Painters Local 10 forms anti-racist mobilization committee

At the monthly membership meeting March 15, Painters and Drywall Finishers IUPAT Local 10 voted to establish an anti-racist mobilization committee, joining similar efforts in other local unions to prepare to put into practice the resolution to “Stop the KKK and All Racist Groups.” This comes in the context of increasing racist and fascist threats across the Northwest, including the arson of a mosque in Bellevue, WA in January to the appearance of fascist graffiti in Portland earlier this month.

We reprint below the statement of the newly-elected chairman of the Local 10 committee, a journeyman painter with many years in the industry.

Sisters and Brothers, we are bound by oath to oppose racism within our ranks wherever and whenever. Our Constitution states:

To unite into one labor organization all workers eligible for membership, regardless of religion, race, creed, color, national origin, age, gender, or sexual orientation

We also have an non-negotiable moral duty to extend this oath to our brothers and sisters outside our ranks. Not only is this a moral duty but also a clear opportunity to strengthen Union ranks and reverse the slow poisoning of our Institution. Racism past and present has driven a wedge between all workers which severally weakens the power of a united front (the basic fundamental factor in organized labor). It only serves to benefit those that profit from our labor and consolidate the corrupt power of corporate America. We must grab this opportunity presented to us by the current political climate of heightened racism and put all our institutional support behind the anti-racist movement. Both the labor and anti-racist struggle are inextricably intertwined. None should take priority. We as Union will reap huge benefit from fighting and finally eradicating racism. I will go as far to say that our very survival depends on it.

In light of this urgency, I here by purpose that we form our own Anti-Racist Mobilization committee. A committee that will stand shoulder to shoulder with other Anti-Fascist Committees formed by our brothers and sisters of different  trade unions. We will work to encourage fellow Unions to adopt the same principles and fight, we will reach out to all those organizations that have taken up this struggle in solidarity,  we will mobilize to support those who are increasingly under attack by racist elements, and we will show by example that Union brothers and sisters have the moral fortitude to not shrink from an oath bound duty.

Carpenters Regional Council Says: Mobilize to Stop Racist and Fascist Threats

Mobilize Labor to stand against racist and fascist hate groups. Whereas, there has been a sharp increase in racist and anti-immigrant attacks across the country in recent days, and Whereas, numerous hate groups have stated that they will stage menacing provocations in many areas, including the Pacific Northwest, and Whereas, groups like the KKK and other racist organizations represent a deadly threat to African Americans, Latinos (and other people of color), immigrants, Muslims, Jews (and other marginalized religious groups), LGBTQ, among many others, and represent a threat directly to the members of this Union, and the labor movement as a whole, and Whereas, the white supremacist forces are related to the origins of anti-labor “right to work” laws in order to destroy unions because they believed unions would lead to uniting and empowering the multi- national, multi-racial, working class to resist these attacks, and Whereas, if the US labor movement is to rebuild its strength during this period of crisis of racist organizing and attacks, it must take up the struggle against white supremacy/white nationalism, not as an abstract debate, but as part of its social, political, and organizing agenda, and Whereas, unions are considered a threat to many fascist groups, and other racist organizations because the unions are working class defense organizations for all workers in the community, and Whereas, we stand by the principles of the UBC, who’s constitution states, “we recognize that the interests of all labor are identical regardless of occupation, sex, national origin, religion, or color, for a wrong done to one is a wrong done to all. We oppose all unlawful discrimination and harassment against workers, whether based on race, gender, nationality, or any other basis.” Therefore be it resolved that the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters stands ready to join with the broader labor and social justice community in mobilizing against the clear and present danger that the provocations of racist and fascist organizations pose to us all.
Click for a PDF version.

The Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, the union body that represents over 20,000 carpenters and other construction workers in six states from Alaska to Wyoming, adopted this resolution at its February 2017 delegates meeting. This follows the adoption of similar resolutions, first in Painters Local 10 of Portland, Oregon, and later by Stagehands, Carpenters, graduate teaching assistants and Wobblies in Oregon and Washington.

Labor militants in the UBC and elsewhere should use these resolutions to make preparations for union-based marshals and defense guards that will form the core of mass labor-centered mobilizations that can prevent fascist provocations and organizing in urban centers.

