T.O. Weekly Newsletter 78: The War Against Workers at Home and Abroad
(Judy Gonzalez, leader of the NY State Nurses Assoc., addresses Dec, 10 solidarity rally (photos by Jon Farina)
The ORGANIZER Newsletter
Issue No. 78
December 14, 2022
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IN THIS ISSUE:
• Editorial: The War at Home: Biden’s War on Rail Workers
• New York City Rally in Solidarity with Railroad Workers
• Report on December 10 U.S.-Mexico-Haiti International Forum Against War and Exploitation!
• Appendix 1: Message from the Casa Obrera del Bajío, Silao, Guanajuato (Mexico)
• Appendix 2: Message from Berthony Dupont (Haiti Liberté)
• Nothing Will Come from Sharm el-Sheikh – by Daniel Gluckstein, Editorial of Workers’ Tribune, France, Issue No. 364, November 9, 2022
• Support the Appeal of the International Committee for the Defense of Afghan Women! & Endorsement Coupon
• Message of the “Spontaneous Movement of Afghan Women” to the International Conference of Working Women
• 48,000 University of California Academic Workers on Strike – by Fernando David Márquez Duarte
• City of Selma, Alabama, Honors Sister Colia Lafayette Clark
• Link to Proclamation of the City of Selma, Alabama
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The War at Home: Biden’s War on Rail Workers
(excerpted from the Dec. 5 Socialist Organizer Statement on “the War at Home and the War Abroad”)
On November 30, Joe Biden called on Congress to avert a nationwide rail strike by 120,000 rail workers that would have paralyzed up to one-third of U.S. commerce. Biden invoked the anti-labor Railway Labor Act to impose a contract settlement that he had reached with the top leaders of most of the rail unions.
Everywhere picket signs could be seen demanding ‘Stop the War on Rail Workers! and “Hands Off Our Right to Strike!” The resistance of the rail workers was overwhelming.
Biden’s corporate rail buddies and Wall Street cronies, all of whom are making profits hand over fist, called on Biden to urge Congress to impose a contract settlement that had been previously rejected by four unions representing a majority of rail workers and by the thousands who voted “NO’ in the eight other unions. Biden, the so-called “best friend that labor ever had” deprived the rail workers of their most precious instrument in the fight to secure a decent contract: the right to strike.
“This one-two punch [imposition of unacceptable contract/ ban on right to strike and refusal to grant seven days of paid sick leave for rail workers – Ed.] from the two political parties is despicable,” said Railroad Workers United (RWU) general secretary Jason Doering. (RWU is a rank-and-file group that brings together members of all rail unions.) “Politicians are happy to voice platitudes and heap praise upon us … yet when the steel hits the rail, they back the powerful and wealthy Class One rail carriers every time.”
Once Again: The Obstacle of the Trade Union Bureaucracy
Top union officials of SMART TD, which represents conductors and others, issued a statement that exposed the union leadership’s total reliance on the Democratic Party. It stated, in part:
“While it is unfortunate that our members were not able to approve the agreement in which they work under, we thank the President, House Speaker, Senate leadership, and Cabinet members for their support at the negotiating table and on the floor of Congress in an attempt to achieve more for our members.”
The New York Times wrote the following on November 30 about comments from Greg Regan, the head of the AFL-CIO’s transportation department:
“Greg Regan, the head of the AFL-CIO’s transportation department, said that although the rail workers’ frustration was legitimate, the options available to their unions and to the While House [were] heavily constrained by the [Railway] Labor Act.
“I totally understand the frustration with the White House and Congress taking the vote out of working members’ hands, stopping them from utilizing their biggest leverage,” Mr. Regan said. “I do think that some of the anger is lost on where it should be directed — at the railroads.”
The AFL-CIO leadership let the Biden administration and the Congressional Democrats and Republicans off the hook, when what needed to be said, and still needs to be said, not just with words but with determined solidarity actions and strikes, was this: “All labor stands behind the rail workers – An injury to one is an injury to all!”
