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A Tribute to Tom Bias (1950-2019), Leader of the Labor Fightback Network

16 Dec

From The Organizer newspaper, December 2019

The labor, socialist, independent politics and labor music movements lost a leader on
October 17, 2019, when Tom Bias succumbed to a long struggle with cancer. Up until a few weeks before his death, Tom continued his activism, even when he knew he had very little time left and had declined further treatment. Many of us working in these
movements have lost a close friend and comrade. His wife Linda Bryk, daughter Fiona
Kyle, and other family members lost a loved one, and, to them, Socialist Organizer (SO)
sends our deepest sympathy.
We in SO knew Tom mostly through our work in the LFN, which Tom took over chairing after the group’s founder Jerry Gordon died in 2016. Some of our members also remember Tom from the 1970s, when he belonged to the Socialist Workers Party (SWP).
Tom’s activism started in college with the movement against the Vietnam War, where he first met and joined the SWP’s youth group the Young Socialist Alliance. Tom left the SWP in 1979, and was, for a while, a member the Fourth Internationalist Tendency, one of the groups that split off from the SWP in the early 1980s following the degeneration of the SWP. Though Tom declined to join any other socialist groups for the rest of his life, he maintained close relations with many of his comrades from those years and remained staunchly anti-capitalist.
In young adulthood, Tom spent some time in Iran, where he learned to speak Farsi and
became knowledgeable about the politics and culture of Iran and other Middle Eastern countries. He kept on being an antiwar activist, primarily in New Jersey, where he worked with New Jersey Peace Action. His knowledge of the Middle East served well
the movements against U.S. wars in the region.
A stalwart supporter of organized labor, Tom became a printer and an active member
of the International Typographical Union. He worked in this trade for much of his adult
life. In the 1990s, Tom participated in the effort to create a Labor Party and when that effort stagnated, he, along with Jerry Gordon and some of the other leaders of what be-
came the LFN, continued to organize for labor to break with the Democratic Party.
After layoffs in his 50s and subsequent struggles with medical bills and foreclosure
— a painfully direct experience of the trials of U.S. working class life in 2000s — Tom
became a paralegal to labor attorney Bennet Zurofsky.
Inspired by Woody Guthrie from his native Oklahoma, Tom shared with Zurofsky a love of labor music. Tom was a talented songwriter, singer, and guitarist, writing songs addressing workers’ rights, poverty, peace, and environmental justice. He served, as Zurofsky does now, as the director of the New Jersey-based Solidarity Singers, which
participates regularly in the Great Labor Arts Exchange and performs at picket lines and
demonstrations in New Jersey, New York, and other Eastern states. As says his close
friend, fellow musician, and LFN leader Jerry Levinsky, “His songs will leave a legacy of hope for the future of the working class.”
While Tom has left us, his legacy will live on among all who work and sing for workers’ liberation. — The Editors


ALGERIA UPDATE: Solidarity in U.S. / Millions in the Streets / Mass Strikes

8 Nov

via ALGERIA UPDATE: Solidarity in U.S. / Millions in the Streets / Mass Strikes

Hundreds of Thousands Take to the Streets Across Puerto Rico to Demand Justice!

21 Jul

Interview with Eduardo Rosario, president of the New York City chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA, AFL-CIO)

The Organizer: NYC LCLAA has convened a press conference to call for the immediate resignation of Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló. Why this call and what is happening on the ground in Puerto Rico?

Eduardo Rosario: We are holding the press conference later today [July 19] to stand in solidarity with the Puerto Rican labor movement that will be marching in San Juan and across Puerto Rico to demand Rosselló’s resignation.

The Puerto Rican people have said, “Enough Is Enough!” — “Ya No Aguantamos Mas!” They are tired of a governor — and government — that do nothing but carry water for the U.S. State Department, continuing the colonial relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States.

Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have been protesting and marching against Rosselló’s corrupt administration over the past week. On Wednesday, an estimated 500,000 people took to the streets in the largest demonstration ever held in Puerto Rico. The anger is so deep that — as we just learned today — the Puerto Rican Police Association, the union representing more than half the police force on the island, has joined the call for Rosselló to resign.

