Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Today's Rally And Lobby Day For Reproductive Health Equity

Several hundred people gathered at the State Capitol in Oregon today to lobby for reproductive health equity and in order to attend a spirited rally. The event was organized by the Pro-Choice Coalition of Oregon, a coalition of the ACLU of Oregon, the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Family Forward Action, NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, the Oregon Latino Health Coalition, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, and the Western States Center.

It was heartening to hear so many speakers repeat the message that reproductive health equity and womens' health issues extends beyond abortion rights, important as they are, to a full ranges of services which are needed in working class and people of color and LGBTQIA+ communities. This message needs to be constantly communicated and refined because it changes the entire discussion which has been underway since the 1950s, and earlier.

It was also good to see so many young people engaged and to see signs and buttons which spoke to the present moment. The crowd was not going to be fooled by Trump's agenda and his apologists. And, as with the Salem City Council meeting last night, if the opposition tried to create a presence as they have in the past then they failed once more. It was just a few months ago that attending womens' health rallies often meant passing through some hostile groups.

The young people who put the rally together are still learning how to do that work, and that's fine. Perhaps they will learn about sound systems and how to position platforms and chants, or perhaps they are already finding some new ways to build action and enthusiasm. It's easy to feel confidence in their abilities and to support them. After all, they got hundreds of us to stand in the rain today for a long and good rally. The speakers were on point, brief and encouraging. For me, the best speakers came from communities of color or had personal stories to share which spoke to our collective experience.

As I was listening to the speakers I reflected on their messages and remembered a time in the late 1970s when groups like the Coalition for Abortion Rights and Against Sterilization Abuse (CARASA) were most active and considered outside of the mainstream. CARASA had emerged from a difficult time for social movements, and sometimes reflected particular splits in the left and womens' movements, but its message now seems to be a core part of our work. CARASA was less of an organization and more of a movement, more a body of ideas built from engagement than a theoretical system, and it was very much the antithesis of the non-profits and NGOs which have taken over social movements. CARASA's message is now mainstream because people did good organizing work and pushed the boundaries. The success of this agenda shows us that people can be won to radical ideas. And it makes me wonder where we will be in 30 or 40 years. Which of the radical ideas we now support on the left and in the social movements will be taken as commonsense starting points 30 or 40 years from now?          

"Whatever organization you are joining, whatever protest you are joining, whatever organization you are creating, you must do everything in your power to [throw a wrench] in the system, because the system is not working for us. It is working against us. Marching in the streets is powerful when you are doing it in masses. If you feel that you cannot bring thousands of people out, then do something else. Talk to your legislator. Go making sure that everybody is divesting from a specific bank. Whatever target you choose, make sure that you are doing it coordinated with national organizations...It is key for us to identify something that we are passionate about, because this is a long fight. It doesn't end with Trump and it didn't start with Trump. The Obama administration deported close to three million people. Trump is just one-upping him. He is continuing to use the tools that Obama and Bush and Clinton laid out for him. It didn't start on Election Day. It didn't start on Inauguration Day. But, if it started for you that day, then you need to continue and be ready for the long haul...The fight against Arpaio has been a very long one and one in which we have lost an incredible amount of members of our community. It is a fight that has been carried out with multiple angles and different methods of resistance. There have been mass protests with hundreds of people flooding the street. There have been lawsuits that have been filed. There have been divestment campaigns. There have been arrests and civil disobediences. After 10 long years of resistance, we were able to develop a hybrid campaign in which we highlighted the atrocities that he was bringing into our communities, but we were also highlighting the strength and the power in our community. It was both an electoral and a direct action campaign called Bazta Arpaio."---Maria Castro

TOMORROW: Rally For Clean Energy Jobs and Public Hearing in Salem

Join Renew Oregon, Rogue Climate, Coalition of Communities of Color,350pdx, Verde, MECHA, Salem Climate Activists / 350 Salem OR, 350 EUG,350Deschutes and many more groups from across the state to tell our legislators: we're ready to curb Oregon's emissions and invest back in our communities!

The Clean Energy Jobs bills will receive their biggest public hearing on Wednesday, March 1 from 3-5pm in Salem. So we're holding a rally from 1-2pm to kick things off. Oregonians across the state have said they're ready for a price on climate pollution. Join us on Wednesday to make your voice heard!

Eyewitness account on Gaza -- March 15 at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library

"Under Pressure: Gaza's Health and Human Dignity Crisis" 

Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, Main Meeting Room
Wednesday, March 15th 6:45 - 8pm
Doors open at 6:30pm

Meghan Fitzgerald is a PhD student in Health Policy at OSU, with a Master's degree in International Health. In November she traveled to Gaza with the Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility delegation to learn more about the current health situation there. What she found was an increasing crisis of health and human dignity, and the enduring strength of the Palestinian spirit. Meghan will talk about current life in Gaza as well as her plans to return there for her research.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Emergency Community Meeting in Response to: Recent Immigration Detentions and Arrests in Woodburn

Reunión de Emergencia Comunitaria para responder a las Recientes Detenciones y Arrestos en Woodburn.
Miercoles 1 de Marzo, de 5:30 pm a 8:30 pm en PCUN 300 Young St, Woodburn, OR. 97071
Emergency Community Meeting in Response to: Recent Immigration Detentions and Arrests in Woodburn, Oregon.
Wednesday, March 1st, 2017 at PCUN located at 300 Young St, Woodburn, OR. 97071 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

Salem City Council Passed The Inclusivity Resolution---An All-Peoples' Victory Won Through Unity

Salem City Council passed the inclusivity resolution offered by Councilperson Tom Andersen tonight with a unanimous vote. This is a great peoples' victory that was won through mobilization at the base---so many groups worked to turn out people to the City Council meeting, provide good testimony and do outreach to City Council members. The inclusivity resolution puts Salem on the list with a growing number of cities and towns which are effectively sanctuary cities, however broadly that is defined.

