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.

June 4: Portland Labor Mobilizes to Stop Fascist Provocation

The Internationalist website published a report on the June 4 Portland Labor Against the Fascists mobilization. Read the article here.

The June 4 rally of white-supremacist and outright fascist Trump supporters in Portland, OR was protected by triple lines of heavily armed police. However, it was surrounded by far greater numbers of furious protesters outraged by this brazen provocation barely a week after the double murder by a local Nazi. One of three protests, a mobilization called by Portland Labor Against the Fascists, brought out several hundred union members and supporters, including members of at least 14 area unions.  The labor mobilization stood its ground to the very end, with non-stop chants and speeches that reverberated throughout the area for over six hours until the last of the racist and fascist scum exited on buses protected by the police. This marks the first significant working-class action in the U.S. against white supremacists in decades. June 4 points to the potential for organizing workers defense guards that could send the fascist vermin scurrying back into their holes. It was an important first step in bringing out the power of the labor movement in defense of working people, immigrants, Muslims and all those targeted by the all-round reactionary offensive coming out of Washington. And it sharply posed the need for a workers party fighting to overthrow the capitalist system that breeds fascism, and to replace it with the liberating rule of the working class.

It Will Take Hard Class Struggle To Defeat “Right to Work”

From Bridge City Militant No. 4 (Spring 2017)

The labor movement in the United States is under full-scale attack, and its leaders are laying down and playing dead. They have no plans to fight the rightist capitalist onslaught spearheaded by Donald Trump. Worse yet, having been burned by their support for Democrat Hillary Clinton, top labor leaders are doing everything they can to play ball with labor-hater Trump.

In an interview with Fox Business Network, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka praised Trump’s cancellation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and his talk of rebuilding infrastructure. “If he does something that’s good for the economy and workers, we’re going to be behind him,” he summed up, adding lamely: if not, not. Others were totally positive. When Trump called construction union leaders to the White House in late January, the head of NABTU (North America’s Building Trades Unions) Sean McGarvey crowed, “The respect that the President of the United States just showed us… was nothing short of incredible…. We have a common bond with the president.”

Laborers’ International Union president Terry O’Sullivan issued a press release saying “LIUNA is ready to work with the new Administration in the coming years to strengthen our country.” Doug McCarron, president of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, was downright fawning. After Trump declared “I love Doug,” McCarron gushed to the media the president’s inaugural speech was “a great moment for working men and women in the United States.” But behind the love fest, working people will get screwed by a president who has declared that wages in the U.S. are too high, has fought unions at his Las Vegas hotel and elsewhere and supports union-busting “right to work” laws.

Various commentators have argued that the construction union leaders are being played. For sure. But then they are also getting played when they regularly back the Democrats. Labor will always get screwed so long as it is chained to the parties of capital. But forging those chains is how the sellout labor bureaucrats got in office, and how they got where they are today: facing the abyss.

The paralysis of union tops in the face of threatened “right-to-work” legislation or a potential Supreme Court decision that would do the same to public sector workers, is a declaration of bankruptcy. It demonstrates again that their fundamental loyalty is to the capitalist system, not the working people they claim to represent. What’s needed is to build a fighting opposition inside the labor movement based on a program of sharp class struggle, against the suicidal class collaboration of the present pro-capitalist labor bureaucracy. There’s got to be a clean sweep, or the unions are going down.

“Right to Work” and Racist American Capitalism

A year ago, labor unionists breathed a sigh of relief as the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 4-4 tie vote, killed Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association by letting stand the ruling of the appeals court. Funded by deep-pocketed anti-union “think tanks,” the lawsuit sought to cripple the unions financially by outlawing the “agency shop,” the requirement that employees at an organized workplace pay union dues or an equivalent. The target was public sector unions (representing 35% of the workforce) which because of their political connections have been able to withstand the union-busting onslaught that has decimated labor in the private sector, where union membership is down to 6%.

Now anti-union forces are gearing up for another attempt with a new Supreme Court. Meanwhile, in January Kentucky enacted a double-whammy “right-to-work” law coupled with a “no-right-to-strike” provision for public employees. Missouri passed its “RTW” law in February (it already had a public sector strike ban). And on February 1, a bill for a National Right to Work Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by two of the most reactionary Congressmen in the country, Steve King of Iowa and Joe Wilson of South Carolina. If neither of them is formally part of the right-wing Republican Freedom Caucus it is because this pair stands even further to the right.

Wilson is a Tea Party asset and a virulent immigrant-basher whose main claim to fame was to yell “you lie” (about immigration reform) at Barack Obama during a 2009 presidential address in Congress. Steve King is, if anything, an even more unabashed racist, sporting a Confederate battle flag on his desk, claiming Obama favored blacks and saying that “white people” have a “superior culture.” He declares that Islam is “antithetical to Americanism,” says that “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” and wants to eliminate citizenship for all those born in the U.S. in order to produce an “America that’s just so homogeneous that we look a lot [sic] the same.”

