T.O. Weekly 25: Independent Candidates / 30th Anniversary (Part 1) / Mumia Update
Please distribute widely
The ORGANIZER NEWSLETTER
No. 25 — April 20, 2021
IN THIS MESSAGE:
The Fight for Independent Working-Class Political Action: Two Interviews on Candidates Running in the 2022 elections in Maryland and California
(1) Interview with NNAMDI LUMUMBA, Co-Convener of the Ujima Peoples Progress Party (UPP)
(2) Interview with CONNIE WHITE, Candidate for City Council in 2022 in Long Beach, California’s District 7
(3) 30th Anniversary of Socialist Organizer: From Our Archives: The October 2004 Million Worker March and the Fight for Independent Working-Class Political Action
(4) MORE THAN EVER: FREE MUMIA, NOW! / Tuesday April 20 morning update from Jamal Journal and What You Can Do
(5) Celebrating the Life of Al Rojas (poster): March and Rally, April 24 in Sacramento, California
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The Fight for Independent Working-Class Political Action: Two Interviews on Candidates Running in the 2022 elections in Maryland and California
(1) Interview with NNAMDI LUMUMBA, Co-Convener of the Ujima Peoples Progress Party (UPP)
(April 6, 2021)
The Organizer: We would like you to address three questions: (1) your assessment of Biden’s first 100 days in office, especially in relation to the Black liberation struggle; (2) the Maryland-wide electoral campaign that the Ujima Peoples Progress Party (UPP) has launched; and (3) your views on how this electoral campaign relates to the work of Labor and Community for an Independent Party (LCIP), of which you are a Continuations Committee member.
Let’s begin with your thoughts about Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office and the new challenges facing the movement for Black liberation today.
Nnamdi Lumumba: Certainly. There are a number of hot-point issues that are having a national impact on the struggle for Black liberation.
The first is the trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd. What we’re seeing is the State offering up an individual police officer in hopes of taking the just demands of Black working-class people off the table. Their hope is that our demand for Black community control of the police will be averted if they can have this one officer convicted. The capitalist ruling class is not able to really respond to the just demands of the Black community. Their goal is to maintain intact the main instrument of coercion and force — that is, the police — so that they can continue to exert their control.
The Organizer: Laws allowing lynching are still on the books at the federal level. Only now, after 150 years, it appears that Congress will finally be repealing laws that do not ban lynching.
Lumumba: This question has a long history. There have been nearly 1900 attempts to introduce anti-lynching laws in the Senate. All have failed. It appears that the Emmett Till Antilynching Act will finally be approved by the U.S. Congress. It should be noted that many of the leaders of the anti-lynching struggle have been Black women — Black working-class women — who put up a relentless fight to defend their community, their children, their sons, and their husbands. The heroic role of Black women has not been acknowledged.
The Organizer: Another holdover from the era of the slavocracy is the Senate filibuster. …
Lumumba: The filibuster has been one such means of coercion, especially against the Black working class. If you look at the history of the Senate filibuster, you see that it was created to stop any attempts to establish social justice over the last 150 years — particularly in relation to slavery, lynching, or voting rights.
This goes to the question of how the U.S. government has allowed the use of terror by factions of radical white nationalist forces anxious to control the Black community. As the Derrick Chauvin trial shows us, the use of terror is still widespread.
The Organizer: The recent drive by Republican governors and legislatures to suppress the Black vote is another expression of this reactionary agenda.
Lumumba: This is a major concern, particularly since we are attempting to build a Black working-class led electoral party in Maryland. Having access to the democratic right to vote is key to the electoral success that we envision. The suppression of the Black vote has been a key part of how sectors of the white ruling class have been able to maintain their control, especially in the South, where you have large numbers of Black working-class communities that have had no representation whatsoever — let alone working-class representation.
I think that the recent voter suppression laws in Georgia are in response to the defeat of Donald Trump last November. His cronies are trying to codify a lot of the things that he attempted to do by bullying state governors. This is why the fight for democratic rights is a mass-struggle question. We have to be organized both as Black workers and as working-class people to defend basic voting rights.
The Organizer: How about Biden’s foreign policy initiatives since he took office?
