Groups of comrades attended from the U.S. and several Latin American countries. Workers came from auto factories, the maquiladoras, garment shops, the military, aerospace and many more. They were college and high school teachers and students. They were leaders of mass struggles of workers and students north and south of the Río Grande. They were women and men; black, Latin, Asian, and white; young and old; communists all!
The PLP Chairperson and a leader of the Party in a "defense" industry both spoke at the opening session (see page 2 Editorial). Then everyone took part in workshops to share experiences and discuss the obstacles to, and opportunities for, building an international PLP.
A "Standing Room Only" crowd of hundreds attended a dinner on Saturday night. Revolutionary greetings were delivered from Ethiopia, Turkey, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, El Salvador and India to name a few. Every part of the conference helped renew our confidence in the Party and the working class. A stirring "Thank You" to one of the Party's founding leader swept everyone to their feet, with hardly a dry eye in the room. The singing of the Internationale sounded as though it would lift the roof off the building.
On the closing day we resumed our workshops and continued our struggle--how to begin to overcome the collapse of the old communist movement; how to deepen and expand the base for PLP in the mass movement; how to lead sharper class struggle against the enemy; how to organize our lives around those we are trying to win.
At the closing Plenary, a young worker making $6.00 an hour in basic industry again brought the comrades to their feet. She spoke of helping to bring 120 striking janitors to the SF Bay Area May Day march, and the need for every member to be a leader. Her enthusiasm and revolutionary fervor swept the auditorium. Others spoke as well, and groups of comrades sang revolutionary songs from around the world. A comrade dedicated the conference to Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and all those workers and youth who have fought to smash capitalism. Two of the founding members of PLP, who have passed away, were also honored. The conference closed with spirits soaring in the singing of the Internationale.
To be sure, we are on a long march. But it is the life we choose: to serve the working class and fight for communist revolution. It is an honor and a privilege, not a sacrifice. This weekend was a blow to cynicism and defeatism. It was a small but significant step on the Road to Revolution. Indeed, we are standing on the shoulders of millions who fought for a communist world without bosses, from the Paris Commune to the Bolsbevik Revolution to the Chinese Red Army's Long March to the Battle of Stalingrad, which crushed the Nazi war machine in the turning point of World War II..
I saw a children's movie this week called "Chicken Run." This film, about a chicken revolution, had two important lessons. First, the leader of the chickens was repeatedly put in solitary confinement. Each time she came out, the other chickens would gather around her and ask, "What's the plan?" Second, the chicken revolution couldn't succeed until it could visualize a world without the farmer--a world where they would find their own food and be responsible for one another.
Without a plan, we'll be running around in circles. Without knowing what we're fighting for, we can't make the lifetime commitment that revolution requires.
I want to compare our event this weekend with the Camp David talks. U.S. imperialism wants to impose "Pax Americana" so it can make strategic plans to defend its oil empire. Arafat wants a deal that allows his gang of local bosses to get rich off the labor power of Palestinian workers. Barak & Co. want a deal that allows Israeli rulers to build an empire in their corner of the Middle East. There's no principle here except the scramble for maximum profits. Even if they cook up an agreement, it will only lead to more war in Iraq and throughout the region. As long as the imperialists hold power, there will be wars. That is the profit system's iron law.
Capitalism invented nations. Only a Communist Party can smash them.
What we are doing today stands in stark contrast to the bosses' cynical peace charade. On the face of it, this conference might not seem like much: a few hundred people getting together to discuss the building of one international communist party. Some say, "You're good people, but you're wasting your time. The obstacles are too great. You will never build one international communist movement." Will we?
It's true there are great obstacles now and greater difficulties to come. The defeat of the old communist movement from within was a tremendous blow. We were slow to recognize the magnitude and long-range impact of this defeat. Every process has been affected. This is the real dark ages. This is the period when we must understand the importance of every step we take--and that every step has its own contradictions. We're selling a few CHALLENGES, on the road to selling many more. We have discussions on our jobs with a handful of workers, but at the same time we are marching into the bosses' mass organizations to put ourselves in position to influence thousands.
Our demonstrations against the fascist attacks on workers; our pickets against police terror; our recruitment of the ones and twos--all of these lay the basis for the inevitable recruitment of the hundreds of thousands to come.
This is a "dot.com," instant gratification culture. We must fight the illusion that victory will come quickly. But the other side of the coin is another illusion: that we are on a fool's quest. We need to understand that even in the darkest period, the Party can make qualitative leaps and affect the class struggle. We must not stand still waiting for the next period to come. We must fight harder now in order to be able to change the objective conditions.
What has the so-called death of communism enabled the world's bosses to do for the working class? Hundreds of millions "live" on less than $2 per day. Racism and the degradation of women and children have intensified. The ruling classes of the world have sought to imprison the entire working class in ignorance and superficiality through their rotten culture and their rotten schools. There is non-stop war throughout the world. Is this the best the profit system can offer? YES! This is the only way it can operate.
The working class and we can do better. Mao said a very profound thing: "How different is the logic of the imperialists from that of the people! Make trouble, fail, make trouble again, fail again...until their doom. That is the logic of the imperialists and all reactionaries the world over in dealing with the people's cause, and they will never go against this logic. This is a Marxist law.
"...Fight, fail, fight again, fail again, fight again...till their victory. That is the logic of the people, and they too will never go against this logic. This is another Marxist law. The Russian people's revolution followed this law, and so has the Chinese people's revolution.
"Classes struggle, some classes triumph, others are eliminated. Such is history; such is the history of civilization for thousands of years. To interpret history from this viewpoint is historical materialism; standing in opposition to this viewpoint is historical idealism." ("Cast Away Illusions, Prepare for Struggle," 1949)
This was written just as the Chinese revolution was seizing power. We know it didn't work out because Mao and the Chinese Communist Party had a line that ultimately turned a good thing into a bad thing. But the ideas he expressed here remain true today.
The old movement's demise was the worst defeat in the history of the world's working class and its struggle to advance humanity. Now we are beginning to grasp its significance. But even the worst defeat carries the elements of its opposite. We are here to build on those.
Let's not be fooled by appearances. A few hundred workers from several dozen countries can't seize power today. But we represent the future of the working class. We are sowing the seeds for a great red harvest. We have picked up the red flag that the traitors have trampled and we are proudly waving it. Our efforts this weekend can lead to Party growth.
Don't think for a moment that what we are doing here is insignificant. Every great revolution began with small numbers. The Bolsheviks were small once, and the Chinese as well. In our own history, we have seen our Party's ability to influence masses far beyond our immediate numbers.
The Harlem rebellion, where we played a very modest role, had the NYC bosses quaking in their boots when thousands of black workers held up CHALLENGE as their symbol of rebellion. In the anti-Vietnam War movement, the Party influenced thousands of young people through its caucus in SDS, the Worker-Student Aliance. In Boston, l975, the Party organized students to go door to door to win the support of white and black workers for integration, and confronted the gutter racists of ROAR on the Boston streets. There have been the many fights against the Klan and Nazis, where we have led hundreds of thousands in hand-to-hand combat against the racists.
In recent history, the Party has led hundreds in Mexico in the UNAM strike, in the Dominican Republic and El Salvador against the maquiladoras. More recently, among unionized workers in Philadelphia hospitals and in Bay Area transit, we are showing our willingness to confront the dangerous misleaders in the mass organizations and fight them for leadership of the working class.
We have many weaknesses to overcome. That is what we are here to do: to discuss the work in the spirit of comradely criticism/self-criticism; to figure out how we can help each other improve the Party everywhere, so that it can become the leadership of the international working class. We are here to begin to turn the potential into the actual.
"Casting away illusions" means both facing hard truths and understanding the tremendous importance of everything we do, even if it's just learning from our errors. This may be a hard period, but by joining, leading, and building the Party, we have still made the best possible choice for our lives. With great difficulty and in the face of many obstacles--internal as well as external--we are slowly creating the conditions that will eventually enable our successors to seize power.
We don't deny reality. We don't shrink from difficulty. We don't believe complex problems can be solved with mechanical slogans. Our response to the present period is hard work, base-building, confidence in the working class. Our response to this period is to build the Progressive Labor Party.
Lenin said, "Truth is always concrete." Today and tomorrow, discuss the work, the problems in the work, the contradictions at every level of our practice: among the rulers, between the workers and the bosses, among the workers, within the Party, within each of us. We can leave here stronger--with a more united, determined organization, with a deeper understanding of reality and what we must do to change it, and with renewed confidence in the Party, each other and ourselves.
As long as the Party is still in the field, still fighting for our communist line, we are winning. We are building One World, One Class, One Flag, One Communist Party, One Dictatorship of the Proletariat.
Comrades, I have been with the Party for a year and a half and I am very happy to have found it. Being in the Party, I helped to bring some of the janitors you met and heard at this meeting. These janitors helped us mobilize 120 of their fellow workers and relatives to the communist PLP May Day march in the [San Francisco] Bay Area.
It is my first participation in this kind of Party conference. I am here to learn from all the participants how to motivate myself to continue giving communist leadership. All of us here are leaders of PLP because the Party wants leaders, not followers.
In my workshop one comrade said he felt burnt out. But I know how much good political work he has done in the past and I know that he and I came out of this conference fired up. We can now go out and organize and develop other leaders of the working class.
I know the political work is hard. It has given me many sleepless nights. But I know it is key work for the Party. I want to distribute more CHALLENGES in my shop. But not only that, I want to build a base for our Party. Comrades, long live communism!
All of this shows that, after years of turmoil, the Republican Party now rests solidly in the grip of the dominant Rockefeller wing of U.S. capital. The Democrats have served Rockefeller oil interests loyally for decades. Gulf War II to secure Mideast oil now tops the agendas of both parties.
Following his selection, the NY TIMES-owned BOSTON GLOBE (7/27) praised Cheney's 1991 firing of Air Force General Michael Dugan for "telling reporters that air power alone would defeat Saddam Hussein." Cheney kept his eyes on the oily prize, the GLOBE said, when he forced General Powell to retake Kuwait's oil fields, instead of simply defending Saudi Arabia's, as Powell had suggested. The GLOBE said Cheney's only regret was not continuing the fight to Baghdad and eliminating the Hussein regime. That's the goal of Desert Storm II.
A classic hired gun, Cheney has never hesitated to spill workers' blood for the benefit of oil bosses of any stripe, even Rockefeller foes. He heads Halliburton, the world's largest oil field service company. It does work for any firm that comes up with the cash. Last year, Halliburton was helping BP Amoco (an Exxon rival) build a pipeline that would carry Caspian crude through Macedonia, within shooting range of the Kosovo border. To protect the operation, Halliburton "signed a $180 million-a-year contract to provide full logistic services to U.S. forces stationed in the Balkans" (ABC News, 5/6/99). With Cheney's aid, those forces and their NATO allies rained bombs on Kosovo and the rest of Serbia, killing tens of thousands of civilians. But as BP Amoco's political clout wanes in the U.S., Cheney has returned to the Rockefeller fold.
Another Bush advisor pounding the war drums is Condoleezza Rice, a foreign policy expert at Stanford University. Rice leaves no room for doubt. "Iraq is an outlaw state," she told the FINANCIAL TIMES (7/25). "The U.S. has to rebuild some elements of the Gulf War coalition" she said. Like Cheney, Rice favors a land invasion over Clinton's haphazard, but continuing, air strikes. "If you ever get a chance, you have to act decisively and not in a pinprick fashion. It has been `fire a few Cruise missiles.' I don't think it was a serious military effort," Rice complained. Rice said she regrets that Saddam has survived this long.
A protégé of the conservative Hoover Institution, Rice has become a star among the dominant wing's policy makers. A director of Rockefeller's Chevron, she also advises J.P. Morgan, Exxon's lead overseas bank. These bosses need to control Persian Gulf crude by force. They also need to expand public support for their oil war. Exxon, Chevron & Co. hope that Rice's battle cries, coming from a black woman, will help.
Their next adventure in the Middle East may yield a wider war than the U.S. imperialists are now planning. Far more than even Iraq or Kuwait is at risk this time. Backed to the hilt by the U.S., the royal family's brutal dictatorship in Saudi Arabia is causing deep unrest there. BUSINESS WEEK (7/24) warns that because so much of the world's oil production is concentrated in Saudi Arabia, "instability could require U.S. intervention."
Some people say that the Bush/Gore "race" is meaningless because the two parties hardly differ. In a sense, they're right. But it would be a deadly mistake to ignore both sides' plans to ship workers off to kill and die for the rulers' Mideast oil wealth. Our Party must prepare the working class to mobilize against this imperialist butchery.
(Next: GORE'S WAR AIMS)
A large number, including followers of the opportunist ISO, etc., support the candidacy of Ralph Nader as an alternative to the bosses' main two parties, Some, like Direct Action Network, has no clear alternative to capitalism; As PLP has shown, Nader is himself a multi-millionaire with ties to capitalism, including reactionaries in the Buchanan camp. Behind his progressive sounding platform, Nader remains firmly tied to capitalism, and, if elected, would be bound to enforce its "laws of development"--i.e., maximum profits for the bosses and a subsistence level for most workers. Also, under the cover of "fighting globalization," Nader is pushing a nationalist line (the same pushed by many union leaders) that will lead us into the arms of the Bush/Cheney-Gore candidacies' plans for another oil war.
Several PLP members attended the march, selling over 50 CHALLENGES and making a dozen contacts with marchers interested in revolutionary politics. These contacts had no illusions about Nader or any other electoral candidate. The path of revolution thus made some progress at this mass march.
We began the evening by showing news clippings from the anti-fascist fight on July 4th in Morristown, NJ, where we smashed the Nazi Richard Barrett and his handful of followers. Everyone cheered and clapped as they saw different comrades giving speeches and leading attacks against the Nazis.
Another comrade spoke about the Boston `75 Summer Project Reunion. We learned about how PLP and the Committee Against Racism (CAR) led an offensive against a racist anti-busing movement, destroying the racist ROAR (Restore Our Alienated Rights) organization and defeating the bosses' hopes for building a mass fascist movement in America's cities.
We also saw a clipping from the beginnings of a documentary on communist culture. This project was led mainly by youth with the help of a Baltimore comrade. Although we were not able to complete the original movie plan, we decided it would be best to make the film a documentary on communist culture.
The Project distributed over 1,000 CHALLENGES; held weekly protests at the Morristown courthouse whenever our comrades who were arrested on July 4th had court appearances; continued a teachers' study group; and organized a BBQ with immigrant workers in Morristown. The police have harassed these same workers constantly this summer. Despite threats of deportation they came to the anti-Nazi demonstration.
Perhaps the Project's most significant accomplishment was the consolidation of some Brooklyn youth into PLP. Many took great steps forward this summer, helping to lead the Project and taking their membership in PLP more seriously. The main lesson from the Summer Project was that a small group of "ordinary" people with communist and anti-racist ideas can rise to the occasion and change history. This Project increased the participants' confidence in the working class and renewed their commitment to destroy capitalism with communist revolution!
Later, one of comrades was handed a leaflet from a fascist crazy enough to show up. A number of our comrades confronted him, forcing the cops to protect him. We chanted, "The cops protect the fascists! The cops protect the fascists!" as they led him away. After the incident, we were louder than ever until our comrades were finished with their appearances.
We'll continue demonstrating at the courthouse until all charges are dismissed. And we'll be here whenever these fascists rear their ugly heads again!
At the last mass membership meeting, the isolated leadership used threats, trickery and manipulation to stop us from taking a strike vote. The union president reversed his stand that, "Our no-strike clause expired with the contract." Now he says the City Charter makes it illegal for us to strike and threatens, "We will all be fired." The Local's leaders stand with the bosses' Committee on Jobs, the CHRONICLE-EXAMINER and the Mayor, in maintaining the rulers' class dictatorship.
One driver asked, "What's the point of going back into negotiations without a strike vote." Members spoke passionately about ending wage progression (31-month wait for full salary) and part-time labor, and instructed the negotiating team to "eliminate wage progression." Workers debated a strike and other job actions and the need to take on the City Charter, Downtown Business, city politicians and MUNI management.
For the last 20 years, the ruling class has had "a hidden agenda" of reducing labor costs. We are being driven down and our young people are left with a hopeless future. By standing up against the contract and demanding an end to wage progression, MUNI operators are making it possible to expose fascism and encourage many more angry workers to do the same.
The contract is up at Alameda County Transit and management wants to extend wage progression. AC drivers have been to several MUNI union meetings and have taken proposals for joint actions back to their co-workers. As more workers become active in this fight, we are gaining confidence in each other. Many new and younger drivers are taking initiative to lead this contract battle.
Drivers defeated the bosses at a Citizens Advisory Council meeting. MUNI claimed that driver work rules were the main obstacle to improving service. Drivers spoke about terrible schedules, lack of bathroom facilities, broken equipment and incompetent management. The Council recommended that the contract include provisions for improvement of facilities (restrooms), schedules, staffing and other working conditions to reduce stress in order to improve performance.
The presence of PLP on the job and in the union is the key ingredient that transformed this situation from cynical passivity to mass rebellion. We have over a quarter of a century of class struggle, political analysis and CHALLENGE distribution at MUNI. Communists are dedicated to the working class and not limited by the bosses' rules. As the potential becomes the actual, we are ready to lead the battle to the next level.
U.S. capitalists face stiffening competition in the global economy. The Committee on Jobs (COJ) has targeted MUNI since 1994, demanding reliable service while cutting operating costs. In this fight, our ammunition is the knowledge of who our enemies are and why they treat us as they do. Our near-term victory will be to expose them to the light of day and defeat them by building a mass base for PLP. Our long-term victory is communist revolution. Then the only agenda will be meeting the needs of the international working class.
Years ago, the union leadership said we could get a big pay increase by proving to the Governor and State Legislature how underpaid we are compared to other community colleges. They led us to believe that we could win by moral persuasion rather than job actions. They ignored the membership when we told them that a fifth course (20% increase in workload) wasn't negotiable. They refused to hold general membership meetings and stymied communication between campuses.
In the end, they dangled a pay hike in front of us as they caved in to the state's main demands. The fifth course and tenure review were conceded without a fight. They said, "This is the best we could get." Just a week after the new contract was signed, Roxbury Community College RCC) provost Tossie Taylor fired the opening shots in this contract war by denying tenure to two unit members.
A significant minority opposed this betrayal and a few campuses voted it down. Several members of the negotiating team resigned a few days before the sellout was finalized. Significant factions opposed the contract on other campuses. The ground is more fertile than ever for communist consciousness to be built among this beleaguered group of professionals.
The contract negotiations revealed that the sellout union leaders think the members can't be motivated beyond their immediate self-interest. They refuse to rally members to fight, and rely on the courts and politicians. The lions' share of our union dues goes to supporting "pro-education" candidates. They give lip service to the horrendous super-exploitation of part-time faculty, and will never demand full-time jobs. This reliance on part-time labor in higher education is management's most powerful weapon for dividing and weakening us. Our union leaders don't make six-figure salaries; many members think they're doing the best they can. But their honest image only disarms the membership.
During this statewide contract battle, PLP led the fight at RCC against the fifth course and the whole sellout, and we built ties on other campuses. Now that the contract has passed we must fight like hell to defend job security, fight for full-time jobs, for better conditions for campus workers and for quality eduction for our students. We must activate the membership to defend the two unit members denied tenure. In order for this to happen, we need to build a regular CHALLENGE readership, so that more faculty, workers and students can learn from other workers' struggles, gain a deeper understanding of how capitalism works, and gain confidence in the need to build a mass communist PLP.
Guanche also added that the double work performed by women, at their regular jobs and at home as unpaid domestic laborers, has produced "particular forms of slavery that leads to violent behavior" towards them.Guanche estimated that from the mid-15th century to the end of the 19th, more than 13 million Africans were exported to the Americas. Some were killed during their capture and up to 20% died during the trip from Africa. The rest were enslaved on plantations picking cotton, coffee, cocoa beans or cutting sugar cane, or were used to fish for pearls, "one of the most dangerous jobs, with a life expectancy of...four years.
The first slaves were brought by Holland, France and England to work in their colonies in the New World. Brazil, according to Guanche, was the biggest recipient of slaves, 5.7 million across three centuries. The Spanish colonies imported 2.5 million and the British Caribbean colonies 2.1 millions. The majority of some countries' populations were slaves (Haiti 89%). Guanche added that the slave system and slave work on the plantations accumulated the capital that developed capitalism, especially in France and England (India was a big factor for the latter).
The Catholic Church played a leading role in this genocide in the Spanish colonies (similar to the Protestant church in the British colonies). In some countries, especially in the Caribbean, the Indian population was being decimated. By the first half of the 16th century, most of the native population of Hispaniola--Haiti and the Dominican Republic--had died because of hard labor, massacres and the diseases brought by Columbus and his gang. The so-called "Emancipator of the Indians," Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, asked the Spanish crown to bring in Africans to do the hard work that was killing the Indians.
Basically, Plan Colombia aims to expel 250,000 peasants from their lands. Most of these peasants are considered allies of the FARC (the main guerrilla group). This plan also puts the new "Anti-Drug" battalions of the Colombian Army--trained, armed and led by the U.S.--in control of the lands from which the peasants would be expelled.
When we arrived, I was sitting in the back seat of a car next to an open window. A bus was passing us and I happened to look up in time to see the surly face of a young white punk in the bus window just as a large collection of saliva landed on my thigh. This became a very personal symbol of the depraved ignorance we'd be up against. It also fueled my paranoia about being in Boston.
I was assigned to the South Boston Committee. Using the petition as an organizing tool, we set out to find the anti-racists among the terrorized white people in the D Street Projects. Doors were slammed in our faces fairly often. People refused to talk to us. But also, time and again we met people who knew racism was wrong and wanted to do something about it. It wasn't long before my confidence in the working class replaced my paranoia.
One South Boston memory stands out in my mind. It was 4:00 A.M. on the corner of the D Street Project. Our "Fly By Night" team was spray-painting anti-racist slogans on the makeshift walls of an old construction site to boldly challenge the racists on their own turf. I was on security. Our car and driver were sitting around the corner with the engine running. Two of us were stationed on the adjacent blocks as lookouts. We were to whistle to alert the driver if we saw any group of thugs approaching. I carried a lead pipe wrapped in newspaper. I wasn't sure I could use it effectively, never having fought before, but I was willing to try.
It was very quiet and peaceful and soon I relaxed enough to take stock of myself in these surroundings. I remember thinking, "What's a nice Jewish girl from New York doing in a place like this?" I told myself to lock this moment in my memory.
What was the answer to this question? And what does that mean to me 25 years later? It means that struggle transforms us. Struggle made me willing to do whatever was necessary, even if it was hard or dangerous. Years of struggle have made me able to relate to people who I never thought I could understand. Struggle has made me able to take a stand on my job when I know I have to speak, even when my heart is pounding hard and my tongue feels like a spool of thread. Struggle makes me stretch my brain and study hard every day to be informed. Struggle makes me remember the suffering of the working class even when it would be easier to forget.
Yes, struggle transforms us. And then we can launch struggles that transform society. It's how revolutions get made! Join the PLP Summer Project of 2001!
Someone who stayed in Boston
The article correctly places that important struggle in the perspective of its long-term effect on our Party's development. It talks about the crucial role that a small, determined group of anti-racists and communists can play under certain circumstances. It doesn't in any way suggest that the working class has won its historic struggle against racism and fascism.
Unfortunately, the headline ("In Boston '75, the Racists Did Not Survive...But We Did!") implies that this is the case. The racist ROAR organization didn't survive, as the article shows, mainly because of the Party's leadership. But racism still poisons the lives of Boston's workers. The city is as segregated as ever. James Kelley, a gutter fascist who earned his swastika in ROAR and later headed the South Boston Marshall storm troopers, has become a respectable politician and now heads the Boston City Council. In too many ways to count, Harvard University continues to provide a liberal academic cover for the vilest forms of racism. Greater Boston has become a laboratory for "community policing," the bosses' latest scheme to build a mass base for fascist terror against workers.
Racism and racists have indeed survived in Boston and throughout the world, because capitalism still holds state power everywhere. Our press shouldn't imply the contrary. Confusing our desires with reality both distorts the tremendous importance of our Party's contributions to the class struggle--such as Boston '75--and unintentionally helps build illusions about the magnitude of the tasks before us.
Boston '75 proved that we can win. We haven't won yet.
An Old Party Hand
In our workshop we had a good mix, mainly janitors and garment, hospital and poultry workers. We heard reports about the situation in Ecuador, Colombia, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. We also discusssed specific workers' struggles.
The janitors impressed all of us with their militancy and their hatred of the bosses, their racist exploitation and their union hacks. They had come from Los Angeles in large numbers to our San Francisco May Day march and are new to our movement. They said they were checking out our Party because it fights for the workers. They told us about their militant strike and how the union hacks sold them out.
A nurse from Chicago said she just returned from the SEIU convention in Philadelphia where the head of its LA janitors' local was hailed as a hero by the union brass. This nurse said the janitors at the workshop exposed how much the union sellouts lie and betray all workers. One of the janitors said this union head had "won" the strike, all right; he gets $125,000 a year and she and her brother and sister janitors would be lucky to get their 70cents!
A poultry worker reported how he organized workers in his factory to fight back after one fellow worker fell and died at the shop and the bosses initially lied about what had happened. This worker, with the Party's help, made some buttons with the slogan, "We came to work, not to die." Everyone at the shop wore it, even some small-time supervisors afraid of the rest of the workers.
This was followed by a report about the Zona Franca (maquiladoras) in the Caribbean. A comrade related a story similar to the poultry worker's. One woman came to work sick with asthma and told the boss she only showed up so they wouldn't fire her; she wanted to see a doctor. The boss refused her request and sent her to work. Two hours later she had to be taken to the hospital where she died.
At first, the boss lied about it. Then one PLP member went to all the sewing machine operators in his area and organized a work stoppage, demanding to see the sick woman. The boss, still denying she had died, allowed a delegation of workers to go to the hospital. When the workers got there they were sent to the morgue to see her dead body.
LA Garment workers reported how super-exploitation, sexism and racism are also rampant in their shops. They revealed how conditions for garment workers worldwide are more similar than different, from the Caribbean to California to New York.
A plan was made to coordinate contacts among these workers, and to use CHALLENGE more, as a tool to organize international solidarity.
We agreed it is one important key to turning PLP into the international fighting communist party for which our conference was organized.
And Oldie but Goodie Red
But when the cops came they couldn't do anything since we had the support of a lot of workers. We had reached many of the 3,000 workers at the shop that day and decided to leave while the cops and bosses talked to each other. Their only retort was, "Don't come back."
This action helped some of the shop's fired workers who came to give out the leaflets. They saw that when workers do something united, the bosses and their cops are not all powerful as they want to appear. Now we need to turn this small victory into winning some of these workers to our Party and build a mass PLP. That's what our oppressors fear the most.
FIAT workers must understand that the merger is part and parcel of the growing competition among the world's bosses for markets and cheap labor. In the long run, capitalists resolve their competition by war. Autoworkers in Germany, the U.S. and Eastern Europe can best serve their interests by uniting across all borders.
FIAT workers will lose jobs as FIAT-GM moves its operations to Eastern Europe where labor is cheaper. Opel workers (GM's Germany subsidiary) will also suffer job losses. We must not fall for nationalist divisions and blame workers in Eastern Europe. Our response should be, "Same Enemy, Same Fight, Autoworkers of the World, Unite!" This should be the basis of a call for an international general strike against job losses.
Workers need this kind of international unity, now more than ever, to fight the bosses' growing competition, fascist attacks, more wars and more racist/nationalist divisions.
An Italian Immigrant Worker Living in Germany