Sunday, December 11, 2011

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED IMMEDIATELY!!

The Stewart Alexander for President 2012 Campaign Committee
Is seeking volunteers to assist with the campaign.

Stewart Alexander is running for
President of The United States of America in 2012
as the nominee of
The Socialist Party of USA.

We currently need the following volunteer positions filled:

National Endorsement Coordinator

National Fundraising Coordinator
National Events Coordinator




State Campaign Manager (in all states)
PR Manager (in all states)
Fundraising Manager (in all states)
Ballot Access Manager (in all states)
Communications Manager (in all states)
Volunteer Coordinator (in all states)
Occupy Outreach Coordinator (in all states)


Remember that volunteer work looks good on your resume and may help you get paid work.

Please email your resume to:
organize@stewartalexander2012.com
So you don’t get overlooked, please place the title of the job that you are seeking and the state where you live in the subject line.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Socialist Party Nominates Presidential Slate; Texan is on Ticket


The Socialist Party USA National Convention in Los Angeles in October nominated Stewart A. Alexander as its Presidential nominee for the 2012 election.

Alex Mendoza of Fort Worth, Texas, an ex-Marine and owner of a lawn care business, and State Chair of the Socialist Party of Texas, was named as Alexander’s vice-presidential running mate.

Alexander is a resident of Murrieta, California, and he also plans to seek the Peace & Freedom Party’s presidential nomination in his home state. Due to restrictive ballot access l;aws in the state of Texas, the SP ticket will appear as a write-in candidacy.

“As the Occupy Wall Street movement vividly demonstrates, the American people are crying out and demanding change,” said Alexander, adding that he hopes his egalitarian message will serve as lightning rod for those dissatisfied on the Left.

A longtime civil rights activist who once ran for mayor of Los Angeles, the amiable and easy-going Alexander is certainly no stranger to third-party politics. In addition to serving as Brian P. Moore’s vice-presidential co-star on the Socialist ticket in 2008, he was the Peace & Freedom Party’s candidate for lieutenant-governor of California in 2006 and was an unsuccessful candidate for that party’s gubernatorial nomination in 2010, finishing a close second in a three-way contest.

Mendoza's candidacy reflects the first time a Texan has appeared as a nominee for the Socialist Party on a Presidential ticket.

This Land is Our Land: Occupy It!




The Socialist Party of Texas stands in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street Movement and Occupy Movement throughout the world.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Socialists Arrested at Occupy Wall Street

Socialists Participate in the Battle of Brooklyn Bridge - Five Arrested.

October 2, 2011 - Members of the Socialist Party of New York City were
arrested yesterday during a march over the Brooklyn Bridge as part of the
ongoing Occupy Wall Street demonstration. Arrestees included Billy
Wharton, co-chair of the Socialist Party USA, Lawrence Rockwood, Chair of
the Socialist Party of New York State, Kristin Schall, Chair of the
Socialist Party of New York City and SP-NYC members Nick Pelman and Nick
Daka. The group faces misdemeanor charges for disorderly conduct and one
felony charge for criminal riot. Court dates are set for mid-November.

The march and action on the Brooklyn Bridge were a part of the ongoing
occupation of Downtown Manhattan by the activist group Occupy Wall Street.

Socialist Party USA members have actively supported this occupation since
its inception and will continue to collaborate with all those interested
in challenging the power of the richest 1% and Wall Street.

Yesterday's event dubbed "the Battle of Brooklyn Bridge" ensued after the
New York Police Department trapped hundreds of demonstrators as they were
attempting to cross the Brooklyn Bridge. Demonstrators held strong to
their protest demands that they represented the 99% of population
suffering as a result of the 2008 economic crisis.

Protestors maintained a non-violent stance while occupying the bridge even
in the face of aggressive NYPD policing.

"The media has claimed that the protestors have no demands," said Billy
Wharton, co-chair Socialist Party USA, "Socialists have demands. We want
a democratic society; we demand healthcare for all, the right to a good
job and to live in a peaceful, non-militaristic world. That's what we
were marching over the Brooklyn Bridge for."

The five arrested socialists join dozens of other Socialist Party USA
members who have participated in direct actions since the economic crisis
began in 2008. These actions have challenged anti-union legislation, have
opposed budget cuts and have called for an end to war and occupation.
Direct action produces direct results.

For more information or to request an interview please contact:
Billy Wharton at (718) 869-2279 or email natsec@socialistparty-usa.org


October 3: All of the Socialist Party USA members are now out of jail after participating in a direct action on the Brooklyn Bridge as a part of Occupy Wall Street. Five of us were arrested and spent about 10 hours in police custody. The spirit of solidarity and determination was a very strong inside the jail. I am happy to say that I only knew a handful of the 100 people we were in a cell with - so the movement is new and fresh. We distributed many Socialist Party flyers before being arrested and made many great connections inside jail.

The charges were light, though three received an extra charge. We are working with the
National Lawyers Guild to secure representation.

Here is link to a picture of SP'ers before we were arrested. Spread it around to show
that we are afraid and that we will put our bodies on the line to challenge this system.
http://www.box.net/shared/msek3mgpu6zaryez5vs7

And now at 7:00am...I am going to sleep!

The chant in jail - ALL DAY! ALL WEEK! OCCUPY WALL STREET!

Peace,
Billy


Hey Comrades,

Unlike Billy, I couldn't write a report back until I had slept. So here goes. I was one of the 700+ arrested yesterday on the Brooklyn Bridge. The women were all split up and sent to holding cells all over the city. Myself and 17 other women were sent to the 7th precinct. They did not have the capacity there to properly process that many people, so we didn't get food, they did get us water, and were overall as nice as can be expected by the police. We were held for about 10 hours. I met a wonderful and inspiring group of women. Besides being a little uncomfortable, the experience was inspiring and I hope this is the beginning of something much, much bigger!

~Kristin

__._,_.___

Now You Can Vote Socialist!

Dear Friend of the Socialist Party of Texas:

In 2012, you will have the most unique opportunity to vote for Socialists on your Texas election ballot.

Not a write-in.

You will be able to directly vote for socialist candidates on the Green Party Ballot line.

The Socialist Party of Texas is working with the Green Party of Texas to provide a progressive alternative in Texas. The views expressed by the Ten Key Values of the Greens and the Statement of Principles of the Socialists reflect the growing desire for change in Texas and the United States.

There is only one small catch--we are needing more candidates! Many county races, State Representative and State Senate races, District Court races, etc--will be in need of the Green/Socialist alternative candidates.

If you would like to be a candidate on the Green Party ballot ticket, please let us know as soon as possible. Please indicate which position you would be interested in filing for and send a brief bio.

Together we can make a difference.

In Solidarity,

The Socialist Party of Texas
sptx@moment.net

Wall Street, the Real Center of American Power

Wall Street, the Real Center of American Power, by David McReynolds

By now most of you have seen the coverage of "events thus far" near Wall Street. These notes are reflections on what turned out to be a somewhat aborted visit I took there today. I'd been at the office of the War Resisters League, doing an interview, so I didn't get to the Wall Street area until after six, and had gotten off one subway stop too far South, so had a long walk back up Broadway to find Zuccotti Park. I'd taken with me my trusty little Canon S90, an expensive, tiny camera which I knew would take good pictures even as daylight vanished. However I had forgotten the camera tends to have a short battery life, and shortly after I took this photo of the Stock Exchange, when I reached Zuccotti Park and aimed the camera at the assembled youth and pressed the button, the camera flashed "recharge your battery", and promptly turned itself off. By then it was nearly 7, I admit to feeling tired and depressed by the camera's unexpected betrayal, so I headed back home.

By now I assume you have all seen good photos of the demonstrators - they have been widely carried, including a long and fairly good story in the October 1st New York Times, starting on the front page. So tonight, as I write these notes, be satisfied with a shot of the headquarters of the US government - not the White House, not Congress, but the Stock Exchange.

There are four observations I'd make, most of which have not been covered in the newspapers.

First, and a bonus because I had gotten off at the wrong stop and had to walk some distance through the financial district, was the awareness of the remarkable collection of barriers that block off virtually every street. Not only could no al Queda tank make its way down these narrow streets, but neither can an ambulance. There are large numbers of steel "chunks", rather handsome, looking as if they had escaped from a contemporary museum's collection of abstract sculpture, placed in the centers of the streets and on the sidewalks as well. If we ever survive this period, we may look back in wonder at the strange and numerous objects protecting every building which might be the target of a terrorist attack. Many years ago it was possible, if you were in Washington DC, to walk right up to the fence outside the White House. The last time I was down there I realized that all the little streets the might lead you there are blocked off. There, as in Wall Street, the system has put itself behind bars, a kind of pre-emptive arrest and confinement. The centers of power (most notably here in the financial district) are now almost guarded compounds, like the gated communities to which our elites flee when the day is over.
We have too easily accepted these gradual limits on our freedom. When I was young and jet aircraft were new, we could stand at the airport fence and watch them take off. Now we must leave our pocket knives at home, bundle our few liquids into small bottles. We can't even get to the ticket line at the airport to buy a ticket unless we have a current drivers' license or passport. (I'm due to fly to Los Angeles in a couple of weeks and have been in a mild panic waiting for a renewed drivers' license - the last two times I flew, an expired license was almost enough to keep me off). I could go on - but take note, if you go to support the youth, to walk a bit farther South, and photograph the barriers.

Second, this is a movement which isn't organized by a central committee of an American branch
of al Queda. In some ways it isn't organized at all, yet it is well organized as you will see if you make a visit to Zuccotti Square. There is a place to go for medical help, for food, for communications. This strange demonstration has been organized by cell phones and the internet. These are the forms of communication which have played such havoc in the Middle East. Free communications is the threat that rigid societies, such as North Korea, or Saudi Arabia, most fear, and try to monitor and control. The media has, correctly, noted that the youth do not seem to have an agreed set of demands, are not sure how long they will continue to remain in the Wall Street area. The media is disturbed by this because they do not understand it. Movements must have a clear set of demands - and the folks at Zuccotti Square don't. None of the clarity of Lenin's "Bread, Land, Peace" in 1917. So what? I have no idea where this will all go. Will it fade like an autumn leaf when the temperature drops? What does it mean that the trade unions have joined in the demonstrations? I remember my mentor, A.J. Muste, saying that one never knew the hour or the day of a revolution. He didn't mean a violent revolution, but that moment when the "mode of music changes" and the walls of the city are shaken, as they were in December, 1955, so long ago now, when a black woman sat in the white section of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Or as, two decades later, during the struggle against the Vietnam War, the "Moratorium" took place on October 15, 1969, and the world could see that opposition to the war wasn't confined to a few radicals in New York or Chicago or San Francisco, but stretched to the smallest towns in America. It was then that we knew the Mandate of Heaven had fallen from the government, and the war's end was a matter of time (and sadly, considerable blood).

Third, while many of those who are going to Zuccotti Square don't realize it, one should never
underestimate the role of reactionaries in making social change possible. A long long time ago
I asked Bayard Rustin if he could explain to me the social value of reactionaries. I knew the value
of conservatives - often the forces of social change rush too fast to dismantle useful parts of the
social order. But reactionaries? Those who opposed all change? Bayard looked at me and said,
"Ah, they are the most essential of all. For it is in a situation of social disaster where radicals are
demanding the abolition of the old order, and liberals are demanding at least some regulations, and conservatives are conceding that at least one or two changes might be wise, that the reactionary says 'Let them eat cake' and it is then that the people move". In the "Zuccotti case" it was the police officer who squirted mace into the faces of unresisting and unoffending young women, arousing the fury of almost everyone in New York City, that the media finally turned its full attention to events. That officer, who one hopes, in the fullness of time, will be relieved
of his duties and possibly spend some time in jail, did such a great favor to those of us who
have watched the banks make a disaster area of working and middle class Americans, while
those at the top not only remain in the President's inner circle, but walk away with increasing
profits. Masses out of work, millions fearful of losing their homes, students burdened with impossible debts, but the small elite of great wealth have in their employ this police officer who has foolishly done them more harm than they yet realize. (In New York City there is concrete organizing now going on around the very issue of police brutality and human rights).

Fourth, what is behind this gentle assembly? It is because the usual process of social change no
longer works. I do not hate Obama. I feel rather sorry for him. I had not voted for him, but like more than half the country I was glad he was elected. I knew, even then, that he was "of the Establishment" - no one is able to run for that office, with a chance of winning, who has not been vetted by the real center of power - Wall Street. But I had hoped Guantanamo would be closed. I had hoped the last troops would long since have been withdrawn from Iraq, and that we had not replaced them with "contract killers". I had known Obama would continue the war in Afghanistan, but had no idea he would not, much sooner, have realized we must withdraw. I could not imagine he would (as he just has) authorize the murder of two American citizens in Yemen without a trial or any due process. And when the great economic disaster came, and it came surely not only because of Bush, but because of the folly of both major parties and the fact they are both bought and paid for by Wall Street, I could not imagine there would not be legal charges laid against those most responsible for the misery from which the nation suffers. Thus Obama's failures on these most crucial issues, left the youth with no hope in the political process. Where we go now, I do not know, but I do know, looking back at other moments of great tensions, the Civil Rights and the Vietnam Peace movement, that it is not until people take to the streets that there is hope for change.

To conclude on a happy note, as I walked to the subway in City Hall to get back to
my apt., even as the rain began in earnest, I saw several hundred young people pouring out of
the subway, headed, in the growing darkness, toward Zuccotti Square, chanting as they went,
"The People, United, Will Never Be Defeated". I wondered, as I got to the entrance, why traffic
was so jammed. There were the usual police cars with flashing lights, but that is a part of Manhattan's landscape. I didn't realize, until I got home, and found a message on my answering machine, that something like 700 people had been arrested trying to cross the Brookyn Bridge toward Zuccotti Park. Included among them, I am happy to say, were several members of the Socialist Party, including Billy Wharton, the national co-chairperson of the Party.

(David McReynolds is a former chair of the War Resisters International, and was twice the Socialist Party's candidate for President. He, and the late Barbara Deming, are the subjects of a dual biography by Martin Duberman, titled A Saving Remnant, published by the New Press. David retired from the staff of War Resisters League in 1999, after 39 years on its staff. He lives on the Lower East Side with his two cats. He can be reached at: dmcreynolds@nyc.rr.com)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Rick Perry's Corporate Kingdom

[Editor's Note: The article below was originally written about 4 years ago when Rick Perry's Presidential ambitions started with his quest for a Vice-Presidential slot. It appears that nothing has changed in four years--Perry is now more ambitious, and his corporate, ah, "leanings" now have developed into mega-million super PACs. Let the buyer beware!]


Rick Perry's Corporate Kingdom

by Steve Rossignol

"There are two things a person should never be forced to see---how the sausage makers make sausage and how a Texas politician makes his daily bread".

Money-laced politics in Texas have never been much of a surprise. From its days as a haven for outlaws and adventurers to the current good-ole-boy smoke-filled rooms at the State Capitol in Austin today, Texas has never seen a shortage of politicos greasing their palms with the public trust.

Governor Rick Perry certainly slides easily into that mold. Perry has been making headlines of late with his repeating endorsements of whoever the current front-runner happens to be in the Republican Presidential contest. His continued sucking-up to the national Republican leadership with the intended goal of a Vice-Presidential nod can best be described as sleazy.

A cursory examination of Rick Perry's financial dealings will show that his money matters are also less than honorable.

(Of course, this is not to say that he is the only one. Just following the news reports in recent months has seen the evidence of dirty money taint Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, and several smaller fish in the Texas corporate pond).

But Perry seems to adopt a certain, casual, laissez-faire attitude with his corporate politics. He does not seem to be in the least abashed by his money dealings, like it is the most natural thing in the world. He attitude evokes that same spirit as that lobbyist who recently passed out $100 dollar bills on the floor of the Texas Legislature during a vote. Governor Rick has adopted the amorality of "if it feels good, do it."

Rick Perry adopted this attitude a long time ago. One may most certainly recall that election season after which the Guv received mega-bucks in contributions from the insurance companies (or was it the highway lobby? Or was it both?). (Texas has few campaign spending laws which restrict contributions). Gee, lo and behold, suddenly there is a new law from the Lege requiring all motorists to have mandatory automobile insurance. And, gee whiz, no sooner had the law been enacted when the insurance companies began jacking up their premiums. (Rick was quick to announce in his "State of the State" speech last February that insurance premium rates were "down" in Texas, even while Texas is the most expensive state in the nation for homeowner insurance).

The year 2007 has provided a bumper crop of Rick Perry corporate gaffes. For instance, in early February, after Governor Rick had announced plans to sell off the Texas State Lottery to a private investment corporation (thus continuing the Perry Legacy of trying to sell off every bit of the Texas public infrastructure), it was announced that Perry's son Griffin was hired by the very same company consulting with the Guv for the sale of the Lottery. And this happened about the same time that Perry's dictate for a mandatory vaccination against the HPV virus was made the very same day that vaccine-maker Merck deposited a $5000 check in the Governors re-election campaign account.

One could also make the case for the corporate sale of the Governor's Trans Texas Corridor plan, wherein Dannenbaum Engineering of Houston, a major player in the Perry Toll Road initiative, helped pay for the Governor's $2 Million Inaugural festivities. Of course, H.B Zachry and Cinta already get to keep the revenues from their new toll roads. How much did they contribute to the Governor? It would also be interesting to trace the Perry money trail a little further here, like how close it gets to the Chinese.

And then there was the Governor's fast Track order to build 12 new coal fired power plants in the state to meet energy demand. The winner on this deal: Utility giant TXU, who incidentally also donated $15,000 to the Governors Inaugural.

And Perry's appointments to the University of Texas Board of Regents are fat cat contributors to his re-election campaigns.

(The good news is that the lottery sale did not go through, the HPV vaccination was nixed by the Legislature, and a court blocked the building of the new coal fired plants. But Perry gets to keep the money).

The above situations are pretty much the ones that have come to light in the state's news media, There is no telling what is still veiled by the smoke-filled rooms. But Rick Perry is ruler of this little corporate empire called Texas right now, and for him, it's good to be the king.

Or maybe just a very high dollar prostitute.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Letter to Obama

August 6, 2011


President Obama

The White House

Washington, DC 20500


Dear President Obama:


Thank you for responding to my letter regarding your starting another war with Libya.


I am already familiar with the Government version of why we went into another needless war.


However, who sent the military weapons that caused the opposition to their Government to get killed and oppressed? The NATO Nations and probably the United States sent weapons of war to Libya so the opposition would have an excuse to do a regime change.


I submit that if a foreign power sent some of your vocal opposition, for example the birthers, military weapons, our Government would also be killing some of its citizens.


Anyway I appreciate your response. My wife was thrilled to see your letter.


The economy has been very bad here in South Texas; my business especially. I suspect that it is because extremely high income taxpayers are not paying their share of the taxes, and their high incomes are sucking all of the juice out of the economy with very little being put back into the economy.


I hope that this doesn’t cause another U S Civil war.


Again thank you for responding.


Sincerely,


William L. Fulcher, Jr.


Bill Fulcher, Enrolled Agent, MBA
Licensed to represent taxpayers before the IRS
Providing Complete Income Tax and Financial Services
610 West Elizabeth Street
Brownsville, TX 78520-6316
(956) 541-4874
Member National Lawyers Guild

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Help The Socialist!

Dear Friends,

I write to request your help. We live in a moment when Democrats and Republicans are proposing serious cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare; where both parties have taken turns handing out public funds to the banks while ignoring the suffering of the unemployed. And at a time when military wars and occupations have been passed smoothly from Bush to Obama. These conditions make an independent Socialist magazine more important than ever. We need your help to keep this going.

Over the past few years, The Socialist magazine has published the writings of respected economist Rick Wolff of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, political activist “Peace Mom” Cindy Sheehan, and veteran labor activist Dan LaBotz. In addition to these high profile names, we have presented our readers with the writings of dozens of grassroots activists on the frontline of labor struggles, socialist electoral campaigns and anti-budget cuts organizing. This is the unique contribution of The Socialist – it creates a media space where noted writers and activists can share print with grassroot voices struggling for change.

However, our costs are skyrocketing. We are committed to using a unionized printer, but printing costs have risen as non-union shops force unionized worksites out. Mailing costs are also increasing, as state and federal budget cuts translate into higher postage rates.

Our current crisis is urgent. We need to raise $300 immediately in order to send Issue 4 to the printer. Ultimately, we need to raise $5,000 to cover our yearly deficit. In short, we need your generous contribution to keep our project afloat.

There are three ways that you can help:

1 – Make a direct donation to our Union Printer Fund. Go to:
http://socialistparty-usa.org/contribute.html and make your contribution today.

2 – Order a bundle of magazines and distribute them. Bundles are cheap and the magazine is a great way to begin a political discussion. Visit :
http://socialistparty-usa.org/socialist/ and order your bundle.

3 – You can take out an individual subscription (and but one for a friend). For just $10 a year you will receive 6 issues of The Socialist in the mail. Visit here:
http://socialistparty-usa.org/socialist/

As you might know, six corporations own 90 percent of the media in the United States. No corporation owns The Socialist magazine. We depend on you to allow us to continue to speak truth to power in order to create a society based on socialist values of solidarity, compassion and justice. I thank you in advance for your support. Keep up the struggle!

Billy Wharton, Editor


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Socialist Party of Dallas-Fort Worth: Organising Meeting

February 12 - Saturday

2pm

Bedford Public Library
2424 Forest Ridge Drive
Bedford, TX

Socialism and the Spirit of Tahrir Square



by Andrea Pason and Billy Wharton, co-chairs Socialist Party USA
February 11, 2011

We send greetings to the working people of Egypt on the day of their
victorious struggle to depose the dictator Hosni Mubarak. Their
grassroots movement provides definitive proof to the world that radical
political activity can change the course of history. The activities of
the protesters in Tahrir Square transformed the idea of democracy from a
stale ritual that occurs every few years to an open ended struggle for
freedom. We are inspired by the example provided by this mass revolt of
the Egyptian people.

It is particularly important to recognize the central contribution made by
the working class to the defeat of the dictator. While the occupation of
the square and the street demonstrations in several cities galvanized the
resistance, it was the mass strikes carried out by the workers that broke
the back of the regime. On February 9th thousands of workers demonstrated
the ability to shutdown the entire society and economy until their demands
were met. After these mass strikes, the regime understood that surrender
was its only option.

The victory of Tahrir Square need not be an isolated one – limited only to
the removal of one dictatorial regime. The revolt was as much about the
conditions imposed on Egyptians by capitalism – the lack of food, the
unemployment, the poor housing, the declining environment – as it was
about Mubarak. We can all join in the spirit of struggle initiated in
Cairo by demanding a democratic socialist society where the needs of human
beings are placed ahead of those of corporations.

See Tahrir Square for what it is – an open-ended struggle for freedom.
And what the dissident voices in Egypt and many others parts of world are
demanding are things that capitalism cannot deliver. In Egypt, the
reorganization of an independent trade union movement, the experiences of
direct democracy in the protests and the revitalization of a socialist
left in the country offer greatest hope for advancing the political agenda
for economic freedom developed in Tahrir Square.

As socialists located in the US, we pledge to continue to do our part in the
international struggle for socialism. We see our own political activity
as a part of the larger international movement for jobs, peace and
freedom. As a part of a Socialism for the 21st Century!



Sunday, January 16, 2011

I Was Once a Teamsters' Union Organizer

By Bill Fulcher, MBA

I would like to share some experiences that might be helpful to other organizers.
First, Labor Laws in the United States are not nearly as friendly to workers as in other countries, namely, Mexico, where it is illegal to go in or out of a struck company when the strike flags are up.

However, we do have some labor laws in the United States, though not many; and they should be used to workers’ advantage whenever possible.

A few years ago the Longshoremen at the Port of Brownsville were having problems because a large non union stevedoring company was brought in to compete with the other unionized longshoremen.

At a joint meeting in Brownsville with some unionists from across the river in Matamoros, Mexico, the wife of the late Agapico Gonzalez, a prominent Mexican Labor Leader in Matamoros, said: “If we were having these problems in Mexico, we would put up the strike flags and shut the Port down.”

Unfortunately we have no laws in the United States that would enable the workers to shut the port down with assistance of the police like they have in Mexico.

In Texas as well as about half of the U. S. we have the so called state

“Right to Work law,” which doesn’t give anyone the right to work. It just makes certain contracts illegal.

I’m not sure why it is not unconstitutional. The U.S. Conatitution in “Section X Absolute prohibitions on the states: (1) The states are forbidden to do certain things. No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal [i.e., authorize privateers]; coin money; emit bills of credit [issue paper money]; make anything but gold and silver coin a [legal] tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, (emphasis added) or grant any title of nobility.”

Yet the state Right to Work laws do just that. Any otherwise legal contract negotiated between an employer and the majority of his, her, or its employees that would require the employer to make joining the union within a certain period of time a condition of employment is illegal in a right-to-work state. No matter that it was negotiated in an arms length agreement in which the workers no doubt had to give up a portion of their demands in order to get the employer to agree to the provision.

A section of the National Labor Relations Ace authorizes the states to pass such laws.

I don’t see how a federal statute can override the U. S. Constitution.

But the National Labor Relations Act does require employers to negotiate with the employees who have voted in a secret ballot election, conducted by the National Labor Relations Board that they wish to be represented by a specific union of their choosing.

Generally, the NLRB, which is given the authority to enforce the Act, drags it feet in holding the election for two or three months or more, in order to give the employer time to change the employees’ minds, usually by intimidation.

The Union, after winning the election, can file charges with the NLRB requiring it to enforce the requirement that the employer negotiate with the workers. Again the NLRB drags its feet, and workers may not be able to do without wages for such an extended time, which is often more than a year.

When I would decide to organize a company in San Antonio, I would keep a very low profile. Preferably, we don’t want the employers to start trying to change the workers minds about unions before we have a chance to talk with them.

I would meet a worker leaving to go home, and invite him to go have coffee with me away from the workplace. After reviewing the possible advantages that could be gained from organizing a union, I would get him to bring at least one friend to another meeting for coffee.

If the other person thought it was a good idea, I would encourage each one to bring someone else, one person at a time, to another meeting.

The problem with trying to get too many people at one time to come to a meeting is that someone may report the main organizer(s) to management, and our main organizer(s) will likely get fired. That can have a demoralizing effect on workers who have been told that it is unlawful to fire workers (other than supervisory employees) for union activity.

It is not unlawful to fire a supervisory employee for union activity, as supervisors are excluded from protection by the National Labor Relations Act, as are public employees, like most school teachers, police, and firefighters.

It is better to tell the employees that while it is unlawful to fire non supervisory employees, the company may do so in order to stop the organizing efforts.

This encourages workers to be careful and only tell close friends whom they trust.

It also lets the workers know that while the organizer cannot promise specific benefits, the company would not want to fire them unless they (the company) stood to lose if the workers’ organizing campaign were successful.

The advantage of the organizer not stressing benefits: it is unlawful for an employer to deprive workers of the right to organize. It is not unlawful to deprive the workers of increased benefits, like higher wages, shorter hours, job security, etc. as these are subject to negotiation. Therefore we may have economic strikes and unfair labor practice strikes.

If it is an economic strike, that is a strike to gain specific benefits, like higher wages, the workers can be replaced if they do not return to work; i.e. strike. Economic strikers do not have to be replaced when the strike is over either, although they often are, in the case of a progressive management. Smaller local companies don’t often have progressive management. If the workers are able to get the employer into negotiations usually one of the conditions is for him, her, or it, to replace the striking workers.

If it is an unfair labor practices strike; i.e., the employer just doesn’t want to sit down with them and discuss their wages, hours, and working conditions, or if the employer is not bargaining in good faith, then the company has engaged in an unfair labor practice.

A court can order the company to put the workers back to work with back pay and order the company to sit down and negotiate a contract with the workers.

So, as is apparent, it is important to stress that we are not trying to get any specific benefits for the workers; we are only trying to get the company to sit down and negotiate a labor agreement in good faith. Picket signs should have “No Contract” rather than some other language indication something other than the fact that the employer was resisting his or her lawful mandate to bargain in good faith. Otherwise it may be an economic strike rather than an unfair labor practices strike.

So, let’s see where we are in our organizing campaign. We have contacted a few employees of the company. We have them bringing a one of their friends to each meeting. If we can get the friends to also bring in one person to each meeting, we as organizers, have it made. The workers are doing the organizing for us.

One thing that I have learned over the years is: we should not file a petition for an election until we have at least 60 percent of the workers signed up and who have attended at least one meeting—preferably more than one meeting. They should also be working bringing a friend to each meeting.

Workers who signed a union authorization card at the request of another employee, but who stays home from the meetings hiding under the bed are useless in an organizing campaign.

“Oh you don’t have to worry about old Joe; he is with us,” is a common remark. But invariably I have learned that we can count the votes in a NLRB Election by the number of people who have been attending meetings.

So how can we organize large numbers of people with so few participating in the campaign at first?

Suppose someone agreed to give us a dollar and double it every day for two weeks. How much do you think we would have at the end of the two weeks. Get a calculator and try it for yourself. A dollar doubled every day for two weeks is $16,384.

If we can get the workers to each bring one worker with him or her for fourteen meetings, and each person who came to go back and bring one more to each meeting, we would have 16, 384 workers signed up, assuming the workforce in the company were that large.

I organized one company where two people showed up at the union office in San Antonio wanting to unionize. We had a meeting a couple of days later. They told me that if we called a meeting they would have 12 or 14 people attend. So we had the meeting. The same two people were the only two who showed up.

I told them to each one bring someone to the next meeting. Four came to the next meeting, eight to the next one, and sixteen to the next one. When I filed the petition, we had 34 out of 35 signed up, and that 35th had been to a meeting. He was the only Anglo in a company staffed with Hispanics. He just didn’t want to join with them.

The employer representative at the NLRB Hearing wanted to include the secretaries in the bargaining unit in order to dilute our voting strength. Usually the union representative says “no” arguing that the secretaries don’t have the same interests as the workers.

In this case, I said, “Sure, we would love to have the secretaries.”

One campaign, in Brownsville, with some privatized school bus drivers, whose pay had been cut when the private company took over, we could not get but about half of the workers signed up. I was at a loss about what to do next. I only had to have about 30 percent signed up in order to get the NLRB Election. But I knew from experience that we would probably loose the election.

That is when we came out into the open with our campaign.

I made up some picket signs that gave the name of the company and the name of the union, and which also said “No Contract.” In other words, we wanted to negotiate a contract rather than asking for any specific benefits.

I took my wife and one of her lady friends out to the company one day just as the drivers were getting off from work, and the three of us started picketing.

One of the other workers, who had been in a union before, picked up a picket sign and started picketing with us.

When the other workers saw that he didn’t go up in smoke, more of them picked up picket signs and started picketing. Management came out and started taking their pictures with a camera, as if they were doing something illegal and management was going to prove it; but they kept on picketing.

The workers were on their own time, and we were careful not to trespass on company property.

At the next meeting at the Longshoremen’s Hall, almost all of the 110 workers showed up, and we signed up the rest of the workers.

Note, that if we couldn’t get any of the workers to participate in the picketing, it wouldn’t have worked, as I learned in a campaign against Valley Trucking a few years later.

Why did I think that picketing might be successful?

The National Labor Relations Act says that workers can only picket for thirty days without filing a petition for an election. Why would Congress put that restriction in the law if picketing were not effective? With half of the workers already signed up, I had enough signed authorization cards to file a petition; and, I was pretty sure that I could get the rest that I needed before the 30 days expired.

It was important to keep them on the job because replacements (scabs) would also be able to vote if they did not keep working;i.e., if they struck.

In one of my campaigns in Port Brownsville, a thousand shrimp fishermen had been told that their pay (percentage of their share of the catch) was being cut. It was Christmas time and most of the boats were in Port. About a hundred showed up at our first meeting. They voted to strike 123 in favor of the strike to 2 who voted No. I said we don’t have enough people to strike. Let’s call another meeting. I asked the all to bring somebody to the next meeting.

We had 243 people at the next meeting and 240 voted to strike and 3 voted no strike.

Anyway, we put pickets with strike signs at the entrance to the Port. In a short period I had 750 signed authorization cards.

In a previous campaign, the NLRB ruled that fishermen were self-employed, and not covered by the Act. So I knew that if the fishermen were to organize, we would have to strike for recognition.

The employers also knew that by cutting their pay at Christmas time, if it generated a strike, there was not much shrimp to be caught for the next few months, and they could withstand a strike—which they did.

However, the Labor news is often bad, but I have read about some large companies being organized when the court ordered them to put striking workers back to work with back pay and to negotiate a contract.

The NLRBs dragging their feet can be a help. It is not like paying back pay to one or two of the initial organizers, when the employers have to pay back pay to a large number of strikers.

In the case of the Brownsville privatized school bus drivers, mentioned above, after being ordered to put the drivers back to work with back pay and to negotiate a contract, the private company, Durham Transportation, packed up and left town, leaving the drivers and mechanics to go back to work for the BISD at their former higher wages, which is what the drivers wanted anyway.



(Bill Fulcher is an enrolled agent, eligible to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service. He holds a bachelors degree with an accounting major, and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration both from Pan American University at Brownsville. He attended Renaldo Garza Law School in San Benito before it was shut down for not being able to gain accreditation. He is a member of the National Lawyers Guild and a member of the NLG Labor and Employment Committee. His tax practice is located in Brownsville, Texas.)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Statement on the Shootings in Tuscon - Socialist Party USA Statement

No to Political Assasinations! Let’s Make a Democratic Revolution!
by Andrea Pason & Billy Wharton - co-chairs Socialist Party USA

January 9, 2011 - On behalf of the Socialist Party USA, we send our sincerest condolences to the families of the people killed in the recent shooting in Tuscon, Arizona. This was an attempt at political assassination as the shooter, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, reportedly shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (AZ, D.) in the head before turning his gun on the crowd. The dead include a 9 year child and five others, with twelve people wounded. Rep. Giffords remains in critical condition.

As socialists, we say unequivocally that political assassination has no role inside of a democratic society or our movement. Throughout American history, assassination has been a tool primarily used by the right-wing. The death by execution of strong leaders such as Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. stand as testimony to the damage done to our cause. We are democratic socialists and we seek to make a democratic revolution. A revolution that places people in control of their own lives. Political assassination has no role in such a movement.

The same cannot be said of the far-right. Right wing activists have consistently engaged in acts of assassination and in rhetoric that reinforces and encourages such acts. We can note the murder of abortion rights activists such as Dr. Barnett Slepian as well as the violent and hyper-masculine language consistently promoted by the right-wing media. Loughner was reported to be heavily influenced by these ideas, motivated by the call to arms being issued by the far-right.

And he did not have to look hard for motivation to attack Giffords. During the recent mid-term election, Sarah Palin’s Political Action Committee produced a chart that targeted Democrats. The chart employed crosshairs to identify the electoral opponents and utilized language like “We'll aim for these races,” “This is just the first salvo” and “join me in the fight.” While Sarah Palin did not pull the trigger, she certainly holds a significant amount of guilt for creating the conditions in which such as act was possible.

Now is the time to reject such politics both here in the US and globally. A fitting tribute to the innocent victims from the Tuscon shooting would be to end the US occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and to end the bombings in Pakistan. The US military has, through targeted assassinations, extraordinary renditions and drone attacks, made political violence an everyday part of life in this region. As we learned in Tuscon today, such violence creates real human tragedies. The lives of innocents lost in the Middle East to political violence are of equal value to Loughner’s victims.

As socialists, we aim to create a non-violent world. A world where the great wealth of society is used to satisfy human needs. Ours will be a democratic revolution where the great majority of working people are finally able to express their desire for things like jobs, peace and freedom. There is no place in this process, in the transition to a democratic socialist society, for political assassination. This is the political tool of the right and only serves to re-enforce the presence of the repressive apparatus of the government. We want freedom and believe that mass non-violent political protests are the means to acquire it. We invite you to join us in this struggle for a better world.

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