Forty-some people testified tonight, most of them speaking in favor of the resolution. It was clear that the opposition either couldn't do turnout or failed if they tried. Moving testimony came from DACA youth, teachers, hospital workers, two small businesspeople and the leadership of PCUN, Causa and Salem's Racial Justice Organizing Committee. Council members Cara Kaser and Tom Andersen did especially well tonight in moving the resolution through the Council process. Andersen may offer amendments at an upcoming meeting.

No one said it tonight, but this victory builds towards the womens' mobilization on March 8, Causa's important March 31 lobby day, and May Day. This victory gives everyone who helped get the resolution through the responsibility of holding Council to the right path and electing Council members who will stand with immigrants, youth, workers and LGBTQIA+ people in the future.

Two City Council members expressed reservations about the resolution and a few people spoke from the floor with some of the expected anti-immigrant talking points. The opposition takes the line that the resolution only repeats or copies what is already City policy and so refuses to acknowledge the context for Andersen's resolution. We heard the often-repeated arguments that the people without papers should get in line and wait their turn and that laws are being broken and the ridiculous comparison between undocumented people and bank robbers. And we heard from a few people who claimed that their having a spouse or an adopted child or grandchild or some other relative from another country somehow means that they can't possibly be racist or anti-immigrant---and then going on to make racist and anti-immigrant arguments.

Some illusions live on our side of the aisle as well. Some well-meaning middle-class white people see the immigration debate and the inclusivity resolution in moral terms while others see only legal issues to be resolved. Socialists see a third option: this is a political struggle with humanity at the heart of the battle. Our liberal friends see Trump and his backers as the problem, and they are correct in a sense, but we see a history of anti-immigrant sentiment and laws in the U.S., we're not willing to give the Obama administration a pass here, and we believe that the borders and immigration policies reflect systemic crises for capitalism. Our liberal friends see passing resolutions on inclusivity and sanctuary as victories in and of themselves, while we see these efforts as necessary steps in an unavoidable social struggle. The liberals are good with arguments uplifting morality, ethical business practices, and immigrants serving in the military. We're interested in political and social movements, abolishing capitalism and imperialism, building peace, and with leadership coming from people of color, women, youth, LGBTQIA+ people and workers. The liberals accept borders but we don't.

Whatever the lines are on our side of the aisle, let's let them be lines and not walls. Tonight's victory was won because immigrant rights groups, and Causa in particular, know how to build united front efforts. This is something we on the left need to relearn. Whatever our differences, our liberal friends are not our enemies.

Inclusivity and sanctuary are more about taking the right stand and laying the needed foundations for future progress than they are about solving concrete problems today. Still, the resolution will help solve some problems people face, and if it helps block the right-wing from using Salem as a base to attack Kate Brown from, and if it helps to relieve some of the panic spreading through immigrant communities without creating a false sense of security, then it is indeed a needed new step. We need to stay tuned in and aware of amendments to the resolution. We need to be prepared for a moment when the federal authorities will put a squeeze on and try to force a change. Most important of all, we need to be engaged in active and on-going organizing and resistance against Trump's policies---all of them---and be in solidarity with immigrant communities.

Photos from Causa.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Las Patronas Teach Us Humanism

"Las Patronas," female activists in the village of La Patrona in Veracruz in Mexico, has been preparing food for Central American migrant workers travelling to the U.S. through Veracruz for the past 20 years.

The women have helped tens of thousands of people since 1995. The women were awarded Mexico's human rights prize, the National Award for Voluntary Action and Solidarity, in 2013.

Revolutionary Optimism In Salem, Oregon

The Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci famously said, "I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will." It is a saying which only gets old in times when there is a low level of struggle. In moments like the one we're in now, it's easier to feel the passion of optimism.

Many of us are regretting the loss of Ellison's race to lead the Democratic National Committee. We see behind that a lost opportunity for the Democrats and a more difficult path ahead. We wonder if the Democrats want to beat Trump and the reactionaries or find some means of accommodation, and we wonder if we are being used or sacrificed for their gain. It is a moment when we diverge somewhat from our liberal friends who hope for a Clinton or a Carter back in office or who still refuse to analyze what we are left with after eight years of Obama. It is a moment when we are forced to relate to people who have opposed us in the past but who now seem lost, people who become allies because we fear and suffer under some of the same conditions. 

In fact, even at this moment we have reason to be revolutionary optimists. Look around you in Salem. We have a City Council meeting tomorrow which will give us a chance to win an inclusivity resolution and raise the level of political struggle. This comes with a higher level of mobilization among immigrants and people of color here then we have seen since 2006. On Tuesday there is the womens' reproductive health lobby day and rally. That lobby day is so full that the organizers are asking latecomers to plan on attending the rally and contact legislators. On Wednesday there will be an all-important climate justice rally. On Thursday there will a housing rights push in Salem. Next Saturday there will an important pushback in Portland against recent police repression. Many of these events and struggles have women and people of color in the lead, and none are going to succeed without that leadership growing and deepening. And for Oregon this is news. Each event and struggle tests us, but they also test our opposition---and the opposition is failing, not us. Even if we lose a round we are still in the ring.

These events are people in motion, and nothing educates likes being in motion if we are also creating the means to think critically, change course and do better as we organize and mobilize. We are not in a revolutionary period---not yet. For me this means building a working-class and struggle-based cadre which serves the people. That tested cadre can then build an independent revolutionary political party, or parties, which fight for socialism, self-determination, peace, housing and environmental justice. That is revolution. We have people around us who are being transformed, who are transforming themselves. It's easy to see some of them becoming activists, and it's getting easier to see activists turning into revolutionaries. Maybe people in motion and the way forward through cadre- and party-building looks different to you. Let's debate it where and when we differ.

With all of this activism and with maps showing us ways forward we have no right to be cynical or lazy or to hang back. That's the material basis for our optimism.

