Month: April, 2013
Houston Communist Party meets with young Texans
| April 7, 2013 | 8:29 pm | Action | No comments

By James Thompson

HOUSTON – On March 6, 2013, the Houston Communist Party  had a table at the JSA conference in Houston. The JSA conference was held at the JW Marriot Hotel on Westheimer, across from the Galleria. The table was part of the “political fair” organized to help educate young people about the different political parties and organizations.

The young people showed the most interest in the Houston Communist Party  of all the tables there. Also present were the Green Party, NORML, Young Republicans, Houston Peace Council, a Gun Rights organization and an organization calling for an end to the Death Penalty as well as a few others.

The conference attendees were an ethnically diverse group of young men and women. The young people were very engaging and had excellent questions. Some left and then returned to the table with more questions.

There was a lot of anti-war sentiment among the students and most were trying to figure out how to fund their college education.

Most were not aware that it is illegal for Communists to run for public office or hold a state job in Texas and were shocked to learn this. They also learned that by denying Communists the right to run for public office in Texas, they are also denying people the right to vote against Communists. Most agreed that this violated the fundamental principles of democracy.

Several club members were present to answer questions and distribute literature. One club member remarked that it was a great opportunity to counter the negative propaganda that has been aimed at Communists in the USA for many decades now. Although the discussion was lively, there was not a hint of anti-Communism noted in the discussions. We were treated with respect and courtesy. This speaks highly of young people in Texas.

PHill1917@comcast.net

Over 7,000 March to Demand Return of Stolen UMWA Health Benefits
| April 4, 2013 | 8:41 pm | Action | No comments

16 arrested sitting in for miners

http://tinyurl.com/cdwvt2x

By Kay Tillow

Charleston, West Virginia. April 1, 2013. They boarded buses and cars
before dawn, some the night before, coming from the coalfields of
Illinois, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and all across
West Virginia. By 10:00 AM over 7,000 had packed into the giant
Charleston Civic Center to voice their support for the 23,000 miners and
their families who face the loss of their lifetime health benefits in a
bankruptcy scam.

In a series of mergers and deals, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal transferred
their contractual health benefit obligations to Patriot Coal. In St.
Louis, Missouri, in March, 2013, Patriot Coal filed in bankruptcy court
seeking to terminate the United Mine Workers (UMWA) contract and set up
instead a Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) for the
retirees and families.

Patriot seeks to put only a pittance into the VEBA, vastly underfunding
it. UMWA President Cecil E. Roberts has said this plan would “put
thousands of retired coal miners, their dependents or their widows on the
path to financial ruin, worsening health conditions or even death.”

The UMWA pioneered in healthcare benefits and pensions when they battled
coal operators and the American Medical Association to establish the UMWA
Health & Welfare Fund. John L. Lewis and the union defied accusations of
socialized medicine to set up miners’ clinics and built the miners’
hospitals that serve today as the backbone of health care in Appalachia.
The UMWA won early retirement with family coverage for miners who retired
before they were 65. These achievements of the miners’ struggles are
under attack by Patriot, Peabody, and Arch. Most unions, following the
lead of the UMWA, have negotiated early retirement with employers picking
up the cost of health care until Medicare kicks in. The attack on UMWA
retirees is a snapshot of what employers have in store for union
negotiated early retirement plans.

The miners’ fight is winning political support. The West Virginia state
Senate and House of Delegates have passed resolutions calling on Patriot
Coal to meet its commitment to provide pension and health benefits to
miners. Elected leaders are feeling some heat, judging by the number of
the powerful who appeared at the Civic Center to express their support.
West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin greeted the crowd. “I’m from
Logan County the heart of coal mining…I’m honored to stand shoulder to
shoulder with you for the benefits of our retired miners.”

Dan Kane, UMWA Secretary Treasurer spoke. “To cast aside those who earned
benefits through decades of back breaking labor is like taking money—it’s
theft.”

Kane called for a Congressional investigation. “Who’s looking into this
conspiracy? We will fight to protect our health care no matter what it
takes. We will follow these robber barons and we will shine the light of
truth on these evil deeds. We are on the right side of history.”

West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller appeared through a video. “We must
hold Peabody, Arch and Patriot to the promises they have made.” He spoke
of the introduction of the Coal Accountability and Retired Employee Act.

Representative Nick Rahall of West Virginia declared that “In 1912 Mother
Jones said that the labor movement was a command from God Almighty.” He
said that the promise to the miners must be kept. “No white flag…this is
an uphill battle, but everyone here knows how to walk uphill.”

