The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Issue no. 932 — February 4 - 18, 2013

Editorial:
Another “Jobless Recovery”:
The New Normal

Feb 4, 2013

The pundits have been crowing about the latest economic figures: the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 157,000 jobs were added in January. That was taken as a sign that the “recovery” is fully underway, that the economy avoided a “double-dip” recession. From workers’ standpoint, it’s a load of B.S.

For the capitalists, the recovery has been fully underway for a while: officially the economy has been in recovery since June 2009. Corporate profits increased by nearly 46 billion dollars in the third quarter of 2012 alone; bank profits increased by more than 68 billion dollars in the same period! The combined net worth of the 400 richest Americans was 1.7 trillion dollars in 2012, up from 1.5 trillion the year before. And the Dow Jones stock market just crossed 14,000 for the first time since 2007, gaining back nearly every point it had lost in the crash of 2008.

Yessir, from the point of view of the incredibly wealthy, things couldn’t be better.

The view from down below, the view of ordinary working people, is very different.

The official unemployment rate is still mired at 7.9 percent, still almost two times what it was in 2007, before the recession. And in fact, real unemployment is much higher: including those who stopped looking for work and those who work part-time because they can’t find full-time work. Real unemployment is more than 20 percent – and increasing since 2009, not decreasing. The ratio of unemployed people to job openings is 3 to 1 – as the thousands who line up at every job fair know too well.

Of those unemployed, nearly half have been jobless for 27 weeks or more; in 2007, less than 20 percent of the unemployed were jobless for that long.

157,000 jobs may have been added in January, but that represents nothing: even with these additional jobs, the U.S. job market started 2013 with fewer jobs than in January 2006. Meanwhile, the potential workforce has grown by 8 million. At this rate of job growth, it would take to 2021 to return to the pre-recession unemployment rate!

For anyone in the real economy, it’s still a full-blown crisis, and it’s only gotten worse as it has stretched on and on.

This is yet another “jobless recovery,” the third since 1990. Now they don’t even pretend to worry about it, don’t even use the term – they just call it a recovery. High unemployment in a “recovery” is the new normal, as far as they’re concerned. At the same time, workers’ wages continue to fall while prices continue to rise; and infrastructure and public services continue to crumble.

The current state of affairs is what we’re supposed to accept as normal!

It’s a mark of just how decrepit this system has become. More and more, with every crisis and subsequent “recovery”, it proves itself unable to function for the majority of people in society: less and less can the system provide proper goods and services for people; less and less can it provide jobs for anywhere near one hundred percent of the population.

Their recovery is our continuing crisis. Their system guarantees us misery.

OUR recovery will come when we force THEM to pay for the mess that they have made!

Pages 2-3

Food Wasted

Feb 4, 2013

Of all the fruit, vegetables, meat and grain that human beings produce worldwide, up to 50 percent may be thrown away.

According to a report by the British Institution of Mechanical Engineers, “Global Food: Waste Not, Want Not,” much of the world’s food goes to waste.

In poorer countries, food is destroyed due to spoilage caused by infrastructure problems with storage and shipping. In wealthier countries, only “blemish free” food is put before consumers and then sold at top price. The rest rots on the vine or is tossed in the trash!

So it is not a shortage of food in the world that causes just under a billion people to starve while food prices continue to skyrocket.

It is the current economic system which squanders resources for profit that is to blame. Capitalism – not food – should be thrown out!

Martinique:
Blind Violence, a Social Phenomenon Resulting from a Society in Crisis

Feb 4, 2013

This is an article from the February 2nd issue of Combat Ouvrier (Workers Fight), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, which are overseas departments of France.

In January, the “Martinique Region” organized a campaign of awareness and prevention against violence.

For several months, there has been an upsurge of violent acts, which the daily paper France-Antilles and the broadcast media regularly cover. This violence is affecting more and more people, especially in workers’ neighborhoods and schools. It is prevalent among the youth, who are often petty criminals who’ve lost their bearings and who are usually unemployed, and/or involved with drugs and alcohol.

Things have gotten so bad that the Martinique Region organization calls it “... a blight that is growing and diverse (armed attacks, all types of robberies, knife attacks, rapes, etc.). Martinique, Guadeloupe and Guiana have a higher rate than in France, the facts are undeniable. France has a rate of armed violence of 13%, Guadeloupe stands out at 47%, Guiana is notable with 42% and Martinique is a bit lower at almost 30%.

We can understand the concern of families and older people who are afraid to go out. No one is spared from this upsurge of violence.

The campaign against violence certainly brings together people who are rightfully shocked by what they see and live through. But it is silent when it comes to addressing those who are responsible for the degradation of our society.

There can be no illusions on the results of this campaign, and on the eventual reduction in violence.

The crisis of this society led by the capitalist class gives rise to many wrongs; unemployment, layoffs, the high cost of living, low wages and the difficulties in making ends meet.

It is this that in turn gives rise to the violence workers see destroying their communities and schools every day.

It will take more than postering campaigns to get rid of the wrongs of this society.

France:
We Are All Attacked, Let’s Organize a Response

Feb 4, 2013

The following was an editorial in the February 1st issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

Strikes and Work Actions

There is a strike at the Peugeot factory in Aulnay against the plant closing; repeated work stoppages are growing in importance at all the Renault factories. The actions protest management’s blackmail in only leaving workers two bad choices: “work more to earn less,” or be laid off.

Workers at Virgin, Sanofi and Arcelor are demonstrating, as are Goodyear workers whose management is going to announce that it will close the Amiens factory with 1,200 layoffs. Next Thursday there will be a public workers strike against job cuts and the lowering of purchasing power.

Many workers are organizing to defend themselves. They are a thousand times right. Their fights must become the struggle of all.

Competitiveness Agreements and Layoffs: Two Ends of the Same Stick

The bosses have taken the offensive. With “competitiveness agreements” they are waging an all-out offensive. Peugeot management began its attack with an unprecedented plan to get rid of jobs, including closing the Aulnay factory. But the hostilities won’t stop there. Management has already announced that it wants to impose competitiveness agreements, now called “performance agreements.”

Renault management has now done the opposite. First, it wanted to force workers to move between plants, to lengthen the time they work and to freeze wages. After, it announced that it would cut 8,200 jobs, with the threat to strike two of its plants off the map if the unions don’t sign these agreements.

Flexibility Agreements with the Union

A job guarantee doesn’t mean a pay guarantee. The flexibility agreements that were signed between the bosses and the CFDT, CGC and CFTC unions authorize the lowering of wages as dictated by market fluctuations. A business would only have to claim problems for it to impose a cut in work time and wages. The so-called “socialist” government wants to write this into law.

And the bosses won’t fail to make use of this, because the crisis is slowing down business. Either the workers will force the big bosses to take a cut in their profits, or wages will be lowered. If the workers don’t make themselves respected, the bosses will make them retreat.

Stockholders Pocket Billions

There is no reason for workers to accept to make sacrifices. At Peugeot, will stockholders or workers make sacrifices? The Peugeot family and the stockholders pocketed eight billion dollars in profits in recent years. They have plenty with which to face the future, but not the workers, who have always been paid too low!

Who took in one billion dollars in profits in the first six months of 2012, plus 2.7 billion in 2011 and 4.5 billion in 2010? The Renault Corp., whose CEO Carlos Ghosn was paid 17 million dollars a year and explains that, if workers don’t accept sacrifices, their factory risks failing!

While Workers Are Laid Off

Unemployment is a tragedy for those who are deprived of a wage, but also for other workers, who live with a sword of Damocles over their heads.

The consequences of unemployment aren’t only economic. No one among the working people can escape them, not even those who still have a good job and a good wage.

French Workers Resist

The workers of Peugeot, Renault, and Goodyear, all those who fight not to be condemned to unemployment, are waging a justifiable fight. Like those who fight for their pay or refuse the worsening of their working conditions, it is a fight for everyone.

By refusing the dictates of the bosses and the government, the workers fighting today will show the way for a united reply.

Protests Continue against Rape in India

Feb 4, 2013

This article is reprinted from the British revolutionary press Workers’ Fight.

To date, the protests sparked by the rape of an Indian medical student in Delhi, who died from her injuries, continue. Around 10,000 demonstrated in Delhi on Sunday, December 30th. This case was especially shocking: The young woman was gang-raped and brutally bludgeoned with an iron bar, by five men in a bus, before being thrown out of the moving bus. Now there are cries for obligatory castration or even execution of the rapists.

The real issue, however, is not what to do with rapists, but what to do about a supposedly “modern” society where women are not just second class (as is still the case in the richest countries!), but are often treated as subhuman.

Like many poor countries, India combines the class injustices of a “modern” capitalist society with an old caste system from feudal society. This caste system is still alive in impoverished rural areas from which most of the recently urbanized population comes. Women are caught in the middle of these two systems of oppression, with the complicity (if not active involvement) of the politicians, police and judiciary.

The figures speak for themselves. In Haryana (the state surrounding Delhi), which is both one of the country’s richest states and one of its most industrialized, 19 low-caste girls were gang-raped in September 2012 alone. The monthly average is around 20. And that is a monthly average of rape repeated every month. A 16-year old was gang-raped by a dozen men also in September. They filmed the act and circulated the video. The girl’s father committed suicide.

Connected to this violence against women is the resurgence of the practice of killing female babies – shown by the worsening of the female to male sex ratio to as low as 774 per 1,000 in some districts of Haryana. This is not an image that fits well with the modern, “emerging” economy promoted by India’s ruling classes. But this is the cost of class exploitation.

Throughout history, the degree of women’s oppression has reflected the degree of social oppression in the whole of society. It is the task of the Indian working class, together with the Western working class, to end the system that keeps caste and gender oppression alive – the divisive, inequitable, capitalist, class system in India and everywhere else.

Pages 4-5

“Right-To-Work” Law:
Sneak Attack on Workers in Michigan

Feb 4, 2013

In January, workers from across Detroit came together at the Spark Public Meeting to discuss recent “Right-To-Work” legislation. The following is the presentation, which started a lively discussion.

Legislature Passes “Right-To-Work”

On December 11, a lame-duck Michigan legislature passed a “Right-To-Work” law, despite the protests of 12,000 or more people surrounding the Capitol building. This law was passed by the Republicans. Whatever other reasons they had, the Republicans passed RTW in order to weaken the Democratic Party, which depends on strong union support.

The unions support the Democrats with money and, much more importantly, with campaign volunteers. In the last election, almost all those people who called your home, or knocked on your door or gave you a flyer for Barack Obama were union members, or members of black churches. By making it harder and more time-consuming for unions to collect dues, the Republicans want to take away an important part of the unions’ ability to support the Democrats. That’s why you saw some Democratic politicians speaking out strongly against RTW.

Pushing RTW from behind the scenes with financial support were local right-wing millionaires like Dick DeVos and right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers.

People like DeVos and the Koch brothers supported RTW as part of a broad attack on the working class. These wealthy right-wingers are also pushing a reactionary legislative agenda in many other states.

Many Other Attacks Came With It

In fact, RTW was not even the biggest attack in Michigan, but it acted as a cover for a whole set of other backward laws passed by the Michigan legislature.

While most of the media attention was focused on RTW, the legislature was passing laws attacking women by further weakening their right to choose an abortion. Taxes were cut for businesses, again. Steps were taken to mutualize Blue Cross, that is, laying the groundwork so it can transform itself into a profit-making company. A “citizenship declaration” law was enacted, aimed at intimidating some people from voting. An Emergency Financial Manager law was put back in place after the voters in Michigan had just voted to get rid of it. A Lighting Authority was set up for Detroit to let DTE make the profits off it.

And, oh yes, there was also a law passed giving money to multi-millionaire Mike Ilitch to build his new arena complex in downtown Detroit. This same Mike Ilitch has refused to pay the City of Detroit 72 million dollars that he owes.

RTW: Part of the Push for Concessions

But yes, the passage of RTW was also aimed against unions and against all workers, unionized or not. It was an announcement that the wealthy people who own the banks and corporations plan to continue their push for concessions. They plan to continue their attacks against anything standing in their way. Concessions already have led to a significant drop in the standard of living for the working class, in Michigan and across the country.

So what do we have to do? How do we stop all these attacks, not just RTW, but all these attacks against us?

Waiting to Elect Democrats Is No Solution

The union leaders tell us that we have to prepare now to support the Democrats. In other words, we should wait two years until the next election, in order to get the Democrats back in office. But if we put our focus on elections and the Democrats, then we will lose even more.

What would happen if the Democrats get back in office? It’s not even clear that if the Democrats got back in office that they would reverse RTW. After all, four years ago when the Democrats controlled the White House and both houses of Congress, they didn’t even pass the card check law that they had promised to the unions during the election campaign.

But even if the Democrats reversed RTW, what would that really do?

What RTW Really Means

We have to look at what RTW laws really mean. Certainly we know that RTW does not guarantee any worker the right to work, or any right to a job!

RTW laws say that the company and the union cannot agree to force workers to join a union. Nor can they agree to force workers to pay union dues. So, RTW laws may make it harder for union leaders to collect dues.

But what does that really change? There will always be a few people who don’t want to join a union. But if unions are doing what they are supposed to be doing – defending the interests of the workers – then the big majority of workers are going to willingly join the union and pay their union dues.

And if workers were not forced to pay union dues, there would be this advantage – union leaders would have to face in person the workers whose dues they were trying to collect.

RTW On Its Own Is Not the Problem

The fact that workers are not forced to pay union dues does not weaken unions. For proof, all we have to do is look at Europe. Many of the industrialized countries in Europe are RTW states, in a sense, because workers are not forced to join a union or pay any union dues. Workers in Greece, Italy, Spain, or France, for example, can choose to join a union, or join none at all. In fact, in many workplaces in Europe, there are several different unions, and workers have their choice. They can choose a union, if they want, that may be stronger and more militant. In the U.S., workers don’t have that choice.

European Workers Push Back

European workers are facing the same kinds of attacks and the same push for sacrifices that we are facing in the U.S. But in some European countries today, we see workers making a fight. In Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal especially, the workers are demonstrating, protesting and striking against these government austerity programs.

We Need Strong Militant Unions

Meanwhile in this country, workers have accepted concessions, and union leaders have helped push those concessions on the workers. Having a union shop, where workers all have to join the union, certainly has not made American unions stronger or more militant.

We need unions! We need to join or organize unions! We need workers to pay union dues! But we need strong, militant unions, the kind of union that workers will want to join.

Forcing workers to join a union and pay union dues does not make a union strong.

In fact, if we look at the history of how union dues are collected, we can see how the bosses have used the collection of union dues to their own advantage in order to weaken unions. We can look at what happened at Ford to see that most clearly.

If we go back to 1941, at that time the UAW had won union recognition at most of the major auto companies because of the sit-down strikes at GM, Chrysler and elsewhere. But in 1941, Ford was still non-union. In fact, Ford was still violently anti-union. And I mean violent quite literally, as we saw with the murders of the Ford Hunger Marchers, and Ford’s use of goon squads inside the plants. But when 50,000 Ford workers went out on strike in April 1941, Ford was beaten. It had no choice but to accept the workers’ demand to have a union.

A Beaten Ford Arranges Dues Checkoff

At that point, not only did Ford agree to recognize the UAW as the workers’ bargaining agent, it was Ford that proposed to the union leaders that Ford would be a union shop. That is, not only would the UAW represent every Ford worker, but every Ford worker would be required to join the union and pay dues.

And it was Ford that proposed to the union leaders that Ford would collect union dues out of every worker’s paycheck and give it to the union, so that the union leadership did not have to go around and collect dues. Almost overnight, it seemed as if Ford went from being the most anti-union company to the most pro-union company.

But, in fact, Ford was just being smarter, from the point of view of the corporation. Ford’s better idea was, “If we have to accept a union, let’s do it in such a way that makes the union work for us.”

Ford’s better idea meant that union leaders had an automatic treasury, whether or not workers agreed with what the union did.

Ford Co-opts the Union, Other Bosses Follow Suit

Many other companies soon recognized the advantages of what Ford had done, and they also proposed a union shop and dues check-off in their companies.

By being less tied to the rank-and-file, a bureaucratic apparatus could more quickly develop in the union leadership. And with the company collecting dues for the union, the union became more dependent on the company.

That was the first step down the road of “partnership” with the companies.

Less than a year after the Ford strike, the U.S. entered WWII, and soon after, union leaderships in many industries were agreeing to no-strike clauses, despite workers’ wages falling well behind inflation and despite worsening conditions in the plants. Fortunately, many workers decided to ignore that no-strike pledge and use wildcat strikes to defend themselves.

A Discredited Union Leadership

Today, the union leaderships have become even much more bureaucratic and even much less militant. And the consequences for the working class have been severe.

The top union leaders today speak quite openly about their partnership with the bosses. When the bosses have demanded concessions, it has most often been the top union leadership that has pressured, threatened and lied to workers to get them to go along.

“Partnership” Guarantees Worker Losses

Workers have lost wages, benefits, pensions, and health care that previous generations had to fight to attain. The newest generation of workers is facing second-tier wages and benefits, which will condemn them to a life of poverty. The working class has seen a significant drop in its standard of living, while following the policies of the current union leaderships. Their policies are weakening the unions today.

Their policies have consequences, even for the union bureaucrats themselves. Last November, one-quarter of union workers in Michigan voted AGAINST Proposal 2, the proposal for collective bargaining rights that had been put on the ballot and pushed by the unions.

Another consequence was in Wisconsin, after Wisconsin passed a law applying RTW to public employees. When union leaders said they would give up concessions, as long as the state continued to collect union dues for them, two-thirds of the public workers stopped paying dues to those leaders who wouldn’t fight.

We Need Leadership with a Fighting Policy

We need a different leadership and different policies if we want stronger unions.

The strength of a union is not determined by how dues are collected. It is determined by the policy of the union, its readiness to defend the interests of the workers, its determination to protect our standard of living.

Why would second-tier workers want to join a union or pay dues to a union that negotiated second-tier wages and benefits for them? We need a fight against two-tier! That would strengthen us.

The strength of a union is determined by its militancy, by its willingness to organize workers to use their power.

Leaders Who Call on All the Workers

If we wanted to make sure that RTW did not pass, what could the unions have done? Instead of a rally of several thousands of people making noise, what if the unions had called on all the workers in Michigan? All who have taken concessions! Come to Lansing on Dec. 11!

What if the unions had called on all the retirees whose pensions are being taxed, to come to Lansing? What if unions had called on all the students whose education is being cut, decimated by spending cuts, to come to Lansing? What if there had been several hundreds of thousands of people in Lansing that day, instead of several thousand? What if many businesses and factories and workplaces had been shut down, and their profits stopped?

What if people had made it clear that they were willing to continue that fight, day after day? Do you think that Snyder and the other lapdog politicians would have been so eager to sign a RTW law?

We need strong unions that are ready to organize a real fight like that, to stop concessions, and to gain back all that we have lost. That type of union will not need any laws to convince workers to join their union and pay their union dues.

Pages 6-7

Seattle:
Teachers Say NO to Mandated Test

Feb 4, 2013

Teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle, as a body, refused to administer a test mandated by the school board. The teachers made this decision collectively – they discussed, and voted almost unanimously (only four abstentions) to boycott the MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) test of reading and math.

Students’ performance on the test is being used as part of the teachers’ job evaluations – which is ridiculous. Students don’t take MAP seriously, because it does not affect their grades. Even the company that sells MAP warns against using it to evaluate teachers.

In their statement, the teachers also explained how this test actually hurts students. MAP is taken online – so it ties up the school’s computers for weeks and prevents students from using them for actual schoolwork. Not to mention the time the test eats up!

Now the teachers have been threatened with a 10-day loss of pay. But they have not conceded.

The Garfield teachers’ cry resonates among public school teachers – not only in Seattle but across the country. In Chicago, where MAP is also given, a teacher wrote: “The teachers at Garfield ... have done what a lot of teachers have wanted to do. They’ve stood up – together – and said no.”

Privatized School District:
“Chaos”

Feb 4, 2013

After six years of deficits and poor student performance, the Muskegon Heights Public Schools, a poor, overwhelmingly black district in western Michigan, was turned over last year to an Emergency Manager appointed by Governor Snyder.

That Emergency Manager, Don Weatherspoon, has no education training or experience. He promptly fired every single employee of the district and hired a for-profit charter school company, Mosaic, to run the newly recreated district.

Surprise, surprise: after one semester under Mosaic, the district is worse than ever.

Day one of the school year found the district in chaos, according to numerous parents, teachers and students. Schools started the year without basic supplies. High school students didn’t receive their schedules until several weeks after the year started – and then, the schedules often had wrong or missing classes.

More than one in four teachers hired by Mosaic have already quit halfway into the year, citing a poor school environment and an “at-will” employer who fires employees the minute they complain. Some math classes have already had several teachers, adding to the chaos. Student after student has reported they have learned nothing this year.

What does the Emergency Manager who fired everyone as soon as he started say now? Give it time! Be patient! “We’re building an airplane as we fly it,” Weatherspoon said.

Clearly Mosaic wasn’t brought in because it could offer any expertise in the building of a solid learning environment! No, the issue for the state was purely to turn public schools over to private profit – no matter the cost to working-class kids.

Detroit City Rots but Pizza King Gets New Stadium

Feb 4, 2013

Little Caesars Pizza owner Mike Ilitch just got a sweetheart deal to build a new stadium complex for his hockey team – even though he owes Detroit tens of millions of dollars in back taxes.

Ilitch’s Olympia Entertainment has been using the Joe Louis Arena rent-free and tax-free since its lease ran out in 2010. The city of Detroit says that amounts to 6 million dollars a year.

In addition, Olympia has NEVER paid Detroit a 25 percent share of cable television rights for live events that have been part of its lease stretching back to 1980. That could add up to 70 million dollars!

And, the city and state are planning on giving Ilitch even more! To fund his planned hockey arena complex, the state just passed a blank check “catalyst development project” – paid for through diverting funds from state and local school taxes. This project could cost upwards of 600 million dollars.

Detroit’s current deficit may be as high as 326 million dollars. The city is closing departments, wiping out services and selling off assets. The public schools are starved of funds and deep in debt.

If Ilitch and other businesses – like GM, Chrysler, the two Detroit newspapers, the Detroit Medical Center, Detroit Axle, Compuware, Quicken Loans, all the real estate speculators, etc. – just paid the taxes and fees they owe, it would more than wipe out that debt: The amount could be more than 800 million dollars!

Detroit EAA:
We Need More Cash!

Feb 4, 2013

The “Educational Achievement Authority,” the “district” of schools ripped out of the Detroit Public Schools and handed over to Emergency Manager Roy Roberts to control, is already coming to the state and asking for more money.

The EAA was touted as a new kind of school system, with students working in front of computers that would individualize their work and monitor their progress.

That idea that computers could take the place of human teachers was always ridiculous – it was just an excuse to cut teaching staff to the bone.

But now the EAA is seeking an advance of 2 million dollars – because they don’t have enough computers!

The EAA claimed big money from wealthy donors, foundations and the federal government would cover the cost of their “project.” But according to the Detroit Free Press, “donations have not rolled in as expected.”

Lo and behold – for all the state’s promise of something new to turn performance around, the EAA has the same old problem as all working class school districts: They need money to run a school system.

D.C. Metro Turns Rush hour into Stop Hour

Feb 4, 2013

Last July about 150 riders fled a stalled, boiling hot Green Line train that had lost power. Since then, Metro claims to have developed a series of protocols to prevent this dangerous situation from happening again.

Well, it happened again last Wednesday when 2,000 riders were again left stranded in the dark and informationless and instructionless on the Green Line. A few hundred riders escaped the trains, walked in the track bed – a dangerous move given that power was live on the other track. But another stopped train was in front of them. Emergency personnel helped them escape through a ventilation shaft.

According to Metro General Manager Richard Sarles, after the power was cut Metro “didn’t follow protocols entirely.” One of the new procedures that Metro supposedly implemented after the July incident was to get more of its personnel on the scene to provide information and instructions to riders.

In the words of one Metro rider about this incident: “Metro officials weren’t telling us what to do or where to go.” Metro put riders in a dangerous situation leaving little choice but for people to self-evacuate.

Detroit Mayor Threatens to Close More Parks

Feb 4, 2013

The Detroit City Council rejected a proposal by the State of Michigan to take over Belle Isle, the city’s most popular park, and charge visitors a fee to enter. Governor Rick Snyder responded by, in effect, taking his ball and going home – pulling the state’s “offer” from the table. Now Mayor Dave Bing is jumping in saying he will have to close 51 city parks and blaming the city council for hurting Detroit residents.

Bing’s response is extortion, plain and simple. Go along with the state’s program, or else!

In reality, it’s just more of what the politicians at every level have been doing to the people of the city for years. The city owns 354 parks. While Ken Cockrel, Jr., now a member of the city council, was mayor, the city closed more than 200 of them. They currently operate only 108, so Bing’s plan would cut that number to 57.

Some council members have made other proposals, but they all amount to the same thing – making working people in the city pay more or accept cuts in city services and facilities. What the politicians are doing to the parks, they have done to the city’s rec centers, schools and libraries.

No wonder shootings and other crimes are on the rise in the city – the politicians have eliminated every place anyone, especially young people, can go to learn, play and socialize.

The working people of the city of Detroit did not create the city’s financial mess. It’s the result of handouts by the city to the banks, corporations and the wealthy. Get the money needed to run the city back from the people who stole it!

Page 8

Maryland Students Forced to Pay Triple

Feb 4, 2013

The Maryland Dream Act, the law Maryland voters passed in November to increase undocumented immigrants’ access to college, will have the opposite effect starting this week. That’s right, it will actually decrease access to college by raising tuition for a group of high schools students who also attend Montgomery College.

Among other restrictions, the law stipulates that undocumented immigrants must have graduated from a Maryland high school to qualify for in-state tuition. This means that Montgomery County high school students who have also been taking courses at Montgomery College will now need to prove their U.S. citizenship in order to pay the in-county tuition rate.

Montgomery College had been allowing undocumented students to pay in-county tuition. But now undocumented students will pay $1,172.40 instead of $445.20 for the same three credit course! Outrageous.

The real question here is: Why even have the status “undocumented?” If you live here, you should get the same rights and pay the same tuition as everybody else.

Problem solved.

Profit-Sharing:
A Net Loss for Workers

Feb 4, 2013

Auto companies reported enormous profits for 2012. This meant larger profit sharing checks for workers. Full-time Ford workers will get $8300, before taxes. (That amount is prorated down if a worker worked less than 1850 hours in 2012.) Full-time Chrysler workers will get $2250 before taxes. GM had not announced as of February 2.

The companies trumpet these large numbers to show how fair they are to employees. Well, not quite!

Profit sharing was set up from the first to attack workers’ pay, not improve it. Because profit-sharing replaced the annual 3 per cent yearly pay increase, the companies have scammed the workers big time.

Taking Chrysler as one example, look at the past 13 years of profit sharing as reported in the Detroit Free Press. Chrysler workers received a sum total of $7,485 profit sharing in those 13 years. But if those workers had had 3 per cent yearly pay increases, their additional income in those 13 years would have been above $24,000 – and their hourly wage today would be closer to $42 than to $28!

The profit-sharing scam not only keeps hourly wages down for the workers still employed by the Big Three; the scam multiplies its benefits for the companies by further holding down the wages of the spun-off, outsourced and subcontracted workers of the lower-tier suppliers.

Nor do these spun-off, outsourced workers, in their hundreds of thousands, receive any profit sharing whatsoever – regardless of the fact that their labor was just as essential to vehicle production as anyone’s.

Profit-sharing instead of pay raises began in the 1983 auto contracts. Thirty years later, profit-sharing continues to be part of the large-scale war on the workers waged by the billionaire class.

“Comprehensive Immigration Reform”:
An Attack on All Workers

Feb 4, 2013

President Obama and a bi-partisan group of Democratic and Republican Senators announced plans to pass “comprehensive immigration reform” for the 11 million immigrants the government calls undocumented.

The most advertised part of the reform contains a so-called “pathway to citizenship.” That may sound like a good thing, like 11 million people, who have been forced to live in the shadows, will finally get their full rights. But this so-called pathway is really a red-tape filled legal proceeding that can last 10, 15 or 20 years. During all that time, the threat of being deported will continue to be held over millions of working peoples’ heads. They will be muzzled. Anyone who dares try to organize a union, protest against low wages or lousy schools risks deportation – a threat not only to themselves but to their entire family.

This “pathway” is little more than a modern-day version of the indentured servitude of centuries past, when starving immigrants had to pay for their voyage by selling themselves, body and soul, for at least seven years, and often their entire lifetimes.

This reform is completely punitive. Immigrants will be expected to pay huge amounts in fines and legal fees – for the “crime” of living and working here. And they will be forced to pay even more in back taxes. This means they will be forced to pay their taxes twice. If they dare claim they had already paid their taxes, they will have to admit to using a false Social Security number, which is now a felony.

The politicians will also use the lie that undocumented immigrants don’t pay taxes to deprive them of even the most minimal government protections and services. Immigrant workers will not be able to use many of the clinics and hospitals, where they do the vital work and provide the services. Nor will they be able to draw on the very Social Security or disability benefits that they already paid for.

The witch hunt against immigrants will continue. Politicians will continue to militarize the borders, spending even more money for more walls, patrols, police, drones, prisons, detention centers, etc. Deportations will also continue. Already, the Obama administration has spent more on militarizing the border in its first four years than was spent over the previous 20 years, and it has deported twice as many immigrants as Bush did in his first four years.

No, from first to last, what is being proposed is meant to serve the interests of the capitalist class, not the interests of immigrants or the rest of the working class. It allows companies to hire millions of workers who will be considered both “legal” and yet still have no political rights. At the same time, the build up of an ever more massive and repressive police and military presence is aimed not just against immigrant workers, but any sector of the work force that decides to fight back.

No wonder why the big employer groups have been pushing for this so-called reform. Not only does it help impose ever lower wages against immigrants and all workers, but it provides big government contracts to military contractors, arms manufacturers, prison companies, high tech companies, etc. It’s a profit bonanza!

That is why so many Republican politicians, many of whom campaigned last fall spewing anti-immigrant garbage, have suddenly shut up, or gotten behind this “reform.” Some tea party politicians, like Florida Senator Marco Rubio, are now actively campaigning for it. Even right-wing blow-hards like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are getting on board!

This is not only an attack against immigrant workers, but it is an attack on all working people. And it proves that the only rights workers have, are the rights we are ready to fight to defend.

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