Sunday, February 05, 2006

Support the fight for the liberation of humanity!

Brothers and sisters,

It is becoming clearer to all of us that the world we live in is falling deeper and deeper into an economic and political crisis.

The U.S. government continues to wage its racist, imperialist “war on terror” – which has already killed hundreds of thousands in the forced colonizations of Iraq and Afghanistan – and is stepping up its aggression towards Iran, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba.

The capitalist ruling classes in every country of the world are waging an intense, one-sided attack on the already low living standards of working people and their oppressed allies.

The brave Iraqi, Afghan, and Palestinian people continue to resist imperialism by the means available to them.

A genocide continues in Sudan, tens of thousands of Black people remain enslaved in Mauritania, and Ethiopia and Eritrea are on the verge of another war.

Revolutionaries continue to fight for the overthrow of the oppressive social systems in the civil wars of Nepal, Colombia, and the Philippines.

Global warming, caused by the capitalist ruling classes’ complete disregard for the natural environment in their constant drive for more and more profits which has wrecked and ravaged our planet, has lead the sea level and the earth’s surface temperature to rise, and has caused the spread of disease, desertification, massive reductions in the ozone layer, and the increased intensity and frequency of extreme weather events.

The inability and unwillingness of the governments of the world to respond to catastrophic natural disasters has laid bare the complete bankruptcy of the capitalist system – a system based on increasing profits by any means necessary, so that an elite minority can become richer and richer while the majority (who actually creates all wealth!) falls deeper into suffering.

The majority of the people of the world are extremely poor and uneducated, tens of thousands starve to death every day, women are abused, oppressed, and mistreated, ethnic minorities are murdered and discriminated against, millions are imprisoned in horrific conditions, and lesbians, and gay, bisexual, and transgender people are persecuted.

There is a solution! A much better world for all of us is possible! All of these conditions can be overturned by genuine socialist revolution, waged by the workers, peasants, and other oppressed people of the world.

Our organization, the Free People’s Movement – an international revolutionary movement of the working class and its allies which bases its work and outlook on the failures and achievements of the past (and the lessons they have taught us), and on the living, and constantly developing, revolutionary scientific theory of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels – fights for that solution!

Our members in the Dominican Republic, Philippines, India, United Kingdom, and United States – as well as our supporters in many other countries all over the world – have united with their fellow workers and oppressed people in their every struggle for a better life, anda much better world.

We distribute our publications (and other educational material) to every continent on earth on a regular basis. We have launched three successful educational campaigns, held educational classes, stood on picket lines with striking workers, defended abortion clinics from right-wing religious fundamentalists, defended immigrant workers in the United States and Dominican Republic from racist attacks, defended New Yorkers from unconstitutional searches and police brutality, fought to oust the corrupt and repressive regime of Gloria Magapagal Arroyo in the Philippines, fought to free political prisoners, took part in wildcat strikes and informational pickets, and participated in a countless number of protests and demonstrations – and that is only some of what we’ve done!

We feel confident in saying that in our three and a half years of existence, we (along with our comrades in fraternal organizations in the International Working People’s Association) have accomplished more than many so-called leftist groups have been willing, or able to, in decades of work.

It is with all of this in mind that we ask you to give whatever you can to help us as we continue in the fight of, and for, all of us.

Your contribution will used for:

  • The launching of a world-wide education campaign during the summer of 2006. This will be by far our largest such effort to date. Hundreds of thousands of copies of important works like The Communist Manifesto (with a great introduction that explains communism in a fashion all can understand), translated into several languages, will be distributed free of charge to the people that most need to be exposed to them, by our members and supporters in North, South and Central America, Asia, Africa, & Europe. They will hold educational classes, show movies, and unite with tens of thousands of workers & other oppressed people in their daily struggles.

  • The construction of a pedagogical institute (in which quality education will be provided free of charge) in the Dominican Republic. The volunteer teaching staff will also participate in literacy and other educational campaigns throughout rural parts of the country.

