Tag Archives: Workers

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.

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Imperialists’ Battle over Honduras Kills Workers

TEGUCIGALPA, HONDURAS, August 10 — hondurasAt this writing, the struggle of the Honduran people against the military coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya is in its 43rd day. There have been uninterrupted occupations of bridges, highways and buildings, work stoppages and massive mobilizations. On August 7, marches began from the country’s interior, slated to converge in Tegucigalpa and the country’s second largest city on August 12. This massive show of force is in support of highway blockages and a scheduled general strike that could paralyze the country and bring to a head the struggle to reinstate Zelaya.

Beatings, arrests, woundings and killings have occurred. Nevertheless, this great capacity for struggle and sacrifice by the country’s oppressed masses will in no way advance their real class interests. The only possible liberation for the Honduran working class lies in an armed insurrection that fights for communism. But without a revolutionary communist party to lead them, the workers in Honduras and throughout the world will be pawns in the hands of the imperialists’ rivalry for maximum profits and world domination.

Presently, Honduras is in the eye of the storm of this rivalry for the control of Latin America. Zelaya’s mortal sin against U.S. imperialism was getting too close to Hugo Chavez and his Cuba-Bolivia-Nicaragua populist bloc. This bloc — together with the rising regional power of Brazil and its MERCOSUR bloc, plus the European, Russian and Chinese imperialists — is challenging the almost two-century-old U.S. hegemony of the continent.

Zelaya and the Honduran capitalists who back him — like the South American capitalists led by Chavez and Brazil — are striving for a bigger share of what’s produced from their workers’ exploitation by allying with the U.S. bosses’ rivals. These rivals, on their part, need to pry this region from the U.S. imperialists’ grip as each tries to enlarge their control of the world’s resources and profits.

Zelaya and his backers, just like U.S. rulers and their lackeys, claim they are “fighting for democracy.” But this is just a scheme to win workers and others to fight for their capitalists’ interests. “Democracy,” whether imposed with bayonets or legalized by elections, is the capitalists’ dictatorship over our class.

Our liberation lies in forging a communist revolution to impose our working-class dictatorship to smash all the world’s capitalists and guarantee they never rise again. From this we will build a communist society that will eliminate the wage system, money and all capitalist evils. We will produce to satisfy the needs of our class internationally, not to make a handful of parasites richer.

Honduras reveals a weakness of U.S. imperialism. Gone are the days when the U.S. can impose their will unilaterally in Latin America. Whatever the outcome of the Honduran crisis, the struggle for the control of the region will intensify.

Honduras shows that U.S. rulers can only use the military option to regain absolute control of the hemisphere. It also shows that the workers’ only option is to organize for a communist revolution. Zelaya, a capitalist whose family murdered many leftist organizers during the 1980s, will never help workers build such a movement. And any so-called working-class leader who supports him or fights for “democracy” is either knowingly or unknowingly a traitor to our class. Joining and building the internationalist Progressive Labor Party and the fight for communism are the only paths to working-class liberation.

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Rebellion, Not Non-Violence, Is Black Workers’ Real History

1967newark-rebellion1As the U.S. government celebrates black history month this February, the bosses’ media are painting Barack Obama’s presidency as the positive legacy of a pacifist civil rights movement. But the real history of the civil rights era is militant black workers rebelling, often violently, against racism.

This is the history of the international working class that the Progressive Labor Party celebrates every day in our fight to smash capitalism — the system that gave birth to racism and continues to profit from it.

The many gains of the civil rights era — the end of legal race segregation, free breakfast programs, jobs for blacks, affirmative action — were concessions won by militant, mass working-class struggle. The civil rights movement involved thousands of black workers heroically putting their lives on the line. Many, many were killed in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and throughout the South in the fight against racism. While the movement also involved whites, including some who died, the opening of freedom schools, marching against segregation, integrating lunch counters and other struggles brought the full force of the racist system down on those black workers who stood up and fought.

Obama is part of King’s legacy of misleading working-class anti-racists into the dead end of supporting the bosses’ politicians and laws. There was tremendous political struggle within the anti-racist movement in the 1960’s. At the famous 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom where King gave his “I have a dream” speech, King and other march organizers toned down a student’s speech attacking Kennedy, the Democrats, and the Civil Rights bill itself for failing to address police brutality, racist unemployment, and low wages.

This militancy wasn’t only, or even mainly, inside the organized movement. In 1965, police harassment of a black man sparked an anti-racist rebellion in Watts, California. King went to Watts and supported the armed cops and National Guard troops, while urging rebels to be peaceful. When his pacifism was rejected, King phoned President Lyndon Johnson (who had sent him to Watts) complaining about “all of these tones of violence from people out there in the Watts” (New York Times, 05/14/02). King’s last campaign to support 1,200 striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee in the spring of 1968 is supposedly his most radical. But King fled the March 28th protest when a group of demonstrators, frustrated with pacifist leadership, smashed downtown store windows.

Black Workers’ Armed Struggle

Black workers’ militant and sometimes armed struggle won the victories that are credited to King. In 1964, the Louisiana-based Deacons for Defense emerged as an armed organization to defend non-violent civil rights workers and spread to 23 communities across the south. Their actions helped win integration battles and fight off racist terror from the police, the Ku Klux Klan, and racist white mobs (“The Deacons for Defense,” Lance Hill, 2004).

Then, in June 1964, the first mass big-city rebellion erupted in New York City’s Harlem when masses of black workers and youth took to the streets to protest a police murder of a black teenager. They marched through Harlem’s streets, displaying the front page of CHALLENGE as their “flag.” PLM (Progressive Labor Movement, forerunner of PLP) was the only organization to support the rebellion — all the reformist black leaders and the “Communist Party” tried to cool the rebels and attacked PLM. The latter was barred from Harlem but defied the ban and held a mass demonstration, which sent several in PLM to jail. This rebellion laid the basis for many to follow, including in Newark, NJ in 1967.

The Detroit rebellion of 1967 — sparked by police harassment of a party for returning black Vietnam veterans and suppressed by 82nd Airborne troops diverted from Vietnam — led directly to 10,000 jobs in the auto industry for black workers.
When King was assassinated in 1968, anti-racist rebellions flared up in hundreds of U.S. cities. These rebellions led to an increase in jobs for blacks, especially in the public sector, although unemployment and underemployment remained (and remains) higher for black workers than for white.

Black Politicians Have Never Served the Working Class

The U.S. bosses want us to focus on political victories for black politicians (like Obama) but these black bosses are part of the same racist ruling class that is responsible for the reversal of the civil rights gains and the racist conditions today.

Despite decades of black, Latino, and Native American mayors, governors and lawmakers, racism thrives by every indicator — higher incarceration rates, lower wages, more unemployment, higher home foreclosure rates, less access to health care and fewer education opportunities for black, Latino and Native American workers. Over and over cops get away with racist terror — such as the murders of Oscar Grant in Oakland, California and Sean Bell in Queens, New York — while Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton urge us to be peaceful and seek victory in courts that acquit or slap cops on the wrist.

Like King, Obama can only offer empty hope and promises. His role is to win anti-racists to support the racist ruling class.
In referring to the “muslim world” as a “clenched fist” Obama uses anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism to win U.S. workers to support oil wars in Afghanistan and continued occupation in Iraq, which have killed over one million Iraqis since 2003. (Opinion Research Business, Feb 2008). Obama constantly draws inspiration from racist slave-owning founding fathers who systematically committed genocide against Native Americans to increase their profits.

Obama will not wage the battle against racism. So, just as workers in the ‘60s did not rely on a servant of the ruling class to wage their battles, we can’t rely on the current servant to wage ours.

