August 28, 2013

SEIU Minnesota State Council Endorses Socialist Alternative Candidate Ty Moore


Ty Moore is running against 5 Democratic Farmer Labor Party (DFL) candidates for the Ward 9 seat of the Minneapolis City Council.  The SEIU State Council represents workers in all SEIU locals (30,000).

In their press release they explain why it was a unanimous endorsement.  Harrison Bullard, Vice President of Local 26: "Ty Moore may have been the most impressive candidate we screened." Ty has long been a partner of SEIU through his work with Occupy Homes and in collaboration with Minnesotans For A Fair Economy.  "He marched with us in sub zero temperatures and stood on the picket line in support of low wage workers.  He clearly does not just talk, Ty takes action whenever he encounters injustice.  Ty is for real - he is about the people".

Moore's campaign is calling for a moratorium on housing foreclosures, $15 hour minimum wage and an end to deportations and workplace repression of undocumented immigrants.  Many of SEIU's members are immigrants fighting low wages and racist abuses by employers.

"Working people are disenchanted with a broken political system.  As an elected city counselor my job will be to give voice to the anger at big business and the political establishment and provide a real alternative for working people.  I will only take an average worker's wage and donate the rest of the $80,000 salary to building social movements.  SEIU's endorsement is a capstone on the powerful multi-racial grassroots coalition we are building to win this election.  We bring together socialists, labor and community activists, Greens and disgruntled Democrats because history shows it takes movements of working people to challenge the corporate stronghold on our political system."

 Organizational Endorsements:
SEIU Minnesota State Council
Socialist Alternative
Socialist Action
Green Party
Democratic Socialists Of America - Twin Cities
For more information and additional personal endorsements:
http://www.tymoore.org

August 27, 2013

Do's And Don'ts For Progressives Discussing Syria


Ramah Kuddaimi
With Syria back in the news due to the horrific chemical weapons attack last week that killed hundreds and threats from the US to engage in military strikes, below are some do’s and don’ts for progressive/radical anti-war organizations/activists in the US as you figure out a proper response.
1. DON’T in any way say or imply both sides are wrong and it’s not clear who we would be supporting if we get involved militarily. This is an insult to every Syrian who has and continues to go out in the streets and protest both the regime and those forces who are looking to use this time of war to assert their own power over others. It is a shame how many progressive groups in the US just jump on the “both sides are bad” wagon so we shouldn’t get involved. There are one million children who are refugees and that is the fault of the regime. It is the regime who is bombing cities with jets; it is the regime that has ruled the country with brutal force for decades. Any statement that doesn’t acknowledge this is again an insult to those who have sacrificed so much.
2. DON’T over conflate Iraq and Syria. Just as ludicrous those who look to Kosovo as an example of military intervention to support it in Syria are, it is quite pathetic when so many progressives and leftists are just obsessed with supposedly false chemical weapons claims. There are 100,000 Syrians dead, majority killed by conventional weapons. So there are a million and one excuses for the US to intervene and faking chemical weapons attacks is not needed. There is also no basis I believe in claiming al Qaeda has access and uses such weapons. Al Qaeda fought the US for a decade in Iraq and not once deployed such weapons. But all of a sudden they’re using them in Syria? And if the rebels had these weapons, the regime would’ve fallen a long time ago.
3. DON’T obsess over al-Qaeda, Islamist extremists, jihadists, etc. Since 9/11 progressives have rightly shunned the use of all these labels when it comes to the US War on Terror, yet we now use them freely when it comes to Syria and actually believe it. The overwhelming majority of Syrians, both those who have taken arms and those who continue to resist through nonviolent means, have nothing to do with the extremist groups and are rising up against all forces who are destroying their country, whether they be regime or supposed “opposition” groups. It is also important to understand that the Free Syria Army is not a central command army with orders given from the top. It is a loosely affiliated group of different battalions and anyone can claim to be part of it.
4. DO point out all the US failures toward Syria and how dropping bombs on the country is not what is needed. I personally don’t believe that US is going to get militarily involved. They promised weapons to the rebels and have yet to deliver. No way is the US getting in because as has been pointed out by Gen. Martin Dempsey and in a NYT opinion piece, it is so much for useful for US “interests” for Syrians to kill each other. I think taking a position of the US should not get involved through a military intervention is fine. DON’T put it as “Hands off Syria” implying this is some kind of American conspiracy. DON’T argue this is about US not having a right to taking sides in a civil war. DON’T make it all about money for home since we do want more humanitarian aid. DO frame it as what will help bring the suffering of Syrians to an end.
5. DO point out US hypocrisy as it judges Russia for sending weapons to the regime. Just last week a story came out that the US is sending $640 million worth of cluster bombs to Saudi. Weapons continue to flow to Egypt, Bahrain, and Israel despite massive human rights violations. DO call for an end to all sales of weapons to all regimes in the region.
6. DON’T let genuine concerns with US imperialism, Israel, Saudi, etc make you look at pictures and videos of dead children and think conspiracy. Bashar is an authoritarian dictator and his record of resistance is a bit sketchy. Just remember he collaborated with the US on things such as CIA renditions. Just because the CIA is training a few fighters in Jordan or some anonymous rebel leader is quoted in some Israeli paper doesn’t mean this isn’t a legitimate Syrian uprising against a brutal regime.
7. DO highlight the continued bravery of the Syrian people who take to the streets and protest against the regime, extremists, and all others looking to destroy their struggle for freedom and dignity. As in with everywhere, coverage of violence trumps coverage of continued nonviolent resistance.
8. DO strongly urge people to donate for humanitarian aid. Between deaths, imprisonments, internal displacement, and refugees, I think 30-40 percent of the Syrian population is in one way or another uprooted.
9. I have no actual solutions to suggest that you encourage people to support. Perhaps pushing for an actual ceasefire might be an option, which would require pressure on Russia to tell Bashar to back down. I know my not having answers about how to resolve anything is a shortcoming, but sometimes the best course of action is to just be in solidarity with folks in their struggle through simply recognizing it.
10. Syrians deserve the same respect for their struggle as all other struggles in the region: Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and always Palestine.

August 25, 2013

The Myth of the Middle Class: Who are the Working Class?

The Myth of the Middle Class: Who are the Working Class?

As class war becomes more and more apparent in 21st century America, here’s a real look and analysis of class, and how it manifests. The article below was an attempt to make discussion points to come to a more collective view of class. Although it was written in 2006, the correctness of this article has been shown again by the recent capitalist crisis and recession. The Workers Commission of FRSO/OSCL recommends this reading as an important grounding to understand the nature of class in the United States.
A main source was Michael Zweig the Director of the Center for Study of Working Class Life at the State University of New York Stony Brook. You may also want to check out latest information on the Pedagogy of class page.


Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines middle-class as a class with an “inclination toward a diversified social morality that includes such traits as a desire for stability and a high material standard of living, … [with] high ideals of education, professional competence, and personal ambition.”   It defines working-class as “people employed for wages; manual labor; a class of wageworkers.”

In this society, in the culture of the United States, it is generally assumed that people qualify as middle class when they make a certain amount of money and have a certain status. We only use the term “working class” to talk about people at the bottom of the economic ladder. Even the dictionary definition bears out this assumption. The reality is, however, that the lines are not so clear. Working class as well as middle class people can have “a desire for a high material standard of living and stability, high ideals of education, professional competence, and personal ambition.”

Our perceptions about which jobs, and what workers, are middle class, and which are working class, are subjective, based on ideology, not on facts about income level. According to Michael Zweig in his book The Working Class Majority: America’s Best-Kept Secret, “Class is about the power some people have over the lives of others, and the powerlessness most people experience as a result. This way of approaching class is different from looking at income or status or lifestyle.

The working class does have different income, status, and lifestyles from those of the middle and capitalist classes. Classes are groups of people connected to one another, and made different from one another, by the ways they interact when producing goods and services …Class is not a box that we ‘fit’ into, or not, depending on our own personal attributes. Classes are not isolated and self-contained.”

In order to understand the economic system, which affects our class, we need to understand the facts that bear on what class a person is in. In our society one’s class is based on one’s income, job status in society, and one’s position in the power structure. “[The] Working class is large and diverse… Since class is a matter of relationship and power, not job title, a person with the same job will be in one or another class, depending on the circumstances of the work. A truck driver who owns his [or her] own rig, for example, is in the middle class as a small entrepreneur, but a truck driver employed by a freight shipper is working class,” Zweig says.

If we examine economic trends over the last decades, we see that they reflect the underlying power relationships Zweig describes. To form a realistic analysis of class in U.S. society, we must examine six realities and trends that exist, or are occurring, in our country:
  • Wage shifts by occupation
  • The shift from industrial to low-paying service jobs
  • Rising education/wage differentials
  • The eroded minimum wage
  • Unemployment
  • Levels of household income
Examining these trends, along with a bit of historical analysis of the development of the economy in America, will reveal what class is.

Some History

Slavery provided the foundation, without which the economy of the U.S. could not have developed, since it was responsible for forty cents of every dollar generated in the north. Slavery and the international slave trade formed the basis for the capitalism that gave rise to the Industrial Revolution and solidified the class power structure in the United States. Sources and supports for the generation of wealth in the Industrial Revolution were the steam engine, the railroads, civil war, coal (between 1865 and 1900), steel production, and the rise of corporations. The Great Depression of 1930 also had a powerful effect on the class structure of America, from the end of World War II to the present day. President Franklin Roosevelt used government control over wages to compress wage gaps during World War II. His New Deal created the social service “safety net” that slowed down the growth of the income gap between those in the capitalist class and workers, but the policies, programs, and values it was based on have been under attack for more than thirty years.

Current Realities and Trends

Let’s look more closely at the six trends, outlined above, that affect wages, since wages are a major factor in determining what class people fall into.

Wage Shifts by Occupation

According to the Economic Policy Institute, in a 2004/2005 report, real wages have been falling since 1973. Low-wage, blue-collar, service, and younger workers experienced the greatest decline in pay. In contrast, wages in the areas of management, business, and finance experienced 2.1% real growth in 2003. This pattern of wage growth is consistent with high unemployment, which affects low-wage workers more severely than high-wage workers. This analysis of wage trends by wage level or percentile encompasses changes in the entire wage structure, not just those in one area. When managerial wages go up, this widens the gap between low-wage workers on one hand, and middle and high-wage workers on the other. The gap is widening, and low-wage workers are getting poorer while their numbers are increasing.

Shifts in Low Wage Jobs

The pool of workers earning poverty level wages expanded in the period from 1989 to 1995. In 2003, this wage was $9.04 per hour. Overall trends in the percentage of workers earning poverty level wages are primarily driven by trends among women, since women are disproportionately the ones earning these low wages. The shift downward in women’s wages therefore represents an increase in the percentage of the workforce that earns very low wages.

Rising Education/Wage Differentials

Changes in the economic benefits which education provides—called “education/wage differentials”— affect the structure of wages by widening the wage gap between groups with different levels of education. The expansion of education/wage differentials led to greater wage inequality in the 1980′s and 1990′s, and helps explain the relatively faster wage increase among high-wage workers. The wages of less educated workers fell during this period—that is, wages of workers with less than a four-year college degree. This group comprises nearly three-fourths of the workforce. In 1985, for example, a person could get a job as an Emergency Medical Service Worker with a GED. Today, college credits are needed. Education, and lack of it, has become one more of many obstacles for low-wage workers striving to become middle- or high-wage workers.

The Eroded Minimum Wage

The real value of money means how much a dollar can buy at any point in time. Because of inflation, the real value of the minimum wage has fallen considerably since its high point in the late 1960′s. The real value of the minimum wage in 2003 was still 22.9% less than it was in 1967. Increases in the minimum wage in the 1990′s raised its 2000 real value 14.7% over what it was in 1989. In 2003, the minimum wage was worth just 34% of what an average worker earning above minimum wage earned per hour. This ratio was at its lowest point in forty years. These statistics reveal that the earning power of low-wage workers has fallen significantly below those of average-wage workers. 58.2% of these low-wage workers, those with the least education, are women. So it should not be surprising that wage differentials—between low-wage women workers with only a high school education, and workers with a college education—are greatly affected by the decline in the minimum wage. Today, according to the New York Times, “New technology and low-cost labor in places like China and India have put downward pressure on the wages and benefits of the average American worker. Executive pay, meanwhile, continues to rise at an astonishing rate.”

Unemployment

The annual unemployment rate increased from 4.0% in 2000 to 6.0% in 2003. During the period from 1947-1979, female workers had a higher unemployment rates than male workers. Data on unemployment generally show that disadvantaged groups experience the most gains from an economic recovery, and the greatest losses during a recession. Lower income families gain the most percentage wise, although they gain the least in terms of actual dollars, since their incomes start off at a lower level. The economic recovery that was prolonged into the late 1990′s brought steep declines in unemployment. This meant it disproportionately benefited the 60% of families with the lowest incomes. The recession that followed, in turn, disproportionately negatively affected those same low-income families.

