Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rural TSC

Ah well, this is what rural Terrington St Clement looks like! And that's on a good day!

Off to wild Norfolk

We are off to the wilds of rural fen tiger land tomorrow to visit my poor old mum who lives in a care home, Terrington Lodge, in the village she grew up in, Terrington St Clements!

I am going to start blogging more regularly and about issues related to social care, as this is one person whom Direct Payments do not suit!

It will be Danny's first really discernable visit to the home of his father!

Stop the Witchhunt of Social Workers

Baby P: Social work campaigners launch 'anti-witch hunt' petition

writes Louise Hunt

The campaigning body Social Work Action Network (Swan) has today launched its own petition to condemn the "witch hunt" against the profession fuelled by the Baby P case.

Swan said it was responding to "an unprecedented campaign in sections of the media against social workers in Haringey".

More than 200,000 people have so far signed The Sun newspaper's online petition, launched last week, calling for the government to sack all the social workers involved in the Baby P case and the council's director of children's services, Sharon Shoesmith. Other petitions have appeared on social networking sites.
Article continues below the advertisement

The Swan petition has already been signed by social workers from across the country.

Witch hunts don't address issues

Swan representative Dr Michael Lavalette, senior lecturer in social policy at the University of Liverpool, said: "Such witch hunts don't address any of the issues raised by the Baby P case - indeed they serve to cover up the real causes of the terrible tragedy: budgetary constraints, marketisation of care, social workers with excessive case-loads, child poverty, inequality - these are the issues we need to look at to reduce child harm."

Swan, which formed in March 2006, is an organisation of social work academics, practitioners, students and service users.
Have your say on the Baby P case and its implications on CareSpace.

Baby P: A Statement from the Social Work Action Network.

Stop the Witchhunt of Social Workers.

The awful death of the child named as “Baby P” at the hands of his mother and other carers is an up-to-date reminder of the challenge social workers and fellow practitioners face in seeking to safeguard children from harm.

Eight years after the death of Victoria Climbie it is clear that on a daily basis many children continue to experience harm, neglect and abuse – even where health and social care professionals are involved.

However, the outcry from politicians and the media against care professionals in general and social workers in particular is unwarranted and counter-productive.

Against the condemnation of social workers, we roundly condemn the abuse of press powers best exemplified by the actions of the Sun newspaper in mounting a national public petition for the sacking of social workers involved with the case of Baby P, and associated practitioners.

The publication of these individual’s photographs alongside requests for anyone who knows them to contact the newspaper represents a witchhunt and call to persecution that places them at direct personal risk.

The effect of such scapegoating will inevitably place more children at greater risk, having caused anxiety and demoralisation amongst key practitioners, and created additional barriers to positive and effective work with families where there are concerns.

The scapegoating also diverts attention from what we see as the three main contributing factors to such tragedies.

First, there is the underfunding of social work services. It is timely to observe that, whilst more than £500 billion has been dedicated to bail out the UK banking system, children’s services remain at spending levels proportionate to GDP of 1993.

Second, the past 10 years has seen the introduction of market forces into every area of social care. The result is that social workers are now pre-occupied with budgets rather than the needs of those they work with, and are forced to spend increasing amounts of time in front of computers rather than spending time with families who need support and help.

Finally, all of this takes place in a context where children in Britain are amongst the most disadvantaged in Europe with at least 1 in 4 children living in poverty, educational achievement among the poorest in the western world, and UK children last in the league for quality of life.

With the recession, including unemployment rising at an unprecedented rate, our great fear is that social work will be further eroded at a time of rapidly increasing deprivation and alienation.

Neglect of social services will result in more neglect of children.

(Iain Ferguson, Vassilis Ioakimidis, Michael Lavalette on Behalf of the Social Work Action Network)


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

And the hat-trick...

...and here's another

and another piccy...from the UNISON pay strike earlier this year

Morning dose of Danno

My Danny, 18 months on 4th november, was deeply thrilled today when he saw the dustcart. As I didn't get a piccy I shall put some others up here instead before work, while he's having his breakfast

Monday, November 10, 2008

More Danny

Why We Left the Workers International League

Below is a long piece explaining why my friends Bill leumer, Ann Robertson and others recently were forced out of the Alan Woods led IMT in the USA.
I have known them for a few years and they are some of the most dedicated comrades I have met

As is usual in these cases, the majority have written very little, but it is available on the Workers Action website, see link

I have also attached a piccy of Danny as well, but not for any real reason!!

Why We Left the Workers International League

We Left the Workers International League


The entire Portland branch and the majority of the San Francisco branch recently submitted our resignations to the Workers International League (WIL). Many of us joined the WIL over two years ago because of our fundamental agreement with the International Marxist Tendency’s (IMT) analysis of the Venezuelan revolution. The WIL is a member of the IMT. We were enthusiastic and optimistic when we joined because we had been working with the WIL in the united front, Hands Off Venezuela, in which numerous political groups were involved and where we had all been instrumental in organizing very successful events. However, in the recent past, two major differences erupted within the WIL which opened an unbridgeable chasm. We left as a last resort only because we felt the WIL leadership was making it impossible for us to stay. Immediately below is a summary of our differences with the WIL which led to our departure. But we are also including the transcripts of both discussions so that the reader can judge for him or herself.


The first difference concerned the Cindy Sheehan campaign for Congress. Sheehan is running against Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, in San Francisco. The WIL had endorsed the campaign and had urged WIL members to become active in it. After joining the campaign, the San Francisco branch of the WIL produced a flier in support of Cindy Sheehan which was unilaterally rejected by the WIL leadership. There were many issues in dispute concerning our flier, but one in particular provides an especially helpful key to understanding the fundamental differences between those of us who left the WIL on the one hand and the leadership of the WIL, which is constituted by the Executive Committee (EC), on the other hand.

According to the WIL EC: “Most importantly, the draft leaflet [i.e., our Sheehan flier] does not mention the need for a mass party of labor as the only way forward for working people.”

Instead of mentioning the need for a “mass party of labor,” the flier described the Cindy Sheehan campaign as one seeking “to champion the rights and needs of the vast majority of us working people who are disenfranchised by a political system based on corporate money,” and urged the campaign to “use a Cindy Sheehan victory to turn the entire political system upside-down, given the corruptness of the system.” And it added: “But such a goal can only be achieved by launching a movement and bringing together the millions of ordinary people who have no voice in the current political system.”

In other words, our flier was designed with the hope of having a positive influence on the direction of the Cindy Sheehan campaign. We did not want the campaign to view itself merely as aimed exclusively at electing Cindy Sheehan to office, for such an orientation might risk the dissolution of the campaign after November. Rather, we wanted the campaign to see itself as starting a movement that would be sustained beyond November in order to build a political organization dedicated to defending and promoting the interests of working people. This would amount to taking the first step in the direction of creating a labor party. (We hope we have had some success in our attempts at influencing the campaign’s direction since the flier was posted prominently on the home page of the campaign’s web site for a short period so that it was the first thing viewers saw; it is now accessible on the labor section of the web site.)

For the WIL EC, on the other hand, these attempts to influence the Cindy Sheehan campaign were simply a matter of adapting to reformism since Cindy Sheehan is not a self-proclaimed revolutionary socialist but a candidate who is reaching out to defend the interests of working people. According to them, our flier should have established our own revolutionary credentials by boldly announcing the need for a labor party. In this way we could have recruited the most progressive elements of the campaign, according to them.

But there are two ways the demand for a labor party could have been raised:

(1) We could have raised it in the form of propaganda where we would have merely explained in a flier what a good idea a labor party is, and we all agree it is a good idea. But if this was the intent of the EC, then it would have been essentially telling us to refrain from trying to influence the direction of the Sheehan campaign, but rather offer helpful analyses from the sidelines and “markers,” as they like to put it, for future consideration.

(2) Or the EC could have wanted us to raise the idea of a labor party as agitation, in other words, as something that should be done immediately. In this case our flier would have been urging the campaign to create a labor party now.

We were unsure which alternative the EC had in mind (although the former is far more likely) because throughout much of the discussion it refused to distinguish between propaganda and agitation. However, we were convinced that both alternatives were equally flawed:

(1) If we had raised the idea of a labor party purely as propaganda, then we would have been relegated exclusively to the sidelines since we would not have attempted to influence the direction of the campaign. Rather we would have simply used the campaign to introduce progressive or revolutionary ideas and hoped a few of the campaign members might be attracted to us. Here we would be using the campaign primarily to build our own organization. The WIL EC has continually admonished us during the past several years that our first concern is to recruit the ones and twos, not to lead working class movements. We, on the other hand, saw ourselves as recruiting the ones and twos, and perhaps many more, precisely by leading workers in motion by introducing a class struggle perspective, which is the only way to make such struggles successful.

(2) If we had raised the labor party idea as agitation, meaning that we were urging the Sheehan campaign to organize a labor party at that time, then we would have appeared out of step with reality. The Sheehan campaign is not in a position to launch a labor party, given its meager resources. At the very least the trade unions would be required to take the lead in establishing a labor party because the trade unions have an organizational apparatus as well as money, both of which would be required to bring something as ambitious as a labor party into existence. But there is almost no movement within organized labor in favor of establishing a labor party at this time.

In our opinion, the best way to proceed in relation to the Sheehan campaign is to influence it as much as possible in a positive direction, that is, in the direction of creating an independent working class party with a revolutionary program. If the Sheehan campaign decides to maintain its existence after the November elections, then we believe that this would constitute a step forward for working people, provided that the campaign is specifically defined in terms of defending the interests of workers, not capitalists. We are not interested in promoting Ralph Nader’s campaign, for example, because he rejects a working class perspective. Under this condition, the Sheehan campaign could serve as a center of gravitation to attract the growing number of working people who are becoming increasingly disgusted with the Democrats, not to mention the Republicans. And this movement could then serve as the the first step in the direction of a labor party.

Such a movement would greatly enhance the prospects of our revolutionary organization. It would have the potential to change the political climate in this country by offering workers the first real political alternative on the horizon. We could easily reach out to the people in such a movement with our revolutionary literature, raise their consciousness, and hopefully win them to socialism. For this reason, we view the WIL EC’s choice to abstain from any attempt to influence the evolution of the Sheehan campaign as profoundly misguided. Although at times the WIL EC offers lip service to the idea of influencing the Sheehan campaign, it has never specified exactly how this should be accomplished other than by raising the demand for a labor party, which will not exert an impact on the direction of the campaign now.


The second difference erupted over the proper way to conduct trade union work. Here the differences between us and the WIL EC basically replayed the differences over our Sheehan flier.

The discussion began with a comrade from Portland reporting that his union, an SEIU local, was engaged in negotiations for a new contract. The employer, a company running a hospital, was playing hardball and rejected the union’s entirely modest demands for a wage raise, etc. In return, the union officials scaled back their demands, lowering what they described as a cost of living increase (which was one of several wage increases), for example, from 6 percent to 3 percent for the first year. The workers, however, overwhelmingly rejected management’s new offer of a 2 percent cost of living increase, so there was a remote possibility they might strike.

A leading member of the WIL, who has been working closely with the WIL EC, proposed that the Portland comrade put out a flier either by himself in the name of the WIL or, if possible, through a union caucus: “The flyer should put forward our perspective on what the demands SHOULD be in the negotiations...”[emphasis added]. He explained that we must oppose the union officials’ backpedaling and continued: “It is okay if only a few people, right now, would take our flier and be open to discuss it with us.”

In a second contribution to the discussion, the same comrade continued arguing in favor of the flier, adding that such demands as 30 hours of work for 40 hours of pay (30 for 40) or a full COLA (cost of living adjustment) are examples of demands that should have been raised to the workers at the hospital.” And he continued: “We must not tailor our demands to what is acceptable to the union leadership or what they make the mass of the workers think is attainable.” And then added that if our Portland comrade did not do this, then the WIL would not “be distinguishing ourselves in a political way from the union leadership.” He acknowledged that workers “who identify with the union leadership will see this [demands such as 30 for 40] as ‘pie in the sky’ and many workers may think ‘it is good, but it will never happen.’ That is OK. We need to put down a political marker, so that as our political analysis of this situation is shown to be correct, we can then make gains.”

Those of us in Portland and San Francisco found this approach misdirected, to say the least.

First, we found it stunning that the above comrade thought it was appropriate to tell the workers what their demands SHOULD be without any inquiry into the specific conditions of these workers, their level of consciousness, their economic position and their ability to carry on a protracted strike, their activity level in the union, the leadership qualities of the union officials in charge, or their lack of leadership qualities, how easy it would be to replace workers if they chose to strike, etc.

Second, the WIL comrade never bothered to inquire whether, if the Portland comrade had distributed a flier by himself in the name of the WIL, he would have completely discredited and isolated himself in relation to ALL his coworkers because of their misconceptions concerning socialist organizations. We are trying to break out of our isolation, not increase it. Many people in the U.S. identify socialism with totalitarianism and with paying people who are lazy and avoid work just as much as people who work hard. Nor did the WIL comrade inquire whether distributing such a flier might result in our comrade losing his job because of the anti-communism of the employer and union officials. These seemed to be inconsequential considerations for the WIL comrade.

Third, we thought it was striking that the WIL comrade argued that the only way to distinguish ourselves from the “union leadership” was by raising demands such as 30 for 40, etc. In other words, he did not entertain the possibility of our comrade at the hospital leading a militant strike where the labor bureaucracy’s partnership with the bosses would be severed, where real picket lines would be organized as opposed to the porous picket lines of the labor bureaucracy, and where the workers would be prepared to defy both court injunctions and cops and take on the capitalist state. The ONLY way in which the WIL leadership conceived of breaking with the union bureaucrats was by raising radical demands, which means they were not prepared to have our comrade lead a struggle or a strike but wanted him to sit on the sidelines.

Fourth, the WIL comrade thought it was entirely appropriate to aim our ideas about demands at only a few workers (at best) rather than try to unite all the workers and organize an effective strike. He said he did not think the demands should be tailored to what “the mass of the workers think is attainable” and acknowledged that the slogans he was proposing would only appeal to a few, but, as he said: “That is OK.” This is another indication that the WIL leadership was only interested in sitting on the sidelines, not in organizing a fight.

In contrast, we believe the correct approach to the question of demands is more complicated. Of course, when the demands are being formulated and discussed among the union membership, we would urge workers to include the appropriate demands, given their situation. But these demands are selected by the workers on the basis of how strong they think the union is, how strong they think the company is, and how much confidence they have in themselves to win what they want. The same demands are therefore not going to be appropriate for every work place. During this process, our role would amount not only to raising appropriate demands, but more importantly, to explaining to our coworkers how to organize an effective strike to win the demands, thereby raising their level of confidence. The creation of the list of demands consequently results from a dialectical process where all of the above considerations come into play. Adding demands to the list that workers believe are unattainable does not raise the workers’ level of confidence but will probably have the effect of reducing it.

The situation at the hospital, however, was not propitious in relation to a militant struggle. The union was very weak in large part because of the orientation of the labor bureaucrats who assume workers share common interests with the employers. The Local had an inadequate strike fund, especially for workers living paycheck-to-paycheck. While public outreach was strong, there had been no preparation for building mass picket lines capable of keeping scabs out and defying court injunctions. Striking workers could have been easily replaced because the work was to a large degree unskilled. And the struggle would have been waged in a general climate of demoralization in the U.S. labor movement as a whole. Nevertheless, with the right leadership and a membership mobilized to put up a fight, the strike could have been won by attracting tremendous community support, etc. In such a context, including the demand of 30 for 40 would have undermined the struggle. The community might well have looked on the demand as excessive and unrealistic and tempered its support for the workers accordingly. However, the union did in fact win community support for its original demand for a 6 percent wage increase.

In any case, when our discussion with the WIL leadership was underway, the workers were not opposing the union officials’ scaling down the 6 percent raise to a 3 percent raise. They were angry with the company for only offering 2 percent. Given that reality, we proposed that our comrade at the hospital consider leading his coworkers into a battle for their demands, even though they were extraordinarily modest. Had the union won a militant strike, their success could possibly have changed the consciousness of workers across the country. A weak union would have scored an earthshaking victory!

Yet because those of us in Portland and San Francisco were not prepared to raise 30 for 40, our approach was condemned once again by the WIL leadership as basically adapting to reformism. We believe that they were not prepared to have our comrade lead a strike because they would have viewed such a struggle as reformist in essence since it would only have been aimed at winning higher wages, etc. We regard the WIL leadership as advocating that we abstain and pass up opportunities to change the political landscape in this country. In fact, the National Secretary of the WIL asserted this unambiguously when he wrote to a Portland comrade: “Our goal in these struggles at this stage is not to lead them or to have a decisive influence over the ‘masses’ of the union, but to find the ones and twos for our own organization.” The only way in which the WIL leadership conceives of raising consciousness is by throwing out transitional demands at workers in movement, not by leading struggles. The same transitional demands are always raised in a purely mechanical way, regardless of the situation and regardless of the level of consciousness of the workers. And since these demands only resonate with one or two workers, if any at all, the WIL leadership believes it has succeeded in planting seeds for the future, or putting down markers, as they say. So if workers adopt these transitional demands in 30 years from now, the WIL will take credit.


Throughout both the Cindy Sheehan flier discussion and the trade union discussion we believe that the WIL leadership was fundamentally unwilling to conduct comradely discussions. They would begin each dispute with a statement to the effect that the WIL’s position was clear on the issue in question. And when everything is clear, of course, there is nothing to discuss. Moreover, by saying everything was clear, those of us who were in disagreement with the leadership were essentially ruled out of order at the outset and made to look as if we stood outside the organization.

The leadership then proceeded repeatedly to distort the positions and arguments that were submitted by members of the Portland and San Francisco branches -- another sign that they were not interested in a comradely discussion because they were not prepared to listen to us carefully. And it should be noted that whenever there were substantive differences between either the Portland or San Francisco branches and the WIL leadership during the entire period of our membership, the WIL leadership would repeatedly distort what people said.

Then, when the National Secretary of the WIL, in relation to his earlier statement that our differences amounted to different interpretations of the trade union document we all voted for, asserted: “I therefore retract my implication that our differences are simply a matter of ‘interpretation’ or of how best to implement the decisions of the Congress,” we could only conclude that he was saying the discussion was over because there was no room for competing interpretations of our trade union document within the WIL.

Moreover, in relation to the trade union differences, the discussion commenced on an impossible presumption. Our Portland comrade had to confess to errors before the discussion could even begin. The leading WIL member who was urging him to produce a flier, said to him: “Everyone who gets in politics makes mistakes from time to time. This is normal. The issue is not making mistakes but recognizing them and correcting them for the future. However, we must admit the mistakes first; otherwise we cannot correct them.” In other words, the issue was not IF the Portland comrade made a mistake, but of RECOGNIZING the mistake he presumably committed. This is the kind of comment that is appropriate at the end of a discussion, not at the beginning.

This patronizing tone was repeated throughout the discussion, which degenerated even further when ad hominem arguments were introduced. In other words, people’s character, motive, position in society, or background became the focus rather than their arguments. For example, in relation to two San Francisco comrades, the same leading WIL comrade, after noting the San Francisco comrades could play a “tremendous role” in the organization, added: “However, in order to play this positive role, they must un-learn the sectarian methods they were trained in and learn the method of the WIL/IMT.” In other words, the “tremendous role” had nothing to do with political clarity, and anything the two San Francisco comrades had to contribute to the discussion could be dismissed in advance as invalid because of their background.

Another example of an ad hominem was introduced by the WIL National Secretary: “It seems evident to me that the approach advocated by these comrades is an approach they bring with them from their past experience in various Trotskyist groups.” Comments such as this are intended to end the discussion, not try to resolve the differences.

Throughout all our differences with the WIL leadership, we considered ourselves in fundamental agreement with the IMT. However, towards the end of the trade union discussion, a leading member of the IMT, after consulting with Alan Woods, etc. contributed his own reflections, making it crystal clear that the IMT entirely sided with the WIL leadership and saw nothing positive in the arguments of the Portland or San Francisco branch comrades. By implication he accused us of “opportunist adaptation” and also made a point of adding that in his opinion the discussion had “been conducted in a democratic and comradely manner.”


Trotsky once said: “To have an ear for the average worker in the factory, on the street, in the streetcar, in the cafe, in the family in order to know how he sees the situation, what hopes he cherishes, what he believes in -- to listen attentively to such a worker -- that is the first duty of a revolutionary organization...” (The Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1934-35). In our opinion, the WIL leadership was not interested in listening to the average worker or to us.

More recent and enlightening piccys

Danny at Luci at the SF Bluegrass festival

Danno bigs it up with the leaders of US Trotskyism

In this section we have piccys of Danno largeing it up with Bonnie Weinstein, Carole Seligman and Nat Weinstein of the Socialist Workers Organisation in the USA

He is also pictured with David Walters, Millie Phillips of Socialist Organizer/USA and with Mya Shone, former leader of that group as well

"Book em Danno!"

As you have all been missing him...back from gardening leave by popular demand is "Danno"

New Danno piccy

Danny the compu-nerd at 18 months...

John Percy, longtime leader of Australian DSP, announces formation of new organisation

I publish below the statement from the website of the new socialist tendency in Australia, the RSP.
This does NOT indicate support for their policies on my part!!!

Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) launched and announces publication of Direct Action

The Leninist Party Faction, a dissident minority expelled from the Democratic Socialist Perspective on May 13, and Direct Action, an organisation established by former DSP members in Melbourne and Geelong after they left the DSP in June 2006, have united to launch a new party, the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), with members in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Geelong, Adelaide, Newcastle and Cairns, and others currently residing overseas.

This is a principled unification of our two organisations. Both the LPF and Direct Action support the Program of the Democratic Socialist Party, a program that the DSP remains formally committed to but which it is abandoning in practice. Together, LPF and Direct Action members waged a common struggle against the degeneration of the DSP until June 2006, when six LPF members decided to leave the DSP to establish Direct Action.

Both the LPF and DA seek to preserve the continuity of the revolutionary tradition of the DSP prior to its political and organisational degeneration in recent years, culminating in the wholesale purge of the LPF on May 13. The LPF and Direct Action share not only basic programmatic agreement, but also agreement on the main tasks and perspectives for regrouping and rebuilding the revolutionary Marxist current once embodied in the DSP and its predecessor, the Socialist Workers Party, founded in 1972. The RSP's strategic aim is to build a mass revolutionary workers party capable of leading the Australian working class and its allies to overthrow capitalism and, together with the working people of other countries, to build socialism, a global society of shared wealth and democratic planning to meet social needs. We recognise that we are not the only revolutionary socialist organisation in Australia, and that a future mass revolutionary socialist party will not be achieved solely through the incremental growth of any one of the existing far-left organisations.

Building towards the future mass revolutionary workers party will require a variety of tactics, among them efforts to unify the existing far-left organisations. But in today's conditions of continuing working class retreat, the creation of a broad left party of anti-capitalist resistance is simply not on the agenda. The necessary partners for such a party -- substantial new class-struggle forces and leaders -- do not yet exist, and will not come into existence until there is a sustained mass upsurge of working class resistance. The Socialist Alliance is not such a broad left party or even a modest step torwards such a party, but a front for the DSP. The RSP rejects any such sectarian attempt to masquerade as a broad left party. Rather, we seek to collaborate with all left and progressive organisations and individuals to achieve the maximum unity in action where we have agreement.

The RSP's ongoing campaign priority is to help build a broadly based solidarity movement with the Latin American socialist revolutions in Venezuela and Cuba. Building solidarity with the Venezuelan and Cuban peoples is the duty of revolutionaries everywhere, especially in an imperialist country closely allied with US imperialism. Moreover, the inspiration of these living socialist revolutions is key to winning a wider hearing for revolutionary socialist ideas among working people in Australia. The RSP seeks to build the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network as a democratically functioning national network of affiliated solidarity groups and individual solidarity activists.

Next week the RSP will launch a new monthly radical left publication, Direct Action. This new publication, and its associated website, will present the views of the RSP as well as encouraging constructive debate on the left and will seek contributions from a broad range of radical commentators, activists and organisations. The RSP will hold a delegated founding congress in early 2009.

May 28, 2008*

For more information:
RSP Perspectives Resolution

0419 989 720 or 0413 158 480 or 0434 209 342


After the House Rejection of the Bailout Plan & the Dow Jones Plunge: * Labor Must Not Bow to the Wall Street Blackmail

After the House Rejection of the Bailout Plan & the Dow Jones Plunge:

* Labor Must Not Bow to the Wall Street Blackmail

* Labor Must Mobilize to Put a Full Stop to the $700 Billion Corporate
Bailout and Fight for an Emergency Plan to Bail Out Working People

(Editor of The Organizer Newspaper)

Sept. 29, 2008 -- The House of Representatives voted today to defeat the $700 billion Wall Street bailout plan that had been worked out over the weekend at the insistence of President George W. Bush and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The proposed plan aimed at nationalizing the debt of the bankers who profited from the home-mortgage speculative orgy of the past few years.

By a vote of 227 to 206, the House killed the bill -- with 94 Democrats and 133 Republicans voting against the bailout plan.

The vote stunned much of the media and establishment. Bush, Pelosi, and House Minority leader Boehner had aggressively pushed the revised bailout plan. A narrow YES vote was widely expected. So great was this expectation that Senate majority and minority leaders anticipated they would be voting today in the Senate to approve the agreement passed in the House.

Almost immediately, in reaction to the vote in the House, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 777 points Monday, its biggest single-day fall ever.