The Way Forward: Independent Working-Class Political Action
Not all union leaders, however, adopted the AFL-CIO’s pro-boss stance. Fissures have appeared in the house of labor. A press release was issued by the Board of Trustees of the Vermont State Employees’ Association. It stated, in part:
“The VSEA is appalled by the decision of the U.S. Congress to impose a contract on thousands of railroad workers who wanted nothing more than paid sick leave. Most VSEA Board members remember when state employees had a contract imposed on us. We know the anger and disgust these workers are feeling today, and we stand strongly in solidarity with our railroad brothers and sisters nationwide.”
Similarly, the December 2 press release by Railroad Workers United addressed a central question — if not THE central question facing the working class and oppressed nationalities; that is, the subordination of their organizations to the Democratic Party, a capitalist party. The release raised two specific points:
(1) “The rail carriers are too powerful and are a scourge to the national economy,” explained RWU steering committee member Paul Lindsey. “They need to be taken into public ownership and run in the interest of workers, shippers, passengers, and the nation, not a handful of wealthy stockholders.”
(2) RWU organizer Ron Kaminkow added, “We have been played for well over a century by politicians and union officials alike… perhaps the time has come for railroad workers to push for a unified and powerful labor organization of all crafts, together with a political party that will better serve the interest of not just railroad workers but all working-class people.”
Socialist Organizer agrees. We must seize the moment, reinforce and expand organizing efforts toward launching a labor party based on revitalized unions independent of the employers and their parties — the Democrats and Republicans — and based as well in communities of the oppressed. At the same time, we must support efforts to build an independent Black working-class party linked to the struggle to build a labor party.
Let us translate words into action. Toward that end, we invite our readers to promote the efforts of Labor and Community for an Independent Party (LCIP) and to join Socialist Organizer, so that, together, we can be the best builders of the fight for independent working-class politics and proletarian internationalism.
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New York City Rally in Solidarity with Railroad Workers
(Members of South West Airlines Pilots Association attend the Dec. 10 solidarity rally)
INTRODUCTION: Following are excerpts from presentations to the rally on December 10 in New York City in solidarity with the embattled railroad workers. The rally was convened by the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and Railroad Workers United. The videographer is Jon Farina. Similar demonstrations and rallies in support of the rail workers are taking place across the country at the initiative of RWU.]
Excerpts from speech by Chris Silvera, president of Teamsters Local 880 in Long Island City, N.Y.
I’ve seen a lot of things, but this is the most criminal thing I’ve seen in a long time. Our government has billions of dollars for Ukraine, yet it is forcing workers back to work with only one paid sick day. It’s a travesty. It is my position that the labor movement has failed them and that sometimes workers have to take matters into their own hands.
There’s not a worker who is not catching hell. But the politicians are cagey. They separated the two rail worker bills in Congress. One forces the workers back to work. The other contains the sick days. They separated the bills because they knew that the sick days resolution was going to fail. It’s a flim-flam, a con. When you recognize that you’re part of a flim-flam, you’ve got to do something about it.
We’ve got to do something different. That’s why workers are deserting these two major parties. Some are looking to the left, some to the right. They don’t quite know what to do, but they know one thing: They’re getting screwed by both Democrats and Republicans. This is the most miserable screwing that the workers have gotten in a long time.
At the end of the day what the workers have to take away from this is that whether they’re Democrats or Republicans, they’re all in the service of the boss, not the workers.
My word to you, brothers and sisters, is that if they [the rail workers] stop, we stop. If they stop, we stop!
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 Chris Silvera and his union are founding members of Labor and Community for an Independent Party (LCIP)
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Excerpts from the speech by a retired Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) member
We don’t have to tolerate a rail baron like Warren Buffett, who sits on a $109 billion fortune and whose hedge fund, Berkshire Holloway, owns the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.
Last year, the rail bosses netted more than $27 billion in profits, yet they’re diminishing the size of the crews, accidents are mounting. It’s not just about sick days. That’s key. It’s also about working conditions. Rail workers are exhausted, they’re understaffed. Because of greed and profit, the rail bosses are not hiring more staff.
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Excerpts from the speech by Emma, a New York City high-school teacher and UFT member
You can’t trust the Democratic Party. Four weeks ago, they told us to vote for them so they could protect us. Look at what they’ve done.
They sold us out as they’ve done time and time again. We need our own party. A party that fights for working people, yes, for workplace issues, but more than that, a party that says that Black Lives Matter, that Trans Lives Matter.
