Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Future of Left/Independent Electoral Action in the United States

The Future of Left/Independent Electoral Action in the United States

 Update: The Future of Left/Independent Electoral Action conference will be held May 2-3 in Chicago.

If you would like to endorse the call to the conference or be placed on a low-volume announcement listserv, please send your name and affiliation to

 The Call:
 From impending climate catastrophe to the renewed assault on working class living standards, we don't have time to waste on the status quo, lesser evils, and token reforms. The richest 1% may own the two major parties, but the past year has seen an uptick in left electoral activity. From Kshama Sawant’s election as an open socialist on the Seattle City Council to the numerous other socialist and independent left campaigns in Chicago, New York, and elsewhere throughout Fall 2014 and Spring 2015, interest in a working class alternative is growing. However, in order to really begin building a viable electoral alternative, we first need to forge unity between our disparate campaigns. Those of us struggling to build a left pole in the electoral arena have much to learn from one another. Therefore we propose a gathering of candidates, individuals, and organizations committed to a non-sectarian left political alliance in opposition to the two-party system of corporate-capitalist rule.

 What we propose:
 1. A dialogue for those who are commited to left politics outside of the two-party system
 2. To discuss the “why” goals of running for and to win election
 3. To share experiences and reflections of campaigning
 4. To share challenges after being elected to office and strategies for opening political space for social movements

 Aims and Objectives:

 1. To promote independent political action
 2. To build cooperation among disparate movements, candidates, left/progressive parties
 3. To develop and adopt a means for continued networking, conversation and cooperation

 1. To gather experienced candidates
 2. To intersect a broad range of non-sectarian left-independent organizers
 3. To have respectful discussion on strategies and tactics
 4. To seek representation from people of color, youth, women, LGBTQ, and disability activists
 5. To include a mix of theoretical panels, inspirational talks, and practical workshops

 We hope that you will endorse this conference, save the date, and join us in Chicago May 2-3, 2015.
 For more information, email


 Robert Caldwell,

Endorsers of this conference as of Feb 1, 2015 include: Gayle McLaughin+ (Richmond City Council; former Mayor, Richmond CA ); Tim Meegan (2015 Independent candidate for alderman, 33rd ward, Chicago), Kshama Sawant + (Seattle City Council), Howie Hawkins (Candidate for Governor of New York , Green Party*), Jorge M├║jica (2015 Socialist candidate for alderman, 25th ward , Chicago), Ellen David Friedman (Vermont Progressive Party*), Dan LaBotz (Co-founder Teamsters for a Democratic Union; Editor, New Politics; Socialist Party* Candidate for U.S. Senate, OH 2010), Mike Parker (Co-author Democracy is Power; Coordinator, Richmond Progressive Alliance*), Gloria Mattera (Co-Chair, Green Party of New York*), Eduardo Martinez + (Richmond City Council), Lance Selfa (author of The Democrats: A Critical History), Jovanka Beckles + (Richmond City Council), Cindy Sheehan (Anti-war activist, 2012 vice-presidential candidate, 2012, Peace and Freedom Party*), Rosa Clemente (Hip hop activist, Vice-Presidential Candiate, 2008, Green Party*), Jill Stein (Presidential Candidate, 2012, Green Party *), Marsha Rummel+ (Madison WI Common Council. Progressive Dane*), Ty Moore (Socialist Alternative candidate for Minneapolis City Council, 2003), Debra Reiger (State Chair, California Peace and Freedom Party), Bruce Dixon (Journalist, Black Agenda Report), Marsha Rummel+ (Madison WI Common Council. Progressive Dane*), David McReynolds (Socialist Party* candidate for President, 1980, 2000), Glenn Ford (Journalist, Black Agenda Report), Jason West + (Mayor of New Paltz, NY), Todd Cretien (International Socialist Organization; Candidate for U.S. Senate (California), 2006), Ian Schlakman (Green Party candidate for Congress MD 2014), Kali Akuno Cooperation Jackson*, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement*), Jess Spear (Climate scientist and 2014 Socialist Alternative candidate for Washington State House); Bhaskar Sunkara (editor of Jacobin), Angela Walker (Candiate for Milwaukee Sheriff, 2014), Linda Thompson (Co-Chair, Green Party of CT), Margaret Kimberely (Journalist, Black Agenda Report), Isa Infante (2014 Candidate for Governor, Green Party of TN), John Halle (Green Party, previously New Haven Alderman), Nicole Deane (Dan Siegel for Oakland 2014 volunteer coordinator), Carroll Fife (Dan Siegel for Oakland 2014 campaign coordinator), Ellis Boal (Green Party MI*), Steve Early (author and labor journalist), Joanna Misnik (Treasurer, Chicago Socialist Campaign; Solidarity), Bryan Koulouris (Socialist Alternative), Rick Kissell (past candidate for Milwaukee Treasurer, past president of the AFL-CIO Translators' and Interpreters' Guild), Robert Caldwell (Ebarb Tribal Council, Louisiana 2011-2013), Marilyn Langlois (Coordinator, Richmond Progressive Alliance), Against the Current (, International Socialist Organization (, Jacobin (, New Politics (, Peace and Freedom Party (, Socialist Alternative (, Solidarity (, Socialist Party of Texas
 Bold+ indicates sitting elected official; * organizational listing for identification purposes of the individual endorsers only