The gains won by our class in the ‘60s have been reversed. Those good-paying auto industry jobs won by black workers in Detroit have vanished. The mass anti-racist rebellions were good, but the crumbs given our class in response have been taken back. The fight against racism must take place within the context of fighting for communist revolution, the only outcome where workers can win power and establish a world free of capitalism and its racism.

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Chavez’s Cops Attack Strikers, Kill 2 Auto Workers

CARACAS, VENEZUELA, February 3 — Chanting “Workers, united, will never be defeated,” and “Punishment for Killer Cops,” over 1,500 workers and community residents marched from the Mitsubishi plant in the city of Barcelona, state of Anzoátegui, to the governor’s house demanding justice for two workers — one from Mitsubishi and the other an auto parts worker — killed by cops on January 29. In that afternoon, a judge came to the Mitsubishi Motors plant to evict the workers who had seized it.

After a January 12 workers’ mass meeting, 863 workers voted to take it over, with only 21 opposed. The workers were demanding permanent jobs for 135 Induservis subcontracted workers, used for maintenance by Mitsubishi.

The state’s pro-Chávez governor, Tarek William Saab, obeyed the company’s demand and sent a judge with cops to evict them. The company also had its supervisory staff “rally” in front of the plant to demand the occupation be ended.

When the workers refused to leave, the cops viciously shot at them, killing two and injuring many others.

This is the second time governor Saab used cops against workers. Before becoming governor, he had made a career of being a “human rights advocate.” Workers should never trust any bourgeois politicians, even if they claim to be pro-worker.

Repression against militant workers is increasing under Chávez’s “Bolivarian Revolution.” On January 22, the National Guard arrested two workers following a protest by 250 workers fired by contractor Costa Norte near Barcelona city.

On December 30, Caracas Metropolitan Police attacked subcontracted workers protesting at the office of the country’s Vice-President, demanding to be rehired by the Sidor steel company. Over 8,000 Sidor workers are still working as subcontractors, even after the government bought a majority share from the Argentine steel company Technit, precisely using the argument that it refused to give all Sidor workers permanent status.

Also in December, two dissident union leaders were killed by hired gunmen in the state of Aragua, provoking a regional general strike on December 2. And the list goes on.

Meanwhile, a February 15 referendum is again confronting Chávez and his Bolivarian bosses, fighting the old pro-U.S. ruling class that has lost most of its political power. The balloting will decide whether Chávez can run for re-election in 2012.

Workers shouldn’t take sides in this dogfight among these capitalist factions. Most hate the old pro-U.S. bosses, remembering how 20 years ago in 1989 Social-Democrat President Carlos Andrés Pérez sent the Army and tanks to crush the mass uprising by workers and shantytown residents of Caracas, rebelling against an IMF-imposed austerity package. Over 1,000 protestors were killed.

The workers’ anger after this massacre gave rise to Chávez. But Chávez’s “Bolivarian nationalism” has revealed its limitations. When oil prices were sky-high, he gave workers some crumbs, but now that the price has tumbled and the world’s capitalist crisis has hit Venezuela like a ton of bricks, Chávez is again trying to make deals with the foreign oil companies he attacked just a year ago.

While posturing as “anti-imperialist,” he’s bargaining with Russian, Chinese, Iranian and European imperialists. He’s now hoping relations with the U.S. will improve, with Obama in power. Just last week, he even signed a trade pact with Colombia’s President Uribe, who he had labeled as a Bush lapdog in Latin America not too long ago.

Workers must shed all illusions in any so-called bourgeois “savior” like Chávez. Some militant workers are demanding the government nationalize some imperialist-owned companies, but as Sidor’s case has shown, state capitalism is no solution. The only road which will lead to workers’ liberation is to forge a revolutionary communist leadership and fight for working-class power.

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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.

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France-wide Protests Hit Bosses’ Meltdown of Wages

PARIS, October 7 — Some 100,000 workers demonstrated in 90 protests across France demanding workers not pay for world capitalism’s banking meltdown, the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. Over 13,000 trade unionists marched in Paris. Three hundred unionists from 14 European countries met for the World Day for Decent Work sponsored by the International Trade Union Confederation.

PSA Aulnay auto workers were among the loudest in the Paris march, chanting: “To get out of the crisis, it’s not the banks that need to be helped, it’s wages that have to be raised.” This reflected the fear of millions of workers worldwide who are forced to pay to save the bankers and bosses with untold billions in bailouts.

A government worker in the Paris suburb of Stains defines himself first and foremost as a worker. His monthly salary, 1380 euros ($2,000) is his household’s only income, with unpaid bills piling up. He questioned why “banks that are up to their necks in debt are getting billions,” whereas no one’s bailing out his debts. “But,” he sighed, “that’s the way it always is for us workers.”

Nearby, another worker retorted: “That’s the way it is, but that’s not the way it should be!”
To be sure, but workers must realize the nature of the crisis. The union leaders, whose goal is a few more crumbs from a “reformed capitalism,” are part of the problem. They build illusions that a “lesser-evil” ruler can make things better for workers — “Dump Sarkozy, dump Bush and things can get better.” But it doesn’t matter who rules.

It’s not just some greedy bankers in Paris, London or New York; it’s not even the anti-working class, racist policies of Bush and Sarkozy — although they surely are at fault. It is capitalism itself. The nature of the system, social production but private profits for a tiny minority, creates the basis for these periodic crises.
With each successive crisis, workers pay more and more. Workers must learn from the lessons of the past. Global economic turmoil will sharpen all the inter-imperialist contradictions.

During the 1930s, the Nazis came to power and built a war economy to “solve” the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s New Deal created government-sponsored job programs, but another recession followed in 1937. World War II’s military draft “solved” the Depression’s mass unemployment problem in the U.S.

Only the then communist-led Soviet Union was untouched by the Great Depression, in sharp contrast to Putin’s Russia today. The USSR was also the only European country on the continent that didn’t fold or surrender when the Nazis invaded, and then defeated Hitler’s war machine.

Today, there’s no Soviet Union to inspire the world’s workers, but the threat of global imperialist war is now sharper. The world’s working class has a gigantic task: break with all the agents of the ruling class, regain class consciousness and learn from the past achievements and errors of the revolutionaries who preceded us. Fight for the only real solution to this capitalist hellhole: communism. That’s PLP’s goal. Join us!

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French Rulers Put Squeeze on Workers’ Fight-Back

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

French Government Boxes in Undocumented Immigrants

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

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Red Mechanics Needed:Detroit: Totaled by U.S. Capitalism

DETROIT, MI — “There are not enough park benches in the state to accommodate all the homeless people that are being created.” That’s how one worker who faces losing her home described the sub-prime mortgage crisis that is affecting one out of every 21 homeowners here. Another said, “It doesn’t matter if you’re white or black. All working-class people are going through the same thing. We’re all just one step from being on the corner asking for food and money.”

The home foreclosure rate here is the second highest in the country, and eight times the national average. Fifty years ago, when GM, Ford and Chrysler ruled the auto world, Detroit had the highest rate of home ownership of any major city in the U.S., and the highest median income. Today, with those same auto bosses fighting for their lives, and being increasingly challenged on their home turf, Detroit is one of the poorest cities in the U.S., with a median household income of only $35,500. Gambling casinos have replaced closed factories and there is hardly a supermarket or movie theater within the city limits. This is one of the clearest examples of the racism that is built into the profit system, as about 75% of Detroiters are black.

Since 2000, the metro area has lost 126,000 jobs. Many of those affected by layoffs and the recent wave of UAW-negotiated auto contracts are also facing foreclosure. In August, foreclosure notices were served on 260 homes per day. In the fall, the Wayne County treasurer’s office published a 121-page list of foreclosures. According to the Detroit News, more than 70,000 homes in the tri-county metro Detroit area entered some phase of foreclosure between January 2006 and September 2007. In some Detroit neighborhoods, the rate was 1 in 7 homes. This represents more than 250,000 active and retired workers and their children. Another wave of foreclosures will hit in March 2008, when many more adjustable mortgages will reset to a higher rate.


On December 14, hundreds of workers lined up for the “Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicles Job Fair.” The Army was seeking more than 500 civilian welders, heavy mobile equipment mechanics, production controllers, administrative assistants, supply technicians and quality control specialists. The workers were hoping to earn between $138,000 and $212,000 for working 12-hours a day, seven days a week for 366 days in Iraq!

The deputy chief of staff for personnel at the Army’s TACOM Life Cycle Management Command said, “When an economy is down, we have more opportunities to get qualified applicants.” The young black worker, who makes $50,000 a year working two full-time security guard jobs said, “…the neighborhood I live in, it’s no different than Iraq. I’m not scared.”

This is a long way from the 1967 Detroit Rebellion, where Army brass was literally under fire, from Vietnam to Detroit, from Vietnamese and U.S. soldiers. It’s also a long way from the role played by young black Vietnam vets and auto workers who rebelled in solidarity with their Vietnamese brothers and sisters. But the collapse of the old communist movement gave the bosses a new lease on life. It opened the door to decades of massive racist attacks with little or no fight-back and very little class consciousness.


This past summer, the Detroit News examined economic conditions that sparked the Detroit Rebellion, and found:
•Detroit blacks had less buying power in 2000 than in 1967,
•In 2000, black median family income was down 6 percent from 1970, while white median income rose 18 percent,
•In 2005, blacks were 2.5 times more likely to be unemployed than whites – the same gap that existed in 1960.
Overall, there is more poverty in the U.S. now than 40 years ago and the poverty rate is about triple for black and Latin workers than for white workers. What’s more, the level of racist police terror and the rate of incarceration are far more oppressive than anyone could have imagined back then. The schools are much worse.

As with every crisis or “natural disaster,” from sub-prime mortgages to Hurricane Katrina, black workers get hit first and hardest. Racism is at the very core of capitalism, created to justify slavery and the very cord that holds the whole profit system together. And while billions are lost on Wall St., and a few heads roll, millions of workers, children and the elderly are having their lives wrecked by the bosses and bankers. Building a mass PLP and increasing the base for CHALLENGE newspaper is the only way to answer the racist horrors of capitalism.
While this sub-prime crisis is very serious for the bankers and bosses, it is important to remember that the bosses can survive any crisis, even defeat in imperialist war. The only crisis they can’t survive is communist revolution. And the future of that movement is in our hands, not theirs.

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Transportation Workers Can Be Key Force for Revolution

For several weeks last fall, French transit workers engaged in a series of strikes to defend their pensions and jobs. Other workers and students also struck. Meanwhile, the cops murdered two youths, sparking an anti-racist rebellion of African and Arab youth. It is inter-imperialist rivalry that is spawning increased racist attacks on our living standards worldwide, attacks which impel these strikes and rebellions.

French bosses are using president Sarkozy to attack industrial workers and youth, shredding the old social contract. The pro-capitalist union leaders refuse to counter these attacks. The bosses have their strategy for the future; what is ours?

The major imperialist powers are freely investing capital globally. New transportation and communications systems are creating rapid, mass migration of workers. The industrial working class is expanding, especially in India and China, where migration is mainly internal, from rural areas to the cities. In Europe and the U.S., migration is primarily from Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. In Latin America, workers migrate from poorer countries to those somewhat less poor — from Haiti to Dominican Republic, from Nicaragua and Honduras to El Salvador, from neighboring countries to Brazil and Argentina. The bosses use this mobility to force large pools of unemployed workers to compete for jobs. We can use this greater connection to build an international movement against capitalism.