Mobilize Labor to stand against racist and fascist hate groups

Whereas, there has been a sharp increase in racist and anti-immigrant attacks across the country in recent days, and

Whereas, numerous hate groups have stated that they will stage menacing provocations in many areas, including the Pacific Northwest, and

Whereas, groups like the KKK and other racist organizations represent a deadly threat to African Americans, Latinos (and other people of color), immigrants, Muslims, Jews (and other marginalized religious groups), LGBTQ, among many others, and represent a threat directly to the members of this Union, and the labor movement as a whole, and

Whereas, the white supremacist forces are related to the origins of anti-labor “right to work” laws in order to destroy unions because they believed unions would lead to uniting and empowering the multi-national, multi-racial, working class to resist these attacks, and

Whereas, if the US labor movement is to rebuild its strength during this period of crisis of racist organizing and attacks, it must take up the struggle against white supremacy/white nationalism, not as an abstract debate, but as part of its social, political, and organizing agenda, and

Whereas, unions are considered a threat to many fascist groups, and other racist organizations because the unions are working class defense organizations for all workers in the community, and

Whereas, we stand by the principles of the UBC, who’s constitution states, “we recognize that the interests of all labor are identical regardless of occupation, sex, national origin, religion, or color, for a wrong done to one is a wrong done to all. We oppose all unlawful discrimination and harassment against workers, whether based on race, gender, nationality, or any other basis.”

Therefore be it resolved that the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters stands ready to join with the broader labor and social justice community in mobilizing against the clear and present danger that the provocations of racist and fascist organizations pose to us all.

NYC Health Care Workers say: Mobilize the power of labor to defend Muslims and immigrants

The following motion was adopted by AFSCME DC 37 Local 768 (NYC Health Care Employees) on February 6. This news can also be found on the website of Class Struggle Education Workers.

WHEREAS, the crisis of the undocumented in the United States has deep roots in a system of oppression and colonialism in which the U.S. played a major role; and

WHEREAS, some Local 768 members have been given instructions to decrease the population of undocumented immigrants in their facilities by 40%; and

WHEREAS, Local 768 members, like health care providers and other workers, have grave concerns over threats to this desperately needed safety net coverage; and

WHEREAS, Local 768 believes we have a basic ethical obligation to defend undocumented immigrants in need of health care from round-ups, jail and deportation by ICE; and

WHEREAS, any attempt to have Local 768 members identify patients for such discriminatory treatment would violate not only our professional obligations but NYC law and NYC Health + Hospitals’ stated policy; and

WHEREAS, this situation is made even more urgent by Trump’s attacks on “sanctuary cities” and NYC regulations limiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities; and

WHEREAS, we join with NYC-area building-service, education, Teamster, construction trades and other unionists in standing up for the rights of us all in opposition to attacks on our Muslim and immigrant sisters and brothers; and

WHEREAS, solidarity is a matter of life or death for labor, which is now under attack by anti-union “right to work” legislation and court cases (Friedrichs); therefore be it

RESOLVED, that Local 768 formally and publicly states the following:

1) We will continue to serve all those in need and oppose any attempt to use immigration status against them, or to collect such information.

2) We will not go along with demands to cut care to undocumented patients, which would violate our most basic ethical responsibilities.

3) We also reject any attempt to undermine the federally mandated right to treatment of all those seeking emergency care.

4) Local 768 will establish a committee to defend the rights of immigrant patients, families and staff.

5) We advocate that the unions of the NYC metropolitan area come together in a massive protest showing the power of labor to stand up against any and all anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and other racist attacks in line with the labor motto, “AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL.”

Carpenters, Stagehands, Seattle Wobblies, Painters Prepare to Stop Fascists

Carpenters Local 1503, IATSE (Stagehands) Local 28, and the Seattle branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) have recently joined the preparations to stop fascist provocations by passing resolutions similar to the Portland Painters Local 10 anti-KKK mobilization resolution.

What is needed now is the preparatory organization of union-based defense groups, to form the core of mass mobilizations to deny the fascists the ability to agitate and recruit in multiracial urban strongholds of the working class.

Portland Painters and Drywall Finishers Say: Mobilize Labor to Stop the KKK and All Racist Groups

Mobilize Labor to Stop the KKK Whereas, there has been a sharp increase in racist and anti-immigrant attacks across the country in recent days, and Whereas, the Ku Klux Klan has announced it would stage menacing provocations in many areas, and Whereas, the KKK and other racist organizations represent a deadly threat to African Americans, Latinos and immigrants, as well as to Muslim, LGBTQ, and Jewish people, among many others, and directly to the members of this Union and the labor movement as a whole. Whereas, the white supremacist forces are related to the origins of anti-labor “right to work” law in order to destroy unions because they believed unions would lead to “race mixing” among workers, and Whereas unions are considered a threat to the KKK and other racist organizations because they are a working class defense organization for all workers in the community. Therefore be it resolved that the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local Union 10 stands ready to join with the community in mobilizing against the clear and present danger that the KKK and other racist organizations provocations pose to us all. Resolution approved by the membership of Local 10 at the monthly membership meeting on November 16th, 2016 at Portland, OR.
Painters and Drywall Finishers IUPAT Local 10 resolution: Mobilize Labor to Stop the KKK. Click to download printable version

CSWP calls on labor organizations to follow Local 10’s lead and prepare to defend immigrants, Blacks, Muslims and all the oppressed against racist attacks and provocations. Disponible aquí en español.

Mobilize Labor to Stop the KKK

Whereas, there has been a sharp increase in racist and anti-immigrant attacks across the country in recent days, and

Whereas, the Ku Klux Klan has announced it would stage menacing provocations in many areas, and

Whereas, the KKK and other racist organizations represent a deadly threat to African Americans, Latinos and immigrants, as well as to Muslim, LGBTQ, and Jewish people, among many others, and directly to the members of this Union and the labor movement as a whole.

Whereas, the white supremacist forces are related to the origins of anti-labor “right to work” law in order to destroy unions because they believed unions would lead to “race mixing” among workers, and

Whereas unions are considered a threat to the KKK and other racist organizations because they are a working class defense organization for all workers in the community.

Therefore be it resolved that the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local Union 10 stands ready to join with the community in mobilizing against the clear and present danger that the KKK and other racist organizations provocations pose to us all.

Resolution approved by the membership of Local 10 at the monthly membership meeting on November 16th, 2016 at Portland, OR.

Bernie Sanders? No! We Need a Class-Struggle Workers Party

This article was first published in Bridge City Militant No. 1, Fall 2015.

The first votes won’t be cast for many months, but the presidential election season is already upon us, and pressure is building on the unions to choose their candidates. Among labor activists and the left, attention is focused on the figure of Bernie Sanders, senator from Vermont. Sanders, who sometimes claims to be an “independent” and a “democratic socialist” is running to be nominated as the Democratic candidate for president in 2016. Labor Notes, the voice of “progressive” union bureaucrats who sometimes pose as “troublemakers,” hyped Sanders in a 17 July 2015 article by Dan DiMaggio:

“Sanders’ platform includes a $15-an-hour minimum wage, guaranteed vacations and sick leave, lifting the payroll tax cap on Social Security, and single-payer health care. He’s a vocal opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the latest corporate-friendly trade deal. He rails against income inequality and how the ‘billionaire class’ dominates politics.”

Cheap talk. Class-struggle militants are not “feeling the Bern.” We are anti-Bernie, anti-Hillary, anti-Democrat, anti-Republican, anti-Green. Yes, we’re pretty much against everything that passes for “politics” these days, because it’s all about who will be the CEO of bloody, racist U.S. capitalism, and Bernie is no exception. We will oppose any endorsements or other forms of support by our unions for Sanders or any of the current candidates.

Many critics have pointed out that Bernie Sanders, the nominal “independent” who votes with the Democratic Party caucus in the Senate, has already made it clear that he will support whoever gets the Democratic Party nomination: presumably, Hillary Clinton’s lavishly-financed establishment campiagn. Sanders supporters are certainly chumps for Wall Street’s preferred party: “energizing” the “base” – the workers, poor people, oppressed racial minorities, and women – to vote for the “lesser evil” party of their oppressors. It’s a con game.

But what if he wins the nomination? He is surging in the (mostly meaningless) early polls. Or what if Bernie, under the ardent “pressure” of his fans, does the opposite of what he has repeatedly promised to do, and goes “independent”?

We would still not support him. In the Senate, he sometimes opposes U.S. military policy in words – but votes for war budgets. He voted for the genocidal sanctions against Iraq, that killed millions of innocent civilians and paved the way for the war he “opposed.” He opposed the Orwellian PATRIOT Act – in words – and voted for the USA Freedom Act, which continued massive government spying. His “radical” economic proposals amount to tinkering with the tax code and the anti-labor laws. Even if the millionaires’ Congress goes along with his talk of a $15/hour minimum wage (keep dreaming!) this would be a poverty wage. The rest is standard Democratic Party primary populist bluster about the “middle class.”

American workers should take note: not so long ago, last winter, a very radical-talking capitalist party – SYRIZA, the Coalition of the Radical Left – won the national elections in Greece. They were full of tough talk against the bloodthirsty banks that were condemning Greek workers to double-digit unemployment and starvation wages. The mouthpieces of high finance shrieked with terror. And then, SYRIZA imposed worse “austerity” measures on the Greek workers and poor than preceding right-wing governments had ever dared to.

A President Bernie Sanders – a milquetoast moderate compared to the Greek “radicals” – would likewise do what Wall Street will need of him. Wall Street can live with higher taxes: Warren Bufffet and Bill Gates agree. But it can’t live without endless war abroad and racist police-state repression “at home” to guarantee its property and its exploitation of labor. Bernie is not Wall Street’s candidate, but the decisive issue for us is that he seeks to rule on behalf of Wall Street, as a “socialist” who supports private property and demonstrably is willing to make whatever compromise this support requires.

This fundamental problem – the problem of class, as in which class should rule – is obvious when we seriously consider the most burning issue in American politics, the “color line.” And it should be clear that supporting Bernie Sanders, critically or not, will do nothing to end the oppression of black people in this country.

Black Lives Matter activists grabbed the spotlight by crashing Sanders appearances at the Democratic Party “Net Roots Nation” conference in Phoenix, Arizona, and again at a rally in Seattle to celebrate the anniversary of Social Security. The response from Sanders fans ranged from incredulous shock to ugly racist heckling. Oh how dare they! Don’t they realize that Sanders is the lesser-lesser evil? Is the fact that black women and men are being hunted and killed like animals on the streets by the police really a reason to interrupt the circus of Democratic politics-as-usual?

So Sanders appointed a new campaign spokesperson, the black activist Symone Sanders (no relation to the senator), and published a platform for “racial justice” on berniesanders.com. On MSNBC’s August 11 Chris Hayes show, BLM founder Alicia Garza claimed “that interruption really forced Bernie Sanders to have a strong platform on race and racial justice.”

So what is his platform? A laundry list of police training and policy reforms that are already in place in many major cities like New York, Oakland and Baltimore, and do absolutely nothing to stop the legal lynching of black people! Systematic state violence against black people is not just a policy, it is a fundamental feature of American capitalism. More training, different arming, or more black and latino cops and police chiefs, among other pseudo-reforms, have done nothing and will do nothing. Demilitarize the police? Eric Garner was strangled by hand on a busy New York City street in broad daylight, and the “justice system” let his killers walk without charges. On the mass incarceration of blacks, Sanders the “socialist” isn’t against prisons, just private prisons, and isn’t against drug laws, just mandatory minimum sentences. A lot of hot air and precious little substance: that’s a “victory” for the dead-end politics of pressuring the Democratic Party.

Sanders supporters and labor “radicals” in general tend to look back sentimentally to the era of president Franklin Roosevelt, and the segregationist imperialist war chief’s “New Deal.” But the massive labor upsurge that created the modern American labor movement was not created by any legislation, and the key victories of 1934 – Longshore on the West Coast, Teamsters in Minneapolis, and auto workers in Toledo – were victorious because they were willing to struggle independently from and against the labor laws and the Democratic and Republican governments that administered them. The decades-long decline of the labor movement that class-struggle militants seek to reverse is fundamentally the result of the labor leadership’s support for and loyalty to the bosses’ parties and their government.

To revive the labor movement we must break with all the capitalist parties, including the slightly-lesser-evil ones. The greater evil by far is the continued subordination of the unions to their class enemy through the instrument of the Democratic Party.

CSWP stands for class struggle, not illusions in capitalist election games. The unions can only rely on our own forces, the irresistible power of millions of workers, to fight poverty wages, to smash racist oppression, to champion the rights of women, sexual/gender minorities and immigrants. To coordinate this fight we propose a different kind of party, a workers party with a program of class struggle. ■

Bridge City Militant No. 1

Bridge City Militant No. 1, Fall 2015Bridge City Militant No. 1 is out! To get your union-printed copy, contact CSWP.

In this issue: