Category Archives: Analysis/Theory

Caring….for Profits in the CA Nonprofit Health Industry

As our organization expands to include workers from different sectors of industry, we are forced to understand and clarify the terrain in which we are organizing in.  Below we are posting a new series that will focus on the health care industry and prospects for communist intervention in the Bay Area.  Through an analysis of our local region, we wish to draw out the broader implications for organizing the rapidly expanding health care industry.  We encourage our readers to comment on the questions raised so as to deepen our understanding of the complexities of workplace organizing in health care!

Non-profit health care is a huge industry.  It meets at the junction of the “non-profit industrial complex” and the “health care industrial complex,” but forms a unique hybrid.

To give some scope to this industry, in California, non-profit hospitals account for 61% of total patient days excluding state psychiatric hospitals.  Profits are just as large.  In 2010 alone, the top two California chains, Kaiser and Sutter Health, together made net income of $2.18 billion.[1]

This led us to two questions:  How do nonprofits make profit, and where do the profits go once they’re made?

How does a “non-profit” hospital make profits?

A huge amount of non-profit hospitals’ profits come from state subsidies and benefits. These benefits include being exempt from state and federal income taxes on profits, property taxes, and almost all sales taxes.  In return, these hospitals are supposed to offer charity care to those can’t afford it.  It’d be reasonable to think that the tax credits given and the charity care returned should balance out so that these institutions are actually non-profiting.  The joke of an exchange that exists in reality is shown in the following chart, courtesy of the National Nurses United research group the Institute for Health & Socio-Economic Policy.

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Should Anarchists Make Demands on the State?

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Occupy Oakland rally in front of Lakeview Elementary school. Photo Cred: https://oaklandnorth.net/2011/11/19/occupy-oakland-marches-again-sets-up-tents-in-new-downtown-site/

The global movement of the squares (Taksim in Turkey, Syntagma in Greece, Tahrir in Egypt, OGP in Oakland, etc) against capitalist austerity, displacement, and overall inequality has pushed activists around the world to consider important questions of revolutionary strategy.  One of the central contradictions that tended to be posed between “radicals” and “liberals” was that of whether or not to make demands on the state, capitalists, or other institutions.  There have been many anti-state communists/socialists, anarchists, and others who have advocated the perspective that demands should not be made on ruling class institutions.  There is good reason for skepticism and antagonism toward programs of demands, as they have at times been used by more liberal, social-democratic forces to limit the politics of struggle into reformist channels.  

This recent cycle of struggle that we’ve participated in has brought to light some of the limits of “demand-lessness.”  While Occupy Oakland was at its peak, for instance, there was a move by the Oakland Unified School District to close 5 elementary schools, as well as the passing of a “West Oakland Specific Plan” which lays out a program for continued gentrification of a historically (at least since the 1930s*) black neighborhood.   What if there had been a more concerted effort to defeat some of these attacks on black and brown proletarian communities?  Would this have been a reformist deviation from an otherwise militant struggle?  Or could it have been a way of bringing in larger layers of proletarians into struggle against some of the effects of white supremacist capitalism?   It is in this context that Wayne Price, noted anarchist writer and activist, has written a useful essay arguing in favor of anarchists raising a program of demands.  We re-post it here for your consideration and commentary.  

Should Anarchists Raise a Program of Demands?

by Wayne Price

http://anarkismo.net/article/26648

This essay is slightly expanded from one which was rejected by a US anarchist magazine for political reasons. It deals with a disagreement among activists: Should we propose that the movement raise a program of demands? I think that anarchists should, but with a more libertarian-democratic version than the liberals and state socialists. The essay is followed by a response to the political points raised by the editors of the anarchist journal.
During the height of the Occupy Wall Street encampments, a dispute broke out among activists. Various liberals and state socialists advocated that the movement raise a program, a set of demands on the capitalist class and the state. This approach was opposed by a number of anarchists. Given the economic situation, the program-raisers typically called for full employment policies, such as public works projects providing useful services, to be paid for by taxing the rich and cutting the military budget.

While many anarchists vehemently opposed to the Occupy movement raising demands, others were for a more libertarian-socialist approach to raising programs (as I am). To some degree this disagreement among anarchists reflects a long time split, or more precisely, a polarization, since the alternatives are not sharply either/or. Since Proudhon, one anarchist pole has primarily advocated building alternate institutions within capitalist society. These might be worker or consumer coops, bike clubs, community gardens, or block associations. These anarchists hoped that community Occupations would be such “dual power” institutions. These would gradually expand to take over—and replace–the economy and state. Such activities do not lead to making demands on the state or the ruling class—except maybe to be let alone.

From the other viewpoint, all these things are good in themselves and worth supporting, but as a strategy for changing society, they are limited. Most likely they do not threaten the system (can they really replace the auto industry with an alternate national transportation system, or replace the armed forces with a popular militia?). If they do threaten vital institutions, the state will crack down on them. As the state disbanded Occupy encampments all over the country.