Transportation systems that move people and commodities are becoming increasingly critical to capitalist profit. The transportation industries can be the Achilles heel of capitalism if we can organize breakthroughs here. This adds importance to the recent transport strikes in France, Italy, Spain and elsewhere, and the struggle in mass transit worldwide.

Our strategy is to unite the unemployed, immigrant and industrial workers in a movement for communist revolution, bringing workers to power and crushing the racist bosses. With communist leadership, transportation workers can take the lead.

French transit workers were able to draw students and other workers into the struggle, but lacked the leadership to unite with the unemployed and immigrant youth. Communist leadership is necessary to develop the anti-racist class consciousness required to advance at this time.

Among transit workers in NYC, Washington D.C., Chicago and the West Coast, we’re fighting racist attacks and cutbacks that target a mostly black work-force that serves an even larger black, Latino and immigrant population. We struggle to keep the fight against racism in the forefront of contract fights and union elections. We organized support for those left to die in New Orleans during Katrina, and more recently for the Jena 6. We have tried to pass union resolutions and collected money from co-workers.

Mainly, we’re fighting to spread CHALLENGE and PLP literature in our garages, bus barns and workplaces. We’re trying to develop personal and group discussions among co-workers, inviting them to study-action groups and PLP club meetings. Self-critically, we can do much better on this. The better we do, the better we can do. We must fight against getting buried in the daily demands of “union work.”

The transportation unions are shadows of their former selves. Strikes, like the 2005 NYC transit walkout, are seldom used and often broken. This year the rulers will spend over a billion of our dollars in a sucker’s bet on the 2008 presidential elections. Clinton, Obama and Edwards are the bosses’ shell game. Whoever we choose, we lose! No matter who’s elected president, more and deadlier imperialist wars will still rage, racist terror will be used to attack and divide us, and transportation workers will face more cutbacks and attacks. These are the laws of capitalism.

Transit workers, airline workers, railroad workers and truck drivers are the lifeline of modern industrial society. We can be a key force for communist revolution. The current inter-imperialist rivalry is leading to wars that will make Iraq look like a tea party. Slowly but surely, a new generation of black, Latino and women transportation workers will be building a mass international PLP to end the profit system once and for all.

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Opportunities to Build PLP After Navistar Union Hacks Sold Out

LOS ANGELES, December 30 — The UAW ended a seven-week strike against International Truck and Engine Corp. (ITEC), betraying the company’s 3,700 workers. ITEC, a unit of Navistar International, based in Warrenville, Illinois, imposed increases in workers’ out-of-pocket healthcare costs, as well as a new-hire package lowering wages and benefits.

When the Navistar contract expired October 1, the union refused to call a strike, even though workers were ready to go. The UAW leaders postponed the walkout until October 23, enabling the company to send the work to non-union plants in Mississippi, Texas and Mexico. This helped the company and its imperialist masters build the armored vehicles they needed to send immediately to the war in Iraq. In delaying the strike, the union leaders continued their role as junior partners of the bosses and their contempt for the workers’ conditions. Their failure to reach out to workers in the non-union plants in the U.S. and Mexico exposes their pro-boss outlook as well.

However, PLP built strike support from Chicago to Southern California. We walked the picket lines. We passed out thousands of leaflets to workers calling for support for the strikers and for unity between workers in the U.S., Mexico and Iraq, between union and non-union, citizen and immigrant, black, Latin and white. Our leaflets explained that a revolutionary party is needed to answer the bosses’ growing attacks on workers, which are part of widening imperialist war and deepening attacks on war-production workers. Workers need one international revolutionary communist party fighting to destroy the rule of profit and to establish the rule of workers.

Hundreds of workers showed their support by buying CHALLENGE and revealing the similarity of their own conditions with the Navistar workers. These discussions included some sharp struggle about racism. A few citizen workers wanted to blame immigrants for worsening conditions in the war-production plants, but PL’ers made it clear that it’s capitalism’s need to force workers to shoulder the bosses’ drive for super-profits and for war, not immigrant workers, that is to blame.

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