  • The improvement and expansion of the public library of the Tamil Nadu, India branch of our movement, and the creation of a new quarterly Tamil language newspaper.

  • The vast expansion of the printing and distribution of our publications: The Free Press (our bi-monthly English language newspaper), ¡Ya Basta! (our bi-monthly Spanish language newspaper), Liberation (our bi-yearly political journal), Resistance Radio (our audio broadcasts, distributed in CD form), Truth Video Magazine (our educational video series), and Rebel Yell! (the quarterly newspaper of the Revolutionary Youth). Our free subscriptions to prisoners program will also be greatly expanded.

  • The relocation of a very dedicated comrade (and his family), who were recently evicted from their dwelling in the Dominican Republic.

  • The expansion of the public resource library of the Connecticut, U.S. branch of our movement (located inside the Behind The Rocks Infoshop in Hartford, Connecticut), and improvement of our program of providing healthy food and clothing to people in need.

  • The relocation of the International Outreach Committee’s center. The center will be moved to a new area in New York City where its extensive resource library will made available to the public. Educational classes and movie showings will also be held there.

We ask that you please give what you can today. We need solid and reliable funding to cover the cost of this ambitious and exciting work. There is no way we can undertake any of the above projects with these funds. We also urge you to continue to donate monthly, for as long as you can. Give whatever you can, whether it be a dollar or $1,000 dollars. Ask yourself what freedom, justice, and equality is worth. Ask yourself what your money would be spent on if you don’t donate. Is it worth more than the most important struggle in the world?

With your help (and only with your help!), we can extend education and assistance to our fellow workers & other oppressed people all around the world, and unite with them in struggle for the liberation of humanity!

With sincere thanks,
For freedom, justice, and equality,
The Free People's Movement

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To donate with a credit card or check via PayPal, visit this page.

If you are unable to donate with a credit card or check via PayPal, send well concealed cash, check, or money order (made out to our financial agent Karen Vinculado) to:

FPM
c/o K Vinculado
Grand Central Station
PO Box 694
New York, NY, USA 10163-0694


To make arrangements to donate monthly, make your first donation above, then email us at ioc@freepeoplesmovement.org

Saturday, January 14, 2006

What we can and must learn from the NYC transit workers’ strike

On Tuesday, December 20th, some 34,000 transit workers went on strike in New York City, shutting down the United States’ largest transportation system, in the financial center of world capitalism, for the first time in twenty-five years.

The workers were fighting to defend themselves from the attacks of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), who sought major concessions from the workers, despite the fact that it had just claimed a $1 billion dollar surplus.

Among other benefit cuts, the MTA wanted to create deep divisions in the union by imposing a two-tier system in which newly hired workers would have to work seven extra years to reach retirement, and contribute a higher percentage of their wages towards their pension.

The rank and file members of the Transit Workers’ Union (TWU) Local 100 voted to go on strike days before the strike actually occurred; but union president Roger Toussaint did everything he could to avert it, including proclaiming “the clock stopped” after no agreement was reached by the deadline at midnight on December 19th. Finally, after the MTA laid out a pathetic “final offer” and walked away from the bargaining table, Toussaint had no choice but to call a strike.

As soon as he did, an all out attack was launched against the workers.

The local and state governments mobilized to impose the anti-worker Taylor Law which prohibits so-called ‘public sector workers’ from striking, imposing fines of $1 million dollars a day against the union and fines in the thousands against individual workers. The aim of this was to “bankrupt the union”[1]; a strong, multi-racial union with a militant background.

Wall Street demanded that the transit workers accept a ‘new era’, where gains for workers, and pensions and benefits were a thing of the past.

Despite the fact that the striking workers’ had the widespread support of New Yorkers, an extensive media blitz was commenced in an effort to whip up a vicious anti-worker hysteria (which we’ll go further into below); and people like Billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who just spent $70 million dollars (or over $100 per vote) on his 2004 election campaign, had the nerve to call the workers, who make an average of $47,000 a year – in a city where the real poverty line for a family of four is around $57,000[2] – greedy!