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Defend and Transform: Next Steps in the CCSF Struggle

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Two days ago the battle to stop the destruction of the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) took another step forward when a protest of 300 students and supporters of CCSF gathered in downtown San Francisco.  The two principal demands of the movement at this point are for the mayor of San Francisco, Ed Lee, to immediately intervene to stop all sanctions against CCSF by the ACCJC, and to immediately fire the “Special Trustee” dictator Bob Agrella who has been specifically appointed by the ACCJC to carry out their plan for the destruction of CCSF’s existing programs through budget cuts and privatization. They’ve undermined the democratic decision-making power CCSF professors had in running their departments and determining their curriculum, along with the community learning aspect that remains deeply rooted in San Francisco’s working-class culture, all in order to “reform” the school along the corporate, privatized education model: bloated administrative bureaucracies, underpaid and overworked teachers with weak or non-functional unions, a reduced and underpaid staff, and a severely downsized student body with the limited options of a streamlined junior college-type transmission belt to four-year universities for those who can afford the debt, or technical programs for the development of an elite managerial class separated and above the working-class people CCSF still serves. For proletarian communities of color in San Francisco, this is a gutsy frontal attack. If not resisted, it will relegate tens of thousands of youth to low-wage service sector jobs without the chance of social advance, such as fast-food chains; it will exacerbate unemployment and speed-up the gentrification process that has so drastically changed San Francisco from a hub of multi-national/racial working-class neighborhoods to the next chic destination for wealthy Silicon Valley professionals in the high-tech industry.

As of today, we’ve found out that the lawyer for the city of San Francisco, Dennis Herrera, has initiated legal proceedings against the ACCJC for breaking federal regulations and having conflicts of interest, and against the Board of Governors that oversees California’s community colleges because it has ceded its legal authority over standards and funding in relation to community colleges to the ACCJC, a private body.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the City’s announcement of this lawsuit comes a day after the protest and sit-in that we organized. We should continue to demand that the local state, and the mayor in particular, intervene against the attack on CCSF;  this lawsuit and any possible actions on the part of the mayor are are possible only due to the self-organization of the students, teachers, and staff of CCSF. Now that the ACCJC is beginning to be delegitimized largely due to organized resistance, we are in a position to seize the momentum and expand the movement to put a definite end to the ACCJC’s reign of terror and take the struggle forward to expanding and improving the community college in the interests of the Bay Area’s exploited and oppressed.

Currently, the AFT 2121 leadership and a core of active teachers have expressed sympathy for a strike. The staff union leaders from SEIU 1021 have played a reactionary role by acquiescing to the ACCJC’s demands in hopes that teachers, who are actively fighting the ACCJC, receive the brunt of the attack while staff make it through this process unscathed. Rank-and-file staff have remained under the radar as they are unsure of the situation and know that their jobs are the most dispensable and likely to be cut.  As of now, the major strategic orientation of the movement should be the activation of the student body; it is a sleeping giant. However, it is critical we begin to build links with the two other key sectors of the proletariat in education, the teachers and staff. While one important step is for teachers and staff to self-organize within but independently of their union, we need a concrete plan to reach out to these sectors as students to build the links and lay the basis for a unified class struggle that takes up the demands of all three.  It is the social force of those who use the university that can be the backbone of the fight not only defend CCSF against its current round of attacks, but to be the organized body that can reconstruct and transform the CCSF we know now – a college that since the recession in 2008 has faced a total of $809 million in budget cuts, especially to lifelong learning and community programs that are not directly transferable to a four-year university or a technical profession, such as: childcare, ethnic studies, programs for ex-cons, seniors, and immigrants and help change it into the people’s college that we want it to be.

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2012-2013 Classroom Struggle Review and Reflection

We picked up this end of the year reflection from our friends in Classroom Struggle. Advance the Struggle appreciates the hard work these warriors for public education have put in since their inception during Occupy Oakland.  As the attacks on public schools continue nationwide we feel their work continues to be the most inspiring in this extremely important sector of the working class.  CS Logo2

Friday June 14th, 2013 was the last official day of school in Oakland Unified School District, the last official day for students was Thursday the 13th.

Its always good to see the delighted looks on the faces of teachers and students as they ready their summer plans, and some don caps and gowns to celebrate the pinnacle of K-12 education, also known as high school graduation. Congrats to all of the class of 2013!

Militants in Classroom Struggle (CS) also look forward to summer, as it gives us a chance to review and reflect on the successes and failures of the school year and touch up our strategy for the coming school year (2013-2014).  

Last year at this time, we were preparing to occupy Lakeview Elementary School in protest of the closure of five elementary schools serving primarily black and latino families. This year the district did not close any schools. But they did try to eliminate the rest of the already decimated adult education/GED programs throughout the district. CS is thrilled to report that the district decided to save these programs rather than eliminate them (more on that below including the role CS played in support of the students and teachers of that program).

We continued publishing our newsletter – also called Classroom Struggle (formerly Education for the 99%) – putting out many high quality articles meant to move teachers in a more radical direction with the intent to fight against the worst of Tony Smith and the Oakland School Board not to mention austerity funding from the feds. and Sacramento. We continue fine tuning the newsletter by distributing it across the East Bay far and wide, and make every effort to gather feedback from all of our readership. The cover and back cover art is the work of current public school students and teachers, and we will feature a new header for each new issue.  The latest is linked here:

http://education4the99.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/5th-newsletter-go-critique-webview2.pdf  

It includes: a critique of the report on “teacher quality” published by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) and heavily endorsed by GO (Great Oakland Public Schools), a solidarity letter for our teacher comrades in Mexico currently fighting against similar neo-liberal assaults on public education we’re fighting in the U.S., testimony of a public school custodian, a report on the adult education fight, and a update on the trauma of school closures from a parent of of an affected student. Please check it out.  

We began making interventions in the Oakland Education Association (OEA) as site representatives. Passing motions in support of Adult Education students & teachers along with Mexican teachers fighting neo-liberalism. Our goal was to push the union to act above and beyond the narrow interests of teacher unionism. We got motions passed for OEA to help us build for two forums we organized. The first provided a report/analysis on the current funding issues in OUSD, the second gave perspective on the importance and challenges involved with building a base of parents, teachers/school workers and students, it featured a founding member of Chicago CORE (Caucus of Rank and File Educators). The teachers responsible for organizing widespread support for the fall 2012 CTU strike. We are still very critical of current stance of OEA’s leadership, but have seen the rep. council meetings heading in a more critical direction and featuring very promising debates. Continue reading

“The Woman is the Proletarian of the Proletariat” – Flora Tristan

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The purpose of this essay is to summarize a key text on the relationship between patriarchy and capitalism, written by a socialist feminist organization Advance the Struggle is politically close to, Pan y Rosas. In their book, Pan y Rosas: Gender and Class Antagonism under Capitalism, the author Andrea D’Atri wages political war against the various strains of liberal and postmodernist feminism, boldly upholding the mantle of revolutionary feminism from the beginnings of the capitalist era in Europe to the modern struggle against the brutal conditions women face in Latin America and worldwide.

Pan y Rosas, a women’s socialist organization under a larger Marxist-Trotskyist formation in Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica, and other Latin American nations,  takes its namesake from the 1912 Bread and Roses strike by women textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts. They synthesized the strike for higher wages and for better living conditions, thus the title “bread and roses”, signifying their desire for a higher standard of living that would afford them the ability to enjoy the knowledge, culture, and freedom every human beings deserves but is largely denied, particularly for most women, who are forced to work for a paid wage and perform unpaid domestic and caring labor.

Sex against sex or class against class?

All women are oppressed by patriarchy, but the majority are also under the tutelage of waged work and dispossession. For example: are Ivanna Trump (billionaire clown Donald Trump’s wife) and Hillary Clinton closer to the majority of working and poor women, or to the bourgeois class they belong to? Although patriarchy precedes capitalism by thousands of years, the former takes a specific form under the latter. Under this system, the reproductive labor, such as cooking, cleaning, washing, having babies, raising children, etc., necessary to maintain our species and reproduce new generations is primarily performed by working-class women. Patriarchal ideology socially constructs women’s domestic labor as a natural function extending from their biology. Even though this labor is crucial in reproducing workers’ needs to eat, sleep, procreate, etc., in order to work day in and day out for the boss, this ideology allows for capitalists to maintain it as unpaid and therefore keep wages down and profits high. Working women’s role as waged and domestic workers has been dubbed the “double-shift,” since the end of the 9-5 simply means the end of the first shift for women, after which they return home to perform their other, albeit unpaid, shift. Because under capitalism women are primarily viewed as baby-making machines, struggles around bodily autonomy and reproduction rights can challenge  capital’s narrow framing of sexuality in a heteronormative manner. Part of the reason the typical nuclear family is upheld as the ideal under bourgeois society is because it assures a constant replenishing of the labor force with young workers who can work faster, longer, and will feel less entitled to the benefits older workers demand. Homosexuality is therefore seen as a break in this relationship because it removes procreation as the main goal or desire of romantic/sexual relationships.