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Excerpts from speech by Judy Gonzalez, a leader of the New York State Nurses Association
We’re proud to stand in solidarity with the railroad workers. As nurses we have sick days, but when we use them, they discipline us. Nurses get sick. Today’s 17,000 nurses in New York are in contract negotiations. The employers want to cut our health benefits. We may be on strike in January.
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Report on December 10 U.S.-Mexico-Haiti International Forum Against War and Exploitation!
On Saturday, December 10, in the framework of the appeal adopted by the World Conference Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers’ International, an online International Forum was held with International Workers Committee (IWC) activists and supporters from the United States, Mexico and Haiti. Initially, the event was slated to be an in-person rally on both sides of the border in Tijuana, but a sharp spike in COVID and RSV flu in the San Diego and Los Angeles region led the organizers to make the shift to an online event.
All came together in support of the following demands:
• Withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine!
• Withdrawal of NATO from Europe!
– Immediate and unconditional ceasefire!
– Foreign troops out of the countries they are occupying!
– Not one cent, not one weapon, for this unjust war!
– Billions for wages, school, hospitals – not for war!
– No support to warmongering governments!
– No to the U.S. intervention in Haiti!
– No deportations, Papers for all!
Unionists and activists participated from across Mexico (Chiapas, Mexico City, Veracruz, Guanajuato, Tijuana and Mexicali) and the United States (New York, San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Jose).
Berthony Dupont, editor of Haiti Liberté, was scheduled to be a forum presenter, but he was unable to attend as he was asked to be a speaker at an emergency rally in New York City organized on two-days’ notice by Railroad Workers United in support of the embattled rail workers. He sent a message urging the participants in the forum to include at the top of their organizing agenda in the coming year (1) a campaign demanding a halt to U.S. intervention in Haiti, and (2) a campaign to demand an immediate end to the U.S. blockade of Cuba. [See message below.]
The forum began with a presentation by forum co-convener Liliana Plumeda of LCI-CORCI-Mexico, who emphasized the need – particularly in the United States – for a united fightback against the war in Ukraine and explained the centrality of our demands: No Putin, No Biden, Russia Out of Ukraine, NATO Out of Europe!
She went on to recall the meeting of 19 unionists and activists from Mexico, the United States, Haiti and Canada that took place in Paris at the conclusion of the World Conference Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers’ International. She reported that all delegates at the meeting agreed to reactivate the Binational Campaign Against NAFTA, the Wall of Shame, and Deportations, but this time incorporating support for the demands adopted by the World Conference Against War and Exploitation, including the demand to end sanctions against Cuba, and this time expanding the scope of our work to Haiti and Canada.
Plumeda also urged support for the international campaign in defense of Afghan women that was launched at the International Working Women’s Conference in Paris. She reported that activists in Mexicali and Tijuana have launched a holiday raffle, with all funds going to support the families of the Afghan women. Desirée Rojas, president of Sacramento LCLAA, urged the gathering to start preparing for March 8, International Women’s Day.
A representative of the Casa Obrera del Bajío in Silao, Guanajuato, read a message to the meeting from the Workers’ Center. Israel Cervantes, founder of Generando Movimiento at the GM plant in Silao and one of the organizers of the Casa Obrera, was a delegate to the World Conference Against War and Exploitation. This movement ran a union reform slate at GM which, despite the company and government repression, won all the top posts in the union, dislodging the company union.
The victory in Silao sparked a powerful movement that created the Workers’ Center in Guanajuato (and other cities) to promote the struggle for independent unionism across Mexico. [See message below.]
After a rich discussion in which participants heard first-hand reports from the struggles of academic workers for a decent contract in the University of California system, among others, Alan Benjamin, a forum co-convener, concluded the meeting with a call on all participants to join an Organizing Committee mandated to implement the World Conference decisions in each of our countries and on a regional basis, and to prepare at the end of 2023 or some time in 2024 a four-countries regional conference toward this end.
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APPENDIX 1: Message from the Casa Obrera del Bajío, Silao, Guanajuato (Mexico) to December 10 International Forum Against War and Exploitation
CASA OBRERA DEL BAJIO
(BAJIO WORKERS’ CENTER)
CALLE ROSA 2 “A”
COLONIA LA JOYITA, SILAO, GTO.
