THE ORGANIZER WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
Issue No. 11 — September 28, 2020
In this Newsletter:
- Editorial: Trump’s Planned Coup d’Etat and What to Do About It
- New Developments in the Case for Justice for Breonna Taylor
- REPORT on the “Break the Grip of the Two-Party System” National Conference, September 19-20, 2020
- Progress Report from the Mexican Organizing Committee of the Binational Conference Against NAFTA 2.0
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1) Trump’s Planned Coup d’Etat and What to Do About It
September 28 – In a little over one month, the presidential election will take place, and rarely has the political crisis in the United States been as acute.
For weeks now, Donald Trump has been proclaiming openly that he will not honor the results of an election that does not proclaim him the winner. Any election that has Biden the winner, he insists, has to be a “rigged election.”
In the meantime, Trump is doing everything possible to steal the election in what can only be described as a planned coup d’état.
He has announced that mail ballots that arrive on November 3 or later will not be counted, which would deny the vote to millions of predominantly Democratic voters. Mail ballots, he has insisted, are “fraudulent.”
He and his legal team have filed countless pre-emptive lawsuits to tie-up the election results in the courts.
He and his cronies are suppressing votes among Black and Latino voters, removing countless numbers from the voters’ lists and closing voting booths in working-class districts, especially in the swing states.
He is instructing Republican-led state legislatures to interfere with Electoral College procedure to ensure a Republican majority when the Electoral College meets on January 6, 2021.
He and his son Donald Jr. are creating an “army of volunteer poll-watchers” to harass in-person voters and invalidate what they call “millions of fraudulent votes.” In Virginia, early voting opened on September 21, and Trump “Patriot Coalition” supporters descended on a polling station, waving Trump signs and flags, chanting and forming a gantlet through which voters had to walk. Though these actions are illegal, they went unpunished. Many of Trump’s “volunteers” have announced that they will be armed.
He and his cronies are sowing fear of unbridled violence and chaos should Biden be declared the winner. Michael Caputo, who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign, warned in a September 13 Facebook Live video that violence was coming after the election. “If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen,’ Caputo said, “because it’s going to be hard to get.” (Time, Sept. 25)
What Is to be Done?
In his closing remarks to the “Break the Grip of the Two-Party System” National Conference on September 20 [see full report at lcipcampaign.org], the reporter concluded as follows:
“A number of speakers in our discussion raised the need for Days of Action — which could include mass strikes — in the event that Donald Trump attempts to steal the election. We must be clear about this: The fight against voter suppression is our fight. The fight to defend the right to vote is our fight. Millions of workers and oppressed people died in this country to secure this right.
“In 2000, the Democrats threw their own candidate, Al Gore, under the bus by refusing to confront the electoral commissions and courts and by refusing to mobilize millions in the streets. They were unwilling to expose and confront the institutions of the bourgeois State, thereby enabling the Constitutional coup d’état that brought G.W. Bush to power. Hundreds of thousands of Black voters in Florida had their votes stolen. Gore — whatever one may think of his totally reactionary policies — should have won, even within the undemocratic framework of the Electoral College, a reactionary holdover from the slavocracy.
“It is up to the working class and its organizations to defend the very bourgeois democratic rights that have been won through bitter struggles by working people and that have been eroded continually.”
The editorial board of The Organizer agrees with this statement. The labor movement, the only organized expression of the working class as a class, must take the lead in fighting against the coup that Trump is preparing, round the clock. Fundamental democratic rights are on the line. The stakes are huge.
What is needed are mass peaceful demonstrations and mass strikes — even a continuous general strike — should Trump refused to step down, as he has warned repeatedly, if he loses the election.
Let’s recall the impact of the call for a general strike issued by Sara Nelson, president of the flight attendants union, in ending the government shutdown in January 2019. Her call showed the potential strength of the labor movement. But a call from one union will not be enough this time. To be most effective, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and other top officials of the labor movement should issue such a call. They must take responsibility and step up to the plate in the fight to salvage basic democratic rights.
