Many crucial issues are at stake in the Chicago Teachers Union strike. But the school district’s insistence that student test scores constitute a major basis of teacher evaluations seems to have become a particularly contentious point, leading to the vilification of teachers by the mainstream media, particularly The New York Times.
The International Association of Machinists just succeeded in negotiating a humiliating defeat with Caterpillar after a 15-week strike. Workers lost considerable money by striking, and then lost even more with the new contract, accepting almost every concession the company demanded despite the fact that the company was sitting on a record $4.9 billion in profits. […]
Thanks to Occupy, most working people are well aware of the growing inequalities in wealth. But for those who lack the specifics, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich provides a useful overview: “…the rich have been getting a larger and larger portion of total income. From 9 percent in 1980, the top 1 percent’s take […]
In a recent article, “Pensions Under Attack in America?,” Mr. Leo Kolivakis took issue with a proposal by Mark Vorpahl, a union steward, to defend pensions by taxing the rich in order to create jobs (see Pensions Under Attack). Both authors agree that solving the jobs crisis is indispensable to solving the pension crisis, but […]
When it is a question of the efficacy of money in politics and workers fail to put up a fight, money prevails. The moral is: money counts — but only if we let it.
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer Unions were originally built on the principle of solidarity. Workers soon realized that as individuals they were powerless when trying to defend their interests in relation to their profit-maximizing employers. But when they were organized and stood together, their combination gave them the upper hand. Under the banner of “an […]
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer In the wake of the Wisconsin elections and the failure to unseat Governor Walker, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has issued a victory statement of sorts, resorting to the most tortured and convoluted logic.
There has been much talk about attempts by various organizations such as the Democratic Party and some top officials in organized labor to co-opt Occupy in order to steer this movement in directions beneficial to themselves. Such attempts can hardly be surprising, given the use that many in the Republican Party made of the Tea […]
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer Current political developments in California highlight the gaping chasm that divides the established political process — which is routinely mislabeled as “democratic” — with the positions embraced by the vast majority of Californians. Unfortunately, California is to the United States as Greece is to Europe: both are fiscal basket cases. California has […]
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer When homeowners have fallen behind in their mortgage payments, whether because of a job loss or because the interest rates just shot up, the bankers have responded coldly. Led by their economic interests, they set their robo-signers working overtime on foreclosures, forcing millions of people out of their homes. Back during the […]
Unfortunately, there are some who regard themselves as Marxists who insist on squandering these opportunities. They argue that all such struggles must be linked to the goal of socialism on the grounds that any working class gains within the framework of capitalism are simply illusory reforms — they will eventually be eroded by the capitalist system in its unrelenting push to maximize profits. A few even refuse to work within the trade unions, because of their limited economic goals, while others refuse to work with the reformist trade union officials.
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer This winter the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) sent tremors of hope through its ranks by announcing it was going to spearhead an attempt to place an initiative on the California ballot — appropriately called the “Millionaires Tax” — that would raise taxes only on millionaires (3 percent on those […]
Bill Leumer and Ann Robertson After decades of losing ground and feeling helpless, working people are beginning to fight back. This development has emerged in part because the Occupy Wall Street movement has thrown a national spotlight on the growing inequalities in wealth and the mainstream politicians who have enabled this trend to continue for […]
Although they bill themselves as “friends of labor” and many in the labor community accept this fraudulent packaging, Democrats are at best entirely unreliable allies of workers and at worst determined opponents. Truman, who claimed he opposed Taft-Hartley and initially vetoed the legislation – only to be overruled by Congress – nevertheless made recourse to it not less than 61 times during his administration
Organized labor has the resources to pursue its own political agenda where it defends the interests of all working people in the face of this current historic corporate attack. As a start, it could mobilize working people in massive demonstrations to demand that the politicians respond to the needs of the majority of Americans: full funding for public education and social services, no cuts but a stronger Social Security and Medicare, a massive federal job creation program, and raising taxes on Wall Street and the rich in order to fund these programs. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has already called for a strong independent labor movement. Massive demonstrations could be a first step in this direction, because working people will be standing up for themselves, not sitting back and relying on the politicians. But the logic of this first step will then lead to a second step: the creation of a labor party whose goal would be the defense and promotion of the interests of all working people.
The following article was the basis of remarks by Ann Robertson at a public forum devoted to addressing the significance of the recent assaults on labor unions. The forum took place in Seaside, California, on April 14, 2011. The Big Picture I want to begin by clarifying the larger context within which all of the […]
This is the text of a leaflet which Workers Action distributed at the April 4, 2011 demonstration in San Francisco in solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin. Working people are confronting a historic crisis. Those of us who are lucky enough to have a job are facing unrelenting attacks on our wages, our benefits, and our pensions, […]
Ordinary people get it immediately when presented with the facts about the growing inequalities in wealth, the ever-decreasing taxes on the rich and the corporations, and the increasingly difficult struggle of working people to maintain a dignified standard of living. Instead of capitulating to the polls, unions must launch their own offensive, stand up for what is right, educate the public by purchasing one-page ads in Wisconsin newspapers across the state, lay out all the facts clearly, and then let the people of Wisconsin make an informed decision. Union officials must not abandon public opinion to the corporate-owned media.
At the outset of the struggle, many Wisconsin union officials signaled that they were prepared to accept concessions, which are being demanded in many states by Democrats and Republicans alike. But when Wisconsin public workers themselves were interviewed, one after another rejected the concessions. They know better than anyone that the concessions are not affordable, especially when they come on the heels of earlier concessions they felt compelled to accept.
What can be done? The tension resulting from these growing inequalities is rapidly approaching an explosive climax. But organized labor officials, who are in a position to mobilize massive numbers of working people to put up a fight, are giving the impression that they are suffering from a state of complete paralysis. Of course, every two years they come to life and furiously expend huge amounts of money and energy to elect Democrats to office, only to see the Democrats fail to throw anything their way except a few crumbs. And in another two years, all the broken promises are pushed under the rug, and this self-defeating ritual repeats itself.
Spanish translation of Why Inequality Matters. El paisaje social y económico norteamericano está cambiando rápidamente. Las desigualdades en la riqueza, que iniciaron su ascenso en la década de los años 80, se aceleraron en los 90. Ahora vuelan ya por encima de los gráficos, gracias en primer lugar a los recortes de impuestos introducidos por […]
The united front, then, is the necessary approach that workers use to unite themselves, as members of the same class, in order to put up a fight. It lies at the heart of class struggle. Here, workers put their political differences aside and come together because of their common grievances over a single or a few immediate issues, based on their common class membership and the economic oppression it entails. Their political perspectives are too divergent to unite them at this early stage. The necessity of the united front flows from the fact that the economy is the most fundamental determining factor in people’s lives; political perspectives ultimately are based on this economic foundation, but not as a simple, mechanical reflection.
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer With the November elections rapidly approaching, most Americans are unimpressed and uninvolved, having concluded that elections have changed little in their struggling lives, despite all the promises of politicians. But a minority of the population is intensely immersed in partisan politics, doing whatever they can to promote the politicians of […]
The following passages, written by Leon Trotsky, appear in “A Letter to the Convention of the French Communist Party” (October 1922) and is included in The First 5 Years of the Communist International, Volume 2. Virtually all parties in the U.S. today that call themselves Marxist are guilty of the error that Trotsky is describing […]
Ann Robertson [This is the Italian translation of Obama, Oil, Lies, and Money.] Il disastro del petrolio della BP nella regione del Golfo, che sta distruggendo irreversibilmente degli habitat sensibili della vita selvaggia mentre mette senza lavoro migliaia di persone il cui sostentamento dipende dall’ambiente, offre ancora un altro esempio di come opera il governo, […]
Ann Robertson The BP oil disaster in the Gulf region, which is irreversibly destroying sensitive wildlife habitats while putting thousands of people out of work whose livelihood depended on the environment, offers yet one more example of how the government operates, whether Democrats or Republicans are at the helm. It should come as little surprise […]
di Ann Robertson e Bill Leumer (The Political Winds Are Changing) 10 novembre 2009 Il movimento sindacale sta cominciando a muoversi dopo decenni di arresti e sconfitte. Avendo abbracciato il concetto di una partnership con i datori di lavoro, la maggior parte dei funzionari sindacali hanno rinunciato ad ogni ricorso agli scioperi, l’unica arma efficace […]
On February 19, the California legislature, after weeks of wrangling, passed a special budget to address the historically high $42 billion deficit. It represents an unadulterated washout for working people who are attacked on almost every front by the Democratic Party, which controls a broad majority in the legislature.
Obama’s Campaign Promises Ann Robertson Throughout his campaign, Obama made repeated overtures to working people. He talked about job creation, a tax cut for the middle class, health care, education, the rescinding of the lavish tax cuts for the rich, clean energy, facilitating unionization, and the elimination of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for […]
Ann Robertson During the past several decades, government funding for public education on all levels has declined and in some cases plummeted, leaving students languishing in overcrowded classrooms housed in dilapidated buildings. An examination into why this is happening offers a glimpse into the ugly mechanisms that fuel capitalism in its onward quest to plunge […]
Ann Robertson Marx’s analysis of capitalism, unlike bourgeois accounts, is conducted from a historical perspective. In other words, Marx was keenly aware that during the march of history, one economic system, because of internal, irreconcilable contradictions, has been replaced by another until it too falls victim to similar contradictions. Of course, when one is born […]
Ancora una volta affermo che, non essendo un fedele discepolo di Marx, non ho l’autorità per esprimere un giudizio. La mia impressione, per quello che può valere, è che il primo Marx fosse espressione del tardo Illuminismo, divenuto col tempo un’attivista piuttosto autoritario e un’analista critico del capitalismo, che aveva poco da dire rispetto ad […]
(Greek translation: Marxism and Anarchism: The Philosophical Roots of the Marx-Bakunin Conflict) (πρώτο μέρος) άρθρο από την Ann Robertson Δημοσιεύτηκε αρχικώς: What’s Next, Δεκ. 2003 Μεταφράστηκε από τα αγγλικά (η μετάφραση δική μου) : “Αν και, δεν είμαι τόσο καλός μελετητής του Marx για να προσποιηθώ ότι κατέχω μια οριστική κρίση πάνω σε αυτόν. Η […]