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Labor Notes Conference 2012
Labor Notes conferences are the biggest gatherings of grassroots union activists, worker center leaders,
Road maps, dead ends and the search for fresh ground -- How can we build the socialist movement in the 21st century?
By Dan DiMaggio
December 2010 -- Cultural Logic, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Dan DiMaggio's permission -- For the past seven-plus years I have devoted much of my life to effort to build a socialist movement in the United States. As a member of one of the many tiny socialist groups on the US left, I have organised dozens of anti-war, labour solidarity, immigrant rights and other rallies and campaigns. I have toured the country to speak at college campuses about socialism. I have set up numerous study groups and conferences and written and edited hundreds of articles for socialist publications. Most people might say, “Dan, you’re crazy if you think that socialism can be achieved in a country like the United States!” But despite the challenges, I hope to continue doing this for the next 50 or so years.
Sit-in strikers at General Motors' Fisher No. 1 plant.
By Don Fitz
January 3, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The year 2012 marks the 75th anniversary of the great sit-down strike wave of 1937. It also begins the second year of the Occupy movement, which has more than a few similarities to the time when hundreds of thousands of Americans occupied their workplaces.
The first recorded sit-down strike in the US was actually in 1906 among General Electric workers of Schenectady, New York. When three organisers for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or Wobblies) were fired, 3000 of their fellow workers sat down and stopped production.
By the 1930s, the IWW was on the wane, but many of its organisers were active and workers across the US had seen its tactics first hand.
To view With Babies & Banners go to http://links.org.au/node/2681.
December 30, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Flint-based filmmaker Michael Moore has described the 1936 Flint sit-down strike as the "first Occupy" movement. Whether this is strictly accurate or not, the 1936-37 occupation/strike was a ground-breaking development in the US labour movement. To mark this anniversary, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is making available the classic 1977 documentary on the strike and the role of women in it, With Babies & Banners (via the link at the top of this article, or click here).
As Moore recounts, "On this day, December 30th, in 1936 -- 75 years ago today -- hundreds of workers at the General Motors (GM) factories in Flint, Michigan, took over the facilities and occupied them for 44 days. My uncle was one of them. The workers couldn't take the abuse from the corporation any longer. Their working conditions, the slave wages, no vacation, no health care, no overtime -- it was do as you're told or get tossed onto the curb.
Trade unionists join Occupy Wall Street.
By Jane Slaughter
December 30, 2011 -- Labor Notes -- It’s been an exhilarating year. Crowds of people finally moved into resistance after decades of misrule.
The year began with Egypt, moved quickly to the snowy streets of Wisconsin, and re-erupted in August with Verizon workers out on strike and longshore unionists in Washington state dumping scab grain onto railroad tracks.
What no one could have predicted was that a relatively small number of young people at Occupy Wall Street would touch off a wave of imitators across the country, from Detroit to Abilene.
November’s electoral victory in Ohio, where Governor John Kasich’s anti-union bill went down to sound defeat, capped off a remarkable year for US workers.
By Dave Duhalde and Dan La Botz
December 4, 2011 -- Against the Current -- Below is a debate between David Duhalde of the Democratic Socialists of America and Dan La Botz of Solidarity that was first published on the website Talking Union.
Where is the beef? An open letter to Dan La Botz on DSA and the Democrats
"Out of clouds of pepper spray and phalanxes of riot cops a new generation of revolutionaries is being forged, and it would be a shame if the Peter Camejos, Max Elbaums, Angela Davises, Dave Clines and Huey Newtons of this generation end up in separate “competing” socialist groups ... Now is the time to begin seriously discussing the prospect of regroupment, of liquidating outdated boundaries we have inherited, of finding ways to work closely together for our common ends. "
By Pham Binh
Above: December 13, 2011 Democracy Now! report on the port shutdown. Click here for transcript.
December 13, 2011 -- Socialist Worker -- Ports up and down the US West Coast were shut down or disrupted December 12 in a day of demonstrations organised by the Occupy movement to protest police repression and union-busting.
The call for the December 12 West Coast port shutdown originated in Oakland, where the high point of a general strike call on November 2 -- one week after a savage police attack on the Occupy Oakland encampment -- was a 15,000-strong march to the Port of Oakland and a community picket that stopped work on the evening shift.
