Why Cops And Their ‘Unions’ Have No Place In The Labor Movement

This article originally appeared at Talking Points Memo.

By Becca Lewis

Class Struggle Workers - Portland at protest against Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd.
Class Struggle Workers – Portland at protest against Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd, 31 May.

Amidst nationwide protests ignited by the racist police murder of George Floyd, union members everywhere are asking: how can labor throw its weight into the fight to uproot racist repression? 

Using our collective power as workers is key. The multiracial working class makes the country’s wheels turn, and can bring them to a halt just as quickly. We have the power to shut down factories and docks, farms and urban transport, food plants and phone service. And now is the time to use it.

But it’s also high time the labor movement cleans its own house. In fact it’s long overdue. As mass anger at police killings shines the spotlight on police forces’ role as enforcers of racist repression, the time is now to carry through the demand long raised by class-struggle unionists, summed up in the slogan: “Cops out of the unions.”

In the weeks since Minneapolis police murdered George Floyd, cops have responded to mass protests by unleashing more violence on protesters. Yet brutal attacks by police across the country have not stifled the voices of millions. As we march, we chant to remember and honor those, like George Floyd, whose lives were cut short by endless racist terror.

Breonna Taylor, shot dead as she slept in her bed in Louisville.

Jamel Floyd died in New York after guards pepper-sprayed him in his prison cell.

Derrick Scott in Oklahoma City, who – like Eric Garner and George Floyd – died saying, “I can’t breathe.” One of the cops holding him down responded: “I don’t care.”

Here in Portland, Oregon, we remember Jason Washington, a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers, shot dead by university police.

Sean Reed, Ahmaud Arbery, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland

And in recent days, we learned Atlanta police shot and killed a 27-year-old black man named Rayshard Brooks.

Photo Jun 19, 1 14 08 PM
Juneteenth: 19 June 2020, Oakland, California, at rally occasioned by the shutdown of all U.S. West Coast ports by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in protest against racist police brutality.

As the list keeps growing, we in labor’s ranks join millions searching for an answer to how and when police killings and brutality will end. Workers like me want police “unions” ousted from the labor movement and want cops of all kinds removed from unions and union bodies now: this will be a crucial part of unchaining labor’s power in the fight against racial oppression.

The fact is, we face a glaring contradiction with the inclusion of police in the labor movement. The struggle against racist oppression is crucial to labor’s cause, but the professionals of repression are included in one labor body after another. Freeing labor from any and all affiliation with the cops is crucial to the revitalization of unions, which is a matter of life or death for the labor movement. Yet despite recent efforts by the Writers Guild of America, East and others to rightly call for the expulsion of the International Union of Police Associations from the AFL-CIO, the push has been met with resistance – the AFL-CIO rejected WGAE’s call earlier this month. When members of the labor officialdom try to stop or divert this vital fight, they are wielding the very outlook and policies that have drastically undercut and weakened our movement for years.

We must resolve this contradiction now if labor is genuinely going to unite with the aspirations of a new generation of workers who want to uproot racism – and if the labor movement is going to transform itself into an instrument for the emancipation of the working class and the oppressed.

As a longtime union activist here in the Pacific Northwest – a region plagued by far-right and white-supremacist forces, as well as attempts to impose union-busting “right-to-work” laws – the fight to oust cops from the unions is linked to all of our efforts to put workers’ solidarity into practice. When trade unionists here mobilize against racist attacks and provocations by far-right and fascist groups, police use the tools of their trade – batons, teargas, flash-bang grenades and pepper balls – to repress the anti-racist protesters.

A vivid example occurred in 2017 after a local fascist stabbed to death two people who opposed his racist rampage against teenage African American women on the MAX light rail train. Days after the attack, far-right groups staged a dangerous provocation in our city. Portland Labor Against the Fascists brought out members of 14 unions to stop it. As has repeatedly occurred, a year after the incident, Portland police were caught coordinating with the far-right groups holding a similar rally. The police encouraged the far-right provocations and provided some of those carrying them out with escorts and transport.

Today in Portland, as elsewhere, many of our fellow unionists who work in media have taken to removing logos from their clothing and cameras while covering protests because — like legal observers dragged off to jail when cops yell “round up the green hats” — journalists have been targeted by the police.

