Online Newsletter of the Committees
of Correspondence for Democracy
and Socialism (CCDS)
What our members are doing:
CCDS committees, member and chapter reports.
Resist, Resist, Resist
the White House agenda
Build, Build, Build the Progressive Majority
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April 24th Trump and Labor
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Steve Early has worked as a labor journalist, lawyer, organizer, or union representative since 1972. For 27 years, Early was a Boston-based national staff member of the Communications Workers of America.
Early has written three labor-related books and his fourth, published by Beacon Press in January, is called Refinery Town: Big Oil, Big Money, and the Remaking of An American City.
Marilyn Albert is a Registered Nurse, and a founding member of the Committees of Correspondence. For over 30 years, she was a rank and file activist in the New York healthcare workers union, 1199. Marilyn currently does community-labor unity work and Single Payer Health Care work for National Union of Healthcare Workers in California.
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Upcoming SEP discussions:
May -- Climate justice (May 22)
June -- Foreign Policy (June 26)
July -- Socialist surge in the Next Left (July 2
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.Sen. Bernie Sanders to Headline People's Summit 2.0 Big Gathering of Progressive Activists June 9-11 Chicago Beyond Resistance: A People's Movement for a Just World
Sen. Bernie Sanders will keynote a major gathering of several thousand progressive activists from across the U.S. in Chicago
June 9 to 11 under a thematic of moving beyond resistance to a building a broad people's movement for a just world.
Momentum Builds for Massive
West Coast May Day Strike
BY Jonathan Rosenblum
This article was first posted by Labor Notes.
Shop steward Tomas Mejia sensed something was different when 600 janitors streamed into the Los Angeles union hall February 16-far more than for a regular membership meeting. Chanting "Huelga! Huelga!" ("Strike! Strike!"), they voted unanimously to strike on May Day.
"The president is attacking our community," said Mejia, a member of his union's executive board. "Immigrants have helped form this country, we've contributed to its beauty, but the president is attacking us as criminal."
Following the Los Angeles vote, union janitors elsewhere in California have also voted to "strike with the community" on May 1. As the meetings gathered steam, Mejia reports, workers in schools, grocery stores, restaurants, and farms started talking about joining the walkout too.
And the strike is going on the road: SEIU-USWW is partnering with the human rights group Global Exchange, worker centers, the Southern Border Communities Coalition, and faith groups to organize a
"Caravan against Fear"
that will tour California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas in April, staging rallies, cultural events, direct action trainings, and community strike votes leading up to May Day.
The biggest yet
In recent years, May Day has seen demonstrations to support immigrant rights. This year's mobilizations will center on defending immigrants, but weave in other issues as well, such as climate justice and the de-funding of public education.
Up and down the West Coast, we are likely to see the largest May Day strikes since hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers walked off the job in 2006.
A thousand miles to the north of Mejia's home city, leaders of the unions representing Seattle public school teachers, graduate employees at the University of Washington, and staff at Seattle's community colleges have called for a strike to protest the Trump administration's attacks on immigrants, Muslims, workers, women, and members of the LGBT community. The public school teachers and UW graduate employees are scheduling strike votes in the coming weeks.
"We're horrified about what Trump has done," said Alex Bacon, a community college administrative assistant and member of AFSCME Local 304. And given the Trump administration's support for "right-to-work" legislation and slashing health care and retirement programs, he said, "even if we're not in the crosshairs this second, we're next."
"Summer of resistance"
A March meeting organized by the county labor council and Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant brought together immigrant community leaders and representatives from two dozen Seattle-area unions-including Laborers, Teamsters, Boeing Machinists, stagehands, hotel workers, and city and county workers-to plan a May Day of mass resistance. Participants acknowledged the need for creativity rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
A week later, the labor council committed its support for an immigrant-led May Day march, in a resolution urging unions "to consider all forms of action on May 1, 2017, whether striking, walking out, taking sick days, extended lunch hours, exercising rights of conscience, organizing demonstrations or teach-ins, or any other acts of collective expression that builds solidarity across communities."
Labor Council head Nicole Grant described May Day as just the beginning of a "summer of resistance," showing that working people can and will respond to Trump's attacks with disruptive action. "We won't take down this president in one day," added Sawant. "But on May Day we are taking our resistance to another level."
Climate justice activists are also folding into the May Day movement. In Washington state, the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations are calling for an "Earth Day to May Day Action Week," blending Earth Day April 22 and a "March for Science" into a full week of workshops and protests culminating in a big May 1 mobilization.
