Monday, October 30, 2017

A Further Reflection on Salem and Socialist Potential

As I look around Salem and see a city struggling to unite against Trump these questions, concerns and thoughts come up.

I haven't been around for that long and although I try and be active I am be no means an organizer nor experienced in activism. About two weeks ago I attended a meeting at the Racial Justice Organizing Committee here in Salem that served as an interesting small scale example of what I feel is happening around the whole country: the very broad left ( centrist liberals to communists of all stripes) has no center at which to organize. The questions always come up: what can I do tomorrow? People's lives are usually seperated from political activism. Unions can serve as an intersection: your 9-5 can become activism by being organized, organizing others and having demands in and at your workplace. Unions aren't always radical though, and some of our historically largest unions have been conservative, like the United Mine Workers under the leadership of W.A. Boyle. People can attend political meetings, meetings from People Power organized by the ACLU to meetings with DSA to the IWW, and walk away without concrete actions and still no inlet into which your view can start to become realized in the world.

I don't have answers. I wish people had the power to organize more spontaneously. People have to be educated in activism to organize their own rally, club and so forth. But where does activism end and where does it start? The Black Panthers are powerful reminders of this. In my opinion, their free breakfast for children is one of the most successful forms of activism. It doesn't directly make change but rather implements it deeply into a community. Giving food for free - for socialists a human right and something that unconditionally every human should have access to - to attacked and discriminated against people and creating a place of meeting serves to show people, in very practical ways, what radicalism and leftism is. Kids in the program knew who the real people with their interests at heart: not the State attacking their liberation and the police killing their families but the socialists giving them free food. 

What about organized sport clubs teams, sponsored by DSA chapters? How hard is this? You need a coach, organized meetings, a large time commitment and a place to play; a field, stadium or court. You need to disseminate your info through a community. Having a DSA soccer club can help kids after school and provide them with fun. Adults have a place at which their kids can be, giving them extra time in their busy days. This is also hard. But to have it up and running and its effects on the community would outweigh starting this project.

Every day meetings with political implications happen. Locally at schools, city hall and community centers. What would it mean for just a few people with the same vision to show up to Salem's town hall every meeting, walk up to the podium and have one demand? This is long, tiring and mundane work for sure but it plants seeds. And what if it expanded to twenty or fifty people each time. Would the demands happen sooner? Could that template and experience of doing it lead to it happening in other cities and eventually state and federal change? This same idea can be applied to the school board meeting or the local homeowner's association meeting.

What about direct action? As nazis get organized what does it look like to fight back? It does mean counterprotest, because this usually discourages them and gets future rallies cancelled. As the left has more people come out and react against reactionary forces these large demonstrations grow and get more people. Occupying spaces is a logical extension of this. With people organized and believing in a movement sit ins at oppressive institutions can provide material improvements for working peoples - changes coming from the left.

The question of how to get people to show up shouldn't be thought of in nihilistic terms. Canvassing and organizing people who show up, no matter how small, is up to the people who show up. No doubt that through repetition something grows, words spread, more people come next time and eventually a whole room of leftists are able to do a lot. There are a lot of disconnected people. A lot of people who like socialism (especially the young folks)  never come out to a political meeting or protest. What is the point when you are just another body amongst many? By expanding public perception and increasing and engaging in a wide field of activities people might join.

None of this is easy - at all. If it was I would have successfully striked, planned protests and be the coach of many soccer clubs. These are thoughts and reflect a leftist who is interested in direct action and decentralized organizing. Hopefully this encourages people to think in various ways about what exactly can be done to organize - what you can do tomorrow.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sacking The Huddle When We're All Getting Tackled

Video from Tariq Toure and AJ+ Video 

Antonio Gramsci, a founder of the Italian Communist Party and a major communist theoretician, wrote an article in 1918 entitled Football and Scopone. Scopone is a popular Italian card game which depends on players being able to challenge, intimidate, and distract other players, as well as on luck and skill. Teamwork counts for something in some variations, but not for very much. The game practically invites what non-players will call cheating. Scopone has regional variations.

Gramsci’s point in his article was to draw a parallel between the culture of scopone, and Italy’s relative under-development and backwardness, and western Europe’s development and progress under what passed as modern democracies. Football has rules and a division of labor and a code of fair and open play, Gramsci noted, while scopone has drama, distrust, and secret diplomacy. Football is played in the open air, a healthy environment, while scopone is played in darker places with artificial light. Football matches end with gentlemen shaking hands (apparently ultras didn’t exist in 1918), but a game of scopone can end with a bloody mess. Gramsci’s parallels were drawn correctly in 1918: the ruling classes of Europe and the U.S. were set about the project of ensuring fair play and progress under their rules and with their teams, while a differently-developed world of unfortunates used other means to order their world and could not progress. Sports and culture mirrored social conditions. Gramsci used a sports analogy in order to make his point, but he did not reduce social relations to a game. 

Now come to an article on the front page of today’s The New York Times under the headline “Fast Offenses Are Sacking the Huddle, Long a Part of N.F.L. Lore” by Bill Pennington. Pennington makes the point that the football huddle is being abandoned or shortened in order to win higher scores and hurry and force the game play and action. The arguments against the huddle are many: there is no need to check in on player’s moods, the work of the players is regimented to the point that huddles have become unnecessary, players can’t hear one another because of fan noise, hand signals and codes can be used in place of talking, play has become especially complex, linebackers and coaches run the game, and young people coming up don’t have the experience of the huddle. The space which once belonged to players has been taken by the coaches and, standing behind them, by the owners and investors who profit from high-scoring, constant-play games. If the huddle has value now, it is because of a need for secrecy.

Unpack each of the reasons given above for abolishing the huddle and find its social or political corollary. Workers are pushed to do more and accomplish more, and this echoes through society. Our bosses don’t check in with us, unless it is to discipline us or push us to do more, and the loss of unions has meant that we have less space to check in with one another. Work is increasingly regimented, or is done less by crews and units and more by individuals and automated machinery. The social aspects of work are disappearing. Your mood, your health, and your suggestions on how things might be done better don’t much matter. You learn how to perform a job; you are not apprenticed into a craft or trade where a variety of special skills is needed and will be improved on over a lifetime of skilled work. The instructions you are given at work are either terse or come in volumes of policy manuals; make a minor mistake, or find a shortcut, and you can be fired. Managers are either ever-present or they keep their distance until they have to enforce rules which you don’t have a role in making. Those managers owe their jobs to the owners, and they know it. Young people coming into your workplace don’t have much experience in solidarity.

Now, let’s take it one step further. The gentlemen’s agreements which once served to call the plays in America’s version of democracy have broken down, or are breaking down. The emphasis in society is on profits, competition, militarism, and individualism. Trump uses executive orders and secrecy to govern. The “Army of One” slogan could apply to soldiers, or to us at work, or to us in our homes and schools. A relatively small number of people give us direction, and they increasingly speak in either the coded languages of racism, sexism, and classism or throw the codes away. And the people giving the instructions from he sidelines don’t see much need to check in on anyone’s moods or injuries. This may not be new. or news, but the stakes in calling the plays in this way today count for more. Redistricting and stacked elections means that people with other ideas are shut out. The huddle that was your union meeting, community meeting, lodge or club meeting, down time at a neighborhood watering hole, dinner with your family, church social, book club, coon hunting buddies, nature hiking group, bowling league, barbershop or beauty shop time, or civil or human rights organizing is getting pushed to the margins or has already been marginalized and disempowered.

Those gentlemen’s agreements were never good, and they can’t be defended, but their breakdown has much to teach us. You might not miss them until they're gone and you hear your friends wishing Bush or Ford or Nixon were around and saying that McCain and Corker maybe aren't so bad after all, though they are. We have not exactly gone backwards from football to scopone (from democracy to semi-feudal chaos or fascism), and we have not moved forward to a better way of playing a game (from a slow-moving democracy to something less costly and more efficient). Sacking the huddle or throwing out the rule book in order to achieve higher scores in less time is not making life better for the players or the fans, though the owners and managers seem to be doing just fine. Debating the efficiency or costs of democracy, or the specific rules which hand society over to a different set of owners and managers, already concedes too much. It only looks like scopone because of the blood and drama.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Support Portland Teachers!

Teachers in Portland Public Schools have been working without a contract for two years and the district is still dragging it's feet and is not negotiating in good faith. That is unacceptable!

Teachers are vital members of our community and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect both on the job and at the bargaining table. When our teachers are under attack, we show up and fight back! Join us in a show of solidarity and community support at the next Portland Public Schools board meeting.

Tuesday October 24 at 6pm
501 N. Dixon St. Portland, OR 97227

Let's pack the room and show the school board that this community supports our teachers!

Time to Call the Question: The AFL-CIO Should Endorse the Medicare For All Bill

From the Labor Campaign for Single Payer:

On September 13, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced S 1804–The Medicare for All Act of 2017 into the U.S. Senate. Sixteen U.S. Senators signed on as cosponsors. More than a dozen national unions endorsed the Bill.

The fight against Trumpcare and the Republican attacks on public health programs has produced a sea change in popular opinion. A majority of Americans now support single payer Medicare for All. People don’t want to just circle the wagons around an inadequate status quo. They want to fight for the right to healthcare.

Anyone who has sat at a bargaining table in the past ten years understands that our employment-based system of healthcare is economically unsustainable with total healthcare costs for a family of four running in excess of $26,000 per year.

And anyone who represents public sector workers understands that decent union benefits are becoming politically unsustainable as demagogues use the politics of resentment to crush bargaining rights. “When you have public employees getting these Cadillac benefits and paying virtually nothing–$20 per month–and the taxpayers in some cases are paying over $23,000 per year for health insurance…it’s not fair,” said Governor Terry Branstad as Iowa recently joined many other states in stripping public employees of the right to bargain over healthcare.

This is the moment for labor to step up on behalf of the entire working class and lead the fight for healthcare justice. At its 2009 and 2013 Conventions and, again at its July 2017 Executive Council meeting, the AFL-CIO has gone on record in support of single payer Medicare for All. Now we are asking that the AFL-CIO endorse the Sanders Medicare for All Bill and actively work for its passage.

Twelve national unions, three state labor councils and three central labor councils have submitted a resolution for consideration at next week’s AFL-CIO quadrennial convention in St. Louis to do just that. The Convention Resolutions Committee meets this Saturday (October 21) and the Convention may take up the resolution as early as next Monday. So we need your help today to help ensure that America’s largest labor federation takes a stand on this crucial issue.

Here’s what you can do to help:
If your union is an AFL-CIO affiliate: Ask your national officers to support the below resolution and to communicate their support to AFL-CIO President Trumka and to the Convention Resolutions Committee.
If you are a member of a State Labor Council and/or a Central Labor Council: Pass this email along to your officers and ask them to come to the Convention prepared to support this resolution.
If you are a delegate to the Convention or you are a supporter living in the St. Louis area: Plan to attend the Labor for Single Payer Briefing and Strategy Session at 5 pm on Monday, October 23 in the Marriott Grand Majestic Ballroom A-B.
If you are a supporter of this effort: Stay tuned for an email later this week about how you can use social media to have your voice heard at the Convention.

The proposed resolution is below. Thank you for all that you do.

Making Health Care a Right

Resolution to 2017 AFL-CIO Convention submitted by: Albany County Central Federation of Labor AFL-CIO, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), American Postal Workers Union (APWU), Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), California School Employees Association (CSEA), Green Mountain Labor Council AFL-CIO, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), Maine State Labor Council AFL-CIO, National Nurses United (NNU), SMART Transportation, Troy Area Labor Council AFL-CIO, Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), Vermont State Labor Council AFL-CIO, Washington State Labor Council AFL-CIO

Getting the health care we need, no matter who we are and regardless of our circumstances in life, is fundamental to our well-being as individuals and as a nation. That is why the American labor movement has fought for more than a century to make health care a basic right in the United States. We support and will campaign to establish a single-payer system, like Medicare for All, which provides universal coverage using a social insurance model, while retaining a role for workers’ health plans. To reach our goal for achieving this expeditiously, we endorse S1804 (Sanders), the Medicare for All Act of 2017.

S 1804 would extend health care provided on a single-payer basis to all Americans after a four-year transition period. In its first year of enactment, it would lower Medicare’s eligibility age from 65 to 55, while also including all children from birth to age 18. This would provide coverage for pre-65 retirees whose current health benefits earned through work are increasingly at risk. In the following three years, S 1804 would continue to expand the age of people covered under Medicare, until all Americans are included. This transition also envisions a time-limited public health insurance option as an alternative to for-profit insurance companies.

The urgency for this reform is clear every day at the bargaining table, where we seek to preserve the benefits workers have earned, but see our potential wage and pension improvements diverted to the pockets of the insurance companies and their high-salaried executives. Furthermore, the price of health insurance along with prescription drugs and hospital charges keep rising, and these costs are increasingly shifted to workers, creating an unsustainable situation for the average American worker.

We have a real opportunity to achieve the labor movement’s historic demand for healthcare as a human right, and we will engage with all affiliate bodies and constituency groups to campaign to win Medicare for All, S 1804.

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Reflection on Some Socialist Fundamentals from a Salem, Oregon Socialist

Believe it or not, the following points are a reflection on events in Salem and in our region. They are presented here as a reaction to some of the trends which I see in place locally as I engage with other union members, working-class people, anti-racist organizing, and Salem’s leftists and progressives. These comments reflect only my own opinions, and they continue from some points I made while speaking at a community forum in Salem last week. I mention many organizations and publications in this post, but none of them have been consulted about this post.

There are several public employee strikes underway, and some possibly in the offing, as I write, and labor is making some gains regionally. The employment picture is slowing in Oregon after a boom, and volatile market activity indicates capitalist uncertainty. Whatever gains are being made at the ports, which are largely automated, are likely being offset by the fires which were either caused or exacerbated by global warming. Youth resistance, labor struggles, and immigrant rights struggles are key in Oregon.

Nationally, the resistance to the Trump agenda is continuing and has had some successes: Trump has been unable to govern except through executive order. Women’s struggles and resistance to white chauvinism and the national oppression of people of color has center stage. The outrageous mistreatment of Puerto Rico, and the continuing blatant oppression of the Puerto Rican people and the people on the U.S.-colonized islands and in the south after the storms, exposes the settler-colonialist nature of the American capitalist system. With these conditions, and others, there has been an increase in socialist organizing and outreach. This has been seen most clearly in the growth of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and DSA’s ability to gather young people and enter local political races as a player, the rise of the Jackson Movement, renewed talk of left wing coalition politics, and the tremendous advances made and represented in the Movement for Black Lives Platform. The Platform represents the most advanced political program in the U.S. today.

Our local social movements and the left here both lack the needed maturity to lead, however. This ability to lead, which is a precondition of progress, can only be gained through strategic political organizing. Besides Trump and the fascist wave behind him, we are most often the victims of our own inexperience and immaturity. The rush of people to the left which came after the2008 crisis, during the Sanders campaign, and after the election caught the organized left by surprise, or unprepared. Why were we unprepared? I think that neo-liberalism, the heightened white-chauvinist assaults on people of color, the hopes and failures of the Obama presidency, the 2008 crisis, setbacks for labor, and---reaching back---the fall of the Soviet Union and much of the socialist bloc and the failures of anti-imperialism all left us confused and disoriented. We sacrificed principles which we knew to be true, principles which were in our leftist DNA. We abandoned the working-class and our base among people of color in key urban centers and in the south and southwest.

We also continue to suffer from many of the same problems which afflict the Democrats. This is not because we are Democrats, or because we identify with them or because we often vote with them, but because on our best days we share the same base as the Democrats do. That base consists of the most politically engaged people among labor, women, and people of color, LGBTQIA+ people, and youth. These are the core forces needed for change: when they get the sniffles, we get the flu.

It is especially important in this period for us to proceed carefully and not jeopardize the support that we have among these core forces, and to thereby jeopardize opportunities to learn how to lead and to miss the boat in upcoming political races. We can jeopardize this support through paralysis and inaction, by taking an ultra-left line, or by not encouraging people from the core forces to engage with us and fully enter the movement and win leadership in principled ways. We need total commitment to organizing and to building principled unity around a broad program for social change and victory. This is a political struggle, not a moral crusade.

In pragmatic terms, in Oregon this means an all-out effort to defeat IP 22 and win on immigrant rights issues, win a real people’s budget, defeat white chauvinism and national oppression wherever it arises, defend labor rights, prepare alternate people’s-power mechanisms (like representative assemblies), stop the loss of jobs and stop the destruction of the environment and reverse environmental damage, and fight the right and win on women’s rights, LGBTQIA+ struggles, and on all democratic people’s demands. We have much to learn from the immigrant rights movements and from the Salem climate activists united in 350 Salem. This is a fully pragmatic socialist approach.

We can’t get to that pragmatic socialist approach without rediscovering some the fundamentals which run deep in our leftist DNA. I offer the following incomplete list of some of these fundamentals in order to provoke discussion and to distinguish a socialist approach from others.

1.       Revolution is the project of overthrowing the ruling class, and only that. Other projects have their time and place, but it will take a revolution to overthrow the ruling class. Revolution is not on the agenda now. That means that we should not be surprised when non-revolutionary projects succeed and things either go on as before or get worse. It also means that democracy within this system remains our training school. We have to master democracy in order to understand how it can be used defensively (to hold on to past gains) and offensively (taking advantages of contradictions within the system in order to win gains). Democracy is relevant to the extent that it furthers the project of revolutionary self-determination.

2.       Historic fascism is “the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital,” as Georgi Dimitrov said. It forms in reaction to revolutions and revolutionary movements. Granted that the Obama presidency felt like the revolution to a significant body of Americans, we do not live under a terroristic dictatorship of finance capital which has been aroused to power by a failed revolution. We can’t underestimate the fascist threat, but we do not live under that system. Anti-fascism, as opposed to organizing the working class and the masses of people around socialist demands, disarms people and disempowers them because it strikes at the wrong target.

3.       The reasonable response to the ultra-right and to the fascist threat is to build a united front from below. Coalition politics is the weak American brother to the concept of a united front. An appeal must be made by proven and established leaders to the rank-and-file members of every liberal and left organization to join them in a broad-based political effort built from a common democratic program which prioritizes the needs of the core forces mentioned above. The Movement for Black Lives, the Jackson Movement, and DSA have the programs: people need to be won over to them and held accountable for carrying them out.

4.     Building a left party under current conditions is not a reasonable response to American conditions now. Many left parties already exist, and a few are growing, but none are yet capable of leading. Their presence and growth locally now most often endangers the democratic social movements where people are learning how to organize and lead. This does not mean that leadership can emerge spontaneously or that independent revolutionary political activity can’t or shouldn’t happen. People should be learning democratic leadership skills in their unions, in their neighborhood associations, in DSA, in the immigrant rights and anti-racist and feminist movements. Radical and revolutionary political activity can be localized in DSA chapters, or can exist in pre-party formations and organizing committees, or in other engagement with the core social forces, or in some of the historic parties of the left. When or where a new socialist party is on the agenda, it will need to calendar out its development over 5 or 10 years.

5.       We hear from many liberal and radical people in Salem that there are no guiding texts for social change and that we have to make things up as we go along. I believe that this is mistaken. The Communist Manifesto provides a list of reforms and explains how we get from a period of reform to a time of revolution. Capital and Wage-Labor and Capital both describe how capitalism works. The works of Stalin, Lenin, and Mao describe the struggles against advanced capitalism and imperialism. Dimitrov is our guide to fascism. Alexander Spirkin teaches us how to think. Malcom X, Cornel West, Michael Harrington’s and Barbara Ehrenreich’s work on poverty, much of Naomi Klein’s work on environmentalism, Amílcar Cabral, Gus Hall, Claudia Jones, Killer Mike, Marlene Dixon, Angela Davis, W.E. B. Du Bois---whatever their considerable differences---are indispensable starting points. Read the Marxism-Leninism Today blog, subscribe to In These Times or to Monthly Review.

6.      We need to reframe the white understanding of racism and oppression as understanding these as white chauvinism and in terms of class exploitation and national oppression, as deliberate strategies used by capitalists to divide workers in order to ensure higher profits, or rates of profit, and the survival of colonialism and neo-colonialism.

7.       The Universal Basic Income (U.B.I) concept---the idea that a government will provide a sufficient basic income to all people regardless of income or work status---is often presented locally as an aspect of a revolt against work. Local proponents of U.B.I. most often claim that the fights with the bosses that we all have cannot be won, or that work cannot be humanized and turned into a creative endeavor, and must therefore be abolished. This is exactly what we do not believe. U.B.I., impossible as it is to imagine now, sounds increasingly dystopian. The old labor anthem got it right: our jobs are ours not to slave in, but to master and to own.

8.       Capitalism has two primary forms of production. One produces surplus value and profits in workplaces by exploiting workers who receive wages. The other main form of production produces, or reproduces, the commodity we call “labor power,” or all that creates workers, replenishes us in our daily lives, makes it possible for us to go to work and to have something to return to. This second form takes the form of housework, emotional labor, and actual reproduction of and caring for human beings---the unwaged work done mostly by women. We need to focus equally on both when we talk about capitalism.

9.       Building a regional and national left out of real people’s struggles and organizing will mean that we will eventually need and have a revolutionary party. This is inescapable; there is no way around this. A revolutionary party means that we will have a direct interest in regional and national politics and regional and national production. Our interest is in making sure that politics and production are not sabotaged by the capitalists and the far-right in order to sabotage democracy. These interests will grow and deepen as our movement advances. Small, local production is not the solution to capitalist crises, and it complicates democratic development under capitalism.

10.   We are reminded on a regular basis by some friends in Salem that we must remain non-violent. I have wondered why these regular reminders pop up. I have not encountered a large group of people who want to use violence or who do. The immediate problems for me with these warnings are that they seem to come from people who are not politically engaged in radical efforts in the first place, that they come from the white middle-class, that the people who insist on non-violence have no alternative political strategy which builds movements, and that they serve to limit a movement’s strategies and tactics before that movement exists in a mature political form.

11.   The working-class is the base of revolutionary activity. This is so because full intersectionality only occurs within the working-class, and because the working-class has the key position in capitalism and forms the opposite of capitalism. Being the base means just that: other struggles can be built from that base. Not all motion is progress, however. Workers do not move at anyone else’s speed, but when we do move we surpass any organization representing us.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Trumka does the right thing. What about you?

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has announced his resignation from President Donald Trump's manufacturing council. Trumka said, "President Trump's remarks today repudiate his forced remarks yesterday on the KKK and neo-Nazis. We must resign on behalf of America's working people, who reject all notions of legitimacy of these bigoted groups. It's clear that President Trump's Manufacturing Council was never a means for delivering real policy that lifts working families and his remarks today were the last straw."

Trumka resigned behind the chief executives for the pharmaceutical giant Merck, Under Armour and Intel, as well as the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. His action also follows positive action by the Communication Workers of America.

Now, many of my friends and comrades are going to say that Trumka should never have joined the council to begin with. We felt betrayed when certain union leaders went to the White House, and we were furious when they issued statements either supporting Trump or green-lighting his infrastructure and manufacturing agenda. And people will say that Trumka should have been the first one out, and that this should have happened weeks or months ago and in solidarity with Standing Rock. These are legitimate points.

But if you organize workers and you're active in the labor movement you know that we usually have tremendous patience and restraint, we're analytical, we wait to see who's leading and who's following and what the most advanced and realistic paths forward are. Only some sections of the civil rights movement have the same sense of time and timing that we do. You learn that from the rhythms of production and from being vulnerable and from understanding something of the dynamics of privilege.

The questions for me are not about Trumka and the AFL-CIO leadership. I'm more interested in how Trumka's walking out of the council can be used to move our struggle forward. How does this touch workers, and particularly white workers who are wondering where their dog is in the race?

If people can go to work tomorrow and say, "Look, union leaders are walking out on Trump for some very good and legitimate reasons. We have two sides here: one is all about solidarity and sticking together and getting more on the plate for everyone, and the other is all about using one part of the working-class to fight the other on behalf of the wealthy. So which side are you on, sister/brother?" then Trumka did the right thing and it matters.

But if we're not having those conversations, it doesn't matter what Trumka did. It's totally on us to make this real and push it forward, way past Trumka and the AFL-CIO leadership.

That photo up above was taken in better days, when Black and white workers, and men and women, struck Massey and Pittston. At one point in West Virginia it seemed to me that we were shutting the state down as teachers, miners, phone company workers and hospital workers struck. I'll die proud of having been a part of that. C'mon, sister or brother, what's it going to take to get you on board?


Cross-Border Solidarity Events In Portland

The Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC) invites you to come absorb the Solidarity that Latin Americans have built, learn how they've built it, and join it.


Nicaragua & International Peasant Struggle

Wednesday August 23rd
6pm Potluck, 6:30pm Presentation
Multnomah Friends Meeting, 4312 SE Stark Street Portland, OR 

Transport info:

Spanish-English interpretation available / Interpretación español-inglés disponible

Please join us for a talk on the Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo (ATC, or Rural Workers Association) of Nicaragua by Erika Takeo, who grew up in Portland and is the National Coordinator of the Friends of the ATC solidarity network.

Erika will provide the historical context of the ATC as an organization of struggle founded in the 1970s by youth of the Sandinista revolutionary front to organize and defend the rights of rural Nicaraguan workers and peoples. She will also talk about how the ATC was a founding organization of the global peasant movement La Vía Campesina that continues to be well known and respected at the international level. This movement coined the term food sovereignty, or the right of peoples to define, create, and defend their own food system.

We would also like this to be a space for others to share experiences in peasant and worker struggle in the Americas and around the world.

Donations will be accepted for the ATC at this event (more info on making a donation at

This talk is hosted by the Portland Central America Solidarity Committee. For more information, please contact or (503) 236-7916.

Facebook Event link


La Lucha Campesina Nicaragüense e Internacional

Miércoles 23 agosto

6pm Potluck, 6:30pm Presentación
Multnomah Friends Meeting, 4312 SE Stark Street Portland, OR 

Info de transporte (ingles):

Interpretación español-inglés disponible/ Spanish-English interpretation available

Únete para una charla sobre la Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo (ATC) de Nicaragua por Erika Takeo, quien creció en Portland y es la Coordinadora Nacional de la red de solidaridad Friends of the ATC (Amigxs de la ATC).

Erika va a dar un contexto histórico de la ATC como organización de lucha, fundado en los años 70 por jóvenes del frente revolucionario Sandinista para organizarse y defender los derechos de trabajadores y pueblos del campo. También va a hablar de cómo la ATC fue una organización fundadora del movimiento campesino internacional La Vía Campesina y que es reconocida y respetada al nivel internacional. El movimiento nombró el concepto soberanía alimentaria, o el derechode los pueblos a definir, construir, y defender su propio sistema alimentario.

Queremos que el espacio sea abierto para otros compartir sus experiencias de lucha campesina obrera en las Américasy alrededor del mundo.

Aceptaremos donaciones durante este evento (más información a

Portland Central America Solidarity Committee está coordinando este evento. Para más información, contacta o (503) 236-7916.

Facebook Event link

El Porvenir: Nicaraguan Community Organizing Today for Clean Water, Sanitation, Health and HygieneEducation, and Reforestation and the Spirit of Ben Linder LIVE at Milagro Theater, Benefit Performance of El Payaso

El Porvenir means "The Future". El Porvenir partners with the people of Nicaragua so that they can build a future for themselves. Clean drinking water is at the core of El Porvenir; sanitation is necessary to ensure that the water is clean. In addition to sustainable water and sanitation projects, they work with rural Nicaraguan communities on health and hygiene education and reforestation. With offices in six regions, El Porvenir has partnered with over 165,000 Nicaraguans to improve their standard of living since 1990.

On September 14th, you are invited to join El Porvenir at The Milagro Theatre for the performance of El Payaso. El Payaso invites the audience to learn the story of an incredible man, Ben Linder, and the extraordinary people with whom he unexpectedly connected.

Doors will open at 5:30. Come enjoy the silent and live auction, food, beverages, and good company. The play will begin at 7:00 p.m.

Tickets include: show and all pre-show activities. Come early to place your bid on our amazing silent auction items. *All donations given at this event will be matched dollar-for-dollar to support the work of El Porvenir.

Seats are limited so get your ticket today! Find out more about El Porvenir and all the details of this event at

Pinta y Lucha! Paint and Struggle: Understanding post-dictatorial Chile through muralismand radical political militancy. Let's bring it here!

Coming to us in late September or early October:

Camilo Diaz, militant of the Socialism and Freedom Movement, UMLEM (Luchador Ernesto Miranda Muralist Groups) and other social organizations in Chile.

Learn how they built the mass movement we yearn for!

After the US-supported Pinochet dictatorship in Chile came to an end in 1990 after 17 years of violent state repression, Chile transitioned back to democracy on a superficial political level. The constitution written under Pinochet remained unchanged and continued to deepen the neo-liberal economic policies inspired by Milton Friedman and the Chicago Boys.

The first generation born post-dictatorship has grown up during a time of increasing national disillusionment with electoral politics, the state and global capitalism. This generation began to organize as high school students and created the massive student movements in 2006. This movement transformed into the nation-wide demand for free higher education when the same generation of politicized students entered the university system in 2011.

One of the many expressions of the Chilean radical left movement is a group of muralists known as the UMLEM.

Their goal is to create social and political change via collective art projects that reclaim public space and document the local political struggles of the community. Their murals are often painted on union halls, universities, neighborhoods and areas of conflict.

If you want to organize or host a presentation, muralism workshop, or painting a mural with Camilo, please contact Kelly Baur at

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Says: We Reject the Hatred and Bigotry of White Supremacists

It has been a tough but invigorating year for my union, CWA. Coming out of the elections, where our union first endorsed Sanders, CWA took on---is taking on---major players in the telecommunications industry, including AT&T. The union has also been leading public campaigns at The New York Times and National Public Radio. CWA has issued the following statement regarding the fascist-led riot in Charlottesville.  

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Members of the Communications Workers of America reject the vile actions and rhetoric of the white supremacists who paraded their hatred and bigotry this weekend in Charlottesville, Va. These evil actions, which President Trump couldn’t be bothered to condemn, instead offering a weak “violence on many sides” throwaway line, resulted in the tragic death of a young woman and injuries to many more.

Our government’s failure to condemn these evil people emboldens them, and sets us back in our determination to realize our goal of a nation where all people are respected, all have opportunity and all are full participants in our democracy.

CWA members are determined to bring about that nation, and we will continue to work with our allies to ensure that hatred, racism and bigotry have no place in our nation. We also commend the law enforcement officers who stood together to end this demonstration of hate.

Candice Johnson
(202) 434-1168

A Statement from the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) Regarding Events in Charlottesville and Organizing

We live in ever more perilous times. Please see the DSA statement below on the Nazi violence in Charlottesville

But first some basic organizing tips.

A number of DSA chapters and organizing committees mobilized for the anti-Nazi counter protest in Charlottesville, and in many communities organized vigils yesterday. The way the far right typically reacts to moments like this, particularly given how Trump handled his press conference yesterday, means we can expect an upsurge of right-wing activity across the country.

Stay tuned for more info on immediate next steps today and in the coming days to push back against hate.

Click here to read DSA’s Safety Tips for Events memo - downloadable from our Organizing Blo

Statement of the DSA National Political Committee Interim Steering Committee, August 13, 2017

Yesterday's events in Charlottesville, Virginia are a stark reminder that we must fight for socialism or succumb to the barbarism of white supremacy.

We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the white supremacist, racist, anti-Semitic terrorist attack on our comrades in the DSA, the ISO, IWW, Antifa and all others who joined forces in the streets of Charlottesville, VA yesterday.

The final number remains unknown. However, latest reports suggest that at least one person has lost their life and at least 19 injured. Two DSA members were hospitalized and have since been discharged. There are reports that an ISO comrade was also injured. A comrade reportedly from the Industrial Workers of the World lost their life on the front line of the battle against fascism.

In the face of growing racist, anti-Semitic, white supremacist violence, comrades from across the left came together in an incredible display of left unity. They came from many different organizations but spoke with one voice, chanting “Black Lives Matter” and other pro-solidarity slogans. Undaunted, they held the line and showed the fascists that they shall not pass. The day ended with the streets of Charlottesville free of Nazi scum.

We call on the left to build a strong united front against this emboldened right wing. We need to be clear and recognize that white supremacist terrorism will not simply go away if it's ignored. This violent and dangerous movement should never be allowed to have a platform. It should always be fought against by the strength of our united front.

It is important to acknowledge the differing responses of the police to white supremacist marches and terrorism and their reactions to Black Lives Matter protests and marches. Black Lives Matter protests are always met with the worst police brutality and suppression while white supremacist marches are allowed to freely attack counter-protesters on many occasions.

In this way, we plainly see whose side the police are on. From the days of the creation of the modern day police in the 1800s, they were used as a violent force for the physical suppression of a resistant working class, of Black slaves, and indigenous people. Today, their role of social control and oppression remains largely the same.

Trump delivered a meandering and at times incoherent statement earlier this afternoon. During the statement, where at one point he even talked about totally unrelated "record employment", he predictably blamed "all sides" for the violence, as if the left has a centuries-long history of state, systemic, and societal violence against oppressed groups. This is a tired line that the right wing uses to justify its terror. Trump also spoke of the need for "law and order", but we know that this is a signal for more police and vigilante terrorism against Black and Brown communities and the left.

We believe that the terror unleashed on our comrades can be defeated. We also believe that the wider system of racist oppression can be defeated, but only with the ending of the capitalist system which birthed it.

We encourage you to donate to help with the medical costs of comrades injured in the attack. As we mourn for the dead, we must also fight like hell for the living. DSA members across the country are turning out for solidarity actions in their communities. Get in touch with your local chapter to find ways to participate. (There is one forming in Salem--ed.)

Together, we will fight fascism and build the better world we know is possible. Solidarity forever.

Support OSU Classified Workers for a Fair Contract

Thursday, Aug. 17, 11:00am - 12:30pm
Dibble Dell (Green area next to Valley Library, OSU campus)

Lunch, speakers. (please rsvp to Siobhan at if you can)

The current contract proposal from the state represents a pay cut for most workers, including freezes in steps, .5 COLAs for two years, and an increase in employee share of healthcare costs.

The union's bargaining team and membership are contemplating possible strike action in September.

Please come out and show your support.

DACA Community Forum to be held in Salem

Tuesday, Aug. 15, 5:30pm - 7:30pm

Chemeketa Community College - Salem Campus 4000 Lancaster Dr NE, Salem

August 15, 2017 will be the 5th anniversary of DACA.
Join us for a community forum as we come together to hear the stories of DACA recipients, discuss threats to the program, and strategize around opportunities to defend DACA.
We will have a panel discussion including DACA leaders and advocates to provide updates, followed by a community conversation.
DACA recipients, families, and allies are invited to attend!
This event is co-sponsored by Causa and the Oregon DACA Coalition. FB event: