Friday, December 30, 2016

Farm Labor Organizing Committee---Ohio---1978


"We resist because we must. We resist knowing that one day of action will not stop any of the destructive plans of the Trump regime and the neo-Confederates that now control ¾ of the state governments. This day of action is a beginning. A way for us to come together, resist together, and to start the hard work of building a new political force and program that will help us co-construct a liberated future."


We pledge to create a resistance movement that makes Trump unable to govern our oppression; unable to deceive the people, to make the people accept his reign of hatred. We refuse to give hatred a chance to govern, a chance to roll back civil and human rights, a chance to deport millions of people, a chance to create camps and registries for Muslims, a chance to expand the prison industrial complex, a chance to expand its drone wars, or a chance to turn back the gains won by our struggles.

We pledge resistance to this renewed attack on our communities. As we resist, we will create new governing institutions, new economic relationships, and new ways of being human. What we will not do is sanction and/or normalize “overt” white supremacy.

Let’s start now. Let’s make the so-called inauguration day a day to resist a day to be ungovernable and plan for a new future and new way.

On January 20, self-organize a day of action. If possible don’t ask for permits assert your right to free speech and assembly, let it be a day of mass demonstrations, civil disobedience, and direct action and strikes.

In the evening of January 20 at 6pm join us for a nationwide town-hall on what comes next in these times.


Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; Organization for Human Rights & Democracy; Kali Akuno; Kamau Franklin; Community Movement Builders; Lamis Deek; Al-Awda; Kazembe Balagun; Jed Brandt; JARED BALL; Rosa clemente; Cliff Albright; Black Votes Matter Fund; Former Black Panthers - Dhoruba Bin-Wahad, Ashanti Alston.

Connect and join in here.

A Zen View Of Politics & Our Movement From Alan Senauke By Way Of Mark Rudd

From Mark Rudd: I am privileged to have a good number of old and dear friends, going back at least 50 years. One of them is Alan Senauke, who is the Vice Abbot of the Berkeley Zen Center and the director of the Clear View Project. Alan also founded and led the Buddhist Peace Fellowship for many years, He's a real clear thinker. I received this in the mail today, lots of good ideas:

In the Winter of Our Discontent
by Hozan Alan Senauke of the Clear View Project

Nyogen Senzaki was the first Japanese Zen master to live and teach on our shores. Along with one hundred twenty thousand Americans of Japanese ancestry, he was interned as an enemy alien, confined at Heart Mountain, Wyoming during World War II. Senzaki Sensei wrote this poem on Buddha’s Enlightenment Day, December of 1942:

A swarm of demons infests the whole of humanity.
It resembles the scenery of Gaya where Buddha fought his last
battle to attain realization.
We Zen students in this internment, meditate today
To commemorate the Enlightened One.
We sit firmly in this zendo while the cold wind of the plateau
Pierces our bones.
All demons within us freeze to death.
No more demons exist in the snowstorm
Under the Mountain of Compassion

A swarm of demons has arrived to infest the United States government. In the midst of this swarm sits the king bee Donald Trump, gloating and pompous. We need to speak clearly about the incoming administration. I am scared for myself, my community, for our country. There is no need to wait and see what Trump will do; to hope that president Trump will become kinder and gentler than candidate Trump. So far it is not looking good. Consider the generals, corporate executives, and contrarian political appointments he has already named to high positions. Consider his pas de deux with Vladimir Putin.

Many of us feel like aliens in our land. Some of us really are aliens in our land. Some suffer more than others, of course, but prison gates are closing around us all and cold winter pierces our bones. The Standing Rock Reservation, where Lakota people are fighting to protect their ancient lands and waters, is five hundred miles east of where Nyogen Senzaki was interned at Heart Mountain. The brick and steel housing projects of St. Louis, Chicago, Baltimore, and other cities serve as boot camps for prisons disproportionately populated by young black and brown men. More than one hundred thousand undocumented minors have found their way across the U.S. border—many from distant homes in Central America—some apprehended, interned, or repatriated; others scrambling for life in the backstreets of the Southwestern cities. Good manufacturing jobs in the northern rustbelt are long gone. Family farms in the Midwest are little more than precious memories. We are all doing time in America. This is nothing new for large parts of the population. The demons have been here all along. They are just more visible now

What is to be done? It is still too early for comprehensive strategies, but we urgently need our best thinking and dedicated action. We are called to resist, respond, and find creative and collaborative ways to withdraw consent from a life-denying government. Withdraw consent for our own oppression. Gandhi wrote:

I believe, and everybody must grant that no Government can exist for a single moment without the cooperation of the people, willing or forced, and if people suddenly withdraw their cooperation in every detail, the Government will come to a standstill.

Our watchword must be non-cooperation with oppression and immorality; cooperation with our friends and those who suffer the most. We must withdraw consent from collaboration with an ethically tainted government, even when it means a diminishment of personal privilege and loss of our illusions of safety. In the broadest way this principle of resistance resonates with the Bodhisattva’s vow: Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to free them…to feed and shelter them, to welcome them into our homes and congregations, to guard them from fear and danger.

Years ago many of us embraced an expression: the personal is political. Now we understand that the political is personal. The political is spiritual. We deepen this understanding this by talking to our friends, to our congregations and communities, and within the organizations and alliances we join. Where might our conversations begin?

• Listen to those who are most at risk in our communities—as immigrants, as the poor, as people of color, and so on. We vow to support and stand up with them.

• Build a new sanctuary movement, opening our homes, centers, and congregations to the homeless, displaced, and those at risk.

• Educate, Agitate, Organize—This was the motto of Indian Buddhist radical B.R. Ambedkar, reframing the words of 19th century Fabian Socialists. We must study and act together, while creating a new vision of an equitable society.

• Practice nonviolence. As Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote: “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. Indeed, it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it.”

I offer these points as broad direction for a movement towards what Dr. King called the Beloved Community. The nonviolent response I speak of is active, not passive. It is disruptive when appropriate, compassionate even under stress. It calls for training and for love, without which we are likely to succumb to anger and retaliation. Buddhist practice offers training to see and control our habits and impulses, but training in nonviolence pushes us further—testing our courage as individuals by showing how we are mutually entwined with each other, even with our opponents. This goes beyond the reaches of Buddhism or any particular faith tradition.

We will need this training; we will need strategies. We will need each other more than we ever imagined, until the day—as Nyogen Senzaki writes—“All demons within us freeze to death.”�

— Hozan Alan Senauke, 28 December 2016

Power and Struggle (Politics of Nonviolent Action, Part 1) by Gene Sharp
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People by Jonathan Schell Movement to resist the Trump administration
“Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda”…/1DzOz3Y6D8g_MNXHNMJYA…/mobilebasic

To support the work of Clear View Project click:

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

If a rising tide raises all boats, what does an anti-union tsunami do? Answer: everyone suffers.

