Editorial: Boom or Bust Crises Wont Topple the System: Workers Must Bury Capitalism
Fight Grows Behind PL Teachers Battle for Job
Workers, Students Step Up Drive vs. Racist/Imperialist Harvard
Jews, Arabs Unite Vs. U.S.-Israeli Fascism
Diamond Wars Murder Millions in Africa
Salvador Struggle Shows No Lesser Evil Capitalism
Ecuadors Sellouts Use May Day For Electoral Rally
Janitors Union Oppresses Rank and File
RezulinBosses Prescription for Death
FBI McVeigh Blunder Explodes Rulers Humane Mask
May Day: Revolutions Theme Park
First-time Marcher Puts Communism In New Light
Quantity Leads to Quality
Misdemeanor or Murder? Racism Decides Verdict
For Bosses Media, Racism Defines Terrorism
Nurse Of The Revolution
(The following is based on a discussion at the recent PLP central committee.)
The U.S. bosses long economic boom is now sputtering. No one can say for sure whether the present slowdown will end in a few months or become a full-blown, long-term recession. The bosses dont seem to know. Neither do we.
Nevertheless, our Party and our friends can learn an important lesson from the current economic downturn and its effect on the working class. As the article on page 2 points out, booms and busts are an inevitable part of the profit systems economic cycle, and workers pay for both. This will continue as long as capitalists hold state power. A bad economy, even a disastrous depression, wont by themselves lead to revolution or fundamentally change society. Communist leadership is needed to win workers and soldiers to turn the bosses endless crises and wars into revolutionary battles. The absence of this leadership and of mass revolutionary communist parties explains why communist revolutions have not occurred in many parts of Asia, Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe, where misery and starvation devastate billions of lives.
In the past, communists, including some of the movements greatest leaders, have often made the mistake of believing that economic conditions were primary. Our class has paid dearly for this error. So the main lesson we must learn from todays economy is a political one.
The rulers still enjoy great maneuverability in the class struggle. The death of the old communist movement has removed their mortal enemy from the front linesfor now, but only for now. Communists understand the crucial necessity of building class consciousness. For example, our Party must win the entire working class to take decisive, militant action against murderous imperialist wars and U.S. fascist slave labor schemes like Workfare or racist prison labor.
Communists must lead workers away from the poison of individualism each one out for him- or herself and replace it with collective solidarity that can lead to revolutionary understanding in the heat of class struggle.
Our Party fights for these ideas. But we are still not strong enough to lead masses of workers onto the offensive against the ruling class. This is the primary reason why the ruling class can continue attacking workers here and around the world in times of both boom and relative bust. The bosses leverage remains a consequence of the old communist movements demise. A defeat of this magnitude cant be reversed overnight. However, it can be reversed.
The PLP has a long, hard road to travel before it can lead the fight for state power, but despite our present small size, we have great opportunities for significant growth on many fronts. Viewed in terms of numbers alone, our recent May Day actions represented only a slight improvement over last year. We held our own. This in itself is no small achievement in todays political climate. But in the immediate future, we have the potential to do much more than just hold our own. The May Day period offers some solid reasons for optimismprovided we make necessary improvements.
More young comrades than ever played an important leadership role in most aspects of the May Day organizing, particularly among our young teachers, who are constantly trying hard to carry out the line of "fighting to learn and learning to fight" in the public schools. Workers at key industrial sites, including many who didnt march on May Day, continue to react favorably to CHALLENGE. The mass response to our Party by hundreds of Cincinnati rebels against police terror shows that workers in struggle quickly realize whos on their side. Despite some mistakesan inevitable part of class struggleour members played an important role in the recent Harvard University sit-in for a "living wage." A number of our comrades in greater New York, New Jersey and Chicago have faced a variety of serious attacks by the bosses and emerged the better for it. These attacks prove repeatedly that the class enemy fears our Partys key potential for influencing workers toward revolutionary politics.
In the class struggle the crucial battle we must wage now and in the future is ideological. True, the bosses rule at gunpoint, but the guns can be turned around. Doing so depends on the ideas in the heads of those who hold them. The bosses know this and work 24/7, including holidays, to imprison us in capitalist thinking. Look at popular "culture." Tens of millions of people watch the Survivor show and others like it. These vile spectacles try to convince us that society is a contest for the "survival of the fittest," and that our main relationship with others should be to get ahead at their expense. This greed and cruelty is justified by theories like "sociobiology," which teach that everything from wealth to warfare is pre-determined in the genes. "Sociobiology" is becoming the standard curriculum in science "education."
These two examples, among many others, show we have our work cut out for us, particularly in broadening the struggle against racism. But thats exactly the point. We have plenty of good, essential work to do on all fronts and among all sections of the working class and its allies. In doing it, we will find ways to sharpen the struggles we enter or launch. Our young cadre will gain experience; our older cadre will become reinvigorated; and we will begin to win growing numbers of fresh recruits among workers, students, and soldiers. Capitalism knows nothing outside the cycles of boom, bust and war. We fight for a different sort of world, and everything we do to advance our line will sooner or later bear fruit.
With all the talk about the "boom of the Nineties," capitalism still means mass joblessness, racist unemployment and plenty of pain and suffering. As each capitalist tries to capture as much of the market as possible, this anarchy adds up to a tremendous overproduction and unsold goods, leading to the need to cut costs to preserve profits. And the costs most likely to be cut are workers jobs, wages and benefits.
The "difference" between boom and bust is that millions suffer during a boom but millions more suffer during a bust. As unemployment dropped during the 90s, so did workers wages. Millions who worked for poverty wages sought second and third jobs to support their families.
Now unemployment is at 4.5%. This represents 6.2 million workers. These figures do not include two million in prisons, the jobless joining the armed forces, those whove given up looking for jobs, or people on welfare. The jobless rate for white workers is 4%. For black workers it is 8.2%. This shows the racist nature of unemployment.
In the last ten months, 500,000 factory jobs have been lost. Overall, 223,000 jobs were lost in April alone, the highest monthly total in ten years. Industrial production has been down for seven consecutive months. The utilization of productive capacity is the lowest in a decade. Business Week reports that profits of 900 leading companies fell 25% in the first quarter of this year, the largest quarterly decline since the 1990-91 recession.
In the late 1990s, business poured huge sums into machinery, office buildings, factories, computers, software, new airlines, Web sites, trucks, cell phone networks and more, based on "the promise or mirage of fat profits." (New York Times, 5/14) Then last spring they "pulled back abruptly on their spending...realizing they could produce much more than they could profitably sell."
The recession began in the telecommunications high-tech industry. This "power of the new economy," was built on debt that increased from $75 billion to $300 billion in five years. This led to a collapse of investment. Companies went bankrupt and tens of thousands were laid off.
According to Morgan Stanleys chief economist (London Financial Times), this cycle of overproduction is worse than anything experienced in the past 50 years, and very similar to the pre-World War Two recessions resulting from over-capacity. A number of "structural flaws" have developed in the U.S. economy: record capital spending, rising corporate and consumer debt and a record balance of payments gap (more imports than exports). Since "these structural and cyclical excesses took years to build, it seems highly unlikely they will be purged quickly." The Washington Post says that the Federal Reserves manipulation of interest rates may not do the job. "Companies will not borrow and invest if they already have ample ability to meet demand."
But capitalisms crises dont mean the profit system will topple by itself. As long as the ruling class holds state power to enforce its system and is not challenged by a revolutionary movement to overthrow it, capitalism will always be able to climb out of any hole it has dug for itself.
BROOKLYN, NY, May 21 The struggle to return Progressive Labor Party member Joan Heymont to her job teaching science at Boys and Girls HS (BGHS) has forced the teachers union leadership to offer nominal support, evidenced by an overwhelming vote favoring her at the unions Delegate Assembly meeting. Joan was removed from her job for organizing students to go to May Day. The campaign to win her job back opens the door to win students, parents and teachers closer to and into PLP.
A first step was asking many of Joans students parents to call the school to protest her removal and rally with us. In fact, when an Assistant Principal called one student to the office to question him about his participation in May Day, the next day his mother confronted this AP to say emphatically that she supported May Day and her sons participation and that any further questions should be addressed to her.
The response to leaflets, stickers and petitions we distributed outside the school has been really great, despite administration threats and harassment. Some students gave us their names and pledged their help.
Then we took the struggle to the May 9 citywide Delegate Assembly union meeting. Everyone entering the meeting knew something was happening. Progressive Labor Party brought signs, leaflets, petitions and CHALLENGE. The signs criticized the educational system, supported the students and protested the removal of this communist teacher from BGHS, where she is a respected and loved science teacher. However, the administration is opposed to Joan taking students on an educational and political trip to celebrate May Day, our international working-class holiday. They ignored the fact that it was a weekend trip and that Joan had permission and support from the students parents.
She has been removed from her classes when the students need her most, just before the Regents exams. No charges have been brought against her while she marks time in an isolated office away from the children to whom she has dedicated her life.
A combination of the clearly unjust nature of the administrations action and delegates awareness of it due to our efforts forced union president Randi Weingarten to call a special vote which passed overwhelmingly, supporting Joans right to speak. Joan gave a rousing statement, centering on fighting for students needs. Weingarten promised to move quickly in Joans defense. Of course, experience and a class analysis make us skeptical of Weingartens pledge of support, but it provides an opportunity to continue to raise Joans case on the floor of the Delegate Assembly and in other union forums. It demonstrates that the union considers Joan and the collective she leads a force to be reckoned with.
The unions real face was revealed when a group of PLP teachers attended its May 12 Spring Conference to attack the unions presentation of its top award to Bill Clinton, as "the education president of the century." When we distributed CHALLENGE and a leaflet entitled "Politicians are not our Friends," we were moved still further away from the conference site by what appeared to be Secret Service agents, no doubt because the response to our literature and to the petition defending Joans job was very positive. Workers and students grabbed even more papers when the Secret Service forced us to leave.
On May 17, the UFT had a contract rally. The UFT leadership further exposed who their friends are when they urged 20,000 frustrated education workers to form an alliance with the police union! We distributed over 100 CHALLENGES and 2,000 flyers calling on workers to: (1) reject a contract which doesnt fight for our students, and which supports merit pay; (2) form committees to oppose such a contract; and (3) support the fight for Joans job. Workers eagerly gabbed the leaflets while many teachers stopped to discuss Joans removal, offering support and suggestions for the struggle.
We hope to bring many BGHS parents, students and staff together at our annual Brooklyn-wide Memorial Weekend Picnic on Sunday, May 27. Were forming a committee to plan and build the next steps in this struggle.
All these activities create the opportunity to discuss communist ideas and the need to join PLP to fight for a revolution based on these ideas.
CAMBRIDGE, MA, May 22 The Living Wage student sit-in at Harvard ended without granting a living wage to all Harvard workers ($10.25/hr + benefits). This past week, dining workers ratified a new contract. Despite union leaders praising it as "the best contract in history," it does not guarantee all workers a living wage. For many it doesnt even keep pace with inflation. Worst of all, the union misleaders inserted a no strike clause promising five years of "labor peace" (which workers can break).
Even so, students and workers have continued to struggle against Harvards poverty wages. PLP members and friends continue their involvement in these struggles, declaring that no matter what Harvard pays its workers, it will remain an exploiter and a bastion of racism, capitalism and imperialism. After all, Harvard is the intellectual center for concocting and then justifying U.S. rulers murderous policies, including the following, partly or wholly devised at Harvard:
The strategy for killing 3,000,000 Vietnamese and 58,000 U.S. soldiers, the "strategic hamlets," napalm, etc.;
Controlling Mid-East oil and murdering a half million Iraqis;
The fascistic "community policing" concept;
The racist eugenics theories, used by Hitler;
The Herrnstein-Banfield racist garbage which paved the way for Clintons welfare repeal;
The "sociobiology" nonsense which traces all human behavior racism, exploitation, sexism, etc. to ones genes, not to capitalism.
The need to fight Harvard is part of the struggle to win workers and students to join the struggle for communism.
Currently, we are leading the fight against Harvards intimidation of workers who spoke out in this recent battle. Dining workers in the freshman dining hall (the largest) have been threatened if they put up a sign thanking the students for the sit-in. Harvard has suspended one custodian, Wilson St. Clair, for supporting the sit-in (CHALLENGE, 5/23). Along with Wilson and other workers and students weve organized, weve gotten at least 200 signatures on a petition calling on Harvard to remove the suspension letter from Wilsons file and are helping him get the union to defend him against Harvard. In addition to circulating a leaflet in English, Spanish and Creole protesting Harvards harassment of its workers, were trying to contact and work with other custodians being attacked similarly to Wilson.
The Katz committee established by Harvard to deal with the workers demands dilutes students and workers understanding about Harvard being the enemy. While students have not agreed with us that "winning" this committee is not a victory, many have understood that continued actions are necessary. Weve called for militant actions like strikes (including a general strike) to win a living wage and proposed a rally against Harvard during commencement. One student said it would be best to win a living wage through a strike, since Harvard would still be seen as the enemy. After the dining workers contract did not win a living wage for all workers, another student said: "Especially when the SEIU (custodians) negotiations start in December, we need to hammer it home that regardless of what the committee declares, if every worker...doesnt get a living wage, we must be willing to shower Harvard with a hail of actions the likes of which it hasnt seen before: strikes, civil disobedience, etc."
In general, comrades have raised revolutionary communist class-consciousness in this struggle also by distributing CHALLENGES and leaflets as well as a pamphlet outlining Harvards support for racist police terror and imperialist war. It also exposes the liberal fascist Harvard professor William J. Wilson, who downplays the importance of fighting racism even as it intensifies. In meetings bringing together workers from the different unions, as well as graduate and undergraduate students, weve placed this struggle in the broader context of fighting capitalism and exposed the union leaders role in serving the bosses.
Inside and outside the union meetings, weve explained why the sit-in is a victory but the settlement is not, and raised the attack on St. Clair among dining workers. Indeed, the dining workers union leader revealed his true anti-worker colors by stopping us from collecting signatures for the St. Clair petition at the contract ratification vote. In discussing the contract with the dining worker who marched on May Day, weve helped him see it is not what the leadership says it is. Our learning continues step by step and they all lead toward fighting for a society without capitalist institutions like Harvard and the big bosses who control it.
NEW YORK CITY, May 20 Today over 300 Jews, Arabs and others united to protest the murderous campaign of the Israeli government to suppress Palestinian Arabs seeking an independent state as well as the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their former homes.
The occasion was the annual "Salute to Israel" parade. Its an opportunity for local politicians to pander to the worst nationalist and chauvinist ideas of a substantial bloc of voters. Most of the mayoral candidates turned out, including the leading liberal, Mark Green. Probably 75% of the paraders were children from Jewish parochial schools, herded along by their teachers. These children were astonished to see people denouncing the racism of the Israeli rulers, probably the first time theyd heard this. Most of the opposition to the counter-demonstration came from a few adults.
A coalition of about 10 different groups opposed to Israeli government policies organized the protest. Jews Against the Occupation (JATO) and Al-Awda took the lead. JATOs members are mainly militant young people very hostile to the vicious racism of the Israeli leadership. Al-Awda is made up of mostly Arab youth intensely concerned with the right of refugees to return to the land from which the Israelis expelled them. JATO also supports the right of return, a crucial anti-nationalist issue. If implemented, it would change the areas demographics. This could open the doors for serious anti-racists to unite all workers and youth, Palestinian and Jewish, to build a mass revolutionary movement in this region across religious and ethnic lines. This is the way to fight all forms of nationalism on all sides (whether pushed by Sharon, Arafat or Hamas) and help build the only kind of state that can liberate our class, a working-class state.
The coalition ranged from several dozen members of an anti-zionist orthodox Jewish Hasidic sect to a large number of militant young Arab women to a fair number of older Jewish people, more so than in previous actions.
The coalition demands include: end the illegal occupation of all captured territories; support the Right of Return for the Palestinians; stop U.S. aid to Israel; and stop the killing, torture and home demolitions of Palestinians.
The protesters were very militant. Signs read, "Israel is an Apartheid state"; "End the Occupation"; and "End U.S. Aid to Israel." They shouted, "1-2-3-4, We wont fight a racist war, 5-6-7-8, Israel is a racist state!"; "Its a racist march"; and "Ariel Sharon, whaddaya say, How many kids have you killed today?" The loud protesters startled many of the marching schoolchildren by chanting, "Your parents are lying, Children are dying."
After this protest, many participants marched as a group from 5th Avenue to Columbus Circle to hold a rally. A JATO activist pointed out the lessons of anti-semitism and past persecution of the Jews. She explained that the leaders are fostering racism and nationalism, dividing Jewish and Arab workers to control the situation for profits and prevent workers from uniting in their own interests. She said U.S. rulers supported the Israeli leadership in order to maintain Israel as an anchor in its effort to control Middle East oil.
But some of the rulers efforts are faltering. Thousands of Israeli military reservists are refusing to serve in the occupied territories despite being imprisoned for doing so. And here Arabs, Jews and Palestinians protesting together defied the rulers racist campaign.
PLP members at the protest distributed 500 leaflets emphasizing that control of Mid-East oil was crucial to explaining the rulers policies. The latest fighting engineered by the U.S. and Israeli ruling classes has killed over 400 Palestinians and over 100 Israelis. The leaflet said there could be no permanent peace in the region until a united Arab-Jewish working class carried out a communist revolution and workers power is in control.
Imagine the entire population of Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Seattle and Boston killed or injured in the last few years. Well, thats whats happened to nearly three million people in the Congo.
In 1998, the armies of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi invaded the eastern part of the Congo and still occupy it despite many agreements to leave. Responding to that invasion, the governments of Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe have backed Congos central government with troops and aid. The imperialists, particularly France and the U.S., are also involved in this regional war.
Although the Congo is rich in many minerals, some very important for the imperialists war industries (like cobalt), the fight for control of diamonds is behind this regional war. Diamonds are not the "best friends" of workers and peasants in Africa. This industry generates $6.7 billion annually. Its not just lucrative as a business; 4% of that total finances wars throughout Africa.
The rulers of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi control an area of the Congo 15 times the size of their countries combined. A UN report states that General Saleh, brother of Ugandas President, and General Kazini, head of the Ugandan forces occupying the Congo, run very profitable businesses dealing in diamonds, gold and copper.
The main opponent of these occupying armies was Congos President Joseph Kabila, who originally came to power backed by these very same armies of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. But with the support of Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia, he soon changed sides to fight the "invaders." Then Kabila became too much of a liability even to his own allies. He was killed some months ago by one of his bodyguards soon after he had given the Israeli company Idi Diamonds the exclusive franchise to commercialize Congolese diamonds. When Kabilas son was named successor to his murdered father, his first act was to revoke that deal and then travel to Paris, London, Brussels and Washington to get his new orders.
The assassination of Kabila, Sr., brought hope for a peace deal but no one wanted to forego the huge profits being made from this continuing war with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. President Mugabe of Zimbabwe, which is now on the "rogue" state list of Britain and the U.S., is unlikely to pull out a quarter of his army stationed in the Congo, not while his economy is in such bad shape. South Africas DeBeers, with a near monopoly of the worlds diamonds, relies on the military support given by Namibia to the central government of the Congo, plus the diplomatic pull of the South African government, to prevent these invading competitors from moving in on that countrys diamond wealth. DeBeers, along with liberals and pacifists in Europe and the U.S., is behind the "clean diamonds" campaign, to push jewelers and traders not to buy diamonds sold by forces in Africa not allied with DeBeers.
In addition to the Congo, Angola, Sierra Leone and Liberia are also being ravaged by civil wars over diamonds. These wars create and massively spread death-dealing effects on Africas masses AIDS and other diseases, starvation from unemployment, and much more.
The only way out of this hell is to take the long but sure road of building a revolutionary communist movement to smash all the local and imperialist bosses and their tribalism and nationalism. This movement must build a society uniting all workers and their allies from Pretoria to Kinshasha.
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador The May Day march here was bigger than in recent years, but not because its organizers represented workers class interests.
Driving his car, donated by the European Economic Community, a mayor and member of the FMLN (the former guerrilla group turned electoral party) said, "Fabio Castillo [General Coordinator of the FMLN] ordered FMLN mayors to mobilize their townspeople to attend the May Day march in San Salvador, to make it a forceful demonstration."
The orthodox pro-European FMLN leadership had two main reasons to ensure May Day was a huge success, neither serving workers interests: (1) build momentum for the FMLN electoral campaign; and (2) show their European sponsors that the FMLN is a major force here willing to ally itself with the European imperialists against their U.S. rivals.
But when you mobilize masses of workers and youth not everything will necessarily go according to your treacherous plans. Students shouted down speeches by FMLN leaders, yelling, "Get down, you liars! You just want people to vote for you!" and "We dont want any election speeches!"
Another group in the FMLN, the "Renewed Tendency," led by Facundo Guardado a supporter of the U.S. bosses was nowhere to be seen. This opposition to the leading FMLN faction has become a tiny minority in the group.
Obviously neither FMLN faction defends the best interests of the working class. Workers and youth should not support any "lesser evil" alternative to the ruling right-wing ARENA Party. They are all capitalists fighting among themselves over which group will be the main exploiters of workers.
PLP was warmly welcomed by thousands of workers at the May Day march. Our communist leaflets and DESAFIOS were widely distributed (see CHALLENGE, May 23). Although our Party is still small, we have the potential to become a revolutionary alternative for workers and youth sick and tired of all bosses. Our job is to bring our politics to workers so no politicians will ever again use our struggles to further their capitalist profit needs.
QUITO, ECUADOR May Day exposed the growing contradictions between workers from the cities and countryside (mainly indigenous) and the sellout leadership of the unions and other mass organizations. While workers came out on May Day to fight the bosses and their system, the opportunists used the marches as another electoral rally to get themselves and their friends elected to Congress.
These traitors have used every mass struggle in the last few yearslike the uprising by indigenous people in 2000 to get a better deal for themselves inside the system.
In the last general elections, some of them supported right-wing retired General Paco Moncayos candidacy for mayor of this capital city. Now one of these opportunists, Napoleón Saltos, has been exposed as a CIA agent. The imperialists mobilize on all fronts to sabotage the mass struggles.
Meanwhile, the so-called left of this movement, like the heads of the Pachatucik indigenous group and the congressmen of the Democratic Popular Movement (led by fake communists), voted in Congress to increase the IVA (value added) tax on consumer goods. These politicians then had the audacity to attack globalization and free market capitalism during the May Day rallies.
PLP came here with a contingent of workers, teachers and students. Some comrades marched with their mass organizations while the rest formed a small independent PLP group in the march. From all this we were able to distribute 2,500 leaflets and many CHALLENGES. Our leaflets contained a brief history of the revolutionary birth of May Day and attacked Plan Colombia, the U.S. war plan for the region.
Weve got a long way to go but we are on the road to forging a revolutionary alternative for all workers looking for a way out of the misery and oppression of capitalism.
LOS ANGELES, CA. The top-down leadership and betrayal of the workers by the leadership of Local 1877 of the Janitors Union is more evident every day. The following story, beginning two years ago, shows the struggle of one woman and her co-workers against the bosses and union misleader Mike Garcia.
"Although I am a worker who cleans bathrooms and floors, I have dignity and deserve respect. But if I have offended you in any way, I ask you to forgive me," said the janitor.
"This apology didnt come from your heart...you didnt even cry, " shouted the boss, and left his office, leaving the worker and the union representative behind.
"Why didnt you cry?" shouted the union rep furiously. "If it was necessary, you should have kissed his feet!"
The worker could have expected something like this from the bosses, but never from the person who was supposed to help her. Feeling humiliated and alone, she started to cry. "Thats how you should have cried with the boss," the union rep told her. "If you had, youd have gotten your job back." With "friends" like that, who needs enemies?
Months before this incident, the worker was being harassed by the boss about her legal residency documents. Although shes a legal resident, and had given proof of it, the boss wasnt satisfied. During an informational meeting between bosses and workers, the boss harassed this worker again. She couldnt take it, angrily slapped the bosss desk and walked out of the meeting. The boss fired her immediately. Her fellow workers pressured the union to get her job back which led to the first "apology" meeting.
Later, the union organized a second meeting, where the worker would "apologize from her heart" and would sign a document surrendering all her rights. One more "problem" and shed be fired without warning. But this meeting never occurred. The boss received a letter from the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) the worker had sued him for discrimination. Then the NLRB ruled for the boss, a common occurrence. These government agencies exist to help the bosses, not the workers.
"Señor García [the union leader], whats going to happen with my case? I have always supported the union; Ive gone to the marches; even though Im not working, my union dues are paid up," said the desperate worker.
"It was your decision not to apologize," said the union "leader." But he said he would help her. Months passed, a year, and nothing happened.
"This was a very hard year," the worker told CHALLENGE. "Without work, with my father very sick, my son in the hospital, and being a single mother, I didnt know what to do,"
Some workers advised her to sue the union in small claims court. She won the suit and the judge ordered the union to pay her $5,000. But she still had no job.
Union honcho García, who earns about $90,000 a year, decided to appeal the case. Although this worker believed she had finally gained a little bit from the system two years after losing her job, but Local 1877 wouldnt allow even that. The union was exposed essentially as an exploiter of workers, no matter who leads it.
When members and friends of PLP among the janitors discovered this injustice, we decided that the Committee of Janitors in Struggle would organize support for this worker. We want the thousands of janitors and garment workers to know this story, so we are writing this to CHALLENGE. We will spread leaflets to these workers, organizing social and political activities to involve dozens of workers in this fight.
This injustice demonstrates clearly how the capitalist system, and its many Union servants like Mike Garcia, crush workers lives. We need to destroy this system of profits, corruption and exploitation and build a communist society where workers wont have to apologize to racist exploiters, where the bosses and their lackeys will be six feet under.
CHALLENGE often says capitalism kills. This again was proven true in the story of the diabetes drug Rezulin. Officials of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) conspired with Warner-Lambert, a giant pharmaceutical company, to bring Rezulin to market in 1996, despite evidence that the drug killed some of its users (Los Angeles Times, 3/11). This collusion occurred while Clinton and Congress were directing the FDA to act like "partners" of the $100-billion-a-year drug industry. The FDA is merely the regulatory agency responsible for protecting us against unsafe foods, cosmetics, drugs, blood products and medical devices.
Rezulin was only taken off the market a year ago after killing 391 people, 63 dying from liver failure.
The FDA uses outside "expert" panels to advise on which drugs to approve, but the panel chair, Dr. Henry Bone, was part of the collusion. He helped the company hide Rezulin-caused liver problems from the rest of the panel. As a result the panel recommended approval, despite the fact that an FDA medical officer (a doctor who reviews drug applications), Dr. John Gueriguian, criticized Rezulin for having serious side effects, revealed during clinical trials in which hundreds of volunteers took the drug to test its safety and effectiveness.
The panel members never saw Gueriguians review. According to internal Warner-Lambert (W-L) memos, Gueriguian was taken off the case by the Deputy Director of the FDAs Center for Drug Evaluation, Dr. Mac Lumpkin, in response to W-Ls complaints that Gueriguian was impeding the drug companys effort to sell Rezulin. W-L raked in over $2 billion from Rezulin in its three years on the market, about $5 million per death. By last October, W-L was facing 383 law suits.
In 1998, after it became glaringly obvious the drug was causing liver failure and deaths, another FDA medical officer, Dr. Robert Misbin, asked Parke-Davis (W-Ls drug unit) to warn all doctors of Rezulins dangers. Instead the company merely sent a letter to The New England Journal of Medicine, prompting the companys Japanese partner to criticize it for not having told them sooner.
In 1998, a scheduled public talk by Dr. Misbin on the drugs dangers was canceled by Deputy Director Mac Lumpkin. Company memos "thanked Mac for his help" in preventing Misbins appearance.
Even during the approval process back in 1996, FDA officials Lumpkin, Dr. Alexander Fleming and advisory panel chair Bone colluded with W-L to keep a warning off the drug label instructing doctors to monitor the liver functions of all patients for whom they prescribed the drug. W-L knew this warning could have prevented liver damage from going too far. But they also knew this would hurt their sales, since there were nine similar, but safer, anti-diabetes drugs already on the market.
W-L told an advisory panel meeting in 1996 that in the clinical trial the Rezulin group had no more side effects than the group taking a placebo (a fake drug). Such so-called control groups are used to compare those taking the tested drug with those taking a useless one, in evaluating the drugs safety and effectiveness. But actually almost four times as many Rezulin users suffered serious side effects compared to the control group 2.2% versus 0.6%.
When its lie was exposed, W-L claimed there was no big difference between two such small numbers. While the percent of people suffering serious side effects from a drug is usually small, when millions of people take one, the difference between 2.2% and 0.6% affects tens of thousands of people. These figures clearly proved the drug was terribly dangerous. Furthermore, as it turned out, it was not significantly more effective than taking nothing.
In 1998, still a third FDA medical officer, Dr. James Bilstad, was foiled when trying to force W-L to add to its label the warning to doctors about monitoring liver functions. Throughout the more than three years Rezulin was killing people, many of the internal FDA documents concerning the approval of Rezulin were declared off-limits to the Freedom of Information Act by Deputy Director Lumpkin.
This story illustrates how, under capitalism, government officials serve big business. The health of the working class is often endangered by such a system, even though in this case many honest medical officers tried to protect the public health, only to receive reprimands and warnings from their bosses. Workers cannot rely on a bosses government to protect their health but can only do so through working-class rule communism.
U.S. rulers hope that postponing the killing of one man, Timothy McVeigh, will help them build up for the slaughter of millions. The Oklahoma bomber avoided lethal injection on May 16th because the white knight image with which the bosses cover their imperialist wars needs serious polishing. The U.S. tries to sell the next Persian Gulf oil war as "rescuing" Iraqis from the tyrant Hussein. In Washington double-talk, the goal in a major conflict with Russia or China will be "democracy," not capitalist domination of markets and resources. But the U.S. bosses sanctions policy in Iraq exposes them as baby killers. And executing McVeigh in a frenzied media circus rivaling the Super Bowl wouldnt have helped matters. The delay in Terre Haute must be seen in the same light as the U.S. move to lessen openly barbaric sanctions on Iraq.
Pretending to be a benevolent protector of justice, the government has made the FBI the fall guy for the McVeigh fiasco. The Boston Globe demands a "top-to-bottom shake-up" at the bureau (5/12). Steeped in a time-honored culture of brutally enforcing some laws while colluding with organized crime in other areas, the FBI has sinned in ignoring the greater political needs of the rulers. News of the FBIs mishandling of the Oklahoma files followed hard on the heels of the Hanssen spy case flap and revelations that the bureaus Boston office had made gangsters like Whitey Bulger virtual G-men. (As a high-level "protected informant" doing dirty work for the ruling classsee CHALLENGE, May 23Bulger committed murder, rape and extortion and trafficked in prostition in prostitution, drugs and guns.)
Time Magazine, a major popularizer of the rulers ideas, blamed the FBI for tarnishing the governments supposed reputation as a guardian of liberal tolerance. "We dont want people stockpiling weapons and holding children hostage in Texas religious sects, but we dont want tanks firing on church camps in Waco either. We want something done about hate groups, but we dont want FBI sharpshooters killing militants wives on Idaho mountaintops. We dont want China stealing our nuclear secrets, but we dont want a racial-profiling witch-hunt (5/21)."
For their war efforts, the bosses require allegiance to the flag from all quarters. The FBIs bungling of the McVeigh case threatened to revive the militia movement that the main wing of the ruling class had tried so hard to suppress. "Keeping this mistake under cover would have only fed the anti-government paranoia that was, in part, the root of the Oklahoma bombing in the first place," commented James Coleman, a professor at Duke Law School.
U.S. rulers are trying desperately to project the appearance of "fairness" in the McVeigh case. We must continue to expose their essence as the deadliest gang of murderers in history.
WORKERS OF THE WORLD, WRITE!
Thank you PLP for once again providing my daughter, stepson and me with one of our most enjoyable "vacation" experiences ever. While most people plan their vacations around visiting amusement parks, relatives, different countries, etc., the highlight of my vacation plans is participating in the annual May Day march.
This was my seventh May Day march (third in a row in Washington) and this years event was without a doubt the most enjoyable and satisfying for my children and me.
As part of the Chicago contingent, our group was near the front of the march as we left Malcolm X Park. As we wound our way through Washingtons streets, I would turn around from time to time to look at the marchers behind me.
The thrill and elation I felt seeing hundreds of red banners held high and waving proudly in the wind, hearing the thousands of voices raised in unified protest was again another personal mind-blowing experience and a sight to behold. It just seems like each May Day march keeps getting better and better. The enthusiasm of the marchers as they chanted loudly, the seemingly boundless energy of those selling and distributing CHALLENGE was exciting beyond words.
As an older individual getting closer to senior citizen status, I like to think Ive seen and done it all. However, nothing can compare to the intensity, enjoyment and personal satisfaction I feel after each May Day march. Its a humbling experience to be a participant in such an ever-increasing mass movement dedicated to improving the life of the workers of the world. Our work will never be finished until we wipe out this fascist government and way of life. Our May Day march once again proved that there are workers in this world willing to demonstrate and dedicate their lives toward this goal.
I cant wait until next years May Day march, but in the meantime there is work to be done. I urge all workers to join us in rising up against the bosses and overthrowing this capitalist government we live under. Remember its your life, your liberty and your freedom thats at stake here. Stand up and fight for it! Power to the Workers! PLP Forever!
May Day Forever
The following comments occurred at a youth club meeting after May Day:
May Day was very organized this year. People actually wanted to be there to fight against the bosses. We concluded that to get someone to want to be in the Party, we must bring them to May Day where you actually see the entire Party in action, see were a big group of people that can do whatever we set out to do.
Ive been going to May Day for at least six years. This one was different. It was like going for the first time all over again. For the first time I brought a friend from my school. She asked many provocative questions on the bus ride. She put communism and May Day in a new light for me. She was skeptical, curious and excited, and chanted throughout the march. I am encouraged by her reaction to "my secret communism." It should not be a secret and I will continue to struggle about this with myself and others.
To make that extra leap of bringing a person to this special day makes all the difference. I could have easily not told her about May Day but Im so glad I did. The best part is I think shes glad too. To bring more people next year will only feel better. This was my qualitative change after years of internal struggle. I know there are more changes to come because life is struggle, conflict and change, not necessarily in that order.
What impressed me most about my first May Day march was the pure energy and enthusiasm of almost everyone involved. PLP members had a much larger purpose in mind than just a "show." Maybe this pure energy was a result of the meeting of so many diverse bodies and minds. It felt, to me, like a community .hmm .community communism. People wanted to be together and enjoy the march and its contents, as I did. I saw two people join the march from the sidelines and they looked pretty happy in it. I liked the discussion that we had on the bus.
But I appreciate most what I left with: the sheer joy of knowing that others want to actively work for change to benefit all people.
This letter follows up on our May Day organizing efforts in light of the dialectical materialist principle of quantity into quality. After all our hard work, some of it on the mark and some off, about 54 people came, including many minorities and a few youth. A block of young workers showed up as enthusiastic participants. The ride to Washington, the opening rally and march, the closing rally and picnic, the ride back, even a bus breaking down, all added up to an exciting, politically engaging event.
We held a successful picnic on May 5. Some 45 people came, many who had marched and some who didnt. We heard some music, watched an amateur video of the march, looked at pictures, socialized and ate. The kitchen was packed with people, as it was rather cold outside. People were on the porch and in all the rooms, interacting in a very multi-racial way, with old and young, black, Latin and white.
Toward the end, we discussed peoples reactions to the march and heard stirring reports about how people felt. The overall response was enthusiasm and being impressed with the character of the march. Three of the youth, all first-time marchers, stated that they enjoyed it, and were looking forward to the next march.
There was some constructive criticism about how to make it better. One woman, silent at first, gave a stirring picture of the march. Someone said the bosses have their CIA and we have ours: "Communism In Action." CHALLENGE was distributed. A really positive woman worker was so impressed by the march and the people she met, she joined the Party.
So all the quantitative work we did in preparing for May Day the fundraisers, dinners, desserts, discussions, leafleting and paper sales paid off qualitatively in strengthening the Party and drawing people closer to us. One of the next qualitative goals is to ensure that this new member eventually becomes a Party leader.
Want to see an example of how racist the justice system is? In Cincinnati, cop Stephen Roach, who killed 19-year-old Timothy Thomas sparking a rebellion that shook that city for several days, only faces two charges: "obstructing official business" and negligent homicide, both misdemeanors. Its very unlikely this cop will spend any time in jail. Most cops who commit racist murder in the U.S. dont. The four NYPD cops who fired 41 shots killing African immigrant Amadou Diallo were all exonerated.
While Roach faces misdemeanor charges for racist murder, Timothy was murdered by the cops for alleged misdemeanors traffic violations. He was the 15th black man shot by Cincinnati cops in the last few years.
Indeed, for workers and youth, particularly blacks, there is no justice under this racist system.
I just searched the last two weeks of the Washington Post website for articles concerning the following: "Birmingham bombing"; "Thanh Phong" [Kerreys massacre]; and "terrorism" or "terrorist." There are 15 articles on the "Birmingham bombing" list, 13 on "Thanh Phong" eight on the "terrorism/terrorist" list, which includes articles about Tim McVeigh (the Oklahoma City bomber), Sudan, Peru, Macedonia, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.
Guess what? Not one article that appears on either of the first two lists also appears on the third list. That is, neither the 1963 bombing of the church that killed four black girls in Birmingham nor Kerreys 1969 killing of more than 13 Vietnamese women and children are included on the list of terrorist events.
Conclusion: According to the media and the government, terrorism means the killing only of white people.
We had a Pueblo (People United for a Better Oakland) forum against police brutality at Laney College, the local community college. Twenty-five people attended, including 15 who were new, most of whom signed up to be contacted by Pueblo.
At the end, a Pueblo staff member summed up by saying, "Were a diverse group of communists and non-communists." To me that meant we moved the debate to the left.
Bay Area PLer
To my mother who has gone, the nurse of the revolution,
"My Mother" Trinidad died at 77. Her life was hard, like that of all workers, but she was always ready to participate in PLP cadre schools and always said she dreamed of being the "nurse of the revolution." She used to say she imagined PLP leading the revolution and herself, together with hundreds of others, taking care of the wounded and urging them to return to the battle.
Trinidad was a Dominican worker who dedicated her life to the cause of communist revolution. Several of her children are members of the Party, and she always said she wished she had had more to dedicate to the revolutionary cause.
Trinidad was not my natural mother. The first time I arrived at a cadre school in the Dominican Republic, she called all of us "my children" and we responded affectionately, calling her "Mother." Through her house passed comrades from many parts of the world.
Our "Mother" has gone, but with her spirit of revolutionary solidarity, she has left us with the resolve to continue the struggle. Both her natural children, as well as her children in other parts of the world, can say her life was not in vain, but in fact her actions helped to build the Party that will create the new communist society she dreamed of.
A Los Angeles Comrade