The 20th century was the century of the miniskirt, jeans, the right to vote, contraceptives, legal abortion, etc., all achievements through a century of struggle, but what does it mean to talk about progress when so many women around the world die from hunger, preventive disease, abortions, pregnancy, unemployment, etc? Capitalism’s growth has been contradictory; for while it lays the basis for ending thousands of years of patriarchy by reducing the grip of the family and the male patriarch  through forcing women into the public workforce, it has also deepened the misery poor and working-class women encounter through the ideological and violent enforcement of women’s gender role in society. According to our comrades in Pan y Rosas, and the defining element of our feminist framework, the central subject of women’s liberation is the class relation, the axis that can unite proletarian, poor, and all oppressed women in the war against capitalist-patriarchy.

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Final Four: Does the Plantation Return to Atlanta this Saturday April 6th?

By Comrade Read

As college sports fans gear up for the culmination of the annual march madness NCAA division 1 men’s basketball tournament, this year to be decided at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, we offer two articles by Dave Zirin on the hyper-exploitation of top flight college athletes. The article paints the NCAA as a good ol’ boys network with corporate sponsorship, making millions, if not billions, off the labor of student athletes.

Last week, Kevin Ware of the Louisville Cardinals, suffered one the most horrific injuries I’ve ever seen on a basketball court. It was so shocking that CBS executives ordered the network to stop replaying the footage as Kevin received emergency care. How much will Mr. Ware receive for this game where he fractured his tibia in half to the point it was left dangling off the end of his knee? Nothing, not one penny, unless you’re like the good ol’ boys who feel that the scholarship he receives is “enough”.  With no income and very little time to find a part time job, these unpaid student workers often resort to taking money and benefits from boosters and fans of the school they play for.

Click this link for more context on the injury of Kevin Ware.

Terelle Pryor, formerly of Ohio State, now a quarterback for the Oakland Raiders – exchanged some sports equipment and jerseys, his own property unless you ask the NCAA, for some tatoo work. And because this happened while he was still working for Ohio State, he was kicked off the team and forced to give up his scholarship. For Terelle, who was planning on entering the NFL draft, this wasn’t overly devastating, but for the Ohio State football team he left behind, they were forced to deal with NCAA sanctions which put them out of contention for a national championship for a specified length of time.

That is the nature of the cartel formerly known as the NCAA. It is high time for these student workers/athletes to have an organization that represents their interest as students who work and generate profits for their University and this cartel (NCAA). Just like Graduate School Assistants (GSA) in the University of California recently organized under the United Auto Workers Union (UAW), student athletes need to unionize in order to demand proper compensation and benefits for their labor. Until this a reality, its safe to say the plantation will definitely be returning to Atlanta this weekend and every sports weekend of major NCAA sports. Tune in,  and check out the link to the article below for more context on this “wicked” (Desmond Howard quote) and hyper-exploitative system.

http://www.thenation.com/article/173307/ncaa-poster-boy-corruption-and-exploitation?page=0,0

Are we gonna let the ACCJC and the State punk us? Hell no!

Below is text and a link to a flier – written by an AS member – that will be circulated at tomorrow’s (3/14/13) CCSF anti-austerity rally.  The rally will converge on Civic Center, in front of San Francisco City Hall at 4pm.  For more information see here.  This continues our coverage of the ongoing struggle at CCSF.  Please join the discussion and check back for more updates!

Click for full PDF version in English.

Click for full PDF version in English.

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Click for full PDF version in Spanish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t the Accreditation Threat Because of Problems with CCSF?

No, the accreditation threat is a very political attempt to force major negative changes to this college, and ultimately every other one in CA and the USA.  CCSF has a lot of problems, but none of them will be solved by cutting student services, programs, class sections and laying off staff and professors.  But that’s the main requirement of the accreditation group: to pull money out of all of these central services of the college, and put it into more administrators and a savings fund! (check out saveccsf.org for more details)

Why Would the Accreditation People Want to Hurt CCSF?

Because they have a vision of education in the USA that’s about building a profitable industry where people go into heavy debt, instead of a society that shares the costs of education.  In the economic system we live with, capitalism, there’s always rich people with extra money looking for opportunities to make some extra profit. The big one they have now is that a lot of government services are being cut, to pay for all the money that government gave to other rich investors when their gambling went bad in 2008.

Is this just happening at CCSF?

No! It’s happening worldwide (although that means we have a lot of potential allies!)  All over the world, governments have responded to the financial crisis with a political choice to make working-class people pay.  Instead of taxing the rich, or taking over the failing banks and investment funds, governments have massively drained the public sector, cutting spending on anything that benefits regular people (but never cut the funding for their wars or prisons!)

In the US, a major part of this plan to cut social services, like education, both k-12 and college, which has all kinds of negative effects: less financial aid, less classes, higher fees, and lower quality education in general.  Basically people are getting shut out, mostly working-class people of color.

No more cuts! Restore and expand all services for teachers, workers, and students! 

To the ACCJC, Board of Trustees, and the State: Get your dirty hands out of City College! We will not allow you to destroy it! The school belongs to the students and workers, those who use it! 

Power to the People!