If a rising tide raises all boats, what does an anti-union tsunami do? Answer: everyone suffers. The union differential is slipping, and supporting small business does not translate into supporting gainful employment. Our solution? Organize unions, press for connecting the fight for the $15 minimum wage to other work benefits and rent control and build a resistance movement and a united front to press for advances for everyone. This just in from a just-released Employment Department article:

Union-represented workers are more likely to have access to sick leave and slightly more likely to have paid holidays, but union representation doesn't seem to raise the access to paid vacation. Eighty-six percent of union-represented workers had access to sick leave in January 2016, compared with 65 percent of non-union workers. Access to paid holidays reached 79 percent of union workers and 75 percent of non-union workers. About the same share had access to paid vacation; 74 percent among union workers and 73 percent among non-union workers.

The workers with the lowest wages also have the least access to paid leave benefits through their employers. Access to paid sick leave has a direct positive relationship with earnings, with each step up in earnings quartile matched by improved access to paid sick leave. In contrast, for paid vacation and paid holidays, this relationship only holds for the shift between the lowest paid and the next quartile, with the highest half of earners having about as much access to paid vacation and paid holidays as the second 25 percent.

The size of the employer also influences the availability of paid leave benefits. This is especially true in the private sector, while public sector workers have a tighter range based on employer size. In the private sector, access to paid vacation and holidays improves as the employer size increases – workers at large employers are more likely to have access to these paid leaves than workers at smaller employers. In the public sector, there's little variation in the availability of paid vacation and holidays by size; workers at smaller government establishments are about as likely as workers at the largest government establishments to be able to enjoy these forms of paid leave.

Overall, it is access to paid sick leave that varies the most by employer size. Just over half (54%) of the workforce of the smallest employers – those with fewer than 50 employees – have access to paid sick leave, while 85 percent of workers at large employers with more than 500 workers have paid sick leave. Among the private-sector workforce, access to paid sick leave ranges from 53 percent of workers at the smallest employers to 80 percent of workers at the largest employers. Among the public-sector workforce, 74 percent of workers at the smallest employers had paid sick leave, compared with 92 percent of workers at the largest employers.

Read the entire article here.

United for Immigrant Rights - Unidos por los Derechos de los Inmigrantes; January 14, 2017: Salem, Oregon

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

It's hard to believe, but The Oregonian did the right thing.

The Oregonian ran the following op-ed piece yesterday. It's a strong article which puts the issues in exactly the right framework. Thanks to Stacy M. Cross, Lisa A. Gardner and Mary Nolan for writing it and to The Oregonian for publishing it!

Protecting health care for thousands of Oregonians (Opinion) 

In recent years, some politicians across the country and here in Oregon have been working overtime to strip away people's access to basic health care at Planned Parenthood and other trusted women's health providers. Favoring good medical practice over ideology, President Obama this month finalized a new rule to protect access to health care for millions of Americans. The rule ensures patients can access care at qualified healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood.

Title X was signed into law by President Richard Nixon, who meant for it to help ensure that every person -- regardless of where they live, how much money they make or whether or not they have health insurance -- has access to basic, preventive reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood health centers provide care for approximately 1.5 million patients through Title X, roughly one-third of the more than 4 million people served by the program nationwide. By protecting this program, President Obama is protecting health care for people with low income or who might not have access to other providers. He is taking steps to ensure that women across the country, regardless of their ZIP code, have access to lifesaving cancer screenings, testing for sexually transmitted infections, birth control and other vital care.

Here in Oregon, our health centers welcome more than 100,000 patient visits every year. Women, men and young people turn to us for many reasons. They know and trust our clinicians because we're part of their community, and because they know they will get high-quality, affordable care.

The Title X program is a fundamental part of our ability to deliver affordable health care to so many people in our community, making it even more important that this program is protected from political attacks.

Let's make this a lasting image for 2016!

Monday, December 26, 2016

An Italian-American Response To Carl Paladino: Che cazzo!

I had hoped to wake up to news that Carl Paladino had been denied Communion, excommunicated and censured by the Church and every leading Italian-American organization and newspaper in the United States. And I have been disappointed. Che cazzo! Che disgrazia!

Paladino made especially racist remarks last Thursday, directed at the President and Michelle Obama in the first place but really directed at every person of color. When gently pressed by the media about these remarks, Paladino went out of his way to attack and offend once more and took to the media to make his case. I'm not going to quote from him or refer readers to a site to read his terrible words. I am going to remind readers that this is a guy who won the 2010 Republican primary for governor in New York State, served as honorary co-chair of Trump's New York campaign and now sits on the Buffalo school board. It's not like this guy is a gavone from nowhere who doesn't have backers. It does not comfort me that he is being attacked on social media and getting circus-like treatment. Why, I ask myself, does he even get to walk the streets and sit on a school board and get media attention at all? Why was he even interviewed in the first place?

This is a complicated matter for me. I have written many times on this blog and elsewhere as an outraged Italian-American, furious that people in our community have so forgotten our past that they sometimes take the side of the racists and neo-fascists and that the Italian-American "leadership" fits more into the mold of the discredited followers of Mussolini and Berlusconi than, say, our Vito Marcantonio or Carlo Tresca or---my favorite---Pete Cacchione. The Italian-Americans who back Trump and who take places in his administration have crossed some lines to get there---a line of commonsense and decency, to be sure, but also a political line and, in a sense, a racial line as well. Who is responsible for this backward movement that has cast Italian-Americans in the white-light image of the fascist publisher Generoso Pope and the prominenti who so disgraced Italian-Americans in the past?

The Italian Tribune newspaper is one of my least favorite publications, full of ads and silliness and the conservative voice of publisher Buddy Fortunato. It may be, as it claims to be, the most influential voice of Italian-Americans, but that testifies to our poverty as a community. Fortunato supported Trump and made a point of attacking the left and anti-racists with stereotyped and racist images, loudly supporting the regressive Columbus Day celebrations and backing all of this up with complaints about discrimination against Italian-Americans. This discrimination is real enough, but it's also beside the point. Do we move forward by insulting and taking away from others, as if there is not enough opportunity and good will to go around, or do we listen, learn and unite and work to move everyone forward? Fortunato and the Italian-American establishment---and Paladino included---will take the former path and I'll take the latter path, and if that means that I'm not considered Italian-American then so be it. The community loses when progressive people are isolated or shunned, which explains why the average age at most of the Italian-American organization's gatherings hovers somewhere in the 70s. This turn to the right alienates people.

What person with decency wants to be associated with Paladino and people like him? The answer is that the standard Italian-American organizations which have defined Italianita since the 1970s are good with people like Paladino. But we don't need the establishment to define who we are, and with Paladino and The Italian Tribune so out front they have become liabilities.

This trash talk from Paladino is what the Trump supporters meant when they said that they weren't free to talk before the election; this is what they want to say. It's the conversation Buddy Fortunato and The Italian Tribune want to have when they criticize "political correctness"---this is their alternative to zipping the lips a little and learning something. Censorship of these views didn't come from liberals first. Many Italian-American parents would stick a bar of soap in a kid's mouth if they heard him saying these things when I was a kid. It has been awhile since I went to Confession, but the last time I went the Church was giving out a card that said that racism is a sin that you have to confess and do penance for and gave practical examples of the obvious and subtle ways people can be racist. So where does that put Paladino and his supporters? What tradition can they appeal to and claim?

I'll predict that the next issue of The Italian Tribune, or the one following it, will have a wimpy defense of Paladino and will seek to take the attention away from his racist and hateful remarks by citing some discrimination against Italian-Americans, an unfair and biased media and some alleged acts or out-of-context comments made by people of color and their allies against Paladino. Some liberal Italian-American politicians will distance themselves from Paladino's worst remarks, as some already have, but the fight won't go into, say, the Sons of Italy or the Church or any of the Italian-American organizations. The liberals will be outcasts and will be portrayed as caving under pressure from people outside of the Italian-American community, which may be true and may again show our internal weaknesses. The liberal politicians don't always have a base in the community, and don't think that they need it, ceding ground to the reactionaries, and this weakens us. The Trump backers will step into the empty political space and try to use us, and people like Paladino and Fortunato will be glad for the opportunity so long as they occasionally get to tell how hard our grandparents had it and make a little money for themselves on the side as well. I want to be wrong about this prediction, of course.

Here's another prediction: a certain number of our people-of-color allies are going to say that Paladino's comments only reflect what we think and say privately, and that it's better when people speak frankly, and the myth of "European-Americans" is going to be strengthened. Who can blame people for believing that Paladino speaks for us and for resenting our apparent hypocrisy? But it's also true that many, or most, of us don't think and talk like Paladino, even among ourselves, and that silencing the overt racists gives us an opportunity to take on the subtle forms of racism. We have the opportunity to prove it by denouncing Paladino. People of color are being very patient with us, but time is running out and everyone's patience eventually dissipates. "European-American" identity isn't real, and doesn't include Italian-Americans when it is given some living form, but the reactionaries are working hard to make it real. Let's turn this around. Again, I want this prediction to be wrong.

The immediate temptation is to swear and curse Paladino and wish him the worst of luck. That's the circus mentality which feeds him and people like Buddy Fortunato. The solution here is to organize, take the fight into the community and the Church, leave the Italian-American establishment to its own shrinking fortunes and find new ways to be real human beings and real Italian-Americans.


Paladino has offered a half-hearted apology along with a threat to media workers. He hit the wrong button, this was intended to be just between friends, he's a strong friend of African Americans, he didn't mean to hurt anyone, etc. etc.

It's not up to me to accept or reject his apology, but the apology either changes nothing or does additional damage. "Chi ha l'amaro in bocca non puo sputare dolce," my family would say---Those with sour mouths cannot spit sweetness!


Alternet picked up a version of the story and ran this article on December 30. The Huffington Post took a more nuanced view.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Portland's Labor-Community Rally & March for a United Front Against the Trump Agenda!

Saturday, January 21
10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Shemanski Park
1010 SW Park Ave.

Signs of hope and resistance---We are not the stereotypes we think we are.

Sections of the left seem quite willing to form a circular firing squad when we are most needed and most relevant. Many of us have bought into a stereotypical vision of the left that has us all or mostly white, middle-class, isolated, and either too conservative or ultra-left. While the firing squads load their ammo on Facebook and we fight over the meaning of the election results some people are moving forward and are, perhaps, recreating a left because the left isn't doing its job.

I don't want to exaggerate the dimensions of the moment we're in: I can't say that I see great evidence that people are moving leftward, especially working-class people like us, but people are looking at us and expecting something more from us than we're offering. Most left organizations are growing and are challenged by how to handle that growth. We could be building a united front, organizing and picking up victories in this period. By not doing this we're creating a vacuum which may prove debilitating in the future.

A quick look through the news today produces photographic evidence of people in motion. Are you with them or not?

Photo from The Guardian

Organizing People/Activating Leaders (OPAL) Makes History: Portland Passes Inclusionary Zoning

We often say that victories are easy to come by these days because no one expects us to fight and win, including ourselves. We also say that the great thing about victories is that they create more victories. We make real progress when we push, we get isolated and sectarian when we don't. It's that simple.

Portland had a great victory this week:

Today, after years of advocacy at the state and local level, OPAL (Organizing People/Activating Leaders) Environmental Justice Oregon secured a great victory. Inclusionary Zoning is now official policy in the City of Portland, the first jurisdiction in the state of Oregon to do so. Beginning in February, new developments of 20 or more units of housing must include affordable units.

This hard-fought victory came because OPAL organized a broad, statewide coalition of racial and social justice advocates to demand policy solutions to address the rapid gentrification and resegregation of our city. Over the past 20 years, Portland’s people of color have been under a constant attack due to rising rents and stagnant wages. Historic class inequality among races means that when displacement happens, it happens to people of color first and worst. Adding insult to injury, new housing developments were all unattainable for low-to-moderate income individuals. This dynamic worsened the rift between white, middle-to-upper income earners and everyone else.

Inclusionary zoning was banned in the state legislature in 1999, and without the tool, cities like Portland were unable to enact this commonsense regulation. The three previous sessions in the state legislature saw OPAL continue to fight to repeal the ban, with a victory in February of 2016. The state did inhibit the policy from being as strong as we might have hoped, but inclusionary zoning was finally unlocked.

So OPAL proves our point: organize from below, find good issues, serve the people, open the door to unity and build with people of color---and win! Really, this is how it's done and my standard for judging political work and ideology rests on whether we're in line with this or not.

Congratultions and solidarity with OPAL! And can we take this statewide?

Read the entire article here---and support OPAL!  

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Communications Workers of America fights for workers and consumers

“The company is also short-changing customers and communities by failing to meet minimum regulatory standards and charging customers more for basic services,” CWA said in a statement. “Despite the financial success, the company is asking its workers to do more for less—keeping them from their families with unpredictable overtime, undercutting pay and advancement, offshoring good jobs, and pushing more healthcare costs onto employees."

Read about it here.

"As a gender variant person who grew up in Oregon..."---A response to “Hiding the Tears in My Eyes – BOYS DON’T CRY – A Legacy” by Jack Halberstam

We recently encountered the controversial and important article “Hiding the Tears in My Eyes – BOYS DON’T CRY – A Legacy” by Jack Halberstam. The piece has an Oregon connection, as readers will see. We're still reading the article and thinking about it, but a friend, Charlie Stephens, a teacher in public high school in California, sent in this response:

As a gender variant person who grew up in Oregon and was close to Brandon's age when he was murdered, I am complete agreement with every point that Jack Halberstam made. While I can appreciate the passion the protesters have for this topic, their focus is uneducated, devoid of historical context, and misplaced. We live in an overwhelming world where more than ever, we need to be strategic about picking our battles, taking the time to really uncover the truth of any given situation before reacting, and when we do react, do so in a way that is powerful, inclusive and holds true to our values. Scaring a queer filmmaker off campus, with intensely sexist language, speaks to a terrifying reality of contradictions. I'm confused and disturbed by the college protesters' strategy, unwillingness to be in dialogue with Kim Pierce, and ultimate goals. If they just wanted to isolate and terrify a queer person, then they have succeeded.

If other Oregon readers who are especially close to the issues raised in the article have other views, please send them in. Thanks!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Women's March in Portland---January 21

Please Support Hope for the Houseless in Salem

H4H--Hope for the Houseless is a youth led project by Latinos Unidos Siempre (LUS) to provide support to the houseless community of Salem. Our youth will launch this project through a warm clothing drive, new or used, to pass out during these cold days.

Clothing needed:
Warm Pants
Rain Boots

Where to drop off; Please drop off at our office at Mano a Mano---3850 Portland Rd. Second Floor-
Between the hours of 1-5:30pm-

This project was started by a L.U.S youth member, Ricardo Pablo, who believes in advocating and supporting the houseless community through providing an avenue for self-sufficiency and civic advocacy. Please help us through this process.

You may call 5033024403 for any questions or concerns or email the LUS Coordinator at

Labor & Standing Rock---A Report From The Northwest Labor Press

Some of us have been discussing the issues raised here, but in a somewhat different context. Thanks to the Northwest Labor Press for its reporting!

The standoff at North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Reservation — with Indian tribes and supporters on one side, and police and private security for the Dakota Access Pipeline on the other – also finds labor union members on both sides.

North America’s Building Trades Unions and the AFL-CIO have come out in favor of the project moving forward, because it’s a big source of union jobs. But other labor organizations have declared support for pipeline protesters, and in Oregon and Washington, a number of union members have traveled to Standing Rock to take part in the massive protest encampment — a nonviolent uprising that has united Indian tribes nationwide.

Roben White — a retired union painter and former president of Painters Local 10 — is one of them. White is of mixed Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne ancestry on his father’s side, and he’s an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota tribe at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He’s also a staunch unionist who says he was pained to see unions take a stand he disagrees with.

The Standing Rock Sioux object to the pipeline chiefly because of the potential risk to their water supply. When complete, the Dakota Access Pipeline would pump 470,000 barrels a day of light crude oil through a 30-inch-wide, 1,172-mile-long pipeline from the Bakken Oil Fields of northwestern North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to refining facilities in Illinois. The pipeline’s route was originally supposed to cross the Missouri River just upstream from Bismarck, North Dakota, but because of concerns that an oil spill could wreck the city’s water supply, the route was changed to cross just upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The pipeline would cross half a mile north of the reservation, 92 feet underneath the Standing Rock Sioux water supply — Lake Oahe, a reservoir formed by a Missouri River dam.

Read the entire article here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

We Joined Another Rally To Save The Elliott State Forest Today

Photo from Facebook

A spirited group of people rallied once more to save the Elliot State Forest today. A crowd packed the State Land Board hearing held in Keizer and the issue got good media coverage today. I was once more moved and educated by the protests.

Speaking for myself, I find it difficult to think through pragmatic alternatives to the sale of the forest, but something deep inside of me revolts against the idea of logging and selling state lands to a logging company, or to any private corporation. That any form of privatization and environmental destruction can be seriously debated is outrageous. I object to the logic that says that the forest needs to provide funds and profits for human beings and to the feel-good view that the logging company involved is a local company and that that somehow makes logging a state forest okay. We put people and nature before profits and we're aware that multinational capital now influences local decision-making even when a multinational corporation does not own local companies.

On the other hand, it's hard to agree with the folks who say that there is no constituency supporting logging the Elliot State Forest. Testimony in support of logging came from Native American tribal representatives, the Oregon Education Association and the school boards today. Those are constituencies, and it's difficult for me to imagine fighting people of color and a progressive union. The idea that a bond could be floated to raise funding is a good one, but I can't imagine Governor Brown, who is emerging as an anti-environmental governor and as a liberal establishment leader, backing this. Brown has a liberal machine or coalition in place to back her as another state budget crisis unfolds, and that machine includes many people we ally with on other important issues.

I am also concerned that the necessary fights over environmental issues fall short on analysis and unity. It's hard to talk about saving the Elliott Forest and stopping the coal and LNG terminals with a budget shortfall staring at us and no inclusive solution at hand. We need something which holds on to all public services and land and unites all peoples' needs. It's ridiculous that any part of the education budget is tied to land usage. The defeat of Measure 97 and the absence of a state sales tax mean that the inequities and budget shortfalls built into the system get passed along and never really solved. (That isn't to say that I fully supported Measure 97 or that I support a sales tax, of course.)

Whatever my differences with others involved in this struggle to save the Elliott Forest, I am saddened by three things. First, that the logging company spent time working with the tribes on community projects and were able to build relationships with tribal leaders that got them to the point that we are at today. The lesson is to never let the companies into your home. The tribes want the lands which were taken from them and self-determination, which they're entitled to, but multinational capitalism won't give them that. Can't we project policies which do provide for repartations and support self-determination? Second, I'm saddened by Governor Kate Brown's passive refusal to act affirmatively on environmental issues and by her ability to hold a liberal coalition together as she does so. Third, I'm disappointed and worried that the so-called "environmental versus labor" fight which has set back both environmentalists and labor has a new edge to it, with a progressive public employee union supporting the sale of the Elliott Forest. This is not "jobs versus the environment," but a much more difficult formulation of "education versus the environment" which we have to take on. There will be no winner in a renewed struggle between progressive labor and environmentalists, and losing any degree of unity as Trump takes office puts everyone at risk.

These are my thoughts only. At least one other member of our group has strong feelings about the fight to save the Elliott Forest which contradict what I have written here. Please, friends, let's hear other voices!          

Are we using "fascism" too loosely?

We hear the word "fascism" used a great deal these days, most often in ways which help to describe the so-called "alt right" and some of the forces gathered around the incoming Trump administration. Much less helpful, I think, is the despairing use of the word to describe a general state of affairs, the branding of conservative and liberal and neo-liberal programs as fascist where the word doesn't fit, the use of the word to describe conditions of repression and genocide where a better analysis applies. We are often held back by only understanding fascism as something from Italy, Japan, Germany and some Latin American countries and so we are often confused by the possibilities of fascism taking hold in the U.S. And we are often carried away by drama and we put aside analysis, using "fascist" more as an epithet than as a description of someone who has chosen to root themselves in a specific totalitarian tradition and make war on society from that place. The use of "fascism" removed from analysis can be profoundly disempowering if we do not understand its specific characteristics and how it arises and if we are not clear on how to fight fascism and what the acceptable alternatives are.

Georgi Dmitrov (1882-1949) gave us the best working definitions of fascism and described the most effective ways to fight and win against fascism, and he did so from his own practice as a revolutionary leader and anti-fascist. Today we would not attack Social Democracy as he did, and we cannot offer the Soviet Union and a world anti-fascist front as alternatives, but Dmitrov's definitions still apply in large measure. We can add, or remind ourselves, that fascism arises as a reaction to progress, and that in the current situation in the U.S. the real fascist advances are reactions to the progressive steps of having a Black president, winning advances in womens' rights, the victories for gay and trans liberation, the press for democratic rights for people of color and immigrants and other popular struggles. Dmitrov had this to say:

The class character of fascism

Fascism is not a form of state power "standing above both classes...It is not "the revolt of the petty bourgeoisie which has captured the machinery of the state,"...No, fascism is not a power standing above class, nor government of the petty bourgeoisie or the lumpen-proletariat over finance capital. Fascism is the power of finance capital itself. It is the organization of terrorist vengeance against the working class and the revolutionary section of the peasantry and intelligentsia. In foreign policy, fascism is jingoism in its most brutal form, fomenting bestial hatred of other nations.

This, the true character of fascism, must be particularly stressed because in a number of countries, under cover of social demagogy, fascism has managed to gain the following of the mass of the petty bourgeoisie that has been dislocated by the crisis, and even of certain sections of the most backward strata of the proletariat. These would never have supported fascism if they had understood its real character and its true nature.

The development of fascism, and the fascist dictatorship itself, assume different forms in different countries, according to historical, social and economic conditions and to the national peculiarities, and the international position of the given country. In certain countries, principally those in which fascism has no broad mass basis and in which the struggle of the various groups within the camp of the fascist bourgeoisie itself is rather acute, fascism does not immediately venture to abolish parliament, but allows the other bourgeois parties, as well as the Social-Democratic Parties, to retain a modicum of legality. In other countries, where the ruling bourgeoisie fears an early outbreak of revolution, fascism establishes its unrestricted political monopoly, either immediately or by intensifying its reign of terror against and persecution of all rival parties and groups. This does not prevent fascism, when its position becomes particularly acute, from trying to extend its basis and, without altering its class nature, trying to combine open terrorist dictatorship with a crude sham of parliamentarism.

The accession to power of fascism is not an ordinary succession of one bourgeois government by another, but a substitution of one state form of class domination of the bourgeoisie -- bourgeois democracy -- by another form -- open terrorist dictatorship. It would be a serious mistake to ignore this distinction, a mistake liable to prevent the revolutionary proletariat from mobilizing the widest strata of the working people of town and country for the struggle against the menace of the seizure of power by the fascists, and from taking advantage of the contradictions which exist in the camp of the bourgeoisie itself. But it is a mistake, no less serious and dangerous, to underrate the importance, for the establishment of fascist dictatorship, of the reactionary measures of the bourgeoisie at present increasingly developing in bourgeois-democratic countries -- measures which suppress the democratic liberties of the working people, falsify and curtail the rights of parliament and intensify the repression of the revolutionary movement.

Comrades, the accession to power of fascism must not be conceived of in so simplified and smooth a form, as though some committee or other of finance capital decided on a certain date to set up a fascist dictatorship. In reality, fascism usually comes to power in the course of a mutual, and at times severe, struggle against the old bourgeois parties, or a definite section of these parties, in the course of a struggle even within the fascist camp itself -- a struggle which at times leads to armed clashes, as we have witnessed in the case of Germany, Austria and other countries. All this, however, does not make less important the fact that, before the establishment of a fascist dictatorship, bourgeois governments usually pass through a number of preliminary stages and adopt a number of reactionary measures which directly facilitate the accession to power of fascism. Whoever does not fight the reactionary measures of the bourgeoisie and the growth of fascism at these preparatory stages is not in a position to prevent the victory of fascism, but, on the contrary, facilitates that victory....

...What is the source of the influence of fascism over the masses? Fascism is able to attract the masses because it demagogically appeals to their most urgent needs and demands. Fascism not only inflames prejudices that are deeply ingrained in the masses, but also plays on the better sentiments of the masses, on their sense of justice and sometimes even on their revolutionary traditions. Why do the German fascists, those lackeys of the bourgeoisie and mortal enemies of socialism, represent themselves to the masses as "Socialists," and depict their accession to power as a "revolution"? Because they try to exploit the faith in revolution and the urge towards socialism that lives in the hearts of the mass of working people in Germany.

Fascism acts in the interests of the extreme imperialists, but it presents itself to the masses in the guise of champion of an ill-treated nation, and appeals to outraged national sentiments, as German fascism did, for instance...

...Fascism aims at the most unbridled exploitation of the masses but it approaches them with the most artful anti-capitalist demagogy, taking advantage of the deep hatred of the working people against the plundering bourgeoisie, the banks, trusts and financial magnates, and advancing those slogans which at the given moment are most alluring to the politically immature masses. In Germany -- "The general welfare is higher than the welfare of the individual," in Italy -- "Our state is not a capitalist, but a corporate state," in Japan -- "For Japan without exploitation," in the United States -- "Share the wealth," and so forth.

Fascism delivers up the people to be devoured by the most corrupt and venal elements, but comes before them with the demand for "an honest and incorruptible government." Speculating on the profound disillusionment of the masses in bourgeois-democratic governments, fascism hypocritically denounces corruption.

It is in the interests of the most reactionary circles of the bourgeoisie that fascism intercepts the disappointed masses who desert the old bourgeois parties. But it impresses these masses by the vehemence of its attacks on the bourgeois governments and its irreconcilable attitude to the old bourgeois parties.

Surpassing in its cynicism and hypocrisy all other varieties of bourgeois reaction, fascism adapts its demagogy to the national peculiarities of each country, and even to the peculiarities of the various social strata in one and the same country. And the mass of the petty bourgeoisie and even a section of the workers, reduced to despair by want, unemployment and the insecurity of their existence, fall victim to the social and chauvinist demagogy of fascism.

Fascism comes to power as a party of attack on the revolutionary movement of the proletariat, on the mass of the people who are in a state of unrest; yet it stages its accession to power as a "revolutionary" movement against the bourgeoisie on behalf of "the whole nation" and for the "salvation" of the nation...

But whatever the masks that fascism adopts, whatever the forms in which it presents itself, whatever the ways by which it comes to power
  • Fascism is a most ferocious attack by capital on the mass of the working people;
  • Fascism is unbridled chauvinism and predatory war;
  • Fascism is rabid reaction and counter-revolution;
  • Fascism is the most vicious enemy of the working class and of all working people.

Read more here.

Philly Socialists Show How To Organize

From an article about Philly Socialists:
Could a socialist pitch catch on in Philly? In one sense, a vision of an economy that isn’t controlled by private profit-seeking is tailor-made for big cities, where the built environment itself is an illustration of class inequality. But cities also feed the idea — faulty though it may be — that the upper classes are permeable, that a lower-class person can join them if he is clever enough or hard-working enough, which works against the kind of class solidarity that socialists rely on. (And what about the suburbs? Joseph Schwartz, a political science professor at Temple and vice chair of the Democratic Socialists of America, noted that some of the more affluent suburbs are run like European social democracies, with world-class schools and public parks paid for with high local taxes.)

If socialists are going to build a local movement, let alone win a seat or two on City Council, they’ll need a big tent. The audience in the meeting last week was made up mostly of white people, and the Bernie Sanders campaign failed to make serious inroads in black communities. Asa Khalif, founder of the Black Lives Matter chapter for Pennsylvania, told me that he’d helped organize a rally with some Sanders supporters during the Democratic National Convention. Some of their goals overlap — inequality disproportionately hurts people of color, for example — but Khalif said they’re focused on different issues.

“We are first and foremost about the liberation of black and brown people, period,” he said.

So far, socialist groups are focused on issues like raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, abolishing the School Reform Commission and getting local control of the schools, protecting immigrants’ rights, reforming the police department, and creating affordable housing. David Thompson, of the Philly Socialists, told me that group is hoping to build support for a “just cause” tenancy law, which would bar landlords from evicting month-to-month renters without a good reason, like chronically missing rent payments.

And the local socialist groups have different strategies. The Democratic Socialists of America is trying to build momentum by keeping pressure on the left wing of the Democratic Party with candidates like Bernie Sanders. Socialist Alternative doesn’t believe the Democratic Party is a realistic vehicle for leftist politics, and wants to build a viable third party. (There’s also been quiet rumblings in that group about challenging a district Council seat, perhaps in North Philly, where the possibility of a Temple football stadium has sparked neighborhood opposition — though, as former Philadelphia journalist Dan Denvir wrote in Salon, Council President Darrell Clarke hasn’t really played the part of the bad guy in that fight.) And the Philly Socialists are trying to build support by offering free English classes and organizing a tenants-rights groups.

Read the entire article here.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Good Words From A Local Activist On Racial Justice Organizing

Yesterday I posted about two events held in Salem---a great Standing Rock solidarity event and Salem's Human Rights Day. We were privileged to receive a thoughtful response from a local racial justice activist which gave me some pause. His response and my response to him are below. We want to strongly encourage local activists to use this blog for discussion, and we will do our best to have all left-of-center views represented here. Please, everyone, feel free to respond to what you read here!

A Local Activist's Response

It so happens I'm clearing out my inbox and came across an email exchange I had a few years ago with a woman from an Racial Justice Organizing Committee-like organization in Seattle. A bit from that exchange seems relevant to your blog post. She wrote, "As white people, we can lack a sense of immediacy and groundedness when it comes to racial justice changework, which can lead us to getting hung up on philosophizing or perfectionism."

A lot of folks seem fond of an alleged Gandhi quote: "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Well, Gandhi never said that. And Gandhi was about much more than personal transformation.

I think a lot of people take pride in being a non-racist but aren't sure how to be an anti-racist. Some may even think that by being a non-racist they are somehow effecting change.

What do we mean, though, by "organizing?" That seems like an abstract term. Do we mean rallies/marches? I generally question their efficacy. We feel solidarity with fellow rally-goers, and then what? We go home. Do we mean civil disobedience? To what end exactly? Do we mean helping to pass legislation? If so, what does that look like?

For me, one of the most interesting moments of the presidential campaign was when BLM activists confronted Clinton. A few of the things Clinton said in that meeting make quite a bit of sense to me. Here are some quotes:

"All I'm saying is, your analysis is totally fair, it's historically fair, it's psychologically fair, it's economically fair. But you're going to have to come together as a movement and say, ‘Here's what we want done about it,’."

"Because you can get lip service from as many white people as you can pack into Yankee Stadium and a million more like it," Clinton adds later. "Even for us sinners, find some common ground on agendas that can make a difference right here and now in people's lives."

“I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You’re not going to change every heart. You’re not. But at the end of the day, we can do a whole lot to change some hearts, and change some systems, and create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them.”

Anyway, that's where my mind went in response to your post.

Moving The Discussion Forward

Our friend hits a really good point when he says, "I think a lot of people take pride in being a non-racist but aren't sure how to be an anti-racist. Some may even think that by being a non-racist they are somehow effecting change." We have spent lots of time on dealing with the personal, and we have tried to connect it to the structural and the political, but that reach doesn't always get made, or at least not in equal measure for all of us. Many people in our movement are turned off when we talk about politics and capitalism, in fact.

Our friend's comments raise the question which frequently dogs me: why should white people be anti-racist? A part of our movement seems to think that the answer is obvious to most white people, but it isn't; it's better to be anti-racist than racist, or you are a better person for all of that work. People of color frequently question the sincerity of that formulation, and have a right to, but let's assume good intentions for a moment and think about how we work with this.

The world needs good and better people, but goodness does not fall from the sky. And if we have to wait for goodness to arrive, or if it arises through individual action, the world will perish before we reach a tipping point between the good and the bad. Now, if we assume that some level of goodness is innate in most people, then we have to talk about how to encourage that and bring it out---and the only convincing way to do that is through struggle with oneself and in society carried on at the same time. This is political and it is personal. "If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself. If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution, you must take part in revolution. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience," said Mao.

For me, the importance of anti-racism lies solely in its ability to build support for self-determination among people of color and, by extension, in its ability to therefore win democratic demands and win the kind of social change which will abolish capitalism and the state, or government, as we have known it. If I become a better person in the process, great. But I'll never be complete or whole or free until everyone is, and that is a constant struggle and an unending task. I'll die far from my goals, the personal and the political ones, and be quickly forgotten, but the struggle will continue. Others are entitled to their views on these matters, but that's mine.