Soon after, in response to this stock market dive, Democrats and Republicans -- prompted by Bush, Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson, Pelosi and Boehner -- pledged that they would try again to get a bailout plan passed in the House on Thursday, Oct. 2. It was agreed that the House would reconvene on Thursday, instead of adjourning for the year as planned.

Simply announcing that a new vote would take place on yet another bailout plan was necessary, Paulson announced, to "restore confidence" in the credit markets. Paulson then warned that the members of Congress had to go back to the drawing board. "We need to work as quickly as possible," he said. "We need to get something done. ... We need to put something back together that works."

Nancy Pelosi chimed in. "What happened today cannot stand," she said. "We must move forward, and I hope that the markets will take that message."

Pelosi was joined in her plea by Barack Obama, who stated, "Democrats, Republicans, step up to the plate, get it done." Likewise, John McCain urged Congress "to put partisanship behind them and vote a plan to rescue the credit markets and the economy."

So, why this defeat, when all the media pundits had predicted the victory of the bailout plan?

David Sirota wrote in his blog on Campaign for America's Future (Sept. 29) that, "the fear of being thrown out of office is forcing our politicians to at least consider what the public wants."

Sirota continued,

"Polls overwhelmingly show a public that sees voting for this bill as an act of economic treason whereby the bipartisan Washington elite robs taxpayer cash to give their campaign contributors a trillion-dollar gift.

"As just two of many examples, Bloomberg News' poll shows 'decisive' opposition to the bailout proposal, and Rasmussen reports that their surveys show 'the more voters learn about the proposed $700 billion federal bailout plan for the U.S. economy, the more they don't like it.' ... Any sitting officeholder that votes for this -- whether a Democrat or a Republican -- should expect to get crushed under a wave of [Left and Right] populist-themed attacks from their opponents."

Pressures Will Mount to Approve the Corporate Bailout on Thursday

Republicans who voted against the consensus plan -- the largest voting bloc against the plan -- blamed the Democrats for amending the bailout package with language calling for too much government intervention. Some called this "socialism." One Republican Congressman invoked the Bolshevik Party and its takeover of the "free-market" economy.

The crisis in the political summits, and corporate boardrooms, is reaching the boiling point.

The bankers and financial institutions have now warned that they will not sit back and permit a deal to fall through their fingers. The Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable immediately activated their lobbying of House Republicans and Democrats. They are hoping that the stock market "scare" today will prompt all members of Congress who voted against the bailout to re-think their vote.

At this writing, many analysts predict that some modifications will be made to the plan defeated today -- to appease the House Republicans. But given the "fragile nature of the compromise," one economist quoted on ABC TV stated, it is not likely that the changes will be that significant. Less Congressional oversight and fewer restrictions on the "golden parachutes" of the CEOs of the financial institutions are expected. Also possible is an apology by Pelosi for statements made prior to the vote that were considered "too partisan" and "too inflammatory" by 12 Republicans, who claimed that these statements prompted them to vote against the bill.

But all this only underscores one fundamental question facing working people across the country who have opposed any corporate welfare plan: They and their representatives in the House will be pressured -- blackmailed is more like it -- by the Wall Street speculators and told they must accept what is unacceptable to them.

We can expect a major push for "national unity" with the Wall Street thiefs in the coming days. We will be told to put all partisan concerns aside in the interest of the economy and the nation. Every argument imaginable will be brought out to drive the American people to accept this corporate welfare plan. What is good for Wall Street is what's good for Main Street, we will hear again and again.

This, of course, is one BIG LIE.

More than ever, working people, with the trade unions in the lead, need to mobilize massively to put a definitive stop to this corporate bailout ... and to demand a Workers Recovery Plan that bails out America's working people and the oppressed.

Putting forward an alternative plan is, in fact, becoming a burning necessity. We will be told by all the corporate-owned media that There Is No Alternative to their corporate heist. But there is an alternative -- one that bails out working people and the economy, not the speculators who got us into the mess we're in today.

An Emergency Plan to Bail Out Working People and the Economy

What would such a plan look like? Here are five essential components (and there could be many more) which we in The Organizer newspaper submit for the widest discussion among unionists and activists:

1) Nationalize the Federal Reserve and Establish a Federally Owned, Public Banking System

This is necessary to make credit available for small businesses, homeowners, manufacturing operations, renewable energy and infrastructure investments.

This (re)nationalization should begin with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, so that the government, through these two institutions, can stop all foreclosures.

Only through a State-run Emergency Board will the real economy be able to get back on its feet, removed from its addiction to war and speculation.

The "free market" is what has created the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. The people who created this mess should not be allowed to continue to run the financial system.

2) End all Funding for the U.S. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Slash the Military Budget

All the funds that have been allocated to the U.S. wars and occupations around the world, and all the military bases needed to sustain these wars, must be re-oriented post-haste toward meeting human needs -- by funding public education, libraries, hospitals, roads, public housing, Reconstruction for the Gulf Coast, social services and more.

3) Moratorium on All Home Foreclosures, Utility Shut-Offs and Evictions

A genuine plan to protect homeowners could include the following points:

- enact a foreclosure moratorium now, before the next phase of ARM interest-rate increases take effect;

- refinance mortgages into 30- and 40-year loans at reasonable rates of interest -- but at the current market value of their homes, not the inflated prices of the boom;

4) Massive National Reconstruction Public Works Program

A WPA-type program is needed urgently to rebuild the nation's schools, hospitals and crumbling infrastructure and to put millions of people back to work, with a living (prevailing) wage and with the unfettered right to join a union and to wield their collective strength, including through strike action (for which the repeal of Taft-Hartley is essential), to press for better wages and working conditions

5) Sliding Scales of Wages to Keep Up with Inflation

This will be needed to enable working people to offset the rising cost of living produced by the "staglation" that has already reared its ugly head and is bound to increase in the coming weeks and months.

Not One Taxpayers' Dollar For the Wall Street Speculators!

Any plan that calls for using taxpayers' dollars to pay back the speculators must be stopped. Every dollar that goes to a speculator is one dollar less that could go to rebuilding the economy and putting millions of people back to work through a mass public works program. These speculators gambled and they lost. They are parasites. They are not needed. Their profits should be confiscated. There should be no pandering to them in the name of "helping Wall Street." Bailing them out is not necessary to stave off the financial crisis. On the contrary, it will only deepen the problem.

For our part, we in The Organizer newspaper pledge to do everything in our power to help build the most powerful labor-led fightback movement to stop this corporate assault. What's at stake is the fate of millions of working people at home and abroad.


Labor Must Take to the Streets Across the Country To Demand Bailout of Main Street -- Not Wall Street!

Labor Can and MUST Stop Giveaways to Wall St. Bankers!

Labor Must Take to the Streets Across the Country
To Demand Bailout of Main Street -- Not Wall Street!

By the Editorial Board of The Organizer Newspaper

The massive rebellion by the American people against Wall Street's $1.3 Trillion "Grand Theft Bailout" forced a majority of members of Congress this past Monday to vote against this corporate heist.

Working people across the country were heartened by this defeat; with their millions of protest letters to Congress (one Congressman from South Carolina reported that 99% of the letters urged him to vote "NO" on the bankers' bailout), they had compelled the politicians in Washington to heed the massive outcry.

But now the politicians are gearing up their offensive to overturn this vote. The Senate is expected to vote a slightly amended version of the bill that was defeated in the House of Representatives. (The media reported that a few "sweeteners" were added to lure both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and House into supporting this new bill.)

The ruling rich are hoping that a "YES" vote in the Senate will in turn compel the House to do the same when they reconvene on Thursday.

Across the country, unionists have continued to express their anger over this corporate welfare plan in demonstrations such as the one in New York City on Sept. 25, with letters to their members of Congress, and with letters to their union publications.

One such letter, posted to the ILWU members' listserv, captures this anger. It was written by the former ILWU Local 142 Contract Administrator. It states:

"I am outraged! The U.S. Senate is now scheduled to vote on the same Wall Street bailout package -- with minor modifications -- that was rejected by the House. According to news reports, the package is receiving bipartisan support, including that of Barack Obama.

"The modifications, as reported, include raising FDIC insurance for your bank accounts from $100,000 to $250,000 Š

"I am dumbfounded that everyone regards this situation as a crisis of immense proportions when 40 million Americans lack health insurance. Not a crisis? A public education system in collapse. Not a crisis? Deteriorating infrastructure. Not a crisis? An illogical and insane war in Iraq. Not a crisis? And the list goes on. ...

"I urge each and every one of you to write your Senators and implore them to oppose the Wall Street bail-out provisions."

More and more workers also realize that this Wall St. financial crisis won't go away even if $700 billion of our taxpayers' money is used to rescue the speculators who got us into this message. The press reports that more than 110 major financial institutions are facing bankruptcies. Meanwhile, 10 million families face foreclosure (mortgages amount to $14 trillion, according to reports earlier today on MSNBC). Where is the protection for them in the giveaway bill?

Nor are workers buying the idea that once bailed out, these banks will recapitalize and provide more low-interest loans and credits to consumers and businesses in this slumping economy. For too long, they have seen these speculators off-load their fraudulent securitieså and useless paper on the government, while shoveling the giveaways they get (with our tax money) into foreign currencies, gold, and Swiss bank accounts. To expect that the people who swindled us will help get the economy out of the slump is not only a pipedream, it's a cruel hoax.

And in the meantime, where will the funding come from to help those threatened with home foreclosures? Where will the money come from to stimulate the economy and provide jobs to the millions out of work or on the brink of losing their jobs?

You can't bail out Wall Street and Main Street at the same time. Those who say it can be done are lying through their teeth.

Unions across the country have demanded an economic stimulus package; money for jobs, not war; a moratorium on home foreclosures and evictions; public works' programs to put the country back to work and to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

They're not going to get any of this from the deal worked out by Pelosi, Bush and Paulson.

The trade unions need to issue a call TODAY to mobilize their members in the streets in front of Federal Buildings or other appropriate sites across the country on Thursday and Friday (leading members of Congress have announced that no vote will be taken Thursday in the House on the new bailout plan). They need to hold press conferences immediately to let their representatives in Congress know that they will not be bullied or coerced into accepting a slightly warmed over version of the same slop.

The trade unions have the numbers and the potential power to stop this corporate theft once and for all -- and to demand a packet that bails out working people and the economy. Now is the time to reach out to labor's friends and allies and to the public as a whole. This is a moment for leadership, and masses of people will be gratified if labor provides it.

The time to act is NOW!

Historic November 4 Election: People's Demands for Change Must Now Be Heeded!

Historic November 4 Election:
People's Demands for Change
Must Now Be Heeded!

(Statement by the National Committee of Socialist Organizer)

Hundreds of thousands -- if not millions -- of people took to the streets spontaneously across the country the night of Nov. 4 to celebrate the election of the nation's first Black president.

In Black and Latino neighborhoods, on college campuses, and in cities throughout the country, from North to South (including in states like North Carolina), there was a sense of euphoria not only because eight years of the Bush nightmare had come to an end but because Barack Obama, a Black man, had been elected to the country's highest office, something that seemed utterly impossible just a short while ago.

The tears in the eyes of Black activists in Chicago's Grant Park as Obama delivered his acceptance speech only begin to tell the story. The weight of 400 years of racist and national oppression of Black people -- from chattel slavery, to the betrayal of Radical Reconstruction, to Jim Crow segregation, to the warehousing of Black people in the prison-industrial complex today -- seemed to be lifted off of millions of shoulders, even if only for one night.

This was an historic election, not because electing the nation's first Black president signifies the end of racist oppression in this country, but because millions of Blacks, Latinos, youth, and working people of all backgrounds seized on this election to say: enough is enough, racism and oppression must end now. In the context of the deepening economic crisis, the election also was a cry from working people of all backgrounds: We cannot accept the destruction of our jobs, our homes, our public services and our communities -- this crisis is not of our making and we should not be made to pay for it.

Youth, particularly Black youth, told radio and TV reporters across the country that they had voted for the first time because they felt they could make a difference -- because Obama promised to create jobs for inner-city youth, to provide public funding so that every young person could go to college, and to end the war in Iraq so that the economic draft was not their only option.

One Black youth in Harlem, N.Y., who was interviewed on Democracy Now on Nov. 4 put the aspirations of millions of Black people best when he said: "With Obama, everything is going to change. We will finally be free and equal. We will finally get our dignity back!"

Bruce Dixon, managing editor of the Black Agenda Report, wrote in his recent editorial titled, "Cashing the Obama Check:"

"The first Black president carries with him into the Oval Office the hopes and dreams and aspirations of many people he will never meet, but who imagine they know his heart and intentions. Although these things were not on the ballot, and were kept largely out of the discussions by the media and the candidates themselves, the tens of millions who voted for Obama did so because in the main, they want an end to the war. They want to see the military budget and the prison population reduced. They want single-payer national healthcare. They want a more just economy and they objected strenuously to Bush's -- and Obama's bailout of Wall Street.

"Their expectations of social and economic justice at home and peace abroad are, in Dr. King's famous language, a gigantic and long-overdue promissory note. ... That is the change his voters believed in, that's what they expect to see." (BAR, Nov. 6, 2008)

Is a "National Consensus" in the Interest of Working People?

In his acceptance speech, Barack Obama spoke about the need for national unity between rich and poor, between a "thriving Wall Street" and a "revitalized Main Street."

The corporate elite who own and control most of the wealth in this country are deeply worried that the tide of Blacks, Latinos and working families of all colors that lifted Obama to power may be too difficult to contain and to redirect back into safe channels for the ruling class. They have loudly applauded Obama's call for a "national consensus" between workers and bosses, rich and poor -- but, in their own way, they understand that the workers and all the oppressed nationalities may not be so easily co-opted into accepting "common solutions" with the employers.

For the corporate elite "national consensus" means that working class organizations must give up their own specific demands and interests in the name of "national unity" and the "common good." This means bailing out the corporate elite, not addressing the pressing needs of working people and all the oppressed.

Hence their drive, which began the very moment the vote totals were announced on Nov. 4, to urge the American people to "lower their expectations."

Obama himself warned: "The road ahead will be long, our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year, or even one term."

Leon Panetta, former White House Chief of Staff under Bill Clinton, put it this way. "We've still got two wars to pay for and hundreds of billions of dollars committed to unfreezing credit. The new president will have to set the country on a course to fiscal discipline. Š That means back-burning most of the initiatives the winning candidate campaigned on." (San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 5)

Of course, this would mean no "bailout" for working-class America - that is, no real jobs program, no genuine healthcare reform, no support for the main demands put forward by the organized labor movement, among other urgent items.

What Way Forward?

The country is confronted with a catastrophic situation. Since the beginning of the year, 1.2 million jobs have been lost and millions more are on the chopping block, more than 2 million people have lost their homes to foreclosure, social services are being dismantled left and right, and with the unfolding economic crisis even more severe attacks against working people are in store.

The current crisis is not a "market correction" or the result of the greed of a few bad apples in an otherwise pristine barrel, as we have been told. It is the expression of the failure of a "free market" economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production.

In the aftermath of the election, the question of what way forward for working people is posed immediately and urgently.

For the capitalist class the answer is clear: They must rescue the bankers and speculators to shore up their own class interests. They welcomed with great satisfaction the announcement of Obama's team of economic advisors, which includes, among others, Paul Volcker, former Federal Reserve chairman; Warren Buffet, a man who made billions through Wall Street speculation; and Lawrence Summers, a former Treasury Secretary. The full list reads like a Who's Who of old guard Wall Street financiers.

Introducing his team of economic advisers in Washington, Obama reiterated this call for a "national consensus" with Wall Street, stating, "I know we will succeed if we put aside partisanship and politics and work together as one nation."

How Should the Working Class Respond?

For our part, we in Socialist Organizer have always held that the working class and the capitalist class have interests that are diametrically opposed; to defend their interests, working people must have their own independent class organizations and their own independent political expression. That is why, as supporters of the call for the labor movement to build its own Labor Party based on the unions and open to all the oppressed, we did not support Obama, who was the candidate of the Democratic Party, which is a capitalist party. Nor did we endorse the support of the working class organizations for the Obama candidacy.

Having said that, we believe it is very significant that the AFL-CIO, which was one of the main supporters of the Obama campaign, issued a statement following the election that raised the urgent need to promote the interests of working people.

On Nov. 5, John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, issued a statement applauding the election of Obama and describing the major role played by the unions in electing the Democratic contender. Such a statement was not unexpected. What came as a surprise to the Big Business press, however, was Sweeney's strong insistence -- issued publicly just one day after the election -- that Obama must move ahead during the new administration's first 100 days to introduce legislation in support of the unions and working people.

After noting that "[t]he election is just Step One in delivering the change we need," Sweeney stated that "[w]e need changes attuned to today's world that are as bold and as visionary as the economic changes FDR made so many decades ago."

Sweeney continued: "In the short term, working people need an economic recovery package that will jump-start the economy and put America back to work. ... [W]e need an immediate investment to create jobs by rebuilding our crumbling roads and schools and bridges."

Sweeney went on to urge a national healthcare plan for the "nearly 50 million people who have no coverage or for the millions more who lack adequate coverage." Sweeney then underscored the federation's most pressing demand: [O]ur top priority is passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation that will restore workers' freedom to bargain for a better life. In an economy that gives corporations far too much power, a union card remains the single best ticket into the middle class."

The Wall Street Journal ran a major story on Nov. 7 titled, "Labor Wants Obama to Take on Big Fight." The article noted that the labor movement is counting heavily on the president-elect to introduce the Employee Free Choice Act, which gives workers the choice of voting for a union by signing cards instead of through a secret ballot election. Such legislation is vehemently opposed by business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Wal-Mart, the largest private employer in the United States, which has a staunch anti-union record, has been one of the most bitter opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act. Lee Scott, Wal-Mart's chief executive, told analysts that the change would result in "making this country less competitive" and "bringing coercion and force into the workplace." (The Times of London, Nov. 6)

North Carolina Senator John Edwards is quoted in The Wall Street Journal as saying that he expects "political World War III" between labor and business over this issue.

The Times of London also notes that the Business Roundtable has expressed strong concerns over Obama's position of "free trade," which included suggesting a renegotiation of NAFTA.

Clearly, a showdown between labor and important sectors of the corporate class is in the works if the unions stick to their guns -- which they must.

Socialist Organizer did not call for a vote for Obama. We believe that the Democratic Party is a capitalist party that is structured fundamentally to uphold the interests of corporations and the ruling elite, at the expense of working people. But we are unconditionally on the side of labor in this struggle for elementary labor and workers' rights, and we urge all trade union and labor rights activists to organize and mobilize to secure the main demands put forward by the labor movement in relation to union organizing, healthcare, a massive public works program, job protection, and more.

No Real Change Possible Under Paulson Bailout Plan

On Oct. 3, Democrats and Republicans -- working hand in hand with the Bush administration -- pulled off one of the greatest swindles in U.S. history when they gave away more than $1.3 trillion (including all funding prior to the Oct. 3 bailout plan) to the very Wall Street bankers who had profited from the home-mortgage speculative orgy.

The bailout had little support from working people. Despite the overwhelming endorsement and lobbying by Obama, Pelosi, John McCain and George W. Bush, the House of Representatives -- under immense pressure from an enraged public -- defeated the initial attempt to pass the bailout. The "NO" vote sent shock waves around the world.

It took a second round of intense lobbying by Obama and Pelosi, following a 776-point drop in the Dow Jones, to convince recalcitrant congresspeople to defy their constituents.

Working people were told that unless they forked over billions of dollars to the Wall Street tycoons, the economy would collapse. But even after the Wall Street bailout was passed, the economy has continued to plunge into a major recession, and the financial markets are still in sharp decline. In fact, even after Obama's victory, stock markets the world over plummeted sharply.

All this should come as no surprise: From day one, economists of all political stripes have warned that the Paulson bailout plan would not address any of the fundamental problems facing the economy.

Soon after the bailout vote was passed, Pelosi and Obama put out a call to sweeten the poison pill: They said they would come through with a $200 billion to $300 billion "economic stimulus plan" if the Democrats won the presidency and were given a majority in the Congress.

But on Nov. 6, two days after the election, Nancy Pelosi, true to form, back-tracked. She announced that in light of the "declining economy," it was necessary to back-pedal on the amount that could be allocated to such a plan. She is now talking about $50 billion, possibly less.

The truth is that under the Paulson Plan and its commitment to rescue the speculators and profiteers at the expense of the American taxpayers, it is not possible to enact any serious jobs-creation plan, let alone implement any of the other programs that Obama promised, such as expanding funding for education, healthcare, or clean energy.

Stop the Paulson Bailout Plan! Not One More Penny to the Speculators!

At this writing, only a portion of the $700 billion earmarked on Oct. 3 for the speculators has been paid out. The rest is to be distributed over a period of six months or more. The Financial Times (Nov. 7) noted as much: "Mr. Obama will inherit a $700 billion rescue plan and bank loan guarantee program. ... Nonetheless, the policy response remains only half-formed. Mr. Obama will have to decide how to reshape and manage the rescue plan."

To address the AFL-CIO agenda (which in large part is endorsed by the Change to Win trade unions) requires stopping the Wall Street bailout plan in its tracks. Not one more penny should go to the speculators and bankers!

The country needs a Manhattan Project-scale workers' recovery plan that preserves all current jobs and creates millions of new ones. But the precondition for implementing such a plan is to stop and reverse the Paulson bailout to the speculators. With a deepening economic and financial crisis worldwide, there simply is no leeway for the government to pay the speculators for their gambling losses and also finance any meaningful economic recovery plan.

Every dollar that goes to a speculator is one dollar less that could go to rebuilding the economy and putting millions of people back to work. These speculators gambled and they lost. They are parasites. Their profits should be confiscated. There should be no pandering to them in the name of "helping Wall Street." Bailing them will not solve the financial crisis. On the contrary, it will only deepen the problem.

Mobilizing to Demand Change

To meet the needs of the working class requires opposing the scapegoating of immigrants and other sectors of the working class, and putting an end to the war so that the needs of the people can be met.

The struggle of the undocumented immigrants is a major struggle that concerns all working people in this country. Tens of thousands of immigrant workers are being rounded up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials nationwide.

The only "crime" committed by undocumented immigrants is to work hard to support their families. The U.S. government and ICE are terrorizing and splitting up families across this country. The raids are a crucial component of the reactionary drive to scapegoat immigrants for the problems caused by the crisis-ridden economic system: rising poverty, job losses, deepening inequality, and lower wages.

Today, a broad coalition of immigrant rights activists is circulating a petition to Obama that states, in part:

"The ICE raids must end now! President-elect Obama: Latino and immigrant voters responded to the promise of change you made to our nation and voted for you by huge margins and in record numbers. We call on you to uphold that promise and honor our support by declaring an immediate and unconditional moratorium on ICE raids until just and human immigration reform is passed and implemented."

It is urgent that the labor movement, as well as the Black activist organizations and other fighting sectors, take up this call.

Likewise, in order to be able to fund the social needs of people in this country and to respond to the mass aspiration for peace worldwide, an immediate end to the war is needed.

A recent statement by the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations notes that the ANSWER Coalition has issued a call for united mass mobilizations in Washington, D.C. and other cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Miami, on March 21, 2009 to mark six years of war and occupation and to Bring the Troops Home Now.

The statement also notes that the other national antiwar coalition, United For Peace and Justice (UFPJ) has issued a call for a week of Washington, D.C. mobilizations during the same period to demand an end to the war in Iraq now.

The National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations is calling on "the movements for peace and social justice [to] work in concert to bring the full force of opposition to the government's criminal and destructive policies into the streets Š [by] coming together to act in a unified show of strength and determination in March."

Unity to Secure the Emergency Measures Needed to Address the Pressing Needs of Working People

The AFL-CIO is right to raise the specific demands of the working class in this situation. The time has come to implement an emergency plan to bail out working people -- NOT Wall Street.

Here are some proposed demands that could be included in such a plan:

* Put a halt to the Paulson bailout plan. Not one more penny should be earmarked to bail out Wall Street. It's time to bail out working people.

* Enact a moratorium on all home foreclosures, utility shut-offs, evictions and rent hikes.

* Enact the Employee Free Choice Act so that every worker can have union representation.

* Stop the layoffs in auto and other industries across the country.

* Stop the ICE raids and deportations.

* Enact a universal, single-payer healthcare plan.

* End all funding for the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and bring our troops home now. Redirect all war funding to meet human needs.

* Enact a massive national reconstruction public works program to rebuild the nation's schools, hospitals and crumbling infrastructure and to put millions of people back to work, with a living wage and with the unfettered right to join a union! Provide all necessary funding for a genuine Reconstruction program in the Gulf Coast.

These demands are not pie in the sky. They provide an urgent and positive response to the deep aspirations for change that were expressed by the working class majority on Nov. 4.

This is the proposal submitted by the Socialist Organizer National Committee.

At this historic crossroads facing our country, it is more urgent than ever to forge the broadest unity in action of the labor movement, Black and Latino organizations, antiwar and other social protest movements to secure the emergency measures needed to address the pressing needs of all working people and oppressed nationalities.

We call on activists and organizations who share these concerns to join with us in promoting a common labor/community campaign for united action around this over-arching demand: Bail out working people, NOT Wall Street!

(statement issued Nov. 10, 2008)


[Note: If you agree with this statement and would like to work with us to promote this campaign, please contact us at P.O. Box 40009, San Francisco, CA 94140 or at 415-641-8616 or at . We also invite you to visit our website at]