We urge our readers in the trade union movement, in particular, to start raising these issues in their union locals and labor councils. It is up to us, rank-and-file unionists and leaders, to get the ball rolling in our unions. We cannot sit back and remain spectators of another demobilization such as occurred in 2000, when the Democratic National Committee, with Gore’s approval, told Black leaders and activists to get off the streets and go home.
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2) New Developments in the Case for Justice for Breonna Taylor
By Millie Phillips and Bradley Wiedmaier
New developments have arisen in the case for justice for Breonna Taylor following last week’s major setback: the grand jury proceedings that resulted only in an indictment for “reckless endangerment” to one of the officers for firing shots into a white neighbor’s house, with no indictments whatsoever for the actual killing of Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician, shot in a barrage of bullets while asleep in her bed.
Public protest, a lawsuit filed by an anonymous member of the grand jury, and calls issued by the Taylor family’s attorneys, the mayor of Louisville, and the governor of Kentucky, have pushed the state’s attorney general Daniel Cameron to announce that he will comply with a judge’s ruling to make the proceedings publicly available, something Cameron previously had refused to do. He also admitted that no homicide charges had been presented to the grand jury to consider, even though Taylor’s death was ruled as a homicide. The juror who sued for public release of the proceedings claims that the grand jury was used “as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility.” Thus, as stated by Breonna Taylor’s aunt Bianca Austin, the attorney general “…had already chosen to be on the wrong side of the law.”
In its ongoing effort to avoid criminal accountability for Taylor’s death (her family has already received a $12 million settlement for a civil wrongful death suit), the Louisville police department has disputed outside evidence, has tried to cover up extensive evidence that it violated its own procedures, and has refused to release its own investigative notes to the press, resulting in a lawsuit by the local newspaper. Though it fired the officer who shot into neighboring homes and was later indicted, the department has not punished anyone else. Even this one disciplinary action was suspicious: the firing occurred only after the officer testified that there were more police involved in the incident than others reported.
Investigations and protests will continue and maybe someday the full facts will be revealed and justice served on Taylor’s killers. However, regardless of any details disputed by the police and the attorney general in an effort to justify killing Taylor, their known behavior is part of an ingrained pattern of fatal contempt for Black lives. Even the indictment for reckless endangerment cited the shots fired into the white neighbor’s house and not those fired into a Black neighbor’s apartment. Sadly, racist murders and other forms of police brutality will not end until racially oppressed and working-class communities gain control over public safety and law enforcement, and current police budgets are transferred to social services. We must demand no less.
Justice for Breonna Taylor. Community control of public safety resources. Money for social services, housing and education, not for cops!
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(3) REPORT on the “Break the Grip of the Two-Party System” National Conference, September 19-20, 2020
On September 19-20, 198 activists met in an online national conference titled, “Break the Grip of the Two-Party System.” The conference was co-sponsored by Labor Fightback Network (LFN), Ujima People’s Progress Party (UPP), and Labor and Community for an Independent Party (LCIP).
The participants included trade union activists, many representing their unions, and activists from several Black and Latino working-class organizations. Activists from various political backgrounds and tendencies participated, including members of Socialist Organizer. Invitees from Mexico and Canada also were in attendance.
The theme of the conference – how to break the grip of the two dominant capitalist parties, the Republicans and Democrats, and lay the foundation of a mass working-class party – was explored in six break-out groups addressing specific arenas of struggle, as well as in two plenary sessions.
Alan Benjamin, member of the editorial board of The Organizer newspaper and delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council, explained the importance of the gathering in his closing presentation:
“We discussed difficult and challenging issues, often with great enthusiasm and passion. … The struggle to build and sustain a mass-based independent working-class party in this country has taken place over the past 150 years, without success. The task ahead, therefore, is onerous. But we showed that it is possible to engage in serious political discussion about the need for independent working-class politics, with lessons drawn from past defeats, with a wealth of experience among us, and with proposals on how to move forward.”
