Sunday, April 30, 2017

750 Protesters at Duluth Climate March

About 750 people participated in the Duluth People’s Climate March on April 29. The event was held in solidarity with a national climate protest in Washington D.C. Duluth’s protest was part of an estimated 250 local solidarity actions around the country calling for the government to adopt policies that seriously grapple with the threat of climate change.

The Duluth march and rally has endorses by a large number of local groups, but was spearheaded by the local Sierra Club, and the Minnesota Interfaith Light & Power. It began with a brief rally at Leif Erickson Park. From there protesters marched along the Lakewalk, alongside Lake Superior. The event culminated with a large rally at the Lakeplace Park, near Canal Park.

A special thank you to all of the organizers of this event, the speakers, marshals and volunteers who made this event possible.

This protest comes on the heels of last weekends March for Science in Duluth that drew 1500 people, and the local Woman’s march in January that had over 2000 people. This massive increase in protesting is part of a national campaign of resistance against the reactionary policies being pushed by our national government.

>> The photos above were taken by Heather Bradford. The article is by Adam Ritscher.

Friday, April 28, 2017

General Strike: How the Working Class Takes Control

Since the Women’s March brought millions into the streets the Saturday after inauguration, there has been a rising clamor on social media for a ‘general strike’ against the Trump administration. The call to stop work was picked up by the U.K. GuardianWashington Post and now by Cosmopolitan magazine. And the discussion took off so quickly, it gave us multiple proposals for when the strike should happen: February 17 (to counter President’s day), March 8 (International Women’s Day), May 1 (the international workers’ holiday and anniversary of the huge immigrant-led protests of 2006). And the proposals emphasize different kinds of demands, from general resistance to Trump, to defending the rights of women, Black Lives Matter, and immigrants through mutual action to enforce those rights.

But numerous leftists also came forward to announce concerns about the feasibility of a general strike, especially if labor unions are not involved in organizing it. Among the first was Alex Gourevitch, writing in Jacobin, who gives an informative history of militant strikes in the U.S. that faced repression by the state and (sometimes) won. The implication of this and similar pieces is that a general strike call is irresponsible for this spring because organized labor is simply not in a position to carry out the work stoppage and protect striking workers:

How Can We Fight Climate Change?

The working class faces challenges on many fronts today. But one crisis is overarching. On both land and sea, Northern and Southern Hemispheres alike, our planet is getting hotter. The scale and pace of this global warming is unprecedented in human history. The last three years have been the hottest since precise measurements began in the 1880s.

This heat is expanding the volume of oceans. Along with melting sea and glacial ice in the Arctic, Antarctic, and Greenland, this is raising sea levels. If not stopped soon it will eventually inundate coastal areas that are home to hundreds of millions. The New York City penthouse at Trump Tower would remain dry—but by 2050 the tip of Manhattan, including Southport, Battery Park, and much of the World Trade Center would be submerged.

Mumia Abu-Jamal Fights for a New Trial and Freedom

On Mumia Abu-Jamal’s birthday, April 24, about 125 demonstrators mobilized outside Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas in solidarity with Mumia’s effort to reverse his 1982 frame-up murder conviction and win a new trial that could lead to his freedom.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is perhaps the world’s best known political prisoner. He has been imprisoned for 36 years, and was on death row for 30 of those years. His fight for a new trial and freedom has been supported by organizations ranging from Amnesty International and the NAACP to the European Parliament and scores of national and local trade unions and city governments in the U.S. and abroad.

Can we Survive the Epidemics That Big Agriculture Produces?

Rob Wallace is an evolutionary biologist and the author of “Big Farms Make Big Flu: Dispatches on Infectious Disease, Agribusiness, and the Nature of Science” (Monthly Review Press). Through a dialectical process he shows us how Big Agriculture and its organization and methodology conflict with the epidemiological controls needed to stop flu epidemics from emerging and killing millions of people. Socialist Action's John Schraufnagel and Bud Schulte sat down with Rob Wallace in late November 2016 at May Day Books in Minneapolis.

Bud Schulte: I’m curious about how you came to your Marxist approach to science.

Rob Wallace: My parents were radical scientists. My father is trained as a physicist, my mother as a marine biologist. They met on a picket protesting my father’s professors in the Physics Department [at Columbia University] who were working with the JASON group at the time. The JASON group were physicists helping the DOD come up with various weapons systems, including Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.

The Tragedy of American Science

The Earth Day 2017 March for Science signals resistance to Donald Trump’s sharp infusion of irrationality into the national discourse.  Official support for climate-change denial and other anti-science agendas has suddenly become much more explicit. At the same time, many protesters recognize a continuity linking Trump’s bizarre bluster with a pre-existing condition sometimes referred to as the “Republican war on science.”

But the problems at the root of the tragedy of contemporary American science—its corporatization and militarization—are not ones for which either the Democratic or Republican parties can offer solutions.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Pressure Grows for $15 in the Twin Cities

As Minneapolis appears poised to institute a $15 minimum wage, 15Now Minnesota and other advocates are keeping up the pressure to make sure it happens.

Supporters will rally Monday, April 17, at noon outside the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, 2001 SE University Ave., near the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus. They will protest efforts by the Minnesota Restaurant Association to “carve out” the minimum wage with a “tip penalty” that would allow restaurants to pay tipped workers less.

Consuming Feminism: The Abusive Touch of the Invisible Hand

In full disclosure of my consumerist hypocrisy,  I have a few t-shirts with feminist themes on them and a pair of Karl Marx sneakers.  The shirts were free leftovers from political events, but I probably would have bought them anyway.   All of these items were probably made in a sweatshop with the hyper exploited labor of mostly female garment workers.  Thus, what I write is not from some high and holy place.  It is meant to provide some sort of framework for understanding feminism and consumerism.   This understanding is meant to be tactical for social movement building rather than a personal attack or call for confessions of consumerist sins.  I sin.  We all sin.  Personal mistakes are inevitable and unavoidable.  Social movement mistakes have more weight as it represents a collective error.  Of course, social movements also make mistakes.  One mistake is the embrace of feminist consumerism.  While this was not part of the official organizing suggestions of the International Women’s Strike USA, some feminists promoted the tactic of patronizing women owned businesses on March 8th.  Some feminists believe that by buying certain products, they are promoting a better society.   I don’t wish to shame those feminists, but I do want to make an argument against that tactic.  The following is why I am against feminist consumerism:

Union Declares Itself a “Sanctuary,” Promises to Protect All Members

I had no money and spoke no English when I illegally crossed the border into California 23 years ago, but I worked hard and fought for the right to stay here.

Had I made that harrowing journey this year, I’m sure I’d be deported right back into the crosshairs of the Honduran government’s death squads that had targeted me and many other community organizers.

Instead I quickly won a grant of political asylum—and later received full American citizenship.

100 Years Ago, When Lenin Arrived at the Finland Station

When Vladimir Lenin reached Petrograd one hundred years ago today on the famous “sealed train” that traveled from Switzerland through Germany, the situation both internally and at the front appeared to have stabilized.

The temporary truce between the new Provisional Government and the rebellious masses, however, largely sidestepped the major issue that ushered in the February Revolution: the war. When the aggressive military aims of the Provisional Government were revealed, the “April Days” demonstrations proved that the Revolution was still very much alive.

After February, Tsar Nicholas II had been placed under arrest and a provisional government was formed. At the head of the government was Prince Georgy Lvov, a ceremonial figure who represented the last link with the old regime, but the cabinet was dominated by Liberals frightened by the very revolution that had placed them in power.

Record Number of Chicago Charter School Teachers Unionize

It’s a delicious irony for teachers unions that Rauner College Prep—a Chicago charter school named after Bruce Rauner, Illinois’ virulently anti-union governor—may soon have a union.

On March 3, the Chicago Association of Charter Teachers and Staff (ACTS) announced an organizing drive at the Noble Network of Charter Schools, which has 18 campuses across Chicago, including Rauner College Prep. If the campaign is successful, Noble will become the nation’s largest unionized charter network. The addition of Noble’s 800 teachers and staff to its ranks would also give ACTS, a local of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), an impressive density in Chicago’s charter market—the union says it would represent as many as 40 percent of charter teachers in Chicago. About 10 percent of charter teachers nationwide are unionized, according to the pro-charter Center for Education Reform.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Stop the Missile Attacks on Syria!

Hiram W. Johnson, a long-serving Republican Senator from California, is generally credited as being the first to use the phrase “Truth is the First Casualty of War,” in 1917—directed toward the duplicity of Woodrow Wilson. President Wilson, after winning reelection by bragging “he kept us out of war,” a few months later took America in to what he promised would be the War to End All Wars—and won a Nobel Peace Prize for his effort. His lies and reputation are still revered by today’s bipartisan Establishment.

It is unlikely the current liar in the White House will be treated so gently even by official historians. The mainstream media removed their kid gloves even before he took office. Still, that doesn’t mean they deliver the whole truth and nothing but about war.

Meet the Nebraskans Who Could Stop Keystone XL

Thanks to a State Department-issued presidential permit, Donald Trump has formally brought the Keystone XL pipeline back from the dead, a move he claims will lead to a “new era of American energy policy.” What Trump may not have factored in is the obstacle posed to that pipeline by the residents of a state that voted overwhelmingly for him in November: Nebraska.

As they have been before, Nebraskans are now in a position to disrupt both TransCanada’s and the administration’s plans, using many of the same tactics that defeated the proposed 1,700-mile long pipe the first time around. Their fight has been waged on multiple fronts over the last several years, balancing a legal strategy and fierce local opposition with a national resistance effort. With the pipeline back on the table, its opponents are revving up for another series of showdowns.

Building an Army to Fight Runaway Inequality

How can unions help create a social movement to take on Wall Street’s economic and political dominance?

That’s the question that the Communications Workers (CWA) are tackling with labor educator Les Leopold. The training program they’ve put together, based on his book Runaway Inequality: An Activist’s Guide to Economic Justice, has already reached hundreds of union members and community activists in a dozen states—where it’s getting rave reviews and helping fuel the growth of local coalitions.

Building Trades Activists Stand Up to Trump

When they heard President Donald Trump would address the Building Trades national legislative conference, activists from Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 569 knew they had to do something.

We couldn’t let him come and speak to us and just sit there,” said William Stedham, a “workaday Joe” and executive board member of the San Diego-based local. “If we hadn’t, everyone would think that the Building Trades was on board with him 100 percent, and we’re not.”