Lumumba: Biden’s foreign policy directives over the past 100 days spell great danger for oppressed peoples and nations throughout the world. Biden is a hawk. He has launched attacks against Syria and Iraq. He is escalating hostilities against China. He has continued the funding for U.S. military bases in Africa under the Africom program.
Biden and the Democratic Party are counting on the support of the traditional leaders of Black and Brown political organizations for these U.S. wars of aggression; Blacks and Latinos have historically opposed these wars. Forces in the Black and Latino working-class struggles must not stop expressing our solidarity with peoples across the globe who are fighting for their liberation from imperialism and capitalism.
And it’s not just the stepped-up militarism abroad. Our allies in Black Alliance for Peace have exposed the increased militarization of the police forces across the United States under the Department of Defense’s 1033 Program. According to the Pentagon’s latest figures, $34 million in military equipment were sent to police forces across the country in the first quarter of 2021.
The Organizer: Tell us about the work you’re doing as the Ujima Peoples Progress Party (UPP) in the state of Maryland in terms of building a Black working class-led electoral party.
Lumumba: Our goal is to run candidates in 2022 all across Maryland. State law requires that we gather signatures from 10,000 registered voters to get on the ballot. The signatures have to be verified. Once that is done, we’ll be able to have ballot access statewide. We’ve been supported in this effort by comrades and allies all over the state and all over the country.
What this initial phase of our campaign has shown is that there are pockets of resistance everywhere to the oppression and exploitation of workers. Often those pockets of resistance are isolated. Even though Maryland is a Democratic Party-dominated state, there are extreme differences between the Eastern shore and the Western mountains, areas traditionally held by Republicans. Those regions are especially difficult for Black and Brown workers. Folks in those regions are resisting locally, and they’ve been really happy to see assistance coming from conscious working-class forces led by the Black community.
Building an electoral party is going to be important. It will allow us to link up to each other around a social justice platform with a database of thousands of people. We will be able to support our struggles more effectively and train people to raise money to improve our media and help our on-the-ground working-class organizers.
The Organizer: There is another dimension to your campaign in Maryland — and that is the example of independent working-class politics that you are setting nationwide. That is why it might be a good idea to summon support for your signature-gathering campaign from unionists and activists in the Northeast region and beyond. Funds also could be raised to help this campaign. Labor and Community for an Independent Party (LCIP), on whose Continuations Committee you serve, might be willing to assist in this effort. What do you think?
Lumumba: That would be a big help. We’re going to have young workers from throughout our communities volunteering with signature-gathering.
We have created a GoFundMe page for this purpose [gf.me/u/zhyrip], with the goal of raising $10,000. Our goal is to be finished with the signatures by August, when we will turn them into the State Board of Elections.
The Organizer: Our last question is this: How do you see your electoral campaign in Maryland fitting into the overall effort waged by LCIP to build an independent working-class party rooted in the unions and oppressed communities?
Lumumba: Our goal is to build as expansive a political party as possible and to be a place where unionists, activists, radical organizers and socialists can also find themselves connected. For too long, workers have hitched our wagon to the duopoly of the Democratic and Republican parties. This strategy doesn’t work, it only deepens our misery.
During the union-organizing drive in Bessemer, Alabama, the UPP took the lead in organizing solidarity demonstrations at various Amazon warehouses in Maryland. Black and Brown workers, in particular, felt that the UPP was the kind of organization that they would want to be part of. The organizing drive of Amazon workers is just beginning; on May Day we plan to organize picketing at sites where the Amazon vans come and pick up the workers.
We’ll be going into workers’ neighborhoods and start passing out flyers and start agitating about workers being organized. We feel that there’s a connection between labor and community organizing; they overlap. Workers need to be organized in the plants but also in their communities. Both are needed to push back the capitalists’ attempts to steal more and more resources from our people.
This, in turn, will help us move on a regional level toward a more unified working-class struggle. Large sections of Black and Brown workers have been alienated by the efforts of union organizers. Our effort as UPP will help them bridge the gap; it will help them become conscious of their class interests and of the need to build an independent working-class party, not just locally but nationally.
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(2) Interview with CONNIE WHITE, Candidate for City Council in 2022 in Long Beach, California’s District 7
(April 7, 2021)
The Organizer: You just announced that you’re running for City Council in 2022 in Long Beach, California’s District 7. What do you hope to accomplish with your campaign?
