We received the following leaflet from a group of Oakland educators called Classroom Struggle. The leaflet outlines some information on a recent round of austerity in the Oakland Unified School District of 7.6million dollars. Prominent among this round of cuts is the entire Adult Education program (which has been severely gutted in the past 3 years, going from $14million to $1million since 2010) and the entire GED program that OUSD offers. There is a school board meeting this Wednesday where parents, adult ed teachers, classroom teachers in the OEA, and students will come to speak out against this round of cuts, as well as the entire austerity regime which the OUSD school board and Superintendent Tony Smith have been pushing for years. Just last year, 5 elementary schools were set to be shut down. On November 19th 2011, at the height of Occupy Oakland, a mass march of thousands helped politicize the issue of school closures, and was followed months later in June 2012 by an occupation of Lakeview elementary school. Though the schools were eventually closed, the movement against austerity took a step further in politicizing people’s understanding of the cutbacks, and denouncing the role of Tony Smith, a superintendent often touted as being down with the people due to his name dropping of critical race theorists and other social justice related themes. The struggle that may unfold against this round of austerity has this recent history as its jumping off point, but it will take ongoing organizing of parents, teachers, students, and other school workers at the workplace and community level to really push back on what OUSD is attempting to push down on working class communities of color in Oakland. This flyer is one artifact of the unfolding organizing happening in real time that is offerred for your analysis and distribution.
Tag Archives: california
On Thursday, February 21st, City College of San Francisco students, faculty, and community folks began a day of action against the privatization of their school at the main Ocean campus by rallying, holding signs, and listening to speakers. This comes after weeks of organizing and outreach work by the SaveCCSF coalition which sprung up to rally students against this major attack. After the rally, folks marched into the Chancellor’s building to meet with the Chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman and present their demands, just as she promised. To no one’s surprise, she was nowhere to be found. In addition to this, Board of Trustees representatives and lackeys waited at the stairs next to police officers to prevent students from climbing upstairs to confront the institution’s ruling class. This is because William Walker, the Board of Trustees Student Representative, snitched to the police about the plans to occupy the building, even after the student coalition allowed him in their meeting a few days before and called for the plans to remain confidential. Walker remained at the occupation throughout the night, sitting with the other admin henchmen and pigs, acting like he’s on our side during the occupationists’ discussions by promising our voices would be heard during Board meetings if we emailed him.
Regardless, a core of about 20 students ended up gathering blankets, sleeping bags, and food to remain in the building throughout the night and into the morning. Different media outlets showed up to interview occupiers and police officers. Supporters arrived with pins, food, and other support materials. Several times, occupiers made a circle to discuss their feelings about the actions, talk about why they loved CCSF and joined the struggle, and share anecdotes about their history in this institution. In the intervals, music played, students danced and sang, and debated political approaches to the developing struggle.
The next major event is scheduled for a rally at the SF City Hall on March 14th where SaveCCSF will present its demands to politicians. The forces resisting austerity against CCSF remain very small and much work needs to be done to build that support by winning over students, faculty, campus workers, and community members. In the weeks prior to rally at City Hall, teach-ins and other forms of outreach are scheduled in order to counter the ideological war the San Francisco Chronicle and the local bourgeoisie wage against the movement, claiming that something is fundamentally wrong with CCSF that requires an accreditation commission to “fix it” by gutting its programs, department, teacher and campus worker pensions and positions, and busting its unions.
The issue for revolutionaries , however, is not simply how we numerically increase an anti-austerity movement, as important as that is. We need to develop a politic that seeks to expose the reactionaries allied with the privatizers, administrators, and ruling class servants and align school workers, students, and supporters with a militant, uncompromising line when it comes to defending CCSF. Our analysis needs to identify the structural and historical causes of this capitalist attack, and why only unified student and worker (including teacher!) unity can win against these attacks and make gains that increase the scope and resources for CCSF, in addition to implementing measures for them to increase their democratic control over the running of the school.
