Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Support An Occupation-Free Portland And Support Cultural And Political Awareness In Portland

The following comes from Portland's Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights organization:

Dear Supporters of Occupation-Free Portland,

Please call or email at your earliest opportunity the members of Portland's City Council to ask them to continue the city's Socially Responsible Investments policy and affirm the recommendation of the Socially Responsible Investments Committee to place four companies on the City's Do-Not-Buy list. The four companies are Amazon, Caterpillar, Nestle, and Wells Fargo.

We are in an emergency situation because the City is threatening to end the SRI policy and leave our investment decisions to the City Treasurer and a Wall Street firm. This is not only an undemocratic maneuver to prevent the community from having a say in how our tax dollars are invested but also prevents human rights violations from being considered in the City's investment portfolio.

Below please find contact information and talking points for your phone calls or emails. Please contact the Council as soon as possible and then plan to attend the March 29 City Council meeting at 2 pm at the Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Ave. right next to City Hall.

Commissioner Nick Fish: Nick@portlandoregon.gov 503-823-3589
Commissioner Amanda Fritz: Amanda@portlandoregon.gov 503-823-3008
Commissioner Dan Saltzman: Dan@portlandoregon.gov 503-823-4151
Commissioner Chloe Eudaly: chloe@portlandoregon.gov 503-823-4682
Mayor Ted Wheeler: mayorwheeler@portlandoregon.gov 503-823-4120

Talking Points:
1. We need a public democratic process for making decisions about investments. It's taxpayer money, and the community has a right to have a voice in how its money is invested. That's why the Socially Responsible Investments policy was created in the first place. Keep the policy in place and keep the Socially Responsible Investments Committee.
2. Make our actions consistent with our words. The City Council unanimously opposed the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and declared Portland a Sanctuary city. How can the City then invest in Caterpillar and Wells Fargo? Caterpillar helped build DAPL and Wells Fargo helped finance it. Wells Fargo invests in the private prison companies that run immigrant detention centers and Caterpillar is President Trump's chosen contractor to build the anti-immigrant Wall on our southern border.
3. Wall Street shouldn't be in charge of our investments. Under the proposed new policy, the City Treasurer will rely on reports from MSCI, an offshoot of the failed Morgan Stanley investment bank.
4. This process is not transparent. MSCI reports are proprietary and can't be seen by the public. Portland taxpayers will have no idea what these reports say.
5. Portland should join Seattle and other cities across country and take a stand for indigenous rights, Palestinian rights, immigrant rights, prisoner rights, and universal human rights.
6. Our alternative proposal can be found here:
http://occupationfreepdx.org/draft-resolution-for-portland-city-council/

Upcoming Events:

Sat 25 March 2017, 5:30pm-8:30pmSilk Road Cultural Diplomacy - Part 4 - Latino Night
MET Community Center
10330 SW Scholls Ferry Road, Tigard, OR 97223

Please bring your favorite dish.
Join us for an evening of Silk Road Cultural Diplomacy with the Latino American Community in Portland to foster an understanding of our Latino-American cultures. We will enjoy a conversation with our panelists, followed by a potluck dinner.
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Sun 26 March 2017, 7:00pm-9:00pm
Film: Speed Sisters
Hollywood Theatre 4100–4114 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR 97212, United States

Documentary about the first all-woman race car driving team in the Middle East. Grabbing headlines and turning heads at improvised tracks across the West Bank, these five women have sped their way into the heart of the gritty, male-dominated Palestinian street car-racing scene. Weaving together their lives on and off the track, SPEED SISTERS takes you on a surprising journey into the drive to go further and faster than anyone thought you could.
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Wed 29 March 2017, 2pm - 5pm

City Council meeting on Socially Responsible Investing at the Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Ave. right next to City Hall

Teachers In Solidarity With Palestine


Monday, March 20, 2017

Are you an Oregon public employee worried about cuts in your retirement benefits?

Keep Oregon's Promise has a "Calculate Your PERS Retirement List" calculator and some tools, resources and directions on how to resist and deal with PERS cuts. The website has these three principles as its basic reason for existing:

The proposed cuts to our retirement are:

* Illegal: The state cannot cut benefits earned by current public employees to pay the benefits for retirees. The Oregon Supreme Court has spoken. They cannot take money from our individual retirement accounts to balance the budget.
* Unfair: The proposals are a state raid on the OPSRP individual retirement accounts for working people to pay pensions for people already retired. That’s passing the buck to us for the state’s responsibility.
* Extreme: PERS members who have done the math say this will cut their benefits as much as 30 to 40 percent.


The fight against PER cuts is a fight against neo-liberal economics and for a sustainable standard of living for retirees and their communities.

Find the website here and commit to fighting cuts in PERS.

May Day Strikes, Actions & Stayaways---Will This Be A Mass Politicized Movement Or A DIY Protest?


Calls for mass strikes or job actions in the United States on May 1 are multiplying and getting louder.

The most publicized calls have come from the Service Employees International Union's United Service Workers West (SEIU USWW) in California, a major union which covers janitors, security officers, airport staff and others. The Food Chain Workers Alliance, the Rural Community Workers Alliance, the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) United, Black Lives Matter, native sovereignty rights groups, and the organizations Voces de La Frontera and Movimiento Cosecha have all said that they will support a strike or job actions on May 1. It is possible that thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of workers not represented by unions will join May Day actions in California. The Seattle Education Association and UAW 4121---academic student employees at the University of Washington---have also passed resolutions supporting a May Day strike. A Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE--AFSCME) strike resolution reads as follows:

FOR A MAY DAY 2017 GENERAL STRIKE TO DEFEND LABOR, IMMIGRANT, AND CIVIL RIGHTS

WHEREAS the Trump administration has wasted no time in fulfilling Trump’s bigoted campaign promises by attacking immigrants, refugees, and Muslims with travel bans and ICE raids; and
WHEREAS millions of youth and working people across the nation have vigorously protested the President’s policies, with the Women’s March on the first day of his presidency being the largest demonstrations in U.S. history; and
WHEREAS unions, a prime target of the right wing, face the real threat of union-busting Right to Work (for less) legislation, which has had a hearing in the Washington State legislature and is being considered by a Republican controlled U.S. Congress, and public sector unions could soon see a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that would decimate their collective bargaining rights; and
WHEREAS the right wing agenda has long included breaking unions, gutting the social safety net, privatizing public education, eviscerating environmental laws, deregulating banking and other industries, militarizing the police, waging endless war, and weakening civil rights protections, and Trump’s Cabinet appointees indicate that they plan to follow this reactionary agenda; and
WHEREAS national immigrant rights organizations are calling for “A Day Without an Immigrant” national actions on May 1st, 2017; and
WHEREAS history has shown that strikes have been the most effective weapon in labor’s arsenal, and motions supporting a general strike on May Day, the international workers’ holiday, have been passed by the Seattle Education Association and UAW 4121, which represents academic student employees at the University of Washington;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) Local 304 support the movement for a general strike on May 1st, 2017, and urge its state and national affiliates, WFSE and AFSCME, to work with other unions, low-paid workers, and community groups to organize a strike that is national in scope; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the demands of the general strike will be:
Stop Trump’s attacks on immigrants, Muslims, and refugees;
Defend unions – stop Right to Work laws, repeal the Taft Hartley Act;
Equality for all – fight discrimination against women, workers of color, and LGBT people, and support women’s equality by demanding equal pay for equal work, full reproductive rights, and free childcare;
Jobs for all through rebuilding the infrastructure and public jobs programs;
Defeat attempts to destroy the social safety net, including subsidized healthcare; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that this resolution be shared widely with unions, central labor councils, and the community in order to help build widespread support for a general strike on May Day.
Passed at the general membership meeting of WFSE 304 on February 23rd, 2017.


No one thought last year at this time that mass strikes merited much discussion, much less planning. The Movement For Black Lives Platform, the Sanders movement, the spontaneous outpouring after the elections, the womens' march, the immigrant community strike and the airport actions, March 8 and Standing Rock have moved people forward and given people a feel for what mass action looks like. Most of these efforts have drawn criticism, but we can see that they are creating a path forward. If there is a valid outstanding criticism at all, it is that the movements have a spontaneous character to them, excepting The Movement For Black Lives Platform, and that there is a lack of unity.

I have my doubts about SEIU USWW and organizations in their orbit. It is not clear to me that the call for strikes and mass job actions comes from the union's rank and file or that the autonomy and militancy of the workers will be fully respected by the union. There is much talk of the risks involved but little public talk of building the aid and defense mechanisms needed to carry out strikes and job actions and move to the next steps. I am concerned that either a deliberately poorly organized effort will be taken later as a failure or that large organizations, effectively NGOs, will block real participation from the grassroots. I suspect that SEIU is again trying to get ahead of social movements and position itself to negotiate on our behalf. But nothing is inevitable, and it would be stupid to project division now. It could happen that May Day actions shake the foundations of the establishment and the opposition and force realignments and changes, or that these actions help carry us into a new and more decisive situation.

The movement needs to be bigger than any one organization and needs its own means of rallying workers and defending them and moving forward---getting there should be our focus. Our role is to be organizers and agitators and responsible leaders, not be critics.

A sample resolution which can be used by any organization with editing is circulating and reads as follows:

Whereas, from spontaneous mass demonstrations in many cities on election night, to the airport occupations, to an unprecedented national uprising of more than 4 million people on inauguration weekend…from the ‘Day Without Immigrants’ protests in mid-February, to the marches on International Women’s Day…many millions of working people are emphatically rejecting the racist ultra-right agenda – building up to a nationwide Day of Mass Actions, Strikes, Walkouts and Stayaways on May 1st, International Workers Day; and

Whereas, from coast to coast, immigrant workers – threatened with a new wave of ICE raids, detentions, deportations and family separations – are organizing for a massive day of protest on May Day. The rest of labor needs to be there with them, rejecting Trump’s deliberate attempt to sow divisions in the working class and get us fighting each other. Citywide coalitions in New York, San Francisco (Bay Resistance), Los Angeles and across the country, are calling for a general strike, organizing May Day marches, conducting know-your-rights training, and preparing to defend immigrant workers from ICE attack or employer retaliation. The California Labor Federation has participated in these trainings; and

Whereas, in 2006 the immigrant community and allies massively took to the streets in a May Day general strike of more than 3 million nationally, to defeat the unjust Sensenbrenner bill and show the importance of immigrant labor to the economy; and

Whereas, May Day actions by both organized and unorganized workers [not just immigrant labor] – as well as military veterans, youth and students, prisoners, even small shopkeepers – can build the resistance to attacks on labor, on immigrants and refugees, on trans people and the rights of women. It can help to build public opposition to police or ICE terror in Black, Brown and Indigenous communities. And it can build working-class unity, and stop the slide into authoritarianism. Already various states are moving to criminalize dissent and protest.

Therefore be it resolved, that [name of organization] encourages participation in a Global Day of Mass Actions, Strikes, Walkouts and Stayaways on May 1, 2017 – to defeat the right-wing agenda…to stop the growing attacks on immigrants, refugees, Muslims, trans people and prisoners, as well as stepped-up repression of Black, Brown and Indigenous communities…to oppose moves toward a police state…to oppose expansion of the military budget and the bipartisan drive toward war…to oppose ‘Right to Work’ laws, and the attempt to dismantle Social Security, Medicaid, civil rights, civil liberties, and all the gains that working people have won over the last 80 years.
No work—No school—No shopping on Monday, May 1, 2017! Shut it down!


I would add that impeachment be considered as a demand. Please adapt and use this resolution here in Oregon.

We learned much from the recent immigrant community strike and the womens' March 8 mobilizations. Some means must be found to sustain people who cannot afford to fully participate and to defend people who face retaliation. And it is not that people taking part in strikes have no rights, but that the right to engage in collective action at work is a bit complicated and takes some preparation and planning; this information needs to circulate. We may have to go through this a few times before we really get it, but recent experience should have taught us something.

Here in Oregon we will have a large protest at the State Capitol on May Day. That protest, led by Causa, should be at the center of everyone's activism between now and May 1. I suspect that a strong national protest wave will carry along many efforts like the one here, lessening our fears and giving us strength.

The harmful debate about "striking being for privileged people" should be laid to rest. Socialist-feminist Cinzia Arruzza stated it well when she said:

The claim that striking is for privileged people is obviously absurd, terribly patronizing, and moreover anti-historical. But what is interesting in it is the appropriation of typical liberal discourse about privilege and white-guilt in the service of an anti-labor and anti-union attack... It makes invisible the fact that if workers have unions or labor rights it is because they faced risks and fought hard to have them. Moreover, this claim also makes invisible the fact that migrant women and women of color have historically faced serious risks in order to struggle for their rights, and have no need of patronizing lectures about what they can do or cannot do. As far as HRC (Hillary Rodham Clinton--ed.) feminist supporters are concerned, Maureen Shaw, in her piece attacking the women’s strike, basically suggested that a better form of action for these women would be to call their Democratic representatives. This says it all about what the concerns behind this ‘strike for privileged women’ discourse really are.

What remains for us to struggle with are the real fears present in immigrant communities and the problems which come with strikes and job actions and stayaways. We can't approach these problems coldly or with the expectation that winning over large numbers of people to action on May 1 translates into militancy. It may be that mass actions take place because we make a strong effort at providing security and go into this with a high degree of self-discipline. This is not a moment to be flippant or nihilistic.

Whether the mass movement succeeds or fails on May Day---and we need to think very clearly about what success and failure mean in this moment---the tasks before us remain building a united front and unitary political organizations and leading revolutionary political parties under the leadership of people of color, women, workers, LGBTQIA+ people and other oppressed core social forces. Mass May Day actions by their very nature require a big and open tent and non-sectarian and non-dogmatic approaches and horizontal organizing.
   

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Fair Work Week Lobby Day---Monday, March 27---We Need Some Wins For Workers!


Monday, March 27 at 6:30 AM - 9 PM
Oregon State Capitol

Spend the day with the Working Families Party in support of Fair Work Week.
Breakfast and lunch will be provided, as will transportation to/from Portland by bus.

A training on the issue and related bills will also be provided so everyone is ready to talk to our senators and representatives about why fair scheduling matters so much for workers and their loved ones across the state.

Portland meeting time will be at 6:30am at WFP HQ (333 SE 2nd Ave, Portland). There will be lots of coffee.

Bus leaves for Salem at 7:00 AM sharp. For more information about the Portland meet up and to RSVP, please contact Ian: ijohnson@workingfamilies.org

Those traveling from elsewhere can meet at the Capitol building room 243 at 8am.

If you are traveling from Woodburn, transportation may be available. Please contact Noemi for more information: noemimendoza@pcun.org

This event is kid and family friendly!

Monmouth: an Inclusivity City Work Session---Tuesday, March 21---Solidarity with immigrant communities!


Narratives of Resistance: Perspectives on Palestine, Syria, Yemen---Tuesday, Apr. 11, 5pm - 8pm

Tuesday, Apr. 11, 5pm - 8pm:  Narratives of Resistance:  Perspectives on Palestine, Syria, Yemen
OSU Memorial Union Ballroom
A panel of independent journalists Mnar Muhawesh, Abby Martin, and Rania Khalek will discuss conflicts in Palestine, Syria, and Yemen on topics including the role of the US and its media, and resistance efforts in those regions.

Food and refreshments will be provided!
Hosted by:  Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER) at Oregon State University

Causa Advocacy Day---Thursday, Mar. 30, 9am - 4pm

Thursday, Mar. 30, 9am - 4pm:  Causa Advocacy Day
Oregon State Capitol, 900 Court St NE, Salem

Join us for Causa's Advocacy Day!
Causa supporters will be in the Capitol to talk with legislators about our priority issues including Cover All Kids and the Fair Shot Agenda. Legislators will be deciding on important laws that affect our communities. Let's make sure we pass laws that will help our immigrant families have healthy and safe communities!
Lunch will be provided. RSVP now and get a Causa T-Shirt!

For questions, please contact Cristina Marquez, cristinam[at]causaoregon.org.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

March 30---International Solidarity Day With The Palestinian People---And "No Way to Treat a Child" On April 12 In Corvallis



Wednesday, Apr. 12, 7pm:  No Way to Treat a Child
Corvallis-Benton County Public Library 645 NW Monroe Ave

"No Way to Treat a Child" {NWTTC} is a joint project of American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Defense of Children International - Palestine (DCI-P).

The NWTTC campaign seeks to end the widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children held in Israeli military detention. The program's speaker is Tom Beilman, human rights activist, retired engineer and author of a new resolution calling for human rights for children in Israeli military detention. Drawing on recent participation in AFSC's fact-finding delegation to the Palestinian West Bank and extensive study of this issue, Tom will discuss Israel's military occupation and its military detention system that gravely impacts the lives of children as young as 12 and their families. He will share with us the many ways we can contribute to the growing momentum towards ending the occupation and its military detention of children, thereby giving peace and justice the opportunity to flourish in that troubled land.  The documentary film, "Detaining Dreams," features the stories of four Palestinian children dealing with the ordeal of Israeli military detention.

Local sponsors are:  Women's International League for Peace and Freedom - Corvallis; and Veterans For Peace, Linus Pauling Chapter.

Event is free and open to the public.

For more information: newlin[at]peak.org

Amina Baraka's "The Fascist" held at the New Masses Nights @ Henry Winston Unity Hall in February---Jazz and poetry doing the work


Join this picket and carnival on Sunday, March 26 and support Burgerville workes and the right to unionize


Sunday, March 26 at 12:30 PM - 2 PM
Burgerville - Vancouver Plaza
8320 NE Vancouver Plaza Dr, Vancouver, Washington 98662

Come on out to the Carnival for Worker Justice on March 26th at the Vancouver Burgerville! Help Burgerville workers and their supporters show Burgerville that their union busting won't be tolerated, and have FUN some doing it. There will be juggling, goats, balloons, face painting, music, and more! Kids are very welcome.

The group will be meeting up at the Target in Vancouver Plaza at 12:30 and will then march over to the Burgerville across the street. Come have a grand time with the union, and show Burgerville what a real community looks like!

50 years later, Still at war. Come out and help us to break the silence and rally for peace.

50 years later, Still at war.

On April 4th 1967 Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech, Beyond Vietnam: A time to break Silence, condemning the Vietnam War. 50 years later, we are still at war.

Come out and help us to break the silence and rally for peace.

Tuesday, April 4 at 5 PM - 8 PM

Benton County Courthouse (Corvallis, Oregon)
205 NW 5th St, Corvallis, Oregon 97330


Call ICE to support Henry Colop Salanic and support the Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition / Coalición de Derechos de los Immigrantes de Portland

We need your help NOW.

Henry was detained today by ICE agents in plain cloths while he was going to work. Henry is the only breadwinner for his family, and has been an exemplary person working hard to provide for his pregnant partner and her 6 years old child who is a US citizen with a mental disability. Henry had a DUI a few years ago and did comply responsibly with all the requirement for the diversion program, and also has been active in the community, and a member of the VOZ Workers Rights Education Project.

See below for details on how you can support Henry and his family. We will update you as we get more information.



Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition / Coalición de Derechos de los Immigrantes de Portland

Founded in 2006, PIRC is a coalition of immigrants rights and social justice organizations united in the mission of bringing an end to unjust detention and deportation of immigrant family members in our Oregon communities. We are committed to maintain vigil over and end the collaboration between law enforcement agencies and ICE offices and officials aimed at targeting our communities in public spaces and within the justice system.

Fundada en 2006, PIRC es una coalición de derechos de los inmigrantes y organizaciones de justicia social unidos en la misión de poner fin a la injusta detención y expulsión de miembros de la familia de inmigrantes en nuestras comunidades de Oregon. Estamos comprometidos a mantener la vigilia sobre y poner fin a la colaboración entre los organismos policiales y oficinas de ICE y oficiales dirigidas a la orientación de nuestras comunidades en espacios públicos y en el sistema de justicia.

pircpdx@gmail.com

Late word:

An Indiegogo fundraiser has been created to help support Henry's partner. She is six months pregnant and will need the support of the community during this difficult time.

Henry is the only breadwinner for his family, and has been an exemplary person working hard to provide for his pregnant partner and her 6 years old child who is a US citizen with a mental disability. Henry had a DUI a few years ago and did comply responsible with all the requirement for the diversion program, and also has been active in the community, a member of the VOZ Workers Rights Education Project.


Please note 100% of the funds will go directly to support Henry's family. Indiegogo runs the generosity fundraising site without any fees.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Richard Wolff: CAPITALISM is the problem, not IMMIGRANTS.


From Joann Wypijewski's "THE POLITICS OF INSECURITY" in New Left Review

"...(I)n New York these days, any internet search for ‘protests today’ results in directions for imminent action—and talk persists of the future of the Democratic Party. Right now, the talk feels antique. The players feel antique. The stereotype of the working class feels really antique. As a mode of political action, demonstrations feel antique, too, but these are so spontaneous (the airport rallies), so various (the women’s march, the high-school walk-out, the immigrant marches, the one-day strike of Yemeni bodega owners) and so fluid in terms of participation that they represent what hope there is for something more. At least people are fighting; soon they will have to face the problem of organizing strategically, and talking with people beyond the big cities and the familiar circles, those who don’t vote or whose vote is mainly a measure of their frustration.

During the remake of the party that Trump now leads, the Democrats didn’t fight. Organized labour barely fought for itself. There were homosexuals who fought, women who fought, blacks who fought. Too often their struggles were taken for special pleading, instead of what they were. The respectable NGOs that grew out of those fights folded into the Democratic Party out of sentiment or for lack of any other option. It wasn’t until Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow campaigns of the 1980s articulated a strategy linking all those fights that the party tops could see what might come from a race-conscious, class-conscious, urban-rural, anti-imperialist analysis—and, especially in 1988, got scared. Bill Clinton’s response was the Rainbow’s antithesis, the Democratic Leadership Council, laced with a little old country schmaltz. Obama picked up the form but without the content, as did Hillary, with less conviction. Sanders acted like the last white guy standing on the stage in the Sixties after the women and blacks and queers and Puerto Rican nationalists had broken off into their caucuses. Separate from anything Clinton did, Sanders was not going to win the Democratic nomination that way. He found that out too late. If there is a relevant future for the party now, or a vital alternative vehicle, it will have to come from other precincts, with more imagination and more experience of thick life."

Read the entire article here


Unite Oregon got it right today: "NO BAN, NO WALL, NO PROFILING!"

Unite Oregon (formerly the Center for Intercultural Organizing and Oregon Action) got it right today in their lobby day and at a rally on State Capitol steps. Today was End Profiling Action Day, a push to win on the End Profiling law (HB2355), Stable Homes (HB2004), Cover All Kids (HB2726) and other social justice bills. Specially impacted community members and allies lobbied and dropped off petitions, and most people rallied in solidarity on the State Capitol building steps. The slogan "NO BAN, NO WALL, NO PROFILING!" is the right one even as Trump's latest ban got struck down in the court.

Unite Oregon hit it by pulling together a cross-generational, cross-cultural and multiracial effort with a strong slogan. Present today were Africans, Latiinos, First Nations people, Anglos, Muslims, Christians and others. We couldn't join in the lobbying---we didn't know that it was happening---but the people most involved seemed to have their act together and a good shared message. It was good that so many people attended from beyond the Willamette Valley and that Causa participated and that labor allies got mentioned. Three legislators spoke, and it was especially good to hear from Representatives Teresa Alonso Leon and Tawna D, Sanchez.

Join Unite Oregon here.

The continuing narrative that "this is a nation of immigrants" and that "everyone came here to do better" omits First Nations peoples and takes slavery out of the country's narrative. We heard a bit of that today, but Representative Sanchez, a First Nations woman, was remarkably strong in her remarks in supporting a pro-immigrant message and helping white people get past their privileges.

This is the best way forward: coalitions and united fronts led by people of color with strong demands and a strategy which pushes us forward against Trump's agenda and which forces liberals into action.
From the Unite Oregon website

Rachel Corrie: April 10, 1979 - March 16, 2003

A message from Cindy & Craig Corrie

Painting by Malak Mattar; read more about her painting at We Are Not Numbers.

March 16th, marks the 14th anniversary of the day our daughter Rachel stood in Gaza with other international activists and challenged the Israeli military’s illegal confiscation of Palestinian land and the demolition of Palestinian homes. Rachel’s life was stolen that day, but her spirit was not. As these anniversaries approach, there are sometimes tensions as we struggle to find the best way to remember, and to explain why we do so. But in a moment of illumination, we are reminded that each March 16th is for us another opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to Gaza. It is a place that overflows with suffering, yet is filled with so much more. Rachel wrote to us about the people. “…I am also discovering a degree of strength and of the basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances…I think the word is dignity. I wish you could meet these people. Maybe, hopefully, someday you will.”

During the past fourteen years, we have been blessed with our connections to Palestinians in Gaza, in the West Bank, and elsewhere in the world. We have built relationships with them and with Palestinian and Jewish Israelis who reflect the strength and dignity Rachel recognized, and with open hearts and minds steadfastly pursue justice.

Here in the U.S., it is easy to be distracted by our new political challenges. But with colleagues in our hometown of Olympia and beyond, we are articulating our vision for a “great” country and world. In the words of the song from the Civil Rights Movement, we are keeping “our eyes on the prize.” We know you are doing the same. One part of that vision is freedom for Gaza.

At the Rachel Corrie Foundation, commitment is a core value. Today, as we remember and recommit, we are counting on you to join us in building community with Gaza. You, your organization, and your community can make so much difference for people there.

Use our new Gaza Resource Page to learn and share. With your suggestions, help this resource to grow.

Support Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish who is in Israeli court this month seeking accountability for the deaths of his three daughters and niece during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2009. Dr. Abuelaish’s civil lawsuit, pending since 2010, seeks an apology and compensation that will benefit the Daughters for Life Foundation, which awards scholarships to women throughout the Middle East. Dr. Abuelaish has asked legal analysts, journalists, scholars, and activists to attend the trial and to raise public awareness. Watch for reports, and voice your support through social media. For information, press inquiries, or to attend the trial, contact izzeldin.abuelaish@utoronto.ca +1 (416) 567-6604. To learn more about the family’s story, see the March/April 2016 Washington Report.

Explore compelling stories from young Gazan writers and artists who, through mentorships, have seen their work published. Visit our colleague’s project We Are Not Numbers and empower these Gaza young people by sharing their voices.

During Women’s History Month and through Rachel’s birthday April 10th, please DONATE to build community with Gaza and to sustain the Rachel Corrie Foundation’s growing number of Gaza projects. Lend your support to grassroots activism, shared resistance and empowerment across borders – from Olympia to Gaza – through arts, sport, and education!

Thank you for remembering with us today and for keeping Rachel’s spirit and commitment alive through your actions for Gaza.

Sincerely,
Cindy and Craig
March 16, 2017

“TWO DIMENSIONS OF CLIMATE JUSTICE”---March 26, 2017 at 4:00 pm, Salem Friends Meeting House, Salem

SALEM FELLOWSHIP OF RECONCILIATION

Programs of peace, justice and nonviolence for 30 plus years

“4th Sunday at 4”
March 26, 2017 at 4:00 pm
Salem Friends Meeting House
490 – 19th St. NE (corner of Breymen)

“TWO DIMENSIONS OF CLIMATE JUSTICE”

First Dimension: The impacts of climate change fall hardest, both globally and within the U.S., on poor and marginalized communities who have made the least contribution to the problem and who have the least resources for coping with the chaotic and disastrous impacts of climate change.

Second Dimension: The transition to a renewable energy future will itself cause disruption for workers and communities economically dependent on fossil fuel industries, leading to a call for a Just Transition that ensures investment in stability for workers and communities with the greatest need. After a brief presentation, there will be an interactive exercise in which we will envision the pathways toward climate justice. The Trump Administration puts our endeavors in all aspects of the struggle for justice in a reality different and more dangerous than the one in which the movement for climate justice emerged. This now has to be part of the discussion.

Our speaker, Laurie Dougherty, is a Co-Coordinator of 350 Salem, OR, local chapter of global climate action organization 350.org. She has an MS in Public Policy with additional graduate level classes in Environmental Management. Laurie is now retired after an eclectic career that included working in large factories, small Mom and Pop businesses, temp jobs, academic research and non-profit administration.

Please invite others and join us for this presentation


Potluck meal follows the program

Everyone Welcome

Accessible

Information: 503-371-6109

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Blake Whitson: Why I am voting yes on the upcoming SEIU Corporate Status Vote

Many of our readers are public employees and members of SEIU Local 503. The following will be of interest to them and speaks to a struggle going on in SEIU Local 503 for many years now. We invite constructive discussion of the issues raised here.

Why I am voting yes on the upcoming SEIU Corporate Status Vote:

As a member of the SEIU 503 Board of Directors it was not a decision that was reached lightly to ask the members to vote on changing our unions Corporate Status. Nor was it taken lightly to recommend to the members that they vote yes on this change. But when weighing all of the facts it is clear that this the right choice and it is the only responsible choice to make.

Our union was founded in 1945 as the Oregon Public Employees Association and incorporated as a mutual benefit association. Since that time both our union and that statute have seen many changes. But our corporate status has never been changed to reflect the changes in our union as we became a full fledged union in the 70's and expanded to include home care and other private sector members. This has since become problematic for many reasons.

One of the most pronounced is that under the mutual benefit association statute we are required to give a copy of the private contact information for every member of the association to any other member who asks for it. Even if we know that member intends to hand that information over to other organizations actively working against our union. To be clear this goes beyond members exercising their right to debate issues or disagree with the direction or leadership of our union. This is handing over the private information of every single member of our union to organizations who seek to dismantle our union, our right to collectively bargain, and our right to organize. This is also an issue of safety for some of our members whose jobs put them at increased risk of retaliation from individuals they have interacted with in the course of their official duties.

The other issue is that the way we are incorporated also limits the Democratic control our members have over their union. The courts have ruled that in instances where our By-Laws or Administrative Policies and Procedures, which are written debated and passed by our members at general council, then the statute we are incorporated under supersedes our what our members have decided. By voting no on changing our corporate status it is not preserving our members democratic rights. It is continuing to limit their power. And to address concerns from members about the ability to organize and contact other members about issues, this change will do nothing to effect that. Our union already has communications guidelines passed by the general council to allow for members to contact other members. And if our members do chose, they can bring another resolution to general council further defining who has access to member information and by what means they do.

In conclusion I am voting yes. I am voting yes to ensure the privacy and safety of our members. I am voting yes to ensure our members, and not a statute, have the ultimate control over our union. And I am voting yes to hell defend our union and ensure our legal governance structure aligns with our governing documents. I hope you will join me as well I'm voting yes.

House Bill 2845---The people of Oregon win if HB 2845 passes, but our movements need to unite!

Photo from the Oregon Students of Color Coalition website. Hit   to contact them. 

Today's legislative hearing on HB 2845---the so-called "Ethnic Studies Bill"---drew a good ground of people interested the bill passing and great testimony. The official summary of the bill reads as follows:

Directs Department of Education to convene advisory group to develop statewide ethnic studies standards for adoption into existing statewide social studies standards for public kindergarten through grade 12. Directs department to adopt ethnic studies standards into existing statewide social studies standards for public kindergarten through grade 12. Requires department to publish annual reports on implementation of standards in public kindergarten through grade 12 studies. Declares emergency, effective on passage.

It sounds simple and good enough to us, but opposition to the bill will come primarily from conservatives and reactionaries who want to make life more difficult for the subordinated ethnic, racial and social groups in Oregon and who want to gear education to finding employment instead of critical thinking and social change. And in a year when Oregon is again in financial crisis due to corporations and the wealthy not paying enough taxes and the state's economy not grounded in production for use, climate-friendly energy and transport and needed social services and education, getting anything positive through the legislature will be an uphill fight.

Here is the testimony in support of the bill offered by two leaders of Salem's Racial Justice Organizing Committee:

Chair Doherty, members of the committee, thank you for this opportunity to present testimony. My name is Paul Krissel. I live here in Salem. And my name is Frances Loberg. I also live here in Salem. We speak in support of HB 2845.

We serve as co-chairs of the Racial Justice Organizing Committee. We are a Salem based group of allies supporting the work of organizations representing people of color in our city. Our organizing principles include action in support of those organizations, and taking responsibility for our own learning. We conduct ongoing study sessions on issues of racism, structural inequality, oppression theory, privilege and similar topics to deepen our understanding of racism and its impact in our community.

In our effort to learn, we are confronted by the deep lack of awareness of racial and cultural differences that exists in our society. There is profound lack of understanding of the experiences faced by subordinated ethnic, racial and social groups among us. A major result of our lack of understanding of each other, and of the structural and institutional barriers placed in the path of subordinated groups, is fear and hatred. The less we know about each other’s experience, the more prone we are to appeals to fear and hatred of the “other”. The less we understand about the systemic inequality that exist in our institutions and social structures, the more we are likely to reject any personal responsibility or societal responsibility to create a just society for all.

Our children must be given the opportunity to learn about the full diversity of our community and of our society. We must give them the chance to overcome fear and hatred through understanding, both at individual and systemic levels. We must learn about each other and the richness of our varied experiences in this society. Every ethnic, racial and social group possesses a full panoply of historical and current experiences within this society, some magnificent and wonderful, and some horrific, painful and life threatening. It behooves us all to learn more about each other and the depth of our lived experience in this society. This should start with our children.

HB 2845 is a good step in that direction and we hope that the legislature during this session has the courage to move Oregon forward as an open and welcoming environment for all who work and live in Oregon.

If  there is a problem with the bill, it is that it speaks of “social minorities” and not subordinated groups, and that it delays, perhaps for reasons of political and budgetary necessity, what should have been done and put in place more than forty years ago. Our side is compromising and taking the moral high ground here, and that should be appreciated. Read the bill here.

The people who mobilized and organized today's turn out and testimony deserve great credit. It was clear from watching the young people involved that they understand the stakes involved, and it was clear that some legislators felt the passion and will do the right thing. Much of the testimony spoke to the questions of need and empowerment through education. Defending programs which support critical thinking and fighting over the price tag will be challenging.

A long-term problem that we in social movements have to come to grips with is that Eurocentric education sometimes gets criticized without clear definition. Marxism gets thrown in the "Eurocentric" mix without much thought sometimes, although it is not Eurocentric or even a product of Europe, and Oregon is unlikely to support, say, Italian American studies in the ways in which some other systems around the U.S. do. A real people's history is needed that tells the story from the point of view of the oppressed and provides critical thinking and class analysis skills. The advance here is that ethnic studies is absolutely necessary to developing critical thinking skills and helps to prepare people to change the world. But without a self-conscious left in place, this can go wrong quickly.

The reproductive rights bill and the fair work week bill were also dealt with today at the State Capitol, and the pro-mining forces had their tents up on the State Capitol steps and were doing their best to make mining seem like a harmless part of Oregon's heritage. It is problematic that we lack the solidarity and coordination to join all of our bills and our struggles together and push on every issue every day, tying immigrant rights, ethnic studies and education, environmentalism, women's rights and health care, and better working conditions together. The people and the workers can't win without solidarity.

Education International calls for increased solidarity with Egitim Sen and Turkish and Kurdish educational workers---AFT and NEA should show solidarity with the Egitim Sen union


From Education International:

A 20-strong delegation of representatives from education unions from the European region, led and organised by Education International (EI) and its European regional office (ETUCE) has travelled to Turkey to show support to its members on the ground and condemn the political repression and unruly dismissals of thousands of teachers by the government. According to Egitim Sen, EI’s national affiliate, more than 105,000 public servants, including 37,000 teachers, have been either dismissed or suspended since the government resorted to repression after the failed coup of July 2016. The union reports to have lost more than 1500 members...

...Education International will relaunch its solidarity fund with 65,000 euro in order to support Egitim Sen and individual teachers in their legal battle. The government’s attacks have been a strategic and heavy blow to the union, according to its leadership: of the 1,500 dismissed members of the union, 103 are were executive board members of the union in its different regions, and 16 general secretaries of local branches, among whom the current general secretary of Egitim Sen, Mesut Firat. The solidarity fund will cover their legal support for appeals and livelihood.

Read the entire article here.

Egitim Sen is a great union---militant, democratic, based in the peoples' struggles, and doing the hard work of educating young people under conditions of war and crises. We hope that teachers' unions in the United States will show active solidarity with Egitim Sen and provide resources and send delegations of members to Turkey and to North Kurdistan for fact-finding and solidarity visits.   

No Ban, No Wall, No Profiling!---March in Salem on Thursday, March 16


Three Important Steps Forward In Oregon---Solidarity needed in Monmouth and Salem

TODAY: The Ethnic Studies Bill and the Reproductive Health Equity Bill 2.0 have hearings today. The Ethnic Studies Bill will be discussed at 3:00 PM at the legislature. Please show up.

MONMOUTH: Monmouth's Inclusivity Resolution: The people pushing for Monmouth's Inclusivity City measure need your support! After two attempts of trying to get this passed, they have made some progress in a previous city council meeting. A motion to discuss a resolution was passed after community members from Monmouth and Western Oregon University gave impactful testimonies and powerful speeches to push this movement forward. The motion that passed was to discuss what a resolution would look like, and city council members will be discussing this on March 21st. A goof turnout is needed at the city council meeting to continue demonstrating the need for this to support our undocumented neighbors at 7:00 pm at 144 South Warren Street in Monmouth. The work session will take place after the meeting at 8:00 pm and friends, allies, and community members are encouraged to attend the work session to keep the pressure on them.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Remember The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire On March 24 and 25


O Girls Girls! Teenage immigrants
Tell me where did you go in the fire?
(Tessie! Caterina! Antonietta! Somebody tell me)
I jumped to the street
Where my bones and concrete meet.
The sewer my blood runs through.
--Annie Lanzillotto

One-hundred-and-forty-six people, mostly all young working women, perished in the Triangle Shirtwaist fire on March 25, 1911. These deaths had meaning in their own right, but they also demonstrated the greed of the garment factory owners, the push for high production after a strike, and the need for a union in the gartment factories.

The tragedy has been repeated so many times over the intervening years in so many countries that we cannot keep count.

Remember Triangle and remember or think of the women and men who suffer and die every day so that we have clothes to wear, food to eat, cars to drive, schools to attend and homes to live in. Remember them and fight back!

Go here for some information on the fire and on a commemorative event to be held in New York City.
   

Transgender 101 and a Response to Chimamanda Adichie

If you haven't heard, celebrated Nigerian feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie recently spoke about trans womanhood and trans experiences. Many have defended her, but I think what she's saying is very dangerous. It even goes against the idea of "not having a single story," the soundbite that arguably pushed her into the international spotlight.

[Side note: if you're not familiar with what transgender means, or have questions about it, I highly recommend a guide written by one of my favorite writers, Sam Dylan Finch, at Everyday Feminism. The article is "Transgender 101: A Guide to Gender and Identity to Help You Keep Up with the Conversation," and it's helpful even if you do know what transgender means! Now, back to Chimamanda Adichie.]

Among her comments, she refused to acknowledge that transgender women are women, instead responding by saying that "trans women are trans women" and "gender is not biology, gender is sociology." The way she discusses trans issues is problematic for many reasons, all of which rely on the concept of intersectionality. By refusing to acknowledge that trans women are women (just like "black" women are women, "disabled" women are women, and any other descriptor of womanhood), she effectively others trans women and argues that their womanhood is different. This doesn't hold up for many reasons, but, to put it simply, she is reducing womanhood to cisgender womanhood, thereby creating a "single story" of what constitutes womanhood.

As a non-binary/trans femme, I have many problems with what she said. I'm further upset because her discussion of trans issues leaves out trans men and non-binary people altogether, reducing her idea of feminism to nothing more than gender essentialism. What makes it worse is that she's a celebrated feminist. Not only are her words given more weight from the start, but her academic background means that she is creating misleading yet valid arguments (technically speaking, meaning that her arguments follow a logical pattern). This does not make her arguments sound, though. Her main premise about trans women having male privilege is false, and the articles I link to below are written by trans women explaining the issues with that premise.

Like Raquel Willis says below, I am not interested in disposing of Chimamanda Adichie or shunning her in any way. However, it is important to hold her accountable, especially as a figure who has been instrumental in making feminism accessible to the masses and helping to push it into the mainstream. I hope that she takes the time to listen to trans women (and all trans people, for that matter), retracts her statements, presents a true apology to the trans community, and speaks on her growth and why her previous statements were wrong.

Raquel Willis' article, "Trans Women are Women. This Isn't a Debate." and her Twitter story response

Laverne Cox's response to Chimamanda Adichie

"Still Think Trans Women Have Male Privilege? These 7 Points Prove They Don't" at Everyday Feminism

"4 Reasons Your 'Harmless' Opinions About Trans People Aren't Actually Harmless" at Everyday Feminism

"No, Trans Women Are NOT 'Biologically Male'" at Everyday Feminism (especially wonderful because Riley doesn't scapegoat intersex individuals to make the case for transgender people)

As always, feel free to comment with any questions!


Dreamer Daniela Vargas released from ICE detention center--The lesson is that we win when we organize against detentions and deportations


Theresa Albano writes:

A Mississippi resident who was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after she held a press conference, was released March 10 from detention after being held for almost two weeks.

Daniela Vargas, 22, walked out of LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena, La., around noon, her lawyers told the media in a March 10 phone news conference. Vargas has lived in the US since the age of seven, when she was brought here from Argentina.

“This is a moment for celebration,” Karen Tumlin, legal director of the National Immigration Law Center, said, “in what has been a terrifying set of months for the immigrant community and their families.”

Tumlin credited the community for the momentary victory.

Vargas garnered national attention after ICE agents arrested her immediately after she spoke to the media about a raid in which her father and brother were arrested.

The reaction in the media, including social media, was immediate, and according to her legal team, it made a difference.

“The protests meant a great deal,” Tumlin said. “Dany’s story touched the hearts of Americans.”

The lawyers said the Jackson community rallied around Vargas. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., sent a letter to Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security John Kelly asking him to ensure that his department “exercises available discretion and looks upon her case favorably.”

Read the entire article here.

The solidarity and movement to free Daniela Vargas didn't fall from the sky. Jackson, Mississippi has a particularly advanced movement for social change led by people of color. The Jackson movement has much to teach all of us. If you are in the Salem area and want to support the movement in Jackson, please contact us.

Protect Workers' Rights, Support Workers At The Veterans Administration And Build Solidarity Today

It's no surprise to us that the Trump administration is attacking government workers and their unions, a sector with few rights but with many people of color and a heart of relatively liberal trade unionism. We know of 3 bills which are out there right now which pose special risks and need action TODAY---H.R. 1293, H.R. 1364 and  H.R. 1259. The following comes from union press releases but is edited because of the need to act now.

Federal workers need our help now to protect their rights to fair union representation. Congress is targeting the very existence of federal employee unions.

House Republicans have proposed bills H.R. 1293 and H.R. 1364. Both are attacks on federal employees who work on labor-management relations and represent federal employees. The laws would impose a penalty of reduced pension accrual on those who agree to serve as employee representatives.

For more than 40 years, official time has been an important tool for management and workers to address workplace concerns. Current law explicitly prohibits union activities while on official time, including any internal union business, solicitation of new members, election of union officers and any partisan political issues.

House bill H.R.1364, the “Official Time Reform Act” is a direct attack on federal unions and their ability to represent workers.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), is intended to amend Title 5 of the United States Code, to limit the use of official time and would exclude it from counting towards an employee’s retirement and pension eligibility. This bill targets the financial security of individual union members and their families, and it is below the dignity of the United States Congress.

Call the Congress switchboard today at 202-224-3121 and tell the operator you want speaker to your representative. Tell them to immediately to stop this unfair attack on federal workers and their families.

House Republicans are attempting to force unnecessary changes to the law and undercut federal employees’ rights in the workplace.

Tell your representative to vote No on H.R. 1364 and H.R. 1293.

This week, the House of Representatives will consider a bill by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) H.R. 1259, the inappropriately titled “VA Accountability First Act of 2017,” the latest bill to target dedicated Veterans Affairs doctors, nurses, and other rank-and-file employees. Under the pretense of wanting to make it easier to fire poorly performing employees, this bill is little more than an attempt to obscure transparency surrounding operations and workforce actions at the VA. The bill reduces the level of evidence required for an adverse action by granting the VA Secretary full authority to demote or fire upon his or her discretion, lighting the runway for politically corrupt and bad managers to demote or fine anyone they target. Yet the bill notably excepts VA political appointees from his new accountability authority. This means his so-called accountability only applies to career staff, and not the chief political administrators of the department. If enacted, this bill would instill a fear of retaliation from supervisors and political staff among our dedicated VA workforce. Roe’s bill aims to silence talented and dedicated VA employees, and veterans will suffer because of it.

About Rep. Roe:
* Roe incorrectly claims that it is hard to fire employees for poor performance or misconduct at the VA in particular. In fact, is not hard to fire poor performers, but it is hard to poorly fire poor performers.
* Roe seeks to privatize the VA. One step in reaching this goal is to attempt to make the VA an undesirable place to work. After destabilizing the VA workforce, he will claim that a defunct VA system is better in private sector hands.
* Roe spends time thinking about ways to make it difficult for the VA to succeed and he shamefully targets hard working and dedicated VA staff to do it. He needs to spend his time properly funding the VA and providing the staff with resources and tools to succeed. But that’s not his goal.

About the VA Accountability First Act and the MSPB:
* Roe’s bill seeks to destroy meaningful and legitimate due process by usurping the authority of the US Merit Systems Protection Board.
* The bill reduces the timelines for the accused employees to defend themselves to the Secretary (in writing not to exceed 10 days, an arbitrary timeline).
* The bill instructs the MSPB to issue a decision with 45 days, which is an unrealistic burden to the MSPB and to federal employees and their counsel. It leaves little time for discovery, witness depositions, etc., which are all things common to legitimate court proceedings
Roe reduces the level of evidence required to “substantial evidence” for misconduct cases (from “a preponderance of the evidence”), which opens all employees to fabricated misconduct cases (such as the general and catch-all “conduct unbecoming a federal employee”).

In misconduct cases, an incident can be fabricated or exaggerated and then used as a means to remove anyone at any time. The shortened appeals process prevents legitimate rebuttals by reducing time for meaningful discovery, such as witness statements.

Roe and anyone else who votes for this bill are not interested in full transparency or legitimate due process at the VA. Call the Congress switchboard today at 202-224-3121 and tell the operator you want to speak to your representative. Tell them to immediately stop this unfair attack on dedicated VA employees.