T.O. 82: DSA Crisis — Millions Strike in France — Biden War on Immigrants — Mexico Summit — UC Strike Results
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IN THIS ISSUE:
• DSA’s Crisis Deepens as DSA-Endorsed Electeds Support the Ban on the Right to Strike : (1) Introduction by the Editorial Board of The Organizer; (2) Open Forum article by Andy Sernatinger titled, “The DSA Caboose”
• The Democratic Party and the War on Immigrants: (1) Introduction by the Editorial Board of The Organizer; (2) article by Barry Sheppard titled “Biden Launches New Campaign Against Immigrants”
• Tenth North American Leaders’ Summit: Mexico, at the Center of U.S. Geostrategic Plans, Takes the Side of the U.S. Against China – by Juan Carlos Vargas Reyes
• The Results of the UC Student-Workers’ Strike – by Fernando David Márquez Duarte
• SPECIAL REPORT ON FRANCE: (1) Millions on Strike, Millions in the Streets – by the POID; (2) Dispersal Means Danger, by Daniel Gluckstein
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DSA’s Crisis Deepens as DSA-Endorsed Electeds Support the Ban on the Right to Strike
INTRODUCTION by the Editorial Board of The Organizer
Over the summer of 2021, the DSA [Democratic Socialists of America] held its national convention over zoom, with the participation of approximately 1,100 delegates representing close to 100,000 members, according to the various convention reports. Many domestic and foreign policy issues were discussed at the convention, but the issue of DSA’s stance toward running and supporting Democratic Party candidates occupied much of the space in the numerous documents.
One such report was written by David Duhalde of the Socialist Majority caucus, one of the many caucuses in DSA. Concerning the issue of DSA’s electoral strategy, Duhalde wrote:
“Beginning at DSA’s 2021 national convention, and as the new DSA matures, … a consensus seems to be building that emphasizing a ‘dirty break’ with Democrats can be alienating to voters we need to win over, and it can put DSA-backed elected officials in a difficult position. … Both DSA itself and DSA officeholders need to maintain flexibility on these questions.”
The “dirty break” strategy was first developed a number of years ago to justify running DSA candidates on the ballot line of the Democrats, and/or supporting “progressive” – or “socialist” – Democratic Party candidates. The rationale for adopting a policy that had long been rejected, and repudiated, by socialists, going back to Eugene V. Debs, goes something like this:
Running on the Democratic Party ballot line is not an endorsement of the Democratic Party; it’s a tactical, not a principled, question. Amassing a large number of DSA-supported candidates inside the Democratic Party over an extended period of time would then, at some point down the road, scare the Democratic National Committee and compel the party leaders to expel the rebellious DSA wing of the party. Once expelled, this wing would go on to establish a Workers Party. Hence the “dirty break” — as opposed to a “clean break,” which opposes running or supporting Democrats, in whatever guise, as a matter of principle.
In previous issues of The Organizer, we noted that the “dirty break” with the Democratic Party is no break at all; it is just left cover to support one of the two parties of capitalism and imperialism. Based on the lessons of the past 100 years, we explained how every radical tendency that sought “inside-outside,” or “dirty break,” politics (often using different names) always got co-opted into the mainstream of Democratic Party politics. We demonstrated how this applied, in particular, to Bernie Sanders and the AOC-type “progressives.”
In our past articles, we noted that it was simply a matter of time before the DSA slid further down the slippery slope into Democratic Party politics.
Yet another confirmation
What we asserted more than two years ago about this slippery slope has been confirmed yet again as the article below by Andy Sernatinger establishes so clearly. DSA members elected to Congress, as well as DSA-supported “electeds,” voted to endorse Biden’s decision to ban the right to strike for railroad workers. And when DSA members protested this assault on workers’ rights, their protest was ignored. There was no accountability. The votes of the electeds were not to be contested. The “Bowman Affair” had set the precedent.
Earlier in the year, as Sernatinger points out, a major crisis erupted when Congressperson Jamaal Bowman, a DSA member, voted for increased military aid to Israel. DSA’s BDS Working Group called for Bowman’s expulsion from the party, But nothing happened. In fact, the BDS Working Group was the one disciplined. It was disbanded by the DSA leadership,
Supporters of the “dirty break” strategy opened the floodgates to this reactionary position by the current DSA leadership. They are largely responsible for this breach of working-class independence and workers’ democracy, providing left cover to upholders of the traditional “inside-out strategy.” Clearly, DSA has now “matured” to the point where it cannot allow even the specter of a break with the Democrats.
The “dirty break” strategy has only served to derail a movement of tens of thousands of young activists back into the Democratic Party, the gravedigger of all social movements — all, moreover, in the name of “socialism.”
This only underscores the point we have been making in the recent period: It’s Labor Party Time! It’s time for the 12,000 DSAers who quit the party because of its subordination to the Democratic Party, and the tens of thousands more who joined DSA looking for a road to socialism and workers’ democracy, to get involved with Labor and Community for an Independent Party (LCIP) and to contact us at Socialist Organizer!
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OPEN FORUM: THE DSA CABOOSE
Rail Scabbing and the Accountability of ‘Our’ Electeds
[Following are excerpts from an article by Andy Sernatinger that was first published in Tempest magazine on December 8. The full article is published at https://www.tempestmag.org/2022/12/the-dsa-caboose. It is reprinted here from the January-February 2023 issue of Socialist Viewpoint magazine.]
Congress’s intervention into negotiations between rail unions and the railroad companies in order to prevent a strike has become a flashpoint for organized labor in North America. The affirming votes from democratic socialists Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush, Jamaal Bowman, and others in “the Squad” is now a major controversy in labor/left circles – and it creates more problems for the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).
This should have been an easy test to pass: Support rail workers’ right to use the strike weapon and continue the fight for a fair contract, or back their bosses’ and Biden’s effort to force them to accept a bad deal. In choosing the latter, DSA “electeds” have rekindled the debate over what actions should be a line in the sand for the new socialist movement.
The Rail Dispute
Negotiations between the railroad companies (“National Carriers’ Conference”) and the rail unions (“United Rail Unions’ Coordinated Bargaining Coalition”) hit a wall in the late summer when the railroad companies refused to make any movement on the unions’ key demand: sick days.
In July, the companies refused to move on sick days (railroaders get zero sick days currently) and the negotiations started to break down. President Biden used his power under the RLA to force a 60-day “cooling off period” before the dispute escalated, creating the potential for a strike. Biden then assembled a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) to mediate and make a recommendation to the negotiating parties. That process did not end with any additional sick days.
After another cooling off period, the unions began voting on the contract in November. The unions vote separately. Two of the larger unions were the last to vote, resulting in four unions voting down the deal, and ultimately the majority of rank-and-file workers did not accept it.
On Monday, November 28, Biden announced that he was asking Congress to force the rail unions to accept the deal through legislation, in order to avert a strike. Simply put, Biden sided with the rail companies. Any further collective bargaining would be off the table, and of course if workers struck, they would now do so illegally.
Democrats, The Squad, and DSA
A socialist position is that it is a basic human right to withhold your labor, to strike. Any law that infringes upon that right should be opposed. Any socialist politician should be expected to observe this principle.
In this regard, DSA issued a pretty good statement:
“Any member of Congress who votes yes on the tentative agreement is siding with billionaires and forcing a contract on rail workers that does not address their most pressing demand of paid sick days. Democrats claim to want to save democracy. There’s nothing more democratic than workers having a say over their own lives. By refusing to side with workers and respect their vote to reject a bad deal, the Democrats will create an opportunity for the Right to fill that void with false promises and further drive working people from politics during particularly crucial moments.”
But within hours of DSA issuing the statement, every DSA elected in the House (save Rashida Tlaib) voted in favor of imposing the contract; they did exactly what DSA was denouncing. They had a rationale of course: The Congressional Progressive Caucus had a separate bill that would legislate seven sick days (fewer than the 15 sick days rail workers demanded), so they claimed they had to vote in favor of forcing the agreement to then get the amendment considered. Two separate bills, one forcing the contract on the unions and the other legislating sick days, were sent to the Senate.
AOC’s justification for her vote was that she was following the wishes of the unions. Considering that the majority of union members had just voted against the contract, this meant that she sided with union leadership who wanted to avoid further negotiations and a strike.
Joe Burns, author of Class Struggle Unionism and Reviving the Strike, called bullshit on the maneuver:
“If the national Democrats truly wanted the railroad workers to have sick leave, why would they not have put it into one bill with the anti-strike legislation? The answer is clear, because they wanted the path to be clear for the Senate to block the strike but not approve the sick leave. Having separate bills would mean the anti-strike legislation would still go through.”
If you truly believed in getting sick leave for workers, wouldn’t you put it in the same legislation?
Separating the bills was the same shell game they played with Build Back Better: separating reforms progressives wanted from the base bill to give the appearance of movement but ensuring that they failed.
On Thursday, the Senate then voted 80-15 to impose the contract (10 of those voting against were Republicans), and 52-43 for the sick days – which failed, requiring a three-fifths majority. Biden signed the strike-breaker bill into law on December 2, with no added sick leave.
DSA’s Rail Problem
This creates a problem for DSA. It isn’t a crisis for the organization, because the root issue, the role of socialist elected officials and their relationship to the organization, had already been played out and resolved with the Bowman Affair last year.
[Note: On October 30, the Madison chapter of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) issued the first statement in the form of an open letter to the National Political Committee (NPC), the leadership body within DSA, calling for the expulsion of Representative Jamaal Bowman of New York as a member of DSA. This was a response to a series of actions taken by Bowman from his vote in favor of direct military aid to Israel for 3.3 billion in July of this year to a second vote two months later for another 1 billion in funding the Iron Dome, an air defense system that makes it much safer and easier for the apartheid state to bomb indiscriminately the Palestinians living in the occupied territories.]
The stakes of that debate were about whether elected officials had any expectation of upholding the organization’s positions, and whether they were free agents or representatives of DSA. It caused a general organizational crisis that was only resolved by the National Political Committee rejecting any consequences for Bowman without discussion and, instead, disciplining the BDS Working Group.
Elected officials, like Jabari Brisport, Tiffany Caban, and AOC intervened, signing petitions against discipline for Bowman or lobbying DSA’s National Political Committee (NPC) directly. The question was explicitly posed, “Do Comrades Cross Picket Lines?” Defenders of Bowman said of course it would be unacceptable to cross workers, but one year later they are unconditionally defending “their” electeds. Following the Bowman Affair, the NPC promised greater accountability with a “Socialists in Office” committee, but after this vote, it’s plainly a Potemkin village.
The result of the Bowman crisis was that there was no accountability for the “electeds.” The membership instead was punished, the NPC became wildly dysfunctional, and the organization lost the confidence of many members. There is not a 1:1 correlation, but in one year DSA has lost 12,000 members. Whatever the official positions decided by the 2021 Convention, the policy is unconditional support for Democrats.
Sticking with the politicians, who in turn followed Biden [to break the rail strike], means that DSA presents no alternative to this move by the Democrats, and the only real dissent comes from the far right.
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The Democratic Party and the War on Immigrants
INTRODUCTION by the Editorial Board of The Organizer
Donald Trump did not create the most authoritarian aspects of the U.S. immigration system. Both major U.S. political parties established this abhorrent system, beginning as early as the 1880s with the United States’ first exclusionary, anti-immigrant laws. The current Democratic administration perpetuates this legacy.
In 1996, two years after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect, the Democratic Party passed a series of far-reaching counter-reforms aimed at criminalizing immigrants. As a result of these anti-immigrant laws, today the United States operates the largest immigration detention system in the world, along with an inhumane deportation machine that deports hundreds of thousands of immigrants every year.
By design, the system is controlled by rogue and unaccountable government agencies that hunt down immigrants; its detention centers are mostly run by private companies that profit off of caging human bodies and exploiting their labor; and its juridical processes are a legal farce that strip immigrants of their basic human and legal rights.
Today, Biden and his Democratic Congress continue to support and fund this odious system, and currently, there is no prospect for immigration reform for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country without basic civil and democratic rights.
Biden’s decision to continue and expand Title 42 – a pillar of the mass deportation – machine is the most recent example of this bipartisan war on immigrants. [See article below by Barry Sheppard in which he highlights the reactionary content of Title 42.]
Organizing independently of the two ruling parties
Over the last 20 years, the immigrant rights movement has become one of the largest working-class oppositional movements in the United States. It has increasingly learned to organize independently of the two ruling parties and to mobilize in the streets, schools, workplaces, and detention centers to stop detentions and deportations. This is an example of the progressive force for social change that working-class immigrants, when organized, can have in any country.
Today, the immigrant rights movement in the United States continues to struggle for basic economic and democratic rights. This includes the fight for citizenship rights for the 11 million undocumented immigrants who pay $120 billion in taxes annually without the right to vote or the right to receive retirement or health benefits; the fight to abolish all detention centers that cage immigrants; the fight to open the borders to all refugees; and the fight to end all deportations that separate families.
The immigrant rights movement has yet to organize itself politically. This is an essential step which of necessity links the immigrant rights struggle with those of the entire working class. Labor and Community for an Independent Party, creating coalitions in local communities that are the building blocks towards the formation of a mass working-class party rooted in labor and oppressed communities, is the path forward.
With immigrants displaced worldwide, none of these fights are possible without building unity with workers and other oppressed communities in the United States and around the world.
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Biden Launches New Campaign Against Immigrants
By Barry Sheppard
On January 5 President Biden “announced a far-reaching crackdown on
people who seek refuge at the border with Mexico, dramatically expanding
restrictions on asylum in the most aggressive effort of his administration to
discourage migrants from crossing into the United States,” reported the
New York Times.
He expanded a Trump-era policy known as Title 42 under which agents on
the Mexican border expel any immigrants who cross the border to apply to
immigration authorities for asylum, without any hearings or other due
This violates internationally recognized policy on refugees applying for
asylum on a country’s border, which the U.S. had recognized (however
poorly) before Title 42.
That process says that a refugee has the right to apply for asylum by
crossing the border to apply to the border authorities, which then allows the
refugee into the country while their case is considered and ruled upon.
Title 42 ostensibly was to limit the spread of the COVID virus, a trumped up
reason to deny people initially from Central America fleeing extreme
poverty, violence and political persecution from even applying for asylum.
These conditions themselves are due to decades of U.S. imperialist
exploitation, U.S. created wars and coups.
It was expanded to include Haitians, other South Americans and
Caribbeans, Africans, and Arabs — rarely whites from Europe.
Title 42 is now under review by the Supreme Court, but no matter how the
Court rules, Biden is embracing another Trump policy, under which
immigrants who travel through a third country to get to the border are
denied consideration of asylum if they haven’t applied for asylum in that
country. So, all who reach the Mexican border with the U.S. are denied
Also on January 5, the Department of Homeland Security said that
migrants who violated that rule and crossed the border would be barred
from seeking legal entry to the U.S. for five years.
Biden has now singled out people from four countries, Cuba, Nicaragua,
Venezuela and Haiti. To enter the U.S., they will have to have passports
from their country, get a visa from the U.S. Embassy there, “have the
means to afford a plane ticket, get a sponsor in the U.S., download an app,
pass a background check and meet other requirements,” according to the
The U.S. would let in a total of 30,000 people per month from those countries
— if they met all these requirements. Obviously, this would exclude the
most vulnerable and anyone the U.S. decided against issuing a visa to.
At the same time, the U.S. would continue deporting 30,000 immigrants a
year who had crossed the border.
Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela are under U.S. sanctions (Cuba since the
early years of the Revolution has been under an embargo). People from
those countries who flee are leaving conditions created by those U.S.
sanctions and other U.S. policies.
The horrible conditions in Haiti under the current U.S.-supported
government are the latest example in over 100 years of U.S. military
interventions, economic exploitation, and coups. In recent times, the U.S.
overthrew Haiti’s first elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, at the
request of the Haitian bourgeoise.
Aristide was working toward improvement of the living conditions for
workers and the poor.
Anti-Black racism is another factor. We have seen scenes on TV of Haitian
immigrants herded under bridges without shelter, chased down by Border
Patrol on horseback and assaulted with clubs and whips. Many thousands
have been deported back to Haiti.
Under Trump and Biden tens of thousands of immigrants have been living
in tents under terrible conditions on the Mexican side of the border, hoping
for the end of Title 42.
Biden is not just a continuation of Trump, but of all presidents since Reagan
began the militarization of the border in 1986. Under George H.W. Bush,
Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama, Trump and now Biden there has been
the growth of that militarization.
Biden’s January 5 speech was immediately condemned by human rights
groups and immigrant advocates.
“Eleanor Acer, the director of the refugee protection program at Human
Rights First called the new policies ‘a humanitarian disgrace’ and said the
president should not be adding restrictions on people who seek refuge in
the United States,” said the New York Times.
“ ‘The Biden administration should be taking steps to restore asylum law at
ports of entry,’ Ms. Acer said, ‘not doubling down on cruel and
counterproductive policies from the Trump playbook.’ ’’
 The actual number of deportations per year is far higher than the figure of 30,000 presented by the White House. According to PEW statistics, the U.S. Border Patrol reported more than 1.6 million encounters with migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border in the 2021 fiscal year, more than quadruple the number of the prior fiscal year and the highest annual total on record. According to the Wall Street Journal (December 30, 2022), ICE made 143,000 arrests and 72,000 deportations in the 2022 fiscal year that ended in September, the agency said. That was up from 74,000 arrests and 59,000 deportations the previous year, which comprised most of President Biden’s first year in office.
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Tenth North American Leaders’ Summit:
Mexico, at the Center of U.S. Geostrategic Plans, Takes the Side of the U.S. Against China
Biden, López Obrador and Trudeau at Leaders’ Summit in Mexico City
(first of a series)
By Juan Carlos Vargas Reyes
On January 9, 10 and 11, the North American leaders’ summit was held in Mexico City with the participation of U.S. President Joe Biden, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The summit was preceded by two events related to the agreements announced at the meeting. The first was the arrest of Ovidio Loera, son of “Chapo Guzmán” (with the intention of complying with an extradition request to the U.S.); the second, a day later, on January 6, was the launching of the U.S. government’s new immigration plan. [See the articles in this issue on Biden’s attack on immigrants, beginning with his continuation of Title 42.]
Both actions have been interpreted as gestures of support by AMLO’s government to Biden, the first U.S. president to visit Mexico in a decade, with whose administration high-level meetings have been held on a daily basis over the past year.
To what does this enthusiastic revival of U.S.-Mexico relations respond?
The Mexican oligarchy has insisted with great concern that López Obrador has fomented a “conflictive relationship” with the U.S. But the reality is that over his four years in office relations “things have never been better” (to quote López Obrador).
The signing of the USMCA trade agreement, the acceptance of the migration and security agreements, and the “Bicentennial Understanding reveal the close collaboration of both governments.
In his latest speeches and declarations, López Obrador has put forward his proposal to achieve a greater regional economic integration to make North America a “Development Pole that will strengthen the North American trade bloc” in relation to the U.S. economic dispute with China.
Beyond diplomacy or Pan-Americanist rhetoric, the reality is that the actions agreed upon by both governments are aimed at fully integrating the Mexican nation into the United States’ geostrategic plans.
It is not by chance that this summit, with an agenda of six major strategic points, ends with agreements that subordinate everything to the new policy of nearshoring, disguised as “import substitution,” which will “make North America a self-sufficient region.” The six points are diversity, equity and inclusion; climate change and environment; migration and development; competitiveness, and health and security.
But can one speak of import substitution when the main imperialist power – the United States – is involved? Can nations increase sovereignty and development within the framework of a “free trade” agreement such as the USMCA, which has only deepened dependence and devastation?
In reality, behind this rhetoric are the plans for the relocation (nearshoring) of U.S. companies, with a new wave of maquiladoras (pass-through sweatshops) that respond to the need of U.S. imperialism to reduce its commercial dependence on China.
The importance of reactivating relations with Mexico, then, responds to strengthening supply chains (i.e., access to Mexico’s natural resources, labor and communication routes), reinforcing the security strategy and controlling migration – issues that Biden had advanced as priorities in geostrategic policy, during the G-20 meeting last October in Rome.
Lithium mining and semiconductor manufacturing
This year, a forum will be organized to “increase investment in North America’s semiconductor supply” chains.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during his visit last September, invited the Mexican government to participate in the Plan to boost the development and production of semiconductors through grants, research and development, which will see an investment of some US$52 billion. The aim is to relocate one third of the production currently carried out in Taiwan to Mexico.
According to analysts, the decision to relocate the production responds to three elements: (1) the relatively low cost of skilled labor in Mexico; (2) the proximity, which would avoid supply problems such as those suffered during the pandemic; and (3) mainly, the discovery of ample lithium reserves in Mexico that are easy to access and transport.
USMCA and Energy Integration
Regarding the first issue, Mexico is being called on to comply fully with the USMCA and other treaties and agreements that facilitate U.S. corporate access to natural and energy resources. In this sense, during the summit it was announced that the U.S. had formally requested that the dialogue mechanism under the USMCA be reviewed in relation to Mexico’s energy policy.
For the U.S. and Canada, a conflict with Mexico has arisen over the latter’s “failure to comply with the proposed North American energy integration” proposed by the U.S. administration. Especially targeted is Mexico’s adoption of the Hydrocarbons Law and the Electricity Industry Law, both of which have strengthened PEMEX (Mexico’s oil and gas consortium) and the CFE (Federal Electricity Commission).
López Obrador has insisted that the oil and electric energy issues were left out of the USMCA, but the governments of Canada and the U.S. have filed complaints and taken legal actions against Mexico for failure to respect the privatization processes of PEMEX and the CFE as envisioned under the USMCA. They claim that agreements were reached through bilateral agreements with Mexico. The Biden administration is insisting that the U.S. and Canada have been negatively and unfairly impacted by Mexico’s failure to comply with the spirit of “free trade” agreement.
Having said that, López Obrador has refused to carry through on the pledge he made publicly in 2014, when he stated that if elected president his first action would be to re-nationalize both PEMEX and the CFE.
Security and migration: the role of the National Guard
In relation to the issue of insecurity, for years INDEX (a maquiladora export association) has stated that investments in new plants have slowed down due to the climate of violence that prevails on account of the organized crime cartels. As a solution, during the last two decades, various business groups have supported and promoted government policies militarizing public security.
To combat “insecurity,” the presidents’ summit agreed to “combat the trafficking of fentanyl, arms, and white powder”, which combined with the “collection of ransom” are the most profitable businesses of organized crime.
In relation to the issue of migration, the three countries agreed to promote “Safe and Orderly Migration.”
Canada and the U.S. committed to making migration and asylum application services efficient, in addition to expanding the farm-labor “guest-worker” programs. These programs over-exploit Mexican temp workers in the U.S., denying them all basic labor and human rights. It was reported that López Obrador requested that the U.S. administration urge the U.S. Congress to approve the Immigration Reform bill, which would regularize the immigration status of the more than 11 million Mexicans and Central Americans who live and work in the U.S. illegally.
The summit agreed to open a U.S.-funded migrant assistance center on Mexico’s southern border (in Tapachula, Chiapas), where people will be able to apply for entry to the U.S. The aim is to prevent the amassing of tens of thousands of migrants along Mexico’s northern border, keeping them instead in Guatemala.
In addition, Mexico agreed to receive around 30,000 migrants per month from Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela and Nicaragua and to offer employment, assistance and protection services for refugees.
On both issues, on the Mexican side, a newly formed National Guard will carry out the task of ensuring “public security” and “legal migration.” This 90,000-strong unit emerged as a “civilian” agency in September 2022, but it has rapidly become a new branch of the army, under the command of the Secretary of Defense, which the Mexican Congress has just entrusted with administering internal security tasks until 2028.
The National Guard is the latest in a series of militarized bodies created during previous governments. All carried out, bit by bit, the militarization of public security and the implementation of the North American Security Plan (SPP), which was established under the Merida Initiative.
The National Guard has been responsible for repressing the migrant caravans in southern Mexico and safe-guarding the northern border – all on behalf of the U.S. government. It has become a “border wall” in its own right.
“Respecting our sovereignties”?
The Mexican government has hailed the summit agreements, boasting of a change in the relationship with its northern neighbor — a relationship “without interventionism” on the way to a fair integration.
López Obrador stated:
“Joining forces in the Americas means consolidating the most important region in the world. The proposal put forward by President Biden is comprehensive; it means consolidating ourselves as an economic region in the world, strengthening our fraternal relations across the Americas, while respecting our differences and our sovereignties, and ensuring that no one is left behind and that together we can move forward in search of the beautiful utopia of freedom, equality and true democracy.”
López Obrador has shown some resistance to the behemoth of the north with the promotion and adoption of the laws on hydrocarbons and electricity. This cannot be ignored. But his signing and embrace of the corporate USMCA “free trade” agreement and the creation of the National Guard (a new vehicle for mass repression under the command of the hated Mexican Army), are but a few examples of his subordination to U.S. imperialism.
There will not be, and there cannot be, any “respect for differences and sovereignties” under the aegis of the most powerful imperialism in the world.
The agreements show that this summit marks a step towards materializing the geostrategic plans outlined in international meetings by the U.S. government, particularly those of NATO, the G-7 and G-20. These are framed in the context of the needs arising from Russia’s war with Ukraine, and, more generally, from a broader conflict over the unfettered control of the world market by the U.S. transnational corporations and the maintenance of the capitalist system.
The Mexican government has positioned itself as a de-facto ally in the U.S. trade dispute with China, as a subsidiary of U.S. imperialist needs. It has deepened the subordination of Mexico’s economy to its northern neighbor, a subordination eagerly sought by U.S. imperialism.
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The Results of the UC Student-Workers’ Strike
By Fernando David Márquez Duarte
After six weeks of strike, the University of California (UC) reached an agreement over collective bargaining with UC student-workers, including the UAW 2865 union and the Student Researchers United (SRU), a newly formed union.
The UC and the unions’ bargaining team reached a tentative agreement on December 16 (with a 11-8 vote in favor of the tentative agreement). The UAW 2865 executive committee (not the elected bargaining team) decided to call the ratification vote from December 19 to December 23, over the holidays. The contract was ratified on December 23 with a 62% vote, a low percentage vote compared to other contract ratifications in the U.S. The contract will last for two-and-a-half years.
Relevant aspects achieved, but several aspects not improved
Although relevant aspects were achieved, like the wages increase, the most significant wage increase in the contract won’t kick in until October 2024. The actual salary increase that workers will get after three months of the ratification of the contract is 7.5%, with two more progressive wage increases until October 2024.
There were also some achievements regarding workers’ dismissal and disciplining protections, as well as an improved process of grievances. However, there are several aspects that were not improved from the previous contract, like disability rights and access, international workers’ rights, parent workers’ support, Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), and police defunding.
Regarding disability rights and access: This contract blocks the right of workers with disabilities to have the specific accommodations they need, based in their specific disability situation; the University unilaterally decides at the end IF a worker “deserves” accommodations and WHAT KIND of accommodations. Not to mention that University admins make the decisions, not medical experts, nor people with disabilities. Moreover, the University requires that the worker shows “proof” of disability with a document by a health professional, which the worker must pay out of pocket with no reimbursement, and which can take months to get. Finally, this article violates the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).
-International workers’ rights: NRST (a fee that is only charged to international students, which doubles the cost of tuition) is untouched. What is included in the contract is NRST remission for three years after candidacy, which we already had and is not enough. There are departments around different UCs that charge NRST for international graduate students before advancing to candidacy.
-Parent workers: This new contract only grants an extra $100 support for childcare PER MONTH, which is insignificant. Moreover, the contract doesn’t allow for dependents of workers to have dependent health insurance. Related to this, the contract doesn’t allow any support for caring for elderly and/or members of the family with disabilities.
Finally, there was a generalized disappointment from workers towards the union leadership, paid staff and the members of the bargaining team that voted in favor of this agreement, because there was no consultation with the rank-and-file to make the decisions. There was a lack of transparency, and there was little discussion with the rank-and-file members of the bargaining positions and their implications. There were also instances of marginalization, discrimination and gaslighting of dissident rank-and-file members.
Fighting to reclaim the union for struggle
The UC strike was the most important student-worker strike in the history of the United States. At different moments, hundreds, if not thousands, of students mobilized on their campuses to express their demands. Most notable were the demonstrations at UCLA, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Berkeley. But that energy was not tapped into. The union leadership organized the strike top-down, without consultation and participation from the ranks in the decision-making.
The question of the lack of transparency and union democracy is not unique to this strike. All across the country, workers are fighting to reclaim their unions for struggle. We have seen this with the Teamsters’ union and at a national level with the UAW itself. A new trade union militancy is developing, coupled with new organizing drives at Amazon, Starbucks, REI, and many more.
Among many activist UC rank-and-filers there was a sense of disappointment with the outcome of the strike. Many felt that more could have been gained. But this is just the beginning of the struggle. Meetings need to be held on the UC campuses to discuss the lessons of the strike, its strengths and weaknesses. The meetings, moreover, need to include the broader goal of structural change that improves the living conditions of workers, their families and communities. Only this way will the demoralization among many of the picketers be transformed into a fightback movement.
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FRANCE: Millions on Strike, Millions in the Streets
[Note: The following statement was issued by the Democratic Independent Workers Party of France, POID, on January 19 at 9 pm – following the historic strikes and mobilizations earlier that day to protest against the Macron-Borne government plans to raise the retirement age, and hence the pensions, from 62 to 64.)
On January 19, the people expressed themselves with one voice: Withdraw the Macron-Borne Plan Against Our Pensions!
Millions were on strike, in the public and private sectors. They demonstrated by the millions in hundreds of cities across the country.
The working people and the youth have mobilized. The debate is clear: This reform is illegitimate and must be withdrawn. Democracy demands that the majority be heard.
What happens now?
While the workers were demonstrating by the millions, Macron dared to issue a statement affirming that his reform is “fair” and that he will maintain it.
We must make him back down.
This January 19 is already a historic date because of the scope of the strikes and demonstrations – and also because of the unity expressed in all the demonstration contingents in support of one demand: Now, immediately, withdraw the plan!
This evening, the leaders of the trade union confederations are calling for “actions on January 23” and “a new day of strikes and interprofessional demonstrations on January 31” to demand the withdrawal of the Macron-Borne pension plan.
Over the next few days, factory-floor assemblies, delegate assemblies, and union general assemblies, will be held.
There is no doubt that the workers will be determined to organize and strengthen their unity around this common objective: the withdrawal of the Macron-Borne plan.
Macron is isolated. We cannot force him to back down while continuing to discuss with him.
The trade unions must make it clear that they are withdrawing from any consultation or negotiation with the government, whatever the subject, as long as the Macron-Borne proposed “reform” is not withdrawn.
Likewise, it is up to the elected Members of the National Assembly who support the strike, in particular the 145 Assembly members of the NUPES, to solemnly proclaim that they will no longer set foot in the National Assembly and will not participate in any debate, any session, any commission on any subject as long as the government persists in its will to impose by an antidemocratic coup de force the law rejected by the immense majority of the population.
The time has come when, by mobilizing in unity, the workers and youth can force this isolated government to back down.
Workers, youth, activists: You are invited to participate in the meetings organized by the Democratic Independent Workers’ Party (POID) all across the country to discuss these proposals.
 The NUPES is the electoral coalition led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
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FRANCE: Dispersal Means Danger
“Hands Off My Retirement Pension!”
By Daniel Gluckstein
[Note: Following is the editorial of Issue No. 373 (January 18, 2023) of Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune, the weekly publication of the Democratic Independent Workers Party of France (POID). The editorial was published one day before the massive strikes and mobilizations across France on January 19.]
Only a few days after being made public, the Macron-Borne plan on pensions is rejected by a large majority of the population. Democracy demands that it be withdrawn, in its entirety.
The condition for this is unity. Workers and youth are united on the demand for withdrawal. To win, they must form a united block with their organizations – at all levels, from top to bottom and from bottom to top – on the common objective. And make sure that they don’t let themselves be dispersed.
In [Sunday newspaper] Le Journal du Dimanche, a question was put to Fabien Roussel, National Secretary of the French Communist Party: “So you are calling for the withdrawal of the reform?” Roussel’s answer: “Yes, but we don’t want the status quo. We want a reform that finally brings progress…”
“Yes, but…”? A “yes” would have been enough. The “but” is too much.
Obviously, no worker considers the current pension system satisfactory, with its millions of pensioners below the poverty line, its 42 years of contributions required for a full pension (soon to be 43) and the legal retirement age set at 62. Going back to the previous conditions – retirement at 60, the 40 or even 37.5 years of required contributions, etc. – would amount to simply repairing the damage inflicted so far.
However, we must not confuse the moments of the struggle.
Today, the government is attacking. Today, the workers united with their organizations have the right and the duty to defend themselves. This is the objective of the strike action and of the organization of the strike action by the workers themselves, to impose withdrawal.
Beating back the attack by Macron-Borne today is the precondition for gaining (or regaining) other rights tomorrow. If the workers manage to impose withdrawal, they will then feel confident to go further. Their defensive struggle can then undoubtedly be transformed into an offensive struggle to win other demands. And – why not? – through widely broadening strike action, to bring down this anti-working-class Fifth Republic and its illegitimate President.
We are not there yet. To the political and trade union leaders who like to talk about the coming “mother of all battles”, the workers will remind them of this basic rule of all military strategy: the defensive phase and the offensive phase are not the same thing.
Today, we have to win the withdrawal of the reform. If, instead, Fabien Roussel campaigns for “the right reform” and his referendum project, while Berger  champions “his” systemic reform project (similar to Macron’s in 2019-20), while Bompard  presents France Unbowed’s amendments to the Macron-Borne project… then that’s dispersal. And to disperse the common will is to weaken it. In the long run, it is to divide it.
Stop! Nothing can divert workers from the objective of the moment. Let the united mobilization force withdrawal of the reform; this first major victory will open the way to other battles and – we can be sure of this – to other successes.
(1) Translator’s note: Laurent Berger is leader of the CFDT union confederation.
(2) Manuel Bompard was elected to the National Assembly (Parliament) on the France Unbowed/NUPES ticket in 2022, previously having been elected to the European Parliament for France Unbowed in 2019 and having served on the campaign team of France Unbowed leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the 2012 presidential election.