But what about Gramsci's pessimism? Gramsci's concern when he wrote these words was that the forces necessary for a revolution could not be developed quickly enough to assure good results. This must remain a concern and a demand for us as well. Are we organizing and serving the people? Are we using our position wisely? Can we see a way forward from resistance and disunity to intense struggles for reform, and then to revolution, and then to socialism? Can we bring people along with us? Do we hear the clock counting the seconds as we race against catastrophe?

Gramsci later reversed himself, or did so partially. At a certain point his faith was shaken as he suffered in prison under Mussolini---not a loss of faith in revolution or a faith in people, but a feeling that everything had been tried and had failed, temporarily he hoped. But even at this point Gramsci kept writing in prison and reworking his ideas. He remained a revolutionary.

We know that the odds are against us. That isn't the question. The question is---can we win the people to our side? Will today's activism be a school for revolutionary change or will it be something else?

If we approach these questions soberly we know that we can lose everything. We also know that the struggle for freedom, power and self-determination tests people and often brings out our worst sides. But when I was a kid a coal miner uncle of mine told me, "Look, when you're down in the mine and the roof falls in you always dig towards the light. Maybe the light is just another guy's lamp or a reflection in the water, but you still dig because your life depends on it. You dig, you don't just lie there and wait for rescue." There is a necessary beauty in that which outweighs the risks, doubts and abstractions this society fills our heads and hearts with.

Really, is there a choice here? Isn't the optimism of our will most evident in the people around us who depend on us, even if they don't yet know that they depend upon us? Can we love them enough to depend on them as well?

  Antonio Gramsci


Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Note On Keith Ellison

A 235-230 vote that went to a second round tells me that there is a real struggle within the Democratic Party and that we have a stake in how that fight goes whether we're Dems or not. And it tells me that there is real reason for optimism because there are close votes which force compromises and give people needed political experence and present opportunities to build left-wing credibility. We can't win at the top what we can't win at the base, and a defect in our movement is that we don't organize enough or in the right ways, in ways which move working-class people, people of color, women and youth into everyday activism and united fronts. We knew early on that Ellison did not have needed union support, but we didn't activate the working-class base to change that. We can do better. We don't need an either/or approach which takes the left out of the Democratic Party; we need an action-oriented inside/outside strategy and tactics which constantly pushes people in the Democratic Party to raise their level of organizing and struggle.

"Before this gets turned into another thing where the establishment Democrats posture as the reasonable adults victimized by the assaults of those left-wing baddies, let’s just be very clear about what happened here. It was the establishment wing that decided to recruit and then stand up a candidate in order to fight an internal battle against the left faction of the party. It was the establishment wing that then dumped massive piles of opposition research on one of their own party members. And it was the establishment wing that did all of this in the shadow of Trump, sowing disunity in order to contest a position whose leadership they insist does not really matter...The establishment wing has made it very clear that they will do anything and everything to hold down the left faction, even as they rather hilariously ask the left faction to look above their differences and unify in these trying times. They do not have any intent of ceding anything — even small things they claim are mostly irrelevant — to the left wing."--Matt Bruenig

This Is What ICE Detention Looks Like

"Our people, fellow humans, are locked up, made criminals and slaves. Concentration camps are alive and well. What are we going to do about it? What if this was your children? What does our faith call us to do?" 

-Dr. César A. Cruz

Lobbying With The Urban League Of Portland For Social Justice

I am always aware of the fact that Black people and white people often live in separate worlds although I do not always understand or appreciate the depth and dimensions of these worlds. I get a great deal wrong when I try to talk about this with others, white and Black friends who struggle as I do with varying degrees of success to gain understanding and make positive changes. Most often I wish that I lived in a world where awareness of the distance between us could be acknowledged and understood. Sometimes I dare to hope and try to visualize what abolishing that separation would look like.

I had the good fortune to join an Urban League lobby day yesterday and confront these questions. After a few hours of listening, conversation and work I left feeling a sense of movement and change and thinking about a few key questions.

The Urban League drew a large and politically sophisticated group of people to Salem to lobby for a bill which will give tenants a greater voice and more rights in dealing with landlords if it passes, and for a bill which will go far in stopping racial profiling if it passes. We need "yes" votes on HB 2004 (Stable Homes) and HB 2355 (End Profiling). If these bills pass, every "regular person" in Oregon will benefit and we will owe thanks and solidarity to the people of color organizations working so hard on getting the bills through.

The Urban League leadership came to this lobby day prepared with everything that we needed. The bills were easy to explain and get people motivated to support, but this was done with special respect and love and humor by the leadership---something we don't always see in white-majority efforts. People were encouraged to speak from their hearts, and it was immediately clear to me that the experience and commonsense of the "common people" in the room could carry the issues forward. I liked that the room was multigenerational and that young people were up front and helping to move us along.

White people come to these events with preconceived notions about what a Black political agenda is. We miss issues like home ownership, the importance of land, educational opportunity and healthcare and reproductive rights. We tend to take up the air in the room talking about our ideas and our understanding when listening and reflecting would be more appropriate. And I'm afraid that many of us also miss how people of color sacrifice something in constantly pushing for reforms and legislation which benefits the entire working-class and keeps a democratic agenda out front. In fact, we don't often think about intersectionality and class identity and a broad working-class political agenda in the correct context.

There are many ways to say that Black lives matter. The Urban League put theory and practice together yesterday by saying it with a lobby day for important legislation and by showing love and respect for the people in the room who are on the frontlines. White-led organizations need to take note of this and adopt those practices in a conscious effort to join what and how we think to what and how we organize. It's a profound point.

I'm doubtful about much of what I heard yesterday from leading state politicians before we started lobbying. I don't see capitalism and entrepreneurship working out over the long run, and I don't think that showing up at the State Capitol gets us much by itself. Still, I think that there are great Black leaders in this state who are invisible to whites, I take the point that people of color may indeed have to gain wealth through entrepreneurial means in order for class struggles to move forward, and I agree with the legislators who reminded us that in a given county there might be hundreds of elected positions which could be won by people of color, including many positions on land use and conservation and water boards and school boards which build towards empowerment. I also take the point that an inside/outside strategy is needed to win reforms and take power.

So with this in mind I struggled to find a place for myself as an ally in a room full of people who I didn't know and who had no reason to trust me. A leader of the local NAACP who I know joined the lobby day, a man who is a great leader and thinker, and I hung out with him, I offered to be the note taker in our group during a legislative visit because I thought that was an appropriate role for me.

Things went better than I expected they would. Four of us met with an aide to a friendly legislator, two women in our group led off with good stories which communicated the need for stable homes and ending profiling, the fellow from the NAACP branch gave a great summary of our views and I chimed in with a few points. The aide was clearly moved and quickly grasped our points. She told her own story of discrimination and said that she feels that this discrimination is pushing her out of Oregon. I hear this from many young people of color and each time I hear it my heart breaks a little.

I can't give enough respect to the two brave women and the Salem NAACP leader in our group who did so much hard work yesterday. It is no easy thing to be a person of color here and carry on any kind of activism, and especially activism which takes you to the State Capitol.

I can wonder about white people, allies and not, who should be showing up, learning and taking solidarity action. Where are we all? I see many of us at the fair work week and wage theft lobby days and turning out for environmental justice and reproductive rights. Even Senate Bill 487 and House Bill 2129, which helps to balance the scales of justice and ends caps on compensation for damages, are part of a broad working-class political agenda. All of these issues should draw people together and create new relationships based on trust and struggle. Why don't we have a common front for political struggle with people of color, the youth and working-class people in the lead?

Here is the Urban League report on the day:

On February 24, 2017, the Urban League of Portland hosted Our Voices United Lobby Day in the Oregon State Capitol. Endorsed by the NAACP Portland Chapter, Oregon Opportunity Network, Black Parent Initiative, PAALF, and PCRI, community members and leaders gathered in the Oregon State Capitol to mobilize on positive legislative policies.

There were over 50 attendees, including Urban League staff, community members and community leaders who participated throughout the day. The day started with a welcome address by Senator James Manning, who gave a rousing introduction to the important of being engaged in state government.

After being welcomed to the Capitol, Amira Streeter, Policy and Advocacy Director, and Zev Nicholson, former Organizing Director, lead the group with a fundamentals of lobbying training, that included a legislation overview and policy focus. Participants were encouraged to tell their own stories as it related to the Stable Homes (HB2004) and End Profiling (HB2355) campaigns. Many of the stories were filled with passion and profound strength, as we came together to support and lift up one another.

While participants ate lunch, many guests joined us. Speaker of the House Tina Kotek, addressed the group, championing for the passage of the bills being advocated for that day. Senator Lew Frederick and Representative Janelle Bynum also addressed the group before the legislative visits, where they answered probing questions about their views on issues important to the African-American and Black community.

For the legislative visits, meetings with key legislators were held, including Senator Laurie Monnes-Anderson, Representative Jennifer Williamson, Representative Ann Lininger, Representative Sheri Malstrom, Representative Shirley McLain, Representative Barbara Smith-Warner, Representative Rob Nosse, Representative Diego Hernandez, Representative Tawna Sanchez, Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer, Representative Mark Meek, and staff from various offices on our policy priorities, End Profiling and Stable Homes. Many of the Lobby Day attendees felt a sense of empowerment and motivation throughout the day, as well as got an opportunity to speak from their hearts on the issues that mattered the most to them.

The day ended with a tour of the Capitol, which reminded people that this was indeed their building – a place to have a voice and to represent the people and the community.

While the day was filled with rewarding experiences for everyone, the work has just begun. Join the Urban League of Portland to stay up-to-date and informed about the work we do in the Oregon State Capitol throughout the 2017 Legislative Session and how you can get involved. https://ulpdx.org/

Stay active, stay engaged.

Yours in the movement,
Advocacy and Civic Engagement

Support Salem's Inclusivity Resolution!

Please turn out to the City Council meeting on Monday and support the inclusivity resolution for immigrant rights and immigrant and refugee justice being put forward by Tom Andersen. Please also contact the Mayor and Council members to tell them that you're supporting the resolution.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Another Step Forward To Win A Fair Work Week In Oregon--Monday, at 3 PM - 4 PM at the State Capitol

Join us in Hearing Room A in the Capitol to show support for the Fair Work Week Bill (SB 828) as it has its first hearing. Hear the moving stories of workers whose health, families and financial stability have been afected by poor scheduling practices, and hear from the organizations and advocates who are fighting to change these bad practices here in Oregon.

If you are in the Portland area, and unable to join due to lack of transportation, contact Ian -- ijohnson@workingfamilies.org -- for carpool availability.

See our previous post about this here.

Who’s ready to pack Salem City hall this Monday? It’s time to take action, be in solidarity with immigrants and immigrant communities, and make our voices heard. If you can’t make it on Monday, show your support for an Inclusivity Resolution by sending an email to Salem City Council members today..…¿Están listxs para llenar la sala del Ayuntamiento de Salem este lunes? ¡Es tiempo de tomar acción y asegurar que nuestras voces sean escuchadas!

We have to mobilize some positive phone call and emails to all the city council members so that they go into Monday's meeting having heard lots of "vote yes" messages in support of immigrants, immigrant rights and inclusivity prior top voting.

Use this link to reach out to your council member: https://actionnetwork.org/…/tell-your-mayor-support-an-incl…

The link takes you to a page where all you have to do is plug in your information and it automatically generates a sample note addressed to your council member.

To get the phone number of your city council member go here: http://www.cityofsalem.net/CityCouncil/…/CityCouncilors.aspx

Thursday, February 23, 2017

What does State Sen. Fred Girod have against Western Meadowlarks and women? What's going on in Stayton?

"People and nature before profits!" our comrade sings.

Birders who are concerned about the armed militia takeover of the Federal Wildlife Refuge in Malheur last year, preserving public lands and space, environmentalism have a forum for discussing these issues. They are understandably alarmed by Republican State Sen. Fred Girod sponsoring a resolution to replace the Western Meadowlark as Oregon’s state bird with the osprey and his using the argument that the meadowlark is no longer commonly seen in Oregon.

Where does Girod's push on this come from, and why is the meadowlark no longer a common sight?

One birder/activist has said that this may be because the Stayton area has lots of farms -- monocultural grass seed for one --- that have destroyed the habitat of Western Meadowlarks. "Perhaps the people in the area who farm without regard to habitat for native species don't want people to think about how agribiz allows the loss of habitat for ground nesting and ground foraging birds that need grasslands. If the bird is no longer commonly seen then there is a problem with loss of habitat!" she said.

Another forum participant said, "That could be. But I suspect the main reason is that Frank Girod has figured out that this is a way to get his name in the papers once every couple of years. What surprises me most is that every time he's done this over the past 8 years, the Oregon media respond as if it's the first time." He went on to say, "The Oregon state legislature is gearing up for another session, which means that the Honorable State Senator from Stayton, Frank Girod, is renewing his biennial war on our state bird, first launched in 2009. Apparently this is a winning campaign issue in his district. Why does the sleepy town of Stayton harbor such hatred of Sturnellae? Who knew that such dark thoughts could be aimed at this bright and cheerful singer, so beloved by Oregon schoolchildren 90 years ago? We can't let this happen, folks. If the Staytonians have their way on this, it puts us on the slippery slope to no-telling-what as state mammal, state tree, state soil, etc."

Meanwhile, 25 Republicans in the Oregon Legislature signed on to HB 3017 that will restrict abortion access if it passes. It's an attempt to roll back constitutionally protected access to health care in Oregon, opens another front on the war against women and womens' rights and shows how out of touch and reactionary the Republicans are---and Girod is one of the bill's sponsors.

The birders really have a sophisticated analysis and they see the need to mobilize. Whether this is about a shift in agriculture and agribusiness or a cynical move at self-promotion, the point is that Girod and other Republicans look at nature as a means to create profits and move an agenda which is at once anti-nature and anti-woman. Beyond the deceptive push for one bill is a deceptive push for something else, a worldview which privileges profits over people, men over women, and industry over nature. If we give in on one, we lose both and Girod's career advances, paid for out of the deep pockets of the anti-nature and anti-women reactionaries.

Girod's phone number is 503-986-1709 and his e-mail is Sen.FredGirod@state.or.us. Tell him how you feel about his politics.

A womens' health lobby day and rally will be held on Tuesday, February 28. The lobby day will kick off at 9:00 AM and the rally is scheduled for noon. This is an opportunity for women, birders, people who care about people and the environment and everyone who wants to put people before profits to turn out and tell Girod what we think.


Rally For Clean Energy Jobs and Public Hearing---Wednesday, March 1---Rally at 1:00 PM and public hearing---Please be there!

Join Renew Oregon, Rogue Climate, Coalition of Communities of Color,350pdx, Verde, MECHA, Salem Climate Activists / 350 Salem OR, 350 EUG,350Deschutes and many more groups from across the state to tell our legislators: we're ready to curb Oregon's emissions and invest back in our communities!

The Clean Energy Jobs bills will receive their biggest public hearing on Wednesday, March 1 from 3-5pm in Salem. So we're holding a rally from 1-2pm to kick things off. Oregonians across the state have said they're ready for a price on climate pollution. Join us on Wednesday to make your voice heard!

Oregon workers, irregular work scheduling and the fight back

Most workers in Oregon now work on jobs where irregular work scheduling is a problematic fact of life. We see it in restaurants, care facilities, retail and some other occupations, and we see it taking the form of workers not having enough time between shifts, irregular schedules, not enough notice of schedule changes, unreasonable hours and cuts in hours, abuse of on-call workers, lack of worker input on scheduling and drop-in/drop-out scheduling. The burden falls especially hard on parents who use daycare, students, people who rent and people working more than one job to make ends meet.

We all know that irregular work schedules create sleeplessness and anxiety and that these produce many negative problems. Oregon workers who have to struggle with irregular scheduling are being pushed to the max, and my experience is that many people in these situations self-medicate, live on coffee and energy drinks and tobaco, burnout and try with varying degrees of success to manage crisis-filled lives. In a better environment, workers might turn to unions or use the low unemployment rate to their advantage and force employers to negotiate. Younger workers are generally not union-conscious and few unions are out there organizing aggressively. The relatively low unemployment numbers have not yet helped create a more favorable situation for Oregon workers, and the employers are still riding high and fast from days when unemployment was high and they had all of the power. And the industries in which irregular scheduling is more problematic have a rhythm and dynamics which work against workers joining unions, protesting and negotiating. The workers depend more on informal networks to find better jobs, although what a "good job" is today is doubtful. We will only see positive changes once workers get organized and support one another.

An important study has just been released taking up irregular scheduling. Ellen K. Scott (University of Oregon), Mary C. King (Portland State), and Raahi Reddy (University of Oregon) have just issued "The Impact on Oregonians of the Rise of Irregular Scheduling." Great work was done by many people on this project. The study is easy to read and understand and can be used right now to back two bills going through the legislature which take up this problem of scheduling. Representatives Gelser and Holvey, backed by the Working Families Party and the United Food and Commercial Workers, are moving these bills forward. SB 828 and related legislation needs to pass.

Check out the report and progress here. Print it out and take it to work or get copies from the Fair Work Week Campaign, LERC or Local 555.

A press conference at the State Capitol today brought in workers who have been victimized by irregular scheduling, union reps and union members, the authors of the study, and Representatives Holvey and Gelser. The workers' testimony was moving and, we hope, will help win support for the bills and for real change.

Our challenges will be in making this a real organizing campaign and then winning against the same forces who oppose higher minimum wages, higher taxes on corporations, ending wage theft and other working-class issues and who have derailed work on irregular scheduling in the past. We're so in the habit of feel-good mobilizing and compromising that we seldom organize and fight. But when we do organize and fight, we always win ground. We're up against Republicans who want to push us backwards and down and Democrats who settle for negotiating over how far back and how far down we'll go. Let's hold Gelser and Holvey to their good words spoken today on behalf of justice and support them when they do the right thing.

Let's build momentum for March 8 and May 1 everywhere!

URGENT ALERT: Take Action to Free Mohammed al-Qeeq as he is hospitalized on 17th day of hunger strike

Imprisoned Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qeeq was suddenly transferred on Wednesday, 22 February to the Ramle prison hospital after a sudden deterioration in his health on his 17th day of hunger strike. Al-Qeeq, 35, has been refusing food for 17 days, demanding his freedom from Israeli imprisonment without charge or trial under administrative detention. At this time, it is critically important to escalate international action and solidarity to demand freedom for Mohammed al-Qeeq and an end to administrative detention.

Sign and share the petition: https://www.change.org/p/council-of-the-european-union-take-action-to-free-hunger-striking-palestinian-journalist-mohammed-al-qeeq

Al-Qeeq is one of nearly 550 Palestinians imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention. Administrative detention orders are issued for one to six month periods, but are indefinitely renewable, which means that Palestinians can be held for years on end without charge or trial at the order of the Israeli occupation military. These orders are issued on the basis of “secret evidence” to which both the detainee and their lawyer is denied access. Administrative detention as practiced by the Israeli state is a systematic mechanism of colonial repression and violates international law.

This is Mohammed al-Qeeq’s second time on hunger strike. In 2016, he conducted a 94-day hunger strike to win his freedom from administrative detention without charge or trial, winning his release in May 2016. Palestinian prisoners have frequently carried out collective and individual hunger strikes to demand basic rights as well as their liberation from imprisonment, especially from administrative detention.

Al-Qeeq was seized by occupation soldiers on 15 January at a checkpoint near Ramallah as he returned from a demonstration demanding the return of the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israel. Since his release in May 2016, al-Qeeq has been a particularly vocal advocate for imprisoned and oppressed Palestinians, supporting fellow prisoners on hunger strikes and engaged in struggles for justice. He was held under interrogation for 22 days and subjected to harsh interrogation and ill-treatment before once again being ordered imprisoned with no charge or trial. He was originally ordered to six months in administrative detention, which was then reduced to an indefinitely renewable three month period. Al-Qeeq refused to stop his strike, noting that he rejects entirely being imprisoned without charge or trial under the policy of administrative detention.

After his 2016 hunger strike that lasted over three months, Al-Qeeq’s health is particularly fragile. Nevertheless, his body, his health and his life are on the line to resist the imprisonment of Palestinians without charge or trial and demand an end to administrative detention. His strike has been joined by two fellow administrative detainees, Jamal Abu Leil and Raed Mteir, both of Qalandiya refugee camp, who have been refusing food for a week to demand their freedom after a year of imprisonment without charge or trial.

Mohammed al-Qeeq is one of 23 Palestinian journalists imprisoned by the Israeli state. His life and health are on the line not only for his freedom, but for Palestinian freedom overall and an end to administrative detention without charge or trial. It is critical to raise our voices internationally and demand freedom for Mohammed al-Qeeq, an end to administrative detention and the freedom of all Palestinian prisoners.

Take Action!

1. Sign and share the public petition to international officials to demand they take a stand on administrative detention and Mohammed al-Qeeq’s imprisonment. Sign and share at: https://www.change.org/p/council-of-the-european-union-take-action-to-free-hunger-striking-palestinian-journalist-mohammed-al-qeeq

2. Organize a protest or a forum for Mohammed al-Qeeq and Palestinian prisoners. Israeli Apartheid Week is approaching and the Israeli injustice system is an excellent example to highlight in IAW activities, especially as your support can help to bring the international attention needed to help Mohammed al-Qeeq in his struggle for freedom. You can invite a speaker, hold a discussion, hold a protest, or just distribute leaflets and information (see below for sample leaflets and posters). To request resources or let us know about your event so we can post it publicly, email samidoun@samidoun.net or contact us on Facebook.

3. Hold a Symbolic Hunger Strike. This is an especially effective tactic on a campus for Israeli Apartheid Week, but can be used anywhere. A symbolic one-day hunger strike in which participants publicly express their solidarity with al-Qeeq and fellow Palestinian prisoners can help to raise local attention. Email samidoun@samidoun.net to let us know about your event!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Support is building for the March 8 International Women's Strike and the May 1 Day Without Immigrants---Salem is planning a May 1 demonstration

From Democratic Socialists of America (DSA):

As Trump attacks our communities and distracts the public from his actions to empower the billionaire class, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has stepped up our self-defense and solidarity work.

DSA endorses and recommends our chapters and members-at-large support two upcoming strikes: the March 8 International Women's Strike and May 1 Un Dia Sin Inmigrantes organized by Cosecha.

Both strikes build relationships with organizations with an anti-capitalist political analysis but a potential mass constituency. Trump’s new immigration policies target 11 million undocumented people in the United States including millions of workers who make our economy run. The economic policies he and the GOP are pursuing will disproportionately harm women and children, and we expect him to restrict abortion and contraception access to satisfy his religious right base.

We encourage DSA groups to reach out to these groups locally to plan for the March 8 International Women's Strike and May 1 Un Dia Sin Inmigrantes organized by Cosecha. I’ll be adding more to our news page as they get closer.

And in the South, DSAers will gather to #OrganizeTheSouth as part of the March on Mississippi!
We're bringing our folks from DSA groups across the South together for a weekend of marching, training, and connecting on March 4th & 5th in Jackson, MS. Members will support workers alongside Bernie Sanders, Rev. William Barber and other movement leaders from the South, plus build democratic socialist community and learn more organizing skills in a regional DSA training. Click here to learn more about the March on Mississippi in solidarity with workers at Nissan.

And as we build up to the Women’s Strike, check out our new Profiles in Socialist Feminismseries. We’re looking for volunteers so we can add more. If you’re interested, you can fill out the form here.

I’m so excited to see DSA local groups stepping up their organizing work across the country. It gives me hope in hard times. And the press has noticed too. You can read about our recent organizing in Rolling Stone (Yes, really!)
Meanwhile, DSA groups are building the multi-racial socialist resistance we need. You can hear more on The Takeaway’s coverage of our New York City chapter's Brooklyn branch. You can find more ongoing coverage of DSA’s national and local work here.

I wanted you to see these. Trump is attacking us on all fronts, and too often establishment Democrats seem incapable of strategic opposition. Our democratic socialist action is more important than ever, and with DSA, you’re part of it. Thank you for everything you do!

DSA also endorsed Keith Ellison earlier this year in his campaign to become the chair of the Democratic National Committee. We wish him luck this weekend.

In solidarity,
Maria Svart, DSA National Director

P.S. I’ll be in touch soon with more DSA organizing tools you can use. But remember that the number of organized local groups is growing every week, so check our Chapter map to see if there's one near you or to start one yourself. Thanks again!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fix Oregon's Housing Crisis---Rally, Lobby Day & Hearings On Thursday, March 2 In Salem

Tobias Read, Oregon State Treasurer: Do the right thing!

Have you heard the news that the State Land Board voted to sell all 90,000 acres of Oregon's oldest forest to loggers, the Elliott State Forest - public land held in trust that includes critical old growth habitat - to a logging company. This wasn't supposed to happen. There are two Democrats and one Republican on the Board. Governor Kate Brown fought the sale vehemently. Our new State Treasurer, Democrat Tobias Read, violated his campaign promises and voted to sell the ancient forest. What's more, the bid is nearly $140 million less than what the lands appraised value - if you can even place a dollar number on Oregon's most significant carbon sink.

BUT - there's a glimmer of hope. Governor Brown secured one final vote that is scheduled for April. If you care about our green Oregon, and leaving a healthy state for our children,

CALL Treasurer Read and DEMAND that he switch his vote: 503-378-4329.

Don't let him get away with this.
Copy and share - spread the word!
Make your voice heard and let's save The Elliott!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Regional "Know Your Rights" Workshops For Immigrant Communities

Proximos talleres de Conozca sus Derechos;
• Febrero 22 de 5:30 pm a 8:30 pm en PCUN en; 300 Young St Woodburn, Oregon
• Febrero 28 en; 6:00 pm a 8:30 pm en Lebanon High School, 1700 S 5th St Lebanon, OR 97355
• Marzo 4 en Walla Walla; lugar sera anunciado pronto.
Next Know your rights Workshop;
• February 22nd 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm at; PCUN; 300 Young St Woodburn, Oregon
• February 28th; 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm at; Lebanon High School 1700 S 5th St Lebanon, OR 97355
• March 4th in Walla Walla, Washington, location TBD.

Portland police attack protesters on This Is Not My President Day

The video above came from Willamette Week. The photo below came from The Oregonian and is quickly becoming the international symbol of Portland police brutality.

"Today, Portland Police Bureau policy led to violence against peaceful protesters including young kids and retired public employees," the ACLU of Oregon wrote in a statement on Facebook. "It was shameful."'---Willamette Week

Support The National Lawyers Guild---Please Donate Today

Rebel Diaz: I'm An Alien---Support the peoples' artists!

For all those who are indigenous to these lands but are still labeled "Alien". We reclaim what is rightfully ours! #DayWithoutImmigrants #imanalien #tbt#rebeldiaz #TheUnGovernables

Rally For Survivors Of Domestic Violence On Wednesday At Noon In Salem

Wednesday at noon
State Capitol

Lobby Days And A Rally Mark President's Day In Salem

Photo from Sara Rohrs on Facebook

Public employee unions, immigrant rights organizations, health care advocates and others lobbied and rallied today in  Salem. A noontime rally drew several hundred people and demonstrated a widespread and deep demand for worker justice and immigrant rights and social progress. It was good to see public employee union presidents share the stage with Latino healthcare advocates and people on the frontlines of the struggle against detentions and deportations.

Today's action was part of a national effort and followed a large demonstration for immigrant rights yesterday. Combining the Salem rally today with lobby days and an important healthcare hearing shows our ability to use an inside/outside strategy. The Oregon Education Association did a great job in mobilizing its members and in keeping them pumped up. The Latino organizations correctly put the spotlight on the immediate problem of the detentions and deportations and on long-range goals like healthcare for all.

Everyone to the PCUN office on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 5:00 PM to support the community as we fight back against detentions and deportations!

Support the victims of deportations and detention
Saturday, Feb. 25
5:00 PM
300 Young St.

Acompáñanos a ser parte de la convivencia del fandango. Los jaraneros de Oregon y PCUN te invitan a pasar un momento familiar, donde podrás disfrutar de música, baile y comida.

ALWAYS PUNCH NAZIS | This Shouldn't Be News

International Publishers, pioneer radical press, gets online makeover---Important books from the left now more readily available

From The People's World:

“Books to help you understand – and change – the world.” That’s the slogan of International Publishers, and for over 90 years, the company has been producing and distributing titles aimed at fulfilling that lofty goal.
Founded in 1924 by Alexander Trachtenberg, a refugee who came to America after fleeing Czarist Russia’s anti-Jewish pogroms, the company made a name for itself in its early years as a pioneer in the publication of Marxist literature, critical takes on U.S. capitalism, and radical interpretations of American history.
International has recently undergone a digital makeover that positions the company to play a big role in the era of Trump. The company is fresh off the launch of its new website, a modern eCommerce hub that’s making its extensive catalog available to an audience eager for radical books. With socialism growing in popularity and resistance to the new president’s agenda exploding everywhere, the time may be just right for companies like International to make a splash.
“Sales have gone up dramatically since November,” says Gary Bono, who heads up operations at International.
Titles such as the 1935 classic Against Fascism and War are moving out the door at a brisk pace. Written just before World War II, the book outlined the strategy and tactics necessary for beating fascism during the Great Depression. Its author, Bulgarian communist Georgi Dimitrov, famously took down Hitler’s henchman Hermann Goering in a Nazi courtroom after being falsely accused of helping burn down the German parliament building.
With a number of Trump’s policy advisors hailing from the so-called “alt-right,” a conservative offshoot mixing racism, white nationalism, and neo-fascist populism, it appears many of today’s left-wing activists are turning to writers like Dimitrov and others.

Millions of American workers and students got their first taste of Marxism through International’s cheaply-priced “Little Lenin Library” in the 1930s.
Marxist publishing for the 21st century
“In today’s political climate,” Bono says, “it is particularly important that the new generation learn from past experiences – from the words of those who have experienced things like this before.”
He believes that more people are realizing that there is another way, that “they need not be constrained, intellectually, by today’s ‘accepted wisdom’.”
International Publishers has long been known as a source for alternative wisdom. Since its founding in 1924, it has been one of the primary publishers of the classics of Marxism and was among the first to print some of the works of historical figures like Vladimir Lenin and Antonio Gramsci in the English language.
The company helped bring socialism to a mass working class audience in the United States in the 1930s and 40s with the 25-cent paperbacks of its “Little Lenin Library.” Even today, affordable editions of books like Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto and Lenin’s Imperialism are among International’s best-sellers.
The onset of the Cold War and the anti-communist witch-hunts of the McCarthy period threatened to finish the company. Trachtenberg, still at the helm in the early 1950s, was a defendant in the Smith Act trials for the crime of thinking. Novelist Howard Fast said at the time, “Both the man and the books he has published are on trial… The books go beyond the man himself, a body of Marxist-Leninist literature surpassed in few countries indeed, made available to the American people because this man has known neither fear nor pessimism, and has again and again surmounted obstacles almost insurmountable.” Trachtenberg would serve four years in prison before the Supreme Court vacated many of the Smith Act convictions. Upon his release, he went back to work until his retirement in 1962.
Successors James S. Allen and Lou Diskin kept the company going through the 1960s and 70s with a steady flow of Marxist classics and books by CPUSA leaders. Betty Smith took over as president of International and guided it through the 1980s and ensured its survival after the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe. When Marxism was on the rocks, Smith kept International alive for the next generation of activists.
At a time when online shopping has become the norm, however, it has been getting harder for International to reach its audience without going through intermediaries like Amazon. It was under Smith’s tenure that a decision was made to update International for the digital age. Mike Votto, a partner with Envy Creative, a web design agency based in Milwaukee that oversaw the revamp of International’s online presence, says the biggest challenge was “taking what the IP [International Publishers] team has been doing for the past several decades and trying to replicate it digitally.”
Votto says it was humbling to work with a brand and an institution that has “spent nearly a century publishing some of the foremost literature on progressive thought,” but bringing its website into the 21st century was “unlike many of the projects that walk through our agency’s door.”
The goals with the redesign were pretty simple. “Create a user-friendly, convenient eCommerce system that gets these important volumes into the hands of eager readers as quickly and painlessly as possible.” Votto says that International’s new platform is flexible and can continue to grow as web standards, customer expectations, and product offerings change.
Books to change the world
With the new website, International hopes to reach those eager readers with books to help them become more informed activists. With an easy-to-use online store, the company is also hoping even more selections from its extensive catalog will gain a wide readership.
While it may have become known to millions for its cheap and accessible paperbacks, International is also renowned for products like its massive 50-volume Marx-Engels Collected Works. From 1975 to 2004, it collaborated with Lawrence & Wishart Publishers in Britain and Progress Publishers in Moscow in an ambitious project which gathered all the known writings and correspondence of the founding fathers of communism into a single collection. The set remains the gold standard of Marxist libraries to this day.

Stretching beyond the classics, meanwhile, contemporary titles such as Daniel Rubin’s Will Capitalism Last? bring Marxist analysis of U.S. politics up to the present day.
In addition to its many works of theory, International also boasts an impressive offering of titles covering American and world history, literature, and the full range of labor and democratic struggles.
From Frederick Douglass and John Brown to W.E.B. Du Bois and Angela Davis, many important texts of the African-American freedom struggle are available in exclusive editions. And for workers who find themselves in the crosshairs of the Trump administration, Philip S. Foner’s 10-volume History of the Labor Movement in the United States provides a background to early trade union struggles that can only be found at International.
Works by authors like Herbert Aptheker illuminate American history through the lens of historical materialism, bringing a socialist perspective to events such as the revolution of 1776 and the revolts of slaves in the pre-Civil War South. Complementing its historical titles, International markets a range of books crucial to understanding current events as well, whether it be the environmental crisisIran, or the crumbling of imperialism.
And the company’s offerings continue to grow. The latest is a collection of writings by Marx and Engels on the U.S. Civil War, featuring an introduction from noted historian Andrew Zimmerman. In the works for the coming months is a new edition of Palmiro Togliatti’s Lectures on Fascism, which consists of outlines from classes the Italian leader taught at the Comintern in the 1930s.
There are also plans for an updated edition of Philip S. Foner’s documentary study, The Bolshevik Revolution, to be issued just in time for the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Though many predicted that the appearance of tablets and e-readers would make books obsolete, International and other small radical publishers like it are showing that there is still an audience for the printed word. And with Donald Trump driving sales, the future of socialist publishing may not be as bleak as one might have expected.