STOP THE WAR BETWEEN RUSSIA AND UKRAINE-NATO
To the working class of the world
To the international community
From Casa Obrera del Bajío we issue a call on all working people to take a stand for peace and against the war between Russia and Ukraine, a war that affects the civil society of Ukraine and Russia and that has collateral effects for the population in Europe.
This war is for world hegemony, where the UN is just another spectator, where NATO, led by the United States, has taken upon itself to supply arms to Ukraine for the counter-offensive, leaving dialogue on the back burner, and a Russia determined not to respect Ukrainian independence.
This shows that no government cares about the people, much less the stability of humanity with its threats on both sides of nuclear war, creating instability, economic crises, humanitarian crises, forced displacements, hunger, unemployment, death, among other things, and where it is the people who pay the consequences of their war.
STOP MURDERING THE PEOPLE!
The working class of the world has the responsibility to unite and call for peace throughout the planet, to unify and demand respect for human rights, to stand in solidarity with the workers most affected, to seek alternatives to the capitalist governments that for centuries have led us to economic, humanitarian, social and economic, and ecological crises.
WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE AGAINST CAPITALIST WARS!
“ONLY ORGANIZED WILL WE CONQUER OUR LABOR RIGHTS”!
Casa Obrera del Bajío
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APPENDIX 2: Message from Berthony Dupont to December 10 International Forum Against War and Exploitation
No U.S. Intervention in Haiti,
Lift the U.S. Blockade Against Cuba!
I send you this message today to warn of a grave threat to the Caribbean region and beyond.
The United States government has begun a campaign to base its armed forces in Haiti for at least a decade, thereby establishing yet another precedent for violating the sovereignty of Latin American nations and creating a forward position for aggression against regional popular uprisings and particularly Cuba and Venezuela.
This is Washington’s fourth invasion of Haiti in a century. Since 1804, one excuse after another has justified decades of U.S sanctions on Haiti.
The U.S. is not likely to gather the votes necessary to trigger the military intervention clause of the OAS’s “InterAmerican Charter.” However, the U.S. may try to form a Caribbean alliance similar to their tactic to provide a fig-leaf for its 1983 invasion of Grenada.
The U.S. currently has no other way to get its troops into Haiti, which is a pilot case for implementation of the U.S. Global Fragility Act. It aims precisely to station U.S. troops in various countries on a bilateral basis, all under the guise of “humanitarian” aid.
The plan has already made headway, creating a grave situation. The UN Security
Council, under U.S pressure, has placed Haiti once again under Chapter 7 control, hence stripping Haiti of its sovereignty.
Furthermore, like the U.S., the Security Council has begun placing sanctions on individuals in Haiti, as the U.S. has done against individuals in Venezuela and Cuba. This is a gross violation of Haiti’s sovereignty and a threat to the sovereignty of every country in the region.
This is why we in Haiti Liberté call upon your International Forum to help us in organizing a movement – particularly within the U.S. trade unions – to demand “NO U.S. Intervention in Haiti!”
We also call upon your International Forum to help promote widely in the U.S. labor movement a campaign to lift the U.S. blockade of Cuba, which today is experiencing an unprecedented economic crisis.
The Associated Press reports that over 250,000 Cubans have been forced to flee the country over the past three months because of the untenable situation. The AP story was forced to admit what all U.S. government officials have tried to deny year after year: the U.S. governments’ six decades of blockade – with tightened sanctions imposed by Trump (and maintained by Biden) – is the main culprit responsible for the current crisis.
Three months ago, the resolution “Need to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba” received 185 votes in favor during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
The resolution against the genocidal blockade that Washington has maintained for over 60 years obtained the majority of votes, with two abstentions [Ukraine and Brazil] and two countries against: the United States and Israel. It was the 30th such vote, but nothing has changed.
Measured at current prices, the damages caused by the U.S. blockade to the Cuban people amount to US$150 billion.
We call you to renew the call for “U.S. Hands Off Cuba!” and “Lift the Blockade of Cuba” It will take a broad-based movement, anchored in the U.S. labor movement, to win these demands. Your International Forum could play an important role in this effort.