The majority of Democrats weren’t visible at all during the strike, and those who were fought actively against it.

Tellingly, workers faced resistance even within their own union! A section of the local leadership voted against the strike, and the national leaders of the TWU not only openly denounced the strike and called for workers to scab, but even went as far as arguing in court alongside the attorney general for the striking workers to be penalized!

After two and a half days on the picket line, the workers were told to go back to work by the local leadership, without a contract (despite the fact that one of the main slogans being chanted by the rank and file on the picket lines was ‘no contract, no work!’).

Later the official word would be that the workers went back after the MTA agreed to grant them some concessions, one of which was the return to the workers of extra money they had contributed to their pensions. But no sooner than that news got out, Governor George Pataki vowed to immediately veto any such pay backs.

When the first details of the new contract were released they had defeat – for the transit workers, and the working class as a whole – written all over them.

The contract promises major concessions by the union which will be used as a stepping block for the bosses to launch further attacks against the already declining living standards of other workers in both the private and public sectors.

The penalties against the union and workers stand, the mayor and governor have promised to enforce them.

The 37-month contract gives workers raises of 3, 4, and 3.5 percent, which combined with the loss of pay for days on strike and a new stipulation that requires workers to pay 1.5 percent of their pay for health benefits for the first time, means that its unlikely that the transit workers’ pay will even keep up with the rate of inflation.

Another major defeat comes in the extra month added to the length of the contract. This was designed to move the expiration of the contract until after the holiday season, thus weakening the transit workers’ position if another similar situation develops in three years. The Christmas-week deadline was originally lost as a part of the betrayal of the 1980 strike, and workers had to fight for a decade to win it back, only to have now lost it again.

Despite the fact that union leaders and sections of the media are painting this as some sort of a victory for the transit workers, the only visible achievements seems to be that the workers gained Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday, and forced the MTA to drop its demand to raise the minimum retirement age for new-hires from 55 to 62, and require them to work 30 years instead of 25 before they can retire, thus creating a damaging two-tier split in the union’s ranks. But even the pension deal was nothing more than a tactical retreat by the MTA.

They have secured a much greater cut in labor costs in the new health care premium, which will immediately be imposed on all workers, than they would have in pension changes that applied only to new workers.

As this is being written, the rank and file transit workers are about to vote whether or not to accept the contract. There is a section of those workers emerging that is calling for a no vote on the contract and a return to the picket lines. The Free People’s Movement completely supports those workers, and strongly urges them to consider the statement and platform we originally put forward at the outset of the strike (which is also included in this issue).

This strike, and the events surrounding it, have taught us lessons and served to further confirm the legitimacy of conclusions we have (or should have) drawn long ago.

We have attempted to draw out some of those lessons which are of international applicability and the utmost importance to future struggles.

The need for workers’ media
Before, during, and after the strike, all forms of mainstream media – newspapers, television, and radio – both in New York and around the world, showed exactly which class they represent.

Despite the fact that polls showed wide-spread support among New Yorkers (especially Blacks and Latinos, though of course, no break down of the polls by class were done) for the striking workers, the media launched an all out war on them.

The workers were slandered and attacked in racist and anti-worker diatribes, which often bordered on the fascistic. One story went as far as to blame the striking workers for the fact that the city’s numerous homeless had no where to sleep since the train stations were closed, instead of rightly placing the blame on a system in which there are so many without a home to begin with![3]

Even the so-called “liberal”press like The New York Times and Newsday denounced the strike as “unnecessary” and an “outrageous and illegal action.”

More than once the workers were branded terrorists (which perfectly illustrates that the so-called ‘war on terror’ is nothing more than a guised part of the war on our class in the U.S. and around the world) in mainstream newspapers, and multimillionaire Mortimer Zuckerman’s right-wing rag the Daily News went as far as inciting violence with a front page headline that read “Throw [TWU president] Roger [Toussaint] from the train!”[4]

Despite this fact, when members of the Free People’s Movement marched along side our brothers and sisters on the picket lines, we saw many of them reading that exact paper – the one which had attacked them the most! When we asked one Black train driver why he and his fellow workers would want to read such garbage, he responded, “we’ve got to read something.”

He had a very strong point. The capitalist class has a strangle-hold on nearly every form of communication; and as the saying goes, “freedom of the press only applies to those who can afford a press.”

Groups like ours publish workers’ newspapers and journals like this; but in the age of “news on demand” via cable television and the internet, it’s very hard for a few publication with limited distribution to compete with a trillion-dollar industry.

There is a very real need for workers’ and their allies to establish broad communication networks and independent media venues, in order to express our own views, organize, and discuss our experiences to draw lessons and decide our future tactics and strategies. The internet medium equips us like never before to do just that, and there are still the traditional mediums, like newspapers, which can reach the worlds’ working and poor majority, who have little access to food, let alone a computer with an internet connection.

Workers’ and other oppressed people need to work hard to build any, and all, means of communication amongst ourselves – in our workplaces, our communities, our countries, and worldwide – and we must also strongly support such means which already exist.

Political vs Economic struggles
As this strike has demonstrated, all economic struggles will also inevitably become political struggles; and workers must act accordingly.

In order for the transit workers to win their basic economic demands, they also had to undertake a political struggle. This is illustrated by the fact that the striking transit workers not only had to go up against the MTA and the corporate media, but also the governments of Bloomberg and Pataki – which like all governments under capitalism, use ‘law and order’ (in this case in the form of the Taylor Law) to insure the continued exploitation of the working class – themselves.

Workers must be prepared to wage such a combined struggle effectively because the bosses always are. That’s demonstrated every time another anti-worker law is passed, an injunction is sought or fine levied against workers, the police defend scabs crossing a picket line, or police and/or any branch of the military are brought out to crush a strike with brute force.

It’s up to workers to themselves decide which forms of struggle inside of the political realm are best for any specific situation; but they have to be organized and ready to make such decisions.

In this situation, it’s evident that one such form of struggle (which was taken up by some – but not nearly enough – rank and file workers) was the demand for amnesty from all penalties and injunctions, and the abolition of the Taylor Law.

This demand should have been a strike demand, and could have been won by the transit workers – in the same way they confronted the New York City and state governments in the strike of 1966, smashing the virulently anti-worker Condon-Wadlin anti-strike law in the process.

All workers, both union and non-union alike, and especially those in the public sector, had a stake in the struggle against the Taylor Law, and many of them could have, and should have been united with in it.

A law is not ‘just’ or ‘sacred’ simply because it is a law. Most of the progress that has been made in the United States (and around the world), whether it be in civil rights struggles or labor struggles, was achieved by oppressed people standing up against such laws.

We mustn’t forget that slavery and segregation were both protected by the law in the United States, and forming a union was illegal.

Solidarity and Unity
Despite the best efforts of the capitalist class, in strikes like these it’s relatively common (and correct) for others workers to understand the struggle being waged is their struggle too.

It’s also not unusual for other unions and workers’ groups to issue statements of solidarity with striking workers; but it usually goes no further than that (especially in the U.S.).

To put it bluntly, despite the good intentions of workers and organizations expressing solidarity with actions such as these, it’s not enough.

Too many times striking workers are left in isolation, expected to wage the struggle of our whole class by themselves!

For statements of solidarity to be of any use, they must be backed up with actual expressions of unity. Because honestly, how can we expect any small section of our class to defeat the interwoven and interconnected capitalist class (which is exactly what needs to be done)?

In the current era, in which the bosses continue to wage a one-sided war on our class, the only way for us to win on any front is to unite on every front. Concretely, this means that workers of all industries, in all areas of the world, must be ready to defend workers of any industry, in any part of the world!

Throughout the strike, many taxi drivers, private transit operators, and workers on the Metro North commuter lines (who have been working for three years without a contract) were vocal in their support for the striking workers, and voiced their readiness to go out on strike as well, but none of the leaders of any of their unions even discussed taking such action.

There was a clear need for working class unity to defeat the management of the MTA, the vicious campaign against the striking workers in the media, the anti-worker Taylor Law and the government that upholds it; but there was an even clearer lack of any such unity.

The bureaucracy, the rank and file, and the unions
Once again the labor union bureaucracy has played a major part in the betrayal, and subsequent defeat of this strike.

Rank and file workers must understand the role of unions in the present era, and the position that the union bureaucracy plays in them.

The main goal of a labor union is to organize workers into a force capable of protecting their share of the national income against the bosses’ constant drive for more profits. Ostensibly, a labor union is a means for workers to win new gains, but in practice, and especially in the current situation, they’re relegated to defensive mechanisms, used to protect hard-won gains made in the past. Realistically, many haven’t even proven specifically useful in this defensive task.

In the worst cases we have even seen some unions break the strikes of other unions and union leaders order workers to scab!

To put it simply, we have to understand that the labor union bureaucracy doesn’t act in the interest of the working class because it’s not a part of the working class!

In most cases, the leaders of labor unions are scabs to the highest degree. They act not in the interest of the workers they supposedly represent, but rather as officers of the bosses! That is the class who they are most economically tied to and thus who they identify with.

This doesn’t mean that unions themselves are of no use to our class. In fact, despite their downfalls, they are still important means of defending our class interest, and building the foundations for more important work in the future.

The key for rank and file workers is to work within the traditional unions when they can, and when it is advantageous to themselves and their class; but also to work to form rank and file organizations within them that put forth their class interest, and to actively work to build industrial unions and other independent workers organizations (equipped to take on the various forms of political struggle) which are conscious of the fact that workers and bosses have nothing in common, and that can eventually replace them.

The need for independent working people’s organization
Once again during this strike, the so-called “friends of labor” in the Democratic Party clearly showed which class they represent.

Democrat Eliot Spencer, State Attorney General and 2006 candidate for Governor of New York, did everything he could to crush the strike, including obtaining “a court order enjoining the unions and their members from striking”, asking the court to hold the TWU in contempt and impose fines of $1 million dollars a day – doubling everyday – on the union, and asking the court to hold two smaller ATU local unions that represent about 3,000 Queens and Staten Island bus line employees in contempt and to impose fines of $500,000 per day. [5]

Fernando Ferrer, who was the Democratic candidate for mayor of New York in 2004 and received the backing of the TWU in that race, was nowhere to be found during the strike, and didn’t as much as issue a statement of support.

New York Senator Hillary Clinton, a well known Democrat and likely candidate for the 2008 presidential elections claimed she was ‘neutral’, while fully backing the anti-worker Taylor Law.

How about Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer? Congressman Anthony Weiner? Former Council Member Gifford Miller? Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields? Former Public Advocate and Candidate for State Attorney General Mark Green? Not one of them came out in support of the striking workers.

Despite the fact that a large percentage of union dues go to support them, it has been made clear time and time again that the Democrats, represent the same ruling, capitalist class as the Republicans – and every other such party around the world.

Working people need to break with the bosses’ parties and form their own, independent organizations, to fight in their own interests. This is how our movement, the Free People’s Movement, came into being.

But we are not, and can not be, the only such organization. Working people around the world must decide what sort of organizations they need, and the strategy and tactics they must use.

So while the Free People’s Movement and it’s allied organizations in the International Working People’s Association warmly welcome working people to join us, we also pledge to support any and all alternative forms of struggle they take up.

We must unite in the revolutionary struggle for a complete reorganization of society, to put the needs of the working class and its exploited allies – the vast majority of the population of the world – above the never ending quest for profit of the rich, ruling minority.


[1] “Stop the strike dead in its tracks”, Daily News, December 20, 2005
[2] Executive summary self-sufficiency standard for the city of New York 2004, Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement.
[3] Christine Armario and Luis Perez, “Strike leaves many homeless out in cold”, Newsday, December 22, 2005.
[4] “Throw Roger from the train!”, Daily News, December 21, 2005.
[5] http://www.oag.state.ny.us/press/2005/dec/dec21b_05.html

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The NYC transit workers strike is a fight for every worker!

In defiance of threats of fines and imprisonment, New York City’s 34,000 bus and subway workers (members of Transport Workers Union [TWU] Local 100) walked off the job at 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 20, in the first city-wide transit strike in twenty-five years after rejecting the ridiculous demands made by their employer, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

For all intents and purposes, the MTA forced the workers to strike by making a completely unacceptable “final offer”, which would have given workers a measly raise that didn’t even keep up with inflation, and require them to make absurd concessions on pensions, healthcare, and working conditions which they fought so hard for in the past.

This is a continuation of the one-sided war the bosses (read: the ruling capitalist class) have been waging on the working class for decades. Huge layoffs continue to occur (like the recent layoffs of tens of thousands of auto workers), wages and benefits are being drastically cut, social services are being dismantled and sold off, strikes are being broken, and workers’ unions are being viciously destroyed.

Destroying Local 100 of the TWU is a top priority for the ruling class because it still stands as a powerful union in a union town. A defeat for this strike would be a serious blow to the working class overall, and that’s why its of vital importance that every worker understands that this fight is our fight!

These transit workers – united in a powerful, multiracial union – are fighting for the future of our class as a whole; and they have the power to beat back the bosses’ continued racist, anti-worker attacks.

It is for these reasons that the bosses as trying hard as they can to make an example out of them. They want to send the message that the days of workers making any new gains are over, unions and strikes are a thing of the past, and that future generations will have to work harder and longer for less.

And they aren’t concealing their anti-union and anti-worker position, which was best summed up in a Daily News editorial, which – in the tone of a master who wants a slave revolt put down – demanded that, “The full weight of the law ... swiftly be brought to bear on the Transport Workers Union for having the irresponsible lawlessness to shut down the transportation system that is New York’s lifeblood... Jail [TWU President Roger] Toussaint and his bull-headed lieutenants. Impose fines on the TWU... large enough to bankrupt the union within days. Hit every transit worker who walks with a penalty of two days’ pay for every day out... There can be no amnesty for those who have broken the law" [--emphasis added].

The striking workers – who work hard, dirty, and dangerous jobs – receive wages of between about $34,000 and $60,000 a year, in a city with one of the highest costs of living in the world. Although this may sound like a lot – and the corporate media has taken every chance to portray the workers as overpaid – it must be taken into account that the real poverty line in New York City for a family of four is around $57,000. In fact, after taxes, medicare, pension and other fees are deducted, most workers make somewhere are $10 an hour!

The MTA claims they can’t afford to meet the workers modest demands; but at the same exact time that the MTA is crying poverty, they’re squandering a $1 billion dollar surplus! These are the same people that have been screwing over working people in New York for years, with continued fare hikes and service cuts. And who can forget the last round of negotiations when they fixed the books to show a $2.8 billion deficit so they could push their garbage contract on the workers and raise the fare, only to have comptrollers later show that they were holding onto a $500 million surplus?!?

Then we have the people who dare to call the transit workers “greedy” – a billionaire Mayor, a millionaire Governor, multi-millionaire bosses, and multi-billionaire Rupert Murdock, owner of half the media outlets in the city – who themselves are filthy rich parasites who gained everything they have off the back of workers, the only people in society who actually create wealth! These scum bags belong to the same class of people who sponsored the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq for their own material gain – while Iraqi and American workers shed their blood on the front lines!

The MTA and these people don’t care about poor and working people one bit; and now that the transit workers are standing up to them, they’re trying to sell off their interest as the interest of all, but we’re not buying it.

The Free People’s Movement – a revolutionary international working people’s association that fights for the interests of workers the world over – stands in complete solidarity with these brave workers, and will offer any and all support that we can, both in word and in deeds!

As a part of our unfaltering solidarity, we are putting forward the interests of our (working) class and its allies as a whole in the form of the following basic platform...

Shut Down The City!
Every working person has a stake in this struggle, and so must join in it! The MTA’s joke of an offer serves to pave the way for increased attacks on the workers of the city as a whole and subsequent lowering of our standard of living even further!

Bloomberg’s plan to defeat the strikers and beat back the working class by initiating an elaborate plan of forced car-pooling, turning taxis into jitneys, bringing out shuttles to scab, and encouraging alternate modes of transportation can, and must, be defeated by a united front of workers; not just those in the TWU!

Other unions like the UFT and even Brian McLaughlin of the AFL-CIO Central Labor Council have expressed their support of the transit workers. It’s time to put that support to the test and call on those unions, and all unions, to completely back the striking workers!

While the Taxi Workers Alliance has shown solidarity with the transit workers by calling on drivers to refuse to scab by taking on extra passengers, this is not enough. All drivers of taxis, livery cabs, vans, shuttles, and busses need to join in the strike, both in support of the transit workers and as a part of the fight for their own demands – including pay raises, gasoline subsidies, an end to harassment by the New York Taxi & Limousine Commission, and the immediate abolition of the racist “Real Id Act”.

The Metro North workers, who have been working without a contract for three years, have a huge stake in this struggle. Their promise not to cross picket lines is respectable, but not enough! They must join in the strike to bring the ruling class and its representatives to their knees. Their will be no better chance for them to get their demands met than to unite with the transit workers.

Workers at the Long Island Railroad, NJ Transit, and Staten Island ferry must join in this fight as well, as a part of the overall struggle of our class and its allies and to defend themselves and their own hard-won gains.

All public sector unions must also join with the transit workers in this fight; both in solidarity, and for their own interests – by uniting in the fight to smash the anti-worker Taylor Law.

Open meetings should be held, with invitations extended to representatives of other unions, working people, and the public at large, to turn sympathy into solidarity and united action.

Workers’ Power To Smash The Anti-Worker Taylor Law!
Workers in the first ever city-wide transit strike in 1966 showed that anti-worker laws could be defeated by united and militant workers. The workers fought against the attacks of the corporate media, the Mayor, the court systems, and the capitalist class that they all represent. The leader of that strike, Mike Quill, also stood firm in opposing the Vietnam War, opposing discrimination against Blacks and Latinos, and supporting the struggles of immigrants at a time when all of these positions were unpopular. The transit workers persevered in their 1966 strike, and after a little more than a week, won their greatest contract ever – in the process smashing the Condon-Wadlin anti-strike law. It is from the struggles of the past that we can learn how to best wage the struggles of the present and future. The demands that the Taylor Law be smashed and that transit workers be given amnesty from all penalties and injunctions must be made strike demands!

Beat Back The Rich! Make The Capitalists Fund The Transit System!
Polls show that the majority of bus and subway riders support the transit workers, even in the face of the ongoing media barrage of lies and attacks. This support can, and should, be increased by the transit workers adding No Fare Hikes and No Service Cuts their demands!

It is the rich who benefit the most from the transportation system. Everyday riders go to work in their businesses and increase their profits and spend money in their stores, and they contribute little to nothing towards its funding!

The NYCT receives less state funding proportionally than the public transportation systems in any other major city; and, instead of increasing funding, the state tells the Transit Authority to take out high-interest loans from Wall Street! We must fight for increased state funding, as a part of the overall struggle for full state funding of the transit system!

Tear down the turnstiles! Free transit for all!

Both of these responses stand in stark contrast to Toussaint’s program, which consists of empty appeals for riders sympathy and leaving any mention of an increase is state funding out of negotiations.

Stop shifting the burden to the working class through taxes and fair hikes! No more workers’ sacrifices to increase Wall Street’s profits!

Strike To Win! Fight For A Big Raise!
No Broadbanding & No Givebacks!

This is a crucial battle, and it must be fought to be won! A defeat of the transit workers and our class in this situation could have grave consequences for our entire class. But the transit workers have the power – workers’ power! As this strike has shown, the transit workers move New York. By bringing the “big apple” to a grinding hault, they have shown just how important they are.

In fact, the transit workers are in the strongest position they’ve ever been in (and with the city completely shut down their position could become even stronger!), and must put forward the demands A Big Raise and No Givebacks on Healthcare and Pensions! This strike must be carried out until their demands are met, and they must refuse to give in to the demands of the rich, ruling class.

They must remember the events, and victory, of the first strike in the city’s history in 1966, when, on his way to jail, TWU leader Mike Quill boldly declared, “The judge can drop dead in his black robes. I don't care if I rot in jail. I will not call off the strike.”

To put it plain and simple, ‘broadbanding’ means layoffs and an increased work load, and so must be summarily opposed by transit workers! Toussaint has already said that he doesn’t oppose job cuts as long as there are not “poorly thought out”. He even says transit workers can “live with ... sensible” job cuts, as long as they are “properly compensated” (New York Times, December 3). He’s wrong, and transit workers shouldn’t and mustn’t stand for any layoffs or future plans thereof. No Broadbanding must be added to the list of the strikers demands!

The bureaucratic leadership of the TWU didn’t want to call the strike to begin with, and did everything it could – including begging – to avert it. It was only because of the pressure of rank and file workers that this strike has happened; and that pressure must be maintained, and increased to avoid a sell-out. Union bureaucrats like Toussaint tend to work inside of the capitalist system, not against it (and thus in workers’ interest), and that’s why they’re so quick to accept a compromise. This has been treacherously demonstrated by the president of Local 100's parent union who has refused to support the striking workers, and urged them to take the MTA’s pathetic “final offer”.

Because of the continued failures and crisis of the capitalist system itself (which will only continue and get worse), our class has been put on the defensive – no longer fighting to achieve gains, but instead struggling to defend those we had made in the past. Workers must realize that we create all wealth, and that society itself cannot continue without us! This knowledge must be the basis for presenting, fighting for, and getting what we demands!

Because of the very real possibility of a betrayal by Toussaint and the rest of the union bureaucracy, transit workers (including dissident elected officials) are joining together to form a No Giveback Contact Committee. We encourage all transit workers to get involved in that committee (which can be reached by email at: nogivebackcontract@yahoo.com).

We also encourage rank and file transit workers to create democratically elected strike-committees amongst themselves to coordinate picket duty, maintain communications between workers, boost the morale of less-confident workers, and stop any attempt at scabbing.

It will require the workers themselves coming into the streets, not bureaucratic leaders taking part in “negotiations” behind closed doors, to defeat the rich and make this strike successful.

Take the bargaining out of the hands of the bureaucrats – and put it in your own hands!

Build an independent working people’s movement!
As they have shown time and time again – even with this strike – the Democratic party represents the same rich, ruling elite as the Republicans do. Their only differences lie in the methods and approach in which they represent the interest of the capitalist class.

Now, more than ever, working people must unite to build a movement independent of the bosses’ parties – to defend themselves, and more importantly to abolish the systematic exploitation of our class completely.

A much, much better society based on the principles of freedom, justice, and equality is possible, and we encourage workers and other oppressed people to join us in the fight for it!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

"Iraqi Freedom"

"The Iraqi people will great us as liberators"

The streets of Iraq run red with "freedom" supplied by the U.S. military


Iraqi child, "liberated" by U.S. soldiers.


Liberation?


Another day in occupied Iraq.


"Liberated" Iraqis

What are you doing to stop this?