Connie White: What I hope to accomplish is to actually win. A lot of people who in this country consider themselves progressive or leftist view campaigns for public office as a platform to promote their ideas or their program. But I am fully committed in this endeavor to win so that, as a representative in City Council, I can promote and advocate for legislation around the work in which I am presently involved in the community – such as social housing. One of the pieces of legislation that I will be putting forth is for social housing. I am running to win so that these kinds of issues are not only addressed but are implemented in order to begin to alleviate some of the suffering of our working-class brothers and sisters. My intention, therefore, is to win and make change.
Second, I intend to promote building local Labor and Community coalitions and assemblies using an issue-based organizing model in the City of Long Beach where I have lived since 1990. I will be putting forth a perspective of organizing, not just within leftists circles, but oriented toward a broad-based strategy to build a labor party, which I think should be built from the ground up.
That is one of the reasons why I like the concept of LCIP’s model of building the labor party by building Labor and Community coalitions and assemblies. LCIP is Labor and Community for an Independent Party and its organizing strategy is to unite labor and community to build assemblies that will be the base of a national, independent political party – the labor party.
My vision for labor-community organizing or labor-community assemblies is that it would be a coalition-type formation. Back in the day, in radical circles, we used to call it a “united front.” I see these local, labor-community coalitions and assemblies as organizations and individuals coming together to strategize to build a base for organizing a labor party nationally. These labor-community coalitions and assemblies would promote issue-based organizing in their area – because each city, each area, each neighborhood might have different issues that are more of a focus for them at the moment. There are certain issues that I believe are generic to all of us in the U.S. – such as to alleviate hunger, to increase the minimum wage, to provide social housing. Those issues are pretty across-the-board important to all of us. However, in each area people might focus on one or the other of those issues at any given moment in time.
I believe that it is important for all of us to come together and strategize together. Right now, there are too many disparate organizations and groups of activists that are out doing their thing, but we need to come together to organize in our interests to affect change related to the social issues that are affecting all of our lives.
So, my hope is that out of this model of issue-based organizing to build labor-community assemblies, we will build a base for organizing an independent, working-class labor-community political party.
The Organizer: Tell us about the labor movement in Long Beach. Is there a base to be able to reach out to teachers, faculty members, longshore, Teamsters, and others? Is there a possibility of involving them in a victorious campaign that goes beyond union halls?
Connie White: Definitely. As you may know, there is in Long Beach a long history of labor activity, often militant, especially at the docks because of the Long Beach port and the principled stands of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The ILWU has always been politically active here. Also, I am acquainted with and connected to many teachers in Long Beach. My daughter comes out of the group that is called the Freedom Writers, led by a teacher named Erin Gruwell who taught at Wilson High School in Long Beach. There is a movie that you might be familiar with that was done about the Freedom Writers. I am proud to say that my daughter was one of the original Freedom Writers. The movie tells the story of these Wilson High students, calling themselves the Freedom Writers, who were inspired to academic achievement by their teacher, Erin Gruwell, and who wrote a book about their life experiences living in Long Beach. My daughter has contacted Erin about my campaign for Long Beach City Council. Erin now teaches at Cal State Long Beach.
I also have some close friends who are teachers in Long Beach, and they have indicated that they are willing to help with the campaign. These are important connections. Although I do not know any Teamsters locally, they have been politically active in Long Beach. I plan on reaching out to them. They have a strong base in Long Beach. Then, of course, we have our LCIP-L.A. chapter which supports and endorses the campaign and is willing to work with my campaign team. LCIP-L.A. will be the backbone and anchor of organizing for the campaign. We are hoping to grow LCIP in Southern California as we work to promote my campaign for Long Beach City Council.
The Organizer: Many people say that within the Democratic Party there are those who are strong advocates for the homeless and many other important issues, so why build a separate political party? What is it about the Democratic Party that impedes it from carrying out its many pledges?
