Tag Archives: stella d’oro

Follow Stella D’Oro Workers’ Lead Against Rulers’ Attacks:‘Make the Bosses Take the Losses’

NEW YORK CITY, September 12 — Stella D’Oro bosses told its workers this week that they will be thrown on the street and that their bakery will be closed — the brand and some machinery having been sold to Lance, a non-union company. It will make the products at a bakery in Ashland, Ohio.

Stella workers, having struck for 11 months in a fiercely militant struggle against wage-cuts, descended with their supporters on the otherwise silent Labor Day parade today. Their contingent of 350 filled a city block with banners, signs, and chants of “Keep Stella in the Bronx: Fight, Fight, Fight!” and “The Workers, United, Will Never Be Defeated.” Cleaners from Domestic Workers United and musicians from the Rude Mechanicals group made the chanters’ rhythms dance and sparkle.

The effect on workers marching past was electric. Eyes brightened, fists went up, the booming chants echoed from scores of marchers, especially the many ranks of construction workers walking behind or riding on their heavy rigs. Imagine those rigs surrounding the Stella plant, preventing any machines being moved out!

“Keep Stella in the Bronx” struck a real chord with New York workers who identify the Bronx as a working-class borough. If they didn’t know about the Stella struggle, they do now.

PLP’s Stella supporters helped build the action from within our own unions and mass organizations, and continued the flow of CHALLENGE sales and chants like, “Kick the Bosses in the Ass: Power to the Working Class;” and “Make the Bosses Take the Losses: Keep Stella Open.” PL’ers added the chant, “Whose Factory? Our Factory!” which attacks the essence of capitalism, and the internationalist chant in Spanish, “From north to south, from east to west, we’ll win the battle, whatever the cost.”

The workers are planning a September 25 march and rally from Wall Street, site of Lance’s banker, Goldman Sachs, to City Hall. PLP members are backing the workers as they absorb this heavy blow, helping them contact the Ashland workers to explain what happened here, and planning how to fight for their jobs.

The bosses’ laws protect their ownership of the means of production, enabling them to move around assets indiscriminately without any thought  about the effect on workers. None of us is safe under their rule. The Communist Manifesto described this inevitable destructive effect of capitalism back in 1848: “Everything solid melts into air.”

But workers inevitably resist being discarded like a bad batch of cookies. We’re learning from such battles that the real war is against capitalism itself, and that our international revolutionary party can create an alternative, a communist society where workers rule and share all the value we produce. But for that to happen, we must melt capitalism into the air.

These are days of hard political debate and soul-searching struggle among the Stella workers themselves. Their communist party, the PLP, is among them with practical help and unbreakable friendships, with the ideas of CHALLENGE, and with trust in the working class.

It is workers such as this dynamic international group at a small Bronx bakery who will help make PLP a mass party able to destroy the whole rotten system.

Advertisements
Tagged , , ,

Bosses’ Labor Day Can’t Displace Workers’ May Day:

Stella D’Oro Struggle, Not Labor Fakers, Is Model to Follow

NEW YORK CITY, September 1 — In a feeble response to workers’ anger at the bosses’ financial crisis, this city’s Central Labor Council (CLC) has this year labeled the hollow ritual of their patriotic Labor Day Parade a “march” for healthcare reform and union rights (meaning Obama’s healthcare bill and the Employee Free Choice Act, EFCA). The parade, led by Grand Sellout Lillian Roberts, is also “supposed” to honor the eleven-month strike of the Stella D’Oro workers, now fighting to keep their jobs as the bakery threatens to shut down and move. But following the militant lead of the Stella D’Oro bakers does not mean parading behind the CLC fakers, nor supporting the bosses’ attempt to eke out just enough medical care to keep us able to churn out their profits and fight their wars — while making us pay for it.

The Stella workers’ unity across racial and gender lines, their solid rank-and-file organization and determination to fight on, their resistance to scabs and cops (“scabs in blue”) and ability to win other workers’ support are indeed models to follow. But their union relied on a legal strategy to win the strike. They did achieve a victory in the labor
courts — but then what?