Labor playing the role it must in the fight against racist repression is flatly counterposed to harboring organizations whose purpose is to push the claims, and shield the crimes, of the police. And that is precisely what cops’ so-called “unions” are all about. When Minneapolis banned “warrior training” for cops last year, the police “union” even announced that it would provide such training for free.

While labor bodies like WGAE push for disaffiliation with the International Union of Police Associations, the effort is just one drop in one very large bucket. IUPA is just one of the entities representing the demands and interests of the repressors in blue. “We have a dozen affiliate unions that represent law enforcement in some form,” the AFL-CIO Executive Council noted in its June 10 statement opposing WGEA’s demand. Instead, it’s calling for police groups to adopt a “code of excellence.” This would be the equivalent of cops taking a knee before they go out yet again to bust heads and round up anti-racist protesters.

While police associations are not workers unions, many actual unions (AFSCME, the CWA, SEIU, Teamsters and others) have brought “law enforcement” and repression-industry sectors into their ranks. Having professional strikebreakers in the unions — when unionists face repression from cops and guards in every strike — is a recipe for defeat.

Class Struggle Workers – Portland at an anti-racist protest called by IBEW Local 48, 18 June 2020.

The AFL-CIO leadership’s position would only discredit unions in the eyes of a new generation that must be won over to the cause and struggle of labor. And it delivers a slap in the face to countless unionists subjected to police violence, teargas and sonic weapons for protesting racism or standing on a picket line. The officialdom claims that maintaining the affiliation of police is a question of – wait for it – “unity.” Cops’ billy clubs may “unite” with our heads, but real unity of workers, against racist repression, means uncuffing labor from “unity” with those swinging the batons.

The shopworn claim that it’s just a “few bad apples” involved in police brutality across the U.S. is starkly exposed by current events. When police terrorize black communities, target protesters and break up union pickets, they are literally doing their job — a role integral to the profit system, in which racial oppression has always been key to capitalists’ wealth and power. There is no reform or code, no set of rules or oversight that can change the basic role of the police, and they don’t belong in our unions in any form.

Just digging into the history of the police in America, which began as slave patrols, reveals how central it has always been to racial oppression.

After the Civil War, the promise of black freedom through Reconstruction was betrayed. As industry grew, labor — both black and white — faced bloody police intervention. As black workers took the lead in bringing the 1877 labor upheaval into the South, the cops were there to bloodily break up interracial workers’ struggles. When Democratic Party “Redeemers” imposed Jim Crow, the cops were there to enforce “law and order.” Up North, police joined post-WWI pogroms against black communities, while police frame-ups and vigilante lynchers took the lives of immigrant workers like Sacco and Vanzetti, IWW bard Joe Hill, his Native American comrade Frank Little and innumerable other heroes of labor.

Down the decades, from police massacres of striking dock workers in San Francisco and “Little Steel” strikers in Chicago, to the police murder of black teenager Larry Payne in the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike to today, strike-breaking and racist repression are central to the history of labor struggle, and of the police.

When police aren’t enough, companies rely on assistance from security guards like the Pinkertons (currently known as Securitas Security Services), infamous for strike-breaking as “just part of the job” of protecting capitalist property and making sure that bosses can keep unions in check.

On June 2, Minneapolis Public Schools voted to cut ties with the police department. This important step should spread to other cities. And it means opposing any attempts to replace them with private security guards or some other police department, which would mean more of the same.

Today, all labor faces the old question: Which side are you on?

When painters, construction workers, stage hands and others formed Class Struggle Workers – Portland six years ago, we saw the need to end labor’s subjugation to the bosses’ institutions, politicians and parties, and for building a workers’ party. One of our key inspirations was black and white unionists’ struggle to oust police from the municipal workers union in Brazil’s “Steel City.” Our founding program states: “Police, prison guards and security guards are the armed fist of capital, part of the apparatus of anti-labor, racist repression: they must be removed from the unions.”

To unchain the power of labor in the fight against racism and repression, this contradiction must be resolved.

If not now, when?

Becca Lewis is a member of the IATSE L. 28 union and a founding member of Class Struggle Workers – Portland. She works as a carpenter for the Portland Opera and a stagehand. She writes in her individual capacity.