Connie White: They are not consistent in any State, City or neighborhood – they are just not consistent in advocating for and putting forth legislation in the interests of the U.S. working-class. You cannot depend on them. They can claim to be whatever they want to claim. However, their actions tell the story of who they represent, and it is not us – it is not the U.S. working class interests that they represent. At least that is how I see it related to my experiences with the Democratic Party nationally or in Southern California, especially among those people that I’m familiar with in the African American community. I do not speak for the entire African American community nationally or in Southern California, but my experience with the Democratic Party is that they will come out of the woodwork during an election cycle but disappear shortly afterwards. Their candidates and representatives are never consistent to follow through even on the issues they put forth in their election campaigns. They will often try to elicit campaign contributions and votes by making promises during an election cycle, and by playing to some issue that is in the forefront at the time. But when it comes time to enact legislation, if they haven’t disappeared altogether, they always find an excuse about why “now is not the time.” In a few words: You cannot depend on them to be consistent advocates in the interest of the U.S. working-class. I am not that kind of person – I’m not inconsistent nor will I say one thing during the election cycle and then do another thing in office. I believe in advocating consistently for working-class interests, and I don’t take “no” for an answer. I believe in figuring out how to get it done – to get that legislation passed or implemented, no matter how difficult or impossible it may seem.
The Organizer: Deceased labor leader Tony Mazzocchi, who founded the Labor Party in the mid-1990s, often explained that the fundamental reason that you cannot depend on the Democratic Party is that it is financed by same the big corporations and financial institutions that bankroll both major parties: the Democrats and Republicans. The bosses have one big corporate party, and working people need a party of our own, Mazzocchi repeated time and again. Though the Labor Party of the 1990s has been put on hold, Mazzocchi’s message is as valid today as it was then. Would you agree?
Connie White: Yes. Absolutely great points.
The Organizer: You’re a socialist – a member of Socialist Organizer. Why is this important to you? You have been a longtime advocate of a Labor Party; in fact, members of Socialist Organizer first met you at the founding convention of the Labor Party in Cleveland in June 1996, when 1400 delegates representing unions with close to 1.7 million members came together to launch the Labor Party. How does being a member of Socialist Organizer and an advocate of a Labor Party fit into your understanding of social change? What is your vision as a socialist as you set out to build an independent working-class party rooted in the trade unions and oppressed communities?
Connie White: One of the things that, in the past, we missed – as socialists, revolutionaries and leftists here in the U.S. – is the lack of class consciousness in the U.S. working-class. What I mean by that is that our experience is more one of being leftist in bourgeois politics as opposed to being leftist in a working-class political arena. So, what we have in the U.S. is that the narrative that we tend to follow is the narrative put forth by the ruling class. My strategy is based in an issue-based organizing model, along with, for example, working with others to help me win this campaign. In this strategy, we begin to organize the class through our praxis. Praxis is a concept wherein – as we work together to advance legislation or advocate for this or that issue or even to advance working-class campaigns for public office – we organize the class to think of itself as a class operating in its own interests and as a class for itself. That’s the missing key that has been holding us back in the U.S. to be able to effectively advocate for socialist and radical ideas for change. We have to begin to think as a class and operate as a class in our own interests. That is the link to those of us who are socialist. Without the U.S. working-class beginning to think of itself as operating in its own class interests separate from the interests of the ruling class, we are not going to get any further than we are already. As socialists who are working-class – you know, I am working-class, that is what I am – we must organize, first, to address some of the issues that will alleviate some of the suffering of the U.S. working class and, thereby, through praxis, begin to change the perception that we are powerless. Therefore, as socialists, we need to organize people around issues and demands that affect our daily lives.
The Organizer: This raises the issue of the trade unions, which are the only organized expression of the working class as a class. Our union leaders, however, see themselves as the partners of the bosses by and large; they try to convince their members that we are all “middle class,” that we have to advance the interests of both Wall Street and Main Street (meaning the workers). Isn’t it time for workers to reclaim our unions for struggle against the capitalists? Isn’t it time for workers to reclaim the instruments of power built through bitter struggles? Most important, isn’t it time for the unions to break with the Democratic Party and build a working-class party of our own? This, in turn, raises another question: Is it possible to win our demands and advance class consciousness by forging electoral alliances with wings of the capitalist class, namely, the so-called “progressive” or “socialist” sectors of the Democratic Party?
Connie White: There is an ongoing debate over whether we can change the Democratic Party from within: do we have a so-called “dirty break” using the ballot line of the Democratic Party or do we make a “clean break”? I advocate for independent working-class political action that makes a “clean break” with the Democratic Party as we organize an independent political party working in the interests of all sectors of the laboring classes in the U.S.
