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Tag Archives: working class
This flier was written by an AS comrade in San Francisco in light of the ongoing school bus drivers strike in New York City. Transit workers play a central role in the reproduction of our labor-powers on a day-to-day basis by moving working-class people to and from the sites of production and reproduction like our workplaces, schools, hospitals, groceries and other spaces we frequent to meet our needs. The current crisis of capital demands the continued disinvestment of the state in public commons like transportation, schools, and hospitals in favor of their destruction or replacement by privatized entities that provide the same services but at higher costs and lower quality. Since unionized workers continue to be a significant factor in these industries, the ruling class is on an offensive to remove these working-class organizations in so far as they represent an obstacle to continued capital accumulation, all at the expense of drivers, teachers, students, custodians, fast food workers, and all workers in general. Please aid our efforts to build rank and file solidarity and establish communication between rank and file workers in SF and NYC by printing this flier and distributing it to MUNI operators in San Francisco, or by joining us on one of our regular outreach sessions.
From NYC to SF!
Many transportation workers are facing bosses that are attacking their benefits, eliminating seniority, adding restrictive work rules, speeding up the pace of work and so on. One way to respond to this is to roll over and keep quiet, accepting it without a fight. Another option is to organize and go on strike, which is exactly what 8,800 school bus drivers of Amalgamated Transit Union 1181 in New York City are doing as of Wednesday, January 16 at 6:00 am.
Striking clerical workers carry pickets outside the APM Terminal at the Port of Los Angeles. (David McNew / Getty Images / November 30, 2012)
To our fellow workers,
We understand that this Wednesday, December 5, you will be voting on a contract for your labor at the Port of Oakland. We do not know the details of this contract, and only you can decide if what they offer is worth your labor at this point in time. However, as people who have and will continue to fight alongside you, we would like to respectfully ask that you consider some points before you cast your ballot.
The entirety of this letter is to argue that you are in a position of great power in this situation that is unparalleled in recent history.
The strike action taken at the Port of Oakland on Tuesday, November 20 was powerful. The Port Commission was undoubtedly shaken by your willingness to withhold your labor, the fierce support of your coworkers on the ports, and the larger community. The fact that they wanted to revisit negotiations after nearly a year shows that they do not want this type of tactic to continue or to escalate. This is still the most powerful weapon that an organized workforce has. We were glad to help organize and carry through two shut downs at the Port of Oakland last year. This collaboration and solidarity is quite obviously a threat to those who profit from the work that we do.
Miles de manifestantes marcharon contra el Presidente electo, a quien se le acusa de corrupcion para ganar su puesto. (departe te Sergio Carranza)
Saludos internacionales desde Oakland y San Francsco, California, EE.UU. a todos los compañeros y compañeras en Mexico luchando por la justicia social en contra del estado Mexicano.
Aquí en los EE.UU. también tenemos una historia violenta de ataques y represión contra la clase obrera y los revolucionarios de diversas tendencias.
En los años 1919 y 1920 las redadas Palmer se llevaron a cabo por el gobierno en contra de los inmigrantes, miembros de la IWW y otros radicales y revolucionarios. Fueron encarcelados por sus creencias y acciones políticas, y más de 500 personas fueron deportadas.
You’ve probably heard about the class struggle unfolding over the past few months in South Africa. An unprecedented wave of wildcat strikes has all but shut down much of the mining sector since August, with workers resisting wage cuts, layoffs, and hyperexploitative working conditions. When the South African Police Service massacred 34 strikers in broad daylight, the workers were not deterred; instead of backing off, the strikes spread across the entire mining sector, with iron ore and gold miners joining their platinum mining comrades in struggle against the multinationals that own and profit from these oppressive conditions. Now the struggle has spread into Namibia, Botswana, the Western Cape, and elsewhere, and strikers have self-organized workers’ committees across the platinum belt.
So what does all of this mean for class struggle in South Africa? How are these workers’ committees being organized, and why is this (as the Financial Times recently claimed) potentially the most effective strike wave to hit South Africa since the demise of apartheid?
Mazibuko Jara, a long-time organizer from South Africa’s Eastern Cape and one of the founders of the Democratic Left Front, will be giving two presentations on this new wave of class struggle:
On Thursday, Nov. 15, he will be speaking at a forum organized by UC Berkeley’s Center for African Studies at 4 pm (575 McCone Hall). While admission is free, we highly encourage people to make donations to the strike fund for these unprotected workers’ committees. Please give generously; every last dollar will help prolong this struggle.
On Friday, Nov. 15, Mazibuko will be speaking at La Peña in Berkeley (3105 Shattuck Ave) at 7 pm. Admission is on a sliding scale of $5-20, but please give as much as you can: every dollar raised will go to the workers’ committees. Additional donations are highly encouraged.
We hope to see you at one or both events. A luta continua! Forward to a living wage for all workers!
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.
On Monday Chicago teachers went on strike, notably under the influence of two US Trotskyist groups: the International Socialist Organization and Solidarity. This is an inspiring large-scale working-class action, and a modern test of many different things: the traditional Trotskyist approach of gaining the formal leadership of big unions, the viability of public sector strikes in the current climate, the question of whether workers will break the legal limits imposed by Taft-Hartley and other US Labor Law, as well as the relationship between the workers
withdrawing their labor and the people they serve.
Get it Chicago educators and supporters!
Check out Solida
If anyone gets new reportbacks / analysis, drop em in comments we’d love to see em.
The anti-budget cut movement and struggle for public education in California over the last year has inspired worldwide resistance, and has brought in a lot of new people who have never organized or been political before. The March 4th movement provided an outlet for people to get involved and educate themselves about the budget cuts; it also created a base to build off for the next cycle of struggle. Since March 4th conferences have gone down and a new date for mass action has been picked: October 7th… but will October 7th be qualitatively different than March 4th? Will more sectors of society be brought in? Will struggle deepen and become more militant? As the economic crisis deepens and affects more and more people internationally, there is a real need for a militant perspective examining why the budget cuts are happening, who is causing them, and who is suffering from them.
So far the education sector has largely lead resistance to the cuts, on college campuses specifically, but these cuts go far beyond the universities. It is not just education that is being destroyed; social services, such as free and/or affordable healthcare are being cut; there are massive foreclosures and a lack of affordable or public housing; unemployment remains high. Anyone can see that these cuts aren’t just affecting students, but the working-class as a whole. While all these cuts are happening in the public sector the top corporations and banks were immediately bailed out by the Federal Government as soon as their financial instruments evaporated in the bubble pop. If it wasn’t clear to you before that this system was based off of exploitation and a class divide between the rich and the poor, massive bailouts to the capitalists and bankers while we are left to struggle for the basic necessities of life should make it clear.
These budget cuts are also occurring during a time period of massive state violence to communities of color and queer people; the passage of the anti-immigration bill SB 1070 is causing and supporting more profiling of immigrant populations and ICE raids; the Oscar Grant movement has exposed the police’s continual assault against Black women and men that stems from the days of slavery; and there is consistent harassment and murder of queer and gender oppressed people. Is a budget cut struggle solely confined to defending education enough to really fight the cuts and the crisis? Is it enough for the people most affected by it to be brought in? No. We need a larger analysis that identifies the true enemy, the capitalist system, which relies on other systems of oppression (patriarchy, racism, & homophobia) to target and discipline people of color, women, and queer folks to keep divisions within the class that makes uniting and resisting harder.
What does the term “working class self-activity mean?” This essay by George Rawick explains. Excerpt:
The full incorporation of the unions within the structure of American State capitalism has led to very widespread disaffection of the workers from the unions. Workers are faced squarely with the problem of finding means of struggle autonomous of the unions…
There is often a very – sectarian and remarkably – undialectical reaction to these developments. Some historians and New leftists argue that it demonstrates that the CIO was a failure which resulted only in the workers’ disciplining. This argument ignores the gains of the CIO in terms of higher living standards, more security for workers, and increased education and enlightenment. Clearly, the victories are embedded in capitalism and the agency of victory, the union, has become an agency of capitalism as well. This is a concrete example of what contradiction means in a dialectical sense; and it is part of a process which leads to the next stage of the workers’ struggle, the wildcat strike.
There are two characteristics of the wildcat strike which represent a new stage of development: first, through this device workers struggle simultaneously against the bosses, the State, and the union; second, they achieve a much more direct form of class activity, by refusing to delegate aspects of their activity to an agency external to themselves.