CSWP llama a acciones obreras ante la crisis del coronavirus

Read the English version here.

En la actual crisis sanitaria y económica desatada por el coronavirus, la clase obrera –y particularmente aquellos que viven al día– están siendo lanzados contra la cuerdas, en una situación insostenible. Muchos son obligados a tomar decisiones angustiosas cuando se trata de ir al trabajo, frecuentemente bajo inadecuadas condiciones laborales y de seguridad. Los que son despedidos de sus trabajos son dejados a su suerte. Los que tienen menos posibilidades de protegerse encaran la bancarrota financiera, agobiados por facturas médicas imposibles a pagar.

En esta crisis provocada por el novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Class Struggle Workers –Portland llama a todos los sindicatos y trabajadores a exigir lo siguiente:

  • Todos los trabajadores que no pueden trabajar como resultado del virus –incluidos aquellos que consideran que el asistir al trabajo pone en riesgo su salud– deben recibir su salario íntegro hasta que les sea posible regresar al trabajo, sin penalización ni acción disciplinaria alguna impuesta por el patrón.
  • Todos los trabajadores que sigan laborando deberán ser equipados con todo Equipo de Protección Personal necesario, siendo éste el que determinen los trabajadores mismos. Todos los centros de trabajo deben adoptar inmediatamente las medidas de seguridad necesarias, incluida la sanitización frecuente, el acceso a lavamanos, y la separación física necesaria para protegerse.
  • Los sindicatos deben defender vigorosamente la salud y seguridad de sus miembros y de otros, incluidos aquellos en los ramos laborales que han sido definidos como de servicios esenciales. Los sindicatos de los trabajadores de electricidad y de gas deberán anunciar que se rehúsan a cortar los servicios por falta de pago mientras dure la crisis.
  • Toda prueba y tratamiento médico deberá ser gratuito y estar disponible a quienquiera que lo solicite.

La actual Ley de Baja por Enfermedad de Portland permite a los trabajadores acumular únicamente 40 horas de ausencia pagada por año. Debido a que muchos negocios en Oregon han recibido la orden de cerrar por al menos cuatro semanas, la situación para estos trabajadores es terrible. Sin asistencia inmediata, podrían no sólo perder su casa, sino que incluso podrían perder también su seguro médico. Tiene que haber licencia por enfermedad ilimitada, pagada al nivel salarial pleno. Lo mismo debe valer para aquellos que necesitan cuidar de sus familiares.

Los trabajadores deben exigir que la clase obrera no sea sacrificada mientras cierran los negocios y servicios. Todos están siendo afectados. Con las escuelas de Portland cerradas, los maestros seguirán recibiendo su salario, pero el personal administrativo y de limpieza no. Protestamos en contra de esta atrocidad y demandamos que todo el personal siga recibiendo su paga.

En Seattle, el sindicato de choferes (Teamsters) está llamando a que todos los choferes de Uber y de Lyft reciban 1,000 dólares a la semana en compensación por la falta de trabajo. Esta debe ser una demanda hacia los patrones y los gobiernos a lo largo y ancho del país. CSWP insiste: en lugar de peticiones vagas de ayuda, los sindicatos deben comenzar inmediatamente a organizar para exigir pago íntegro para todos los trabajadores que han perdido horas de trabajo debido al virus.

Los sindicatos deben también emprender la formación de comités de salud y seguridad, que deben ser elegidos en cada centro de trabajo, lo mismo para trabajadores sindicalizados que no sindicalizados, para asegurarse de que todas las medidas de seguridad están siendo aplicadas para todos los trabajadores, y que todo el equipo necesario está disponible. Los sindicatos deben hacer todo el esfuerzo para asegurarse de que los trabajadores sin representación tengan también acceso a toda protección. No debe realizarse ninguna labor sino hasta que estas prácticas básicas de seguridad se realicen.

El cierre de las escuelas ha colocado a las familias trabajadoras y de bajos ingresos bajo una presión tremenda, y en las mujeres en particular, toda vez que alguien tiene que encargarse de los hijos. Las organizaciones obreras deben exigir guarderías gratuitas y de alta calidad para quienes las necesiten, con servicios educativos organizados incluidos.

El que toda persona deba tener vivienda es aún más obvio y urgente durante una pandemia. Un movimiento obrero combativo debe coordinarse con organizaciones de inquilinos y de personas sin hogar para detener los desalojos por desahucio, ocupar las viviendas vacías y las propiedades de inversión y las segundas casas de los ricos, y ocupar espacios hoteleros para proveer alojamiento para las personas sin hogar, y no inmensas ganancias a los especuladores.

Muchos de los más vulnerables en esta crisis son inmigrantes, que se enfrentan no solamente a la pérdida de sus ingresos, sin atención médica y con sus hijos sin posibilidad de ir a la escuela, sino también con la constante amenaza de la deportación. Ahora en California, Nueva York y en otras partes, el ICE está aprovechándose de la cuarentena de emergencia para hacer más redadas y arrestos. Los sindicatos deben exigir: ¡Alto a las redadas y las deportaciones! ¡Cerrar los centros de detención (campos de concentración) para inmigrantes! ¡Liberar a los detenidos para que regresen con sus familias y a sus comunidades! ¡ICE fuera de Portland!

Los partidos gobernantes están explotando la crisis: el Partido Demócrata, por su parte, azuza la histeria en un cínico esfuerzo a marcar tantos en este año electoral, mientras Trump tuitea una imagen de si mismo tocando violín mientras Roma arde, explota la crisis para instigar miedo contra “extranjeros” y dona 1.5 billones de dólares a Wall Street.

La clase obrera necesita un partido que pueda pelear por atención médica gratuita para todos, licencia pagada para todos los trabajadores que están desempleados, desplazados, enfermos o de alguna otra forma incapacitados para trabajar a causa del virus, y medidas de seguridad inmediatas para proteger a los trabajadores que deben seguir asistiendo al trabajo. Mientras se desarrolla la pandemia, la acuciante necesidad de un partido obrero revolucionario internacional no podría ser más clara.

Un movimiento obrero combativo de masas con una dirección clasista establecería comisiones obreras en los centros de trabajo para decidir e implementar las medidas necesarias, incluido el cierre ahí donde sea necesario, sin detener los pagos a los trabajadores, o bien, la continuación del trabajo productivo con la protección necesaria

A la larga, será necesaria una economía planificada capaz de redirigir la producción y distribución del equipo médico, de seguridad y de necesidades básicas, con centros de trabajo organizados con la prioridad centrada en la seguridad de los trabajadores, para pelear de forma efectiva en contra de la pandemia. Esto implica luchar para poner fin al sistema capitalista y la concomitante anarquía en la producción por el lucro privado, la incompetencia, el racismo y la explotación, y así luchar para establecer un gobierno obrero.

Con las vidas y medios de subsistencia de tantos trabajadores y oprimidos al filo de la navaja, la única salida es la lucha de clases.

CSWP Calls for Workers Action in Coronavirus Crisis

Disponible aquí en español.

In the current coronavirus/economic crisis, working people – and particularly those who live paycheck to paycheck – are being pushed into unbearable situations. Many are forced to make agonizing decisions when it comes to going to work, often with inadequate safety and labor conditions. Those who are thrown out of work are left to fend for themselves. Those least able to protect themselves face financial ruin burdened with medical bills beyond their means.

In this crisis, Class Struggle Workers Portland calls on unions and all workers to demand the following in the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis:

  • All workers who are unable to work as a result of the virus – including any who feel that their continued presence on the job puts their health at risk – shall be paid in full for all time missed until they are able to return to work, with no penalty or disciplinary action from their employer.
    • All workers who continue to work shall be furnished with all Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) necessary, as determined by the workers themselves. All workplaces shall adopt immediate safety measures including frequent sanitizing practices, handwashing facilities, and physical separation as much as is required to protect them.
  • Unions must vigorously defend the health and safety of their members and others, including in categories that have been ruled essential services. Utilities workers unions should announce that they refuse to cut off services due to non-payment for the duration of the crisis.
    • All testing and medical treatment should be free and available on demand.