[In English at http://links.org.au/node/2636.]
Par Barry Sheppard
5 - décembre - 2011 -- -- Personne n’avait prédit le phénomène que l’on connaît aujourd’hui sous le nom de Occupy Wall Street (OWS) et nul n’aurait pu le prédire.
Un petit groupe canadien de gens de la mouvance libertaire ont d’abord proposé qu’on essaie de mettre en place une «occupation» près de la Bourse de New York. Ils étaient inspirés par les tentes et campements installés plus tôt dans l’année sur la Place Tahrir du Caire et par la propagation de tactiques similaires en Espagne et ailleurs.
Leurs objectifs étaient à la fois la Bourse de New York en tant que telle et le 1% des gens les plus riches. Le quartier de Wall Street est connu partout comme le symbole du capitalisme financier américain. Quant au 1%, ce sont les gens que l’on a pointés comme étant ceux qui possèdent et contrôlent l’économie et le gouvernement, les «gros capitalistes». Dans la configuration actuelle, ce serait plutôt le 0,1%, mais c’est un détail.
By Malik Miah, San Francisco
December 7, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- What strikes you about the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement and its popular slogan “We are the 99%” is how much the central demand of the movement resonates with the Black community. African Americans, with few exceptions, are in the bottom 20% of income and wealth. Double digit unemployment is the norm in “good” economic times. Yet the social composition of most OWS occupations (some 10,000 including college campuses) has had few Black faces including in urban areas with large Black populations.
The reality of high unemployment, few job opportunities, poverty and inadequate health care has most poor people trying to survive. It is why African Americans are not visible in large numbers.
In many cases, however, African Americans are taking to the streets. They are using civil action to protest police brutality and the shutdown of community schools, hospitals and obvious acts of discrimination.
These protests, while widely known in the Black community and Black-oriented media, rarely get prominence in the mainstream newspapers and networks.
Occupy has led to an outburst of creativity ...One example is the many photos circulated on the internet showing the cop who pepper sprayed non-violent students at a California campus super-imposed on works of art and other pictures, pepper spraying the people picnicking in a Surrat painting, pepper spraying the members of the Constitutional Convention and so forth.
By Barry Sheppard, San Francisco
December 7, 2011 – Submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author. It first appeared in Direct Action -- No one predicted the phenomenon that has become known as Occupy Wall Street (OWS), nor could it have been predicted.
During the 1960s, Michael Harrington, leader of the group that became the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), argued that if socialists and people from the civil rights and anti-war movements entered the Democratic Party they could change its direction. Yet during a half century the DSA has utterly failed to move the Democrats to the left.
By Dan La Botz
November 22, 2011 -- New Politics -- At a moment when Occupy faces severe police repression and cold weather, and as we are both extending our movement to the streets and rethinking our future, various pressures are beginning to build with the objective of taking our movement into the Democratic Party.
Paul Le Blanc at Occupy Boston, November 21, 2011, and the resulting discussion. Le Blanc was one of the many speakers as part of the Howard Zinn Memorial Lecture Series at Occupy Boston. Le Blanc is a long-time political activist who also teaches at the La Roche College and the author of many books including, Lenin and the Revolutionary Party. To learn more about Paul Le Blanc see http://paulleblanc.laroche.edu/. To learn more about the lecture series see http://zinnlectures.wordpress.com/ and http://www.occupyboston.org/.
Photos and text by James Rodríguez, Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California
November 11, 2011 -- Mimundo.org, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with James Rodríguez's permission -- The armistice that ended World War I was signed on November 11, 1918. Since then, many allied nations have adopted the date to commemorate members of the armed forces who have served in a war. In the United States, this day is observed as Veterans Day.
This year’s holiday marks the eight anniversary of a unique commemoration carried out by the Los Angeles chapter of Veterans for Peace (VFP) on the sands of world-renowned Santa Monica Beach. Every Sunday since Veterans Day 2003, numerous VFP members and volunteers have erected a temporary and symbolic cemetery aptly named Arlington West Memorial. White crosses represent one fallen Iraq or Afghanistan war veteran, while red crosses represent 10 US servicepeople killed in action in these two wars.
(Updated Nov. 18) Occupy Wall Street: `You cannot evict an idea whose time has come' -- Huge demos support OWS Nov. 17
November 18, 2011 -- Democracy Now! coverage of the November 17 day of action in support of the Occupy movement. Click here for transcript and more coverage.
Scroll down for earlier reports. For more on the Occupy movement, click HERE.
November 18, 2011 -- Occupy Wall Street --
On the November 17 Day of Action in New York, to mark two months since the Occupy Wall Street camp began and coming just two days after violent eviction of campers from Liberty Park in Manhattan, there was:
By Martin Hart-Landsberg
October 24-November 7, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The Occupy Wall Street movement has succeed in forcing the media to acknowledge the extent and seriousness of income inequality. In many ways wealth inequality is a bigger problem, since it is wealth that largely underpins income and power differences.
According to an Economic Policy Institute posting,
the richest 5 percent of households obtained roughly 82 percent of all the nation’s gains in wealth between 1983 and 2009. The bottom 60 per cent of households actually had less wealth in 2009 than in 1983, meaning they did not participate at all in the growth of wealth over this period.
It is worth dividing the top 5% into what has now become two familiar groups, the top 1% and the next 4%.
[See also Isaac Steiner's "live blog" of the November 2 general strike, which closed the Oakland port and banks. For more reports on the Occupy movement, click HERE.]
By Isaac Steiner
November 2, 2011, 11.45 pm -- Solidarity Webzine -- I'll end the day with some thoughts on the significance of the day. The general strike and national solidarity actions, built in under a week and with the severe deficit of practical knowledge in the tactic that's to be expected after a drought of over 60 years, has to be judged a success. That said, it didn't literally "shut the city down" -- although there were glimpses of the possibility, especially in the case of some schools that reported near total absenteeism. In raw numbers, it didn't match the giant "Immigrant Spring" of 2006.
Democracy Now! November 2, 2011, report on the planned Oakland general strike. In New York City, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War are planning to march on November 2 in their military fatigues from Vietnam Veterans Plaza to Zuccotti Park, the heart of the Occupy Wall Street movement. "It’s clear that veterans are part of the 99 per cent. Veterans, when they leave the military, are much more likely to face unemployment and homelessness", says Jose Vasquez of Iraq Veterans Against the War. "Many people are forced to reenlist because they’re facing a tough economic situation." Vasquez says they are encouraging veterans across the country to join their local Occupy protests.
By Amy Goodman
Author, activist and member of the Committees of Correspondence (former Communist Party USA) Angela Davis spoke at Occupy Wall Street in Washington Square Park, New York City, on Sunday, October 30, 2011. See video of her Q&Aperiod below.
"We say no to big banks. We say no to corporate executives making millions of dollars a year. We say no to student debt, we say no to evictions. We say no to global capitalism. We say no to the prison industrial complex. We say no to racism, we say no to class exploitation, we say no to homophobia, we say no to transphobia, we say no to ableism. We say no to military occupation. We say no to war ...
Alternet -- Angela Davis, professor, thinker, activist, famed revolutionary, visited New York's Occupy Wall Street movement on Sunday afternoon. She spoke first to a densely packed crowd seated on cold concrete at Washington Square Park, her talk over the People's Mic sounding like a litany.
October 22, 2011 -- Occupy Wall Street Media -- Occupy Wall Street (#OccupyWallStreet) is the beginning of a whole new kind of democracy: a bottom-up people's democracy led by the 99%. It is a bold vision for the future that is beginning to inspire the nation. However, to pull it off, we're going to need a robust people's media unbeholden to corporate money. If we want people's democracy then we've got to build a people's media -- the two are inseparable.
We want to be the people's media. The Occupied Wall Street Journal, a four-page broadsheet newspaper with an ambitious print run of 50,000. It's aimed at the general public. The idea is to explain what the protest is about and profile different people who have joined and why they joined. We will explain the issues involved and how the general assembly process operates at Liberty Plaza. It will also offer resources and ways to join. The emphasis will be on quality content, design, photography and artwork that uses incisive humour to make it a lively read.