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Dewey Academy in Danger of Displacement: Gentrification and the Oakland Unified School District

CLASSROOM STRUGGLE

Dewey Academy in Danger of Displacement:

Gentrification and the Oakland Unified School District

By Aram Mendoza and N. Finch in collaboration with Dewey teachers

Displacement of long-time, low-income residents due to gentrification has been an all too common story in the Bay Area recently.  Now the same insidious process is targeting some of the most “at-risk” students in Oakland.  Over the past two weeks, in the end of school rush, the Oakland Unified School District’s administration revealed they have been in close discussions with gentrifying developers that puts Dewey Academy, one of the public continuation high schools in the OUSD, in the cross-hairs of real estate agents and developers.  The developers are already planning a 24 story luxury condo building overshadowing Dewey and now want to add Dewey and the old OUSD headquarters to the project.  What follows is an overview of the situation, why it’s problematic, how it’s situated…

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Event Announcement! Class Struggle Along the Supply Chains: Los Angeles Truckers Struggle and Empire Logistics

Come hear two presentations on what is happening with the movement of Los Angeles Truckers and how that fits in  the logistics of empire and capitalism. The Los Angeles truckers have had a wave of strikes and struggles, shutting down the largest port in the country. Ernesto Nevarez will speak about his  25 years of experience organizing truckers. Gifford Hartman, one of  the founder of the website Empire Logistics, will present on how the trucking industry fits in a larger terrain of how commodities circulate on the global level.

Come through to La Peña Cultural Center , 3105 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley.
Sunday May 4th 1-3 pm to hear both presenters. 
 
Sponsored by La Peña Second Generation, Advance the Struggle, and Empire Logistics
Below is the flier for the event, a call for May Day actions at the port of LA, and a letter from Ernesto on his goals for the event.  Hope to see you there!!
truckerseventMay Day 10th anniversaryOakland meeting

CALL TO ACTION – MAY 1, INTERNATIONAL WORKERS DAY

We are excited to repost a call that was recently put out by militant Bay Area workers for an action on this year’s May Day.  After decades of sectoralism and business unionist strategies taken up by unions everywhere, it is important that we support militant rank-and-file movements that look to challenge the restrictive bourgeois laws and employer strategies that pit workers against each other.  See you out on May  Day!

CALL TO ACTION – MAY 1, INTERNATIONAL WORKERS DAY

United Rank & File Construction Workers Take A Stand on May Day

Join us as we return to a proud history of direct action to fight to protect our own livelihoods, to raise up and organize all workers and against laws that restrict us.

On May 1, International Workers Day, we will be gathering at 16th and Mission at 5am to protest the 2 Gate System. This is a system that contractors and developers have created in order to impose the restrictive, discriminatory and repressive anti-worker laws of the Taft-Hartley act on construction unions.

San Francisco appears, on the surface, to be recovering from the economic disasters of recent years. There are cranes all over town and buildings are popping up everywhere. The people building these buildings are unable to afford the luxuries that many supposedly offer. We are also growing further and further from the chance of ever living a reasonable distance from the city in which we work. Most of us have long been unable to afford to live within the limits of the city we built. We see new wealth coming into SF all the time and yet we have gotten modest or no raises.

Many of us are lucky to have collective bargaining. We look forward to contracts coming up during this building boom. It seems the time has finally come for us to get the raises that we have lacked in the last few years while the cost of living has skyrocketed. We are looking forward to the opportunity to dig out of the financial holes we are in after years of unemployment, losing insurance for our families, losing houses and having to raid our retirement accounts to make ends meet. Now, contractors and developers need us badly and will have to give us a decent raise next contract, right? Maybe not…

Historically in San Francisco a vast majority of building has been done by workers who together, through their unions, bargain with all of their employers for a fair and equal wage rate for all of the labor done by their craft. This is still the case but we see other employers winning work contracts in SF at an alarming rate. Building has increased suddenly in San Francisco but it has disproportionately increased for the non-signatory contractors. There is an unprecedented amount of building being done by contractors who do not agree to the standards of pay and conditions that workers have fought for.

This gives signatory employers (those who employ workers under collective agreements) a powerful bargaining chip as we go into negotiations during this boom. They will argue that they need to stay competitive or the “union contractors” (and therefore workers) will all lose jobs. “Staying competitive” they argue, means that they cannot give raises, may even need some back, in order to compete. Suddenly, the snowball that has killed all the reasonably livable jobs across the country is being rolled around in San Francisco, the last bastion of hope for a decent living for those of us with blue collars.

Ideally, to stop this snowball, we would organize all workers who are not yet in our organizations. We would use the power of withholding all labor on a jobsite until all employers were forced to enter the same collectively bargained agreement. We would like to make it perfectly clear that we see non-union workers as our sisters and brothers in the trade. We want them to have the same wages and conditions that we have. We do not want to compete with them but rather join them into our ranks so that we might work together to raise the living standards of all working people. We want all workers to rise together, as opposed to the arguments made by employers about being “competitive”.