The proposals up for discussion were framed by the Conference Call to implement the two prongs of the LCIP’s Statement of Purpose: first, forming independent labor-community coalitions to run independent labor-community candidates at a local level, thereby laying the foundation of an independent working-class party rooted in the unions and oppressed communities; and second, building Labor Party committees in the trade unions to promote the two resolutions adopted by the national convention of the AFL-CIO in October 2017 that call for an end to labor’s support for “lesser-evil” politics — which inevitably leads the trade union movement to forfeit its independence and tail-end the Democratic Party. As one speaker put it, “We are about building a Labor Party based on the unions, not an amorphous multi-class People’s Party with ‘inside-outside’ politics in relation to the Democratic Party, as others are seeking to do.”
The conference did not take place in just any political situation. Several participants referred to the fact that, “20 million people were in the streets, despite the pandemic, to protest the police murder of George Floyd and countless other Black and Brown people.” Others referred to the “upsurge in the labor movement – from the educators’ strikes in the Red States – then in Los Angeles, Oakland and Chicago.” Others still spoke about the “reactivation of union organizing drives and strikes by meatpackers, UPS drivers, janitors, and other sectors of the workforce.”
A third objective of the conferences — a third prong — was to link the perspective for a Labor Party to “support for the right to self-determination and self-organization of Blacks and other oppressed people as a condition for principled unity in building such a Labor-based party.”
Nnamdi Lumumba, co-convener of the Ujima People’s Progress Party in Baltimore, formulated this link in the following terms:
“While we support a national Labor Party that recognizes both the shared and independent struggles of oppressed and exploited workers on the job and in their communities, we affirm that nationally oppressed people have to center the discussion and self-organization around their own specific oppression. … Having said that, we need to create a mass-based working-class party that says capitalism does not serve you, imperialism does not serve you, and racism does not serve you.”
In his closing presentation, Alan Benjamin addressed one of the difficult questions that had come up. He asked, “Is support for a Black-worker led political party ‘divisive,’ as a few people asserted in this discussion? Is support for the right of Black people to self-determination ‘divisive’?
Benjamin then replied:
“Our answer is an unequivocal NO; it is NOT divisive. Support for the right to self-determination, including the fight to build Black working-class parties, is, in fact, a precondition for building principled working-class unity. We must understand that the wealth of this nation was built upon the genocide of the indigenous peoples and the blood and sweat of the millions of Black slaves brought to these shores from Africa as chattel. We must understand that white supremacy, in its more overt or covert forms, is a scourge that continues to plague our country and our labor movement.”
Benjamin also referred to the fact that, “Some people criticized us for convening this conference before the elections, calling our effort a ‘distraction.’ Our gathering has proven them wrong. … Others have criticized us for going ahead and re-launching the fight for a Labor Party. … It’s not yet time, our detractors say.” To this we have answered: Yes, it is time; in fact, the fight for a Labor Party is long overdue.”
Benjamin concluded,“The two AFL-CIO resolutions on independent politics must not remain paper resolutions. We need to bore into the labor movement with this effort. … and build organized support for these AFL-CIO resolutions in our unions. We must understand that a major obstacle facing the working class today is the subordination of the trade unions, the only class-based organizations of the working class, to the Democratic Party. We have to help remove this obstacle today – not tomorrow.”