The "ditto" point here is that much of the same logic applies in other fights as well: self-determination applies to women, LGBTQIA people and any oppressed people. What is meant here by self-determination? It is the ability to determine one's destiny through collective work. See the Ten Point Program of the Black Panther Party for a practical lesson on what this involves. 

Our friend is thinking a step ahead of me when he asks about organizing. For me, organizing is about building organizations necessary to build workers' and peoples' power, having the daily conversations and building the activism needed and learning how to think and make corrections in order to build organizations which can transition into taking power and holding on to it. Building anti-racist groups, coops, political parties, environmental organizations, solidarity groups, unions, neighborhood committees, serve-the-people organizations---that's organizing. Protests and civil disobedience and other tactics are mobilizing, the fruits of organizing. Like our friend, I often doubt their efficacy because they are so often removed from an organizing strategy. And if you're not organizing or joining in, you may be disempowering people.

Where our friend and I start to differ is on this matter of Hillary Clinton, and predictably so. I found her comments self-serving and condescending and took them as a challenge or insult. She seemed to be deliberately speaking past the BLM people, as if there are not movements organizing and as if the activists are about changing hearts and don't have a political program. Who is Hillary Clinton to define the terrain of struggle for people of color or give advice on organizing? In this post-election period it appears that she might have benefited from taking her own advice. On the other hand, there is much to be said for a hard strategy of winning changes in law and enforcement of certain laws and pushing the contradictions between the law and our lived reality to the max. Discounting the importance of what the law says and how it is enforced can be a matter of privilege, and often is.

There is a legitimate difference of opinion here, but my overriding concern is that we build principled unity across the center and the left in this period and give it the practical form of a united front based on organizing. The need for this principled unity should overcome many differences as we move forward in the fight against racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, transphobia, ageism, classism and take on Trump and the state.

Thanks to our friend for his thoughtful and thought-provoking words!

Another Intervention

Our friend has responded with the following:

It's taken me a while to get around to responding to your response. I'll address the Clinton issue first to get it out of the way. I can see how Clinton's comments could be taken as condescending. Maybe she was being condescending. Maybe she, like many I would imagine, is simply not aware of, say, the very detailed platform of The Movement for Black Lives. Regardless, I think there are those who do, in fact, think that an organization's primary focus should be on changing "hearts and minds" rather than changing laws, changing "the allocation of resources" and changing "the way systems operate." So, it's for that reason that I think Clinton's comments relate to your initial post about the 2 events in Salem on December 10. As Jackie Robinson wrote in a letter to Dwight Eisenhower, "17 million Negroes cannot do as you suggest and wait for the hearts of men to change."

I really appreciate your definition of organizing. That makes sense to me, and it jibes with the dictionary definition of "organize" that I found online: "make arrangements or preparations for an event or activity."

Why should white people be anti-racist? Honestly, the only time I consider that question is when some lecturer or article raises it. Because, for me, the answer is 'because it's right'. It really is that simple for me. And I guess I wish it was that simple for everyone. I see how one might interpret what I just wrote as a holier than thou attitude, but I don't really have any other explanation as to why I'm an anti-racist. I don't know any other way to be and have never found myself contemplating a different position. None of which is to say I've never fallen victim to implicit bias, or subconscious racism. Or that I've done all that I can do to combat racism. What has been done to persons of color is beyond horrifying and I've gotten involved in racial justice organizations because I know I should be doing more to combat racism. As Tim Wise says, being an anti-racist is not about guilt but about responsibility.

That said, are there other reasons why white people should be anti-racist? Absolutely, though those reasons can be tricky to convey. One of the most basic reasons is that when people are divided, they are conquered. I highly recommend a lecture by Professor John Bracey, who offers a historical perspective on "How Racism Harms White Americans." If one prefers to listen to the lecture, you can do so here:

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Salem raised $2,263.40 for Standing Rock last night!

Photo by Neal Campbell

In an earlier post today I talked a little about the great Standing Rock solidarity event held in Salem last night. Laurie Dougherty was the lead organizer for the event and she sent the following message out this evening:

The grand total of online and door admissions plus additional donations was $2,263.40 which goes to the Rural Organizing Project for their efforts at Standing Rock. In light of the evolving situation, they have scaled back their plans and will: "send a smaller contingent of rural Oregonians with the flexibility to travel who will deliver the gear, supplies, and resources we have collectively raised. All of the funds and resources we have raised will still go directly to Standing Rock as soon as possible." This decision was made in a principled and participatory process described in an update on the ROP website here:

Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN) marks 30 years, plans for the future!

From Ramon Ramirez:

PCUN's 30th Constitutional Convention, December 11, 2016 in Woodburn, Oregon. Good participation on the plan of action following the election and passed a resolution in support of the Struggle of the Standing Rock Nation and against the pipeline. Support the March for immigrant rights Jan 14th at the State Capitol in Salem!

Two events in Salem raise a question: is racism a moral failure or an ideology tied to the base and superstructure of this society?

Two events held in Salem yesterday give us a question to contemplate: is racism a moral failure or an ideology tied to the base and superstructure of this society?

Reasonable people may quickly answer that it is both, but I’m going to take an opposing view and argue that racism is built into the system, is propagated and constantly regenerated through the system’s structures and is, at its root, a method of thinking and acting. Racism rests largely on assumptions and makes an analysis and has an ideological power to it. It reflects a particular state of society, specific power relations.

The Salem Speaks Up! For Human Rights event was held yesterday. This has become an annual event, with time divided between something like a sermon or talk with music and public testimony “where community members are encouraged to SPEAK UP! about local human rights issues – racism, classism, ageism, etc. Each person who speaks is encouraged to describe experiences and concerns, and suggest possible support systems or changes they would like to see.” The local United Nations Association is prominent in these events. In some years community testimony has been quite dramatic, but I do not recall a time when testimony led to community organizing or protest. The event sometimes feels like a safety valve for some people in the community and as way for Salem’s power structure to cover itself in the event of a problem. See, those in power can say, you have this opportunity to make us aware, but if you don’t tell us what’s going on then we can’t help; the “problem” is one of communication and trust. The police, the mayor and city council are represented at these events, as they should be.

This year I was more attuned to those voices in the room who were saying, or seemed to be saying, that racism is a moral failure solved by love and nonviolence than I have been in the past. There was clearly unease in the room over Trump’s election, but the dominant group in the room----relatively well-off retired white people and people with liberal credentials---were also clearly lost about how to respond to the present crisis. Whatever their good intentions, they fell back to selectively quoting from Martin Luther King, Jr., talking about the U.N. and singing a couple of folk songs associated with the 1960s.

This is not at all to say that there were not positive moments. Levi Herrera-Lopez, Sandra Hernandez-Lomeli and a brave local educator did a great job in framing issues, putting their issues out there and calling on people to be in solidarity behind a few key community demands and needs. Two points struck me as tragic as they spoke; first, that they have to risk making themselves vulnerable while most of the whites in the room don’t have to do that, and, second, that the event is not going to be fully representative so long as Salem doesn’t have weekend bus service. We can’t organize turnout if people can’t get there. And, of course, we can’t build the trust needed to get people there under these conditions. In the meantime, it’s humbling to be in the presence of these three leaders.

Other positives: the opportunity to talk with some active union members, a couple of city officials and activists about things that matter, the presence of Muslims and the presence of some young people of color.

The outstanding negative for me was the ability of white liberals with political projects to take the floor and go on about their projects, as if the event was about them and the world needed to hear from them yesterday. I left after the third white liberal imposed himself. Could we have a day when we do not have to listen to white people? And a comrade put it well when she said, "Racial justice won't be established because you become a good person." I reflected at the event that this was not a “usual faces” event: most of the local African-American clergy and the NAACP leadership, many leaders and activists from local Latino/a organizations, the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities and union leadership were absent.

I left the event early in order to attend the Standing Rock solidarity event at the Ike Box. My quick count was that about 150 people attended, and I know that a good sum of money was raised to help the Rural Organizing Project support Standing Rock. Most of the music was great, but the First Nations speakers explained the struggle at Standing Rock with great patience and clarity, asked people in the room the important questions---why are you supporting Standing Rock? What is it that you hope to build?---and were all about unity and showing positive leadership. The event would not have happened without Laurie Dougherty taking lead on this this and pulling people together.

This brings me back to the question I started with. The Salem Speaks Up! event struck a tone of viewing racism, sexism, xenophobia and classism as moral failures. Transform yourself, act nonviolently and withstand pressure and abuse for that one moment when you can speak to a tormentor and you will transform someone, and if enough of us do this then good will triumph. It is a strong liberal myth with a spiritual component and we have to recognize its staying power. This works against movement building, mobilizing and taking power. Individual transformation may occur as a result of a movement, or in the process of movement building, but it will not serve as a foundation for a social change movement.

The Standing Rock solidarity event, on the other hand, told some hard truths about power relations in words and music, and had some challenges built in. Most of the speakers expressed their spirituality and spoke from a place of using all that they had to witness and fight back against oppression. The repression used by the authorities and conditions on the scene at Standing Rock was not sugarcoated. We were challenged to do more and do better, and we cannot turn away from the structural racism driving the pipeline and the repression in North Dakota. The money raised went to an organization that organizes and confronts powerful interests. The event joined personal and political struggles into one.

What we need from this event is on-going organizing. The Racial Justice Organizing Committee, which had a table at the solidarity event, would very much welcome partnering with and taking direction from a local Native American organization. Our challenge is to pull people together to face a crisis, and if we do not consolidate quickly then unity may be lost. A shortcoming of the solidarity event was that it did not gather in everyone who needed to be there, but with short notice, terrible weather and two events on one day this can't be put on the event organizers. For that reason we emphasized the need to turn out on January 14 in Salem in solidarity with immigrant communities and to join in the January 21 Portland protests.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Trae Crowder speaks a hard truth & AFSCME stays pragmatic.

Trae Crowder speaks a hard truth.

AFSCME stays pragmatic


Free Leonard Peltier! Don't Let Him Die In Prison!

From The Real News Network:

JASMINE HEISS: Well, Mr. Peltier, as you know intimately, has endured more than four decades of unjust incarceration by the United States of America. He is more than 70 years old, and he's currently being housed in a maximum security unit at Coleman Penitentiary in Florida. So he's thousands of miles from his community, from his family. Like so many other political prisoners in our country, he is being, many would say, intentionally cut off from the support networks and the people who sustain him through this very long struggle for justice and for freedom.
Compounding that is the fact that Mr. Peltier is very ill. He has an abdominal aortic aneurism, or triple A, which is if ruptures is one of the most fatal surgical emergencies known to modern medicine. And yet the Federal Bureau of Prisons still has not operated on or treated this abdominal aortic aneurism. He's had two MRIs and they insist that despite the fact that a 72-year-old man is being held in this maximum security facility, they will wait to operate until it reaches 5 centimeters. It's currently at 4.5.
The last couple of times that I've seen Leonard in Coleman he has said to me, "If President Obama doesn't act, I'm going to die here, and it won't be of old age." You yourself know that in this country, medical care for prisoners, particularly aging prisoners, is not something that's prioritized, and we are looking at a federal prison system that is in a crisis of understaffing already. In a system that has tried to silence Mr. Peltier, some would argue to kill him, I think we can reasonably expect that he will not receive the highest level of care.
So, at this moment, his clemency petition is sitting on the President's desk. We all know that there are not many days left in the Obama Administration and so if President Obama doesn't act by January 20th to grant Mr. Peltier clemency, it may be his last hope.

Read the entire article here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Building Towards A Mass Rally & March Against Trump In Portland On January 21

The following resolution was passed by the Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board last Friday.  Labor activists are pulling together an action, probably a rally and march on January 21 to merge with the Portland Women's March. Thanks to Jamie Partridge for passing it on!

Resolution: United Front Against the Trump Agenda

Whereas: The election of Donald Trump is dangerous for all working people, especially immigrants, people of color, women, and LGBTQ people, and
Whereas: A president Donald Trump, coupled with Republican control of the House and Senate, raises the very real possibility of 
a.         national anti-worker legislation, which would decimate labor unions,
b.         a  Supreme Court friendly to another “Friedrichs” type attack on public  and private sector unions,
c.          an employer-friendly National Labor Relations Board which could reverse the gains of the last several decades,
d.         an anti-union, anti-worker Department of Labor
e.         the deportation of millions of undocumented workers,
f.          the exclusion, surveillance, profiling and incarceration of our Muslim brothers and sisters,
g.         major restrictions on women’s reproductive rights
h.         the return of anti-LGBTQ laws,
i.           the increased intimidation and assaults on our most vulnerable members by racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic predators, and
Whereas: Spontaneous protests have erupted across the country immediately following the Trump election, and
Whereas: Many national and local student, labor and community groups are planning for massive protests on the weekend of Trump’s Inauguration, January 20-22, and
Whereas: A united front of all those threatened by the Trump presidency will be needed to defend each, therefore be it
Resolved: that  Oregon AFL-CIO pledges to encourage its affiliates to join with other labor unions for local protest actions on Inauguration weekend, and be it finally 
Resolved: that Oregon AFL-CIO will forward this resolution to its affiliates and allies, recommending they join Inauguration weekend actions as well.

Adopted, as amended, by Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Committee on 12/2/16