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Lobby Day 2015

Wednesday, April 8 at 9:00am
Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas

Texas State Employees Union
Lobby Day is our chance to take a stand for the future of Texas and for our jobs. It is a critical part of our ongoing fight for economic and social justice for state workers and citizens.

Upcoming Events

Bus trips to Austin for major grassroots lobbying events at the state capitol.

Tue. Feb. 17:
Senior lobby day at the state capitol: Rally & grassroots lobbying
Sponsored by Texas Alliance for Retired Americans
Bus will be departing from APWU hall, 2010 Postal Way Dallas 75207 at 6:30 am. Pls. be there by 6:15.
Boxed lunches & snacks will be provided.
Call field organizer Judy Bryant at 214-729-0063 to make a reservation to ride the bus or for when & where Central Texans can rendezvous with the Dallas group.

Wed. Feb. 25:
"Day of the Fallen" march, rally, & lobbying on behalf of construction workers & other exploited workers. Thus called in memory of construction workers who died on the job, numbering in the hundreds each year in Texas, the worst state in the country for construction fatalities.
Sponsored by Workers' Defense Project
Grassroots lobbying will be from 10 am thru 3:45 pm at the capitol. The march & rally will be from 4 pm to 6 pm, starting from the JJ Pickle Plaza, 300 8th St., plaza at the intersection of 9th & & San Jacinto & ending at the south lawn of the capitol for the rally.
Bus departs Dallas from the ***new*** Workers' Defense Project Dallas HQ, 4202 Lancaster in S. Dallas at 6 am. Pls. be there by 5:45 am. We will be back by 10 pm.
Boxed lunches & snacks will be provided.

Call Rosemarie Rieger (N. Texas Jobs with Justice organizer) at 214-632-5695 to make a reservation to ride the bus.

May Day 2015!

Hey Friends and Neighbors!

May Day is quickly coming up. The May Day celebration hosted last year at Resistencia was a great success, and you all who helped plan and organize it did that in only one month! Let's build on the great collective, community organizing that made last year's event possible.

Austin Beloved Community will have an initial planning meeting on Saturday, February 28 at 2:00 pm at Resistencia Bookstore. Can someone from your organization attend? We'll be discussing the timeline of the event, entertainment, food, childcare, translation, and whether and how to expand the scope of Austin May Day. Bring your ideas and gumption.

A great big thank you to everyone who put precious time, effort, and resources into May Day 2014.

In solidarity,
Austin Beloved Community (Anne, Emma, Jacob, and Salma)

Planning Meeting:
Resistencia Bookstore- 4926 E. Cesar Chavez
2:00-4:00 pm
Saturday, February 28

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Rally With USW Strikers, Plus Other Ways to Help

If you can rally with the striking United Steel Workers Friday in Houston, here's the word from the Harris County AFL-CIO:

USW Oil Workers to Rally at Shell Headquarters!
Come on out!
Rally for Safer Workplaces and Fair Contracts

When:  12 Noon, Friday, February 6th
Where: Shell Corporate Headquarters, 1 Shell Plaza, 901 Louisiana (across from City Hall)

Be there!
Wear Your Union Colors
Their fight is our Fight

In addition, the CLC posted ways you can help the strikers:

How You Can Help the Striking Oil Workers - USW

* Donations:  Food (non perishable), Diapers, Food Gift Cards
Deliver to:  USW, Local 13-1, 311 Pasadena Blvd, Pasadena Texas 77506 or 2527 Texas Avenue, Texas City 77590 and to USW, Local 13-227, 704 E. Pasadena Fwy, Pasadena, Texas 77506.

* Monetary Donations
Mail to or deliver to:  USW, Local 13-1, Strike Assistance, 311 Pasadena Blvd., Pasadena, Texas 77506 and to USW, Local 13-227, 704 E. Pasadena Fwy, Pasadena, Texas 77506

* Picketing Assistance
Report to USW, Local 13-1, 311 Pasadena Blvd., Pasadena, Texas 77506 - or USW, Local 13-1227, 704 E. Pasadena Fwy, Pasadena, Texas 77506.  You will be assigned a Gate

Distributed by the Harris County AFL-CIO Council


By Carl Davidson, Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Pat Fry
Introduction: The following eight-point proposal is designed to initiate both a discussion and a process. The points can be further refined, and subtracted from or added to. Given the scope of the challenges ahead of us, there is a certain degree of urgency, but it is also wise to take to time to start off on a sound footing, uniting all who can be united. The main things it wants to bring into being at all levels—local, regional, national or in sectors—are common projects. Some of these already exist, such as the Left Labor Project in New York City, a good example of what we are advocating here. It brought together organizers from CCDS, CPUSA, DSA, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, and other independent left trade unionists and activists. Over a few years work, it was able to build a far wider alliance bringing together the city’s labor organizations and allied social movements to bring out tens of thousands on May Day.
We know that many of us are already involved in a wide variety of projects. But is there any compelling reason we have to do this separately, behaving like a wheelbarrow full of frogs trying to win a common goal? A good case in point is Chuy Garcia’s mayoral campaign in Chicago. Wouldn’t this campaign be better served if we worked together in a planned way to draw in and skillfully deploy even more forces? Or take the labor-community alliance projects building solidarity for labor strikes or the campaign for an increase in the minimum wage? We can all make a long list here, but the core idea should be apparent, at least for starters, and we invite your responses and queries.
1. We need something new. The left is not likely to find critical mass through mergers of existing groups, although any such events would be positive. But a new formation to which all would be equally cooperative in a larger project—call it a Left Front or Left Alliance—would have a greater impact. Groups participating in it could retain whatever degree of autonomy they desire, such as keeping their own newspapers, national committees, local clubs meeting separately, and so on. Every group involved can exercise its own independence and initiative, to the degree it finds necessary. But all would be striving in common to help the overall project succeed. While the US situation is not strictly comparable, the Front de Gauche in France, Die Linke in Germany, PODEMOS in Spain and Syriza in Greece serve as examples.
2. We need a ‘project based’ common front. At the grassroots level, it would be comprised of joint projects—electoral, union organizing, campaigns against the far right, for a living wage or reducing student debt, for opposing war, racism, sexism and police violence, and many others. The existing left groups in a factory, a neighborhood, a city or a campus, would be encouraged to advance the joint projects.
3. We need a ‘critical mass’ at the core than is both young, working class and diverse. While people from all demographics are welcome, the initial core has to be largely drawn from the Millennials, those born after 1980 or so. And the core also has to be a rainbow of nationalities with gender equity, and well-connected to union and working class insurgencies. If the initial core at the beginning is too ‘white’ or too ‘1968ers’, it will not be a pole with the best attractive power for a growing new generation of socialist and radical minded activists.
4. We need a common aspiration for socialism. That’s what makes us a ‘Left Front or Left Alliance’ rather than a broader popular front or people’s coalition. We are strongly supportive of these wider coalitions and building the left is not done in isolation from them. But we also see the wisdom in the concept: the stronger the core, the broader the front. Moreover we do not require a unified definition on what socialism is; only that a larger socialist pole makes for an even wider, deeper and more sustainable common front of struggle.
5. We do not need full agreement on strategy. A few key concepts—the centrality of fighting white supremacy, the intersection of race, class and gender, the alliance and merger of the overall workers movement and the movements of the communities of the oppressed—will do. We can also agree on cross-class alliances focused on critical targets: new wars, the far right and the austerity schemes imposed by finance capital. Additional elements, perspectives, nuances and ‘shades of difference’ can be debated, discussed and adjusted in the context of ongoing struggle
6. We need a flexible but limited approach to elections. We can affirm that supporting our own or other candidates is a matter of tactics to be debated case-by-case, and not a matter of ‘principle’ that would exclude ever voting for any particular Democrat, Green or Socialist. We see the importance for social movements to have an electoral arm that presses and fights for their agenda within government bodies.
7. We need to be well embedded in grassroots organizations. Especially important are the organizations of the working class and in the communities of the oppressed—unions and worker centers, civil rights and women’s rights, youth and students, peace and justice, churches and communities of faith, cooperatives and other groups tied to the solidarity economy, and other community-based NGOs and nonprofits.
8. We need to be internationalists. But we do not have to require support for any particular countries or bloc of countries and national liberation movements, past or present. But we do oppose the wars of aggression, occupations and other illicit interventions of ‘our own’ ruling class, along with the hegemonism, ‘superpower mentality’ and Great Power chauvinism it promotes. That is the best way we can promote world peace and practice solidarity and assistance to forces beyond our borders.

[Carl Davidson and Pat Fry are national co-chairs of Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. Bill Fletcher Jr. is a member of several socialist organizations and author of ‘They're Bankrupting Us! And 20 Other Myths about Unions’ Comments can be sent to ]

South by Southwest Eco-Socialist Conference

The "South by Southwest" Ecosocialist Conference will be taking place from Fri. Feb. 20 at 5 pm to Sun. Feb. 22 at University of North Texas Wooten Hall. It is sponsored by System Change Not Climate Change: the Ecosocialist Coalition, of which SP-USA is a coalition partner. SCNCC currently has chapters in the Metroplex and Houston.

Speakers will include Green Party 2012 presidential candidate Jill Stein and ecosocialist author Chris Williams, as well as panel discussions featuring a broad spectrum of Metroplex activists. Panels will include intersectionality between the climate and environmental crises and social and economic justice issues. The conference will also include nonviolent civil disobedience training and a "World Cafe" small group discussion session.

Cost is $50 for standard registration, $25 for low income, and $100 for supporters wishing to make an additional donation to support the cause. Please register online at this URL: South by Southwest Ecosocialist Conference February 20-22, 2015 Registration deadline is Sun. Feb. 16. The website also provides detailed location info for persons unfamiliar with the UNT campus and a daily schedule for the conference. The facility can accommodate up to 250 attendees, so please register now before it fills up!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

On Texas Unemployment

As you may know, the past several months have been called the best months for job growth since the 2008 financial crisis. In December, 252,000 jobs were added, and the unemployment rate dropped by 0.1 percentage points to 5.6 percent.[i] Many regard this as good news, and to those who have gotten these new jobs, it very likely is. However, this still leaves 8,688,000 Americans unemployed. Furthermore, these numbers only represent a portion of the unemployed. They do not include people who have given up looking for work but have looked for work in the last 12 months, people who have a job-market-related reason for not currently looking for work, and people who would like to work full-time, but are only able to work part-time. With all of these people included, the unemployment rate increases to 11.1 percent[ii], and the number of individuals affected by unemployment increases to 17,330,000 Americans. This represents a 198 percent increase over the official rate.

“But,” many will say, “things are better in Texas!” To a certain degree, that is correct. The standard unemployment rates for Texas and several Metropolitan Statistical Areas are lower than for the nation as a whole[iii]:

Standard Unemployment Number
Percentage Rate
El Paso
San Antonio

However, much like the standard unemployment numbers for the nation, these standard numbers for Texas do not paint a complete picture of unemployment here. Unfortunately, the BLS does not provide these numbers, and we must extrapolate from the national data to get this more complete picture.

Standard Unemployment
Percentage Rate
Plus Other Unemployed
Percentage Rate
El Paso
San Antonio

As you can see, unemployment affects a much greater number of Texans than you might otherwise be lead to believe. But economists and others will tell you that unemployment is unavoidable, calling it structural unemployment or referring to the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment. In a capitalist system, wherein profits are prioritized above all other concerns, it is critical that labor costs be minimized. Employers use unemployment to achieve this in two ways. First, if a prospective worker does not want to work for a low wage, the employer can simply offer the job to someone else. Second, if employees ask for higher wages, an employer can tell them that they should be grateful to be working at all when so many others are not. In both cases, employers use this reserve army of labor to depress labor costs and to increase their own profits. 

Last month, Steve Rossignol explained why we call for a $15 minimum wage as a transitional step to a guaranteed minimum income. Additionally, we call for a full employment policy. This means full-time jobs for all persons who wish to work. Employers will naturally fight such a policy, as it deprives them of two important tools for increasing their profits. Only through organization will we workers be able to overcome the strength of employers.

James Wheat 2-1-2015

                The Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, January 9). The employment situation – December 2014. USDL 15-0001. Retrieved from
[ii]      The Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, January 9). Table A-15: Alternative measures of labor underutilization. Retrieved from
[iii]     The Bureau of Labor Statistics. (December 30, 2014). Table 1: Civilian labor force and unemployment by state and metropolitan area. Retrieved from Additionally, we must use the data from November, as the BLS releases jobs data for MSAs about a month after the national data release.

February Events

Sun. Feb. 1 @ 3 pm: Radical Mental Wellness, a monthly support group for activists to prevent burnout and handle personal problems.
Josiah Warren Library 1921 Hemphill St. Ft. Worth 76110 (one side of a duplex)

Mon. Feb. 2 @ 3 pm: Blackland Prairie Rising Tide wkly. environmental & climate justice mtg.
Big Mike's coffee shop, Denton

Mon. Feb. 2 @ 7 pm: Queer Bomb Dallas wkly. mtg.
Cafe Brazil 3847 Cedar Springs Rd. Dallas 75219 (in sexual/gender minority district)
In mtg. room in the back

Tue. Feb. 3 @ 7 pm: Free screening of PAY 2 PLAY, anticorruption documentary
Sponsored by First Tuesday Social Justice Film Festival
Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff 3839 W. Kiest Blvd. Dallas 75233

Tue. Feb. 3 @ 7 pm: Workers' Defense Project wkly. mtg.
534 W. 10th St. Dallas 75208 (Oak Cliff)

Wed. Feb. 4 @ 12:30 pm: Dallas chapter of Texas Alliance for Retired Americans monthly mtg.
APWU hall 2010 Postal Way Dallas 75212 (W. Dallas near SPCA)

Fri. Feb. 6 @ 7:30 pm: Free screening of GENETIC ROULETTE: THE GAMBLE OF OUR LIVES, an anti GMO documentary
Sponsored by the Prometheus Project, the Dallas affiliate of the Institute for Responsible Technology
Screening is in lieu of PP's monthly mtg.
Park Cities Yoga 5934 Royal Ln. Dallas 75230 (Preston Hollow)

Sat. Feb. 7 @ 2:30 pm: International Organization for a Participatory Society (IOPS) mtg.
Formation of a local chapter. Against democratic centralism & vanguardism; no dues required.
J. Gilligan's 400 E. Abram St. Arlington 76010

Sat. Feb. 7 @ 7 pm: Final protest against the Ft. Worth Stock Show & Rodeo
Sponsored by Animal Connection of Texas
Outside Will Rogers Memorial Auditorium 3401 W. Lancaster Av. Ft. Worth 76107 (arts district)

Mon. Feb. 9 @ 3 pm: Blackland Prairie Rising Tide wkly. mtg.
Big Mike's coffee shop, Denton

Mon. Feb. 9 @ 7 pm: Queer Bomb Dallas wkly. mtg.
Cafe Brazil 3847 Cedar Springs Blvd. Dallas 75219 (sexual/gender minority district)

Tue. Feb. 10 @ 6:30 pm: Dallas Sierra Club monthly mtg.
Brookhaven College Bldg. H (geosciences bldg.) Farmers' Branch

Tue. Feb. 10 @ 7 pm: Dallas antiracist coalition mtg. against police genocide
Pan African Connection 828 Fourth Av. Dallas 75226 (Fair Park)

Tue. Feb. 10 @ 7 pm: Workers' Defense Project wkly. mtg.
534 W. 10th St. Dallas 75208 (Oak Cliff)

Wed. Feb. 11 @ 7 pm: N. Texas Jobs with Justice monthly mtg.
CWA hall 1408 N. Washington Av. Dallas 75204 (Old E. Dallas)

Th. Feb. 12 @ 7 pm: Dallas Peace Center Mideast committee monthly mtg.
La Madeleine 3072 Mockingbird Ln. Dallas 75205 (near SMU, next door to its bookstore)

Sat. Feb. 14 @ 10:30 am: Dallas Area Christian Progressive Alliance mtg. to plan annual Good Friday walk through downtown Dallas
Northaven United Methodist Church 11211 Preston Rd. Dallas 75230 (Preston Hollow)

FOR CENTRAL TEXANS: Sat. Feb. 14 @ 6 pm: WE ALWAYS RESIST: TRUST BLACK WOMEN Film & Fundraiser on reproductive justice
Sponsored by Women's Community Center of Central Texas
$5 suggested donation; free childcare available
1704 San Antonio St. Austin 78701

Sat. Feb. 14 @ 9 pm: "Queer Candy" Valentine holiday fundraiser and party
Sponsored by Queer Bomb Dallas
$10 admission/donation, must be 18+
Texas Theatre 231 W. Jefferson Blvd. Dallas 75208 (Oak Cliff)

Mon. Feb. 16 @ 3 pm: Blackland Prairie Rising Tide wkly. mtg.
Big Mike's coffee shop, Denton

Mon. Feb. 16 @ 7 pm: Queer Bomb Dallas wkly. mtg.
Cafe Brazil 3847 Cedar Springs Blvd. Dallas 75219 (sexual/gender minority district)

Tue. Feb. 17 @ 7 pm: Workers' Defense Project wkly. mtg.
534 W. 10th St. Dallas 75208 (Oak Cliff)

Wed. Feb. 18 @ 1 pm: Ft. Worth chapter of Texas Alliance for Retired Americans monthly mtg.
Furr's cafeteria 3233 Alta Mere Rd. FW 76116 (west side)

Fri. Feb. 20 @ 5 pm through Sun. Feb. 22: "South by Southwest" Ecosocialist Conference
Sponsored by System Change Not Climate Change: the Ecosocialist Coalition
Univ. of North Texas, exact bldg. to be determined (there are always later updates to the calendar) Denton

FOR CENTRAL TEXANS: Sat. Feb. 21 @ 11:30 am: Black Lives Matter: Dirge March
Parking lot at Brushy & E. 5th, Austin, ending at the state capitol

Mon. Feb. 23 @ 3 pm: Blackland Prairie Rising Tide wkly. mtg.
Big Mike's coffee shop, Denton

Mon. Feb. 23 @ 7 pm: Queer Bomb Dallas wkly. mtg.
Cafe Brazil 3847 Cedar Springs Blvd. Dallas 75219 (sexual/gender minority district)

Tue. Feb. 24 @ 7 pm: Workers' Defense Project wkly. mtg.
534 W. 10th St. Dallas 75208 (Oak Cliff)

FOR CENTRAL TEXANS (there will be a bus from Dallas): Wed. Feb. 25: "Day of the Fallen"
Lobby day on behalf of construction workers & other exploited workers
Sponsored by Workers' Defense Project
Federal Bldg. Plaza 300 E. 8th St. Austin 78701
There will be details on the bus from Dallas & a Dallas lobbying training session at a later date