Both capitalist parties are not our parties, and they will never work for us. They were never established to be working class parties; they are not our organizations. That is why, yes, absolutely, the unions need to break with the Democratic Party and the Republican Party and form our own, independent working-class party based in labor-community assemblies. However, the labor unions themselves are our democratic, working class organizations. Workers fought hard-won battles, and many died to get these labor unions. We never want to give up our organizations just because of the misleaders. We need to reclaim the labor unions; we must not give them up. People fought, suffered, and died in these battles. No, I am not going to give them up.
In that vein, we need to overturn Taft-Hartley. That has been the most damaging law regarding worker rights implemented in our history. Taft-Hartley is a clear example of law that was imposed to keep power from the majority in order to serve the minority.
The Organizer: You mentioned that you see your campaign setting an example for other communities and other activists across the country to do the same thing?
Connie White: Any campaign that unabashedly advocates for a working-class majority in the United States is a good example of what a campaign should be. And because I advocate for building labor and community assemblies along with building that power base for a labor party, I believe my campaign can serve as a worthwhile example. I believe that my campaign, centered around issue-based organizing, is of paramount importance because our class is suffering. If people across the country get on board in their respective areas, and we show success in the labor-community assemblies endorsing candidates that are answerable to these assemblies, that is the example we want to set for building a base for an independent, working-class political party. When we organize these local assemblies around issues and advocate for legislation to alleviate some of the suffering and oppression rampant in our communities and workplaces, we can make a difference in everyday lives of the U.S. working class. So, yes, I definitely think that my campaign in Long Beach’s District 7 can serve as an example.
The Organizer: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Connie White: Yes. I want to add something concerning what is going on in Minneapolis. For too long, the capitalists have been able to divide us around issues of race. This only diminishes the overwhelming power that we have. But in our organizing, we can overcome these obstacles and achieve our goals when we work together to make change, when we explain who the enemy really is and how it is a common enemy of all working-class people.
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(3) 30th Anniversary of Socialist Organizer: From Our Archives
The October 2004 Million Worker March and the Fight for Independent Working-Class Political Action
In March 2004, an important initiative was launched in San Francisco by ILWU Local 10, one of the most combative union locals in the country: the call for a Million Worker March on Washington, D.C., on October 17, 2004.
The call put forward the goal of building a mass mobilization of working people independent of the politicians and their parties. The call stated:
“Now is the time for organized/unorganized labor, the interfaith and community organizations to show solidarity and demand that all elected officials address the needs of working people. As working-class people, we know more than any others the difficulties and limitations we face both in our communities and workplaces. We shall therefore be representing ourselves during this march, independent from all politicians, while putting forward to the entire country, our program for the betterment of America’s majority working population.”
Clarence Thomas, a rank-and-file leader of ILWU Local 10 and co-chair of the Million Worker March, described the purpose of the Million Worker March as follows:
“This is a Call to working people to unite and to mobilize around our own agenda. … We shall hold all elected and other officials accountable to a working people’s agenda. By organizing in our own name and putting forth an independent workers’ agenda, we will put everyone’s feet to the fire.”
Ralph Schoenman, who at the time was co-chair of the MWM Publicity Committee, explained the significance of the MWM call in his speech to a rally at the ILWU Local 10 hall in San Francisco — an explanation that is as relevant today as it was in 2004. He stated, in part:
“The government and the State itself have been captured by a tiny oligarchy of the corporate rich that fund both the Democratic and Republican parties. They have hijacked our political process in a class war of the privileged few against the exploited many, and they use both major political parties as towel-boys, to quote a former CEO of American Express Corp., to advance their interests.
“Working people are the cannon fodder for the ruling-class’ bipartisan wars. U.S. workers are sent to wage war against the working poor of other countries. The vast majority of Americans have no interest in invading and occupying other nations so the Pentagon can steal trillions of dollars and the corporate masters can seize the oil and natural resources of other nations.
“Martin Luther King, Jr., summoned a historic Poor Peoples’ March on Washington to declare that the vast arsenal of death unleashed by the Pentagon was in reality a war on working people at home and abroad. The time has come to re-ignite a vast movement of working people for fundamental social change in America. The time has come to build a genuinely independent Million Worker March in Washington, D.C., on October 17, 2004.”