The current Portland Sick Leave law only allows employees to accrue 40 hours of paid leave per year. As many businesses have been ordered to close for at least four weeks in Oregon, the situation for those workers is dire. Without immediate assistance, they not only may lose their housing, but also their health insurance. There should be unlimited sick pay at the highest level. The same should apply to those who need to care for family members.

Labor must demand that working people must not be sacrificed as businesses and services are shuttered. All are affected. Portland schools closed, teachers will continue to be paid, but the classified staff will not. We protest this outrage, and demand that all staff be paid.

In Seattle, Teamsters are calling for all Uber and Lyft drivers to receive $1,000 a week in compensation for lost work. This should be a demand on employers and governments across the country. The CSWP says, rather than vague calls for relief, unions must immediately begin organizing to demand full pay for all workers who have lost time as a result of the virus.

Unions should also take the lead in forming health and safety committees, to be elected at every workplace, both union and unrepresented, to ensure that all safety measures are being enforced for all workers, and that all necessary equipment is available. Unions should make every effort to ensure that unrepresented workers also have access to every protection. No work should be performed until these basic safety practices are in place.

Schools closing has put a tremendous strain on working and low-income families, and women in particular, as someone must care for the kids. Workers organizations must demand free, high-quality child care facilities for all who need them, including organized educational services.

The fact that everyone must have a home is even more obvious and urgent during a pandemic. A militant workers movement would work with tenants and homeless organizations to stop evictions, take over unoccupied apartments, investment properties and second homes of the wealthy and occupy hotel space to provide housing for the homeless instead of the huge profits of speculators and price-gougers.

Many of the most vulnerable in this crisis are immigrants, who face not only loss of income, lack of medical care and their children being deprived of school, but the ever-present threat of deportation. Now in California, New York and elsewhere , I.C.E. is taking advantage of the coronavirus lockdown  to make more raids and arrests. Unions must demand: Stop the raids and deportations! Shut down the immigrant detention centers (concentration camps) – Free the detainees to return to their families and communities! I.C.E. out of Portland!

The ruling parties are exploiting this crisis, with the Democrats whipping up hysteria on one hand, in a cynical attempt to score points in an election year, while Trump tweets out an image of himself fiddling as Rome burns, exploits the crisis to push fear of “foreigners” and hands out $1.5 trillion in free money to Wall Street.

The working class needs a party that can fight for free healthcare for allfull paid leave for all workers who are unemployed, displaced, sick, or otherwise unable to work because of the virus, and immediate safety measures to protect workers who must still go to work. The urgent need for an international revolutionary workers party could not be more clear as the pandemic unfolds.

A mass, militant workers movement with a class-struggle leadership would establish workers commissions at workplaces to decide appropriate measures, including shutting down where necessary, with no loss in pay, or continuing production with needed safeguards.

Ultimately, it will take a planned economy capable of redirecting production and distribution of medical equipment, safety equipment and basic necessities for a large-scale outbreak, with workplaces organized with the safety of workers as a central priority, in order to effectively fight a pandemic. That means a fight to end this capitalist system of profit-driven chaos, incompetence, racism and exploitation, and establish a workers government.

With the lives and livelihoods of so many workers and oppressed people in the balance, the only way forward is class struggle.

Rebecca L. for IATSE Local 28 Executive Board at Large

Becca L. - 1I accept my nomination as a candidate for eboard member at large for IATSE Local 28 with a sense of urgency and commitment. I do so at this moment when our Local, our Union, the labor movement in general and all working people are facing tough times. We need a fighting leadership, and I believe I can help build that.

I’ve been an active member of the Local including organizing IATSE contingents for May Day, and Pride, as well as organizing oppose the fascists. I serve on several committees, and as a delegate to the Oregon AFL-CIO Convention in the past and am currently a delegate to the NW Oregon Labor Council. I’ve attended labor law, organizing, and unionism workshops. I’ve served as a union steward and I’m well versed in Robert’s Rules of Order and our Constitution and Bylaws.

I believe our membership is our most valuable resource and we should organize ourselves accordingly. We should do away with secret negotiations and act with transparency and democracy. Our disciplinary policies should reflect our relationship to each other as siblings, sisters, and brothers in this alliance.

Beyond that we need a strategy for labor that will fight to organize the unorganized and unite across craft, trade, and jurisdictional lines. I have advocated for and participated in our Local aiding organizing efforts as at Burgerville, in our ongoing efforts with our unrepresented sisters and brothers in our industry, and elsewhere. We also need to lead the struggle against sexism, homophobia, racism, and anti-immigrant bigotry.

Rebecca L. (right) at labor protest against fascists.
Rebecca L. (right) at labor protest against fascists.

As a supporter of Class Struggle Workers – Portland, I have helped build labor solidarity against union-busting on the waterfront and labor contingents against racist police murder (May Day 2015), in defense of abortion rights (January 2016) and of “hard hats for gay rights” (June 2016), actions in which a number of our Local members proudly participated. I have also traveled to LA in support of the biggest teachers strike in recorded history last year. Today it is urgent that we use our strength in defense of immigrants, Muslims and the rights of us all. Our rallying cry must be “An Injury to one is an Injury to All,” and we must make it real.

For decades, our unions have been chained to the Democratic Party. Look where that has gotten us! A class -struggle strategy for our unions must rely on workers power, independent from the state, the political parties of the bosses, and not on the courts. The government of Taft-Hartley and union-busting “right to work” serves the bosses. It’s that simple. So we need our own party, a workers party, that can defend all those ground down by the power of capital.

We are facing hard times in the labor movement and at this pivotal moment we need a solid, class-conscious strategy to defend ourselves against the hailstorm of attacks coming our way. We have the power as workers not just to resist but to defeat these attacks, but we need to use that power or we will certainly lose it.

In Solidarity,
Becca L.

Vote Wyatt M. & Alex G. for Delegates from Local 10

As members of Local 10, our record speaks for itself. We have taken the lead on standing up to the contractors when they tried to grab for our pension, building for a strike and organizing our co-workers. We have served on several committees, including the contract committee. Now painters’ hands aren’t tied by “binding arbitration.” We served on the Volunteer Activist committee, and the Anti-racist Mobilization committee, where we were able to mobilize our local to oppose the “Patriot Prayer” fascists.

We have supported translation, both for union meetings and for apprenticeship classes, because our Spanish speaking sisters and brothers are the life blood of our local and should have no barrier to full education, promotion, and participation in our union. Wyatt fought for years to get our contracts translated into Spanish. Finally, they are.

We also stand on the slogan “An Injury to One is an Injury to All”. All workers are our sisters and brothers, and any attack on workers rights is an attack on our rights. We need to build workers defense guards to stand up to racist and fascist groups. We stand for women’s rights, the right to free childcare, and in defense of abortion rights. We need to tear down divisions between the trades. A picket line means don’t cross. We are for massive united action of all the trades against the bosses.

We need to break with the Democrats, the Republicans, and all parties of the bosses and build real class struggle workers party. We need to untie our hands and fight to win.

Vote on Saturday, June 8, any time from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at any of three locations:

Local 10 hall, 11105 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR 97220

Best Western, 3125 Ryan Dr. SE, Salem, OR 97301

Plumbers & Pipefitters 290 Training Center, 2861 Pierce Parkway, Springfield, OR 97477

Only Vote For Class-Struggle Candidates!

New Pamphlet: Taxi Workers Under Siege

Class Struggle International Workers (Trabajadores Internacionales Clasistas) is an organization of immigrant workers based in New York City. The topics covered by their new pamphlet are relevant to taxi and ride-share drivers across the country, including in Portland.

For copies, send US$2 (includes postage) to: Mundial Publications, Box 3321 Church Street Station, New York, NY 10008.

201905 CSIW Taxi workers under siege pamphlet cover

Taxi Workers Under Siege: Wall Street, Uber Profiteers and Democrats Wring Workers Dry

Table of Contents:

Vota por Alex G. para delegado a la conferencia nacional del IUPAT

(Click here for a version in English)

Estimados compañeros y compañeras: me presento como candidato por ser delegado de Local 10 a la conferencia nacional del Sindicato de Pintores y Oficios Afines (IUPAT por sus siglas en inglés). En la conferencia, quiero representar los mismos principios clasistas por los cuales soy conocido en el sindicato local. Necesito su voto.

Soy pintor comercial, calificado de journeyman, graduado de nuestro sistema de aprendices. Soy un militante socialista y sindical de toda la vida. En el Local 10, los miembros me conocen por insistir en la transformación de nuestro sindicato en instrumento de lucha de todos los pintores y tayperos. Creo que muchos están de acuerdo conmigo en que nuestra unión debe estar lista para librar una huelga poderosa y eficaz para liberar a los pintores de nuestros salarios de miseria. Participé en el “comité consultivo” del contrato de 2017, exigiendo el “5-5-5” (aumento anual de $5) y un plan serio para la huelga. Encabecé la resistencia en Siegner a la aplicación espía “T-sheets.” Varios de nosotros estamos organizando a los pintores y tayperos para defender nuestra pensión contra la inagotable avaricia de los patrones, empujando el programa de escuadrones como “equipos de acción,” y enfrentando a los dirigentes que descartan las preparaciones concretas para una huelga.

Los dirigentes de nuestro sindicato ostentan como lema “la colaboración [con las empresas] rinde,” y gastan nuestras cuotas jugando al golf con los patrones. Por el contrario, insisto en que los capitalistas no son nuestros socios, sino nuestros explotadores. Lo poco que tenemos se puede defender sólo por medio de la movilización de nuestro poder de clase. Nuestro trabajo es la fuente de todas las ganancias de los patrones. Fortalezcamos a la unión mostrando a los trabajadores no sindicalizados que somos serios y que no nos dejamos intimidar. Creo en la solidaridad obrera, no en la ilusión que haya intereses comunes entre los obreros y los patrones. Esto significa que debemos oponernos al racismo y a los prejuicios antiinmigrantes en todas partes, porque lo que nos divide nos debilita frente al patrón. Quien busca envenenar al movimiento obrero con el racismo y el chovinismo es nuestro enemigo. El movimiento obrero debe exigir plenos derechos de ciudadanía para todos los inmigrantes.

El local 10 llegó ser conocido al nivel nacional por nuestra toma de posición sobre estas cuestiones. Fui uno de los escritores de nuestra moción histórica que proclamó el compromiso del Local 10 para movilizarnos contra organizaciones fascistas y racistas, y estuve presente junto con otros sindicalistas en las primeras filas contra los matones de “Patriot Prayer”. El movimiento obrero tiene la fuerza para barrer a estos aspirantes a nazis, pero hay que usarla antes de que sea demasiado tarde. Ahora el consejo regional 14 del IUPAT de Chicago, y la AFL-CIO del estado de Illinois se nos han sumado al aprobar también nuestra moción antifascista. Sus palabras de apoyo deben llenar de orgullo a cada militante del Local 10. Pero hay que pasar de las palabras a la acción. Como delegado, buscaré difundir el ejemplo que han dado el Local 10 y el DC 14. Nuestra experiencia en Portland, y la historia trágica del ascenso de Hitler en los años 1930 demuestran que los políticos liberales o demócratas y sus policías no van a parar a los terroristas fascistas. Tenemos que estar preparados para defender a nuestros sindicatos y a nuestras comunidades contra estos productos mortíferos del sistema capitalista en decadencia.

Junto a otros miembros del Local 10 presenté nuestra moción de agosto de 2016 rechazando a los Demócratas como partido patronal, así como todos los partidos y políticos de la burguesía, llamando, en cambio, por un partido obrero de lucha clasista. Todos saben que Trump es un intolerante racista que odia a los sindicatos. Pero no se puede combatir a Trump con los Demócratas. Éstos, desde Bernie Sanders hasta Joe Biden, son representantes de la clase capitalista que vive de nuestro trabajo y gobierna por medio de su sistema brutal y racista de opresión y guerra alrededor del mundo. Representaré al Local 10 en la conferencia oponiéndome a cualquier apoyo a los Demócratas, o a cualquier partido patronal. En este país los patrones tienen dos partidos. Nosotros los trabajadores necesitamos el nuestro, para dirigir la lucha de clases hacia un gobierno obrero.

Para votar, hay que estar al día con la cuota de Local 10, y hay que presentarse en la reunión sindical del 15 de mayo. Llame por teléfono a la oficina sindical, 503-257-0589, para averiguar su estatus. Asista a la reunión, el miércoles 15 de mayo a las 6 p.m., en uno de estos lugares: Local 10 hall, 11105 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, 97220; Best Western, 3125 Ryan Dr. SE, Salem, 97301; Plumbers & Pipefitters 290 Training Center 2861 Pierce Parkway, Springfield, 97477.

¿Preguntas? cswp@csw-pdx.org o 503-303-8278.

Vote Alex G. for IUPAT Convention Delegate

(Haz clic aquí para leer en español)

Dear fellow union members: I have been nominated to represent Painters and Drywall Finishers Local 10 at this year’s international convention of the painters union. I want to represent Local 10 at our convention by standing for the same militant class-struggle principles that I have become known for in our Local, and I need your vote.

I am a journeyman commercial painter, graduate of our apprenticeship, and have been a lifelong socialist and union activist. In Local 10, members know that I have consistently pushed to transform our local into a fighting instrument of all painters and tapers. I think I speak for many in saying that our union must be ready to wage a powerful and effective strike to break painters out of our poverty-level wages. I was active on the painters’ 2017 “contract advisory” committee, demanding “5-5-5” and a serious strike plan. I led the resistance at Siegner to the privacy-invading “T-sheets” spyware app. A number of us have been working to get finishers and painters organized to defend our pension against the bosses’ insatiable greed, promoting the “member action team” squad program and challenging the union leaders who argued against real strike preparations.

Our union leaders say “partnership works” and spend our dues money playing charity golf with our boss-“partners.” I say the capitalists are not our partners, they are our exploiters. We can only defend what little we have by mobilizing our working-class power. We created all the bosses’ wealth with our labor. We can grow our union by showing non-union workers that we mean business and won’t be pushed around. I stand for workers solidarity, not the illusion of common interests with the bosses. That means opposing racism and anti-immigrant prejudice at every turn, because whatever divides us weakens us against the bosses. Whoever seeks to poison the labor movement with racism and national chauvinism is our enemy. Labor must demand full citizenship rights for all immigrants.

Local 10 has gained national recognition for our stand on these issues. I helped to write our historic resolution committing Local 10 to mobilize against fascist and racist groups, and I have stood with painters, tapers and other union militants on the front lines against “Patriot Prayer” thugs. Labor has the numbers and power to sweep the wannabe Nazis off our streets, but we have to use it before it’s too late. Now the Chicago IUPAT District Council 14 and Illinois AFL-CIO have joined Local 10 in committing to mobilize against the fascists. Their words should fill every Local 10 member with pride. But they must be turned into disciplined action. As a delegate, I will seek to spread the example that we in Local 10 and DC 14 painters have set. Our experience in Portland, and the tragic history of the rise of Hitler in the 1930s, shows that liberal Democratic politicians and their police won’t stop the fascist terrorists. We must be prepared to defend our unions and our working class communities against this deadly product of the decaying capitalist system.

In Local 10, I along with several others put forward our August 2016 resolution rejecting the bosses’ Democratic Party and all capitalist parties and politicians, calling instead for a class-struggle workers party. Everyone knows Trump is a union-hating racist bigot. But we can’t fight Trump with Democrats. The Democrats from Bernie Sanders to Joe Biden are representatives of the capitalist class that lives off our labor and rules through its brutal, racist system of world-wide oppression and war. I will represent Local 10 at the convention by opposing any support or endorsement for the Democrats, or any bosses’ party. The bosses have two parties. We need our own party to lead the workers class struggle, for a workers government.

To vote, you must be a Local 10 member in good standing, and you must attend the May 15 monthly union meeting. Call the union office at 503-257-0589 to verify that you are in good standing. Come to the union meeting at 6 p.m., Wednesday May 15. Choose from three locations: Local 10 hall, 11105 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, 97220; Best Western, 3125 Ryan Dr. SE, Salem, 97301; Plumbers & Pipefitters 290 Training Center 2861 Pierce Parkway, Springfield, 97477.

Questions? Contact me at cswp@csw-pdx.org or 503-303-8278.

Bridge City Militant No. 5

It’s here! The fifth issue of our newsletter. Contact us to get your union-printed copy.

Bridge City Militant No. 5, Spring 2019
Click to download a PDF file.

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