TEACHERS WIN VICTORY AGAINST REPUBLICAN ESTABLISHMENT!

THE LESSONS OF WEST VIRGINIA’S WORKING CLASS REVOLT

Socialist Alternative members from Pittsburgh, Columbus, Philadelphia, and Seattle traveled to Charlestown to stand in solidarity with the striking teachers. We engaged in many conversations, listening to what workers had to say and expressing our support for their struggle. Teachers were more than happy to talk to us even though there was some suspicion of “socialism”. But once we established that we were there to listen and support their struggle, they were actually excited to speak with open socialists….

While much of the American liberal left concluded that the working class in states like West Virginia, which voted 68% for Trump, should be dismissed as one reactionary mass, Socialist Alternative explained the contradictory reality and the need for the labor movement to take a stand and build a movement that spoke to the common interests of all working people while also boldly fighting racism, nativism and sexism. The West Virginia teachers, less likely to vote Trump than the state as a whole and also inspired by the emerging women’s movement,  point precisely to the class contradictions in Trump country. Led in part by leftists, the rank and file revolt won the support of the mass of the West Virginia working class in a stand-up fight with a reactionary, Republican dominated legislature…..

The boldness of the West Virginia teachers shows that there is no time to waste. Workplace meetings and rallies should be held at every unionized public sector workplace in the country against Janus. This should be the launching point for a massive national day of action where millions of unionized workers come on the streets to say that they won’t be pushed back to the pre-union era and to declare that they are fighting not just for themselves but for the entire working class. This will put the labor movement on a direct collision course with Trump, the Republicans and the whole corporate elite but that’s exactly what needs to happen.

Read the full article here

Advertisements

In Solidarity With West Virginia Strikes

West Virginia Public School Teachers have been on a wildcat strike for 8 days. On Sunday morning 1500 CWA workers went on a statewide strike against Frontier Communications. Socialist Alternative has members on the ground in Charleston doing solidarity work. The following is the solidarity statement from Socialist Alternative that is being distributed in Charleston.

West Virginia Teachers Must Win!

The Labor Movement Can Push Back Anti-Union Attacks

Working people around the country and world are tremendously inspired by the struggle of West Virginia teachers! Your strike – battling for health care – against a callous billionaire shows an amazing example of how workers, union and non-union members, can fight and win  against the vicious attacks on working people.  On Saturday, members of Communications Workers District 2-13 members decided to go on strike – their determination inspired by the teachers’ grassroots movement. Socialist Alternative is in solidarity with your struggle and below we include quotes from a few prominent members.

In her message to striking West Virginia public school workers Kshama Sawant wrote:

“As a Seattle City Councilmember, a rank and file member of AFT Local 1789, and a member of Socialist Alternative, I am writing to congratulate you on your inspiring struggle against the inhumane pay and healthcare costs imposed on you by the West Virginia Legislature. I thank the members and organizers of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, the West Virginia Education Association, the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, and other workers for standing courageous and united in this historic strike action.

“By inviting walkout votes from all public school workers across the state, regardless of union membership or job description, you have shown how labor unions, and the working class as a whole, can successfully fight when we stand together. By uniting teachers, administrative staff, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and custodians in demanding a response from politicians in the state legislature, you have offered valuable lessons for us all.”

Working people are feeling the brunt of horrific inequality at a time when billionaires are disproportionately expanding their wealth. The twenty wealthiest people in America­ now own more than the entire bottom half of the nation’s population. Governor Justice of West Virginia, who brazenly said teachers and other public school employees should accept one or two percent wage increases and ballooning health care costs, is himself is a billionaire and one of the richest politicians in the nation.

Such incomprehensible wealth is possible only alongside the impoverishment of tens of millions of working people who make our cities and states run. Public services and public-sector employees have seen draconian funding cuts and relentless austerity measures. Already the right wing and the Republican Party have attacked public sector unions with “right to work” legislation in twenty-eight states, including West Virginia. The Janus case now being heard in the United States Supreme Court could dangerously pave the way for an even more precipitous decline in living standards and workplace rights.

Your strike has showed the potential for the labor movement to put both the Supreme Court and the political establishment on notice, and to win victories, even in the face of attacks on the public sector.”  – Ryan Timlin, President ATU Local 1005 (personal capacity)

What would happen if public sector workers coast to coast took united and coordinated strike action like you have done in West Virginia? Further, could the labor movement push back against the right wing and corporate politicians by running its own independent working class candidates?

To win, the struggle should continue and be broadened out including the possibility of solidarity actions from union and non-union workers.

“We will stand with you as you figure out your next steps. Your fight is our fight. Your victory will be our victory, and will be an example to educators and other public sector workers around the country who are looking for a strategy to fight back against punishing budget cuts and attacks on union rights.” – Stan Strasner, Vice President of the Seattle Substitute Association, Seattle Educators Association – NEA (personal capacity)

Not One More…

Five years and 239 school shootings after the massacre of Sandy Hook – years during which the politicians hired by the gun lobby have repeatedly used “thoughts and prayers” to silence any serious discussion about addressing the madness of a society awash with guns, including automatic weapons meant for the battlefield – the dam has been broken by a group of energized and furiously angry high school students.

https://www.socialistalternative.org/2018/02/21/parkland-school-massacre-youth-rise-violence-inequality/

Temple Socialist Students To O’Connor: Its Time To Go!

Temple Socialist Students condemns the recent opening of O’Connor Plaza. Not only is the project a waste of resources used to further a vanity project –intended to feed the ego of Temple’s Board of Trustees Chair– it honors a man whose “contributions” to the community include gentrification, union-busting, and defending rapists. 

The actions of Patrick O’Connor reflect the actions of Temple University and vice versa. Temple’s mishandling of sexual assault and its reluctance to make significant changes should come as no surprise when the man at the helm of Temple University has defended Bill Cosby from facing justice. O’Connor’s law firm, Cozen O’Connor, proudly advertises its services as legal provocateurs, attacking workers trying to unionize. 

O’Connor brings these anti-worker and anti-democratic practices to Temple, fighting tooth and nail against attempts by Temple workers in the struggle for better wages and working conditions. Finally, there is the question of the Temple Stadium, and the racist gentrification policies that it represents. O’Connor has worked tirelessly to drive out the existing North Philadelphia community to make room for development that aims to personally enrich himself and the one percent.

While O’Connor uses his position to fatten his own pockets at the expense of others, he uses Temple’s funds to build monuments to himself while tuition continues to skyrocket and adjuncts wait for a raise. Tuition and state tax dollars should be funding education, not Patrick O’Connor’s ego. Temple’s hundreds of millions in construction expenditures are used on many aesthetic projects, like repairing the Bell Tower, replacing a perfectly good Paley library, and of course O’Connor plaza, while many departments at Temple suffer from budget deficits. This is not only fiscal irresponsibility, but fiscal absurdity.  

Patrick O’Connor is not a friend of North Philadelphia, nor students and Temple employees; he is the Donald Trump of Temple University. Patrick O’Connor is anti-woman, anti-black, and anti-worker. He does not belong at Temple University and his name does not belong on Founder’s Garden. 

We demand:

  • Patrick O’Connor must immediately resign and leave Temple University.  
  • O’Connor Plaza should be renamed after someone who has made a positive contribution to North Philadelphia and/or Temple University.
  •  Abolish the Board of Trustees’ undemocratic structure and replace it with a democratically elected body made up of Temple employees, students, and community members.

Philly Socialist Alternative to Kenney and Council: #MakeAmazonPay

As soon as Amazon announced its intention to build a second corporate headquarters outside Seattle, elected officials from across the nation predictably responded to its ‘request for proposals’ by tripping over each other in a race to offer massive public subsidies and tax incentives to woo Amazon. Philadelphia’s elected officials from both the Democratic and Republican Parties have behaved no differently.

Last week, Mayor Jim Kenney slavishly tweeted, “We think Philadelphia would be a PRIME location for Amazon that would make people SMILE! Look forward to submitting a proposal!”