Full article: http://www.geocities.com/cordobakaf/rawick.html
Professor Adolph Reed Jr debates three other professors, Steven Gregory, Maurice Zeitlin and Ellen Meiksins Wood, about how race and class relate to each other. This debate represents a historical problem in the American Marxist movement. Many different progressive and revolutionary movements in American history were never able to overcome racial differences to create class unity in key historic class struggles. Arguably the two most important strike waves in working class American history, 1877 and 1919, ended in defeats. Intra-racial fighting was a central problem that helped lay the ground work for the defeats of the strike. Eugene Debs, one of American labors great socialist leaders once openly stated, “We see it as a class issue rather than a race issue.” Debs colorblind socialism differed with racial theorist WEB Dubois who remarked in that same time period; “That the white heel is still on the black neck is simply proof that the world is not yet civilized. The history of the Negro in the United States is a history of crime without a parallel.” With that said, read this outstanding debate that will challenge simplistic notions of both race and class.
A PDF of this debate How_does_Race_relate_to_Class includes the following contents:
1. UNRAVELING THE RELATION OF RACE AND CLASS IN AMERICAN POLITICS Adolph Reed, Jr.
2. CLASS, RACE, AND CAPITALISM Ellen Meiksins Wood
3. ON THE ‘CONFLUENCE OF RACE AND CLASS’ IN AMERICA Maurice Zeitlin
4. THE ‘PARADOXES’ OF MISPLACED CONCRETENESS: I THINKING THROUGH THE STATE Steven Gregory
5. REJOINDER Adolph Reed, Jr.
Check out this long quote from an interview with Indian Marxist Aijaz Ahmad:
Q: In the same article, you remark that “postcoloniality is also like most things a matter of class.” This kind of emphasis on class is, of course, deeply unfashionable. Without dwelling on the notion of “postcoloniality” (if it isn’t too frivolous to ask for an answer in such a limited space), would you care to justify the sweeping proposition that “most things” are a matter of class?
Ahmad: Let me first make explicit a rather memorable reference there. In her biography of Chu Teh, the great commander of the People’s Army during the Revolution in China, Agnes Smedley recalls a moment when she had asked him about his having been a bandit and a thief in his youth. As Smedley tells it, Chu Teh fell silent for a while and then said something like, “Theft, you know, is also a matter of class.” I read that book when I was a very young boy but the truth of that simple statement has stayed with me all these years, and in paraphrasing those words I just wanted to record my admiration for both Smedley and Chu Teh.
But you have asked me to justify those words. I’m not sure how one justifies words so obviously true. India is said to have a population between 900 and 1,000 million. Roughly half of them are illiterate; but no bourgeois is illiterate anywhere in the world and those who constantly speak of “the pleasure of the text” are never poor. Roughly half of the world’s blind people live in India; but blindness too is a matter of class, in the sense that blindness is overwhelmingly a disease of the poor and in the sense that such high incidence of blindness has a lot to do with living in conditions that produce blindness, with number and quality of hospitals, with the ability to pay for cure and care. What needs to justify itself is that other kind of blindness, which refuses to see that most things area matter of class. That refusal is itself very intimately a matter of class.
The real question, then, is: why does one need to reiterate a truth so obvious? I think that the institutionalizing of certain kinds of radicalism has gone hand in hand with a certain sanitization of vocabulary, which is ultimately quite devastating for thought itself. One begins with the idea that there is some economic determination in social life but also that, as Althusser famously put it, “the lonely hour” of that final determination “never comes.” In the next step, one forgoes the idea of economic determination altogether. Then, the critique of capitalism is sundered from any forthright affirmation of what might replace it. So, the more anti-bourgeois, and anti-colonial etc. one becomes, the less one talks about socialism as a determinate horizon. In the process, critiques of capitalism are also sundered from any necessity of working class politics. Indeed, one may use the word “bourgeois,” in a cultural sort of sense, but the word “proletariat” makes one distinctly uncomfortable, as if using such words is some kind of anti-social activity. One may speak of any number of disorientations and even oppressions but one cultivates all kinds of politeness and indirection about the structure of capitalist class relations in which those oppressions are embedded. To speak of any of that directly and simply is to be “vulgar.” In this climate of Aesopian languages it is absolutely essential to reiterate that most things are a matter of class. That kind of statement is I think surprising only in a culture like that of the North American university in which radicalism has not had a powerful connection with movements of the working class in a long time. But it is precisely in that kind of culture that people need to hear such obvious truths.