at the oxymoron museum

12 Jul

Not political, but just freaking LOVELY.

Source: at the oxymoron museum

La démocratie exige de conclure : « Dehors ce président et cette Assemblée illégitimes, dehors la Ve République, Assemblée constituante souveraine tout de suite ! »

22 Jun

Communique of the POIDemocratique on the results of the second round

Paris, 19 June 2017
What now?
The National Assembly was elected on 18 June with fewer than two voters in five voting. This situation, unprecedented in the country’s history, occurred after Macron’s election, which was already marked by a record level of abstention and blank and spoiled ballots.
A class “non-vote”
A large majority had their say through a class “non-vote”. In the first round, two out of three workers and two out of three youth abstained or cast a blank or spoiled ballot; this phenomenon was more pronounced in the second round. This class “non-vote” clearly said: we reject the institutions and the policies they serve, the same policies which – from Sarkozy to Hollande to Macron – strike at the workers and the youth for the benefit of the capitalists and the bankers.
Democracy demands that we conclude: “Out with this illegitimate President and Assembly, out with the Fifth Republic, a sovereign Constituent Assembly now!”
This is not what the leaders of the parties and movements that emerged – to varying degrees – from the democratic labour movement are saying. Some of them are calling for the introduction of “an amount of proportional representation”: as if this could change the anti-democratic, authoritarian and Bonapartist nature of those institutions and the role of the rump National Assembly, dedicated to recording and accompanying every decision of the President!
Others are stating that this National Assembly is not “legitimate for taking the decision via ordinances” (1) to eliminate the labour Code…as if such an act of destruction were more acceptable if it came at the end of a “parliamentary debate”! To which can be added Melenchon’s request to the President of the Republic for a referendum on the future Macron law against the Labour Code…which once again amounts to Macron being able to rely on him!
Thus, all of them are staying within the framework of institutions that have been massively rejected, institutions which they are legitimising by calling for them to be reformed to a marginal degree.
It is the Fifth Republic that must be cleared out!
Those who campaigned on a position of “clearing them all out” are today patting themselves on the back for the disappearance of three quarters of the political personnel of the last Parliament. But, strangely, they have stopped being advocates of “clearing out” when it comes to the institutions of the Fifth Republic.
And yet the legislative programmes announced by Macron – on the Labour Code, the Social Security system and pensions – extend and worsen the previous programmes of Hollande and Sarkozy; like the others, Macron’s programmes are dictated by the European Union and the capitalist class. Defending labour rights and democracy cannot limit itself to “clearing out” failed government ministers and members of parliament; in fact, some of them have recycled themselves under new political labels. Defending labour rights and democracy calls for clearing out the institutions. Otherwise, a “clearing out” that focuses on individuals and ignores the institutions would only confirm a line from a famous film (2): “For things to remain the same, everything must change”.
After 18 June, anyone who claims to stand for the working class should come to this conclusion: democratic legitimacy resides in the class struggle organised by the workers themselves to block the government’s plans. On the evening of the second round, Mélenchon declared: “The people of France have at their disposal in the Assembly a consistent, disciplined and aggressive France Unbowed group, and it is this group (…) which, when the time comes, will call on the country to mount social resistance”. How are we to understand this wish to confiscate from the workers their right to organise their class struggle themselves?
How are we to understand this attempt to substitute oneself for the trade union organisations that were built by the workers to defend their demands?At a time when Trump is provoking a direct military confrontation with Syria (and behind it, Iran); at a time when the march to war is spreading to threaten peace throughout the world; what are they saying, all those officials of the groups elected yesterday to the National Assembly? That, one way or another, the war will continue. (3) On the contrary, whoever claims to stand for peace and democracy, whoever claims to stand for the working class, should say: there is an urgent need to open up the path to peace by withdrawing all French troops from foreign interventions.
This rejection is positive
The fact that activists who campaigned for France Unbowed candidates are happy with the number of seats won; the fact that Communist Party activists who feared that their party would disappear from the Assembly benches are reassured by the result; the fact that Socialist Party activists are dismayed by the SP dropping from 320 members of parliament to 29: every one of us can understand all this.
We, members of the Democratic Independent Workers Party (POID), fraternally say to all of them: whatever you are feeling on this election night, do not lose sight of the main point. The main point is that the working class and the youth abandoned the elections. This massive rejection is positive, as it heralds the developments to come on the battlefield of the class struggle.
We members of the POID place at the heart of our activity the fight for the workers’ united front, in other words for helping to achieve unity of the workers and their organisations on labour demands. As far as we are concerned, the only relevant criteria are class criteria.
“There are no supreme saviours…”
We remain faithful to the words of The Internationale: “There are no supreme saviours / Neither God, nor Caesar, nor tribune. Producers, let us save ourselves, / Decree the common salvation.” (4)
Yes, more than ever it is for the workers to decide on the forms and means of their united action together with their organisations. This presupposes specific slogans, and in particular:
• Withdrawal of the programme presented by the government on 6 June and repeal of the El Khomri law;
• Full respect for the Labour Code, rejection of reversing the order of standards and negotiating on an enterprise-by-enterprise basis;
• Return to the 1945 basis of the Social Security system, repeal of the CSG [supplementary social security contribution] and have funding only on a deferred-salary basis;
• Re-establishment of the public services, a return to state monopolies;
• Repeal of the counter-reforms in school education, preservation of the baccalaureate as a national diploma.
It is for the workers to decide for themselves. They are the majority, they are social and democratic legitimacy.
The Second Congress of the Democratic Independent Workers Party is taking place on 24 and 25 June. It will debate the new situation and the POID’s proposals with the delegates representing 72 départements and with non-member labour activists who have been invited.
(1) An ordonnance is a statute passed by the Council of Ministers in an area of law normally reserved for statute law passed by the French Parliament.
(2) The Leopard by director Luchino Visconti, based on Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel of the same name.
(3) “The war is already pretty terrible, and here it is civilians who are bearing the brunt of phosphorus weapons, and this is unacceptable. There are undoubtedly other means to wage war that are less cruel for the civilian populations (…). I would implore those who are making the decisions to abandon the use of those weapons, even if it means using others”. (Melenchon on 16 June, after the shelling of Raqqa)
(4) Translator’s note: This is the literal English translation of the original French lyrics (written by Eugene Pottier in Paris, in 1871), which are not reflected in the full English version. This says: “No saviour from on high delivers; No faith have we in prince or peer. Our own right hand the chains must shiver: Chains of hatred, greed and fear.” The American version (translated from the French in 1900 by Charles Hope Kerr) is closer to the original in meaning: “We want no condescending saviors / To rule us from a judgment hall; We workers ask not for their favors; Let us consult for all.”

The Paradox of 23 April

27 Apr
Workers’ Tribune Issue no.86 – Editorial

By Daniel Gluckstein

Where is the paradox of 23 April?

The rejection that was expressed has a class content. The El Khomri law, counter-

reforms, lay-offs, privatisations, cuts in public services, state of emergency, anti-union repression: it was the anti-worker policy of the Hollande-Valls government (and the previous governments) that was massively rejected.

But this class content is not represented by either of the two candidates in the second round.

There are two explanations for this.

The first is immediately obvious: division. Hamon and Mélenchon could have changed things by agreeing on a single candidacy for the repeal of the El Khomri labour law. They refused to do so. They bear the responsibility for a Le Pen/Macron second round.
The second explanation has to do with the very nature of the Fifth Republic. To those who — worried about (or condemning) abstention — solemnly remind people that the ballot is a democratic gain, the workers and youth are entitled to reply: can democracy be reduced to choosing a king, one who of course does not wear a crown but who has full powers, notably the power to impose the programmes dictated by the capitalists, the bankers and the European Union?

No, clearly not.
If democracy is the power of the people, then it should be a sovereign Constituent Assembly that defines the form and content of that power. Without limitations: in a sovereign Constituent Assembly, the representatives of the people, elected on a fully proportional basis from the electoral lists, must be able to take all the measures called for by the situation, including a ban on lay-offs and privatisations, the confiscation of bank assets to apply them to the needs of the population, or a stop to the wars that are sowing devastation throughout the world.

The Fifth Republic has been struck a fatal blow. The two parties that have governed for almost 60 years have been eliminated from the second round. Macron is a Bonaparte by default, to whom the ruling circles of the capitalist class (together with the institutional left) are rallying under duress (until when?). His future government could only “hold out” by relying on a version of national unity that includes the trade unions . . . which is difficult to achieve.

The fact remains that, although having been struck a fatal blow, the Fifth Republic will not fall by itself. It is up to the working class, preserving the independence of its organisations and achieving unity on its demands, to open up the path towards the Constituent Assembly, delivering the final death blow to the Fifth Republic and breaking with the European Union.

On the evening of 23 April, we heard the main candidates call on “the patriots” or declare their love for “the homeland”. Such references erase the borders of class, since both the workers and the bosses, the exploited and the exploiters, are equally supposed to be “children of the homeland”.

Our choice is The Internationale over The Marseillaise, the red flag over the tricolour.

In the approaching class struggles, more than ever, the time has come to build a genuine workers’ party.

from the national office of the POID, on the elections in France

18 Apr

Communiqué du bureau national du POID – Paris, le 18 avril 2017 – Le Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique a été fondé pour défendre et exprimer les intérêts des travailleurs. Il lutte pour l’instauration d’un gouvernement ouvrier capable de prendre les mesures d’urgence qu’appelle la situation. Il y a vingt-cinq ans était signé le traité de […]

via Notre position — La Tribune des travailleurs

La vraie vie, c’est la lutte des classes

12 Apr

Édito de La Tribune des travailleurs 84, Par Daniel Gluckstein
Un même drapeau tricolore flotte sur les meetings des cinq « grands candidats ». Une même Marseillaise les conclut. Tous Français, sans distinction : tel est le message suggéré…
Une manière d’exorciser la lutte de classe pour l’évacuer du débat présidentiel.
Mais pendant le cirque électoral, la vraie vie continue.
Et la vraie vie, c’est la lutte des classes.
Faire travailler les ouvriers quinze jours supplémentaires par an, gratuitement, dans une entreprise d’Eure-et-Loir : c’est possible et légal, c’est la loi El Khomri.
Liquider les centres de protection maternelle et infantile dans le département le plus pauvre de France : c’est possible et légal, c’est l’application du pacte de responsabilité.
Dans tous les domaines, les travailleurs subissent les attaques les plus brutales de ce gouvernement qui poursuit la politique du précédent et prépare celle du suivant.
Dans tous les domaines, les travailleurs sont contraints de dresser leur propre lutte de classe avec leurs organisations syndicales, parfois même avec leurs comités de délégués unis avec les syndicats.
L’âpreté de la lutte de classe contraste avec un débat électoral convenu et aseptisé.
L’âpreté de la lutte de classe, c’est le prolongement de la mobilisation de millions contre la loi El Khomri.
Une mobilisation qui trouve une expression déformée et partielle dans la progression des intentions de vote pour Mélenchon (après que Hamon, d’une certaine manière, a jeté le gant).
Pour autant, il faut constater que plus les intentions de vote en sa faveur augmentent, plus Mélenchon tient un discours éloigné de la lutte de classe.
Fidèle à sa propre formule selon laquelle la notion d’intérêt de classe n’est plus à l’ordre du jour (Le Parisien, 23 mars), il adopte une posture de plus en plus bonapartiste, avec une pincée de social ici, une poignée d’écologisme là, mais surtout aucune référence à la lutte de classe, ni à l’Union européenne, ni à la V e République, ni à la rupture, ni même à ses propres mots d’ordre d’Assemblée constituante et de VI e République. On comprend dans ces conditions qu’une partie des travailleurs et des jeunes emprunte la voie de l’abstention, tandis qu’une autre partie place ses espoirs malgré tout dans
Mélenchon.
Il reste que la loi El Khomri s’applique. Il reste que dans la période qui vient, quel que soit le résultat de l’élection, les travailleurs auront besoin, pour combattre (en particulier pour l’abrogation de cette loi infâme), de disposer d’organisations de classe
indépendantes des patrons et du gouvernement. Et cela, au plan syndical comme au plan politique.
Dans une situation où beaucoup de choses peuvent basculer, le libre débat est indispensable.
Le Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique combat pour un gouvernement ouvrier qui prenne les nécessaires mesures de rupture. Préparant son II e Congrès, il invite sans préalable à participer à la discussion les travailleurs et militants de toutes tendances qui refusent de renoncer à la lutte de classe et au drapeau rouge des prolétaires.

EMERGENCY APPEAL FOR SIGNATURES

16 Mar

Striking Maruti WorkersThe Maruti Suzuki strikers are being railroaded, as surely as Big Bill Haywood and Joe Hill were. PLEASE copy the coupon at the end of the letter to an email, fill it in and send it to the ILC at the address given. The sentencing is Friday and these fellow workers may hang. (The statements of the Provisional Working Committee and of the NTUI are available at https://marutisuzukiworkersunion.wordpress.com and http:// www.ntui.org.in/media/item/13-maruti-suzuki-workers-convicted-of-murder-for-forming-a-trade-union)

PLEASE ENDORSE THIS SIGN-ON LETTER TO THE INDIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES

Mr Navtej Sarma

Ambassador from India to the United States

2536 Massachusetts Ave. NW

Washington, DC

email:ambassadoroffice@indiagov.org

Dear Ambassador Navtej Sarma,

We, the undersigned supporters of labor and democratic rights,  write you this Open Letter urge you and your government to take immediate action to save the lives of 13 trade unionists of the Maruti-Suzuki corporation, who were arrested and charged in connection with the incidents that took place at the company’s Manesar factory in 2012, in which a factory manager died. As you most certainly are aware, the imprisoned Maruti workers have just been tried in court; 117 of them (who have already spent 4 years in prison) were acquitted, but 31 were convicted of various offenses, including 13 who were convicted of murder — which, as you know, is punishable by death or life imprisonment. The sentencing is scheduled for Friday, March 17.

We have read the appeal from the Provisional Working Committee of the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union and the March 10 statement by the New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI). We agree fully that these workers have been convicted on trumped-up charges for their trade union activity. No evidence was provided to link any of these workers to the unfortunate death of a factory manager. Eleven of the 13 facing the most serious charges were leaders of the MSWU, the independent union that was formed in Maruti and that management sought to break through violence.

We urge you to relay to your government in India our call for justice for all the convicted Maruti workers, and more particularly for the 13 Maruti trade unionists, whose lives are in grave danger. We call upon you and your Government to save their lives and to drop all the bogus charges against all those convicted unjustly. We call upon you and your Government to free all the imprisoned Maruti workers.

Sincerely,

[follows list of signatories]

****

ENDORSEMENT COUPON

[  ] I endorse the above Open Letter to the Indian Ambassador to the United States

NAME

UNION/ORG [list if for id. purposes only]

CITY

STATE/PROVINCE

EMAIL

(Please fill out coupon and return to <iwcinfo@earthlink.net>)

Unionists and Labor Rights Activists Rally in front of Carl’s Jr.

23 Jan

Unionists and Labor Rights Activists Rally in Front of Carl’s Jr. in S.F. to Protest Trump’s Anti-Labor Agenda

By Alan Benjamin (*)

SAN FRANCISCO — An estimated 100 labor activists braved the torrential rain Friday afternoon, January 20 (Inauguration Day), to protest Trump’s anti-labor agenda. Fourteen unions were represented at the rally, which was held in front of Carl’s Jr. to denounce Trump’s nomination of Andrew Puzder as the new Secretary of Labor. (Puzder, the CEO of Carl’s Jr., is opposed to an increase in the minimum wage; in fact, he does not believe in the need for any minimum wage.)

The half-hour Labor Rally was held immediately prior to the 5 p.m. mass rally organized by the ANSWER coalition. Many union contingents arrived for the main rally but could not make it to the earlier labor feeder rally, as union members were just getting out of work at that time.

The Labor Rally was co-sponsored by the San Francisco Labor Council (AFL-CIO) and Jobs with Justice SF. The leaflet calling for the Rally put forward the following demands, all of which were addressed by the rally speakers:

* No to Privatization of Social Security & Medicare!
* No to Right-to-Work (For Less) Laws!
* There Is a Real Solution: Single Payer Now!
* Money for Jobs and Social Services, Not War!
* End All Deportations, Stop All Hate Crimes!
* $15 Minimum Wage and a Union!

The labor rally was chaired by two co-emcees: Alisa Messer, Political Director, AFT 2121; and Kung Feng, Lead Organizer, Jobs with Justice San Francisco. Both highlighted the powerful protest marches, rallies, and actions held earlier in the day throughout downtown San Francisco.

Six speakers addressed the labor gathering. They were:

– Tim Paulson – Executive Director of San Francisco Labor Council

– Fakhra Shah – Mission High School Teacher and member of United Educators of San Francisco

– Raquel Botello – Organizer with La Colectiva, the San Francisco Women’s Collective and leader with the California Domestic Workers Coalition

– Lucia Lin – Senior Movement Building Coordinator with the Chinese Progressive Association and leader with the Progressive Workers Alliance

– Jonathan Meade – Chairperson of Campaign for a Healthy California San Francisco Chapter and retired member of SEIU Local 1021

– Michael Gene Sullivan – San Francisco Mime Troup Collective and member of SAG-AFTRA

Following are the presentations from three of the six speakers (Fakhra Shah, Raquel Botello, and Jonathan Meade) who addressed the Labor Rally. These were the only speakers who had prepared written statements. We were not able to tape the other speakers.

– – – – –

(* Alan Benjamin, an OPEIU Local 29 delegate to the S.F. Labor Council, was a co-organizer of the Labor Rally)

* * * * * * * * * *

Presentation by Fakhra Shah

[Note: Fakhra Shah, a social studies teacher at Mission High School and a member of United Educators of San Francisco, is the author of a lesson plan, drafted just hours after Trump’s election, to help teachers at her school struggling with how to answer students’ questions and concerns about Trump becoming president. The four-page plan’s introduction includes this guidance: “Let us please not sidestep the fact that a racist and sexist man has become the president of our country by pandering to a huge racist and sexist base.” The lesson plan was posted to the union’s website, stirring a huge national debate that was covered widely by the media.]

Good Afternoon!

I said this to you once before, I will say it again: A racist and sexist man has become our president. However in saying that, there are a few things that I left out, I missed: an ABLEIST, xenophobic, and Islamophobic man has become our president — and we MUST REFUSE to allow ourSELVES, OUR students, OUR YOUTH to be threatened in our schools. WE WILL NOT NORMALIZE bigotry and HATE IN OUR SCHOOLS.

How many here today are educators? How many are educators of color? How many of you have fought oppression your entire lives? It’s true, we have always been threatened, but now we are going to be directly assaulted by Trump, by his cabinet, and specifically by Betsy DeVos!

BETSY DEVOS is unqualified to serve as Secretary of Education, and she is an ableist. How can someone be nominated for Secretary of Education and not be familiar with the federal law, specifically with the INDIVIDUALS WITH DIASBILITIES EDUCATION ACT (IDEA)?

In the hearing, DeVos did not agree to uphold federal law to protect students with disabilities; as a matter of fact she had no idea that this was a federally mandated law that all schools receiving federal funding must uphold.

We MUST NOT ALLOW someone like Betsy DeVos to become Secretary of Education. Everything that we have ever fought for is at stake. Human rights are at stake.

There are many who are asking us educators to be neutral, Betsy DeVos, is NOT NEUTRAL. TRUMP IS NOT NEUTRAL. They want to dismantle all of the rights we have ever fought for.
As educators, as adults, we must fight to keep ourselves and our communities safe. We must keep fighting, keep speaking out, and remember, when they are asking you to be neutral, that is their only way of disarming us! Will not be disarmed!

Remember the words of Desmond Tutu:

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Presentation by Raquel Botello

Good afternoon,

My name is Raquel Botello. I am a member of La Colectiva de Mujeres (Women’s Collective) and of the Day Labor coalition. I am a domestic worker.

I thank the organizers of this event for inviting me to speak.

We have enormous challenges ahead with the new president, but we must resist. We must organize and mobilize to demand our rights. We must mobilize to defend and expand our healthcare rights. We need a real healthcare system — whatever name you call it — that meets all of our needs as working people.

We must mobilize to demand an end to the deportations of our undocumented immigrant sisters and brothers. Not One More Deportation. We cannot accept the separation of our families, with our children no longer able to live with their parents. We need to return America to its best values and traditions!

We must demand an end to the Border Wall of Shame!

And we must demand an end to the discrimination against women. We women should be valued and respected fully. We must demand equality in all realms. We must demand respect and dignity!

But to do all this we must unite; labor and community must work together. United we will win, because our unity is our strength.

Si Se Puede!

Thank you.

* * * * * * * * * *

Presentation by Jonathan Meade

Good afternoon. My name is Jonathan Meade. I’m with SEIU Local 1021, and I’ve been with my union for 36 years. It’s good to see all of you union members out here today. Because we know what’s going on here today is more than a protest. This is the beginning of a fight. And fighting is what we do.

It doesn’t matter if it’s our employer, Donald Trump and the Republicans in Washington, or corporate democrats in California. You come after me – you come after my family – you come after my grandchildren – these assholes/people do not even know what they’re in for.

I’ve been asked to talk to you about defending Medicare, Medical, and Social Security, but you know, I worked the streets of San Francisco for 30 years as a paramedic, so I know about healthcare. If the Affordable Care Act is dismantled – if Medicare is privatized – if Medical is cut to the bone – if your retirement age is raised and your Social Security benefits are cut – millions of people will be thrown into poverty – and thousands will die. They don’t care. And what will happen to our union healthcare benefits? We all know what’s going on there. We’ve been fighting that fight at the bargaining table for the last 20 years, and we are not winning.

From 1999 to 2014 healthcare premiums across America rose by 191% — and worker contributions rose by 212%. Many union members and union leaders still think we can protect our healthcare benefits through contract negotiations and fighting our own individual fights. That is dead wrong. The last 20 years have already proved that.

We can’t win by just trying to hang on to what we as union members have. If millions of people lose their healthcare coverage in California, you think they are going to care what happens to our benefits? Everyone needs healthcare. Not just union members – everyone deserves healthcare.

The only way to protect our union healthcare benefits from the death of a thousand cuts at a thousand different bargaining tables is to create a healthcare system in California that provides decent healthcare benefits to everyone. Some people call this single payer – some call it Medicare for All, but just like in Canada, in England, in France, in Germany, in Japan, in Taiwan, in Cuba – we can have universal health coverage. Medicare for All covers everyone, costs less than we are spending now, and takes healthcare off the bargaining table. No insurance companies – guess what, we don’t need them – they add nothing of value to our healthcare system – by cutting out the middleman, we can save tens of billions of dollars every year.

This is not pie in the sky. We can actually do this. Californians are not going to accept the dismantling of Obamacare, the gutting of Medical, and the privatizing of Medicare. We have an opportunity – to go big and go on the offensive – through the California legislature, or through the ballot initiative process. The only things standing in our way are the insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and ourselves. We know that if all of California labor unites around an issue we can win. We’ve done it before. It’s time to unite – and fight – and win. Thank you. Long live unions.

* * * *