Portland May Day 2016: Class Struggle Contingent

May Day in Portland, 2016: the Class Struggle contingent brought together Carpenters, Ironworkers, Stagehands, Teachers, IWW “Wobblies” and other pro-working class elements under the day’s only banner that called for “Full Citizenship Rights for all Immigrants,” on this workers’ holiday that was revived in the U.S. by the mass protests of immigrant workers ten years ago.

The goal of the Class Struggle contingent was to fight for May Day as it should be: International Workers Day, a day for the class struggle against the capitalist system. Our contingent was the only participant in Portland’s May Day that sought to mobilize the unions and the militant workers. And while there were some radical-sounding words to be heard from the platform, one of the main sponsors of the event was the “Working Families Party,” a scam operation with which the union bureaucracy seeks to get workers’ votes for the Democratic Party of our class enemy. The Class Struggle contingent’s banner said “Break with the Democrats and Republicans! For a Class-Struggle Workers Party!” We distributed many copies of our article against Bernie Sanders from Bridge City Militant No. 1. We were the only group at May Day that had anything to say against the ruling party of bloody, racist U.S. imperialism.

A spokesperson for the Internationalist Group, part of the Class Struggle Contingent, was interviewed by KOIN 6 TV news and got right to the point: “We think that capitalism has long outlived its usefulness, and we think that we need a workers revolution in America.” That’s what May Day, and the class struggle, is for.

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Resolution for 2015 Oregon AFL-CIO convention

MOBILIZE UNION POWER AGAINST “RIGHT-TO-WORK” UNION-BUSTERS

WHEREAS, unions are required by law to represent all employees in a bargaining unit, whether they are union members or not; and

WHEREAS, at least two “right-to-work” initiatives, allowing workers in unionized public sector jobs to avoid paying for their representation, are in the process of becoming ballot measures in Oregon; and

WHEREAS, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a main sponsor of misnamed “right-to-work” initiatives in the Pacific Northwest, financed by union-bashers such as the Koch Brothers and Wal-Mart, is pushing lawsuit against SEIU Local 503 which represents over 20,000 home care workers in Oregon; and

WHEREAS, the unionization of the largely minority home health care workers in the state has raised their wages by more than two-thirds, as well as providing medical and health coverage; and

WHEREAS, unionization has boosted the wages and job security of all workers and particularly of African American, Latino, Native American and immigrant workers; and

WHEREAS, the anti-labor ballot measures are designed to undermine and financially ruin public sector unions which are vital to the welfare and living standards of all workers; and

WHEREAS, ballot measures in Oregon are part of a national campaign by corporations and their political supporters to destroy unions and wipe out the gains won by organized labor; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Supreme Court last July agreed to hear a case that could eliminate “fair-share” fees paid to public sector unions, in effect creating a national “right-to-work” law by judicial fiat; and

WHEREAS, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, after eliminating collective bargaining rights for public sector workers in 2011 and now ramming through a state “right-to-work” law, is campaigning for such a law nationally; and

WHEREAS, the same forces backing these union-busting laws such as Illinois governor Bruce Rauner want to eliminate the minimum wage entirely rather than raising it to a living wage; and

WHEREAS, support for these measures in Oregon comes from big lumber, including Freres Lumber Co. and Stimson Lumber Co. and right-wing politicians such as Washington County Attorney, Jill Gibson; and

WHEREAS, workers in “right-to-work” states earn substantially lower wages, have less employer-sponsored health insurance or pensions and significantly higher workplace death rates due to weakened union protections; and

WHEREAS, the experience of Michigan, where anti-union forces pushed through “right-to-work” laws with a stealth campaign while organized labor did little to stop them, shows the danger of complacency; and

WHEREAS, backroom deals with legislators and state officials will not stop a determined employer offensive; and

WHEREAS, the union-bashing offensive that began even before the 1981 PATCO air controllers strike, which many other unions failed to support, shows that a failure to fight has disastrous results; and

WHEREAS, the powerful labor mobilization in Wisconsin in 2011 demonstrated that the public will enthusiastically back unions when they fight, despite anti-labor media campaigns; and

WHEREAS, the failure of Wisconsin unions to call a state-wide strike at the crucial moment, even after preparing for one, led to a devastating defeat while the strategy of a “recall” and voter turnout campaigns predictably failed to repeal “right-to-work” legislation in Wisconsin; and

WHEREAS, the power of our unions rests in our ability to use our economic strength in defense of our rights as workers, and failure to use that power only emboldens the labor-haters; and

WHEREAS, we have had enough of the one-sided class war waged by profit-greedy bosses,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that this body expresses the determination of Oregon workers to whatever it takes to defeat any such union-busting laws, including using our right to strike to defend the union shop; and be it further

RESOLVED, that we urge Oregon and Washington unions and their supporters to mobilize at “right-to-work” events with rallies, marches and other means to expose the drive by cutthroat employers to drive our wages to the bottom while they make billions in profits from our labor; and be it further

RESOLVED, that area unions should prepare a major region-wide stop-work action against this effort to impoverish workers by using the courts and the rest of their legal arsenal; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Oregon AFL-CIO will encourage and support any affiliated locals collecting dues from represented workers directly, in order to stymie employer attempts to cripple labor financially; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that in defending union independence from the bosses and standing together in defense of all those threatened by the employers’ assault, WE HAVE THE POWER TO DEFEAT THE WAR ON WORKERS, BUT WE MUST USE THAT POWER OR LOSE IT.

Saturday July 25: Fundraiser for Pasco, WA Anti-Police Brutality Protesters

Saturday July 25, 2-10 p.m.
Panel Discussion, Fundraiser Party, Live Music
From Portland, Oregon to Pasco, Washington: Protest Racist Police Murder

Featuring Mic Crenshaw and David Rovics

2-10 p.m. Saturday, July 25
Musicians Local 99 Hall
325 NE 20th Ave, Portland

Saturday July 25: Protest Racist Police Murder!
Printable flier for July 25 fundraiser party.

On February 10, police in Pasco, WA shot and killed Antonio Zambrano Montes, a 35-year-old agricultural worker from Mexico. Antonio was unarmed and had his hands up when three cops shot him down on the sidewalk. Since then hundreds of local residents have refused to let his final words, no es justo (it’s not right) be forgotten. Now the police and local authorities are trying to silence those who would protest against them with frivolous arrests and bogus criminal charges. From Ferguson to Baltimore, the police murder black and immigrant working people with impunity and would trample on everyone’s fundamental civil rights. Join us to raise funds for the legal defense of Pasco protesters, hear from protest organizers targeted by political persecution, and enjoy some live music and food!

This event is not sponsored or endorsed by AFM Local 99.

Click here for a FaceBook event page.

Sponsored by Class Struggle Workers Portland. For more information: 971-282-7903 | cswp@csw-pdx.org | csw-pdx.org | P.O. Box 86902, Portland, OR 97286