Likewise, Saladin Muhammad, chairperson of Black Workers For Justice, (North Carolina) underscored the importance of this initiative in his address to the MWM kickoff rally. He stated, in part:
“The call for a Million Workers March continues in the spirit of the African American Freedom Movement, which mobilized the Million Man, Million Women, Million Youth and Millions for Reparations Marches as an expression of the struggle against racism, national oppression and for self-determination. Millions of Black workers participated in those marches, impacting public transportation and industries in major cities, but their working class concerns were not crystallized as major demands.
“The Million Worker March must carry forward the special demands of Black workers, Workers of Color, Women workers and Southern workers as it raises demands important to all workers.
“The call for a Million Worker March must be a call to organize the power of workers on the job, in the communities and in all of the institutions that impact the lives of working people. It will be workers’ organized power that will defeat the oppressive policies, direction and rule of corporate greed. Both parties of big business must be challenged and defeated by workers’ power.”
[Following is the text of the leaflet that was distributed widely by supporters of The Organizer newspaper at the October 17, 2004 Million Worker March in Washington, DC.]
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
What Way Forward After the Million Worker March to Advance the Struggle for Workers’ Rights?
A Contribution to the Discussion by the Editorial Board of The Organizer Newspaper
Dear Participants in the Historic MWM:
The October 17 Million Worker March marks a giant step forward for working people across the United States and internationally. Responding to the call issued by ILWU Local 10 and promoted by an initial core of union locals and activists in AFSCME 1707, Teamsters Black Caucus, Black Workers For Justice, and South Carolina AFL-CIO, among others, tens of thousands of unionists and activists will be mobilizing in Washington, D.C. to put forward before the entire nation an independent workers’ agenda. They will be gathering under the slogan, “Organizing In Our Own Name.” Many will be mandated by unions representing hundreds of thousands of workers.
The Organizer newspaper has supported and actively promoted the MWM from the very beginning because we believe this march represents the only manner in which working people in this country can express their own interests independent from, and in opposition to, the corporate agenda promoted by the candidates of both political parties of the ruling rich: the Democrats and Republicans.
We agree wholeheartedly with Chris Silvera, president of the Teamsters Black Caucus, when he told the May 22 MWM Kickoff Rally in San Francisco:
“We can’t just sit around and think Kerry will do something for us. Neither political party defends our interests. Power only makes concessions when we mobilize in unity, with strength!
“We can wait no more. We’ve got to shake these folks in the labor movement and move them out into the streets. We will be in Washington to shake the house. We’re going to take back our rights, rip up the Patriot Act, end the war.”
In recent weeks, an important discussion has developed among the activists building the MWM around the theme: Where should the MWM movement go from here after October 17 to advance and ultimately secure for all working people the powerful and far-reaching demands set forth by the MWM organizers?
We in the Editorial Board of The Organizer newspaper submit the following ideas as a contribution to this necessary discussion. Our proposals can be grouped in three themes:
1) Build an ongoing and more structured movement out of the MWM to promote the platform of the MWM in our unions and community organizations, so that we can shake these folks in the labor movement and move them out into the streets … no matter who is elected November 2nd.
2) Build an Organizing Committee for Independent Labor-Community Political Action to project this fighting movement into the electoral arena, with independent labor-community candidates on a local and state level to fight for, and ultimately help win, the MWM platform of demands.
3) Convene an initial gathering of MWM organizers from across the country in Washington, D.C. next January at the time of the presidential inauguration, when unionists and activists will converge, no matter who wins, to protest and make their voices heard.
On the need to build an ongoing action-oriented MWM Continuations Committee:
If this movement is to succeed in building a movement of millions around its programmatic demands, it cannot be a one-shot deal.
The MWM tapped into and gave expression to the immense anger and frustration felt by millions of working people this election year — but it is still a tiny current in the labor and community movements. A significant number of unions and union bodies defied the national AFL-CIO leadership, which had urged all its affiliates not to endorse or mobilize for the Million Worker March. This defiance was so important, in fact, that it forced the AFL-CIO to soften its public stance toward the march. But these unions are still a tiny minority in the house of labor. A lot more shaking up needs to be done.
An ongoing MWM movement can be a powerful force to revitalize the U.S. labor movement. Key to this effort will be the need to establish a close and collaborative relationship with U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW), which is spearheading the fight inside the labor movement against the “endless war” by the U.S. government in the Middle East.
On the need for the MWM to become a vehicle for independent labor-community political action:
The most important task facing working people today is that of building a genuine and fighting Labor Party in this country. Longtime union leader Tony Mazzocchi put it best when he said, “The bosses have two parties, working people need one of their own.”
If the trade union movement is to survive in this country, if working people are to have any chance at rolling back the attacks on their rights and making new gains, labor must break with the Democratic Party and build a party of its own.
No matter who is elected president on November 2nd, the situation facing working people in this country and around the world will only continue to deteriorate. The capitalist system today has no more fat, no more leeway, to throw crumbs at the workers to buy their support. The crisis of global capitalism in this era of so-called “globalization” is such that the parties that represent the interests of the multinational corporations have no choice but to step up their attacks against working people to shore up the bosses’ profit rates.
Today, there is no Labor Party in this country that can champion the interests of working people in the streets and in the political arena. Nor is there any mass-based existing party or candidate — from the Green Party to Ralph Nader — that is posing the need to build such a party.
The Labor Party that was founded in 1996 by the now deceased labor visionary Tony Mazzocchi has stagnated to the point many workers who supported it wonder if it still even exists.
Revitalizing the Labor Party movement in this country is an urgent task. And this is where the MWM comes in.
The ongoing MWM movement in our view should establish an Organizing Committee for Independent Labor-Community Political Action with the goal of putting forward independent labor-community candidates (running as independents) at the local, district and state levels.
The forces on board the MWM already exist — in the unions, in the Black workers’ organizations, in the antiwar and other social movements — to set out on this electoral course. It is a question of promoting a discussion and convincing all these forces of the imperative need to begin building an independent political expression of working people in this country.
Running credible independent labor community-candidates would set an example for what the unions and the current, albeit dormant, Labor Party could do — with their greater resources and numbers — to ensure that the aspirations of working people, which are betrayed daily by the bosses’ parties, are advanced in the halls where political decisions are made.
We cannot allow the independent momentum generated around the MWM to fizzle — or to be derailed back into the Democratic Party by those who would have us pursue the failed strategy of “taking back the party from the centrists.” Such a strategy is a dead-end. The experience over the past many decades has revealed that the Democratic Party cannot be transformed into a vehicle to advance workers’ interests — as it is a party run and controlled lock, stock and barrel by the ruling rich.
Forging a political wing of the MWM movement today is not pie-in-the-sky. It is eminently do-able.
Of course, for this orientation to be successful, any political formation that were to arise out of this MWM process could not self-proclaim itself the workers’ party. It can only be an Organizing Committee focused on winning growing sectors of the trade union movement to join in the struggle to build a genuine Labor Party.
In this sense, it would be essential for such an Organizing Committee, were it to be formed, to have an open and collaborative attitude toward the current Labor Party — to reinvigorate and reorient this formation, which represents a real gain for working people, however limited that vision may appear at the moment.
On how we can get there from here:
Clearly, moving forward toward establishing an ongoing MWM — whatever the form it may take — requires establishing a process of discussion and, ultimately, decision-making.
It would have been good for the key activists and organizers of the MWM from across the country to get together after the MWM to begin this discussion about strategy. But that is not possible, as the march, for reasons beyond the control of the organizers, had to be held on a Sunday, rather than a Saturday.
The next moment when an important sector of the labor/activist movement will gather is likely to be in Washington, D.C. at the time of the inauguration next January. Already coalitions such as UFPJ, ANSWER, the International Action Center, and USLAW have either called or are considering supporting the call for mass actions in the streets the day of the inauguration — no matter who is elected.
This would be a good time for the organizers and activists in the MWM movement to get together and begin charting the next steps to promote the MWM’s independent workers’ agenda. Such a discussion could include the possibility of calling for a second MWM in the streets of Washington, either in the spring or fall of 2005. After all, the AFL-CIO leadership said it supported many, if not most, of the MWM demands but only differed with the respect to the timing, preferring a march after the election. Shouldn’t they be called upon to organize a mass workers’ mobilization some time in 2005?
Again, this is just a contribution to the discussion about what to do next. Formulations or proposals may need to be fine-tuned or modified to make them clearer or more capable of winning broader support for the overall goals we have put forward.
We invite all unionists and activists who agree with these ideas and who would like to see them put into place, to please contact Socialist Organizer, the political group that publishes The Organizer newspaper. We would like to organize meetings in the various cities where we have members and supporters to improve these proposals about how best to promote independent labor political action today.
We also want to place our newspaper — The Organizer — at the service of airing the agreements, disagreements or new ideas pertaining to the issues we have articulated here.
Please contact us, so that together we can help chart a winning strategy for the powerful movement that has emerged with the Million Worker March.
The Editorial Board,
The Organizer newspaper
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(4) MORE THAN EVER: FREE MUMIA, NOW!
Tuesday April 20 morning update from Jamal Journal:
We just heard from the medical attorneys that Mumia is recovering well from the surgery. Mumia is getting minimal oxygen and one IV which is a good sign. We have not yet heard from Mumia but we expect he will be able to call his family today. We need to see him, hear from him, and know that he has the proper rehabilitation plan. Mumia’s wife Wadiya says “I won’t know he is ok until I hear from him directly.” — published by the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal (ICFFMAJ)
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What You Can Do:
Link to Jamal Journal (ICFFMAJ)
TAKE ACTION: Mumia Is Not Out of Danger! Call for His Freedom!
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USA: Shackling of aged inmate, Mumia Abu-Jamal, is deplorable – UN experts
GENEVA (20 April 2021) – UN human rights experts* expressed serious concerns about the treatment and welfare of Mumia Abu-Jamal, an African-American man who has been in jail for 40 years in Pennsylvania, and is reportedly shackled to his hospital bed. Mr. Abu-Jamal had already been shackled to his bed during a four-day hospitalization in late February while being treated for heart failure.
Mr. Abu-Jamal has been denied visits from his family and access to his lawyers and spiritual advisor after being admitted to an undisclosed hospital around 10 April, where he will reportedly undergo surgery. “This ongoing and continuing cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, including deliberate disregard of his dignity and inhumane conditions of confinement, is a clear violation of Mr. Abu-Jamal’s most fundamental rights,” the experts added. Neither his family nor lawyers have been informed of his medical condition and treatment.
“The use of shackles during his hospital stays is deplorable, and causes Mr. Abu-Jamal additional and unnecessary suffering,” said the experts. “International standards on the treatment of prisoners clearly stipulate that instruments of restraint are to be imposed only when no lesser form of control would be effective to address the risks posed by unrestricted movement.”
As well as a chronic heart condition, Mr. Abu-Jamal, now 67, suffers cirrhosis of the liver caused by Hepatitis C, hypertension and a severe skin condition. In late February, he was also diagnosed with COVID-19.
“We are concerned that the medical condition of Mr. Abu-Jamal could be linked to years of medical neglect by the Department of Corrections of the state of Pennsylvania,” the experts said. “This situation may also be the result of racial discrimination against people of African descent by prison and state authorities.
“We call on the authorities to take all urgent measures to protect the physical integrity, life and dignity of Mr. Abu-Jamal, in line with international human rights obligations.
“Communication and access for Mr. Abu-Jamal’s family and advisors should immediately be restored with Mr. Abu-Jamal and with all relevant personnel involved in his health and conditions of confinement. The state must also immediately cease withholding information and access relevant to monitoring the status of Mr. Abu-Jamal’s human rights.
“We also call on the authorities to urgently address allegations of discrimination, including racial discrimination, in the medical treatment of prisoners in Pennsylvania, and to take all necessary measures to protect the physical integrity and life of all detainees, in particular older prisoners and prisoners with disabilities who seem to have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” the experts added.
Mr. Abu-Jamal, a former activist and journalist, was charged with the murder of a police officer in 1981. He denies the charges.
The experts have written to the Government to express their concerns.
*The experts: Ms. Dominique DAY (Chairperson), Mr. Ahmed REID , Mr. Michal BALCERZAK , Mr. Sabelo GUMEDZE , Mr. Ricardo A. SUNGA III, Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent, Gerard Quinn, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Ms. Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health, Claudia Mahler, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
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