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant described herself as a
union member and said that this is an attack on all American workers. “It
happened at Century Aluminum to steelworkers.” Tomorrow, she said it will
happen to many more until we stop “these fraudulent transactions.”

“We can’t let this stand. This is an attempt to take away the health care
that was won on your broken backs, on your black lungs and on the memories
of your fellow miners who took their last breaths in the coal mines,”
Tennant said. “What’s worrisome is that tomorrow it can be an attack on
construction workers, nurses, secretaries, teachers; who knows where it
stops?”

West Virginia’s Junior Senator, Joe Manchin spoke against Patriot’s
attempt to have retirement obligations dismissed in bankruptcy but also
condemned Peabody and Arch for shifting their liabilities.

Manchin said he knows and talks to the owners of these companies. “I’ve
told them, where I come from, you can’t make wrong right. You can’t, no
matter how hard you try. You can’t shine crap, and by God, this is crap.
You can’t make this stuff look good, you can’t make it smell good and you
sure as hell can’t make it taste good.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka brought support from 12.5 million members
of the AFL-CIO. He said that when they dumped all the legacy costs onto
one little company they knew it would fail. He said that we’ve been
“living and working under the threat of vulture capitalism.” He addressed
Patriot, Peabody, and Arch, “You can’t use the courts to steal because we
won’t let you.”

UMWA President Cecil Roberts concluded the indoor rally. He said that 42
have already been arrested in St. Louis where the bankruptcy court is
convened. That includes all of the members of the International Executive
Board of the UMWA. He spoke of the broadening of this movement with faith
leaders from the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, and the
Catholic Church who would be joining today in non-violent civil
disobedience and arrest in protest against this moral outrage. He
recognized the Teachers, CWA, USW, UAW, and the many unions that were in
the hall.

Roberts said “We know who did this –they are wearing $10,000 suits and
Gucci shoes. We know where they are. We are going to be like Jesus who
threw the money changers out of the temple.”

At the conclusion of his speech people moved in orderly fashion to march
to the headquarters of Patriot at Laidley Towers. When the front of the
march arrived, the streets were still packed all the way back to the Civic
Center. Many workers cheered from the steps of their office buildings.

Moms and dads sheltered the babies from the light rain and kept walking.
The camouflage UMWA shirts read “We are Everywhere” and “No Health Care,
No Coal.”

A brief rally continued across from Patriot. Doris Crouse-Mays, President
of the Virginia AFL-CIO, said that this will be the “first time that I’ve
ever gone to jail in my life and I can’t think of a better reason.” She
was joined in being arrested by Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan
and West Virginia AFL-CIO President Ken Perdue.

Three religious leaders were among the 16 arrested, Father John Rausch,
Director of the Catholic Committee on Appalachia, Rev. James Lewis,
Episcopal priest, and Rev. Donald Prange, St. James United Church of
Christ, Lovettsville, VA.

Before leading the group to sit down on the steps of the Laidley Towers,
Cecil Roberts paid tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King who taught
non-violent resistance to unjust laws. Roberts said we must build a
movement that is more powerful than all of their money. “We are over
7,000 today and we will be back with 20,000 and then 30,000. If we can’t
get justice in the court house, we will take it to the state house. If we
don’t get justice there, we must take it to the streets.”

The powerful march and rally made the news not only in West Virginia but
also in the Wall St. Journal, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and across the
country.

Throughout hours of speeches about health care, neither politicians nor
labors leaders mentioned the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known as
Obamacare, the health care reform that was passed in 2010. Clearly the
ACA provides no remedy for the health care crises that workers and
retirees face.

Only a national single payer plan, HR 676, Expanded and Improved Medicare
for All, can provide the needed care. By removing the private for-profit
health insurance companies and hospitals through HR 676, the nation can
save $400 billion a year yet expand care to all.

HR 676 makes the wealthy pay a larger share and stops non-union employers
from being able to underbid unionized companies. With HR 676 there will
be no more profiting from the denial of care.

Until we can build the movement that can pass HR 676, everyone should join
the battle to preserve the health care won through union contracts. So do
something to help the miners. Ask your senators and congressperson to
support the UMWA demands.

Sign the petition for the UMWA here: http://www.fairnessatpatriot.org/
Check out the UMWA on facebook. Watch for more demonstrations to come.