The bosses’ laws are geared to protect the capitalists’ right to do what they want with their property. So they can run away looking for lower-wage workers, or just close down and dump workers in the street. Now Stella workers are up against the essence of capitalism, the bosses’ ownership of the means of production.

PLP calls on all workers to back the Stella D’Oro bakers all the way, with all the strength of our class.

Unknown to many, the U.S. Labor Day holiday originated in Canada, but its original significance was turned on its head by U.S. bosses and their union flunkies. In Canada, workers launched it in the 1870s as part of the fight for the 9-hour day. A U.S. labor “leader” attended it in Toronto in 1882 and brought it back to the U.S. on September 5, 1882.

When the International Workingmen’s Association, led by Karl Marx, saluted the U.S. working-class’s May 1, 1886 general strike in Chicago for the 8-hour day by establishing May 1st as an international workers’ day, marches were held worldwide, including in the U.S.

Then May Day in the U.S. in1894 erupted in street battles between workers and cops, so two months later the bosses, fearing a militant workers’ movement, had the U.S. Congress establish Labor Day as a federal holiday on the first Monday in September that same year as an “answer” to May Day.

The first half of the 20th century saw militant May Days, most led by communists, drawing tens of millions around the world. In 1947, the U.S. Communist Party (CP) organized 250,000 to march in New York City. But soon the CP sold out its principles and abandoned May Day. However, in 1971, PLP picked up the banners of May Day and has organized marches every year since.

Meanwhile, the bosses’ Labor Day became a holiday completely bereft of any working-class content, mainly “saluting” the corrupt labor misleaders, servants of the bosses. Despite these fakers, and their counterparts internationally, May Day remains the true celebration of working-class solidarity and anti-racist unity, pointing towards a future of workers’ power when the bosses’ Labor Day will be tossed into the ashcan of history.

Tagged , , ,

Stella D’Oro Diary 3: Strikers Continue to Fight

Bronx, NY, June 17 —

For the wife of J.F. –

En la vida todo es ir

In life everything is going

A lo que el tiempo deshace.

towards what time is undoing.

Sabe el hombre donde nace

Where we are born we know,

Y no dónde va a morir.

not where we’re going to die.

This dialectical poem by the revolutionary Juan Antonio Corretjer1 captures the experience of Puerto Rican workers’ migration to New York, and treats life itself as an endless migration from our birthplace into unknown time. It speaks to the poignant experience of time in any migrating worker’s life. We heard that in the memorial tribute by his brother to Marcelo Lucero, the Ecuadoran immigrant worker murdered by racists in Long Island last year. And we hear it in the strike of the Stella workers, 97% of whom were born outside the U.S.. The strikers tell us that not knowing how a long strike will end is a hard thing to live through.

If you ask them what is the worst thing about their strike many speak of the dragging, endless time waiting on their corner of north Broadway for the strike to be resolved. “Ten months!  In two months it’ll be a whole year!”  “We started in summer… into the fall… winter… spring… and now it’s summer again — another summer!” They shake their heads, put their hands on your arm and ask “Are all strikes this long?  How long are other strikes?” Where is it going? Is all this time undoing their lives?  Is everything coming undone because of the boss’s heartlessness and refusal to listen to them even when they speak in the chants of a thousand supporters?

Sitting near us in the courtroom last month, while the Brynwood lawyer and the hated manager Dan Meyers droned on with their racist contempt for the workers, an older woman from Africa looked so sad we asked her what she was feeling, and she said she was thinking about her life ending this way, destroyed by these people. That’s one ending to the strike people are thinking about, that it might be the end of their working lives, the death of their common life together in the factory which, exploitation and all, was nevertheless a life where they shared good feelings as well as hard times, and had pride in their collective strength as unionized workers who had struck twice already for their demands. Will they ever go back to that time?

The Brynwood bosses, snug in their Connecticut suburbs, of course count on a strike wearing down the workers, but the strikers say grimly that Brynwood has underestimated them all along and that they will never give in. And strike time is not all unrelieved waiting. It is punctuated by a big rally that lifts their spirits; the last was twice the size of the previous one and they see they are gaining momentum. Every day other workers come with coffee and they know they are not alone. Yesterday a TWU busdriver blasted his horn going by and yelled through the window “Down with the scabs!” Those scabs walk brazenly past and they get up from the crates they’re sitting on and yell at them, competing to make up witty insults.

They see their fellow workers step up and develop as leaders growing in political knowledge and skill (one man on her shift bought one of these new women strike leaders a bullhorn of her own, as testimony to her fighting for all the workers). They know they are being talked about by radical workers in Germany and Guatemala and Spain and France and wherever CHALLENGE is read around the wide world they come from. Some come to meetings with PLP and discuss it all at length, as we make it possible for them to know one another, and speak together, in new, politically informed ways. But others sit there on their crates. A striker’s time drags and drags and drags towards its unknown end.

People are getting tired and worn down; they get sick again and again.  (It’s good that tomorrow some doctors are coming to the line to do free checkups.)  Some are thinking about bankruptcy or looking for other jobs — will another job be the end of their time at Stella? A spouse’s grave illness removes one of the most militant workers from strike activity and we don’t see him for more than two months. A woman speaks of how hard it is to answer her five-year-old grandson’s question, “Where are you going?  Is that strike still on?” The strikers don’t know the end of the process, but they know the way, their struggle is making the road by walking. All of a worker’s struggling life is going, going forward, and starting from their political “birth” place at Stella D’Oro some of these workers may die as revolutionaries. We, and they don’t know where we individually will end, but we and they do know that the working class itself will never die. J

(Endnote)

1. Corretjer left the revisionist Puerto Rican Communist party to found the Liga Socialista, which for a time in the 1960s was a fraternal party of the young PLP. You can find on the internet Roy Brown’s musical setting of this poem in decima style sung by him, the group Haciendo Punto, and the Catalán singer Joan Manuel Serrat.

Tagged ,

‘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!

Tagged , , ,

500 Marchers Back Stella D’Oro Strikers ‘NO CONTRACT, NO COOKIES!’

stella-march

BRONX, NY, January 31 — Braving freezing temperatures, 500 Stella D’Oro strikers and supporters marched down Broadway chanting, “No Contract, No Cookies!”

As CHALLENGE readers know, the 135 Stella strikers are 100% solid on the line. They’ve been out for nearly six months but are determined not to let the Brynwood bosses (who own Stella D’Oro) bust their union and take away holidays, healthcare benefits and sick days, while demanding annual wage-cuts for the next five years.

While the strike involves a limited number of workers, it is significant on two counts: (1) it not only sets an example of militant workers fighting back against the bosses’ attempts to make workers take the losses resulting from the bosses’ crisis; and (2) it involves predominantly black and Latino workers — who, because of racism, suffer disproportionately from the bosses’ attacks — giving leadership to the whole working class.

This march and rally was larger and more spirited than previous ones. Supporters came from the PSC (Professional Staff Congress-CUNY), the teachers union, District Council 37, RWDSU (supermarket employees), nurses from the NYS Nurses Association, other unions and the community. But critically important, most speeches at the closing rally were by the strikers, not politicians who had dominated earlier rallies.

PSC’s president vowed continuing support for the struggle, telling Stella strikers that, “You must win; we cannot allow you to lose.” A George Washington H.S. student took the mic and showed the crowd support letters from his fellow students and funds collected at their school.

In sharp contrast to this genuine display of solidarity from working-class youth was the shameful performance of Ed Ott, NYC Central Labor Council director. He appeared for only a few minutes at the pre-march rally. When someone in the crowd called out, “Ed, Ed, tell us how much money the Central Labor Council has given to support the struggle,” his pathetic answer was, “We haven’t been asked yet.”

PLP members have played an active role throughout the strike. At the closing rally, a PL speaker explained how the Stella workers inspired all workers and how communist revolution is necessary to eliminate the bosses and their system. During the rallies and march, 555 people bought CHALLENGES.

When some phony leftists chanted, “People’s power,” PL’ers overrode it with “Workers’ Power!” And when they said, “People, united, will never be defeated,” PL’ers responded with, “Workers, united…” In both cases, the great majority of the crowd joined PL’s most class-conscious chants. PLP opposes the slogan of “people’s power” because it means an alliance of workers with bosses and politicians.

One weakness in the strike is scabs working in the plant. It’s estimated that production in 30% of normal. With mass support at the picket line, stopping scabs becomes possible. While workers try to build a successful city-wide boycott of Stella products, the bosses’ strategy may be to take losses until August when the strikers’ benefits run out.

PL organizers are encouraging greater militancy. The Stella workers can reach out to other members of Local 50 in other bakeries and to other locals of the bakers’ international union.stella_challenge

In picket line conversations we have found that the workers are interested in discussing political questions, such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the collapse of Wall Street, and how these events will affect the working class. One worker e-mailed us a set of pictures showing the horrors resulting from the Israeli invasion and massacre in Gaza.

Many strikers are reading CHALLENGE. We plan to organize a contingent of Stella workers and their families and friends to attend this year’s

May Day dinner. Fight the bosses! Build the Party!

Tagged , , ,

Strike Diary: ‘Peaceman’ and ‘Hopeman’ — Gaza and Stella D’Oro

stella-signs

BRONX, NY, January 13 — Today, a multi-racial group of 500 Stella D’Oro strikers and supporters, including PLP’ers, marched to a Target store that’s selling scab-made cookies. In thinking about this strike, much in the world situation comes to mind: the economic meltdown, the imperialist oil wars, racist unemployment, and in particular, the Israeli invasion of Gaza and this strike — two sieges in a long class war — so this diary is dedicated to Peaceman and Hopeman, two friends on either side of the Gaza border who write a blog together: http://gaza-sderot.blogspot.com

They’re ordinary folks (Hopeman is a student who can’t get out of Gaza to attend his college), not very “political,” who maintain their friendship to have something to rebuild with when the war and siege forced on them are over. Of course that’s very political!

They’re showing how workers can build solidarity across borders, dodging Israeli bombs and Hamas rockets to find cell phone reception so they can talk, at least when Hopeman has enough electricity to charge his phone. Most of the Stella strikers who are becoming my friends are like that — they’re building a base for the future. Communism does that too.

Recently A. told a young teacher and community arts organizer (who’s planning a video documentary about the strike) that it was forced on the workers. The Israeli fascists and Hamas religious nationalists did the same thing to Palestinian and Israeli workers with their war.

But hidden behind the Israeli and Palestinian politicians who the bloggers despise are all the rival imperialists who’ve shaped the Middle East: the Ottoman emperors who ruled there until World War I; the British Mandate rulers who set up this impossible situation by guiding the founding of Israel as a European settler colony; the U.S. rulers funding Israel as their client state and military proxy; and all the others (the EU, Russia, China, Japan, Iran, India) feeling their way into a serious challenge to the declining U.S. empire.

Those same clashing imperialist elephants are trampling the grass in this bakery strike too, hard to see until some communist comes and talks it up. Three strikers are now reading the article “A Class Analysis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict” from PL’s journal “The Communist.”

Imperialist rivalry caused the economic crisis smashing into the Bronx bakers and also intensifies it. Brynwood Partners, which own Stella D’Oro, is a Wall Street speculator like those who brought us this deepening depression, a “vulture capitalist” who swoops down on struggling companies to strip and flip them for resale.

Economists call it “financialization,” turning real plants into fictitious capital and trading them like bad mortgages or baseball cards. The capitalist economic pressures that forced this strike are the same ones producing war in Gaza.

A. tells the young video artists the strike was forced on them, but there’s nothing forced about how these workers love and honor one another, just as no one is forcing or even organizing Peaceman and Hopeman to continue their blog. The strikers stick together, like Peaceman and Hopeman, so there’s something to rebuild with when the strike ends (win or lose). This solidarity grows from their working together so long, but it’s really for the future, as they pull on their long johns and layer up for picket duty on the five-month anniversary of their brave strike.