We published Occupy, ILWU EGT and the Coming Class Battles to point out the limits of a militant alliance between Occupy and ILWU rank-and-file. As the former came into being as a radical force with its own wild contradictions, and the militancy of the latter carried a tradition of struggle from 1934 to the present, there still needs to be a framework for port class struggle.
Occupy, ILWU EGT and the Coming Class Battles offers a critique of 1) social movement unionism, 2) surplus population insurgency, and proposes to form class-wide committees, which we also call multi-sector committees. A rank-and-file newsletter that contains articles written by port workers is a first step towards bridging the craft divides in the port. It breaks jurisdictional logic ingrained by existing unionism, orienting towards the whole space of the port. The idea is to lay the basis for a multi-sector unity that offers serious leverage against the employers and a potential model for workers in struggle throughout the US.
This newsletter is a product of combined work between different tendencies of revolutionaries, the Occupy Oakland Labor Solidarity Committee, and workers from different parts of the port.
Enjoy, and bring it down to the docks in your city!
De costa a costa, los trabajadores inmigrantes latinos luchan contra la explotación demandando dignidad
(English version here.)
Ellos nos espiaban e intimidado nosotros, todo porque estamos luchando por la dignidad.
La administración Obama publico estadísticas en enero de 2011, diciendo que hay 11,5 millones de inmigrantes indocumentados en los EE.UU. 59% de este grupo son mexicanos, que es de 6,8 millones de personas. Inmigrantes salvadoreños se encuentran en una posición distante de segundo lugar, con 660.000 indocumentados que residen en este país. En California, hay 2,83 millones de inmigrantes indocumentados, en Texas, casi hay 1,8 millones, 740.000 hay en Florida, y Georgia hay 440.000, doble el populación desde 2000. Dentro de la economía capitalista, algunos trabajadores se encuentran en un posición de trabajo que no es esencial para la formación del valor económico. Otros trabajadores se encuentran en los lugares de trabajo que son fundamentales para la producción de valor económico. Otros trabajadores están en trabajas que son centrales al valor de la producción. si los trabajadores en una librería independiente salen en huelga, amenazan al capitalista. si nos fijamos en la industria de la constuccion sin sindicatos, vinculados con el capital financiero, y dependiente en el trabajo indocumentada. Continue reading
(La versión en español está aquí.)
They spied on us and bullied us, all because we are fighting for dignity.
The Obama administration issues statistics that in January 2011, there was 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in the US. 59 percent of this group is Mexican, which is 6.8 million people. El Salvadoran immigrants are in a distant second position, with 660,000 undocumented residing in this country.In California, there are 2.83 million undocumented immigrants, in Texas, almost 1.8 million, in Florida 740,000, and Georgia 440,000 (doubling in numbers since 2000). Within the capitalist economy, some workers are located in position of work that is not central to the formation of value. Other workers are in workplaces that are central to value production. If workers at an independent bookstore would to go on strike, it would exactly threaten the capitalist. If we look at the non-union housing construction industry, it’s both linked with finance capital as well as dependent on undocumented cheap dispensable labor. A strike in this industry would have serious meaning. The independent truckers at the ports are majority immigrant drivers, mostly with some type of permission to work. US capitalism has adapted itself to immigrant labor because it is cheap and disposable. This labor dependency is linked with industries that are central to important components of capitalist production. In order for American capitalism to squeeze all the unpaid labor it can from the immigrant working class, it must vilify, criminalize, oppress, and control the work process. Xenophobic laws (anti-immigrant laws), racism, nationalism all feed into this process.
This is the text of some literature that AS militants made from interviews with a bus driver in the San Francisco public transit system, MUNI. We’re posting both as an example of the method we use for investigating conditions and turning the results into agitation, and to ask for thoughts from our comrades on the information/intervention here.