Nationally, many union leaders haven't weighed in on the May Day strike movement, in part because their contracts with employers include no-strike clauses.
Mejia acknowledges the risk of striking, but says, "The government is criminalizing us." The bigger risk, he says, would be to not fight back, because inaction will only embolden Trump and his billionaire backers.
Key to successful May Day strikes, many activists point out, is connecting local fights to anti-Trump resistance activities. At the University of Washington, for instance, where one-third of the graduate employees are international students, union members are demanding that university administrators bargain with them over the impact of Trump's Muslim ban and other executive orders. And they are pressing the university to declare itself a "sanctuary campus" and to waive a discriminatory fee it now imposes on international students.
Jonathan Rosenblum is the author of Beyond $15: Immigrant Workers, Faith Activists, and the Revival of the Labor Movement (Beacon Press). A member of UAW Local 1981 (National Writers Union), he also works as a community organizer for the office of Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant.
CCDS Committee Reports
The Peace and Solidarity Committee
is quite healthy and active. We have now published our first quarterly online journal,
Peace and Solidarity Today.
It has been distributed to the CCDS membership list and we are endeavoring to broadcast it to peace groups across the country.
We have also recently issued a statement opposing Trump's military budget and are considering other statements to issue.
We have not yet ended imperial militarism and war, nor the threat of nuclear war, but we persevere.
Courtney Childs, Chair of the Peace and Solidarity Committee
Socialist Education Project committee report
Monday webex/conference call series on the Resistance has hosted excellent discussions on the resistance, people-of-color, immigrants and women. Our April discussion on
April 24 will be on labor, the June discussion on foreign policy and July on the socialist upsurge in the next left. There is a possibility of a Democracy Charter series in the Fall.
CCDS has organized two panels on the Russian Revolution at the Working Class Studies Association conference in Indiana, including Gary Hicks of the CP who we are helping to fly out from Berkeley, CA. SEP has begun working on a pamphlet for the 100th anniversary of October 1917 scheduled to be published this Fall.
SEP is beginning to prepare materials on the centrality of multi-racial working class unity. We plan to have a two page handout and a pamphlet.
SEP meets monthly; next meeting is
9pm Eastern time, everyone is invited.
Duncan McFarland, chair of SEP
Democracy Charter Committee
"The Continuing Struggle for a Substantive Democracy: From the Atlantic Revolutions to Today" is the topic of a panel organized by the CCDS Democracy Charter committee for a conference in Charleston, South Carolina,
June 15-17, 2017
Panelists are Tim Johnson who will present an overview of the Atlantic Revolutions and Reconstruction; Mildred Williamson will discuss the role of African American equality in
defining the contours and content of democracy in the field of public health, and Mark Solomon will present on the historic links between the South African Freedom Charter and the Democracy Charter authored by civil rights strategist Jack O'Dell. The panel will be moderated by Jim Campbell.
The 3 day conference, titled
"Transforming Public History from Charleston to the Atlantic World," is sponsored by the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program, and the College of Charleston.
The panel proposal, submitted by the Committees of Correspondence Education Fund, was accepted in tight competition among many that were considered.
- Health Justice
- Repeal & Replace?
- Future of Health Care
- Environmental Racism
- Salud con Justicia
- ¿Derogar y reemplazar?
- El futuro de la salud
- Racismo ambiental
John Conyers's Medicare for All bill gains steam in the wake of Trumpcare's failure.
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism:
Peace and Solidarity Committee
President Trump's proposed budget includes a big increase in military spending and is a document for war. It attacks the environment, diplomacy, education and social programs that benefit the poor and people of color. CCDS opposes this budget, calling instead for a 50% cut in funding for the Pentagon to support jobs, the environment and programs benefiting the people. The following statement gives historical perspective to the growth of the military budget and the military industrial complex.
Woodrow Wilson's Secretary of State, Robert Lansing, proclaimed the danger the new Bolshevik Revolution represented to the needs of capitalist expansion: trade, investment, cheap labor and resources.
Almost thirty years later as World War II ended key advisors of President Truman warned of a return to the Great Depression if war related demand for manufacturing products would decline. The United States Cold War against the former Soviet Union began with the dropping of the bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, sending a message to the Soviets that the United States was the new dominant power in the world. Between 1945 and 1950, the President declared his famous doctrine warning of an "international communist threat," began a foreign assistance program for part of Europe, launched the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and promised never to recognize the new Peoples Republic of China.
In 1950 President Truman embraced the recommendations he received from advisors in National Security Council Document 68. It called for a perpetual commitment to military spending. It recommended that when a president sits down to map out a federal budget, his/her first priority should be to spend all the military wants and only after that should he allocate financial resources to other societal needs.
As soon as the Korean War started NSC 68 became an unchallengeable feature of public policy. It served the needs of the economy, provided the war material to engage in imperialist adventures all across the globe and, to justify itself, launched a global struggle against "international communism." Even though the image of the demonic enemy, the Soviet Union, was a lie, US military prowess would be used to stifle revolutionary nationalist and socialist movements and regimes wherever they sprung up.
Dramatic increases in military spending occurred periodically ever since the 1940s for major foreign interventions and as an economic stimulus. For example, President Kennedy's administration was made up of the military hawks who had tried to get President Eisenhower to spend more on the military. Kennedy expanded investment in counter-insurgency forces, war-related research and development, and military assistance. Eisenhower had held the line and in his farewell address warned of the unlimited influence of the military that was growing in the United States, a military/industrial complex. But in the Kennedy and Johnson years, military spending increased by a third. To scare the American people and get votes candidate Kennedy warned of a "missile gap" with the Soviet Union which turned out to be false.
Twenty years later President Reagan spoke of a "window of vulnerability" as US defenses allegedly had diminished because of "détente" with the Soviet Union in the 1970s. Reagan's justification for defense spending was a lie also. After modest declines in military spending in the 1990s as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union, President Clinton's last projected defense budget before leaving office was set at $306 billion.
In the new century the United States substantially increased military spending to launch two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some years ago Joseph Stiglitz predicted the Iraq War would cost the American people $3 trillion dollars. Today some analysts claim that figure has been surpassed.
During the Obama years military spending stabilized in some areas and increased in others, such as projected development of a new generation of nuclear weapons.
War has changed also as US forces over the last two years have struck "enemies" with drones and bombs in six countries, and maintained over 700 military bases in at least 40 countries (particularly on the African continent). The military spending and wars of the twenty-first centuries were defended as responses to the shock of 9/11 and the need for a global "war on terrorism."
Now we have a new Trump administration, The President has announced he will be seeking an additional $54 billion in his first military budget (which will total just over $600 billion), a large 10 percent increase while cutting a comparable amount of spending for non-military tasks. For show he has targeted selected military projects for criticism but it is clear he "wants to win wars again." As NSC 68 called for a long time ago military spending will remain the first priority of the federal government.
In sum, what we can deduce from this history is that military spending since World War II has been a top priority of the federal government. Military spending has consistently "primed the pump," overcoming the traditional tendency of capitalism toward stagnation. Also, military superiority (the US spends more on the military than the next seven countries combined) has been the prime tool for maintaining global capitalism and opposing any governments, movements, or ideologies that oppose the expansion of capitalism. Millions of deaths and casualties of people everywhere, the loss of thousands of lives of American military personnel, the flight of millions of refugees from war torn lands, and the incredible impacts of war and preparation for war on the environment all suggest that the war system is a nightmare for most citizens of the globe.
We in CCDS call for a 50% reduction in the military budget to fund social programs, jobs, and a Green New Deal. We welcome and encourage the rebirth of a US and global peace movement and we pledge to participate in doing all we can working with others to end the capitalist war system.
Great Town Hall with Senator Manchin in Martinsburg, WV
by John Case
Harpers Ferry, WV
Senator Joe Manchin showed he can work a crowd with the best of them yesterday at a Town Hall held at the WVU Health Sciences center in Martinsburg, WV. He also showed why he wins elections. All the Republican Congressmen and the other Senator are running from the Town Halls, like the yellow and blood-sucking vampires they are in the light of day. "Oh myyyy, I caaan't face those terrible professional protesters! Woo Woo". Not Joe. He is comfortable with friends and adversaries alike, knows the issues, and understands the questions being asked, as a competent politician should be able to do!
The Town Hall was organized by
West Virginia Citizen Action
with the help of
West Virginians for Affordable Health Care
to review the Republican anti-health-care-give-the-rich-another-tax-cut bill presented by Speaker Ryan this week. A dramatic presentation by two patients, one a victim of the flood of opiates into West Virginia in place of actual medical practice, and another of a longstanding illness, opened the event, which was standing room room only in a theater with over 400 seats. The testimonies highlighted the dramatic life-saving benefits of the Affordable Care Act, especially expanded Medicaid, in West Virginia, and the dreadful costs of the Ryan bill, which would result in up to 600,000 West Virginians losing coverage. The labor force in West Virginia is approximately 800,000.
The crowd was diverse. Health care providers from several clinics and hospitals took off work to attend in force, and gave powerful testimony on behalf of their patients and colleagues. Environmental, Religious, and other progressive groups also came to both listen and give testimony. Senator Manchin brought a good portion of his staff with him to facilitate getting ALL the questions and comments from those for whom there was not enough time to get to the microphones.
Senator Manchin's message on Ryan-Trump "care" was straightforward: he would vote against any bill that would reduce West Virginians coverage under Obamacare. Republican Senator Capito has also been REPORTED making a similar pledge. However, he warned that Republicans are so committed to destroying Obamacare that they may ram it through the House of Representatives even if it is a political abortion on passage. That will create tremendous partisan pressure on the Senate. "Only Trump," Manchin said, "may be able to kill this bill. Call him or email, because regular mail takes two months to reach elected officials since the Anthrax scare. This whole thing will be over by then. Perhaps even next week."
Advocates for a single-payer health care plan were also out in force and at the microphones as well. Manchin's reaction to this dialog was interesting. I re-listened to the exchanges on this question in my recording, and summarize/ paraphrase Manchin's replies: "The imminent threat is the removal of 24 million, mostly working people, patients like the ones that testified today, from coverage under the Republican Plan. It is not yet clear we can stop this big step backward to a situation WORSE than before Obamacare, without an all out effort directed at the President, now, to keep his pledge that no one will lose coverage. Single Payer works well in Canada, but at a high tax rate. The insurance industry is a very large interest in the United States. Do we really want, or have the power, to put it out of business, and have tax rates move toward 35-40%? I don't think that's practical, and like Bernie Sanders [a slight tease to a mostly progressive crowd], I do not like to waste precious time on something that cannot get the necessary votes or sponsors now to move forward."
Even though the meeting was focused on health care, Eastern Panhandle fracking pipelines, and controversial Manchin support of Trump cabinet choices -- anti-education Betsy DeVoss for Education Secretary and racist Jeff Sessions for attorney general -- were also raised. He gave the typical political answer that executives have the right to choose their team on the cabinet nominees, and did his branded "big tent", butter bread on both sides reply on fracking pipelines: in this case he would get the CEO of the main pipeline company to meet with unhappy residents about fears of water contamination.
It is good that Senator Manchin came, and came prepared, to the Town Hall. He is addressing and hearing from others across the state this week and weekend. He got an earful in Martinsburg. It is also a bit of a thrill to watch someone gifted with such impressive political skills as Joe Manchin.
At the same time, his fundamental message was on the sobering side, and not very optimistic on the deep divisions in politics. Quite an admission from a man who philosophically plays politics like a football player, from first down to first down, and holds "opportunism"---finding the center, so to speak -- in high ideological esteem.
Bernie's message, to my mind, is also sobering but more hopeful. Like Sanders, I believe that social democracy -- more socialism, so to speak, to help the advanced capitalist/market-oriented parts of the economy work better for all -- is the direction of sustainable growth, and the elevation of both living standards, and democracy for the ourselves, and the generations to come. Finding the center can be a slippery proposition, as Joe and his skills attest. Creating a new one, a la Sanders, feels like a more sure-footed path.
I am glad Joe is committed to keep the hospital doors open. But making us stupid with an anti-public-education Education Secretary, and terrorizing or imprisoning us with a racist Attorney General seems a high price.
I support efforts to find a "Sanders-smart" primary challenger. Accommodations to fascism should not get a free ride.
The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
is a national organization, united by a common commitment to struggle for democracy and socialism. CCDS embodies the legacy of the great social movements for peace, freedom, and democracy led by the working class, and racially and nationally oppressed people. CCDS carries forward the courageous traditions of the democratic socialist and left leaders and activists of the USA." CCDS Goals and Principles
is the newsletter of the CCDS and the above spirit should be reflected in it. It is a great tool for communication within our organization and it is hoped that we can put this out more frequently. We will use this to share reports from the NCC meetings. But we want this to be a two way street and want to hear from you. We encourage you to share what is going on in your area whether it be a mass action or study group, etc. One thing we often hear from members is wanting to know more about what is going on in other areas. Writing up your experiences also a good way to reflect on it and sum it up.
We encourage a broad sharing of ideas. You are encouraged to also send comments of other articles written. So let us hear from you. Material can be sent to Janet Tucker at
. We look forward to hearing from you.