Distributed by:

All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care–HR 676
c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO)
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 636 1551

Email: nursenpo@aol.com
http://unionsforsinglepayer.org

4/4/2013

Developments in the fightback, the Communist Party and defeating Harper
| April 3, 2013 | 9:41 pm | Action | No comments

Darrell Rankin, Jacob Penner – Norman Bethune Club, Winnipeg

The resolutions and amendments from Manitoba are from
comrades united behind our identity as a Marxist-Leninist
party of the working class and the goal of a socialist
Canada. We had a rich and thoughtful pre-convention
discussion.

At our nominating convention, the delegates’ average age
was the lowest in many decades and two comrades from
Northern Manitoba took their initiation pledges. We had a
good combination of change and continuity, essential for a
revolutionary party.

The YCL is being re-established in Manitoba and
comrades are forming a new club in one of Canada’s
poorest rural areas. It is realistic to say that our influence
in the Aboriginal rights, labour, youth and other
movements will improve in the years ahead.

Other parts of Canada are attracting new members; they
are greatly needed because of the gigantic challenges
confronting the working class.
* * * * *
The fightback and the Communist Party. The Harper Tory
government will never douse the growing flames of
resistance to its reactionary policies. In times of struggle,
the Communist Party’s ideas and interventions become
important, helping create the purpose and unity needed for
advance or retreat, to accomplish a strategic goal or to
support the right tactic.

The Idle No More protests led by Aboriginal Peoples are
the latest upsurge, preceded by the Occupy movement and
last year’s massive Quebec student strike. No longer is
Canada a quiet backwater of U.S. imperialism. In all
nations in Canada, resistance to corporate destruction is
growing.

The Communist Party is an essential part of making sure it
will grow into an unstoppable force that will shift the
balance of forces in Canada, curbing the immense power
of the corporate state at all levels.

A key problem is how to tie all the struggles together,
ensuring unity of all the forces. Our party’s understanding
of the national question in Canada gives a far-reaching and
strategic answer to that problem. We support the
international unity of workers and, unlike any other
political party, we place the full equality of nations as an
important democratic goal.

The slogan “workers of all nations unite” is important
right inside Canada itself. The Communist Party has
warned about the continued danger of bourgeois
chauvinism in the French and English non-Aboriginal
nations. The Tories are working harder to divide non-
Aboriginal workers away from the increasingly militant
Aboriginal working class. Unchallenged, this can only
harm the overall struggle, pushing it back and creating
openings for Tory/ Corporate-incited racism.

Quebec experienced a Quiet Revolution in the 1960s. We
must reject attempts to take away from Aboriginal activists
their call for “revolution.” The Communist Party must be
in full support of the call for revolutionary democratic
change for and by Aboriginal Peoples. We need to build
support for that change in all nations in Canada.
* * * * *
When we contribute our views about firmer tactics like
general strikes, let’s keep a thought in mind. Besides
Labour, only Aboriginal Peoples can bring the economy to
a halt because they live close to pipelines, railways, dams
and power lines. They are being thrown in jail for trying
already. Workers and Aboriginal Peoples have nothing to
lose except their chains. They need to unite for jobs, a big
wage hike and a fair society.
* * * * *
Another very significant development is the Canadian
Labour Congress’ first-ever political action conference
held in March. The Communist Party has long called for
such a conference, notably one that would target the
Harper Conservatives, which in fact was the focus of the
CLC conference.

There is no doubt that the CLC organized the conference
as a response to the Harper government’s dangerous
attacks. The CLC was spurred by the growing alarm of
millions of workers about the agonizing and prolonged
economic crisis and by workers watching the U.S. (and
European) labour movement get pummeled without mercy.
The party needed to ensure our fullest participation and
preparation for the conference.

To call the CLC conference inadequate in advance and
suggest that people should fear participating because of the
long record of manipulation by right wing social
democracy would have been a left-sectarian mistake. The
conditions required that the Communist Party welcome the
fact that the conference was taking place, and to encourage
delegates speak out for effective and unifying tactics to
defeat Harper.

Is there greater willingness by some unions to stop acting
as “business unions,” sponsoring capital funds, or
suffering quietly as U.S.-dominated international unions?
Capitalism’s crisis and the vicious attack on labour are
creating an answer of “yes.”

Importantly, the CLC conference was a challenge to rightwing
social democracy’s dominant role as the lone,
sufficient “political voice of labour”, leaving to unions
only the “economic struggle.” The conference launched
Labour into independent political action, creating a double
benefit: the opportunity to push social democracy away
from its neoliberal, pro-imperialist positions and to carry
out independent, proletarian political action of its own
aimed at the Harper Conservatives.

A politically engaged labour movement is a spur for the
delicate and needed task of ratcheting sections of the
working class and (possibly) the NDP away from positions
indistinguishable from the Conservative Party. The
situation requires the us to improve our propaganda
efforts.

The serious situation required that the Communist Party
urge the fullest unity to defeat the Harper government in
2015. It was necessary to remind delegates of recent
militant struggles and project the tactics that would create
the greatest trouble for the Harper Conservatives.
* * * * *
Our party has always advanced inspiring ideas that spark
action among broad sections of society, well beyond
people who count themselves as socialists.

We are associated with popular victories such as
unemployment insurance, medicare, organizing unions and
opposing fascism and war – examples of past People’s
Alternatives.

Today, our People’s Alternative is a comprehensive
platform. The Communist Party continues to fight for the
best, unifying proposals to curb and eventually end
corporate power and its state institutions. Capitalism’s fan
base is dwindling and Canadians who support a socialist
future are a minority, around 30 per cent according to
opinion polls. That’s a good starting point!

As capitalism’s crisis deepens, the need for a stronger,
fighting Communist Party is greater than ever. With
socialism, our People’s Alternative will be accomplished
more quickly, but we’re fighting hard for our platform
right now!
* * * * *
About my article on the CLC conference (PV, March 16), I
was disappointed at how the Central Executive’s editing
changed it into a complaint about the conference and
turned people off from reading the rest of the article,
which focuses on defeating Harper. I believe it was a
political error that harmed the party.

The original second sentence read: “The most highly
managed conference will produce a life of its own when a
government is ripping a country apart,” an idea intended to
encourage delegates to speak their minds and to point to
the seriousness of the situation. The CEC flat-out called
the conference, in advance, “highly managed.” Secondly,
the original “There are problems” before the 7th paragraph
was more constructive than the word “unfortunately”
inserted by the Central Executive, which is another
complaining word.

The CEC stopped me from circulating a longer version of
the article without cuts and retaining the formulations
helpful to the party. I have not heard from the CEC if the
changes were “political” or if they were made only for
reasons of haste or simple shortening. (I circulated the
longer article by email, copied to the CEC and noting “a
shorter version” was in the PV. I was ready to circulate it
more widely when the CEC informed me of its new rule,
banning later versions.)

Cde. Kimball has suggested that the new rule (one
contradicted by Engels, Marx or Lenin) be discussed at the
convention, so there is an appropriate special resolution on
this matter. I very much regret not being able to circulate a
version more helpful to the party to more activists.

We need to welcome unprecedented developments like the
CLC conference, which challenge the grip of right-wing
social democracy over the labour movement. Turning
people off from participating in the conference feeds into
the outcome desired by right-wing social democracy. The
CEC was notified about the CLC conference months ago,
yet it did not discuss the conference before the March 16
PV deadline.
* * * * *
How has this happened?

Charges and counter-charges in the party, both formal and
informal, are accumulating rapidly; some will occupy
convention time. They are dissipating our energy at a
critical juncture in the fightback. The convention will not
solve the problem, which is a place only for final appeal.
(CC members can only be charged individually in her or
his club, and if that fails, in the next higher body.)

The CEC’s reports to the CC about provincial woes helped
some B.C. members to involve the entire central leadership
and convention in the imbroglio. B.C. structures could and
should have resolved the issues. As an outgoing member of
the CC, I am self-critical for allowing a letter that included
the word “discipline” to be simply read out for
endorsement. The central leadership can be criticized for
being consumed with top-down discipline rather than
building constructively.

About the draft plan of work, I agree with the self criticism
of organizational failures. The only campaign
since 2010 was launched during the pre-convention period
and distracted from preparations.

How can this be remedied?

A more serious look at cadre is needed at all levels,
starting with a careful survey of clubs, activism/ ties to
mass work, and a skills inventory. Where necessary and
consistent with priorities, changes in assignments must be
considered and made. The balance between central (all-
Canada), provincial and local work needs close
examination. Marxist education must be a priority for all
members, everywhere.

Statements and websites are a good start. We need to
develop large numbers of cadre for the growing struggle
who will work in a disciplined, proletarian spirit, equipped
with the most advanced theory.