Household Income

Labor compensation—pay for work—accounts for the largest share of household income. Therefore, the basic pattern of inequality that occurred with earnings repeats itself here. While income inequality is high in many countries, in the U.S., inequality yields higher poverty rates and lower living standards for those at the bottom, than do comparable other economies. (These statistics are measured after taxes and transfers, including refundable tax credits.) The United States has the most unequal household income by both measures, poverty rates and living standards. A household in the bottom 10th percentile of income distribution receives just 39% of the income the median household receives. The New York Daily News reported that many families with children in New York make less than $15,000 a year, while a United Way/Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement study estimated that “a Queens family of three needs more than $50,000 a year to take care of housing, food, transportation and health care expenses, along with assorted other costs.” Intergenerational earning mobility—ie the degree to which fathers and/or mothers can pass on earning ability to sons and daughters—is another important aspect of inequality and the persistence of inequality. Today, “despite rapid increases in productivity, which is historically the source of a rising standard of living, family incomes are not growing,” wrote Jeffrey Madrick in The New York Review of Books. “In fact, … median family income is roughly what it was in 1999, even though wages at last rose early this year.”
The above trends increase the power the capitalist class has over workers. In the United States, the culture pushes working people to aspire to become middle class, and to eschew the “working class” label. This means most workers identify not with other workers, in keeping with their common interests, but rather with the capitalist class, to which they don’t belong, which actually exerts power over them. The concentration of income at the top is the key reason that the United States, for all its economic achievements, has more poverty and lower life expectancy than any other so-called developed nation. CEOs were always paid well compared with the average worker, but there is simply no comparison between what executives got paid a generation ago, and what they are paid today. In the last twenty-nine years, the average workers salary went up only 10% in real spending money. In 2004, the New York Times reports, CEOs’ compensation “was about $7.6 million, after peaking at almost twice that in 2000,” a rise of “an average of 6.8 percent a year.” At the same time the average worker’s pay rose to “about $43,000 in 2004 from about $36,000 in 1980, an increase of 0.8 percent a year in inflation adjusted terms.”
The ambiguity and wide variety of experiences within classes is a testimony to the fact that classes are not boxes or static categories.
What determines which class people are in is complicated; it’s real; it’s about more than just income levels. It’s mainly a matter of relationships and power, not job title. Workers such as Emergency Medical Service workers or firefighters, who also have their own businesses, are working class when they’re on the job, and become middle class when they’re acting as entrepreneurs. The majority of people are in the working class. Middle class people came from the working class, and aspire to be in the capitalist class, so they end up caught between these two main classes in society.

Sources:

The New York Daily News. ”Making a Living? Hardly” by Jose Martinez.
The New York Review of Books, June 8 2006. Review by Jeffrey Madrick of American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century by Kevin Phillips.
The New York Times, April 9, 2006. “Off to the Races Again, Leaving Many Behind” by Eric Dash pp. 1, 5.
The Working Class Majority: America’s Best-Kept Secret by Michael Zweig.
The State of Working America 2004/2005 by Mishel, Bernstein and Allegretto, The Economic Policy Institute.
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Third Edition.
Lester Muata Greene has been a labor and civil rights activist for thirty years, and is a past president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionist NYC chapter.
- See more at: http://freedomroad.org/2013/08/the-myth-of-the-middle-class-who-are-the-working-class/#sthash.CeETRsLg.dpuf

August 24, 2013

The Nation/Dave Zirin: Seeing 'New Jim Crow' Placards Seized By The Police And More From The March On Washington


I spent eight hours today amongst thousands at the March on Washington, and the people present were some of the most remarkable, resilient people I have ever had the privilege to be around. The number-one face on T-shirts, placards, and even homemade drawings was not President Obama or even Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was Trayvon Martin. I also witnessed homemade signs calling for jobs programs, speaking out against the school closures and in solidarity with those overseas victimized by US militarism. The people at this march are the face of resistance to what Dr. King called the “evil triplets of militarism, materialism and racism.”
The main speakers at the march, however, did not match the politics and urgency of those who gathered in the Saturday heat. Even more frustrating is that few tried. I expect to get all kinds of hate mail for what I’m about to write, but not to write it would be an act of duplicity based on what I saw and what I heard. I saw the great Julian Bond get only two minutes to say his piece before being shuttled from the stage. I saw Reverend Jesse Jackson, who has done remarkable work in recent years against the banks and predatory lending, also get less time than a pop song. I saw Reverend Lennox Yearwood, who is doing some of the most important work in the country connecting climate change to racism, get ninety seconds before being cut off. There was one speaker at the 8 am pre-rally who said the word “drones,” and that was it for any discussion of US foreign policy.
Based upon the speeches during the main portion of today’s events there can be little doubt that the Dr. King who was murdered in Memphis in 1968 would not have been allowed to speak at this fiftieth-anniversary commemoration of his life. There was no discussion of the “evil triplets.” Instead, we had far too many speakers pay homage to the narrowest possible liberal agenda in broad abstractions with none of the searing material truths that make Dr. King’s speeches so bracing even today.
As Representative Nancy Pelosi spoke, it was difficult to not think of both her defense of the NSA spying program or her vote against cutting funding to stop the mass monitoring of phone calls.
As future New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Wall Street’s best friend, spoke at the front of this March, it was difficult to not think of the Dr. King who said, “The profit motive, when it is the sole basis of an economic system, encourages a cutthroat competition and selfish ambition that inspires men to be more concerned about making a living than making a life.”
As Attorney General Eric Holder, the person who is not bringing federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, was allotted 30 minutes—fifteen times that of Julian Bond—to speak from the front stage, it was difficult to not think about the fact that it has taken five years for him to say anything about mass incarceration in this country. The late Bayard Rustin insisted as the lead organizer of the 1963 March on Washington that there be no politicians or political appointees allowed to speak. Clearly, there were different principles at work today.
Yes it was profoundly moving to see Representative John Lewis, the only living speaker from the 1963 March on Washington. Yes, it was right on time for the march organizers to give the incredible Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, time to speak - albeit far too briefly. But the closest thing to an administration critic was 9-year-old Asean Johnson, who has been on the front lines fighting school closures in Chicago and bringing the fire to President Obama’s confidante Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and the education agenda of Arne Duncan. I love Asean Johnson, but given the problems we face, far more was needed.
The day was symbolized for me on multiple levels by seeing DC Park police seize 200 professionally printed placards from activists that were distributing them for free. The placards read, “Stop Mass Incarceration. Stop the new Jim Crow.” Police said that it was "unlawful solicitation", even though they were clearly giving them away. When those having their signs seized complained, they were threatened with fines or arrest. I heard one DC police officer say, “Hey, you can get them back at the end of the day. On second thought, given your attitude you cannot. “
I have never seen free placards confiscated at a national gathering by DC police. Then again, I’ve also never seen a demonstration so thickly monitored, with park police, the Department of Homeland Security and the military on every corner.
Today, those “triplets of evil” King warned us about 1967 still strangle this country. If we are not talking about the New Jim Crow, Wall Street and militarism, then what are we doing? King said, “If an American is concerned only about his nation, he will not be concerned about the peoples of Asia, Africa, or South America. Is this not why nations engage in the madness of war without the slightest sense of penitence? Is this not why the murder of a citizen of your own nation is a crime, but the murder of citizens of another nation in war is an act of heroic virtue?” Given US foreign policy, how can one say that they stand in King’s legacy and not raise these issues?
I would ask those who find this objectionable to ask themselves, “What would Dr. King/Ella Baker/Fannie Lou Hamer/Malcolm X think about today’s march?” I don’t presume to know the answer to that question, but I know that we only honor their memory by asking it.

August 23, 2013

Bending Toward Justice: Marching on Washington


“We have come to the nation’s capital to cash a check……. America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’”
 
  For Whites Only
  Martin Luther King, Jr. used those words to explain why the March on Washington was necessary. He - and the quarter million others - did not go all that way to describe a dream. They marched to demand that the nation keep a promise.



That promise enshrined in the Constitution, King reminded us, was the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But in the actions of the US government, history shows that this promise pertained only to white people, particularly whites of the owning class. In 1776, only propertied white men could vote, and the 1790 Naturalization Law declared that only “a free white person” could become a citizen. The DNA of a racist capitalist society is clearly visible at the nation’s birth.

What was new in the US version of capitalism was that classes would not be determined by birth. They would be determined by race. The pursuit of white happiness was predicated on non-white unhappiness. White immigrants of whatever class origin were given the opportunities to become capitalists. That required government hand-outs, since no one can create wealth by hard work alone: access to both natural resources (such as land) and capital (money to buy farm tools) is needed before those raw materials can be converted to wealth. Financial gifts to whites—free land for homesteads, tuition-free public college educations, cheap loans to buy homes, farms, and businesses—helped some become capitalists, and others to at least have a
shot at becoming fnancially secure. For people of color? Nothing. Ineligible by law or excluded in practice from government help, they were to constitute a permanent working class; in harder times, “surplus” labor, in better times, the poorest paid workers, in the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs.



A Hundred Year March to Washington, 1963
This plan was never accepted by African Americans. They have always been in motion to throw off their literal and fgurative shackles. While they fought for racial equality, because of their position in the economy, their struggle was also a class struggle.



Differing ideas about what kind of capitalism was correct for the US became the basis for war. The North wanted the new lands in the West and Southwest taken from the Native Americans and Mexicans to be developed on an industrial model using waged labor, while the South wanted those lands for plantations using enslaved labor. In 1863, almost a century after the founding fathers made that promise about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, challenging the Southern way of life.

The most progressive Americans at that time had a “dream” that a Union victory would usher in a color-blind society, so that both whites and Blacks would be given the opportunity to become part of the capitalist class. To make that possible, it was understood that African Americans had some catching up to do. They needed natural resources and capital of their own: 40 acres of land, and a mule to farm it with. After the Civil War, for ten remarkable years, African Americans leapt into the upper levels of the working class (they were the ones after all who had skills, since they were the ones who had done all the work), 1000 new schools were opened in the South with enthusiastic enrollment, and Black businesses and farms began operation.

But what looked like “the bright arc of the moral universe” turned out to be just a little frecracker. Free Black labor was not to be tolerated. In 1877, politicians compromised” away the gains of the decade of Reconstruction, and home rule returned to Southern states. Thus began Jim Crow’s century of maintaining African Americans in their place as the lowest strata of the working class.

It would take another hundred years of struggle to move the nation to action again. In 1963, the long simmering Civil Rights movement culminated in the March on Washington, and the nation had a second chance to become color-blind. Discrimination and segregation were outlawed, as were egregious voting requirements placed on Blacks. Lyndon Johnson’s executive order requiring affrmative action in hiring increased the share of better jobs for non-whites. Remarkable gains were made: Black poverty fell from 55% in 1959 to 32% in 1969. Into the 70's, the percentage of African Americans with high school diplomas nearly tripled, and the percentage of Black college graduates quadrupled. It seemed that the democratic reform goals in which capitalism would be maintained, but people of all races would have a chance to get ahead, would be accomplished.
Back to the Future
   But once again, progress lasted little more than a decade. Free Black labor was still not to be tolerated. The existence of a group designated as the lowest sector of the working class in perpetuity had become solidly embedded in white consciousness and necessary for the continuation of capitalism as the US knows it. White workers have been made to feel that they are “better” than Black and brown workers, so that they identify more with white capitalists than with their fellow workers; white solidarity trumps working class unity. By the 1980's, the waters of justice stopped rolling down, as new ways of enforcing the racial hierarchy were invented. The war on drugs, on its face race neutral, became a tool for a renewed war on African Americans. To take just one example, Congress passed a sentencing law that created a 100:1 sentencing disparity
between traffcking crack vs. traffcking powder cocaine. With racial profling and the targeting of youth of color, today, one in three Black men can expect to go to prison in his lifetime. And discrimination persists: the percentage of the Black unemployed, surplus laborers, remains twice as high as that of whites, just as it was in 1963. The arc of the moral universe fzzled again.



Today, the brief gains of the 1960's and 70's are gone. Black poverty is three times the white rate of poverty; and while half of Black children live in segregated neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, only one out of ten white children live among others that are that poor. Racial disparities are growing - the disparity in fnancial assets held by white families compared to Black families quadrupled in the last generation. Already, 8% of the Black population has lost the right to vote due to felony conviction, and now the Supreme Court has taken the bite out of the Voting Rights Act by allowing states to do their own thing. As in the 1877 Compromise when federal troops were withdrawn from the South, withdrawing federal oversight of states on voting rules gives a green light to Southern states nostalgic for the days of open and legal white supremacy.
Marching in 2013
At the 1963 March on Washington, economics was very much on people’s minds. It was a march for “jobs and freedom.” It was well understood that without economic supports from the government such as had been afforded to whites, freedom would be meaningless. As one sign put it, “Civil Rights plus Full Employment equals Freedom.” The nine other speakers demanded economic investments in the African American community in the areas of housing, education, employment, and wages.



Fast forward to 1968. Martin Luther King, recognizing that freedom was not yet won, was preparing to launch a Poor People’s Campaign, demanding an economic bill of rights for all American workers. Such a bill of rights, including a demand for a guaranteed job for everyone willing to work, would pose a challenge to the US capitalist model. Understanding that this model was also impoverishing more and more white workers, King envisioned a multi-racial working class movement, the uniting of the workers of the world. A bullet stopped this progress cold.

Today, there are economic and demographic changes that give hope. With the ability to hire workers anywhere in the world, US capitalists have been so successful that they no longer feel they need to throw any crumbs to the US white working class; even white college graduates fnd themselves part of the “surplus.” Class mobility today is lower than at perhaps any other time in the US, and lower than in European countries. Disillusioned young whites have begun to see their commonality with people of color as in the slogan, “We are the 99%.” And for the frst time, more babies of color than white babies are being born in the US. In 30 years, it will be whites that are the “minority” group.

African Americans still have no jobs and no freedom, so we march again, knowing that it is the people’s actions that inform the “arc of the moral universe.” We socialists, we too, have a dream: we have a dream of a world where neither nature nor labor will be exploited, and where all our children are judged not by the contents of their  pocketbooks, but by the content of their characters. We pledge allegiance to that world, and we will keep our shoulders to the wheel for equity and freedom until it bends toward justice.
Published by



Freedom Road Socialist Organization/OrganizaciĆ³n Socialista del Camino para la Libertad

August 24, 2012

Online: freedomroad.org/2013/08/bending-toward-justice-marching-on-washington

August 21, 2013

CounterPunch: A Huge Victory For Oregon's Biggest Union


A Huge Victory for Oregon's Biggest Union
Standing Up to Anti-Union Democrats
by SHAMUS COOKE
After years of painful backsliding, the state workers of Oregon’s largest union, SEIU 503, recently stood firm and scored a big win in their contract negotiations against the state’s anti-union Democratic governor, John Kitzhaber.
After again demanding many anti-union concessions, Oregon’s Democratic governor backed down when the union proved organized and ready to wage a statewide strike, which would have shut down many state-run agencies, including highway repair, Department of Motor Vehicles, Parks and Recreation, food stamps, the Employment Department, Child Welfare, Department of Revenue, and others.
SEIU 503 is a union of 50,000 plus members, the core of which consists of Oregon public employees. On paper the union looked impressive after having expanded its membership in mostly non-public areas, including private home-health care.
But the union’s power had been hollowed out in preceding years, due to successive Democratic governors demanding concessionary contracts from the state workers, who pay most of the union’s dues while having the most cohesive work units and political power.
SEIU 503 had suffered from a disease that— if left untreated— was potentially fatal: concessionary bargaining. Consequently, with each new contract wages were lowered, members’ health care contributions increased, and the governor continued to demand that public employees be blamed for the budget deficits caused by the recession that the banks triggered and the lowering of taxes on corporations.
The life force of the union was being sucked dry by years of weak contracts, and eventually many members began to question why they were paying dues to a union that appeared incapable of protecting their wages and benefits. Morale was low. Hope for the union’s future — and its members’ livelihood — started to dim.
Sensing blood, a variety of right-wing funded organizations and politicians were preparing the anti-union deathblow, with ballot measures — like “right to work” legislation — that intend to decapitate unions in Oregon, as happened in Wisconsin and elsewhere.
But after this big win, SEIU 503 is in a better position to defend itself against these right-wing attacks, and in a better bargaining position for contract negotiations next time, since members will want to expand on their momentum to regain the losses they’ve incurred in recent contracts.
This win required that the union out-muscle nearly every politician in the state, who all lined up to vote against the union. The Democrats, who control Oregon’s House and Senate, co-authored a bill that illegally attacked the pensions of current and future retirees (a bill the union is challenging in court). After this treachery was passed, the Oregon Democrats pushed for yet another anti-pension bill, which they called a “grand bargain” — raising minimal taxes on the wealthy in exchange for even more pension cuts. The Grand Bargain failed by one vote, although the Democratic Governor has announced he will pursue it again in a special session.
Many — if not most — of these Democrats were supported by Oregon labor unions and they proceeded immediately to stab unions in the back. Oregon Democrats are now parroting the longstanding Republican propaganda that blames unions for the state’s budget problems.
The Democrats now look at organized labor through the same anti-union lens of the Republicans; the budget was to be balanced on the backs of public employees while the bigbanks and corporations — who caused the recession — were given new tax breaks.
For example, the Democratic governor called the Democratic-controlled legislature into “special session” exclusively to give NIKE a special tax break, which of course will be expanded to other corporations in Oregon. This is happening at the same time that the Democrats and Republicans — and their associated media mouthpieces — both pour blame on unions for the bad economy, which tends to drive public perception against unions.
Oregon’s anti-union, pro-corporation dynamic is not unique. Since the start of the Great Recession, the Democrats nationwide have veered even sharper to the right in regards to labor — what little difference remains between Democrats and Republicans over unions is now a matter of degrees within a shared, bi-partisan ideology.
Although Republicans have wanted to institute anti-union laws like “Right to Work,” the Democrats have helped to weaken these unions and made them vulnerable to such attacks — the old one-two knockout punch combination. Strong unions that bargain strong contracts are less vulnerable to Republican attacks.
It’s undoubtedly true that the Democrats rightward political drift is, in part, the byproduct of a labor movement that refuses to hold them accountable for their actions. In Oregon, for example, the current Democratic governor, John Kitzhaber, had previously proved himself an enemy of organized labor when, in 1995, SEIU 503 went on a statewide strike against him.
When Kitzhaber re-entered politics in 2010, SEIU 503 and the other unions agreed to back him on a “lesser of two evils” basis, regardless of his public statements that aimed at ”curbing pension costs” and other anti-union, Republican-inspired rhetoric. When the Democrats co-authored the anti-pension bill, instead of publicly denouncing it the unions were mostly quiet, a response that empowered the Democrats to double down later for a Grand Bargain. Passivity doesn’t stop your political foes, but invites more aggression.
The key lesson in SEIU’s recent victory was that the union proved it was not dependent on Democratic politicians for favors; unions have an independent power completely separate from politicians, expressed most strongly through their ability to mobilize the membership for a strike.
SEIU 503 defeated the concessions demanded by the governor by organizing strike petitions in the worksites, staging statewide worksite actions, organizing numerous regional membership meetings to discuss bargaining proposals and strategy, phone banking members to educate and elicit feedback, and holding statewide in-person strike votes that resulted in a strong “yes” from the membership, further empowering the bargaining team. Because of these and other actions the governor backed down and the membership now has their first contract victory in years with zero concessions, wage increases, as well as protections against privatization and other improvements in working conditions.
Now, many within SEIU 503 are re-thinking their relationship with the Democrats. Most members now realize that the Democrats are transitioning from “fair weather friends” to outright enemies; and most union members do not want to dedicate their time or money for their political enemies, whether or not the enemy is considered a “lesser evil.”
Unions in Oregon have already started “candidate schools” for members interested in running for public office. And although laudable, this small step towards political independence must be accompanied by a larger investment from all unions toward creating a political party to represent working people with the resources and organizational ability to challenge the two-party system once and for all.
Shamus Cooke is a social service worker and an elected officer of SEIU 503. He can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com

August 18, 2013


 
Egyptian Labor speaks: The Current situation in Egypt and an assessment of the Morsi period, a period marked by it's own massacres and repression of various sectors of Egyptian society.
 

 The People’s Revolution and Dream of Democracy

 

The Center for Trade Union and Workers Services “CTUWS”, 16th August 2013: Since the ascend of the Muslim Brotherhood to the regime 30th June 2012 there were calls to go forward and give the new regime the opportunity to comprehend the Egyptian people’s hopes and aspirations to subsistence, freedom and social justice, to cause real change based upon freedom and democracy, uproot corruption and the establishment of real institutions for all the citizens without discrimination or exclusion through real participation which starts with societal dialogue for all the social spectrum until the realization of actions and the adoption of decisions reflecting consensus without exclusion or egotism; with the aim of building the state of law which all the Egyptians are seeking.

But all these hopes and aspirations dissipated gradually with the beginning of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule. It was only after the elapse of two months that16 Egyptian soldiers were assassinated in Rafah, a city on the Egyptian borders. The killers were members of a terrorist organization affiliated to the Brotherhood. There were news at that time that the Egyptian Presidency was not serious in tracing the killers or disclosing their identity. At the same time there were news and reports from international sources on the perpetrator and their organizational affiliation. It was certain that the Egyptian Presidency institution has rendered the law ineffective and wasted the Egyptian people’s right to know the fact and to know who killed their sons.

The Egyptians went in millions for demonstrations on the “Friday of Accountability” calling on the President to fulfill his promises. The President had promised to solve the security issues, penalize the martyrs’ killers and improve public services. It became apparent at that time that the Brotherhood and the Presidency have waivered all the promises for democracy and the Egyptians’ right to peaceful demonstration, expression of their rights and the right to hold the government accountable for its actions. The Brotherhood gathered their advocates and members at Tahrir Square and attacked the demonstrators with stones and empty bottles to prevent them from reaching Tahrir Square. Thousands of the youth were injured. The platform of the political currents opponents of the Brotherhood was destroyed as was seen and heard by the whole world.

The Brotherhood and the President waivered thee democratic principles when the President solely announced the Constitutional Declaration of 19th November 2012 without consulting the political currents which accepted his invitation a few days earlier to consult on what he called ‘national dialogue’ and consider the following stage. More astonishing was that none of the presidential team ( the vice president, the legal advisor or the other assistants and councilors) had any prior idea about the announced Declaration. Several of them resigned in protest of such a solitary decision, marginalization of their role and crude intervention of the Brotherhood in managing the state as if they were its actual rulers.

Chancellor Tarek el Bishry head of the constitutional amendment committee who was a prominent supporter of the Brotherhood described that Declaration as a coup against legality and said that the President is not entitled to issue constitutional declarations after that which was subject to the referendum of 19th March 2012.


The Egyptian people rose against that Declaration considering it a coup against democracy, a support for tyranny and immunity for the presidential decisions against the judiciary.

The Brotherhood confirmed once again its fascism and gathered its militias and supporters to attack the demonstrators in front of the presidential palace ‘Itihadiya’ who were calling to withdraw the Constitutional Declaration and reaffirm the state of law for which the 25th January Revolution was initiated. The President called his supporters to the presidential palace and addressed them as his ‘relatives and clan’ and said that they are the Egyptian people and that the ‘others’ are but saboteurs, criminals and enemies of the revolution. Since then, the Brotherhood and its extremist supporters started bloodshed as they used to do throughout their history of terrorism, killing and torture. They killed about ten of the revolutionary youth in front of the presidential palace.

The crimes of the ruling Brotherhood regime continued to liquidate the revolutionary youth. They killed Mohamed Gaber known as Jeika who was the Admin of “Lying Brotherhood” and a member of the “Popular Current”. Other members of the current were arrested. Christy, an activist from Al Dostour Party was killed. Mohamed el Gendy was fiercely tortured and thrown in the street. He died in hospital later on. Other activists in various Governorates were prosecuted and attacked.

From these successive sufferings and disappointments and the increasing feeling of the loss of a modern civil state based on democratic principles and amidst the escalated domination of the Brotherhood and its allies on the regime for the benefit of the Brotherhood itself and its supporters other than the partners in the country and the other political currents, it became apparent that the battle launched by the Brotherhood and its allies is a battle between two projects: the first is the project of the Brotherhood in a state which has no place for the others (as shown in the constitution which was issued in spite of the withdrawal of members of the political parties, civil currents, Al Azhar and the Church) and the second is the project of a modern democratic state based upon the principles of justice, freedom, equality and nondiscrimination.

Then came the “Rebel” initiative led by a group of the youth who felt that maintaining such a decaying political, social and economic situation would lead to the total collapse of the state and the end of the dream of the state of freedom and social justice which was the essential cause of the 25th January revolution. “Rebel” started a signature gathering campaign for early presidential elections; a democratic procedure adopted in modern states when conditions deteriorate similar to what was taking place in Egypt. The movement collected more than 25 million signatures to withdraw confidence from the President was seriously resisted and severely attacked by the Brotherhood and its allies. Such attacks incited more support to the Movement from all the categories of the population. The Movement called for demonstration on 30th June in which over 30 million Egyptians had taken part. They wanted to put an end to this crisis. The army felt the seriousness of the situation and that the state is to a deep abyss unless political consensus is reached amongst all the parties of the political process. The army called for consensus several times but the presidency did not pay the due attention to such calls. On the contrary, the presidency hindered the political initiatives of the other political parties as well as the armed forces. The armed forced were biased to the Egyptian people which gathered in millions on June 30th and July 3rd 2013. The army announced its support to the Egyptian will and announced a road map in which it undertook that it will not rule and that it will not intervene except for security considerations and for exercising its internationally recognized functions. The head of the Supreme Constitutional Court was appointed a Temporary President for the country. A government from all the political currents of the country was formed but the Islamic current refused to take part in it.

The Muslim Brotherhood disclosed once again that it does not put into consideration the aspirations of the Egyptians to their right to demonstrate, express their opinions and participate in ruling their country. The Brotherhood called the demonstrators ‘non believers, traitors, stooges of the west, enemies of Islam, etc.” and threatened to set the country in fire. The Brotherhood made lists of the political and media elite to be terminated, armed its supporters and brought foreign elements to spread chaos and destruction in the country. More than 40 churches were burnt and fifteen police stations were attacked police officers and soldiers were killed and their bodies were mutilated in a manner despicable by any religion and against any human rights and norms.

The Brotherhood justified its crimes by dispersing the “non peaceful” sit-ins in Rabaa and Al Nahda Squares. Protestors in the two sit-ins were warned more than three times and were asked in the name of all the Egyptians to drop their weapons and join the peaceful political process of the country. Otherwise, they were pleaded to sit-in peacefully without jeopardizing inhabitants of the surrounding areas who were severely punished morally and physically merely because they argued the so called legality of the former president. Even the children of the surrounding areas of the two squares were subject to inhuman aggression and terrorist actions.

The security authorities asked the protestors in Rabaa and Nahda to leave the place peacefully and promised them that they will not be prosecuted or arrested. They wanted to terminate the sit-ins with minimum life losses. The number of killed police offices and soldiers shows to what extent they did not resort to force against those protestors.

The CTUWS is very much sorry for the innocent victims who lost their life during these events and emphasizes the necessity to hold those who committed violence and encouraged aggression against the Egyptian state, national unity and the people’s right to live in peace and enjoy their right to democratic option; such a right which is different, by all means, from the exercise and incitation of violence and the destruction of the state institutions under the fancy of faked legality and the call to return a president who was ousted by the revolution of the people.

######

August 16, 2013

"Mansplaining" Goes Mainstream And MSNBC Host Is Called Out


I am sure Lawrence O’Donnell didn’t expect his guest to fight back, but she did - with gusto!  Julia Ioffe had been invited on his show as a Russian expert.  She is a senior editor for The New Republic who was previously a correspondent based in Moscow for Foreign Policy and The New Yorker.  She speaks fluent Russian.  The segment was about whistleblower Edward Snowden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. O’Donnell insisted Putin had complete control of the situation from the beginning.  Ioffe disagreed saying, “You overestimate the Russians.  I think in general people who have not been to Russia tend to overestimate their abilities.”  Lawrence called her statement “absurd” and every time she tried to speak she was cut off.  He was so heated that she was unable to get a word out to expand on her comment.

She went home that evening and wrote a letter for her New Republic readers,  “Dear Lawrence O’Donnell, Don’t Mansplain To Me About Russia”.  She said in part, “Tonight I went on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show..what bothers me is that look, your producers take the time to find experts to come on your show, answer your questions and hopefully clarify the issue at hand.”  She then continues to make her points about Russia that she was unable to do on the show.  She ends with, “The problem is that this was not in the ranting comments section...and if you do not have the good sense and education or, hell, the reporting experience to know better then just let the guests you invited onto your show speak - otherwise, don’t waste my fucking evening.”  The entire letter and video can be seen here: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/114234/lawrence-odonnell-yells-julia-ioffe-about-putin-and-snowden

Why is this important? Women go on these shows all the time and get treated like Julia was treated.  But she fought back, in public and called out “mansplaining”.  Of course mansplaining has been going on for hundreds of years, but the term itself is relatively new.

In 2008 Rebecca Solnit wrote an essay called, “Men Explain Things To Me”. She talks about how she and a friend ended up at a party.  They were about to leave but the host wanted to talk to her.  He had heard that she had written a few books and he asked her “what are they about?”. She spoke about her most recent book called, “Rivers Of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge And The Technological Wild West”. It is about the annihilation of time and space and the industrialization of everyday life.  He cut her off to tell her about a book that had just come out and smugly went on about this important book.  Her friend tried to interrupt him to say, “That’s her book”.  But he would not be deterred and continued on.  Her friend had to say, “That’s her book” four times before he hesitated.  As Solnit says, “That I was the author of the very important book it turned out he never read, just read about in the New York Times Book Review a few months earlier, so confused the neat categories into which his world was sorted that he was speechless - for a moment, before he began holding forth again.  Being women, we were politely out of earshot before we started laughing, and we have never really stopped.”

“It is the presumption at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare that crushes young women into silence by indicating the way that harassment on the street does, that this is not their world.  It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence..the out and out confrontational confidence of the totally ignorant is, in my experience, gendered.”  

Rebecca never used the term “mansplaining” in her essay but it gave birth to the term.  It started as one of those things that women say to each other but then became mainstream.  Now Lawrence O’Donnell and MSNBC know it too.

But mansplaining of course does not only happen in academia but in all areas of life.  Including of course in politics on the right and of course on the left.  These young socialist feminists today have no mercy as they fight back which is why one of the most popular sites is “Mansplained Marxist”.

By the way Julia Ioffe has written one of the best in depth articles about what it is like to be a member of the LGBT community in Russia. All those gay male bloggers in this country who think they know what is best should first listen to what our community in Russia is doing. 



August 10, 2013

The photo the Koch brothers really don't want you to see


 This 16-year-old male polar bear died of starvation resulting from the lack of ice on which to hunt seals. Photograph: Ashley Cooper/Global Warming Images.

Read the article here.

Renowned polar bear expert Dr. Ian Stirling, who has studied the bears for almost 40 years, describes this polar bear found dead in Svalbard as "little more than skin and bones," having perished due to a lack of sea ice on which to hunt seals:

"From his lying position in death the bear appears to simply have starved and died where he dropped," Stirling said. "He had no external suggestion of any remaining fat, having been reduced to little more than skin and bone." The bear had been examined by scientists from the Norwegian Polar Institute in April in the southern part of Svalbard, an Arctic island archipelago, and appeared healthy. The same bear had been captured in the same area in previous years, suggesting that the discovery of its body, 250km away in northern Svalbard in July, represented an unusual movement away from its normal range. The bear probably followed the fjords inland as it trekked north, meaning it may have walked double or treple that distance
This is what the Koch brothers' business model is producing. The Koch PAC is the largest oil and gas contributor—donating more than even ExxonMobil. Koch Industries sends 90 percent of these contributions to Republicans.

It's the fourth largest lobbyist in the oil and gas industry, funding $67,042,064 to groups denying climate change science since 1997. And emits over 300 million tons of greenhouse gases a year. 

Walker forced to back off from arresting observers of Solidarity Sing Along

From Corrente:

In Wisconsin, the Department of Administration has now released a statement that observers of the Solidarity Sing Along will no longer be arrested or threatened with arrest. Videos of tourists being threatened with arrest, and complaints from legislators who were threatened with arrest for merely observing the Sing Along, have proven an embarrassment to Walker.

Prior to today, not only were non-participants at the Capitol warned of possible arrest, but in some cases they were actually arrested.

Here's video of Dominic Salvia, a complete non-participant (purely media), being arrested while reporting the protest for his radio show.



 Dominic sent me the link and wrote me "Here is a third party link recording of arrests. At 10.43 minutes, I can be seen entering the camera shot from lower right. This video proves at no point was I a participating member of the protest, and was simply taking pictures, notes and engaging in brief conversations as media would do. My arrest begins at 14.00 minute mark."
Dominic Salvia is wearing a white shirt, has longish dark hair, and has glasses perched on his head.

Here's a statement the ACLU released about his arrest:

#####

ACLU Statement on Arrest of Media Covering Capitol Protests
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 31, 2013

CONTACT: Sarah Karon, ACLU of Wisconsin, (608) 469-5540; skaron@aclu-wi.org
MADISON – In the past week Capitol Police have arrested and cited dozens of protestors, some as old as 85, who have participated in peaceful demonstrations inside the Capitol rotunda. 

On Wednesday, July 24, Capitol Police arrested Dominic Salvia, the host of “The Devil’s Advocates Radio,” a talk show on Madison’s 92.1 FM The Mic. Salvia was covering a protest inside the rotunda as a member of the media.

Today the ACLU of Wisconsin issued the following statement regarding Salvia’s arrest:
“The arrest of a member of the media illustrates the vagueness of the Capitol permit rules, which allow police to prosecute not only ‘participants’ in an event that is declared unlawful, but also ‘spectators.’ If spectators can include media, these rules are overly broad.”

August 7, 2013

Socialist Kshama Sawant Takes On Seattle Democrats - Again, winning 35% Of The Vote And A Run Off Election


In 2012 Kshama Sawant ran for the Washington House of Representatives, Position 1 in the 43rd District against “progressive” Democrat and House Speaker Frank Chopp.  She won an unprecedented 27% of the vote.  At that time she said of her campaign, “We received this result as an openly Socialist campaign ignored by the media, no corporate donations.  Occupy gave voice to people’s rage at Wall Street, our campaign gave voice to people’s anger at corporate politicians.  It shows the potential to build a powerful left electoral challenge to the two corporate parties.”
Kshama Sawant is a member of Socialist Alternative and teaches economics at Seattle Central Community College. She is a member of the American Federation of Teachers Local 1789. 
Yesterday Sawant received 35% of the vote.  This time she is running for Seattle City Council and will now face a run off against incumbent Richard Conlin who received only 49% of the vote.
Kshama Sawant has received endorsements from The Stranger, the Green Party of Seattle, and progressive community leaders such as founding director of Real Change Tim Harris, Occupy activist Dorli Rainey, journalist Geov Parrish, and former Seattle School Board member Sally Soriano.  Sawant has also been endorsed by four unions, AFT Local 1789, CWA Local 37083, WFSE Local 1488, and IBEW Local 46, which together represent over 9,000 workers.
In the endorsement by The Stranger  they said of her opponent, “Richard Conlin claimed to be a progressive environmentalist during his 16 years on the council, when in fact he has spent those four terms helping to kill mass transit, build new highways, and seek harsh penalties for panhandlers. He's not a progressive; he's a green-washing liberal fraud.”
The Seattle Times wrote off her campaign as, “Too hard left for Seattle”.  But 28% last year and 35% this year voted for her and now Seattle will get the chance to choose between Kshama Sawant and the “greenwashing liberal fraud”.
But what are the issues her campaign is talking about?  I will end with  her campaign literature and you see an activist campaign which is uncompromising when it takes on the Democratic Party:
“Working people in Seattle have a clear political choice for a change. If you want to fight for an alternative to the status quo, join us in the struggle for a citywide $15/hour minimum wage, a major expansion of public transit by taxing Seattle’s millionaires, increased investment in affordable housing, and implementing rent control. All of the Democratic Party politicians accept the conventional parameters of debate, that is, one whose very assumptions are based on the interests of big business and the super-rich, and set aside the interests of working people, women, young people, the poor and the homeless, people of color, the elderly, and the disabled."

"Sawant’s campaign is radical in that it is a direct challenge to the Democratic Party, and all of its various flavors, and to pro-corporate politics in general.  Kshama Sawant is campaigning to blaze a new trail in modern American politics – one based unapologetically on the independent interests of working people and all those marginalized by the capitalist system."
Unlike Conlin, Sawant refuses to accept corporate donations.  Her grassroots campaign has raised $25,000, predominantly in the form of small donations of $25 or less, and has mobilized over 125 volunteers.  “We will make history by raising a grassroots army of over 300 volunteers, and run one of the biggest door knocking campaigns this city has seen to defeat Richard Conlin,” Sawant declared.
“Conlin has made clear where he stands, with corporations and the elite. By not representing the majority of struggling working people in this city, he has made himself obsolete.”
Sawant has pledged to only take the average worker's wage and donate the rest to building social justice movements not the $120,000 the rest of the City Council receives.
"Mayor Mike McGinn and the entire City Council are all Democrats, in spite of the positions being nominally non-partisan, and there hasn’t been a Republican elected to the Seattle City Council since 1991. Responsibility for Seattle’s sky-rocketing rent, low wages, one of the worst gender pay gaps among major U.S. cities, and Seattle police’s racism and brutality lies at the doors of the Democratic Party establishment, which has had a one-party monopoly on power in this city (and majorities in King County and in Olympia). A city council filled with committed working-class representatives is precisely what Seattle needs and has not had."
"It’s a vital necessity that workers and left-wing movements break from the failed strategy of supporting the Democratic Party and mount more independent campaigns.  If the left doesn’t break from the Democratic Party who control the federal government and most major cities, it will open the space for the Republicans and the Tea Party to exploit working-class people’s legitimate frustrations and misdirect them at women, minorities, and environmentalists.”