Tag Archives: Chicago

Chicago Teachers Authorize a Strike

The international assault on education is finding resistance in Chicago. The teachers union there has decided to authorize a strike in Obama’s base town. Over 90% of the teachers have voted to strike.  The attack on workers within the guide of education “reform” is deforming the already pathetically low level of education the working class’ children get.  The US Ruling Class has to walk the contradiction of educating the working class while simultaneously disinforming them with capitalist ideology.  The last thing the Ruling Class of any nation state wants is dialectically thinking, critically engaging, working class capable of unmasking their ideology, propaganda, and outright lies.

From Quebec, to Oaxaca, to Greece, Spain, and the US, capitalism is attacking education and putting in tests and busting unions as their answer.  In the recent CFR report “US education Reform and National Security”, written by Joel Klein and Condoleezza Rice et al, the US bemoans the fact that they are falling behind their imperialist competitors.   The authors advance a strategy of testing and “choice”.  In other words, charter schools and busting of unionized workers in order to grind down teaching from a life-time profession where long term relationships can be developed and fostered into a 3 – 5 year and out program.

Capitalism can only ever reform by culling the best into elite schools or programs.  Discrimination is progress under capitalism.  They need a few to succeed and the rest to be fodder for either the factories or the military.  They need to produce tests to ensure that their ideology is taught in the classroom, as they know that Communists are their mortal enemy.

This is going to be a long summer of protest, and hopefully, uprisings against capitalism.  The state will retaliate and more workers will be angered at what’s going on.  The teachers striking in Chicago are already uniting with parents and students.  This is a valuable opportunity to develop and build the PLP there.

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Humanitarian Imperialism in Uganda

The US is taking virtually the same paternalistic posture towards Africa that Victorian Britain did. Imperialist Britain was so racist that they considered their mass murdering attacks that colonized the  African and Indian peoples to be a civilizing force.  The US, like Victorian Britain before it, doesn’t care about bringing democracy or values, it only cares about padding its pockets and selling the war to its working class.  The savage truth is that wherever there is a direct clash between US and Russian/Chinese imperialist interests, a “humanitarian crisis” occurs there. Yet, capitalism itself is a humanitarian crisis. How many workers in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are killed by US drones and cluster bombs? Or directly by US soldiers having a bad day?  Who has killed more children, a Ugandan strong man or Obama?

Though once of great concern to governments in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa, primarily Uganda, the LRA exists today as a low-level insurgency. The LRA is estimated to have only 200-300 fighters, and the group sustains itself by recruiting child soldiers during unsophisticated raids with machetes on villages in northwestern Uganda and the nearby corners of South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

The Joseph Kony campaign media blitz that was all over Facebook has already drummed up the popular support needed by US imperialism to invade a nation that has “Newly discovered oil reserves around Uganda’s Lake Albert”.  Yup, billions of barrels of oil that is just now starting to be tapped.  You could already see the dollar signs flashing on the little black and green hearts of the world’s capitalists.

“Stratfor believed that the United States had exaggerated the threat posed by the LRA.” Why would the Kony 2012 video go so viral so quickly? If the united states didn’t need a humanitarian cover to gloss over their insatiable lust for oil and resources.  Obama, willing servant of US capitalists, and bosses are no strangers to using Ugandan workers in their imperialist wars. As they used Ugandans in their wars of conquest at only a fraction of the cost that they paid to US soldiers to do the same potentially lethal jobs.

Though Kony is a terrible human being who deserves to die at the hands of the working class he exploits, how is he any worse than the US’ personal thug Haitian President Martelly who attacked his own college students in their university, smashed whatever he couldn’t steal, and basically destroyed their ability to get an education as he instilled the kind of fascist terror that the racist US bosses call business as usual in Haiti. 

The US fascist attack on workers closes hospitals, creates homeless workers, cuts to Medicaid, attacks special need children, yet they have the absolute hypocrisy to point the finger at small time dictators like Assad and patsies like Joseph Kony!  Yes, they are terrible bad people, but the only reason that they are targets by the US is because they’re somebody else’s terrible bad people.  Super thug Rahm Emanual is basically assaulting students’ educations in Chicago, US capitalists are plotting how to close more hospitals and limit health care (see the letters section in the 3/14/2012 Challenge), European capitalists are destroying whole lives in Europe, and yet we’re supposed to only concentrate on one particular bad guy?  The whole system of capitalism has to go, root and branch.

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CHICAGO BOSSES’ AIM: RUN TRANSIT ON SLAVE LABOR

September 29 — Union bus drivers are discovering the hard way what was buried away in the contract arbitration “award” forced on us last year. After a fear campaign of “doomsday scenarios” and sending the contract to arbitration to avoid a rank-and-file vote, our paychecks are shrinking and our jobs are less secure. All this is happening as more workers ride buses and before the current economic crisis.

The contract and the state legislators are funding a new Health Care Trust fund that most drivers will never use, by collecting 3% of every paycheck. In addition, they increased pension funding to 6%, more than wiping out the measly 3% wage “increase” we were “awarded.” So far this has cost every worker about $2,000.

Even more dangerous, full-time senior drivers lost our 8-hour guarantee, and about 50 part-timers are being hired every month. Right now about 950 part-timers comprise almost 25% of the 4,000 drivers. They pay the same union dues as full-timers and get little more than the right to file a useless grievance. Part-timers cannot afford to feed their families on what used to be a job many young black workers sought. It’s so bad that union Local 241’s sellouts tried to get part-timers to support a 6-day schedule rather than split shifts, so they would have more time each day to work a second job to support their families!

Then there is the “Second Chance” program: workers on probation or sentenced to community service are cleaning buses and garages. Mayor Daley and the bankers want to run mass transit on poverty wages and prison labor. All this in a city and state run by the Democratic Party machine that created Barak Obama.

But workers are fighting back. Transit Workers United, a rank-and-file group of full- and part-timers, is circulating a petition demanding the union fight to make everyone full-time, and force the city to fill almost 200 vacant full-time slots. More than 200 part-timers attended the September union meeting.

This is good as far as it goes, but transit workers need to understand that this is not just our problem. We’re being assaulted by the same racist profit system that closed half the Cook County health clinics for uninsured workers in 2007, eliminating 2,000 jobs, and is eliminating the second shift at the Chicago Ford Assembly Plant this November.

These racist attacks hit black and Latino workers first and hardest. There are more than 20 million unemployed in the U.S., nearly a million in Illinois. The unemployment rate for black workers is twice the national average, and for black youth, ages 18-25, four times higher. With the unfolding Wall Street calamity, foreclosures on the South Side of Chicago have tripled; Detroit is the nation’s highest.

No matter who wins the White House, the racist rulers will continue their assault on the workers because they need trillions more to expand their oil wars and rescue Wall Street. As the rulers face increasing challenges to their empire from other imperialists, the threat of world war grows. A struggle against racist unemployment that unites transit, Cook County and Ford workers with immigrant workers and unemployed youth can be fertile grounds for expanding the revolutionary communist PLP and creating a more mass distribution of CHALLENGE. Fighting racist unemployment and for jobs, guided by communist politics, can open the door to revolution!

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Red Transit Workers Mean‘Doomsday’ For the Bosses

CHICAGO, IL, December 27 –– For the third time in five months, transit workers and riders are facing a “Doomsday”(see CHALLENGE, 11/14/07) deadline. The bosses are threatening to slash thousands of jobs, dozens of bus routes and other service cutbacks if a new 5-year concession contract and state funding are not in place by January 20. These are especially racist cutbacks as they target a mostly black work force that serves an even larger black and Latin population.

Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) boss Huberman admits that mass transit creates $2 billion in value added wealth to the local economy by bringing millions of riders to work, shopping and events. But that $2 billion goes into the vaults of the biggest bosses and bankers. We create the wealth and they keep it. That is the secret to capitalism. The attacks on transit workers, the riding public and para-transit users are taking place as the economy slides into a recession and federal funding is cut to pay for the $12 billion-a-month wars in Iraq and Afghanistan!

City and state politicians are fighting over how to fund mass transit. Mayor Daley, the CTA and the ATU locals want the matter settled with a 5-year concession contract that creates a permanent two-tier system, a fare hike to $3.00 and service cuts. The CTA and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) sent the contract to arbitration to keep it from being voted on by transit workers. The contract will go into effect as soon as the state politicians vote on funding, but they are fighting to tie funding to casino gambling. As with the Cook County health care cuts a year ago that closed half of the public health clinics, closed wards and slashed hundreds of jobs, the city and state politicians are Democrats, black and white, elected with union money.

Daley and the CTA had the union leaders (ATU locals 308 – rail, and 241 – bus), call for a one-day “job action” on December 17. They wanted us to demand funding that would saddle us with the 5-year concession contract, force new hires to work 15 years longer before they can retire, and use our “raises” to fund the shaky pension plan.

Most transit workers smelled a rat and wanted no part of it. Others were frustrated and wanted to take some action, like the three-day strike of 500 para-transit drivers in November and the one-day strike of PACE drivers in early December.

Had this been the start of a real strike to stop fare hikes and service cuts, and win a decent contract, the media and the bosses would have threatened us with jail and fines. But we didn’t hear a thing from them because they were behind it. Some workers notified the ATU International leadership and they threatened to put the ATU locals into trusteeship. The action was called off.

During this period, a group of transit workers took matters into their own hands, distributing a flier in several garages exposing the Daley-CTA-ATU charade. They called on workers to unite with riders to fight racist cutbacks. They got a very good response. As this struggle unfolds we have an opportunity to introduce more workers and transit activists to CHALLENGE newspaper and PLP. Communist revolution will be “doomsday” for the racist rulers, as we build a society that serves the needs of the international working class, not the bankers and casino operators.

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Auto Workers Strike Navistar War-Truck Production

CHICAGO, IL, Nov. 25 — Since Oct. 23, about 4,000 workers, members of the United Auto Workers (UAW), have been striking over unfair labor practices against Navistar. Over 500 of those workers, in UAW Locals 6 and 2293, work just outside Chicago building the MaxxPro engines for the blast-resistant trucks used by the U.S. military in Iraq. The MaxxPro chassis is built in Garland, Texas, and the trucks are assembled in West Point, Mississippi. Both plants are non-union.

Navistar is using scabs at the Melrose Park engine plant here, with a wink and a nod from the UAW leadership that boasts, “Our commitment has always been to both the membership and the company because we, the UAW, know we need each other to be successful, but I am not sure the company agrees.” No solidarity rallies have been organized or attempts made to stop the scabs. In fact, the company was able to increase output and meet its October production targets despite the strike, delivering 140 MaxxPro blast-resistant trucks for the Pentagon’s mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle program. Navistar has orders for almost 3,000 MaxxPros, more than any other supplier, and plans to build 500 a month by February.
Navistar, encouraged by the massive concessions just granted to GM, Ford, Chrysler and Delphi, is taking a hard line with the workers and the union leaders. As with the other recent contracts, the union is asking for some “guarantee” of work over the life of the new contract, but Navistar is forming a joint venture with a major auto producer in India and is unwilling to grant guarantees.

PLP will be organizing support for, and attempting to build some ties with, Navistar workers on strike against this war profiteer. One good way to solidify ties would be uniting to physically stop scabs from entering the plant.

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