Inter v iew w ith a M U N I o p e r a tor : W o r k e r s ’ H e a lth A n d
This interview from a brother who’s worked as a MUNI operator for more than ten years is one powerful and particular expression of how bosses exploit workers for profit, leaving us physically and psychologically maimed. It reveals how at the same time that passengers have seen fares double in recent years and the elimination of bus lines, the men and women behind the wheel are also feeling the effects of austerity. This operator’s experience reflects the daily lives of millions of other workers around the world who also face cuts to social services, racist police brutality, attacks on basic political freedoms under the scapegoat of “terrorism,” and an overall capitalist assault on the minds and bodies of working people. Nevertheless, where there is oppression, there is also resistance. We must take pride in and study the current militant struggles Palestinian and Egyptian transport workers wage with other workers in their countries to topple hated
pro-imperialist regimes and achieve genuine independence and liberation. In the Middle East and in San Francisco, the common relationship working-class people of all religions and nationalities share in the act of riding public transportation provides a needed space and platform to organize around our common class interests. One issue that stands out is what seems to be a vicious cycle between a speedup of the pace of work, a lack of break time, excessive disciplining of workers that take sick days, expensive medical coverage, and obstacles to getting medical clearance. What issues do you see? What issues affect you as a MUNI passenger, or as a worker in San Francisco, that might be resolved through a united struggle of workers from many different workplaces that face common problems? Send us an email and let us know.
Question: We heard from some MUNI operators that management has cut down the number of sick days to only 3 days per year, with operators facing discipline including suspension if they take more than 3 days in a 12 month period. What is going on here?
Answer: “That’s not really accurate – here management has not adhered to their own sick day Chapter
12W. They had an article in the examiner about it last week. San Francisco is one of the cities that allows for employees to take sick leave and be paid. All employees have that right. Here we can accumulate the hours and we are supposed to be able to take them without penalty. This ordinance is on the books but the city itself isn’t adhering to it. Operators are increasing harassed and threatened for using their accumulated sick time. There is no rule that covers anything other than what 12W covers which is for paid sick time. Sick leave is the only way to get time off. When they make threats against operators for using their sick time, well there is no other way for operators to rest their body to recover from fatigue, except for using the available sick hours… There are also laws and rules that say we are not supposed to drive if we are sick…. The other thing is Absence rule 420, which requires that you bring a doctor’s note. Neither one of those spell-out any type of discipline….There is no pie in the sky to look forward to. Every other transit system, AC, SAMTRANS, GG transit, has miss out days where operators can call in for a day to rest and recuperate. MUNI doesn’t have that. There is no way for operators to get time off to rest and recuperate. There is no relief in sight for an operator with extra stressed going on in his life.”
The sight of young children digging into a planter box full of soil and sprouts is nothing new – an activity that happens at any given summer school for elementary school aged kids. The difference with this picture is that the gardening activity is taking place at a school site, Lakeview elementary, that’s been taken over by parents, teachers, community members and radicals. On the last day of school, June 15th, this motley mix of people held a bbq that marked the end of the Oakland Unified School District’s 2011-2012 school year and marked the beginning of the transformation of the Lakeview elementary campus into the People’s School for Public Education. This initiative is led by a committee of activists, parents, and teachers that formed out of the struggle against school closures in the fall of 2011; this struggle was itself intimately bound up within the context of a general strike called for by Occupy Oakland one day after 5 elementary schools were announced to be closed by the OUSD. The purpose here is to document and explore some of the context behind this current struggle, the complexities and contradictions involved in its organizing, and thoughts on moving forward.
20 years ago today, there was a nation-wide rebellion against the police and private ownership of property. The incident that sparked this rebellion was the innocent verdict given to the Los Angeles Police Department pigs who beat Rodney King nearly to death while being videotaped by the relatively new technology of handheld videotape recorders.
In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Riots which began on April 29, we want to note some of the great music that came out of this rebellion. It has been said that if one is to learn about a peoples, one should look at their poetry and their songs. Advance the Struggle finds this true and believes that culture and art are going to be fundamental to a proletarian led Socialist revolution in the US. If we look around today (2012) and see the relentless police terror on Black and Brown people, coupled with the capitalist economic depression which is far worse than that of 1992, and we see all the positive organized resistance to it, we might start to believe that we are on the cusp of a pre-revolutionary situation. Looking back to ’92, things felt more like they were on the verge of a civil war – and one of the best ways to get a feel for that is through the powerful music that the riots produced.
More after the jump:
It’s been a while since we put up something of our own on the blog here, so we’d like to start another round of AS work on the blog with a compilation of our best work on one subject: the budget cuts struggle in California.
Around the world for the last few years, working class people have been fighting back on a massive scale against “austerity measures”, new rounds of “structural adjustment” where state services are harshly cut back. In times of high unemployment and economic slowdown, the lives and training of the working class aren’t profitable and get cut. Students across California, just like students across the world, started to fight back against the cuts through protests, occupations, even riots….signs that folks are learning an important lesson: we can’t trust the Democrats to fight for our interests when the chips are down.
And like all mass movements, the student movement in California experimented and self-criticized as it struggled. Democracy was debated, communization attempted, capitalism questioned, race and gender often ignored but then brought back with a smash on white male movement dominance. Debates erupted about whether the “work within the system” folks are the only heirs to the history of ethnic studies struggle; occupations were announced, denounced, celebrated and apologized for. Amongst all this, revolutionaries like us were wrestling with questions:
When do reforms push struggle forward, and when do they slow it down?
Should the militant minority with “advanced consciousness” act independently of the more conservative mainstream?
Is Left unity important, or just pointless bickering on the margins?
Will the “governator” joke ever end?
And centrally for us:
How does class consciousness develop? (Pamphlet below the fold!)
When Rodney King was severly beaten by 4 LAPD officers and the police were found not guilty, Los Angeles exploded in rebellion and riots.Thousands upon thousands of working-class residents of all races broke into commercial stores taking commodities for free.
The media tried to paint the riot as angry violent Black people attacking working-class white people and Korean shop owners– they were consciously trying to turn the multi-racial rebellion into a racial war. But the media was not able to supress a powerful radicalization of LA consciousness. Bloods and Crips started having serious discussions about unity, positive revolutionary energy was flowing from the ghettos and working-class neighborhoods; these developments are captured well by the documentary Bastards of the Party.
It’s important to remember that we are all facing the sentencing hearing for officer Mehserle on November 5th. The flyer above is the political effect of the radicalization produced by the ’92 Los Angeles rebellion against the acquittal of Rodney King’s attackers. What do these two struggles, separated by 18 years, have in common? The Oakland/SF local (Local 10) of the longshoreman’s union ILWU is planning to do a job action and/or rally on October 23rd to fight for justice for Oscar Grant, and militant rank-and-file union members have argued that their radical action in isolation will have a very limited effect. One ILWU rank-and-file worker argued that what we need is for BART (lightrail) workers, bus drivers, government workers, private workers, to also shutdown their workplaces in the name of Oscar Grant. This form of struggle can be more effective than breaking windows or pleading with the government through non-profits because it uses the greatest power that working people have: our ability to get organized and control the economy. We’re posting the flyer from ’92 to make these kind of connections with another historical moment where riots began an ascending wave of radicalization. Around the country people look to the Bay as the current front lines of the struggle against police brutality: will we rise to the new possibilities and show ‘em how it’s done?
Greece has been featured heavily in the news lately because of its ‘dire’ economic situation and the steps the European Union has taken to ‘bail it out’. Here is our comrade Sycorax’s analysis of why the economic situation in Greece actually shares some similarities with what’s going on in California.
Here’s the first post on the parallels:
There’s also some coverage of the General Strikes that have been going on in Greece, which are also very applicable to the situation in California. Greece has had serious austerity measures placed on it, and there is tremendous pressure from the entire EU being put on Greece to cut its government spending.
In response, Greek public sector workers are not backing down. Their declaration? We did not make the crisis and we will not pay for it. This is a war on workers and we will respond with war.
So, what do ya’ll think? Parallels between Greece and California, is the comparison valid or not? What can we learn from both the crisis and the resistance to it, here and abroad?
Something to marinate on.
In the article below, written by Gifford Hartman, capital’s war against the ecological is couched within a rich history of class struggle in California. California’s economy transformed from its early days as center of raw mineral extraction (primarily gold and, later oil), to one based on agriculture, and then became the site of the pioneering suburban sprawl model of housing development. The earth was abused and re-abused through every cycle of accumulation right along with the indio slaves, mexicano laborers, chinese contract workers, okie migrants, black longshoremen, and the rest of us who were drawn by the dynamic economy at the Pacific rim of US imperialism.
Crisis in California: Everything Touched by Capital Turns Toxic
I should be very much pleased if you could find me something good (meaty) on economic conditions in California…. California is very important for me because nowhere else has the upheaval most shamelessly caused by capitalist centralisation taken place with such speed.
- Letter from Karl Marx to Friedrich Sorge, 1880
In California toxic capitalist social relations demonstrated their full irrationality in May 2009 when banks bulldozed brand-new, but unsold, McMansions in the exurbs of Southern California.
Across the United States an eviction occurs every 13 seconds and there are at the moment at least five empty homes for every homeless person. The newly homeless are finding beds unavailable as shelters are stretched well beyond capacity. St. John’s Shelter for Women and Children in Sacramento regularly turns away 350 people a night. Many of these people end up in the burgeoning tent cities that are often located in the same places as the ‘Hoovervilles’ – similar structures, named after then President Herbert Hoover – of the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The tent city in Sacramento, California’s state capital, was set up on land that had previously been a garbage dump. It became internationally known when news media from Germany, the UK, Switzerland and elsewhere covered it. It featured in the French magazine Paris Match and on The Oprah Winfrey Show in the US. Of course this publicity necessitated that Arnold Schwarzenegger, California’s governor, and Kevin Johnson, mayor of Sacramento, shut it down. When we visited in March 2009 to investigate, we met Governor Schwarzenegger and Mayor Johnson there by chance. Johnson told us the tent city would be evacuated, saying, ‘They can’t stay here, this land is toxic.’
Almost half the people we spoke with had until recently been working in the building trades. When the housing boom collapsed they simply could not find work. Some homeless people choose to live outside for a variety of reasons, including not being allowed to take pets into homeless shelters or to freely drink and use substances. But most of the tent city dwellers desperately wanted to be working and wanted to be housed. In many places people creating tent encampments are met with hostility, and are blamed for their own condition. New York City, with a reputation for intolerance towards the homeless, recently shut down a tent city in East Harlem. Homeowners near a tent city of 200 in Tampa, Florida organised to close it down, saying it would ‘devalue’ their homes. In Seattle, police have removed several tent cities, each named ‘Nickelsville’ after the Mayor who ordered the evictions.
Yet in some places, like Nashville, Tennessee, tent cities are tolerated by local police and politicians. Church groups are even allowed to build showers and provide services. Other cities that have allowed these encampments are: Champaign, Illinois; St. Petersburg, Florida; Lacey, Washington; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Reno, Nevada; Columbus, Ohio; Portland, Oregon. Ventura, California recently changed its laws to allow the homeless to sleep in cars and nearby Santa Barbara has made similar allowances. In San Diego, California a tent city appears every night in front of the main public library downtown. Continue reading
Occupations Spread Across California
Behind Every Fee Increase is a Line of Cops
Fully armed, a line of 10 swat team police marched up to the picket line. Half-stunned by their presence, the crowd of supporters hesitatingly jeered the cops. In unison and on command the pigs charged forward and shoved the picketers to the ground. Throughout the day there were various refusals to accept these attacks; they ranged from hurling verbal abuse at the cops with chants like “Fuck the Police,” to acts of physical resistance such as refusing to sit down at the urging of cops and fellow protesters, to minor incidents of exchanging blows with the pigs.
Some of these bold acts of resistance were deplorable to those protestors whose go-to chants were “Peaceful protest! Peaceful protest!” as the pigs violently attacked students. One chant was even directed to the cops themselves: “We are fighting for your kids! We are fighting for your kids!” This brings into sharp relief the widespread confusion about the role of the state in the anti-budget cut movement. Continue reading