Historically, organized labor has caused economic hardships for entities that take advantage of an unorganized labor force. They did this by standing in solidarity with any group of workers in dispute with their employer and withholding all of our labor until the problem is resolved. The 2 Gate System is one of a host of anti-worker laws that make the tactics that the unions were built on illegal. As yet, the Unions have been mostly unwilling to challenge or disobey these laws. However, through well-organized disobedience and subversion of these laws using the power of united labor action, these laws can be eradicated. We are working toward a day when our unions will do this. Do not be surprised that the leadership of the unions is officially unsupportive, they are not sure the working members want or are ready for the struggle that it will entail, we must show them by taking up the charge as workers.

Until then, the laws do not and cannot forbid you and me, rank and file workers, from going to these jobs and protesting them.

At this time in history, the future of the working class hangs in the balance and we in the stronghold of San Francisco must hold the line for ourselves and fight to turn the tide against the attacks against all working people.

Together, we will build solidarity and power, bring an end to unjust laws, and have a society that meets our needs.

WE ARE NOT AGAINST THE NON UNION WORKER

WE ARE AGAINST THE EMPLOYERS, DEVELOPERS AND CONTRACTORS THAT EXPLOIT THEM

WE ARE AGAINST THE DOWNWARD PUSH THAT EXPLOITATION HAS ON ALL OF US

WE ARE AGAINST LAWS THAT RESTRICT OUR ABILITY TO FIGHT

WE FIGHT TO ERADICATE ALL ANTI-WORKER LAWS AND SYSTEMS

SMASH THE 2 GATE SYSTEM – SMASH TAFT-HARTLEY

1 GATE, 2 GATES, or 10 GATES- PICKET LINES MEAN DO NOT CROSS

WOSP – The City of Oakland’s Plan for Gentrification: A Target For Anti-Displacement Activity

What follows is a critique of the West Oakland Specific Plan – WOSP – which the city of Oakland hopes will help in “developing” West Oakland and is attempting to pass in the coming weeks.  We offer this critique and brief thoughts on strategy in order to support the ongoing work of combatting displacement and gentrification that has been hitting the Bay Area for a long time.  Please add comments, questions, and critiques in the comment section in the spirit of deepening our collective discussion of anti-displacement analysis and strategy.

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Advertisement for Public Release of WOSP in Feb. 2014

Snapshot of the State and Capital in the Bay Area

If the Bay Area’s economy was compared to every other national economy in the world, it would be the 19th largest.  The Bay has the highest GDP per capita in the entire United States, and even outpaces London and Singapore.  It captures 40% of the entire flow of venture capital in the US (p11), which constitutes a higher amount of capital than that captured during the dot.com boom.  While the Bay accounts for only 2.4% of the total jobs in the US, it has 12% of the computer & electronics manufacturing, 10.3% of software development, and 8.3% of internet related jobs (p13.) Seven of the top 10 social media companies are here – Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, Linkedin, Zynga, and Yelp.  In short, the Bay is home to one of the highest concentrations of capital in the world and mapping out the composition of capital is key for us to situate ourselves as we continue to engage in class combat. (Footnote #1)

The regional state is well aware of its place within the world economy.  Over the past years, city politicians from the greater Bay Area have come together to generate a 30 year strategy about how to restructure the region’s housing, employment, and transportation structures.  Plan Bay Area (PBA) was developed by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) to carry out the tasks of determining how the state can support and facilitate the accumulation of capital throughout the region.  In order to grease the wheels of the local capitalist economy, the PBA aims to redevelop housing and transit throughout the Bay; New units are set to be built, new transportation “hubs” developed, and both of these projects are to be coordinated across single cities and the bay area as a whole.

PBA aims to align the various metropolitan areas of the Bay in their development of housing to match projected increases in employment.  Internet, computer and electronics manufacturing, along with professional, scientific and technical services are accounting for some of the largest contributors to job creation here.  PBA states that between early 2011 and late 2013 the Bay Area added more than 200,000 jobs, an increase of 7.5 percent that is well above the state’s average of 4.5%.  PBA is projecting that this area will continue to outpace the rest of California and the US in its share of job growth due to the heavy concentration of tech related industries which forms part of the economic base of Bay Area political economy.  (Footnote#2)

West Oakland Specific Plan – One Part of Capital/State’s Total Plan

We find ourselves in a city that’s clearly at the crosshairs of the system’s plans for intentional development and displacement: highly concentrated capital in the Bay Area and projections of millions of jobs being created in the next 10 years; a strategic plan by city politicians across the Bay to house these new high wage workers within its multiple cities; and the ongoing displacement of low wage workers and unemployed people.  This is the situation Oakland Mayor Jean Quan references when she states that she’s seeking to bring in 10,000 new residents to Oakland while saying nothing about keeping long term residents and working class people in Oakland. Continue reading

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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Solidarity with BART workers from Argentinian factory workers

We received this message of support for the BART workers struggle from a worker militant from the occupied factory of Zanon in Argentina.  We offer it here for you to read and respond to.

—–

All support to BART workers,

BART has unleashed a string of attacks against the workers and their unions, wanting to eliminate the union to carry out the privatization of public transport.

Although the company states that it is in crisis, it has an annual profit of 125 million dollars. We face a crusade by employers, engineered by the government against the workers and passengers fighting for their rights. 

In the context of our economic crisis, in which the plan of the employer and government is to get the workers to pay for the crisis, the struggle for a democratic organization of the labor movement is essential to challenge layoffs, suspensions and pay cuts.

Fellow workers, we extend our support to you and stand in solidarity with your ongoing fight in defense of your jobs at BART.

Raul Godoy – PTS (Socialist Workers Party) – worker at Zanon ceramics factory under workers’ control and MP (Minister Of Parliament) for the FIT (Left Front) in the province of Neuquen, Argentina.

Claudio Dellecarbonara – Train system Delegate of Buenos Aires. Candidate for the Senate through PTS and FIT (Left Front)

——

Todo el apoyo a los trabajadores de BART

La empresa de trenes BART ha desencadenado una seguidilla de ataques contra las y  los trabajadores y su sindicato, quieren eliminar el sindicato para llevar adelante la privatización del transporte publico.

Aunque la empresa plantea que esta en crisis, cuenta con una ganancia anual de 125 millones de dólares . Estamos ante una cruzada por parte de los empresarios, amparados por el gobierno, contra las y  los trabajadores que luchan por sus derechos y los de la población usuaria del transporte.

En un contexto de crisis económica como el actual, en el que el plan de las patronales y los gobiernos es que sean los y las trabajadoras los que paguen la crisis, la lucha y la organización democrática del movimiento obrero es fundamental para enfrentar los despidos, suspensiones y rebajas salariales.

Compañeros trabajadores de BART, queremos hacer llegar nuestro apoyo y nuestra solidaridad con la pelea que vienen llevando adelante en defensa de sus puestos de trabajo.

Raul Godoy – PTS (Partido de trabajadores socialistas) – obrero ceramista de Zanón bajo control obrero y diputado por el FIT (Frente de Izquierda) en la provincia de Neuquen, Argentinacia.

Claudio Dellecarbonara – Delegado del Subterráneo de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina. Candidato a Senador por el PTS (Partido de trabajadores socialistas) – FIT (Frente de Izquierda). 

 

#HoodiesUp: All Out to the Justice for Trayvon Rally and Community Speak Out (7/15)


Here is a copy of the flier.  Please Distribute far and wide!

Here is a copy of the flier. Please Distribute far and wide!

Another Black youth murdered in cold blood, and the murderer, according to the courts, is not guilty! The case of Trayvon Martin is an example of what America is composed of, the racism that deeply penetrates its veins, and the state that overseas its process. Trayvon Martin was vilified by the courts as a thug, and its murderer was defended as a noble citizen. How many Black and Latino youth have to be victims of such violence? When will we build a movement so powerful that can challenge such violence? When will the working class be organized to shutdown the system when such racist violence occurs? These are the critical questions of the day. We have experienced the Rodney King movement, the movement around the murder of Sean Bell, Kimani Gray, Kenneth Harding, and Oscar Grant. Yet these murders continue unchallenged.

Our strategy against such murders shall be, in the short term, organizing militant protests when such verdicts are executed and organize the working class in the long term as preparation for such moments. Only until the working class, located in strategic industries, that shutdowns components of the system, will we see a viable movement challenging the system. In the Oscar Grant movement we experienced a wave of rebellions on January 7th, and January 14th, 2009, as well as ILWU local 10 shutting down the port on October 23rd, 2010. The combination of street rebellions and shutting down industry are effective tactics against the state. The state, a concentration of power, will not take anything seriously, until there is a force that challenges such power ascends in the field of political battle. Our history of struggles against police brutality has been paralyzed between disorganized bursts of anger coupled with nonprofit lead forces that channel anger back into the system.

We need a militant organized movement of the working class who utilizes its position in society against state supported racist violence. The racist nature of American society will never be challenged until the working class begins to shutdown the system as a political response. A political organization with such explicit aims is needed to accomplish such tasks. Now is the time to organize for justice.

Come support the rally occurring Monday, July 15, 2013 at 14th and Broadway in Downtown Oakland.

Continue reading