The Organizer: What sparked this week of mass mobilizations?

Eduardo Rosario: The straw that broke the camel’s back was the disclosure by the Center for Investigative Journalism of 889 pages of a chat on Telegram between Rosselló and his top advisers that revealed his misogynistic, homophobic, sexist, demeaning and disrespectful attitude toward the people of Puerto Rico, even those killed during and after Hurricane María.

But that is not all. Past and present high-level officials of Rosselló’s administration have been arrested for their participation in money-laundering schemes involving vulture hedge-fund investors. The corruption is widespread. Millions of dollars have been stolen under Rossellós watch from the public coffers, including $18 million destined to the relief fund for Hurrican María. Rosselló, as the chats reveal, knew what was going on and may have been involved.

Meanwhile the unelected Fiscal Control Board that runs Puerto Rico’s economy — in the name of administering the repayment of a debt that was never incurred by the Puerto Rican people and did not benefit them — has sliced workers’ pensions; imposed austerity; and shut down 230 public schools, while advancing a brutal school privatization agenda, among other anti-worker policies.

The Fiscal Control Board itself is a den of corruption. The Board has not released all the funds that reached the island, while approximately 30,000 houses still have blue tarps as roofs.

The Puerto Rican people are saying, “Ya Basta!” — “Enough!” They are undaunted. They are marching without trepidation. They want justice now! They will not stop until Rosselló steps down!’

The Organizer: What can labor-rights activists and supporters of Puerto Rican self-determination do in support of this struggle?

Eduardo Rosario: More than 100 Puerto Rican medical students in Guadalajara, Mexico, have organized large marches on their campus in solidarity with the Puerto Rican people fighting for justice. Similar actions no doubt are taking place in cities elsewhere. The Puerto Rican people need international labor solidarity; they need to know that they are not alone, “que no están sólos.”

Solidarity messages with this struggle can be sent to New York City LCLAA to <>. All messages will be forwarded to the labor movement in Puerto Rico.

— Interview conducted by Alan Benjamin on Friday morning, July 19, 2019

Fighting PR activistJuly 19 protest

mass shot PR

Privatizacion PR

No War! No Coup! U.S. Hands Off Venezuela!

14 Mar

The Labor Fightback Blog

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

On February 6, the National Steering Committee of the Labor Fightback Network discussed the imminent threat of direct U.S.-led military intervention against the sovereign nation of Venezuela. The Trump administration’s goal, openly stated, is to impose regime-change and take control of Venezuela’s vast oil resources. This military operation, coordinated with the governments of Brazil and Colombia, is being carried out in the name of opening a “humanitarian-aid corridor” into Venezuela from the Colombian border town of Cúcuta.

The LFN has learned that three calls have been issued by antiwar coalitions in the United States to protest U.S. intervention in Venezuela and to stay the hands of the U.S. war-makers the world over: February 23, March 16 and March 30.

The LFN has advocated consistently for a united antiwar movement capable of building broadly sponsored mass actions in the streets. We would have preferred to see a unified…

View original post 1,616 more words

Editorial from Issue 167 of La Tribune des Travailleurs, 5 December 2018

5 Dec

Do Macron and Philippe really hope to get away with it?

Editorial by Daniel Gluckstein

The announcement on 4 December of a six-month suspension of planned carbon tax increases and other fuel tax measures, as well as of planned gas and electricity increases, will obviously appear to be a setback for a government which, two days earlier, said it would not change anything. True enough. …

However, as has been clearly noted, this is a suspension, and not a withdrawal, of these measures. It is a suspension which, moreover, corresponds to the request for a “moratorium” raised by all the opposition parties.

And above all, in a situation of open crisis of the regime, it is certain that workers and young people will say to themselves: It doesn’t all add up, not really.

For months now, rejection has been growing throughout the country — rejection of the government, its policies and the institutions themselves. Rejection that embraces all segments of the population, starting with the most oppressed and exploited: the working class, which includes active and retired workers, the unemployed, children of the working class, mothers of families.

What is being rejected is 30 years of “counter-reforms” that the institutions of the Fifth Republic have enabled, in defiance of the majority will, thanks to the ordinances, to Article 49-3 [of the Constitution of the Fifth Republic], and to the full powers given to the President, the keystone of the institutions.

What is being rejected is a class-war policy implemented by governments of all political stripes. It’s a class-war policy that deprives the working class of its rights, amputates its purchasing power, undermines its access to healthcare and pensions, denies the younger generation access to a qualification, and denies millions the means to live with dignity, with a decent purchasing power that allows them to secure housing, clothing and leisure.

It’s ruthless class-war politics: For decades, it has allowed capitalists to accumulate mountains of profit, unparalleled in history, on the basis of the continuous degradation of the value of the labour force.

To the legitimate and vital demands of this overwhelming majority, which has said “Enough is Enough!,” the minimum respect for democracy would require that, at the very least, the following demands must be met:

– the withdrawal of measures that are set to go into effect beginning 1 January 2019: the withholding tax, the new reductions and exemptions from employers’ social security contributions, and the planned payment of the 40 billion euros of the CICE [Credit for Competitivity and Employment];

– the withdrawal of all the Macron government’s ongoing “counter-reforms” and plans against workers and young people: pension counter-reforms, Blanquer reforms against the baccalaureate and the high schools (against which high school students are rising up today) and all other such measures;

– the general increase in wages, pensions and social minima, with a return to price indexation and the recovery of lost purchasing power;

– the reopening of classes, hospitals, maternity wards, post offices and other public services that have been closed for decades;

– and therefore the necessary break with the austerity policies imposed by the European treaties and successive governments for more than 25 years.

Instead, the government not only pretends not to hear this immense demand for a break with these past policies, but it persists and signs the new regressive measures. [Prime Minister] Édouard Philippe went on to announce the government’s planned “concertation,” claiming that its goal is to meet the aspirations of those who want “taxes to fall and work to pay.”

The Medef [the main employers’ association] has greeted these measures with glee: less taxes, less benefit payments. This is, in fact, what the employers have been demanding all along; it’s what the government intends to approve through this process of “consultation.”

But here’s the rub: The crisis of the Fifth Republic’s regime is wide open, and the government’s announcements of 4 December will not be enough to close it. The revolt has been brewing for more than 30 years. The more Macron-Philippe persist in refusing to give in on any issue of substance, the more they push the working class toward the following conclusion: If, to obtain satisfaction of our basic demands, it is necessary to drive out the Macron government and the Fifth Republic, then so be it. …

This raises the whole problem of working class independence, the very principle of which has been undermined in recent weeks by those who have called on workers’ organizations to submit to the discipline–  “outside of and above social classes” — of the so-called yellow-vest movement.

Class independence: Workers have nothing to gain from the confusion of demands raised by an amalgam of social classes.

Class independence: Workers have nothing to gain by standing behind the tricolour flag or banners such as “We Are All Gauls.” National unity, whatever its clothing and pretexts, is always contrary to workers’ interests.

Class independence: Workers have nothing to gain from others speaking on their behalf, from self-proclaimed spokespersons who, in the name of the “people” and the rejection of political parties and trade unions, take refuge in a façade of anonymity that is not at all spontaneous.

Class independence: Workers have nothing to gain from anti-political, anti-worker, anti-union “clear-the-road” demands and forms of struggle, which, by undermining the forms of working class representation, only aim to atomize them and subordinate the workers to the ruling political system.

Class independence: Workers have nothing to gain by turning a blind eye to racist and anti-immigrant abuses and aggressions that aim to divide them.

The workers have nothing to gain from the rise of what is called populism — be it of the “left” or the right  — which is nothing more than the negation of the class struggle, any more than hthey have something to gain from the convergence of populisms, the results of which can be seen in Italy.

But they have everything to gain by remaining on working class grounds. The unity of workers and their organisations, with their faces uncovered as they promote their demands, is the only way to impose an outcome in line with their interests and democracy.

A real change in course calls for the emergence of “classical” forms of class struggle in relation to the crisis of the regime. The whole situation places the workers’ strike on the agenda around clear, specific demands, sweeping away the confusion of sloganeering. Already, particular strikes are spreading across the country — strikes which, in connection with the regime’s general crisis, are fuelling the movement towards a workers’ general strike.

This is the way to impose a real break with the anti-worker political continuity of the last 3- years. This is the way to break with the European Union and the Fifth Republic, the first step toward a government of the working class and democracy.

It is in this direction that a real “way out of the crisis” can be found, in line with political democracy and workers’ interests.


2017 and 2018

1 Jan

Happy New year, all.

This year just past has not been the best nor the worst the world has ever seen. In our own life, Sandie’s health continues intermittent, if I can call it that way. She has more or less recovered from the cancer of two and a half years ago, but now is suffering chronic shortness of breath. I am not all that healthy myself, my teeth continue to deteriorate and my joints get older every winter. I continue to sing; Sandie has taken a year off from CT in hopes of recovering her voice and lung capacity.

On the world scene and here in Canada, events continue to unfold. The continuing struggles in Palestine, in Catalonia, in Venezuela, in Syria, are more intense than we face here in North America, but the nature does not change however much the circumstances do; they are all aspects of the class struggle between Capital and Labour worldwide. On that note: I am heartened by our establishment of a Liaison Committee of Trotskyists in Canada last summer at a conference in Montreal. The four of us, altogether, hope to be able to rebuild a Canadian section of the FI united under the banner of the Organising Committee for the Reconstitution of the Fourth International.

For friends and family, I wish us all a better year ahead, with more victories than defeats; peace, prosperity, and unity on us all.

For brothers and sisters in the NDP and the Socialist Caucus, I hope we can come to agree more on the correct strategies and tactics to unite our class and people independently of the bankers’ parties, the Grits and the Tories, and achieve political power in the name of the Canadian working class.

For comrades, I hope that in the coming year the ongoing difficulties in the Fourth International, and indeed not just in our stream of the International reproclaimed in 1993 but in all the streams which lay claim to the heritage of the FI founded in 1938, which could appear to an old political paranoid like me to have been deliberately engineered, shall be overcome and indeed overwhelmed. Might as well wish for the moon with a white-enameled wrought iron picket fence around it if we do not contribute to the fight, however, so onwards!

It is New Year’s day in Newfoundland, so … we will have a sip of Asti Spumante now, and one at 11:00 when it is New Year’s day in Halifax and the rest of the Maritimes, and then a big gurgle of it at local midnight in Toronto.
Happy New Year! Peace, prosperity and justice on us all.

Endorsement letter for the Binational Fightback Conference

22 Nov


Comrades and friends,

You hold this Conference in order to organize the fight to cancel NAFTA and to prevent the construction of the Wall of the Shame, a policy led by US imperialism against the working class and peoples of the three countries, United States of America, Mexico and Canada.

Comrades and friends,

Through NAFTA, which entered into force on 1994, Canadian and Mexican markets are forced to open wide for American products (spare parts for cars and trucks, agriculture, clothing, electronics and services), to relocate American factories, especially in the automotive sector, to these countries, to privatize economic and social sectors and to question workers rights.

Concerning Canada: on average, Canadian exports to the United States are 80% of total Canadian exports, while the exports from the United States to Canada are less than 60% of their total exports.

American factories and business have been outsourced to this country firing American workers and imposing low wages for Canadian workers; at the same time Canadian factories and businesses have been outsourced to right-to-work states in the US, and to Mexico.

The ongoing NAFTA negotiations are aimed, according to the Trump administration, at reducing the trade deficit with these countries. In reality, it is about amplifying the attacks on the working class and the peoples of our countries.

In Canada, recourse to special laws has become the rule to counter the mobilisations and strikes for the satisfaction of workers’ demands, as happened recently in Quebec in the construction industry and at Ontario colleges.

Comrades and friends,

We were unable to attend the Conference, which could have been Trinational; rest assured that your fight is ours and we will look for ways to join you.

Full success at the Conference.


B. Ross Ashley; retired hospital worker, former member of the Executive Council of Local 204 SEIU; member of the executive of the Toronto-St Paul’s New Democratic Party, supporter of the NDP Socialist Caucus

Paul Nkunzimana; Correspondent International Workers Committee

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