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For a complete report on the “Break the Grip” Conference, see the links below:
* Report 1: Opening Presentations to the Sept. 19-20 “Break the Grip of the Two-Party System” National Conference by (1) Connie White, (2) Mya Shone, and (3) Nnamdi Lumumba
GO TO: https://tinyurl.com/y6gylfjq
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* Report 2: Closing Presentations by (1) Millie Phillips, (2) Alan Benjamin and (3) Nnamdi Lumumba
GO TO: https://tinyurl.com/y6gnab5y
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Report 3: Messages, Reports and Statements
GO TO: https://tinyurl.com/y4zmddt5
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(4) Progress Report from the Mexican Organizing Committee of the Binational Conference Against NAFTA 2.0
Mexico City — September 27, 2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
This letter is to inform you of the progress we have made in Mexico in the preparation of the October 10 Binational Conference Against NAFTA 2.0 and the Wall of Shame, For Labor Rights for All.
This past weekend [Sept. 26-27] the National Meeting of Popular Organizations 2020 was held in Mexico City. It was convened by the SME (Mexican Electrical Workers Union), the Association of Users of Electrical Energy (ANUEE), the Confederation of Retirees, Pensioners and Senior Citizens of the Mexican Republic, the New Workers Central (NCT) and the Organizations of Workers and People (OPT). Representatives from more than 50 labor and community-based organizations from 13 states throughout Mexico were in attendance.
The final resolution of this meeting embraced the call for the recovery of national sovereignty and for the renationalization of all the privatized sectors (particularly oil and electricity), the defense of labor rights, union autonomy and democracy, and the demand for the revision of the NAFTA 2.0 treaty, officially known as USMCA. Likewise, it was decided to include the Binational Conference Against NAFTA 2.0 into the Plan of Action adopted by the meeting.
Binational Conference organizers present at the meeting explained the negative consequences of the treaty and underscored the need to fight for labor rights on both sides of the border. Inclusion of the Binational Conference as part of the Plan of Action allows us to expand our network of contacts to invite them to participate with us in the conference this coming October 10.
I also wish to inform you that the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) has pledged to participate in the meeting with mandated representatives, as have the ANUEE and the New Workers Central.
These endorsements of the Binational Conference are to be added to those of unionists and activists in important organizations who have confirmed their attendance in a personal capacity. Included are members and leaders from Sections 2, 7 and 40 of the SNTE (teachers’ union), Section 50 of the SNTSA (health sector), Coalition of Health Workers, National Democratic Union of CONALEP, SUTCOBACH of Chiapas, the Independent National Democratic Union of Agricultural Workers (SINDJA), Unions of state workers in Chiapas and Baja California, Union of Workers of the UNAM, State Union of Education Workers BC, Grupo Generando Movimiento de Trabajadores de la General Motors, El Movimiento Nacional de Transformación Petrolera, State Assembly of Social Organizations of the State of Chiapas, Mexicali Resiste, Colectivo Artículo 39, Municipal, State and National Alliance for Social Justice, San Quintín Baja California.
In addition we are in talks with compañeros and compañeras from the states of Puebla, Tamaulipas, Jalisco, Michoacán, Veracruz and Tabaco. We are awaiting their confirmation to participate in our conference.
I also wish to inform you that we have confirmed virtual conference-viewing/participation offices — that is, hubs with big screens, properly socially distanced — in the cities of Tecate, Mexicali, Tuxtla Gutierrez and Comitan.
The next few days will be crucial to ensure the widest possible participation. It is of the utmost importance to redouble our efforts to make this Conference as broad and representative as possible.
Juan Carlos Vargas
On behalf of the Mexican Organizing Committee
Of the Binational Conference Against NAFTA 2.0
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Please register today for the Binational Conference Against NAFTA 2.0!
To register, go to:
Click “Llena el formulario” to complete the registration form. Please indicate what workshop (breakout session) you wish to attend: (1) National sovereignty and Migration, or (2) Labor Rights.
You will receive your zoom link once you have registered.
For the registration to go through, you need to fill out one of the two workshops.
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For the Call to the Binational Conference, go to: https://tinyurl.com/y5vbawsj
For a Report on the “Workers Face NAFTA 2.0 Binational Forum” sponsored by the leadership of the NCT, go to: https://tinyurl.com/y255w8nt