It’s no wonder that spewing out such garbage, King is a hero of fascist and fascistic “white nationalists.” He is not only opposed to gay marriage, but even to civil marriage. And it’s entirely predictable that such a race-hater would also be a labor-hater. The fact is that the campaign for open-shop “right to work” laws, now threatening a nationwide offensive, was championed from its beginning by racist ideologues who oppose unions because in order to be effective, the unions must organize black and white workers together.

“Right to work” as a deceptively-named political movement was launched in the 1940s in Texas by a prolific right-wing political organizer named Vance Muse. Muse’s modus operandi was to rake in funds from some of America’s most powerful capitalist families – the Sloans (General Motors), Pews (Sun Oil), and Duponts, along with leading southern grandees – while hobnobbing with fascist groups like the Klan and “silver shirt” leader Gerald L. K. Smith. Muse organized a Georgia convention of a “Southern Committee to Uphold the Constitution” in 1934 chaired by former National Association of Manufacturers president John H. Kirby and featuring Smith and other fascists.

Two years later, Muse launched the Christian American Association in Texas. According to the Texas State Historical Association’s Handbook of Texas Online, “The Christian Americans worked for passage of right-to-work laws in sixteen states,” starting with Florida and Arkansas. According to “Limiting Labor: Business Political Mobilization and Union Setback in the States” by Marc Dixon in the Journal of Policy History (Vol. 19, No. 3, 2007):

“The Christian American Association was the first in the nation to champion the ‘Right-to-Work’ as a full-blown political slogan. Vance Muse became intrigued by the use of the Right-to-Work term in a 1941 Labor Day editorial in the Dallas Morning News that called for an open-shop amendment to the constitution. After traveling to Dallas and consulting with the editor, Muse was encouraged to use and promote the idea of Right-to-Work. This became their primary cause and they campaigned extensively for Right-to-Work legislation throughout the country, and especially within Texas.”

Muse and the fascist forces he mobilized with industry backing opposed unions because, in Muse’s words, the agency shop meant that “from now on, white women and white men will be forced into organizations with black African apes whom they will have to call ‘brother’ or lose their jobs.” (Gerard Colby, Du Pont Dynasty: Behind the Nylon Curtain [1984]) Muse was joined in his efforts by his older sister Ida Darden, who was notable as the publicity director of the Texas Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage in 1916, and the editor of the Southern Conservative newspaper from 1950 to 1961, which campaigned against unions, civil rights, modern art and Hollywood movies.

Christian American lobbying led to laws in Texas limiting picketing and other union activities. But while far-right and fascist organizations such as Muse’s groups were early and strident advocates of open-shop laws, they were not alone. Dixon writes that by 1947, when “right to work” was made law in Texas, its major backer was the Texas Manufacturers Association, headed by Herman Brown of the Brown & Root construction firm. By this time, the TMA kept its distance from Vance Muse and allied far-right groups. And the anti-labor forces were not the only ones to make racist appeals. In opposing “open shop” laws, Harry Acreman of the Texas AFL “invoked race as an issue, arguing that Right-to Work would end segregation in southern workplaces,” as Dixon noted.

Ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1930s New Deal, labor officialdom has been in the Democrats’ pocket. While the Republicans opposed unions outright, FDR sought to hogtie them with government control, from the 1934 Wagner Act to the WWII War Labor Board. The kept labor bureaucracy went along with its wartime no-strike pledge, while the government jailed the Minneapolis Teamster leaders and Trotskyists for opposing the imperialist slaughter. Since a mainstay of FDR’s “New Deal coalition” were the Southern Dixiecrats, in opposing anti-labor legislation the craven union misleaders appealed to these racists for support. That doomed the postwar attempt to organize the South (Operation Dixie), which could have succeeded had the CIO fought Jim Crow segregation.

That was when employers’ “right-to-work” drive could have been stopped cold. Instead, you got the “open shop” South, a bastion of anti-unionism. And under the Democratic administration of Harry Truman, the 1948 Taft-Hartley Act was passed outlawing the closed shop and banning communists from union leadership positions. Although the AFL and CIO tops claimed to oppose that “slave labor” law, they refused to strike against it, meekly submitting to the dictates of capital. Meanwhile, as part of the anti-Soviet Cold War, liberal Democrats purged the unions of the “reds” who had built them, laying the basis for the subsequent witch-hunting associated with Republican senator Joseph McCarthy. And McCarthy’s chief witch-hunter, Roy Cohn, was the mentor of Donald Trump.

Forge a Class-Struggle Leadership of Labor to Defend All the Oppressed

Today, the drive to roll back the remaining gains of the industrial unions that were born in the class struggles of the 1930s is intensifying in the context of a political crisis of U.S. imperialism. A bogus “democracy” elevates a fake-populist billionaire and woman-hating media personality into the Oval Office. Once ensconced, Donald Trump promises a skeptical Wall Street (which considers him unreliable and favored Democrat Hillary Clinton) mountains of golden loot from the federal treasury, while throwing a few crumbs to some gullible labor fakers. His arch-racist attorney general Jeff Sessions vows to ratchet up police repression. And whipping up anti-immigrant hysteria, he reinforces the key structural element of American capitalism since it was founded on chattel slavery: the division of American workers along race-color lines and the brutal racial oppression of black people.

So how do the AFL-CIO leaders plan to fight the threat of national “right-to-work” legislation or court-ordered “open shop” rules that would cripple unions? Answer: they don’t. There are no plans for mass mobilization, besieging Congress and the Supreme Court or jamming Wall Street to shut down the center of world financial capital. At most they talk of stepping up “education” campaigns to convince workers to join the union. Even at that level union leaders remain beholden to the bosses, relying on dues check-offs which give management the power to turn off the financial spigot whenever it wants. In New York City, the United Federation of Teachers won’t get union dues subtracted from salaries in January until March. A class-struggle leadership would collect the dues itself.

The only way to defeat this anti-labor onslaught is not to seek a new “New Deal Coalition” that would continue to subordinate the working class to one party of racist U.S. imperialism, but to drive out the pro-capitalist bureaucracy that chains the unions to the Democrats and forge a class-struggle leadership of labor that defends all those oppressed by capitalism.

In the Pacific Northwest, CSWP has played a leading role fighting the threat of “right-to-work” union-busting. In September 2013, Wyatt McMinn, vice president of Local 10 of the International Union of Printers and Allied Trades (IUPAT) and a CSWP spokesman was arrested and threatened with a year in jail for protesting a meeting of the union-hating Freedom Foundation. The class-struggle unionist, a founder of CSWP, was eventually found not-guilty, a victory for labor solidarity and the more than a dozen union and labor councils that endorsed his defense.

Two years later, in the fall of 2015, as Friedrichs loomed at the Supreme Court, members of CSWP, elected from their unions as delegates to the Oregon state AFL-CIO convention, brought a motion that “area unions should prepare a major region-wide stop-work action against this effort to impoverish workers.” The resolution won significant support but was shot down by the state AFL leadership, which has repeatedly refused to fight union-busting with industrial action, instead devoting itself to lobbying Democrats. One of their main arguments is that opinion polls show “the public” as being hostile to unions. But as the experience of the 2011 labor uprising in Wisconsin against an anti-labor governor showed, once unions began acting like defenders of workers, public support soared … and then plummeted when protests were called off in favor of voting for Democrats.

As we wrote in Bridge City Militant No. 2 (Winter 2016),

“Above all, every union needs to begin preparing to fight the coming union-busting onslaught in the streets and in the workplaces. We need to form committees in every local and every workplace to prepare to tie up metro Portland like the workers in Wisconsin shut down Madison in 2011 – but Wisconsin shows that we can’t let the fight be diverted into the dead end of electoral support for the Democrats or any capitalist party. We need a class struggle workers party: not just a vote-getting apparatus but a party to organize and lead the fight for the oppressed and exploited, using the powerful weapons that our class has.”

The AFL-CIO tops went on to throw millions of dollars to Hillary Clinton and her pro-“right to work” vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine. This set the stage for a demagogue like Donald Trump to reap protest votes from workers and the unemployed suffering the ravages of the capitalist economic crisis, and the bipartisan job-killing policies implemented by Obama that have devastated the industrial “rust belt.” Class-struggle unionists called instead to break the Democrats’ stranglehold on labor, and in August 2016 Painters Local 10 passed a groundbreaking resolution calling for “No Support to the Democrats, Republicans, Or Any Party of the Bosses,” and instead “call[ing] on the labor movement to break from the Democratic Party, and build a class-struggle workers party.” This, and not belly-crawling before Congress, the courts and the capitalist politicians, is the way to bust the union-busters! ■

Labor Must Fight to Defeat Attacks On Immigrants and All Workers

For Worker/Immigrant Mobilization to Stop Deportations!

From Bridge City Militant No. 4 (Spring 2017)

These are dark days for immigrants, Muslims and their families, while the working class as a whole is under attack. Immigrants fear the unexpected knock on the door; children worry if their parents will be home when they return from school. Rumors of raids fly, sowing panic and confusion. Muslims and other religious minorities fear attack in their homes, at their mosques and workplaces or in public by fascistic terrorists incited by Trump’s deranged rants. And while significant numbers of workers voted for Trump because of the anti-worker policies of the Democrats, the Republicans (with the support of the White House) are pushing hard for a national “right-to-work” law aimed at destroying unions.

CSWP and IUPAT Local 10 banners at ICE Out of Oregon protest, 6 Mar 2017
CSWP and IUPAT Local 10 banners at ICE Out of Oregon protest, 6 Mar 2017

It is urgently necessary for the power of the working class to be mobilized to stop the raids and deportations, to defend immigrants, black people and all those threatened by racist persecution, and to bust the would-be union-busters!

Since Trump inherited the formidable machinery of anti-immigrant repression constructed under the Obama administration, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has increased the number of arrests by about one third. Actual deportations have not yet reached the Democrat Obama’s record. First there was the “Muslim ban,” presently held up in the courts. Now the immigration police are ordered to go after anyone who “in the judgment of an immigration officer … pose[s] a risk to public safety or national security.” In other words, anyone who “looks” like they don’t belong in a racist’s fantasy-America. In his speech to the Congress, Trump promoted the “VOICE” initiative, a federal program designed to stir up xenophobic hatred by publishing a police blotter of crimes allegedly committed by immigrants. Then the government floated its sadistic intention to separate the children of refugees seeking asylum from their parents.

The government says that 680 immigrants were arrested in one week. One woman in El Paso, Texas was arrested by ICE at the local court house during a hearing in which she had sought protection against an abusive boyfriend. In Phoenix, Arizona, Guadalupe García de Rayos had lived and worked without papers in the U.S. for over 20 years, since she was 14 years old. She had agreed to voluntarily report to the immigration authorities twice a year in exchange for staying her deportation. But when she reported on 8 February, she was arrested. Hundreds of people, including her children, gathered at the ICE office and bravely sought to block the van that was taking her away.

In Montrose, Colorado, Bernardo Medina was kidnapped by ICE agents and imprisoned in a “detention facility.” Medina is a natural-born U.S. citizen, but ICE police told him “You don’t look like you were born in Montrose.” In Woodburn, Oregon, eleven agricultural workers on their way to the fields were taken by the ICE police on Feb. 24, with seven held in the Tacoma immigration jail and all scheduled for deportation. Muhammad Ali Jr., son of the legendary boxer, was detained and questioned for two hours about his religious beliefs at a Florida airport. Each day brings news of a new atrocity.

Locally, another case that has gained notoriety is that of Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23 year old Mexican immigrant living in Seattle who was brought to this country as a child and has no criminal record. ICE took him and his father on 10 February. He was held in the Tacoma jail until March 29 on $15,000 bail. Ramirez Medina is a “Dreamer,” whose deportation was “deferred” under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – until now. Near-daily protests have demanded his release, along with freedom for the thou- sands of other immigrants held there. Recently, hundreds of prisoners at the ICE jail in Tacoma are taking part in a rolling hunger strike, with daily vigils and rallies by their supporters outside.

Break ICE Terror With Workers Action!

What is happening here? The government – supported by Democrats and Republicans alike – whips up racist prejudice with its obsessing over crimes by those it declares “illegal.” Of course, one could just as logically publish a blotter of violent crimes allegedly committed by white men, or left-handed Lutherans aged 30-49, or any arbitrary category: what is at work here is the logic of racism and nationalist prejudice. In fact, undocumented immigrants are significantly less likely than U.S. citizens to commit crimes, particularly violent crimes. The sadistic, cynical “VOICE” initiative is copied directly from the Nazis, whose propaganda obsessed over “criminal Jews” in order to dehumanize an entire people. Every American is under the eye of a secretive state police (Geheime Staatspolizei in German), which can kidnap those it declares “illegal” and drag them before deportation tribunals: what we call “ICE” the Nazis called the Gestapo. And why not call the network of secretive “detention centers” by their right name: concentration camps where tens of thousands languish for months with no rights to speak of.

Dedication of “The Dockworker” statue in Amsterdam, commemorating the February 1941 general strike against Nazi deportations of Jews.
Dedication of “The Dockworker” statue in Amsterdam, commemorating the February 1941 general strike against Nazi deportations of Jews.

Trump is not a fascist. Neither was “deporter-in-chief” Obama, whose immigration policies are the basis and model for Trump’s. The reason for the similarities between the ugly official racism in fascist Germany and “democratic” America is the need of the ruling capitalist class to regiment the population for war abroad and police state at home by demonizing and attacking an “enemy within.” CSWP says to our fellow workers: we must not be neutral in this war of terror being waged against our neighbors and fellow workers. This assault on the rights of all of us must be defeated, and the working class – immigrant and native-born together – has the power to defeat it.

It is all the more necessary for the labor movement to take a clear and principled stand for full citizenship rights for all immigrants because the racist war on immigrants is demagogically sold to us by Democrats and Republicans alike as if it were in the interest of “legal” workers, with the lie that “illegal” immigrants are “stealing our jobs.” Nothing could be more false! “Illegal” undocumented workers’ wages and lives are cheaper for the bosses because they are discriminated against and oppressed, because they are cut off from the rest of the working class by official and unofficial prejudice. Under capitalism, no worker’s livelihood is secure, and the only way we can defend ourselves is to stand together and prevent the bosses from pitting us against each other. Today that means what point 7 of the CSWP program says:

“Fight racist discrimination and anti-immigrant prejudice in our unions. Mobilize labor’s power to stop deportations. Full citizenship rights for all immigrants. For union action to stop I-9 and ‘no match’ firings and ICE factory raids. No to racist ‘English-only’ laws or rules.”

By all indications this May 1 (International Workers Day) will be a big “Day Without an Immigrant” protest/strike, possibly similar to the historic protests in 2006 that revived May Day in this country. In March SEIU-United Service Workers West, the California mega-local, declared that it would strike on May Day, calling for a “general strike.” But when progressive union leaders and their leftist publicists speak of a “strike” or even a “general strike,” their aim is not to shut down production but to jazz-up a class-collaborationist protest/festival, and mobilize the “base” for the Democratic Party of racism and imperialist war.

A strike is not an individual choice to take an afternoon off for a protest march, but an organized deployment of specifically working-class power that strikes at the heart of the capitalist system, its profit-making machine. Workers seeking to organize such actions will often find that the first line of opposition facing them is not a line of riot police but the leading bureaucracy of their own organizations, committed to labor “peace” and class collaboration.

The Trump regime is as fragile as it is fearsome. But the Democratic Party’s “resistance” won’t bring it down. Democrats are partner parties with the Republicans in union-busting and immigrant-bashing. They just want union and Latino votes, and a war with Russia. The key is for the workers to unite and fight for our own class interests. Protests against deportation should be backed up by solid strike action. Already immigrant workers around the country risked their jobs to boldly take part in the 16 February “Day Without Immigrants.” They must not stand alone! Workers defense guards based on the unions must be prepared to defend mosques and immigrant communities. The anti-fascist mobilization resolutions adopted by a number of local unions are a step in this direction.

Above all, we need our own party, a class-struggle workers party to lead the militant defense of our rights. Such a party can only be forged in the struggle to break the workers organizations from the bosses’ Democratic Party, and drive out the pro-capitalist bureaucracy that chains the unions to this party of racism and war. This is the mission of CSWP. Join us! ■

Sindicato de pintores de Portland dice: ¡Al diablo con los partidos patronales! ¡Construir un partido obrero de lucha clasista!

El siguiente artículo fue publicado originalmente en el Bridge City Militant No. 3, verano/otoño de 2016.

En una decisión histórica, la asamblea del Local 10 del Sindicato de Pintores y Drywaleros (IUPAT, por sus siglas en inglés), aprobó con votación unánime rechazar a los partidos Demócrata y Republicano, lo mismo que a “cualquier partido de los patrones”, y a “instar al movimiento obrero a que rompa con el Partido Demócrata y construya un partido obrero de lucha clasista”. La resolución fue presentada por miembros del CSWP, y es el resultado de años de paciente trabajo político de educación y lucha. Miembros de base del sindicato hablaron apasionadamente acerca de la necesidad de organizar nuestro propio poder como trabajadores y de sólo confiar en él.

El impulso a favor de la resolución creció debido a que los miembros del sindicato enfrentan la misma realidad espantosa que la población en todo el país: como dice la resolución, “la elección presidencial de 2016 nos ofrece ‘elegir’ entre un payaso delirante y racista, por un lado, y un representante de carrera de Wall Street” (dejamos a los lectores que decidan quién es quién). La noticia de nuestra resolución recorre el país, pasando de miembro a miembro, de local a local. Los trabajadores están hartos de que “los patrones tengan dos partidos que representan a su clase, mientras que millones de trabajadores no tienen ninguno”. Dos días más tarde, como si lo hiciera para enfatizar lo que decimos, el candidato demócrata a la vicepresidencia, Tim Kaine, promotor de la política rompesindicatos denominada con el eufemismo “right-to-work” (derecho al trabajo), arribó a Portland para participar en una exclusiva reunión en un club campestre para recaudar fondos en la que cada boleto de entrada costaba 27 mil dólares, organizada por prominentes empresarios republicanos.

Así el Local 10 dio un paso firme y significativo hacia la independencia política de la clase obrera. ¿Qué sigue? Los militantes clasistas esperan promover el ejemplo del Local 10 para promover iniciativas, aquí y en el resto del país, por lo que aboga la resolución: construir un partido obrero de lucha clasista.

A lo largo de la historia de Estados Unidos, los sindicatos han estado políticamente encadenados a uno u otro de los partidos que representan al capital, limitándose así a la imposible tarea de presionar a los representantes políticos de los patrones y a buscar al que entre ellos represente al “mal menor”. Cuando los trabajadores comiencen a movilizarse para romper estas cadenas, como esperamos en el CSWP que augure la decisión de Local 10, se abrirá toda una serie de cuestiones políticas que nunca han sido ampliamente discutidas en el movimiento obrero norteamericano. ¿Cómo debería ser un partido obrero? ¿Qué debería hacer? ¿Qué significa “lucha clasista”?

No a los verdes ni a otros seguidores quemados de Sanders

Uno de los factores que han contribuido al apoyo a favor de nuestra resolución en el Local 10, y su creciente resonancia a escala nacional, es la desilusión que sienten muchos de los partidarios de la “revolución política” de Bernie Sanders. Millones en todo el país están empezando a entender que esta “revolución” era un engaño desde el principio. Muchos de los supuestos “radicales” y “socialistas” mostraron su verdadero pelaje al alentar el apoyo a favor del senador de Vermont, que es de hecho un político del Partido Demócrata. Nosotros no. Dijimos la verdad en el número 1 del Bridge City Militant, a saber, que “quienes apoyan a Sanders ciertamente son bobalicones del partido predilecto de Wall Street: ‘energizando’ a las ‘bases’ –los trabajadores, la gente pobre, las minorías raciales oprimidas y las mujeres – para que voten a favor del partido de sus opresores que supuestamente representa un ‘mal menor’. Es pura estafa”. No nos dejemos estafar de nuevo.

Ahora que ocurrió lo inevitable, muchos partidarios de Sanders están abandonando a los demócratas para votar a favor de la fórmula del Partido Verde compuesta por Jill Stein y Ajamu Baraka. Sin embargo, el Partido Verde es un partido capitalista tanto como lo son los partidos Demócrata y Republicano. Y la línea de clase es fundamental. Aunque algunos supuestos “radicales” llaman a “romper con el sistema bipartidista”, o promueven un vago “partido del 99%” (que incluiría a buena parte de los patrones y a sus matones a sueldo, los policías), lo que importa no es número de partidos que contiendan, sino cuál es la clase que representan. Que no acepten ningún sustituto: lo que necesitamos es un partido para los trabajadores.

La plataforma del Partido Verde es un revoltijo de ilusiones liberales, evidentemente preparado bajo la influencia de cristales sanadores y vapores homeopáticos. Fundamentalmente, lo que hace es consagrar el derecho a la propiedad privada capitalista. Una vez que se acepta como base el sistema capitalista, las diversas propuestas de reforma en la plataforma del Partido Verde, algunas de las cuales se podría apoyar en lo abstracto, no son más que pura palabrería hueca.

Pero la plataforma verde tampoco es un simple conjunto de buenas ideas equivocadas. Propone un futuro de guerras imperialistas para EE.UU. siempre y cuando estas guerras sean autorizadas por las Naciones Unidas. ¿La ONU? ¿Esa covacha de ladrones que actualmente provee una hoja de parra a la ocupación de Haití y que nació en la genocida guerra dirigida por EE.UU. en contra de Corea? El partido Verde está, desde luego, a favor de la “paz”. Dice que hay que reducir el presupuesto militar norteamericano a la mitad: eso representaría un presupuesto militar anual de 350 mil millones de dólares (¡!). Bajo estas condiciones, muchos generales asesinos del Pentágono encontrarían buen cobijo en el Partido Verde. Los trabajadores con conciencia de clase, en cambio, nos oponemos a “nuestro propio” gobierno en sus guerras, intentando movilizar el poder proletario aquí y más allá de las fronteras nacionales.

El hecho de que los patrones no necesiten de los servicios del Partido Verde no lo hace menos capitalista, ni lo convierte en un aliado de la clase obrera. Se trata de un refugio para demócratas sin techo. Pero la clase obrera, la vasta mayoría de la sociedad norteamericana y la clase cuyo trabajo produce toda la riqueza del mundo, no necesita un campamento político para los desamparados. Lo que necesitamos es nuestro propio instrumento político, uno que movilice y coordine el poder que tenemos como clase.

¿Qué debería hacer un partido obrero?

Un partido obrero de lucha clasista encabezaría la lucha en las líneas de piquete y en la calle: para paralizar las ciudades en protesta contra la epidemia de asesinatos policiacos racistas. Organizaría acciones como la ejemplificada por el Local 10 del ILWU en Oakland el Primero de Mayo de 2015 en contra de los racistas ataques de la policía.

Para hacer jirones las leyes antisindicales como la Taft-Hartley y promover la sindicalización en las industrias no organizadas, montando masivos piquetes de huelga que los esquiroles no se atrevan a cruzar. Para desmantelar los campos de concentración en los que están encerrados miles de nuestros compañeros y compañeras inmigrantes, detener las redadas del ICE y exigir plenos derechos de ciudadanía para todos los inmigrantes.

¿Cuántos movimientos contra la guerra ha habido? Es preciso liberar a nuestras hermanas y hermanos de clase en todo el mundo de la pesadilla de la guerra imperialista: hay que hacer huelga contra la guerra, boicot sindical a embarcar y desembarcar cargamentos bélicos. Esta lucha no puede parar y no podrá triunfar hasta que la clase obrera esté en el lugar que le corresponde, como dirigente de este país. Eso es a lo que nosotros del CSWP nos referimos con lucha clasista.

Claramente, nuestra perspectiva es hoy por hoy la de una pequeñísima minoría en el movimiento obrero. Sin duda, la mayor parte de los trabajadores sigue teniendo ilusiones en la “democracia” de los patrones y tiene la esperanza de reformarla para hacerla más justa para las personas que se encuentran en la base de la sociedad. Los actuales dirigentes de los sindicatos han hecho sus carreras sobre la base de la traición a los trabajadores y ofreciendo sus servicios para entregarnos como víctimas-votantes a los partidos patronales. La lucha por un verdadero partido obrero habrá de librarse en contra de los burócratas vendidos que dirigen hoy en día a los sindicatos.

En la actualidad, para muchos las palabras “política” y “partidos” se refieren al cínico juego electorero en busca de puestos, todo dentro de los márgenes de lo que resulta aceptable a la democracia del dólar de los patrones. La mayor parte de los países de Europa y de muchas otras partes del mundo, desde Brasil hasta la India, han tenido experiencias añejas con partidos “obreros”, “laboristas”, “socialistas” o “comunistas” que son importantes socios en la administración de los gobiernos patronales. En este país, ha habido una serie de intentos que no maduraron de construir “partidos laboristas” sobre la base de un programa diseñado para no hacer daño a los demócratas y burócratas sindicales. En Oregon y en algunos ostros estados existe el “Working Families Party” [Partido de las Familias Trabajadoras], que no es en lo absoluto un partido, sino un cínico fraude cometido en contra de la membresía sindical por parte de los jefazos. Su candidato a la presidencia es… Hillary Clinton. ¡Vaya broma!

Pero como señaló Karl Marx hace un siglo y medio, “toda lucha de clases es una lucha política”. En esta época de capitalismo decadente, toda lucha para defender los intereses más elementales de los trabajadores choca contra los límites de la propiedad privada. Lo que se necesita es un partido obrero que esté listo y dispuesto a llevar la lucha hasta su conclusión necesaria.

El hielo comienza a resquebrajarse. Mucha gente puede ver lo escrito en la pared. Nosotros del CSWP queremos llevar el mensaje a los trabajadores de todo el país de que necesitamos luchar por la independencia política. Y aunque los primeros pasos puedan ser parciales, no dejaremos de insistir en que es preciso formar el único tipo de partido que realmente puede luchar en defensa de los intereses de la clase obrera y los oprimidos hasta el final: un partido con un programa de lucha clasista que luche por un gobierno obrero. Esta lucha requiere un núcleo duro de militantes clasistas arraigados en las organizaciones obreras y entregados a la lucha por este programa. El CSWP busca construir ese núcleo. ¡Súmate a nosotros!

¡Ningún apoyo a los demócratas, republicanos ni a ningún partido patronal!

Resolución aprobada unánimemente por el Local 10 del IUPAT en su asamblea del 17 de agosto de 2016. Disponible aquí en inglés.

Considerando que los patrones tienen dos partidos que representan a su clase mientras los millones de trabajadores no tienen ninguno, y

Considerando que el presidente demócrata Barack Obama despachó a la Guardia Costera para proteger a los esquiroles en contra del Sindicato de Estibadores y Almacenistas (ILWU, por sus siglas en inglés) durante el lockout (paro patronal) de 2013-2014 de los trabajadores portuarios del Noroeste del Pacífico, y

Considerando que la gobernadora demócrata Kate Brown se opuso al –y socavó– movimiento por un salario mínimo de 15 dólares por hora en el estado de Oregon, y

Considerando que en 2014 los demócratas se unieron a los republicanos en el Congreso de la Unión para aprobar una desastrosa “reforma” del sistema de pensiones, lo que permitió a los patrones evadir sus obligaciones y estafar a nuestros jubilados, y

Considerando que los dos mandatos del demócrata Barack Obama han sido ocho años de guerras sin fin en el Medio Oriente, África del Norte y Asia, resultando en indecibles sufrimientos humanos, millones de refugiados y ataques contra nuestros derechos democráticos en este país, y

Considerando que la administración del Partido Demócrata ha deportado unos 5 millones de inmigrantes, lo que constituye un récord, y

Considerando que en todo el país, desde Oakland hasta Baltimore, la policía a órdenes de alcaldes demócratas asesina con regularidad a hombres y mujeres negras con impunidad, y

Considerando que la elección presidencial de 2016 nos ofrece “elegir” entre un payaso delirante y racista, por un lado, y un representante de carrera de Wall Street, y

Considerando que el candidato demócrata a la vicepresidencia, el gobernador del estado de Virginia Tim Kaine, apoya las leyes rompesindicatos del “derecho a trabajar” (que prohíbe contratos que estipulan la adhesión sindical de todo el personal representado), y

Considerando que los demócratas y republicanos son, y siempre han sido, partidos rompehuelgas y guerreristas de los patrones, y

Considerando que en tanto el movimiento sindical sigue apoyando uno u otro partido patronal estaríamos condenados a la segura perdición, en virtud de lo arriba expuesto

Resolvemos que el Local 10 de la IUPAT no apoya ni a los demócratas, ni a los republicanos ni a ningún partido o político de los patrones, y

Resolvemos que exhortamos al Sindicato Nacional a repudiar su respaldo a Hillary Clinton para la presidencia, y

Resolvemos que instamos al movimiento obrero a que rompa con el Partido Demócrata y construya un partido obrero de lucha clasista”. ■

NYC: Class-­Struggle International Workers Founded

From Bridge City Militant No. 3.

Nueva York, 17 de agosto: TIC en la manifestación en defensa del magisterio mexicano y brasileño en lucha, parte de un día de acción trinacional Brasil/México/EE.UU.
NYC, 17 August: TIC in a picket of the Mexican consulate, part of a tri-national (Brazil/Mexico/U.S.) day of protest in defense of the teachers in Mexico and Brazil.

NYC: Class-­Struggle International Workers Founded

We reprint below our translation of the declaration and program of Trabajadores Internacionales Clasistas (TIC, Class-Struggle International Workers), a new organization similar to CSWP that has been founded by immigrant workers in New York City. The original Spanish text can be found here.

“Neither Illegal, nor Criminals, we are International Workers”

Presently, up to 15 million immigrant workers, along with our families, reside in the U.S. without the documents demanded of us by the bosses of this country. Lacking basic democratic rights, we take on difficult and often dangerous work for poverty wages. Truly, we are what Karl Marx called over a century and a half ago, wage-slaves.

We international workers are the scapegoats for all the evils produced by capitalist society. We are called “criminals” and “illegal aliens” when we have committed no crime. We are accused of stealing the jobs of U.S. workers, when we do the jobs no one else would want to do. We are accused of taking advantage of welfare programs, when we are not eligible for any of them. In fact, undocumented workers pay up to 50 billion dollars into Social Security every year, and we will never get back a single penny.

What’s more, many of us were forced to emigrate because our livelihood was destroyed by the free-trade agreements and cruel wars unleashed by the U.S. that beset our native lands. But we aren’t just victims. Major sectors of the U.S. economy depend on immigrant labor. We form an integral part of the working class in this country. We have the power to liberate ourselves, and all the oppressed!

Various TIC founders have participated in important social struggles, for unionization and against all forms of injustice. We have learned from our own experience that what we need, and what we must organize, is a leadership adequate to the struggle we face, that is, a class-struggle leadership.

To do our part in this great undertaking, we have decided, working alongside the Internationalist Group, to form Trabajadores Internacionales Clasistas on the basis of the foregoing program:

Union Power! If we Play by the Bosses’ Rules, We’re Bound to Lose

In 2012, a group of brave workers at the Hot and Crusty bakery in Manhattan decided that they couldn’t bear their cruel exploitation any longer, and moved to unionize. After 55 days on the picket line, they won. In 2015, tired of miserable wages and dangerous working conditions, hundreds of warehouse workers at the photography equipment retailer B&H. inspired by the example of Hot and Crusty, launched their own union campaign, scoring another win. But we know that all victories in the class struggle are temporary so long as the system of production for profit remains. Unionize the unorganized! Picket lines are class lines – they mean don’t cross! For fighting unions with a class-struggle leadership! For total independence of the unions from the state!

The Bosses are Afraid of Us, Because We are not Afraid

In 1886, the International Workers Day, May 1, was established when a workers demonstration that demanded an eight-hour work-day was attacked by the police, resulting in numerous casualties and leading to the state execution of the workers leaders, the eight Chicago Martyrs. Today, 130 years later, undocumented immigrant workers suffer 12-hour days and work-weeks of 48, 56 or 72 hours, for starvation wages. We won’t take it any more! In 2006 millions of immigrant workers stopped work, reviving May Day in the U.S. We demand a drastic reduction in work hours along with a whopping raise! For day-laborers, without any job security, we fight for a union hiring hall. We need free, high-quality comprehensive and universal health insurance and health care. At the workplace we fight for union committees with the power to shut down unsafe work.

Struggle, Win, Workers to Power!

We know that every class struggle is a political struggle. In this election year 2016, the Republican candidate fans the flames of racist hate against Mexicans, Arabs and Muslims while he harasses women. The Democratic candidate wants to launch new wars in the Middle East, and is responsible for the 2009 coup d’état in Honduras. TIC opposes all capitalist parties and politicians. We who lack the right to vote call for the formation of a workers party to fight for a workers government.

We Don’t Beg, We Demand: Full Citizenship Rights!

In his 2008 electoral campaign, the liberal Democrat Barack Obama promised “immigration reform.” But eight years later we have nothing. Instead, the Obama government has deported nearly five million immigrants. The odious raids go on, and there are tens of thousands of immigrants in what are really concentration camps. We call for immigrant-worker mobilization against racist attacks, to put an end to deportations, to close the detention camps and win full citizenship rights for all immigrants.

Women’s Liberation: Duty of All Workers

March 8 is International Women’s Day, which commemorates the death of over 100 immigrant women workers in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York in 1911, which was the spark for the unionization of the garment industry. Women workers shoulder a double work day, at the job and both before and afterwards in the home, where they are burdened with the responsibility for domestic labor in the family. They are constantly hounded by sexual harassment and unequal treatment. They are even denied control over their own bodies. TIC fights for equal pay for equal work. Around the world, we fight for free abortion on demand, at the sole decision of the woman. We demand free, 24-hour child care. Along with machismo, homophobic prejudices are a weapon of the exploiting class: every class-conscious worker is duty-bound to defend the democratic rights of gays, lesbians, transgender people and all the oppressed.

Black Liberation: Key to Workers Revolution in the U.S.

In this country, founded on slavery, the oppression of black people has been fundamental to capitalist rule. We immigrants are well aware of how the ruling class seeks to use us against our black sisters and brothers. We have already seen how police murder of black people goes hand-in-hand with the targeting of all immigrants by the repressive forces. The police are the armed fist of capital, racist to the core. We demand: cops out of the unions! Against racist killings, mobilize the working class! Revolution is the only solution!

Asian, Latin, Black and White, Workers of the World Unite!

Since the time of the First Workers International, the workers of all countries have had to unite our forces to win. We defend our African, Arab and Asian sisters and brothers against racist hatred! From the Middle East to Latin America, we fight for workers action to defeat imperialist war! From China to Cuba, we oppose efforts to reestablish the rule of capital.

International workers: we have nothing to lose but our chains. We have a world to win!

New York, 12 August 2016 ■