Tagged , ,

Strikers, PLP Agree: ‘MAKE THE BOSSES TAKE THE LOSSES’

fs_5640BRONX, NY, January 26 — “It may be freezing…but they will not shut us down!” declared one Stella D’Oro striker. These bold workers just passed the 5-month mark of their strike. The vicious bosses, the private equity firm Brynwood Partners, have tried “…to slash these workers wages by 25%, do away with Saturday overtime and impose a new, crushing 20% employee contribution to worker health care benefits” (NY Daily News 1/22), plus eliminate four holidays, one week of vacation and all 12 paid sick days!

The strikers talk constantly about their hatred for the new owners, who broke up their lives trying to destroy the union and resell the plant as a low-wage, non-union operation. “We’re there to work hard, we didn’t want to be out here in the cold; they pushed us out the doors.”

Although these scumbag bosses have tried to bring the strikers to their knees, while replacing them with scabs (supposedly limited to two months), not one worker has crossed the picket line. “I agree that the best way to get them [the Brynwood bosses] where it hurts is by taking our labor power away from them,” one worker told a PLP teacher.

Class struggle is a harsh, punishing master of workers’ lives. It crashes into our lives in the form of wars and lockouts, layoffs and medical bills. And, in this case, racism, as the overwhelming majority of the strikers are black and Latino, super-oppressed by these bosses to rake in super-profits.

The strikers have no more health insurance. COBRA costs $1,200/month for family coverage. Applying for it doesn’t guarantee being accepted. Not having health insurance is a worry generally, but especially when you’re on picket duty in 21º weather.

“No contract, no cookies!” remains the slogan of 136 striking workers. “The support from people in the neighborhood has kept us going,” explained another striker as he took another stack of 40 CHALLENGES and placed them next to the coffee and donuts.

Within minutes most workers picked them up and began reading. “I like this paper!” exclaimed one striker. She said, “It really talks about fighting back!” She then asked if PL would help them build for their march and rally at Target here on January 31. They thanked us again for raising $5,000 dollars for their local. We said we’d try to announce the march at the next teachers union Delegate Assembly and ask for more money to support their strike. In addition to bringing the usual coffee and donuts, we also donated a bunch of hand- and foot-warmers.

“A” is one of the most active strikers, a modest guy who’s also a natural workers’ leader, leading by example. When we first met him last October, he was distributing flyers on the picket line and did so whenever the union brought some. They stopped coming a long time ago and few got printed anyway — no resources. The International gives nothing beyond strike pay. They had the gall to offer the Local a loan at interest rates higher than a bank’s!

When discussing the risk of getting sick on these four-hour mid-winter shifts, “A” told us he’d gone to a clinic run by the Espada family of Bronx politicians, seeking the free care that Espada, Sr. had promised the strikers at a rally. At the clinic Espada, Jr. became very hostile: “How do I know my father told you that? Do you have it in writing? Where’s the paper? Why has no one else come in?” So there was no free care, only insults. “A” turned his back on Espada and left.

He says “bad people” provoked the strike, people so greedy they’re crazed, almost inhuman: “Why do they want more, more, more when they’re already rich? Why do they want to ruin our lives for a few more dollars? Why are they like that?”

When the cops made the strikers tear down their well-made protective tarp and dump their chairs; when they refused a permit for a warming van; when Brynwood owner Hank Hartung lied and had a striker arrested and jailed for five days on a charge that has little chance of sticking in court — why are they like that? Is this just how people are? No, it’s capitalism as a system.

When talking to “A” about it, it feels good to be a communist, with a Party that’s studied these things and a tradition going back 160 years. Maybe “A” will join PLP in the future, take communist ideas and run with them and bring his leadership ability into the Party and the class war way beyond one strike and one company and one bosses’ nation.

Maybe along the road to revolution these strikers will join hands with workers in Israel and Gaza, and “the workers of the world will rise again.” Then the mystery of why bosses and cops and politicians and International union officials are like that will become clear to them all.
Many of the strikers openly support the slogan, “Make the bosses take the losses!”

Tagged ,

PL’er Spurs Union Backing of Stella D’Oro Strikers

The Local 1199 SEIU Healthcare Workers East Delegates’ Assembly unanimously passed a resolution to support the Stella D’Oro bakery strikers, as part of the PLP initiative to build working-class unity and support for striking workers. The Delegates’ Assembly agreed to send a contribution to the bakers’ local and encourage workers to visit their picket lines at the Bronx bakery.

After hearing that the bakery was employing scabs to break the strike, demanding huge wage-cuts, and is victimizing a group of largely Latino women and minority workers, several workers got up to second the resolution. The SEIU leadership had spent the previous hour and a half extolling the virtues of the Obama electoral campaign.

The PLP delegate introducing the Stella D’Oro resolution had been in Pennsylvania with the Obama campaign working to build ties with co-workers and other union delegates and to expose the dead-end of building capitalism to fight racism. He prefaced the resolution by stating that what struck him most during his time with the Obama campaign was when he saw a white working-class family in Chester, PA pulling up in a station wagon to a black family’s home to spend the day together. He remarked that “Change comes from the workers, not from the top.”

This resolution is only a first step. Building the close ties with co-workers and other union members is essential to advancing the basic truth that the only solution is communist revolution. We are in the process of building our CHALLENGE networks and having our readers become distributors of PLP’s ideas.

Tagged , ,

PL’ers Foil Mis-Leaders, Win UFT Backing for Stella D’Oro Strikers

NEW YORK CITY, October 15 — Four Stella D’Oro strikers brought by PLP members to the teachers union Delegate Assembly (DA) here won a rousing standing ovation from the approximately 1,000 delegates as well as a solidarity endorsement and a “sizeable contribution” to their strike fund. The PLP’ers’ effort overcame the union leadership’s attempt to stop the strikers from speaking, worried that the workers’ militant actions would expose the misleaders’ pacifist response to the growing economic crisis and $700 billion bailout to the banks. The latter was the reason for the emergency meeting.

The UFT (United Federation of Teachers) leadership showed more allegiance to the interests of the bosses than to the workers they allegedly represent.

In the debate on the resolutions, the leadership’s position on escalating cutbacks and mass racist unemployment was to react with our “head and not our hearts.” This in a school system with 85% black, Latino and Asian students whose budget has been cut by $500 million and that sets them up for either poverty-wage jobs or as cannon fodder in the U.S. bosses’ imperialist wars. Although members and friends of PLP could not defeat resolutions supporting pacifism and the bosses’ elections, we did mobilize a different message.

Along with bringing the four strikers, over 200 copies of CHALLENGE were distributed as well as hundreds of leaflets entitled, “Support the Boeing, Morelos and Stella D’Oro strikers; Bosses’ Bailout only Bails Out Bosses: Workers’ Revolution Will THROW Them Out!” The well-received leaflet contained a resolution calling on the UFT to endorse all three strikes and provide financial aid for the Stella D’Oro strikers.

One PLP delegate was expecting to get the floor to present our resolution. But in attempting to divert the strikers from speaking, the misleadership claimed we were “acting hastily” and should follow protocol and wait for the workers’ local President to receive a “proper endorsement.”

One PLP delegate declared there’s no “protocol” when it comes to a strike. “These workers have been on strike since August 13, just saw the cops remove their picket-line tarp and chairs and traveled all the way from the Bronx to get our support and all you have to talk about is protocol. Put them on stage and let them speak!” Knowing our history of boldly raising revolutionary politics at the DA, the union hacks quickly backtracked, saying they’d allow the strikers to speak.

To guarantee this, another PLP delegate escorted the four strikers on stage amid a roaring, standing ovation. UFT President Randi Weingarten sanctioned a unanimous resolution containing a general endorsement of the strike and a “sizeable contribution” to their strike fund. It encouraged members to attend the October 18th strike rally.

The strikers were congratulated with dozens of handshakes and words of encouragement. PLP members emphasized that they represent a working-class response to this economic crisis, which is why the leadership tried to ignore our resolution.

They did succeed in watering down our original motion. In supporting the Stella D’Oro strikers, Weingarten’s resolution omitted the other two much larger strikes and still hasn’t mentioned either of them — no accident.

We will return to the November DA with an even stronger push. Several delegates are reporting these struggles to their local schools. A few have published reports calling for support for all three strikes and openly criticizing the UFT’s pacifist misleadership during this vicious period of giveaways to the bosses and cutbacks for the working class.

Tagged ,

Anti-Racist Unity Key to Stella D’Oro Strike

City Univ. Staff Backs Bakery Workers

BRONX, NY — Chants of “No Contract, No Cookies!’ and “Stella, Stella, Stella, we are Stella!” rang out from 135 members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTWGM) Local 50. These workers have been on strike since August 13 in reaction to the drastic, concessionary demands of their bosses. Brynwood Partners, the new owners of Stella D’Oro, are demanding the elimination of holidays, vacation and sick pay, requiring large healthcare premiums and calling for wage reductions in each year of the new contract.

Members of the Professional Staff Congress-CUNY (PSC) in the Bronx were well received when we joined the picket lines and offered our support. The president of BCTWGM Local 50 addressed a packed chapter meeting of PSC members. She reported that the strikers were 100% solid on the line and that they were committed to continue the fight, despite scabs in the plant and threatening letters from management. We passed the hat and made plans to support the bakers.

A week later, the citywide Delegate Assembly of PSC discussed and passed a resolution in support of the bakers. A delegate pointed out that while the Stella strike was different than the Boeing strike where tens of thousands were out, the struggles contained similar elements. One of the issues at Boeing is the loss of jobs due to the contracting out of work to non-union shops where mostly immigrant workers are paid a fraction of the pay unionized workers receive. At Stella, the Brynwood managers sent letters to workers telling them to quit their union and return to work at poverty wages. In both cases the owners are trying to drastically decrease wages.

While most PSC activists are sympathetic to the Stella strikers, there is disagreement as to how much of an effort our union can and should make to support the strike. Many feel overwhelmed by the financial crisis and upcoming budget cuts and feel that we should focus on our own problems.

PLP has always said that when workers fight their bosses we must support them vigorously, no matter how big or small the struggle. Helping these workers is not simply “charity.” The bosses use racism to prevent other workers from joining these mostly black and Latin workers in their fight, allowing for their super-exploitation. We must fight this by creating multi-racial unity in this and every fight against the bosses.

Only by uniting with other members of the working class can we build the fight for workers to fight back to end exploitation and the capitalist system. Workers and students from around the New York area should join the Stella workers on the line. Bring your friends and signs of support. Donate money and canned goods. Let us build solidarity and fight to win! J

Strikers Defy Cops, Stand Fast

BRONX, NY, October 9 –– Bronx, NY, October 9 –– “This is a great article,” said a Stella D’Oro striker (Local 50, Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union) as he and others read the CHALLENGE article supporting their strike.

“Scabs. That’s who they have working in there. There is only one supervisor in there now who knows anything about the job. All the workers who know how to make cookies, including the guy who runs the computer, are out here with us,” another striker told PLP members and friends when we joined them on the picket line today. The scabs not only don’t know how to make cookies, but more importantly, they don’t realize that they are helping their own enemies. They simply see this as a chance to earn a few dollars. They don’t understand that the Stella D’Oro strike can give all workers an example of how we can unite to fight back against our bosses.

One striker explained, “they [Stella D’Oro and other bosses] just want to bust the unions and stop people from fighting back. The cops have harassed us off and on. At times they have tried to shut down our picket line.” They removed the shelter used to protect the strikers from the weather and ordered the removal of all chairs from their strike site.

“But we are still here,” added another. Counting on fear, the bosses had expected strikers to run scared, give up and accept their fascist contract which cuts sick days, vacation days and wages (see October 15 CHALLENGE for more details). Instead, after nearly two months the strikers are still united, angry and determined to keep fighting.

PLP’ers asked some strikers to come to the October 15 UFT (United Federation of Teachers) Delegate Assembly where we will try to raise strike support. We also invited strikers to speak at the October 18 PLP forum on the elections.

All workers have a lot to learn from the Stella D’Oro strikers, including how they are sticking together, black, white, Latino, Asian, native-born and immigrant to fight back. This anti-racist unity terrifies the bosses who depend on racism to divide workers. All of us must carry this fight to the point of uniting the entire working class to get rid of all the bosses and their capitalist system and build a system run by the working class for the working class.

Tagged ,
%d bloggers like this: