May Day 2012
Organize to Break New Ground in the Struggle
The U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization sends revolutionary greetings to workers across the country and around the world on May Day 2012. We salute the many struggles taking place defending the rights of workers, immigrants and youth and rejecting the anti-worker, anti-social attacks of the rich. We call on all to step up organized resistance for rights and for a pro-social, antiwar agenda.
May Day is a day to celebrate successes and to look to the future. It is a time to think about the direction of society and what is needed to turn things around. The working class in particular has the social responsibility to lead the fight for the new, to forge a new path and refuse to be stuck in the old. A new direction for the economy is needed, one that puts rights in the first place and provides for the general interests of society and the world. A new political set-up is needed, one that empowers the people to govern and decide. And new thinking is needed that rejects the theory and institutions of U.S.-style democracy as outdated, racist and of no use.
As the 2012 election goes into full swing, we are urged to look to the old institutions of governance, to not think beyond replicating these institutions and making them “better,” by electing “better” representatives. We are to ignore the reality that Congress is dysfunctional, the Justice Department serves injustice and the arbitrary police powers of the state are expanding at such a rate that yet greater disaster is in store for the peoples of the U.S. and the world.
How can existing arrangements and institutions that keep the rich in power and the people out be of any use today, in this modern world? The crisis-ridden system of the rich has shown itself unable to solve any problem. U.S. imperialism, as head of the imperialist system of states, in its desperation to hold onto power has unleashed untold violence and anarchy worldwide. Workers too are to join in this desperation, the claim that there is no alternative. We are to resign ourselves to accept poverty and war as inevitable and that our only role is to endlessly pressure those in power. Certainly we are never to think that it is the worker themselves who must become decision-makers.
Desperation and remaining stuck in the old is not a fitting role for the U.S. working class, a modern, experienced class full of life and representatives of the new society to be built. As pioneers of the new, breaking new ground is both a task of uprooting and eliminating the old and creating and expanding the new. Our collective social responsibility is to bring into being a new direction in the country’s political and economic affairs that reflects the socialized interconnected nature of the economy and the modern way we live. A new direction means that the people must have control over their political and economic affairs and the power to make decisions that affect their workplaces, economic sectors, social institutions, neighborhoods and society.
USMLO urges all our comrades and supporters to step up the work for political empowerment and in the course of this struggle reaffirm the authority of modern communism today and strengthen the communist organization needed for the fight for the new. We are guided by the theory of the working class, by Marxism-Leninism and work constantly for renewal, for the enrichment of theory and the creation of new organizational forms of the working class for its defense, politics and democracy. As part of efforts to block the new from emerging, the U.S. ruling class is ruthlessly anti-communist and strives to present communism as representing the old, while supposedly U.S.-style democracy is the only choice.
The battle today is between the old and the new, a new direction for the economy and political affairs. We urge all those concerned about the future to investigate for yourselves, to join in the fight for the new and work with the communists as we break new ground. Join with USMLO in our campaign for a democracy of our own making. Join in organizing today to:
1) Be decision-makers and take up the aim to empower the people to govern and decide
2) Take up social responsibility to organize as collectives, as workers, women, students, teachers, fighting for our rights and for a new direction for the economy and political affairs
3) Build Councils for Political Empowerment representing collectives and organizing to work together as collectives
4) Organize for a pro-social, anti-war agenda: Stop Funding War, Stop Paying the Rich and Increase Funding for Social Programs
May Day 2012 means organizing to break new ground, to fight today to be decision makers on the path to creating a modern, human-centered society. There is an alternative and it is in our hands to create it!
Wisconsin Workers Mark Anniversary
More than 60,000 workers from across Wisconsin, representing many unions and both private and public sector workers demonstrated in March to mark the one-year anniversary of their struggle against Governor Scott Walker’s anti-worker, anti-social bill. Many of the stands from that fight — the right to organize and unionize, the right to collectively defend wages and working conditions, defending pensions and social programs and generally standing up for Wisconsin and society as a whole against private monopoly interests — were again reflected in signs and in the united stand of workers for rights. Those not directly impacted by the bill, such as firefighters and private sector workers, stood together with the public sector workers. All for One and One for All was again given expression as was the demand that government, a public authority, represent the public and not private interests bent on eliminating unions and undermining the standard of living and general working and living conditions of all.
The stand of workers everywhere against these anti-worker bills, which was reflected in broad demonstrations across the country last year in support of Wisconsin workers, also continues. Thousands of workers rallied during the day in Springfield, Illinois, for example, and Troy, Michigan when Walker came to speak. They denounced his anti-worker, anti-social policies and similar efforts in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois to decimate unions and strip workers of their pensions and contracts.
Wisconsin workers are also pursuing their recall campaign of Governor Walker and others that helped push through the anti-worker bill. Wisconsinites will go to the polls June 5 for recall elections involving Governor Walker, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, and four Republican state senators. Primaries will take place May 8. Through extensive organizing efforts across the state, more than one million signatures were gathered for the Walker recall and more than 840,000 for Kleefisch. For Walker more than 931,000 signatures were certified, in a situation where 540,208 were required.
Showing their social responsibilities, Wisconsin workers and their unions also mobilized to oppose a voter ID law serving to disenfranchise large numbers of voters, especially national minorities, seniors, and students. Two lawsuits against the bill have prevented it from being implemented and it will not be in use for the June election.
Worker Politicians Needed
One of the difficulties facing Wisconsin workers at this time, and all those contending with the existing electoral set-up, is that the workers themselves are blocked from selecting their own candidates. Already in Wisconsin, there are two Democrats contending for Governor. Unions are being called on to line up behind one or the other, splitting their resistance. There is also a Democratic primary. Wisconsin has an “open” primary, meaning Republicans can run in the Democratic primary and vise versa. In this case Republicans are running in the Democratic primary. These two parties of the rich fight over who could and could not run from their parties but have no concern whatever that any independent candidates selected by the workers to represent them face a very difficult time getting on the ballot and even more difficulty actually getting elected. Any politician actually representing workers would stand for opening elections and putting all candidates on an equal footing by outlawing fundraising for individual candidates and parties and requiring the federal government to fund the election process, equally, for all.
While it is the case that Democrats opposed Walker’s bill, it is also the case that many Democrats nationwide, including Governor Cuomo of New York and President Obama, support anti-worker and anti-social laws, like those attacking pensions, Medicare and other social programs. The Democrats do not represent the workers and their striving for a pro-social, anti-war program. They represent the rich and act to block the emergence of the worker politicians needed.
To be true to the organizing efforts to oppose Walker and bring to life the slogan, Whose House? Our House! — referring to controlling the statehouse — an important part of the current fight is organizing to select and elect worker politicians, select peers who can and do represent a pro-social agenda. Let there be broad discussion about the need for our own worker politicians, from our own ranks. By taking up such discussion and arguing out what it means to represent and the content of a pro-social, anti war agenda, we can break new ground on the path to political empowerment. The role of workers is not to side with the rich, whether Democrats or Republicans, but rather to forge a path for the people themselves to become the decision makers.
ILWU Lawsuit Continues to Defend Right to Protest
The Longview, Washington International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has continued to defend rights by pursing a lawsuit against Cowlitz County, the City of Longview and their top law enforcement officials. The lawsuit, filed in September 2011 during the struggle against giant grain monopoly EGT, challenges the campaign of intimidation, harassment, humiliation and arrests against ILWU members and supporters.
The campaign by elected officials and police together are an example of the private interests of EGT monopoly being politicized — brought into the public sphere with the private interests promoted and defended by public officials, who are supposed to defend the public interest. While police have always been used against the workers, what is significant is the politicizing taking place and the expansion of the government’s police powers. Rather than process misdemeanor arrests in a peaceful fashion as is standard and as the union requested, law enforcement officials and agencies used excessive force and insisted on rounding up members in public made-for-television-style scenes in front of their children and friends. Public humiliation using public arrests, away from any picket line, serves to politicize EGT’s interests while depoliticizing and marginalizing those of the workers and public more generally. Decisions by the public officials are being made privately on EGT’s behalf and serving EGT’s interests, against the public interest to protest and defend rights.
The public officials and police have continued to try and make their actions a private matter by calling for the lawsuit to be dismissed. Recently, the judge for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington denied their request and said the lawsuit could go forward. The judge also granted the ILWU’s request to add Cowlitz County’s top prosecutor District Attorney Susan Baur and Deputy County Sheriff Charles Rosinweed as defendants to the case. ILWU Coast Committeeman Leal Sundet said, “Today’s ruling means the court can hear important evidence showing that law enforcement and the Prosecuting Attorney’s office sided with the port and big business in the EGT dispute instead of defending the broader public interest.”
The public has also made its views known in several court cases brought against individual workers for their participation in the struggle — the workers have been acquitted.
T he resolution below was passed by union delegates representing a broad section of both public and private sector workers across Cowlitz and Wahkiakum Counties, where the port of Longview is located. The delegates unanimously passed the resolution denouncing recent arrests and prosecutions of longshore workers and supporters defending their rights in Longview. The vote took place after discussion bringing to the fore the unjust attacks by the police and county officials serving the private interests of giant monopoly EGT. The resolution brings out the dangerous practice being imposed of government openly striving to humiliate workers and arrest them without cause, undermining the rights of the public while politicizing the private interests of EGT. The resolution was passed at the regularly scheduled meeting at the Cowlitz-Wahkiahkum Central Labor Council.
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WHEREAS, our nation was founded on democratic principles including freedom of speech, the right to assemble, and equal protection under the law, and
WHEREAS, citizens elect leaders at the local, county, state and national level to create and apply laws for the collective good of all citizens and not for the personal gain of those entrusted with elected office; and
WHEREAS, taxpaying citizens are entitled to full -transparency and accountability from their elected officials to ensure that taxpayer funds and public resources are being used efficiently and responsibly; and
WHEREAS, members and supporters of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, when exercising their rights to free speech and assembly in the course of collective bargaining negotiations, took care to exercise such rights out of the public right-of-way so as to send a message to a private, for profit enterprise without disrupting their fellow citizens; and
WHEREAS, longshore workers and their supporters have been systematically denied equal protection under the law by law enforcement and a county prosecutor who have admitted in written documents to treating ILWU-related arrests differently from standard procedures; and
WHEREAS, this unequal protection under the law results in unnecessary and wasteful expenditures of public resources, an example being law enforcement sending multiple squad cars to pursue and arrest individual union members in public and on weekends when a simple mail summons is the standard and financially responsible practice; and
WHEREAS, the multiple jury acquittals in nearly all of the public trials against longshore workers and their supporters shows that prosecutors are bringing innocent people to trial, resulting in enormous costs to innocent workers, their families and local taxpayers; and
WHEREAS, the prosecutor’s office has demanded that dozens of workers be arrested without cause or sufficient evidence and forced them to prepare a legal defense, only to drop charges on the eve of scheduled trials, again resulting in enormous and unjust expenses to innocent citizens, their families and local taxpayers; and
WHEREAS, allowing elected officials to continue their uneven application of the law toward one group of citizens sets a dangerous precedent that undermines equal protection under the law for all citizens;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Central Labor Council demands that our elected representatives at all levels of government respect that a healthy democracy includes the right to freedom of speech and assembly without fear of being singled out for aggressive prosecution; and
BE IT RESOLVED that the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Central Labor Council calls on local, county and state elected officials to show leadership and help the community heal by putting an immediate end to prosecutions of workers and their supporters who exercised their free speech and assembly rights in the course of a labor dispute that has ended without any personal injuries or disruption to any public right of-way; and
BE IT RESOLVED that the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Central Labor Council hereby invites its members to be a part of the solution by passing resolutions and speaking publicly about the rights of free speech, assembly and equal protection under the law for all citizens.