Friday, March 31, 2017

Four candidates for School Board positions in Woodburn and Salem who should have our full support---And don't forget Sheronne Blasi!

Photo from Ramon Ramirez

Four candidates for School Board positions in Woodburn and Salem who should have our full support: Anthony Medina, Laura Isiordia, Gustavo Gutierrez and Levi Herrera.

Sheronne Blasi was present but did not speak or get her photo taken with the others. Here she is, and her is a link to her web page:

A West Coast May Day Strike? Really? Sí, se puede!

We have been urging everyone to participate in the May Day rally and march in Salem this year, and I have been saying that I know that it's hard to ask and expect people to take a day off from school or work and participate on a weekday---BUT we really need thousands of people with us on the streets this year. Thousands turned out after the Sensenbrenner Bill moved forward, and our situation today is more difficult than it was in 2005, and Trump and his party have more opposition. So---we need you. Please join the May Day rally and march in Salem.

I was recently contacted by a media worker who heard that I'm organizing a May 1 strike. That isn't quite the case. The ask that people take a day off to rally and march does not mean that we will be picketing employers (although that seems like a good idea) or that strike funds are available. No one here will be taking a strike vote. Some workers in our region can probably use their legal rights to engage in collective action with some creative planning, but for most of us this will mean staying away from work or school for all or part of the day, ignoring the bosses and demanding justice from the politicians. This is a stay-away, as in just stay away from work, school shopping, labor and emotional labor, and the "normal" activities that you do in the formal and informal economy to the extent that you are able to for one day.

We may lose some pay or class time, but it will be worth it. You will see thousands of others taking the same risks and making the same statements you are if you join us. You will be making a positive contribution to social change. You will be living out an important labor history event. You will be standing alongside of people who most need your solidarity right now. Salem's rally and march will have the necessary permits, security and the numbers of people needed to make this successful and one more step forward. You will come away from May Day feeling stronger and more optimistic.

Lenin said that there are no lost strikes because each action educates and prepares us for the next critical step. Coming together after May Day and evaluating our collective situation with others will be crucial.

Many workers will be striking on the west coast, of course. That is to say that they will be engaging in collective action at work, shutting some workplaces down and perhaps engaging in mass picketing and honoring picketlines. A great article running in Labor Notes and in In These Times says:

The janitors of SEIU United Service Workers West felt driven...“to strike with the community” against the raids, threats, and immigrant-bashing hate speech that the Trump administration has unleashed.

“The president is attacking our community,” said Mejia, a member of his union’s executive board. “Immigrants have helped form this country, we’ve contributed to its beauty, but the president is attacking us as criminal.”

Following the Los Angeles vote, union janitors elsewhere in California have also voted to “strike with the community” on May 1. As the meetings gathered steam, Mejia reports, workers in schools, grocery stores, restaurants, and farms started talking about joining the walkout too.

And the strike is going on the road: SEIU-USWW is partnering with the human rights group Global Exchange, worker centers, the Southern Border Communities Coalition, and faith groups to organize a “Caravan against Fear” that will tour California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas in April, staging rallies, cultural events, direct action trainings, and community strike votes leading up to May Day.

In recent years, May Day has seen demonstrations to support immigrant rights. This year’s mobilizations will center on defending immigrants, but weave in other issues as well, such as climate justice and the de-funding of public education.

Up and down the West Coast, we are likely to see the largest May Day strikes since hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers walked off the job in 2006...leaders of the unions representing Seattle public school teachers, graduate employees at the University of Washington, and staff at Seattle’s community colleges have called for a strike to protest the Trump administration’s attacks on immigrants, Muslims, workers, women, and members of the LGBT community. The public school teachers and UW graduate employees are scheduling strike votes in the coming weeks.

A March meeting organized by the county labor council and Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant brought together immigrant community leaders and representatives from two dozen Seattle-area unions—including Laborers, Teamsters, Boeing Machinists, stagehands, hotel workers, and city and county workers—to plan a May Day of mass resistance. Participants acknowledged the need for creativity rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

A week later, the labor council committed its support for an immigrant-led May Day march, in a resolution urging unions “to consider all forms of action on May 1, 2017, whether striking, walking out, taking sick days, extended lunch hours, exercising rights of conscience, organizing demonstrations or teach-ins, or any other acts of collective expression that builds solidarity across communities.”

Labor Council head Nicole Grant described May Day as just the beginning of a “summer of resistance,” showing that working people can and will respond to Trump’s attacks with disruptive action. “We won’t take down this president in one day,” added Sawant. “But on May Day we are taking our resistance to another level.”

Climate justice activists are also folding into the May Day movement. In Washington state, the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations are calling for an “Earth Day to May Day Action Week,” blending Earth Day April 22 and a “March for Science” into a full week of workshops and protests culminating in a big May 1 mobilization.

Read the entire article here.

There are shortcomings in our collective approach here. A mass strike or stay away is a tactic and should derive from a strategy held by a mass movement and we do not yet have mass movements in place. Strikes and stay aways should derive from these mass movements; they don't organize movements. They are a means forward, not ends. We are also too rigid in our attachment to coalition politics, and we are not grasping real united front strategies and tactics. With these shortcomings will come advances for anarchism and social democracy if we do not correct our course. It will be too easy for people to hand over responsibility for our movements to bureaucrats or ultra-leftists if we do not put democratic united fronts built from below in place. On the other hand, we are not going to build a mass movement between now and May 1, or develop fully democratic and participatory structures between now and then, and there is a need and a demand to act.    

But can we really organize mass strikes and stay aways? Can we really build an inclusive and democratic movement with one strategy and many tactics? Can this be done?

Sí, se puede!

If you're not good with this...

then try this as a first step...

An important womens' statement on striking on May Day reads in part as follows:

The violence of ICE against immigrants is part of the systemic police violence against Black people, Latinx and Native Americans, and the mass incarceration of people of color. This violence and systemic sexism and racism oppresses and humiliates women of color, including Native women and immigrant women, every day of our lives. To those who want to narrow down feminism, we say feminism cannot be narrowed down only to demands over reproductive rights and formal gender equality. Feminism is a struggle against poverty, racism and immigration raids. The women who are part of or aspire to be the 1%, rely on the rest of us, especially immigrant women and women of color, to do the caregiving and service work for low pay or no pay. This is why we will strike on May Day.

To those who dismiss the work that women and non-binary people do in the formal and informal economy, starting with mothers, we say that feeding, clothing, housing, and educating whole communities, providing more unwaged health care than all health care institutions combined, cleaning and maintaining everyone’s homes, is real work and fundamental to sustaining society despite being unrecognized and invisible. Also hidden and disrespected is the work of immigrants, especially women. This is why we will be striking on May Day.

To those who say immigrants have no right to be here, we say that we have fled countries that were bombed, occupied and impoverished by the US military industrial complex and the brutal governments they imposed or supported. U. S. wars are stealing land and resources, exploiting, raping, imprisoning, and torturing people – from Afghanistan and Iraq to Egypt and Syria, from Palestine and South Sudan to Haiti and Honduras. On May Day we strike to reclaim the wealth we immigrants helped produce and to establish our right to be here.

Read the full statement here.

From Viewpoint Magazine

We Need Equity and Justice, Not Diversity and Inclusion

Dr. DL Stewart recently published a piece on "Inside Higher Ed" detailing the problems with diversity and inclusion as goals as opposed to equity and justice. The points ze makes in the article are incredibly important not only for activists in higher education, but for all of us on the Left.

Looking at the differences between equity/justice and diversity/inclusion, how might we change our organizing?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Climate and Energy Justice, a talk by Jo Ann Hardesty in Salem on Sunday, April 9 at 1:30 PM - 3 PM at Center 50 Plus at 2615 Portland Rd NE

Whether in the United States or around the world, the impacts of climate change and the pollution that comes with combustion of fossil fuels fall hardest on people with the least resources to survive and recover from sudden disasters or long term toxic emissions. The transition to a renewable energy infrastructure will itself require changes that can be disruptive. Climate justice means that the concerns and needs of impacted and front line communities are at the forefront of solutions to the climate crisis.

Jo Ann Hardesty is President of NAACP Portland Branch 1120, Principal Patner of Consult Hardesty, and a former Oregon state legislator, and co-host of Voices from the Edge on KBOO radio. She is active in networks and alliances for environmental and social justice.

Causa did an incredible lobby day today---and we all need to thank them and keep moving forward!

Causa Oregon organized a great lobby day in Salem today. Well over 100 people participated and visited legislators to talk about ending profiling (HB 2355), covering all kids with real healthcare coverage (SB 558 and HB 2726), stopping pay cuts for farmworkers and resisting deportations. It was a day for work, unity and progress, and it was a day to be part of a multiracial and multigenerational coalition led by women and people of color working on issues which matter to the people, and particularly to the working-class.

Governor Brown signed the Cesar Chavez service day proclamation today, giving us a forum for future organizing and mobilizing, and perhaps marking a turn in consciousness. Under current circumstances, honoring Cesar Chavez has special political meaning.

We need to be in solidarity with Causa and stay on the same page with their political agenda, which really does challenge structural racism in Oregon and builds the anti-Trump, pro-democracy movement. Yesterday's rally in Salem (covered elsewhere on this blog), the Salem-Woodburn school board elections, the on-going rapid response work in the Mid-Willamette Valley opposing the ICE raids and detentions, the science marches and the climate rally, and a big turn out for May Day in Salem all build on the work done today.

People should focus on what happens with the HB 2355 and SB 558 and HB 2726 legislation and on the many other bills focused on rent control, a fair work week, and environmental protections. In a year when there is a budget crunch, wining will be hard. But if we lose, it will be because we are not united as we should be and because politicians and their staffers are able to change the conversation from social justice to money. The right-wing is on the defensive in the face of peoples' movements, but the balance of forces can change.

The first two legislative visits I did were with representatives allied with our work. I heard Ramon Ramirez of PCUN speak passionately and well, but the young people and workers who were with us really carried the day with their stories. The last two visits were with staffpeople who didn't really get it but who were at least somewhat moved by what the young people and Ramon Ramirez had to say. Our job becomes winning over the center by remaining steadfast, and either winning over or neutralizing our opposition with strong arguments, organizing and tactics which put them on the spot.

Causa took a great step today. Let's follow up with more organizing, mobilizing and pressure.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Latinos Unidos Siempre (LUS) organized a good action at the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center in Salem this afternoon.

Latinos Unidos Siempre (LUS) organized a good action at the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center on Court Street in Salem this afternoon. The photo above shows only a small section of the people who gathered in solidarity with immigrant youth.

The event was well-organized and had the passionate commitment of a cross-section of the community: the skilled LUS activists, community activists, the young Latino/as, members of the Racial Justice Organizing Committee and our socialist group, allies and friends, and union staff. We really need to thank LUS and Mano a Mano activists for this opportunity and for their work.

Today's gathering was significant for me given the ICE repression this week, and particularly over the past 48 hours, and because it helped turn the negatives from last Saturday's rally into positives for going forward. We made a statement today against all of the ICE actions and the deportations, but we focused on supporting the youth. Tomorrow we have the Causa Oregon Lobby Day, there are the Rapid Response Collective meetings next week, the science march and then May Day---and on May Day we need thousands of people with us in Salem. There is talk that there will be another Trump rally in late April and another counter-protest, so we have a chance to set things right and build from there also. One event needs to lead to another, and struggle needs to generate struggle and victories.

Today's event showed that we can get people out on a week day and that there is public support for our work. We can be firm in our positions and non-violent. United front politics, or coalition politics, works. We can---and must---follow young young people of color and be there for them as they take leadership. We learned all of this again today.

Photos from LUS members

Flight Advisory: Mesa Flight Attendants today voted 99.56 percent for strike authorization. Mesa Airlines operates flights for American Airlines (as American Eagle) and United Airlines (as United Express).

Mesa Flight Attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), today voted 99.56 percent for strike authorization. Mesa Airlines operates flights for American Airlines (as American Eagle) and United Airlines (as United Express). Mesa flight attendants are underpaid compared to other flight attendants flying for United and American airlines.

“Management has left us with no other choice. Mesa Flight Attendants are prepared to strike if released by the National Mediation Board,” said Heather Stevenson, AFA Mesa President. “Next week management can choose a different outcome by seriously negotiating a contract. Mesa Airlines is an important partner in the highly-profitable American Airlines and United Airlines networks. Fair contract now.”

Negotiations, overseen by the National Mediation Board, are scheduled to continue on April 5, 2017. Lack of progress could lead to the National Mediation Board (NMB) declaring that negotiations are deadlocked and releasing both parties into a 30-day "cooling off" period leading to a strike deadline. AFA has a trademarked strike strategy known as CHAOS or Create Havoc Around Our System™. With CHAOS, a strike could affect the entire system or a single flight. The union decides when, where and how to strike without notice to management or passengers.

“Mesa Flight Attendants will not accept poverty wages,” said Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. “Enough is enough. Mesa Flight Attendants have the full backing of the 50,000 members of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. We are ready to do whatever it takes to achieve a fair contract.”

Mesa Airlines is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona and provides 600 daily departures to 117 cities, 39 states, the District of Columbia, Canada and Mexico including Dallas, TX; Houston, TX; Phoenix, AZ; and Washington, DC.

A few words on memory...

"In Argentina, the mad women of the Plaza de Mayo are the picture of mental health, because they refused to forget during a time of forced amnesia."

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

For Jobs, Nature And Justice---Two Important Upcoming Events

Monday, April 3 at 3 PM - 6 PM
Oregon State Capitol

Oregon Working Families Party is organizing turnout.

Wednesday, April 19 at 11 AM - 1 PM
Oregon State Capitol
Co-hosted by: Oregon Chapter, Sierra Club Oregon Wild Forest Web of Cottage Grove , Citizens of Rockaway Beach for Watershed Protection,Defenders of Wildlife , Pacific Rivers, Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Coast Range Forest Watch, Rogue Riverkeeper,KS Wild (Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center), Willamette Valley Broadband, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, 350 Eugene

350 Salem OR. Is Co-hosting The Salem March For Science / Earth Day 2017

Saturday, April 22 at 11 AM - 1 PM

Oregon State Capitol

350 Salem OR, local affiliate of international climate action organization,* is proud to co-host the Salem March for Science. Publicly funded and supported scientific research is absolutely crucial for our understanding of the rapidly changing climate. NASA, NOAA, EPA, NSIDC, NCAR, DOE, ARPA-E and other agencies provide indispensable knowledge that we need to inform our policies, practices and technological innovations. We welcome people to join our climate science contingent and encourage you to visit our information table on April 22.

*350 refers to the concentration in parts per million (ppm) of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere that many scientists consider to be the safe upper limit for a stable climate. We are now over 400 ppm.

Bread And Roses Is Still A Key Demand!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monmouth: An Inclusivity City---Tuesday, April 4 at 7 PM - 8 PM

Monmouth: An Inclusivity City
Tuesday, April 4 at 7 PM - 8 PM

In the previous City Council Meeting from March 21st, several resolutions were proposed to help bring Inclusivity to Monmouth. Students spoke against the possibility of simply having a statement made to the city because it didn't involve commitment to the community. A draft of Salem's Inclusivity City resolution (Thanks to CAUSA) was sent to the members of the council and most were receptive to it. The resolution will be voted on April 4th and we need your support! We were able to get this far because of the commitment, support, and pressure put on by the community of Monmouth and students from Western Oregon University. Let's keep the pressure on and have our voices heard! #powertothepeople

In Solidarity,

Hola amig(x)s y aliad(x)s

En la cita anterior de los Consejeros de la ciudad de Monmouth, varias resoluciones fueron presentados acerca de transformar la ciudad de Monmouth a una ciudad de Inclusividad. Estudientes vinieron y hablaron en contra de una declaracion que no demonstraba compromiso con la comunidad. Una copia de la resolucion que uso Salem fue presentada (gracias a CAUSA) a los consejeros. El 4 de Abril tomaran un voto acerca de la resolucion y necesitamos su apoyo! Hemos llegado aqui porque la comunidad de Monmouth y la Universidad de Western demostraron su apoyo y compromiso a este movimiento. No nos vamos a rendir hasta que la ciudad de Monmouth apoye a todos!

En Solidaridad,

Sunday, March 26, 2017


At our Oregon Socialist Renewal meeting today we spent much time discussing basic socialist economics. Here is a living example of wht that can look like under especially dificult circumstances:

In the midst of occupation, an economic experiment launched by a handful of Palestinian socialists has demonstrated a different way that the region's economy could develop if the Israeli occupation can be ended and resources made available to workers and village farmers. Residents of the West Bank village of Kafr Ein have established a modest olive oil cooperative to solve immediate economic problems. Inspired by old militants of the Palestinian Communist Party, the cooperative is democratic, participatory, and inclusive, with both men and women serving in positions of authority. The only limits to development this collective has faced are external – the lack of capital and the political situation. In spite of these obstacles, the Palestinian collectivizers of Kafr Ein have planted seeds that they hope will be harvested when the occupation ends and a liberated Palestine will see the development of a collective, democratic, socialist economy.

One the key organizers of the Kafr Ein collective is Daoud Al-Barghouthi. In his eighties now, Daoud is a wealth of stories from his days as an underground organizer for the Communist Party during the days of direct Israeli military governance. Daoud was a teacher, employed in the schools where he organized and participated in strikes and union organizing. Now in his retirement, Daoud is anything but inactive. With comrades from the Communist Party, rechristened the Palestinian People's Party in 1991, Daoud co-founded the Agricultural Land Company, an innocuous name for an ambitious project.

Read the entire article here.

URGENT: Francisco, a Portland Dreamer and DACA recipient, was detained by ICE early on Sunday morning and needs your help.

URGENT: Francisco, a Portland Dreamer and DACA recipient, was detained by ICE early on Sunday morning and needs your help. Francisco is an active volunteer at his church and works at Latino Network where he coordinates a food pantry for low income families.

Call ICE to demand Francisco’s release at (503) 326-3302 and say, “I’m calling on behalf of Francisco J. Rodriguez Dominguez, a 25-year-old DACA recipient. Francisco is an important part of our community, please release him today.”

Late words:

Call ICE to demand Francisco’s release at (503) 326-3302 and say, “I’m calling on behalf of Francisco J. Rodriguez Dominguez, a 25-year-old DACA recipient. Francisco is an important part of our community, please release him today.”
"The ACLU of Oregon says Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents detained a man at his Southeast Portland home Sunday morning.

Francisco Rodriguez Dominguez, 25, has been part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program – or DACA – since 2013.

DACA allows people who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation."

A Podcast Featuring Democratic Socialists Of America (DSA) National Leaders

Listen to this podcast "The Dig: The Democratic Socialists of America and the Fight Against Trump" featuring Maria Svart (DSA National Director) and Sean Monahan (DSA National Political Committee) as they "discuss some tough questions about the fight for socialism in the coming months and years, both for DSA members and those who aren't." (1 hour 17 minutes).…/the-dig-the-democratic-socialist…/

A Labor Solidarity Rally In Corvallis on April 13

Thursday, April 13, 11am - 1pm:  Solidarity Rally with SEIU 503 Higher Ed Classified Workers

In front of Valley Library (Dibble Dell), OSU Campus

Higher Ed Classified Workers (nearly 5000 workers on 7 campuses) will start bargaining for wages and healthcare starting March 30. On April 13 the bargaining team will meet on OSU's campus.
Come rally and take action for a fair contract!
Speakers (at noon), food, music.

FMI:  Siobhan, burkes[at]

A United Students Against Sweatshops Forum In Corvallis

Thursday, Apr. 6, 7pm - 9pm:  Former Garment Worker Speakout

United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) is conducting a nationwide “Nike: Just Do the Right Thing” speaking tour featuring Sophorn Yang, a Cambodian garment worker and former union President who will talk about the hardships she experienced producing apparel for brands like Nike, and the need for independent factory monitoring.
This event is the latest in USAS’s campaign to get Ed Ray to affiliate with the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent labor watchdog organization, to access and inspect garment factories around the world. Let’s make sure our University takes a stand for workers who make our Beavers apparel!

This speaking tour event will be an incredibly powerful and rare opportunity for students and faculty to speak directly with a worker who can talk about the harsh realities of producing University apparel abroad, and how students can help with their struggle for justice. We hope to see you there!

Causa Advocacy Day--This Thursday, March 30--Please Attend!

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

Oregon State Capitol, 900 Court St NE, Salem
Join us for Causa's Advocacy Day!

Causa supporters will be in the Capitol to talk with legislators about our priority issues including Cover All Kids and the Fair Shot Agenda. Legislators will be deciding on important laws that affect our communities. Let's make sure we pass laws that will help our immigrant families have healthy and safe communities!

Lunch will be provided. RSVP now and get a Causa T-Shirt!

For questions, please contact Cristina Marquez, cristinam[at]

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Viola Liuzzo---Heroine, activist, martyr

Viola Liuzzo
April 11, 1925-March 25,1965
Heroine, activist, martyr
Assassinated on this date in 1965 in Selma, Alabama 

April 4---A National Day Of Protest---Join Black Lives Matter In The Fight For $15

And remember...

Stable Homes for Oregon Lobby Day, March, and Rally on Wednesday, April 12

Help turn up the tenant protections heat. Let's ell our legislators that no cause evictions and excessive rent increases must end. Bring a friend, or two.

Oregon State Capitol
Wednesday, April 12
10 AM - 5 PM

Don't wait, Register today!
Free food, childcare, transportation, and interpretation. 

Regístrese hoy en Español:
GRATIS comida, cuidado de niños, transporte e interpretación

The Internationale--A Modern Rock Pop Version In Chinese And French

A Few Of Us Attended The Salem Stands For Love Rally Today...

The rally was much larger at points than the picture above shows, there were plenty of media workers there and some good talks. Cameron Whitten did a great job in going into the crowd with our megaphone and getting people to talk and to chant. Alex from LUS hit the necessary point that organizing needs to be done and needs to involve and be led by people of color at the grassroots. This was a first-ever for some people, including the event organizer who worked hard on this effort and deserves our solidarity. Black Bloc folks showed up, got the media attention and had the expected confrontations with the cops and Trump supporters; the Trump  rally was effectively disrupted, but their march went on.

Two people, one of them a Black Bloc member, got clocked in the confrontations, and a right-winger with a weapon got busted. If the provocations came from Black Bloc, the violence came from the Trump supporters. I found the dynamic disempowering: the Black Bloc folks announced that they were there to defend us, but we didn't ask for their help and we have to live with the right-wingers here and they don't. Why can't people in this community empower ourselves to defend ourselves and determine what happens at rallies here?

I'm still trying to process what happened today. Both our crowd and the Trump supporters suffered from low turnout, and many people on our side were busy running back and forth between the two rallies. Lots of time was spent milling around, and a few people spoke about coming events and building on today. The cops were unnecessarily and stupidly causing problems and targeted us, and particular individuals. Still, at one point they let me and another comrade through their line because we are white, old and male. We lost a tactical opportunity to block or slow the Trump march on the sidewalks because so much attention was focused on the rally.

Among the Trump folks were many very angry people with racist signage, and some with the confederate battle flag and guns. Our side is also angry, but theirs comes armed and belligerent in their racism and sexism and homophobia and with their disdain for facts, feelings and discussion. It's not a matter of us being better than them, although our politics are indeed better and more nuanced, but of a contest of wills: will the U.S. be transformed into a place of peace, equality, security, environmentalism and cooperation, or will it lead the fascist camp and reaction?

How do we think about these events and where do they take us? Mobilizing is not organizing, but mobilizing against fascism is necessary. The Black Bloc presence and competing events took people away from today's events, but this is a moment when pressure and involvement are needed. If people of color are not in leadership and not showing up, what should allies, accomplices and freedom fighters do?

We have the opportunity to start organizing every day, and groups like Salem's Racial Justice Organizing Committee, Salem Resists, our socialist group and many local people of color organizations are doing that. And we have some opportunities for mobilizing and getting better at it: next week we have a rally on Wednesday and the Causa lobby day on Thursday and May Day is coming up---and we need thousands of people with us in Salem on May Day! Organizing is the test, and mobilizing is the fruit of our organizing and marks the depth of our support among the people.

Matthew Curtis Heagy, the right-wing felon arrested at the rally who was armed and used pepper spray against a cop.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

An Elephant Car Wash In Winston, Oregon? Really? What Does That Say About Capitalism And Nature?

According to an e-mail petition effort, Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon is forcing their elephants to wash visitors' cars.They make the elephants fill their trunks with soapy water, spray the cars, and then sponge them down, says the petition. Wildlife Safari makes $25 for the work. The photo above comes from the petition.

The petition also says that "the elephants would not do this without being tortured into submission by bull hooks" and says that this can be seen in the pictures and videos taken by visitors.

Outside of the damage done to these elephants and the cruelty and exploitation involved, we have the question of our relationship to animals. Socialists struggle with understanding and explaining this relationship. Joseph Fracchia recently wrote a difficult to understand but important essay on this topic for Monthly Review.

From Fracchia:  

In 1845, in a comment that can retrospectively be taken as an anticipation of Darwin, Marx noted, “We recognize only one single Wissenschaft [field of study], the Wissenschaft of history. History can be observed from two sides, it can be divided into the history of nature and the history of human beings. Both sides are however inseparable; as long as human beings exist, the history of nature and the history of human beings mutually condition [bedingen] each other.” Having thus established a unity in difference of the natural and social/human sciences, Marx greeted the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859 as “the book that contains the natural historical basis for our view.” Marx did object to Darwin’s excessive reliance on the Malthusian notion of the “struggle for survival.” He was also amused that Darwin discovered “among the beasts and plants” a mirror of the struggle for economic survival in the existing capitalist society. He found Darwin’s “English writing style” rather “crude.” But Marx was nevertheless convinced that Darwin had made possible the bridging of the gap between a materialist conception of human “natural history” and a materialist conception of human history, creating the possibility for the development of a single Wissenschaft with two distinct, but corporeally related dimensions.

The affinities between Darwin’s conception of natural history and Marx’s conception of history lie in their unabashedly materialist focus on corporeal organization. As the foundation of peculiarly human modes of objectification, human corporeal organization can thus be conceived as the mid-point and link between the two dimensions of history—pointing both “backward” toward the natural history of its evolution, and also forward to the worlds that humans have made for themselves with this corporeal organization. Students of paleoanthropology disagree, often vehemently, in their explanations of human origins—whether the key element in human evolution was bipedality, the opposable thumb, toolmaking, the sharing of food and sociability, the larger brain, or language and culture. Nevertheless, they all focus on the emergence of the uniquely human corporeal organization; and they all recognize the evolved human body as the source of Homo sapiens' unique social and cultural capacities. The emergence of human corporeal organization is at once the last fact of human natural history and the first fact of historical materialism, that approaches human histories “up from the body.”

I think that what Fracchia is saying is that we accept without much thought that we are different from animals, but that we mistake what these differences consist of, and that we need to be about the work of looking at physicality differently than we do---from a scientific and revolutionary-class based position rather than one which starts from what seems most apparent and is centered on exchange-value, differences and exploitation. If we consider ourselves as apart from the world of other animals we are saying that we are alienated from the world. If we include ourselves in that world, and find our place in it, then every relationship changes. No more elephants washing cars. If you wouldn't make your grandmother do it, you shouldn't make an elephant do it.

Even if I'm getting Fracchia wrong, my point is valid. People who find elephants being forced to wash cars amusing or interesting either aren't thinking things through or are accepting a form of alienation basic to capitalism and one which despoils and exploits the environment.

I'm assuming that the petitioner got her facts right and that Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon has the elephant carwash going. Whether that is happening as described or not, the point remains that a socialist society---a society based on cooperation, shared social responsibilities, equality, collective ownership and environmentalism---would not allow such a thing, and that this would be based on a holistic view of our natural world.

PDX Divest--From Amazon, Caterpillar, Nestle, and Wells Fargo. Stand Up for Human Rights!

Oppose Portland's plan to turn our investments over to Wall Street! Support keeping our Socially Responsible Investments policy and the Socially Responsible Investments Committee! We're asking the City to add these four companies to the Do-Not-Buy list because of their environmental, labor, indigenous rights, immigrant rights, and human rights violations from Standing Rock to Palestine.

Wednesday, March 29 at 2 PM
Portland Building
1120 SW Fifth Avenue

The End of the Malheur Occupation, the Future of Environmental Communism

This essay comes from material excluded from a more general piece on land privatization on Everyday Feminism – please read that one here!

Seizure, Ownership and Bias

At the beginning of 2016 – which now feels so very long ago – a tiny, unspectacular, but beloved corner of our home state erupted into global fame.  A crew of neo-con cowboys from Nevada strutted up to the federal buildings of the Malheur Wildlife refuge – a wetland sanctuary in a remote desert that protects and shelters thousands of birds along the Pacific flyway – cocked their rifles, hoisted up their belt loops, and stomped inside.  They thus began a forty-day armed occupation that captivated public interest and inflamed debates over rural land practices in western states.   The saga evoked warped fantasies of an old west golden age where white men claimed power with the clarity of steel, and it simultaneously consumed many Oregonians with visceral rage. 

On Tuesday, Judge Anna Brown found four participants the occupation guilty of a range of misdemeanor offenses, such as trespassing, tampering with vehicles, and damaging government property. The ruling followed a widely-publicized case last fall, in which a jury acquitted the leaders of the movement – brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy – of conspiracy to impede government employees from doing their jobs.   

Many questioned the strategic wisdom of prosecutors attempting the high legal bar of conspiracy charges, as opposed to, say, the much more accessible charge of trespassing.  Many others voiced shock and outrage that dozens of white men decrying the authority of the state and openly inciting armed rebellion managed to hold their ground, unthreatened or impeded by law enforcement for forty days, and escape – save one (in the final standoff/highway chase between officers and militia, state troopers shot and killed LaVoy Finicum) – with their lives, with no criminal convictions, and no threat of retribution.
During those chaotic months, the Bundy family and their conspirators wrested the communities and conflicts of Harney county from their relative obscurity into an unending world-wide news cycle.  As appalling as the actions of these self-congratulating ranchers were, it was also disturbing, as a child of Oregon's political land struggles, to see Buzzfeed essays with insultingly glib titles like, “The Top Ten things you Need to Know to Understand the Malheur Refuge Occupation,” and to hear cattle grazing fees discussed on the SavageLove podcast. 

 It felt invasive to have one of my treasured pieces of hallowed desert and granite and lava tubes and Mesozoic lake beds and blood memory suddenly laid barren for urban pundits of the Atlantic seaboard to unpack, even though I know quite well that my feeling of connection to the area is nothing of particular righteousness.   Those feelings prompted more essential questions of who has rights to land, what do those rights mean, and why are they, or are they not, respected?  (Those ideas are more essentially questioned in this piece)

I fear that the bungled trial and resulting lack of charges for the Bundy leaders might embolden other violent white men to take up arms in park offices across the nation.  However, these events, now coinciding with our current national crisis, highlight how the systemic and institutional inequality in our nation rests on the defining battle of western America: the questions and tensions of private and public land.  These divisions and definitions are not only integral to the struggles of conservation and climate change playing out slowly in the vast west of craggy overhangs and stalking mountain lions and jagged ridge lines and careful slot canyons.  These tensions display an underlying narrative of the imperialism, intricately crafted racist institutions and power imbalances that our democracy tenderly hinges on.

The History of Federal Land

Not long after the signing of the Declaration of Independence and before the end of the Revolutionary War, the Second Continental Congress began encouraging the existing states to cede their territory to the federal government.  A few years later, the Land Ordinances of 1784 and 1785, and then the creation of the General Land Office, capitalized on that super swell idea and said, basically, “HEY LOOKIT THERE’S A LOT OF SPACE OUT THERE.  LET’S JUST KEEP WALKING TOWARD THE OTHER OCEAN AND LIKE, TAKE IT?? WE WILL BE VERY POWERFUL AND GRAND YES OK EUROPE WILL NEVER MAKE FUN OF US AGAIN!” Or, as you learned in US History class “Tales of the Dark Side” edition, the feds sought to encourage “westward expansion” by opening-up the world west of the Appalachians to migration, travel, and homesteading, and started annexing land as new states and territories.   People moved west and occupied more land, the Federal Government continued making more purchases and wars and treaties and coin tosses, and probably strip poker bets, and eventually, we ended up with about 450 billion acres of federal public land in the country – with the vast majority of that in the 17 western states. 

And here’s a good place to point out how deeply flawed and biased our narratives of “westward expansion” are.  That’s pretty much the narrative I learned as a kid in an Oregon public school.  But do you notice how the actual violence, seizure, theft, occupation, and war that settler colonialism enacted on indigenous peoples gets happily coded as “westward expansion?” How the story of “American land” always seems to start in Philadelphia, in 1775, and move steadfastly westward with the trumpeting chorus of an army of white-faced angels? 

 The echoes of the divine proclamation of euro-centric manifest destiny still reverberate in our garbled and skewed national memory, and in the tracts of the public school system that is often FUNDED by those very same stolen lands.  Let’s always keep that in mind whenever we rehash the history of lands and America and people and space and questions of who gets to be where. 

 By the early 1800s, lots of folks realized that ranching was a pretty stellar way to make a living in the new west – grazing cattle and sheep on public lands all summer, and bringing them back closer to a home ranch for winter.  This went on as the amount of cattle and sheep quadrupled into the tens of millions by the end of the 19th century, and soon, people started complaining about the abrupt degradation of grasslands and habitat.  In the past 100 years, there have been a series of acts and shifts in public opinion that have limited and changed the number of ranchers and the amount of herds that can wander around foraging on federally owned lands all growing season.  People started realizing that the mass production of cattle on high desert prairies is devastating to ecosystems and causes irreparable damage to riparian systems, as well as rather unrepentently violent.  They also began to push back against the use of public funds for the profit driven interests of a few.  It’s more complicated than this, of course, but other resource extraction based industries - like mining and logging – have similar patterns in their (rather short) history.  

In the 1970s and 80s, a movement called the Sagebrush Rebellion argued for the transfer of federal land holdings to individual state management.  That’s a refrain that probably sounds familiar, because in general, it’s a trend that’s in line with Republican party standards – boo to federal government, yay to state control.  But critics retorted that this would only serve to hurt citizens even more, by pushing the burden of expensive land management onto states with even smaller budgets to try and make up for it.  With no clear plan as to how states might manage, many critics of the movement decried it as a scheme for land privatization – in which the government would eventually end up selling tracts of land off to private interests, who could manage them “better” than big old unwieldy bureaucratic governments, and do what “private” interests are ultimately supposed to do best in our glorious free market – make a profit. 

Today, ranchers like those who participated in the armed seizure of the Malheur refuge are also vying for private control of federally owned lands.  And while some of their concerns might seem like something compassionate activists might be sympathetic to, the push to transfer lands from federal government to private ownership is not something that is in the best interest for people who are interested in a free and equitable society.  Remember, that when we say “federal lands,” it doesn’t mean authoritarian ownership and control.  Don’t think fascism. Think Woody Guthrie (the version with all the lyrics). 

This land, in theory, belongs to the public – you – and it’s simply held in trust for you to be managed by governmental agencies, because you don’t have time for that.  Is it perfect? No.  Is this land we’re on already the result of a vast and horrifying centuries long illegal occupation? Yeah.  But is it better to take a stake in responsibility as one of the people to decide how this land should be brutalized, scavenged, gutted, scoured, trammeled, or treasured, trod, travelled and lovingly utilized, than, say, Wells Fargo, Halliburton, or Ammon Bundy and his punk kids?  I think so, because I think therein lies our opportunity to move toward a different world.  

 Environmental Struggle must be the Workers’ Struggle

  It is essential for anti-racist activists, feminists, and environmentalists to factor in how conceptualizations of property and land are knotted up in our oppressive institutions, and to seriously consider the threat of land privatization as a fundamental threat to a free society.  And if that’s the case, we must realize that the private investment in resource extraction and land ownership for profit is essential to the machinations of an oppressive world. 

There is no way to unwind the oppressive cycles of race and gender without understanding them as completely wrapped up in a capitalist conceptualization of property ownership and the history of land.  And in that, we must register that our coalition for a free world must be based on the bonds of struggle between the earth and all oppressed people.  Our struggle against pipelines is our struggle against violence and imperialism but it is also our struggle against the adulation of profit for few from the work of many. 

This is why I fear the inappropriate position the Malheur conspirators occupy for many rural workers who struggle.  They see men like the Bundy’s claim to represent the desires and best interests of working men in rural places.  But men like the Bundy’s lie.  They are not there for the people – they are there for themselves and for their own profit, just as cattle ranchers are not there for the good of the people or their heritage or the land as they claim but to continue building their own wealth at the sake of all else til they die.  

When land-owning, well-connected, wealthy white men adopt renegade, vigilante rhetoric and reference civil disobedience and civil rights, they commandeer the narrative of actual history and make their acts of violence invisible or sympathetic.   In this fashion, the Malheur refuge occupiers repeatedly referred to the regulations of government on public land as acts of “terrorism” against men like themselves.  But the contradiction of being anti-government and anti-establishment, while invoking the supreme righteousness of the range-land property owner above all others, is rather extraordinary. 

And as much hope as I try to salvage in the power of federal land ownership, the powers of the state are, overall, on the side of the white-supremacist history of European-American property management.  The institutions of the United states are, when it comes down to it, not only singly invested in supporting the needs and desires of this very tiny, specific class of people, the state was designed for it.   Thus, ranchers, miners, timber industry barons and wildlife-refuge occupiers must carefully balance the irony of being the historic and present establishment, while propagating their power via anti-establishment positions.  When we allow the privileged to co-opt the language, position, and struggle of the oppressed, they silence actual oppressed people, they stomp down on their stories and pain and grind it into the dirt. 

Provocateurs like this invent a false narrative that drives divisions between native people, white rural Oregonians (et al), workers in the cities and the valleys, farmworkers, and environmentalists.  We must not allow misconceptions and poorly told myths to make enemies of those who should be our comrades, and discolor the reality of the world in which we live. 

Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.0 percent in February---But what's next?

The March 21 report from the Oregon Employment Department says the following:

Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.0 percent in February, from 4.3 percent in January. This was the lowest unemployment rate since comparable records began in 1976. Oregon’s 4.0 percent unemployment rate was significantly lower than the U.S. unemployment rate of 4.7 percent in February.

In February, the number of unemployed Oregonians dropped to about 82,000, which was the lowest number since August 1995 when about 82,000 were unemployed. By contrast, the labor force has grown from just under 1.7 million in 1995 to over 2.0 million today.

In February, nonfarm payroll employment surged ahead by 8,200 following a revised gain of 700 in January. Government grew the most of the major sectors, as it added 4,400 jobs, rebounding from a loss of 3,400 jobs in January. Similarly, health care and social assistance shot up by 2,400 jobs in February following a loss of 1,700 the prior month. Manufacturing added 1,300 after a loss of 200 in January. Construction continued to grow rapidly by adding 900 jobs in February, following a strong gain of 2,500 in January. Only one major industry cut more than 600 jobs in February as transportation, warehousing and utilities shed 1,400.

Over the past 12 months, payroll employment added 39,900 jobs, or 2.2 percent, which was a slight deceleration from the growth rate near or above 3 percent throughout much of the past four years. Oregon is still growing faster than the U.S. growth rate of 1.6 percent.

Government employment is a major factor in employment growth here, but this comes as the state budget and services faces a particular crisis driven in large part by corporations gaming the system and not paying their necessary shares in taxes. It seems doubtful that government employment will continue to help sustain job growth unless this is done through temporary work and short-term grants which do not provide much security for workers and which hurt service delivery. Likewise, Trump's healthcare plan will do some serious damage to what passes for a healthcare infrastructure, and the industry will downsize.

Manufacturing, mining and logging, utilities and wholesale trade losses hurt because it is the production of goods and services and the distribution of these goods and services which make the system run and because so many of these jobs are being lost due to automation. Some of these losses can be sustained while people can find jobs elsewhere, but when workers cannot be absorbed elsewhere then we are in crisis mode. Automation only produces more but does not guarantee consumption; the higher profit rates which are achieved help create a long-term tendency towards monopolization and most often go into the pockets of multinational corporations and banks. So-called "excess capital" feeds the worst part of the banks and the multinational financial institutions and these destroy our communities through housing bubbles and evictions, privatization of schools and services and raids on pension funds. Mining and logging can't and won't provide long-term employment, and they create overall ecological and economic losses which cannot be fixed under capitalism.

I'm not taking a "half-empty glass" approach. If you're working and making money and have time to breathe and relax, enjoy it. But we need a Plan B in place for when the worst of the state budget crisis hits, when many of us lose healthcare, and as automation increases.


Oregon communities are passing inclusivity resolutions. Who's next? I hope that it's Keizer and Monmouth!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

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

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

Dear Supporters of Occupation-Free Portland,

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

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

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

Commissioner Nick Fish: 503-823-3589
Commissioner Amanda Fritz: 503-823-3008
Commissioner Dan Saltzman: 503-823-4151
Commissioner Chloe Eudaly: 503-823-4682
Mayor Ted Wheeler: 503-823-4120

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

Upcoming Events:

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

Please bring your favorite dish.
Join us for an evening of Silk Road Cultural Diplomacy with the Latino American Community in Portland to foster an understanding of our Latino-American cultures. We will enjoy a conversation with our panelists, followed by a potluck dinner.

Sun 26 March 2017, 7:00pm-9:00pm
Film: Speed Sisters
Hollywood Theatre 4100–4114 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR 97212, United States

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

Wed 29 March 2017, 2pm - 5pm

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

Teachers In Solidarity With Palestine

Monday, March 20, 2017

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

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

The proposed cuts to our retirement are:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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