosses of MediSys. The misleadership of Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU  — see previous CHALLENGE, 8/3).

Workers expressed their disappointment that the fight hasn’t escalated further, regardless of the militant sit-downs and picketing. “When we go outside now to march, we tell everybody in our department, ‘hey! You all should take your lunch break and come march with us!’“

After the previous months of struggle and confrontation between the workers and bosses, these workers didn’t hide their frustration with the declining militancy, and exasperation at how the hospital bosses are getting away scot-free. “We were telling the union for months what was going on here.” Another worker declared, “but they kept telling us to wait until the legal people did something.” The 1199 leaders are out for their own interests; it’s time to call upon new leadership, ourselves.

The MediSys-owned Peninsula Hospital, located in the borough of Queens, announced last week it is closing. This news was received with surprise and anxiety at Brookdale. The union Local 1199 leadership, is not only uninterested in fighting back at Brookdale, but uninterested in fighting back at all! Peninsula Hospital is closing due to the same series of attacks MediSys has made on Brookdale. Union leadership does not have the workers’ interests; as workers we need to unite and fight for our class interests.

A PL’er asked, “Why didn’t the union, which was aware of Peninsula’s troubles for months, organize any solidarity events between Brookdale, Peninsula, and every union member in the city with it’s 250,000 members?”

“Because our union’s in bed with the bosses!” shot back a worker.

PLP isn’t building some union or electoral party, but a fighting, revolutionary communist working-class party.

CHALLENGE, unlike all other media, is the working class’s paper and shows capitalism as the root cause of our current problems. Brookdale workers are learning that PLP is with them shoulder-to-shoulder. A major aspect of our struggle with the Brookdale workers has been trying to keep a long-term outlook. Strike or no strike, “win” or “lose” this round, the bosses’ racist class war rages on against the working class; the struggle continues.

Distribution of CHALLENGE to Brookdale workers, struggling with the workers over the ideas in the paper, making new friends, and uniting our lives through our struggles are the orders of the day. Communist revolution is necessary, and can happen as growing CHALLENGE networks make PLP’s ideas mass ideas.

Kochs Challenge Rockefellers; Workers Must Throw Them All Out

The Koch brothers, who finance the Tea Party and bash Obama, buy oil and manufactured products in many countries. They are heavily invested in industrialist accumulation in the U.S. but do not own a major bank nor do they profit from the huge U.S. war machine. However, they are also trying to establish a niche in their own special form of “imperialism on the cheap.”

The Kochs bankroll the Cato Foundation think-tank. Its Mid-East expert Leon Hadar thinks that the “ballooning deficit and an overstretched military leave Americans no choice but to make major cuts in defense spending by shrinking [the] U.S. role in the Middle East.” (Huffington Post, 7/5/11)

Hadar, no doubt smelling a potential supplier to Koch Oil, sees a deal with Teheran in the offing: “The United States should take part in any negotiations leading to regional agreements on Afghanistan and Iraq, a process that could also become an opportunity to improve the relationship with Iran.” (Cato Institute, 7/1/11) This, of course, runs counter to the interests of the Rockefeller-led, imperialist wing of the U.S. ruling class which controls the largest chunk of Mid-East oil supplies.

Obama Fronts for Dominant
Rockefeller Wing; Kochs Want Piece of the Action

The Koch brothers dream of catching up to the Rockefellers but the closest they’ve come to wielding state power is Tea Party obstructionism in Congress. They have a long way to go to match the Rockefellers’ long history of transforming their Standard Oil monopoly into a banking empire. Having trumped the J.P. Morgan clan by the 1930s, World War II left the Rockfellers heading up the biggest U.S. banks and therefore with the resources to supply the controlling capital in the U.S. war industry, putting them in position to shape U.S. foreign policy to protect their imperialist interests abroad.

During the Vietnam genocide of the 1960s and 1970s, James and David Rockefeller personally headed the ancestors of Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase. Nelson Rockefeller was governor of New York and later became U.S. vice-president. David Rockefeller ran U.S. imperialism’s most influential policy foundry as president of the Council on Foreign Relations; its most influential university as president of Harvard’s overseers; and its most influential “philanthropies,” the various Rockefeller foundations.

The Koch brothers’ challenge to this mammoth empire puts them into a fierce dogfight with the world’s most powerful capitalists, a battle over who can exploit the most workers. The Rockefellers have been reaping super-profits from workers on five continents. The Koch brothers were behind the attack on Wisconsin’s state workers and teachers that cut their wages, benefits and bargaining rights. The only interest the working class has in this fight is to overthrow both sides with communist revolution.

PLP Summer Project Backs: Strikers with ‘Mops and Stethoscopes’ Fighting U.S./Haitian Bosses

PORT-AU-PRINCE, July 21 — “Haiti has a hardscrabble beauty,” an art historian said about its eroding slopes, its city streets turned into a huge informal market, its people always on the move in the daily scramble for food. However, Haiti, at the bottom rung of racist capitalism, has the beauty of workers struggling with their backs against the wall.

Workers at the University Hospital (HUEH) led off a strike with a demonstration at the Ministry of Health, for unpaid wages, decent health services for patients and working conditions for workers. Our PLP Summer Project medical clinic team spotted the demonstration and learned more from the local nurses working with us. The strikers are in the Syndicat des Travailleurs de Santé (STS — Health Workers’ Union), an industrial union whose logo combines a stethoscope with a mop.

Today we brought 50 students from our Project’s freedom school, and health workers and translators from our medical clinic to the sweltering STS union hall. We were given some of the few seats, fans were brought up, and they looked at us expectantly.

Charles, the head of their negotiating committee, explained the problems at HUEH, whose administrator lives in Canada and, with his cronies, gets paid in U.S. dollars. They have, in essence, destroyed the hospital.

Since the earthquake, labs, medicines, even food for the patients are missing or are allowed to deteriorate. Workers must find food for the patients themselves. The bosses allow patients to pile in without the means of caring for them. And workers being paid? Maybe.

As Charles said, these terrible services for patients occur alongside terrible working conditions for their caretakers, plus the stress of being unable to provide needed care.

The STS president Milot, a doctor, wrung his hands as he described the pain workers felt, prevented by the bosses’ system from using their strength, skills and creativity to treat other workers who need them so badly. He and Charles thanked us for our solidarity across the seas, his hands clutching the precious handful of $20 bills we donated to the fund.

Someone started a chant in English, “Same Enemy, Same Fight! Workers of the World Unite!” Our STS hosts took it up as best they could. Some of us lost our voices there today.

A Physician’s Assistant from the Bronx described his public hospital’s conditions as failing to improve over his 30 years of service, actually declining steadily over the last five years. A Dominican teacher, also from the Bronx, called for unity of workers on both sides of the bosses’ colonial border dividing Haiti from the Dominican Republic. A student from Mexico working here in our clinic added greetings from workers in Mexico.

We did the best we could with English and Spanish translated into French so a friend from Haiti could put it all into Kreyòl. We said we’d start a campaign of letters of support from the U.S. and elsewhere, and picket the Haitian consulate. It was, well, beautiful — and then we bumped our way home over the hardscrabble streets.

What is beauty? This recalls the common question among PLP’ers: “What is winning?” Workers’ struggle in and of itself is, as the Irish poet Yeats wrote, “a terrible beauty,” and nothing is uglier than the blank, depressed defeat of the dark night of the soul. But all reform struggle fades, slowly if it wins, and with a sad and terrible speed if it loses.

What our class needs in Haiti is a communist revolution. It cannot come a moment too soon, clearly seen as you watch a hungry child devour the bananes braisées from our Sunday picnic on a public beach as if they were sacred.

The revolutionary beauty our class needs must come from the strikers with mops and stethoscopes and from the anger of hungry children. It must come from their worldwide communist party. The truth of PLP’s ideas and the strength of its international organizing are the only adequate response to the racist crime that is Haiti today.

Send letters of strike support to Syndicat des Travailleurs de Santé, Siège Social HUEH, Rue Monseigneur Guilloux, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

NYS Unions Suck Up to Governor; Workers’ Power Can Sweep Them Out

NEW YORK — The lesson of Wisconsin state workers was that instead of accepting whatever the state government gives us, we should organize mass struggle. For that, they received overwhelming workers’ support.  Here, it’s a different story.

The CSEA (Civil Service Employees Association) union sold out NY government workers in a projected agreement with the state that attacks the living standards of 66,000 workers in the operational services unit. The Governor of NY, Andrew Cuomo, congratulated the union leadership, in a communication sent in June that reads: “The union has worked very hard to get an agreement that benefits its membership in these difficult times.”

“This is sheer hypocrisy,” was the comment from one NYS worker, who asked, “how does this benefit the workers if we are not getting a raise for two years? How is this beneficial when we’d only get a 2% raise in 2015 and 2016? They don’t see the impact of the high cost of living, the increases in rents, transportation, and gas? To make matters worse they are taking more out of our pay for health insurance — giving our money to the “poor” corporations that are already sucking our blood; how is that?”

Who Benefits From Workers’ Sacrifice?

During the third week of June several state workers were fired. One of them had a salary of $32,000 a year, but in a few days another person making twice as much, $65,000 a year, replaced him, to do exactly the same job. That’s only one example of the way state bureaucracy works.

The majority of the jobs lost, though, were in the lower-wage levels, and have not been replaced, making twice as much work for those still holding a job.  The job and wage cuts are both racist and sexist, as the workers affected are black, Latino and women.

Meanwhile, at the higher levels, bureaucracy is growing, as is the case in SUNY Downstate, where a new position as president assistant (with a bloated salary) appeared overnight. There is no talk of sacrifice at that level.

The sacrifice that Obama, Cuomo and friends are talking about is the sacrifice of workers. We’re told that the crisis is everyone’s problem. But when things get better and the bosses are making money, we don’t get pay raises or better services; there is no talk of sharing the wealth.

Make the Bosses Pay For Their Crisis

The state makes billions collecting our taxes, the big shots get the most money and those of us who do all the work get paid a small portion of any company’s budget. Meanwhile, the war eats up billions of dollars. It is a lie that there is no money; the crisis is the product of the war and the bosses’ own greed for profits.  Let the bosses bear the brunt of their crisis; we shouldn’t have to pay for it.

Union Leadership Always Helps the Bosses

The union didn’t talk to us first, because the union didn’t want to fight.  Reading the small print of the proposed contract, it is clearly stated that: “The reduction of the labor force or the closing of departments will be done by the heads of departments.” The union leadership, meanwhile, pushes the lie that there won’t be any layoffs, and that’s the reason why they were forced to sign an agreement that doesn’t include a pay raise.

There was not even a small attempt to fight back. The union leadership was in a hurry to sign an agreement, and made a call to the workers to help “solve” the crisis.  They only want us to rubber-stamp what they’ve already agreed to with the bosses. The union leadership treats us like recyclable trash to be used to keep their plush salaries rolling in. The union is just there to defend the bosses’ interests — giving in and surrendering everything that we workers fought for and achieved through years of struggles and many sacrifices.

The Reality of the Working Class

We grow poorer by the day; we are carrying the burden of a capitalist system in crisis, and we’re at the end of our rope. We’re barely surviving.  We work just to pay rent, eat and support the capitalist parasites that squeeze us as hard as they can with their taxes. We are now living in a historical period dominated by inter-imperialist rivalry. U.S. bosses have needed to spend billions of dollars in their wars to profit from and control the flow of oil that their capitalist rivals in Europe, China and throughout Asia need to keep their economies going.

The U.S. capitalists’ fight to maintain their top-dog position in gathering international profits leads to the worsening of the economic and political situation worldwide: the unemployment of millions of workers who end up in the streets, and medical services not only getting worse but becoming nonexistent for millions of workers.

As workers we have the power to sweep this mafia off the face of the earth and to build our own system, A COMMUNIST SYSTEM, as the only solution. In this new system, we won’t need money because we’d work only for the things that we need, such as housing, health care, education, food and recreation. In the past, workers in the Soviet Union and China demonstrated that this can be achieved with workers’ power even though their gains have been reversed through alliances with capitalists. PLP will not repeat that mistake and will build real communism without bosses and their profits.

Health workers, teachers, students, parents, organized in Progressive Labor Party can be an incredible force. We can understand that the conditions of workers everywhere in the world are our own conditions. The growth of our working-class consciousness will enable our forces worldwide to defeat, once and for all, the abusive, blood-sucking capitalist system.

Workers, Students Unite vs. U. of Maryland’s Racist, Sexist Abuse

COLLEGE PARK, MD July 15 — University of Maryland College Park (UMCP) workers and students are fighting serious abuses against campus workers in facilities, grounds and housekeeping services. Workers describe working there as being on a plantation.

Managers harass and demean workers, using racist and ethnic slurs against black, white and Latino workers. They sexually harass and assault many of the Latina housekeepers. The managers treat workers unequally, increase their workloads, pass them over for promotions, deny them professional development opportunities and write them up when they are sick. When workers file complaints, they get extra work or are moved to a different zone.

The Black Faculty and Student Association (BFSA) along with AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) 1072 compiled workers’  experiences into a 56-page report and met with the university president in May.  More than that, BFSA organized workers, students, alumni and community residents to rally. After two months, the president’s office only responded: “Thank you for your concern.  We are looking into it.” But the workers refused to give up.

On July 15th workers, students, and community residents attended the 4th forum to testify, offer support and organize. The power and energy were clear. Latino, black and white workers all spoke in solidarity with one another:

“You — my black, white and Latino brothers and sisters — are my family. The administration makes you invisible, but you keep this place running.

“We look out for one another. Don’t go to management.”

A PL’er emphasized that “fighting racism is the most important thing you can do to stay strong,” and reminded everyone that in the ‘60s, students and workers were able to shut down that very campus.

The evening’s translator made sure everything was clear in both English and Spanish. Male workers and students again and again expressed their outrage about the sexual abuse of their female co-workers. Three workers from American University also attended, saying that they also are experiencing much of the same on their campus.

Several speakers talked about this struggle in the context of broader anti-racist and anti-sexist fights, and some people attacked capitalism as the root cause. Everyone understood that the university is a business, driven by profits. It wants to make as much money as possible off its facilities workers who keep the buildings running, its students who have to pay rising tuition and its faculty and graduate students who bring the research grants and do the classroom labor.

Those known to have spoken out have experienced retaliation: receiving more work, being moved and having co-workers told not to speak to them. But they are not backing down, and they have strong support from a coalition of other campus employees, students and the community. The students are very serious and engaged. A student leader of a women’s organization spoke about actions they have already taken, including leafleting in one administrator’s neighborhood and letting people know their neighbor is covering up for racist and sexist managers.

Future Plans

Campus workers continue to speak out and organize in spite of retaliation. Following their leadership, students and alumni are organizing further actions, including leafleting at Obama’s Town Hall meeting on campus, information pickets outside the University and a rally at the first football home game of the year. In a show of solidarity, students will walk the halls at 5 am when housekeepers are most vulnerable, to show support and to observe any abuses.

The unity among campus workers and the strong support from students is vital in this struggle. Regardless of the University’s response, it will not eliminate the power of the University managers, President Loh, and the Board to exploit and control workers. We must unite, neither on the basis of race nor sex, but under one working class, one party.For that, Progressive Labor Party invites readers to engage in discussions about the need for communism to build a society free of racism and the oppression of women workers.J

Contact desafio.challenge@gmail.com if you’d like to discuss these ideas and get involved.

Read and see more about this struggle at http://UMDCampusJustice.wordpress.com

‘Don’t Buy Scab Food!’ California PL Mobilizes to Back Store Workers

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, July 27 — In preparation for a probable strike of the 62,000 Southern California grocery workers, approximately 300 mostly black, Latino and women grocery workers and supporters, rallied and marched this week. The two paths open to workers were on display: On the one hand, the NAACP and the workers’ union, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) push strategies of compromise and concession, proven to lead to wage-cuts and attacks on pensions. PLP, on the other hand, was there with the message that this and other strikes are training grounds, where workers learn that united, we can smash capitalism and its racist exploitation.

Due to capitalist competition, Ralph’s, Albertson’s, Von’s and other chains must continually strive to maximize their profits. The result is a race to the bottom for workers as their wages and benefits are attacked. Now, after suffering through UCFW-approved wage and pension give-backs, the workers are being asked to pick up an additional $7,000 a year in health care costs! For many of these workers this cut would be a third of their annual income. Meanwhile these three stores raked in $5 billion in profits last year!

In this period of economic crisis, expanding imperialist wars and racist unemployment a potential strike of over 60,000 workers is an opportunity for our Party to join the class-struggle, mobilize our friends on the job, campus and in our mass organizations to expose the inherent exploitation of capitalism and the bankrupt tactics of the sellout unions and build the revolutionary communist PLP.

Leading up to the march, about 30 members of a local church gathered at a nearby store where they demonstrated and then marched inside, handing out letters of support to the workers. This was after Party members pushed for a resolution  at a national convention of the Universalist Church (see page 5) to support the strike nationally, pledging to hold demonstrations and walk the picket lines. A contingent of PLP members and friends from the church joined the rally and march wearing stickers “Don’t Buy Scab Food,” which was a hit for many workers.

Several angry workers gave speeches at the rally, including one young black woman worker who boldly condemned the bosses’ attacks and called on the unity of ALL workers. However, under union “leadership” these workers can’t win. These hacks even have the gall to put on their website that they have selected grocery stores where they have weekly pickets and informational leafleting with the aim to apparently win over community support. However, on three separate occasions members and friends have gone to these locations to find no picket lines or anyone handing out information.

On the one hand, it shows the lack of seriousness by the union but on the other hand it gives us the opportunity to expose the essence of union leadership as the bosses’ lackeys. With the union missing, we can pass out our literature, mobilize our base and mass organizations and take on more leadership. We have made modest efforts thus far but can do much better. We must improve our distribution of CHALLENGE and connect the struggles from workers fighting back here to workers fighting back all over the world. This will contribute to the growth of the PLP and the eventual victory of the working class.

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