Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Update on Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça. The situation grows more serious.

We have done several articles on the situation of Nuriye Gulmen and Semih Ozakca in Turkey. We have joined the appeals for solidarity and have tried to keep people informed about this. Really the situation is very serious. You probably saw the videos of erdogan's thugs attacking people in Washington last week as well.

We received the following message from a comrade in Turkey today:

Nuriye and Semih have been arrested today on charges of a "possible" death fast and they were asked in the court whether they wanted to start mass protests similar to Gezi Park.. This is her just before they were arrested, she quoted Bobby Sands: "They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the spirit of someone who doesn't want to be broken." and she called for resistance. They will be on hunger strike in the prison as well. Thanks for solidarity.

Walden moves backward, Woodburn moves forward, contradictions deepen and the struggle continues.

We often say on this blog that we live in a moment characterized by certain contradictions and the speed at which these contradictions emerge and struggles begin to resolve them. Here are examples of what we're talking about.

We have Rep. Greg Walden flipping positions and joining some other Republicans on an amendment intended to protect the LGBTQIA+ community from discrimination. The amendment would have prohibited companies from receiving federal contracts if they discriminate against LGBTQIA+ people. It looked like it was headed for passage until some of the representatives who had initially voted for it changed their votes from “yes” to “no." Walden flipped.

On the other hand, Woodburn became an inclusive city last night after the City Council unanimously approved an inclusivity resolution. The resolution talks about providing municipal services free of discrimination, and being a respectful, legal and safe community for all. The resolution also expresses the desire of the city that all residents, regardless of their status or origin, feel safe when using local government services and engage with members of the police department in Woodburn. And let's put the Youth Pass (youth transit) victory in Portland in this column also: Portland City Council unanimously passed an amendment on YouthPass that requires the City funding to be distributed towards all 3 Portland school districts, including Portland Public Schools, Parkrose, and David Douglas.

On another hand, we have a serious and growing movement in Oregon to demand the removal of School Resource Officers from Portland Public Schools. All students have a right to feel safe and included at school so that they can thrive academically and socially, but the presence of armed police in schools, intimidates and criminalizes students, robbing many of their right to feel safe.

And, on another hand. progressive forces lost the recent School Board vote in Salem and two of our candidates were defeated. One of those candidates was a fully-qualified and progressive person of color who devotes real time to the School Board budgets and policies, and the other was a working-class woman with an especially compelling story who was probably over-qualified for the Board. I hoped that a serious critique of racism and sexism would be developed in light of this loss by progressive forces and that unity would grow between anti-racist and progressive forces, but the majority-white organizations aren't yet good with this. Movements and events have a way of becoming their opposites as contradictions and struggles emerge.

We clearly have a real problem here with racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia even when we're winning inclusivity resolutions in places like Woodburn, Salem and Monmouth. This problem extends from the progressive grassroots up to Walden, but it takes different forms along the way. These are contradictions: struggles for human rights only go so far and then hit a wall.

We also say that struggle resolves contradictions. What does this mean? It means that all of these controversies get resolved---and new ones emerge---as people take on the issues, organize, protest, fight and up our game by developing the ideas and actions needed to win.

We have some opportunities to do this. We just had the AT&T strike, there is the AFL-CIO lobby day tomorrow, and there will be the June 6 "Oregon Can't Wait!" rally fighting for people over profits, funding for education, healthcare, child welfare, homecare workers, independence for seniors and kids with disabilities. Buses will be coming from Corvallis, Eugene or Portland on June 6, and carpools are being set up. There is the immigrant rights forum at PCC on 82nd Avenue in Portland on June 7. There is also the fundraiser for Hermandad Mexicana de Oregon at Portland Mercado on June 8 and the important fundraiser for the Voz Workers' Rights Project in Portland on June 14. If you're in a union, you probably have an important meeting coming up. If you're in the local NAACP or Racial Justice Organizing Committee, there will be important upcoming meetings and, we hope, a joint NAACP-RJOC new member orientation. Juneteenth will be marked on June 17 in Salem.

Why can't we also have a militant LGBTQIA+ action in Salem in June?

We're trying to put together local forums and legal observer trainings.

The difference between revolutionaries or radicals and others can be striking here: we see this work as part of an all-encompassing struggle against capitalism, and our liberal friends look at these events as opportunities to support others or pick up information. 

Wherever you're at, forward motion is important and we all have to be asking ourselves which side we're on and what that means in practice.

Everyone: Support Voz Workes' Rights Education Project! Attend the “Trabajo sin muros / Work Without Walls” on June 14!

VOZ is a worker-led organization that empowers diverse day laborers and immigrants to improve their working condition and protect civil rights through leadership development, organizing, education and economic opportunity.

We are 501c3 Nonprofit that operates the Martin Luther King, Jr. Worker Center, which connects hundreds of workers a month with local employers and job. Go here to hire a worker.

Voz’s 17th Annual Dinner “Trabajo sin muros / Work Without Walls”
June 14th, 6:30 – 9 at Ascension Catholic Church
for more info, visit the event page: http://portlandvoz.org/news-events/annual-dinner-2017/

If you are interested in volunteering your time with us, contact us directly or take a look at our volunteer and internship opportunities.

We also always welcome donations to help us expand services and education to our workers. Consider making either a one-time or sustaining donation to Voz here.


Thank you for being a part of Voz! Your support has been essential for the growth of our community of day laborers, volunteers and allies working together in pursuit of our mission.

Through your efforts, we have been able to advance economic opportunities for day laborers, organize them to improve their working conditions and defend their rights, and mobilize day laborers and allies to fight against anti-immigrant and anti-worker policies.

Voz believes that day laborers should lead the way in addressing the problems that confront them. We follow the popular education model, which recognizes that each person-- regardless of formal education-- has knowledge and experience that can be shared to build the knowledge of the group.

If you haven’t already, we invite you to connect with us on Facebook in order to keep up to date with our organization and our current campaigns!

Socialism And Human Nature

In almost any discussion of socialism with the people around us we hear the argument that socialism is impossible because of human nature. This was a standard refrain from our opposition for much of the last century, a cynical or pessimistic view of people deepening as capitalism pushed past religious boundaries and raised the levels of modern exploitation. The argument was answered in part by those who simply and radically denied the existence of human nature at all.

The argument that socialism is incompatible with human nature denied the reality of existing socialism or blamed its shortcomings on inevitable and negative human attributes instead of on specific political and economic programs. It has always been a lazy person's argument.  The argument that human nature does not exist raised strong points about the natures of good and evil and relativism and self-determination, but it left many other questions about social behavior and social solidarity unanswered, at least in the popular mind. Meanwhile, our comrades in socialist countries often spoke about "the soul of the people" and the positive human and national characteristics which were flowering in socialist societies. We did well to ask if human nature is compatible with capitalism.

Adaner Usmani recently reopened the discussion on human nature in an article in Jacobin. Usman's argument is written in a popular style and will be of interest to many people new to socialist politics if the article gets the needed circulation. Usmani says:

You have perhaps been tempted in the past to make the argument that there is no such thing as a human nature. That temptation is understandable — I’ve been there. But it’s wrong for three reasons: a moral reason, for an analytical reason, and for a political reason.

Socialists do believe — we must believe — that there is something called human nature. In fact, I believe that you believe it, whether or not you believe that you believe it. But we make two arguments that distinguish us from our bourgeois antagonists.

First, human nature comprises not just an interest in ourselves, but also compassion, empathy, capacity for reflection, capacity to be moral. And second, the way in which society is organized can amplify these drives and downplay others.

All this means that another world is definitely possible. Don’t let the fools get you down and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Usmani's article has been answered by Themistoklis Pantazakos writing in Links: International Journal of Socialist Renewal. This is a more scholarly piece, and it takes on Usmani's arguments in respectful ways. Pantazakos knows the subject well:

What does this have to do with humans and more specifically with the discussion at hand? For starters, thinkers in the modern leftist political thought who stand behind the idea that human nature is effectively non-existent (such as Michel Foucault) are precisely in the business of denying that there are any essential features to humans. Depending on the social antagonism referred to (class, race, gender et cetera), leftist post-structuralism is mainly about negating the claim that there are defining sine qua nonswhich universally pre-dispose social order across all its fields. Take for example the issue of class and of the distribution of wealth. An example of anti-essentialism in this area would be to deny that people are inherently, unavoidably greedy and vested in self- interest alone; to deny, that is, one of the chief assumptions of neoclassical (read: neoliberal) economics. Or take gender and sexuality: anti-essentialism there would deny that a person’s reproductive organs mean (or, more importantly, should mean) something definitive about the way they behave and their sexual preferences.

Now, you may start to see why anti-essentialism and rejecting human nature are appealing ideas. To further illustrate this point, try thinking the issue from the side of the bad guys. For most traditional forms of hate speech, there is something essential about the targeted Other (women, migrants et cetera), which makes them worthy of being on the receiving end of violence, or perhaps unworthy of even being called human. This something changes as hate speech assumes different forms and targets, but there is usually an irremovable characteristic that serves to degrade a given social group: the color of their skin, their Jewish cunningness, some corrupt desire that runs against the alleged course of nature.

Lots of us are going to get lost here. We're going down a path with the question of what it means to be human. People interested in the scientific-philosophical approach to this question can start working their way down this path by reading an article by Joseph Fracchia which recently appeared in Monthly Review. "Essentialism," as I understand it, looks at what a thing is by looking at its essential characteristics and processes; it says that essence precedes existence. One of the obvious problems with this is that it does not anticipate a contradictory relationship between essence and existence which pushes both forward in real time. Pantazakos pulls us back by writing:

To move to the analytical problem, which holds that one is left without any analytical compass of prediction and political suggestion should one abandon the concept of human nature, I will open with the following remark: that something is not eternal does not mean that it is not steady, or that you cannot count on it. If one believes in evolutionary theory, and I take it that most socialists do, one is sure to believe that the biological characteristics of humans will almost certainly change given enough time. That, however, does not change the fact that, regarding the past we have in view and the foreseeable future, humans are mostly born with two hands with certain capacities and sensitivities. Based on that and on the most common human needs of our time, one can therefore predict that gloves will keep being made, in such and such shapes, to fit human hands and protect them while performing tasks to satisfy these needs. Similarly, certain principles appear to be governing the social, political and economic world, and analytically spotting and employing them does not lose any power from realizing that they may not be eternal. To abandon essentialism is not to embrace chaos.

I think that we need to listen to Pantazakos carefully here. We have many on the left---and many more in our working class---who have indeed abandoned essentialism and who embrace chaos in the forms of nihilism and abstract violence. We also have to hear what is being said here about the "eternal." Pantazakos says, "But perhaps Usmani talks about a partial adoption of the others’ positions simply for the use of advancing more effective politics. To which I reply that, surely, this can occasionally be beneficial depending on what the desired ends of one’s politics is, but I simply do not see how this empathetic stratagem must amount to any kind of claim about the universal nature of humans. Must I believe that something is the same and eternal in humans to try and simulate how the human being next to me must feel and think? I think not."

But Pantazakos goes off the rails with the comment that

Take the moral problem, which is the problem of being unable to tell when a certain social group is being oppressed in the absence of a definition of human nature. In reply to this, I submit that it is not anything essential within humans that should make socialists argue that a certain practice is morally susceptible. For example, the socialist political line regarding domestic abuse should not be that there is something to exercising violence that makes the act inappropriate to all occasions universally and regardless of context. As has been widely argued, violence in the household in another, recreational and consensual context may be perfectly acceptable. It is a leftist commonplace, I should like to think, that two or more people engaging, for example, in enthusiastically consensual sadomasochistic practices should never be told that they are engaging in a morally susceptible practice.

There may not be something essential within human beings which makes us argue that certain practices are morally susceptible, but our view of morality and moral questions must arise instead from a grasp of social solidarity and its problems, the passing of the old and the emergence of the new, an understanding of where we are and the map we're using to move forward, and a realistic take on what the most advanced positions are in a society at a given moment and how those are actualized. Pantazakos uses a terrible example and one which is going to be used to shift subjects. Violence and its outcomes, in whatever forms, must be acknowledged, but it can't truly be defended. Our comrades who pick up the gun do not do so because they love violence or because it is in their nature.

In this regard, I had the experience yesterday of  being in an adult English class for community activists and exploring what "self-actualization" means. Many people in the class argued that it means making changes or having a plan. I argued that it means planning and changing from the standpoint of self-determination, and that that is what makes us more fully human, that this is how we "come into oursel;ves." I didn't convince anyone.

Pantazakos and Usmani end up agreeing with one another when it comes to the prospects for real socialist change, but they take different paths.

The conversation or debate suffers from not inckuding the voices needed from Asia, Africa and Latin America, the indigenious scholars, those compelled to cross the imposed borders, and women. We can put aside the anarchist prejudices and Kropotkin's wishful thinking, but the discussion cannot move forward without these other voices. For my part, I take the side of A. Spirkin:

The point of departure of the Marxist understanding of man is the human being as the product and subject of labour activity....

There is nothing more individualised in the world than the human being, the person, nothing in creation is more diverse than people. At the human level diversity achieves its highest peak, the world contains as many individuals as there are people. This is due entirely to the complexity of human organisation, whose dynamics would appear to have no limits. Human individuality is expressed in its having different opinions, in abilities, level of knowledge, experience, degree of competence, in temperament and character. Personality is individual to the extent that it has independence in its judgements, beliefs and views, that is to say, when the brain is not "stereotyped" and possesses unique "patterns". In every person, regardless of the general structure of his individuality, there are specific features of contemplation, observation, attention, various types of memory, of orientation, and so on. The level of individual thinking varies, for example, from the heights of genius to the worst cases of mental retardation.

The principle of individualisation has its limits, its proportion. Beyond this borderline we come to complete relativism, which maintains that if every person has his own soul, then every person must also have his own world, and hence there are as many worlds as there are people. But the actual dialectics of existence tells us that the uniqueness both of outward appearance and a person's spiritual world is relative. It is derived from the universal, to which it belongs and from which it has sprung. The personality has a general origin, position, culture, language, certain standards, a world-view, and so on, that it shares with others. The more fully it represents, individually, the universal human principle, the more significant the personality becomes. Every person is a unique individuality in the whole complex of his physical and spiritual peculiarities, but at the same time he embodies the essence of the race and also certain general features of his class and nation....

Thus, the human Ego, while substantially changing under the influence of social conditions and together with growing knowledge, cultivated emotions and training of the will, and also with changes in physical states, health, and so on, nonetheless preserves its intrinsic integrity and relative stability. Thanks to the existence of certain essential invariable characteristics of the structure of his mental world, a person "remains himself". We move from one stage in life to another, carrying with us all the baggage of our intellectual gains, and change as this wealth increases and our physical organisation develops.

To sum up, at the point when the Ego comes into being there is a self-identification of the personality; it knows itself. The Ego is a unity, an entity of spiritual and physical existence. It is given as the vehicle of infinite relationships both with the surrounding world and with ourselves. These connections, while infinitely diverse, are possible only thanks to this unity and wholeness of mind as the system of the highest organisation of everything we know.

Monday, May 22, 2017

40,000 AT&T Workers were on strike last weekend. CWA thanks our strike supporters!

75 days on hunger strike: Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça have been taken by the police in Ankara

The Guardian newspaper is reporting that our friends Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça have been taken by the police in Ankara on the 75th day of their hunger strike. We have run several artcles about this struggle. The Guardian reports that:

Two Turkish teachers who are on their 75th day of a hunger strike have been detained by police in Ankara.

Nuriye Gülmen, a professor of literature, and Semih Özakça, a primary school teacher, have been on strike for more than 10 weeks after losing their jobs following the failed coup against the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, last July.

Surviving on a liquid diet of lemon and saltwater and sugar solutions, the pair have lost significant amounts of weight and doctors said this month that their health was deteriorating. A source close to the strikers said their muscles had atrophied.

Police are concerned the strike will become a “death fast” rather than a hunger strike. The detention appears to have been motivated by fears that the strike could be taken up as a cause celebre and evolve into a larger movement like the Gezi park protests in 2013, when hundreds of thousands of people protested against plans to build a replica Ottoman barracks in central Istanbul.

OREGON CAN'T WAIT---A Rally in Salem on June 6---Buses leaving from Eugene and Portland

Hundreds of Oregonians are coming together in Salem to tell legislators: Oregon Can’t Wait for investments in education, health care and other essential services. Caregivers, nurses, teachers, parents, students, advocates, workers and more know that it’s time for corporations to finally pay their fair share so we can all have the Oregon we deserve. 

Oregon State Capitol, front steps
Tuesday, June 6, 12 PM - 1 PM (Registration opens at 11)

10 AM: Buses leave from 
Eugene: 2800 Gateway St, Springfield (by Ross and Cabela’s) 
Portland: Lents Park- 4808 SE 92nd Ave, Portland
11 AM: Check-in and lunch
12 PM: Rally for Revenue!

Free transportation, lunch, and t-shirt! But REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED FOR THIS EVENT. Click Here to Register today!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Day Two: Our strike at AT&T Mobility in Salem, and why solidarity is important

Why do we say that it is important to have people with us on picketlines?

One reason is because young people learn from us, and we have lots to learn from them. Our AT&T Mobility picketline in Salem is 99% youth. I hear a lot of progressive people in Salem talking about youth, but I don't see engagement with the working-class young people who are on our picketlines from those people. Back in the day we used to make our picketlines joyful events led by the young people. That won't happen, and resistance won't build, if folks don't turn out.

Another reason is solidarity. Yesterday the cops got called on us in Salem, one of the few places in the U.S. where this happened. Mind you, there are 40,000 people out on strike now. Every strike is an opportunity to stand tall. Shoulder to shoulder. And we need witnesses when the cops show up.

Another reason is strength. By 2:00 PM today we were wiped out on the edge of a busy road in the hot sun, and the customers crossing our lines saw our exhaustion. A few more fresh faces and bodies would have helped.

Another reason is that every picketline is part of a class struggle. Every picketline asks you: which side are you on? And if you're on the right side, you will support the struggle by joining in somehow, even if it's only for a little while.

Another reason is power. We turned a few people away today from crossing our picketline. With more support, we could have done better.

We will be out there tomorrow at 10:00 AM at 200 Hawthorne Ave. SE in Salem.

Never joined a picketline? We'll teach you how.

Never been in a union? It doesn't matter.

Think that this fight isn't yours? My union's fight for good jobs at decent pay in the telecommunications industry and against an industry giant while Trump is President is everyone's fight.

My union backed Sanders, and the industry is still mad at us.

See you tomorrow?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Labor solidarity in Salem

My union, CWA, struck AT&T Mobility today. The strike will go on 'til Monday. In Salem today we had to do a kind of rolling picketline. We were successful.

Please join a picketline this weekend, regardless of whether you're in CWA or not. We need the support. The pickets will roll between locations, so if you show up and don't see a line, hurry over to another spot. Even 30 minutes will help.

Locations are: 2930 Commercial St. SE, 200 Hawthorne Ave. SE, 1132 Lancaster Dr. NE, 4012 Center St., and 505 Taggard Dr. Plan on joining in at 10:00 AM on Commercial St. SE if you can.

An important interview with Pedro Sosa

People in the Willamette Valley should read this good interview with Pedro Sosa of the the Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition. Everyone should be familiar with Pedro's great work and should be plugging in to the local projects which have come fropm this work. We need to be better organized! A few churches are way ahead, but we need legal observers, people to do the political work tied to immigrant rights, lawyers and people to grunt work ion the community.

Pedro explains the interview as follows:

A brief information about the work done by AFSC over the last three months in Oregon and Washington, done 35 Know Your Rights workshops in different cities in Oregon and Washington, reaching a thousands of people, 5 workshops on Action Plan for families preparing for before being a victim of a raid, AFSC have supported with training and the implementation of 6 rapid response teams, 4 in Oregon and 2 in Washington. A training of 25 organizers in the State of Oregon to replicate the Know your Rights in their cities, in total we reached more than 1,500 people, the work continue..SI SE PUEDE!!!

Un poco de informacion acerca del trabajo realizado por El Comite de servicios de los Amigos, AFSC en los utimos tres meses en Oregon y Washington, se ha realizado 35 talleres de Conozca sus Derechos en diferentes ciudades en Oregon y Washington con un alcanse de mas de mil personas, 5 talleres sobre Plan de accion para las familias prepararse para antes de ser victima de una redada, AFSC ha apoyado con entrenamiento y la implementacion de 6 equipos de respuesta Comunitaria, 4 en Oregon y 2 en Washington. un entrenamiento a 25 entrenadores de Conozca sus Derechos para replicar el trabajo en el Estado de Oregon, con un alcanze de mas de 1,500 personas, el trabajo continua…SI SE PUEDE!!

Read the interview here.

May 19 is the birthday of freedom fighters Ho Chi Minh, Malcolm X/Malik El-Shabazz, and Yuri Kochiyama

"Remember, the storm is a good opportunity for the pine and the cypress to show their strength and their stability."

"All the martyrs of the working class, those in Lausanne like those in Paris, those in Le Havre like those in Martinique, are victims of the same murderer: international capitalism. And it is always in belief in the liberation of their oppressed brothers, without discrimination as to race or country, that the souls of these martyrs will find supreme consolation.

After experiencing these painful lessons, the oppressed people of all countries ought to know on which side their true brothers are, and on which side their enemy."

"I just don't believe that when people are being unjustly oppressed that they should let someone else set rules for them by which they can come out from under that oppression."

There are many sites and materials detailing the life and contributions of Malcolm X. A good place to start is here.

The following comes from the newafrikan77 blog

Yuri moved with her husband to Harlem in 1960 and was already active in human rights work. She met Malcolm X and began working with him around human rights projects, was a member of his Organization for Afro-American Unity, and was present when Malcolm was murdered. Yuri was also a participant in taking over the statue of liberty with Puerto Rican independence activists. She was pivotal in the movements to free Mumia and end nuclear proliferation. She has been a consistent friend of the people. She has prominently defended the revolutions in both the Philippines, Peru, and elsewhere and is keeping it strong approaching her 90s.

Despite the very small active base of Japanese-Americans involved in struggle for liberation, Yuri is an important figure and worker for liberation precisely because while jettisoned by the persecution and internment of her own family and community, she actively took up the struggle of the world’s majority.

Where today much of AAPI work and discourse is based in quite petty-bourgeois identerianism – issues of microagressions, visibility, etc. – she stands as a figure that breaks from the superficial and aims towards the core of imperialism. Particularly her relationship to other national liberation organizations fighting for self-determination, as a working active figure within this milieu, set her apart from many others....

...Yuri Kochiyama has spent all her decades fighting alongside the people, driven by her solidarity with those who face the harsh repression of the state. It is hard to brave such things and harder to stay committed towards transformation which means liberation for the world’s oppressed and exploited majority. There are of course many questions that need be answered; however it is certain that we won’t win anything if we keep to an impoverished line that refuses to ultimately commit to the prospects of losing one’s life in this struggle.

NPR ran two stories about Yuri Kochiyama. Those are here and here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Statement from Levi Herrera-Lopez on the Salem School Board election

I am so proud of the grassroots and positive campaign we ran.

The turnout didn't go our way, and still our volunteers and supporters connected with thousands of voters at their doors, by mail and by phone, including many first time voters. Our message of inclusion, equity and improving educational outcomes for ALL children resonated with more than 12,000 voters.

Although we did not succeed tonight in making our School Board more representative of the community, the stage is set for it to happen sooner rather than later. After all, when was the last time a Latino candidate won 12,000 votes in Salem-Keizer?

I want to thank our volunteers for Acción Política Pcunista, Progressive Salem, our supporters from Stand for Children, of course my family, and all the voters who supported us.

I also want to congratulate Sheronne Blasi on her victory, and thank Kathleen Harder for her work. They are both amazing individuals, and Sheronne will make a great and effective Board member.

We came up short tonight, but we are not defeated. Please don't feel sad for me. My work is not done here. I will most definitely work to keep our new Board accountable. In particular, those candidates who spoke of being a voice for those who don't have representation, now have their own words to live up to.

Also, please, don't let this outcome discourage you. If anything the lesson is EVERY VOTE COUNTS.


I ran to make sure every child in Salem-Keizer has a chance to succeed. And that remains my goal more so now than ever.

Thank you all!

Can you call Walden's office and deliver this simple message?

5/17 CALL to ACTION: Call Walden (202-225-6730 or 541-389-4408

Walden, it’s time to distance yourself from Trump. 

MESSAGE: I am calling to expressed my dismay and grave concern for our country posed by the president’s wild actions in the international diplomatic community, and to remind Mr. Walden that his continued allegiance to Trump is continuing to diminish his own capital and credibility. I urge him to reconsider his support for this man who never should have had his party’s nomination, never should have been elevated to this office, never should have been endorsed and propped up and defended by people who understood his unfitness all along. Leaving a man this witless and unmastered in an office with these powers and responsibilities is an act of gross negligence. There is no objective on Walden’s or the GOP’s political horizon that justifies continued minion-like allegiance.

A call from Democratic Socialists of America to support AT&T Mobility workers who may strike on Friday

Our friends at the Communication Workers of America need you. CWA union members have been working closely with DSA on organizing efforts across the country. Now 38,000 CWA folks at AT&T are fighting for their livelihoods. DSA's Steering Committee endorses their actions, and we want you to know about it. You can help workers right now by emailing AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. And thank you!

In solidarity,

Maria Svart, DSA National Director

CWA member Cindi Chesters:

I may be on strike Friday along with 38,000 of my coworkers at AT&T if we haven't won a fair union contract by then. I’m a single parent of four and there is a lot on the line for me. My kids are the reason I’m fighting so hard and why I’m ready to do whatever I have to do to make sure they have a good life. We hope to avoid having to strike, but we may have to make that sacrifice to make sure our livelihoods are secure.

Please stand with us. Click here to email AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson now and demand that he settle a union contract that protects good jobs.

I work at an AT&T retail store, but the company wants to keep closing stores and instead send work to third-party dealers where workers make super low-wages and don’t have the union protections we have. Meanwhile, my co-workers at AT&T call centers worry that their jobs will be sent overseas.

CEO Stephenson made $28.4 million last year, while he cut our commissions, which meant I took home less pay than the year before. This fight is about making sure working people can make a decent living in this country. We are up against unaccountable corporations that are working us harder for less in order to pad their bottom line.

As the only income for a family of five, my budget is tight as it is, and the money I may lose if I go on strike isn’t something I take lightly. That’s why I’ve been preparing, saving money, stocking up on groceries, and making a plan.

Please take action and send a message to the CEO that you support workers fighting for their livelihoods.

There is too much on the table for us to sit back and let the company take advantage of us anymore. We want to be treated like human beings.

If we strike, we’re following in the footsteps of our brothers and sisters at Verizon who last year struck for 49 days and won big improvements for themselves, their families, and sent a message that corporate giants can be beat if working people stick together.

Thank you for your support. If we strike, we'll be back in touch with more information about how you can support us on a picket line near you. Until then, I hope you’ll email CEO Stephenson to make sure he knows his customers and members of the community have our back.

Thank you for listening to my story,

Cindi Chesters
AT&T Sales Support Representative, Shelton, CT




Goya Foods has pulled it's sponsorship of the Puerto Rican Day Parade because of the dedication this event is making to former political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera. Our response as a people should therefore be quite simple: BUY FROM ELSEWHERE! DON'T BUY GOYA FOOD PRODUCTS!!!

Puerto Ricans have made GOYA the leading corporation of Latino food products for over 70 years. And knowing that the release of Oscar Lopez Rivera became a central theme in the hearts and minds of the Puerto Rican community, for GOYA to take such a stance under the pretense that it "doesn't support terrorism" is a blatant insult to the Puerto Rican people and explicitly siding with U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico.

Let them take their sponsorship of the Puerto Rican Day Parade and stick it where the sun doesn't shine. PUERTO RICANS ARE A PEOPLE OF PRIDE & DIGNITY!

Oscar López Rivera is an unapologetic Puerto Rican independence activist who was charged with leading the FALN and was sentenced to 55 years in federal prison. On February 26, 1988 he was sentenced to an additional 15 years in prison for conspiring to allegedly escape from the Leavenworth federal prison. López Rivera had been incarcerated longer than any other member of the FALN.On February 9, 2017, he was moved from an Indiana prison to Puerto Rico, where he completed the last three months of his sentence under house arrest.

President Bill Clinton offered López Rivera and 13 other convicted FALN members conditional clemency in 1999, but López Rivera rejected it. President Barack Obama commuted López Rivera's sentence last January, and he has been released from prison after almost 35 years in prison.

On the Salem School Board elections

Levi Herrera-Lopez: in a better world Levi and people like him would fill every responsible elected position. 

It's always tough to take a loss, but the loss we took in the School Board elections last night has hit me particularly hard. I'm hoping that there will be a successful challenge in the Herrera-Lopez/Lippold race and I'm angry that faux progressive Ross Swartzendruber cost Kathleen Harder the race. These results are due in large part to racism and sexism, but they also show both the dangers of a resurgent and stubborn reactionary tide and particular and positive advancements for progressive Latino politics. We have to look at this as a moment of contrasting positives and negatives and understand that we have a new situation with new possibilities.

Levi Herrera-Lopez was encouraged to run by a coalition of liberal and progressive forces, but when it came down to the campaign and voting it was the working-class Latino community which carried his campaign. The youth leadership in that campaign was remarkable, stunningly so. The great victory by Teresa Alonso Leon, the May Day rally, the Latino Health Coalition lobby days, and immigrant rights organizing in the community should have created a wave of support which built participation from people of color and labor and kept white liberal and progressive support in place. Now it is fair to ask what the white liberal and progressive forces will do with Levi's loss: will they follow the lead of the Latino community in organizing and political action, or will they move on to the next big thing?

A quick read of the results for Levi and Kathleen show that votes came from unexpected places. We can't blame their losses solely on racism and sexism, but we can say that the School Board as an institution has not engaged with working-class women and people of color in ways which facilitate involvement. For instance, School Board meetings are held in South Salem, are in English and are held at a time of day which makes participation from working-class women hard. Absent identification and knowledge, women and people of color most often are excluded from voting in practical terms.

The losses come in part because Herrera-Lopez  and Harder represented advanced positions on education, community involvement, funding and curriculum. The right-wing in this town understands this, perhaps better then we do, and their candidates represented steps backward in every major area. For instance, they objected to the pro-choice, open-minded and pro-sex ed positions which Herrera-Lopez and Harder held and maintained in principled ways. Harder's story is all about being a working-class woman who worked her way up and wants to give back, and Herrera-Lopez's story is all about breaking down barriers and integrating without harmful assimilation: these are the stories which drive the white power structure crazy, and in their reactions there is no room for kindness.

The Herrera-Lopez/Lippold race may well be open to challenges. But even without challenges, there is a need for more of us to show up at School Board meetings and push hard against the reactionaries, forcing them to the point that the contradictions in the system are brought out more clearly and their roles in the system are better understood by workers, women and people of color. There should be a fight over the budget, teachers will need our support for a good union contract, the issue of "truancy" should be fought over and democratic solutions found, African-American students need the same coaching and support systems other youth have, every school should have what the wealthier and whiter schools have, and more people need to be hired and supported who come from people of color communities. Education itself needs to be democratized. Right-wingers like Kathy Goss and large sections of the liberal and progressive communities are not up to the tasks of following through on these issues.

One side note for me is that white male liberals and progressives need to step aside when liberal or progressive women and people of color step up to run for office. Another side note for me is that politics now needs to be about building united fronts of workers, women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ people and others, multigenerational and multiracial in character but led by the real core forces in the community. Another side note for me is that our politics can't be about integration, assimilation and disappearing ourselves into "citizenship," but should instead be about staking out real advanced positions based on peoples' needs and bringing everyone along. We are not, after all, only voters: we are workers, or people of color, or gender non-conforming, or differently abled, or any number of other things which need recognition.

Political struggle resolves all contradictions, and we should be looking forward to a moment of intense political struggle at the School Board and elsewhere. PCUN's political action committee did incredible work in the School Board election and can be relied upon to lead in the future. The greatest victory, for me, is that the youth who led the effort are dedicated to moving forward. It's a cliche to say that youth are the future, but in this case it's true. We owe them our great thanks and support.

         The young people who are organizing, leading and carrying the weight all of us should be sharing.

Photos from Sarah Rohrs.

Late word:

The other piece of the puzzle in Salem was the vote on the police station. Let's look at this from the correct point of view and take the words of a local Latina activist:

The city of Portland passed a bond to bring in affordable housing. Salem passed one to build a new police station. Good job Salem, NOT!!!

Well, instead of investing in our underfunded schools (of NE SALEM), we have decided to fund the same institution that criminalizes our youth. In other words, we are funding the school to prison pipeline. You can disagree all you want, but the fact is that our schools need funding, Healthcare needs funding, therefore, should be the first to obtain funding!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Strike Looming at AT&T Mobility: Friday, May 19.

From CWA:

21,000 AT&T Mobility workers will be on strike Friday at 3pm ET/2pm CT/1pm MT/12 noon PT if we do not reach an agreement with the company. This is a short strike - we will walk off the job on Friday, May 19 at 3pm ET and return to work on Monday, May 22 for our scheduled shift.
If a strike is called on Friday, you should leave work and report to your picket location immediately. To find your picket location, call your Local.

Strike updates will be posted on UnityAtMobility.org, Facebook, Twitter, and will be sent to you via text message and email.

This greedy company makes billions off our backs but continues to try and take from us - demanding more work for less and trying to replace us with low-wage workers at third party dealers and overseas. It’s time to show them we’re not going to sit back and take it.

This strike will affect AT&T Mobility workers covered under the Orange contract in 36 states and DC (click here for the list of states).