This week, the Kenney administration had taxpayers buy a plane ticket for a city envoy to visit Seattle and “help understand Amazon culture” and demonstrate our city is “serious about competing for the headquarters.”

 At-Large Republican Councilman David Oh introduced a bill to City Council on Thursday that “reduces the business net income tax to zero” of relocating “mega-businesses” like Amazon that employ over 50,000 workers.

Amazon is worth $460 billion, and its CEO Jeff Bezos will soon be the wealthiest man in the world. Bezos’ personal net worth is $84.4 billion dollars. He is one of 8 men who control half of the world’s wealth. Bezos and Amazon have accrued this massive wealth by ruthlessly exploiting workers in the US and abroad, crushing attempts to unionize, using its monopoly power to gobble up real estate and push up land value and housing costs in Seattle, and pushing small business owners out of markets.

In any city it expands to, Bezos and Amazon can afford to pay business taxes, income taxes, and property taxes. They can also afford to pay decent wages, and provide healthcare benefits and pensions for all of their workers. Instead of ‘wooing’ Amazon here with the promise of low wages, subsidies and tax breaks, Philadelphia’s political establishment should be taking the fight for a $15hour minimum wage, statewide single payer healthcare, and full funding for our schools to Harrisburg and DC. As badly as we need to address structural unemployment and poverty in Philly, spending millions of public dollars in exchange for a ‘promise’ to bring thousands of low wage, part time, dead end jobs will only result in increased corporate profits at our expense.

We need to stop to the nationwide corporate tax rate race-to-the-bottom. When cities compete against each other to offer corporations like Comcast and Amazon tax incentives, the big losers are our own residents. One third of Philadelphians live in poverty and our schools face enormous budget deficits. SEPTA is unreliable and one of the most expensive public transit system in the country. Public housing is being cut while gentrification and a shortage of affordable housing is pushing us out of our neighborhoods and threatening low-income residents all over the city. Should we really be competing with Chicago, Denver and Baltimore over who can give Amazon the most public money?

When establishment politicians like Mayor Kenney and Councilman David Oh offer public money that should be going to schools, housing, and city services to wealthy corporations for private profit, it is clear they stand with corporations and not with working class people.

Building power and organization outside the Democratic Party. 

In Seattle, Socialist Alternative City Council member Kshama Sawant,  led the fights that passed a $15 minimum wage and a tax on the wealthy. Sawant and SA are now building a coalition to campaign for affordable housing and supporting the independent Seattle City Council campaign of DSA member John Grant.

In Minneapolis coming off of the recent win for $15 minimum wage, Socialist Alternative member Ginger Jentzen is running for city council as an independent on a platform of tenants rights, affordable housing, taxing the rich to fund city services, and resisting the Trump agenda.

In Philly, we are working to build real alternatives to the establishment political machines. We need independent organizations of our own to fight back against corporate hegemony and poverty in our city. We need a political party of the 99% that can run independent candidates for local offices, and not just any candidates but fighting, accountable, independent candidates that take no corporate cash.

Yo Kenney! Say NO to Amazon’s economic coercion and demand better for our workers for the right to do business in our city:

  • A moratorium on state and local public tax subsides to corporate profits
  • A $15 minimum wage
  • For permanent full-time jobs with a future
  • Free higher education and job training
  • Free on site childcare options for employees
  • Full union rights for all employees  
  • for a tax on the wealthy to fund public schools, public transit and affordable housing.

 

“The solution is in no way to turn away from technological innovation, the logic of economies of scale, or ease of access to goods and services. Instead, we need to unionize, and to take these behemoths into democratic public ownership, so that they are run not for profit for a few, but in the interests of the majority of working people and of society. However, this can be achieved only by building powerful movements that are independent of the politicians and parties that have aided and abetted corporations like Amazon. In Seattle, our movements need to continue to build the fight to end homelessness, make housing affordable for all, and fully fund social services.” – Kshama Sawant Seattle City Council

#MakeAmazonPay

Mayor Kenney – It’s Time To Confront Racist Cops

  • Prosecute Killer Cops
  • End Stop and Frisk Now
  • Real Community Control Of The Police

The white supremacist demonstrations and the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville have laid bare what people of color in Philadelphia already know: working people – and specifically Black and Brown people – face systemic violence on a daily basis in the United States.

From open police aggression in the street, to the structural defunding of urban public schools districts, to deportations in immigrant communities, to slave labor in prisons and hyper-low wages in the service sector, working class people in America struggle to survive. Overt racism and the resurgence of white supremacist organizing is not confined to the South. And racism itself isn’t confined to the KKK and the politicians like Donald Trump who directly abet them.

Structural racism is built into our society’s laws and the political actions of our elected officials at every level. Therefore, when we fight white supremacy, we must bring the fight home to Philadelphia. Our struggle must place demands on people like Mayor Jim Kenney, Police Commissioner Richard Ross and District Attorney Kelly Hodge. And as workers, activists, unions and faith-based organizations, we must build the mass movements in the streets to press these elected officials to change the PPD without delay.

Just this summer, we have lost two Black brothers to police violence here in Philadelphia. On August 11th, three police officers shot and killed handicapped man Tyreas Carlyle in North Philly in front of his grandmother. On June 8th, Officer Ryan Pownall murdered David Jones in Juniata as Jones fled. Pownall has a track record of reckless behavior. Seven years before murdering David Jones, Pownall paralyzed Black Philadelphian Carnell Williams-Carney by shooting him in the back. In another recent case, there  is a pending federal lawsuit against Officer Pownall for use of excessive force and unlawful arrest for his actions during a routine traffic stop in Philly in 2014. Pownall is still on the PPD payroll. He has not been terminated from his job, let alone tried for murder.

In the midst of this police violence, Mayor Kenney has called Philly “diverse and inclusive.” Democratic City Councilwoman Helen Gym has endorsed the removal of the infamous Frank Rizzo statue. More politicians will join her.  Socialist Alternative supports the removal of overt symbols of white supremacy, but words and symbols are just the beginning.

Philadelphians urgently need concrete, immediate reforms in the PPD to ease beatings, harassment and killings at the hands of police in our neighborhoods.

With the combined efforts of the labor movement, faith-based organizations, community  organizations, the families of victims of police brutality, socialists and other left forces, we can shut down the white supremacist right, and we can win justice for David Jones and Tyreas Carlyle. We can stop the PPD’s systemic violence against working people, poor, and specifically black and brown people. We can build a broad multi-racial, multi-gendered, working-class movement to fight for racial justice, a 15/hour minimum wage, decent housing, school funding, and all the economic and social issues challenging Philly’s working class communities.

Join Socialist Alternative and Sign the petition

HERE

to Mayor Kenney, Commissioner Ross, and Interim District Attorney Hodge to demand that they:       

  • Prosecute Killer Cops –  The State Attorney General and District Attorney must move forward as quickly as possible with a transparent independent investigation into the murders of David Jones and Tyreas Carlyle, who was handicapped. We demand the prosecution of Police Officer Ryan Pownall, holding him accountable for his actions on June 8th and other documented misconduct on the job. We demand the prosecution of all 3 police officers who killed Tyreas Carlyle: Officer Anthony Carapucci, Officer Jason Keen, and Officer Christopher Rycek
  • End Stop and Frisk Now-  ‘Stop and Frisk’ is a racist police policy Mayor Kenney and Police Commissioner Ross can end today. Stop and Frisk means police can search anyone at any time for any reason. The policy leaves communities of color exposed to the racial biases of individual police officers. Mayor Kenney ran on eliminating the practice upon his election, and it’s far past time for him to act.
  • Institute Real Community Control Of The Police- Give the Police Advisory Commission real authority to investigate, discipline and fire racist and corrupt police officers. Philadelphia needs an accountable, democratically elected community oversight board with full powers over the police.

#Justice4DJ #Justice4Tyreas