Wishing you a successful meeting,
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La Tribune des Travailleurs (Workers’ Tribune) Issue No.364 – 9 November 2022 – Editorial
COP27: Nothing Will Come from Sharm el-Sheikh
By Daniel Gluckstein
How long does it take for rich countries to pay out US$100 billion? It depends on what it is for.
If it’s about helping the poorest countries to reduce greenhouse gases and adapt to climate change, the answer is at least 55 years.
If it is about the war in Ukraine, the answer is: less than six months.
Let’s remember that at the Copenhagen Summit (2009), the major capitalist countries pledged to allocate US$100 billion a year for measures to help “developing countries” deal with climate change from 2020 onwards. By the target date, US$80 billion (not US$100 billion) had actually been allocated. But three-quarters of this has been absorbed by interest payments on loans and private finance. Around US$20 billion remains to be spent on the consequences of climate change. It took 11 years to reach US$20 billion and so, in the most optimistic hypothesis, it will take 55 years to reach US$100 billion…
But it took less than six months, from March to September 2022, for the U.S. and its main allies to invest between US$107 billion and US$140 billion in the war in Ukraine.
In other words, the world’s most developed capitalist countries are 110 times faster at investing in war than at fulfilling the meagre commitments to protect people and their environment that were made with great fanfare in Copenhagen!
From the Copenhagen Summit to the current one in Sharm el-Sheikh, the multinationals and the big capitalist corporations have maintained control over the governments and their COP . They don’t care about protecting the human race. The main focus is elsewhere: during the first six months of the war in Ukraine, the big oil and gas companies in the United States made US$200 billion in profits, the best results ever recorded in a six-month period in that sector!
The drought in Somalia, the appalling consequences of the floods in Pakistan, the rising figures for famine, infant mortality and epidemics – all these disasters are not as “natural” as they say: they are first and foremost the result of the lack of funds provided to populations to cope and adapt.
Behind this lack is the appalling face of the decay of the capitalist system. It is the continuation of an ancient historical process: colonialism and then neo-colonialism have arrogated to themselves the right to plunder and destroy entire continents in order to appropriate their wealth and subjugate their peoples. Today, the capitalist powers are pursuing the same neo-colonial logic. They claim the right to continue to plunder without having to invest where it is not profitable: for example, in the protection of populations.
In the 21st century, capitalism is developing productive forces that are increasingly becoming destructive forces. The processes for extracting and producing natural resources are increasingly and irreparably damaging the main productive force: the working class and its environment. Destructive forces also include the thriving arms economy and the war policies which aim to control new territories in order to plunder them directly.
Humankind is threatened by a capitalist system that forbids dealing with what would be a genuine “environmental transition.” If words have any meaning, this term should refer to a policy that aims to protect today’s human race in order to protect future humanity. This can only be done by putting aside all profit-seeking, and therefore by seizing ownership of the means of production from the capitalist class.
There will only be an “environmental transition” as a consequence of a “social transition” in which control of the means of production and the economy is transferred from the hands of a handful of profiteers to working people.
The struggle against war is a precondition of the struggle to protect humanity in all its aspects. It involves making no concessions to warmongering governments, and no votes in favor of war credits. This is the meaning of the international days of mobilisation against war and exploitation on December 9, 10 and 11.
Nothing will come from the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit. Only the fight for socialism opens up the path for protecting humanity. The continuation of capitalism paves the way for its destruction.
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 Translator’s note: The United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, more commonly referred to as COP. The 2022 COP is the 27th, hence it is commonly referred to as COP27.
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Support the Appeal of the International Committee for the Defense of Afghan Women!
We, the delegates to the International Working Women’s Conference, held on October 29, 2022, having received the message of the Spontaneous Afghan Women’s Movement addressed to our conference, decide to form an International Committee for the Defence of Afghan Women who are demonstrating against the regime.
The message describes the persecution of Afghan women by the Taliban regime as well as the protests against the regime by women targeted by these attacks.
We hereby decide to make the message of our Afghan sisters widely known in our respective countries, particularly the six demands that appear in the conclusion of this text (see below). In order to implement the demands that they have put before us, we call on all women and men committed to the defense of democratic and women’s rights to join the international committee in order to organize the campaign.
[See list of International Committee to Defend Afghan Women endorsers at socialistorganizer.org. Also, please fill out the endorsement coupon below.]
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AFGHAN WOMEN DEFENSE CAMPAIGN ENDORSEMENT COUPON
I publicly endorse the International Appeal of the International Committee for the Defense of Afghan Women.
[ ] In my personal capacity (list title for id only)
[ ] On behalf on my organization
Organization and Title
Fill out Coupon to be returned to:
email@example.com and Theorganizer@earthlink.net
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Message of the “Spontaneous Movement of Afghan Women” to the International Conference of Working Women
Today, Afghan women live under the most misogynistic regime, where they are deprived of all their human and civil rights. For this reason, Afghan women activists formed their own protest movement after the Taliban rule in August 2021, which has been organizing women’s protests in the cities of Kabul, Jalalabad, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif and Bamiyan with the slogans (bread, work, freedom).
When women protest and demonstrate against the violation of their rights, the Taliban police brutally suppress them, beat them and threaten them with prison and death. Taliban security forces prevent journalists from filming, taking pictures and reporting the Taliban’s violent behavior with protesting women.
Taliban intelligence identifies women activists and participants in demonstrations, arrests them during demonstrations, at the end of protests or later from their homes and imprisons and tortures them in their official or private prisons. (The new report of the United Nations September 2022: confirms the existence of private Taliban prisons and the torture of prisoners)
The Taliban usually attack the houses of protesting women at night, after arresting them, they transfer them to unknown places and then deny the responsibility of the arrest and attack. It is not known how many women protesters and freedom fighters are imprisoned in the official and private prisons of the Taliban and in what condition they are. Because domestic and foreign human rights organizations and the families of prisoners do not have access to them. Some women who were released from Taliban prisons spoke of torture, sexual assault, threats to kill family members, lack of access to a lawyer, and lack of communication with family members.
In addition to dozens of women fighters and protesters who are in terrible Taliban prisons, or tens of others who have been killed by people affiliated with the Taliban, there are currently hundreds of other fighting women as socialist, secular, feminist, civil society activists, women’s rights defenders, journalists, teachers, university and high school students, and housewives under the prosecution of the Taliban and they are forced to live in hiding. While the intelligence of the Taliban is in control of all the cities and regions of Afghanistan, it is possible to identify their whereabouts at any moment, and for this reason, the lives of wanted protesting women are in serious danger.
Therefore, the demand of the “Spontaneous Movement of Afghan Women” from women fighters and progressive forces in France, Germany, America, and other countries of the world is as follows:
1. Forming an International Committee for the Defense of Afghan Women Protesters
2. Requesting support from major international organizations defending women’s rights and human rights in order to identify women imprisoned in official and private Taliban prisons
3. Launching an international campaign for the release of protesting women from Taliban prisons
4. Lobbying for the protection of wanted and endangered women in Afghanistan
5. Creating international women’s solidarity with women fighters in Afghanistan
6. Collecting financial aid for the families of imprisoned and wanted women
— Spontaneous Movement of Afghan Women
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48,000 University of California Academic Workers on Strike
By Fernando David Márquez Duarte
(UC Riverside strikers)
On November 14, the strike of academic workers at the University of California (UC) began, after more than 95% of the workers voted to go on strike.
By way of background, since March 2022, negotiations have been underway to renew the collective-bargaining agreement for the next three years for the University of California, and for the first time, both academic workers and union members of UAW 2865, as well as research assistants of the newly formed SRU, and postdoctoral researchers from the UAW 5810 union are bargaining at the same time with the University of California.
However, the University has refused to give in to the workers’ demands on the main issues (among others):
1. Wage increases with COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment), which would allow workers to have a wage that is enough to survive and pay for rent, food, gasoline, medicine, clothes, materials, etc.
Most academic workers, like me, spend more than 40% of our salary on rent; housing costs in California are obscenely high and salaries are exorbitantly low.
2. Access and rights for workers with disabilities; currently, the UC decides unilaterally whether a worker deserves special accommodations in order to work, and if it decides that he/she deserves special arrangements, the University unilaterally decides what type of arrangements, without considering the worker’s specific disability and situation.
What we need as workers with disabilities such as me is to have the necessary arrangements to be able to do our work, not the arrangements decided by the UC, which are often the wrong ones.
3. Rights for international workers: Currently more than 40% of graduate students at the University of California (including myself) are international students, i.e., we are not citizens or green-card holders. We are research assistants, teaching assistants, adjunct professors, tutors and grading assistants.
(UC San Diego strikers rally across campus)
Although international workers make up an extremely large percentage of the UC’s workforce,
the UC refuses to cover the costs of visa and legal fees, as well as days paid to renew visas at the consulate.
The most important demand of the international workers, however, is for the University to waive the NRST (Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition) fee, which is only charged to international students and doubles the University’s tuition. This is a racist and unfair fee, since international students pay taxes just like any U.S. citizen or green-card holder. Without us the UC would collapse.
4. Protection of labor rights in the contract and the establishment of effective mechanisms for workers to defend ourselves in the event of unjustified dismissal, harassment of any kind, among other situations.
After almost four weeks of strike, the UC continues to ignore the demands for decent wages, rights and access for workers with disabilities, and the rights of international workers. It is clear that they have no interest in their workers and students.
They claim they don’t have enough money, even though the top administrators at the UC make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year — and they have just increased their salaries. Likewise, we know that the university has billions of dollars in private investments, including in arms companies, without consulting the workers.
The UC has the money to cover our demands as workers; what they don’t have is the will and interest to change how things work because the top administrators are very comfortable with the status quo, and benefit from the exploitation of academic workers.
There is another obstacle. The UAW 2865 leadership has ignored demands for rights for disabled and international workers, and it has even removed COLA from the bargaining language.
Thousands of workers and students have been protesting in the strike at the 10 universities that make up the University of California system. I have been out there on the picketlines, even with the difficulties and chronic pain caused by my disability. The least the union should do is be consistent with our sacrifice. The union’s team in negotiations with the UC should take a stronger stance on these demands and do what we workers demand, not settle for the minimum.
December 14 — The University of California decided not to bargain in good faith anymore with the union and went into mediation, and the union’s Bargaining Team (BT) agreed to it. The University threatened the union to declare impasse if the BT didn’t agree to the mediation.
The mediator chosen is Darrel Steinberg, mayor of Sacramento, who was considered by the University as an acceptable impartial mediator, even though he is on the UC Davis board of advisors. He has held 2 pre-mediation meetings with the BT, and he didn’t accept the mediation sessions to be open to union membership, which is concerning. Not that impartial.
Moreover, all the topics that have been tabled are not going to be brought up in mediation, including disability access and rights, which were dropped by the union BT with a 10-9 vote. The BT10 (as the majority of the BT that voted against rank-and-file-demands are being called) have dropped some of the most pressing demands from workers, turning their backs on all workers, their co-workers.
However, we are still striking with our most important tool as Academic Workers: withholding grades. The University has tried to pit undergraduate students against academic-student workers, but the truth is that if we academic-student workers can win better working conditions and better wages, then undergraduate students have a better education.
Personally, I asked any student that needed their grade this quarter to graduate or for a scholarship to tell me — and I did post their grades. This concerned only 10% of my students. I withheld all the other grades, and most of my students understood why, and they continue to support the strike.
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City of Selma, Alabama, Honors Sister Colia Lafayette Clark
Sister Colia Lafayete Clark — a member of the Continuations Committee of the International Workers Committee (IWC), which sponsored the recent World Conference Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers’ International, passed away on November 4 after a protracted debilitating illness.
Sister Colia was not able to attend the World Conference, but she, with the help of her son Tshaka Lafayette, sent a powerful statement to the conference, which is reprinted at socialistorganizer.org. Also posted to our website are various statements, including one by Socialist Organizer, recognizing the immense contributions of Sister Colia to the struggle for Black Liberation and independent working-class political action.
On September 16, the City of Selma issued a Proclamation honoring Sister Colia. The proclamation is not only a testament to Sister Colia and the Rev. Bernard Lafayette, it is a textbook of grassroots organizing, particularly in relation to the Civil Rights Movement.
Here is the Proclamation of the City of Selma, Alabama, honoring Sister Colia: