First Published: The Call, Vol. 4, No. 7, April 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Since the founding of the National Fight Back Organization (NFBO) in December, attended by 1,300 activists, local fightback organizations across the country have grown in size and organizational strength.
Local committees are now discussing the proposal from the National Organizing Committee for a major national campaign demanding “Jobs or Income for All Now!”
While the politicians are promising recovery or speaking of it as if it were in full swing, some seven million workers remain “officially” unemployed. Ford’s top advisers are now explaining that the U.S. today has attained a “new economic shape” in which the economy recovers, but unemployment remains at record levels. What this “new shape” boils down to is the fact that the capitalists have succeeded in “recovering” some of their profits at the expense of millions of workers who remain jobless, and in growing numbers, barely able to survive.
A number of congressional bills to provide jobs have been vetoed recently by President Ford. Meanwhile, Arthur Burns, one of Ford’s closest advisers, is busy peddling a scheme to cut unemployment compensation down to 13 weeks and then force unemployed workers to take jobs at sub-minimum wage levels.
Local fight back organizations have not been taken in by Ford’s election-year talk of rosy recovery. Across the country they have been stepping up actions to demand jobs, while opposing imperialist war preparations and attacks on the rights of minorities and women.
The Call has received reports from around the country:
Some 350 people attended the first New England regional fight-back conference. Delegates heard speakers from the National Fight Back Organizing Committee, Haitian Patriotic Committee, Boston Workers United to Fight Back, SCEF (Southern Conference Educational Fund), and the October League.
Over 20 workshops gave participants a chance to deepen their understanding about the nature of the economic crisis as well as sharing experiences in taking up the fightback.
The conference focused on the sharpest struggle in Boston today, the struggle against the segregationist movement. Delegates pointed out that the cornerstone of the fightback movement must be the struggle against national oppression.
Ed Winbourne, a member of the October League, told of the rich history of working class struggle and the fight against slavery and segregation in New England. Commenting on the National Fight Back Organization, he said, “In Boston today we are not the only national organization being formed. There is another one being built—a reactionary, racist, backward organization, and that organization is ROAR.”
Some three weeks later, the Boston Workers United to Fight Back demonstrated its opposition to the ROAR organization and the segregationist movement it represents with a march and rally of over 200 people in Dorchester. Members of ROAR and the Ku Klux Klan teamed up to try to halt the action, but the demonstrators, both Black and white, refused to be intimidated. They marched on in support of busing and the unity of Black and white workers.
Severe cutbacks in medical assistance for Maryland families have brought an organized protest from a broad coalition of groups, including the Baltimore Fight Back Committee and Citizens for Civil Rights. The coalition has filled 15 buses to go to the Maryland state capital and demonstrate against the cutbacks.
About 90 people attended a regional conference comprised of delegates from Illinois and Iowa. The conference resolved to continue regular and active organizing at the unemployment offices, and is taking up “Jobs or Income for All Now!” as its main campaign. In Illinois, over 150,000 people will lose their unemployment benefits when the federal government abolishes the 26-week extended benefits for those out work for over one year. The Chicago Workers Solidarity Committee is fighting against this attack.
The people in Denver are continuing their fight against the local power company, Public Service Company. This time it’s not a rate increase, but the requirement that when utilities are shut off the customer must pay a deposit which could amount to $150-$200.
Almost 100 people showed up to testify at a public hearing, many of them Afro-America who demanded that the policy be revoked since it was such a special hardship in the minority communities.
A representative of the Colorado Workers Unity Organization testified that the executives of the PSC should bear the burden of this crisis since they caused it.
When President Ford made short campaign stop, the Tampa Workers Committee was there to demonstrate. While Ford presented his solution to the crisis cutbacks on social services and increases in defense spending – the Tampa Workers Committee presented their demands in slogans and chants. At times shouts of “Independence for Puerto Rico! and “Jobs Not War!” drowned out President Ford’s speech.