The Workers' Advocate

Vol. 22, No. 3


25 cents March 1, 1992

[Front page:

March 8 -- International Women's Day--The movement will be built in the streets and workplaces!;

Transit workers shut down Brooklyn Bridge;

Condemn the forced return of Haitian refugees!]


GM throws down the gauntlet.................................... 2
Lessons from the GM crisis........................................ 2
UAW leaders will fight, but not against GM.............. 2
Mexico: 15,000 workers strike maquiladoras............. 3
Mexican miners fight for jobs..................................... 3

Don't fall for Japan bashing!

Murder; Racism; Layoffs; Postal workers.................. 3

Strikes & workplace news

Caterpillar strike; LA longshoremen; unsafe work at Post Office; Supreme Court vs. unions................... 4

The fight against cutbacks

A national trend: Budget axe on Conn. poor.............. 5
CA students; Columbia U.; homeless veterans........... 5

Down with racism

Seattle youth confront neo-nazis and cops................. 6
Border crackdown on Mexican immigrants............... 6
School segregation grows; Dinuba school boycott HS students denounce racist leaflets........................... 7
Buchanan, the 'respectable' David Duke.................... 7

Defend women's rights!

Make it a pro-choice spring in Buffalo....................... 8
Utah; Michigan; Shotgun attack on clinic.................. 8
Anti-abortion ruling outrages Irish people................. 12

Stop the destruction of the ozone layer....................... 10
Dumping pollution in poor countries.......................... 10
Struggle magazine's cultural evening......................... 10
Haiti: New agreement won't bring democracy........... 11

World in struggle

Whites-only referendum in South Africa.................... 12
More strikes in Bangladesh........................................ 12
Germany; Czechoslovakia; Spain; Portugal; Lithuania; Russia; India.............................................. 12

March 8 -- International Women's Day

The movement will be built in the streets and workplaces!

Transit workers shut down Brooklyn Bridge

Condemn the forced return of Haitian refugees!

General Motors throws down the gauntlet

Lessons from the crisis at GM

UAW leaders say they'll fight--but not against GM

15,000 Mexican workers strike 'maquiladora' plants

Mexican miners fight for jobs

No to Japan-bashing! The profit system is the enemy.

Strikes & workplace news

Budget axe falls on the poor in Connecticut

California students fight fee increases

Students protest aid cuts at Columbia University

Homelessness grows among veterans


Defend women's rights!

Stop the destruction of the ozone layer!

World Bank bigshot says:

Dump pollution on poor countries

'Struggle' hosts an evening of revolutionary culture

New agreement won't bring democracy


The world in struggle


March 8 -- International Women's Day

The movement will be built in the streets and workplaces!

International Women's Day is March 8. It comes at a time of a conservative backlash against abortion rights, against social programs, against progressive ideals.

It also comes at a time when people are thinking about how to resist. There is the ongoing struggle against the antiabortion bullies of Operation Rescue, and activists are preparing to counter OR's targeting of Buffalo in April. But in this struggle, there is debate between those who want to confront OR and defend the clinics, and those who want to let the police and courts handle everything. (See inside article.) There is growing skepticism in the Democrats and all politicians. But there too is a difference of opinion. There are those who want to raise their fists against the capitalist parties and the establishment. And there are those whose goal is to pressure the politicians to accept them into their ranks.

Within a month, there will be a big demonstration for women's rights in Washington on April 5. One of the main themes that some organizations will raise in Washington this April 5 is to defeat George Bush. But to defeat George Bush can either mean to support the Democrats, or it can mean to organize working people, the minorities and progressive youth and students against all the rich and their corporate establishment.

How can Bush be defeated?


It's time to be done with the tired old line that failing to support the Democrats will bring us monsters like Reagan and Bush. For years the predominant organizations in the movement have voted Democratic, and we got these monsters anyway. Meanwhile the Democrats have joined with the Republicans in cutting social programs, in stressing their loyalty to traditional values, in blowing kisses to businesspeople. It is time to build a movement that will compel change whichever servants of the rich win the coming elections, the candidates from hell or the smooth-tongued liars.

It is time for women at the workplaces, or defending clinics, or fighting for halfway decent schools for their children, to get involved in politics. But it must not be the old politics of lobbying some congressperson. It should be the politics of workers and minorities and youth uniting for progressive struggle. The politics of militant struggle to confront OR at the clinics. The politics of confronting the capitalists who are closing down the plants. The politics of confronting union chieftains who pervert the unions into collaborators with the bosses. The politics of fighting the racist gangs. In brief, the politics of class struggle. This is the only way to really defeat the politics-as-usual of the ruling class.

The NOW executive board has voted for the creation of the "New Party" (which doesn't yet have any other name). But it is not sufficient to talk of a new party. It is necessary to know what type of politics this party is for. Is it for the old-style politics, and is its list of good things simply the typical empty promises we have seen from capitalist politicians over and over again? Or is it a party of the rebellion of the oppressed? And when NOW's leaders such as Patricia Ireland and Eleanor Smeal say their new party will be a pressure group on the old parties, and help elect the liberal versus the conservative, which type of politics do they have in mind?

No more Wichitas! Down with the policy of non-confrontation!

But, someone may say, what about the sponsors of the April 5 demonstration? Don't they all say they are for struggle, although not for the class struggle? Don't NOW and NARAL say "they won't go back"?

But the establishment-led women's groups also denounce the actual militants who stand up in struggle. NOW, the most left of such groups, has made written statements in Michigan denouncing the clinic defenders as the source of violence at clinics. And in Wichita last year NOW opposed confronting OR at the clinics, and sought to locate pro- choice demonstrations elsewhere in the city. When NOW leaders showed up at clinics, it was to restrain pro-choice activists. NOW's policy was to leave everything in the. hands of the religious bullies and the police. Across the country, wherever the influence of the NOW leaders is predominant at the clinics, they have demanded a policy of non-confrontation. They have issued guidelines for working with media and police and courts, and that is where they put their emphasis.

Further to the right, NARAL has campaigned for abortion rights by appealing to the bourgeoisie's reluctance to spend money on the children of the poor. Cheaper to abort them, is how this appeal goes. And NARAL's Michelman threatened to denounce the April 5 Washington demonstration itself if NOW even thought about "civil disobedience," and NOW's Patricia Ireland gave in to this. (New York Times Sunday Magazine, March 1, p. 54)

NOW and other establishment-led women's groups can cite statistic after statistic about how women are oppressed. They can even say a few words about the interests of working women. They can even list all the good things they stand for, from paid family leave to full equality. But all this turns out to mean is lobbying Congress or telling people to register to vote. They are all wrapped up in getting more women into the ruling councils of the bourgeoisie. This is what lies behind their policies of non-confrontation, their denunciations of the militants, and their class feeling against the poor. They'd rather be on a corporation's board of directors than on a picket line denouncing it.

It seems that not all women share the same interests. There are those women's groups whose main desire is to mobilize masses of voters to help them join the elite. There are businesswomen groups who feel that they have already made it, and defend the interests of the elite by, say, denouncing pregnancy leave laws as too expensive. And there is the mass of women who suffer from the lack of such laws, and whose salvation lies in organizing against the elite.

It's time for a new politics

Let women's day be a time to reflect that it is the working women who will be the force for women's liberation, not the women in the executive boardrooms. It is the militants who actively confront OR at clinics who are defending women's rights, and it is scorn that must be poured upon the pro-establishment leaders who cheer "Boys in blue, we love you." It is the ranks of women workers, and male workers drawn into the fight for women's rights, who must be the center of attention. It is scorn that must be poured upon the pro-capitalist union leaders of the AFL-CIO (who, by the way, have not even taken a paper stand on abortion rights.)

Let women's day be a time when all workers, men as well as women, think. about the next steps in the struggle for women's rights. If the working class is to raise its head against the capitalist backlash, it is essential that women's rights become the banner of the working class movement as a whole. All the more so if the working class is ever to cease to toil and slave for the benefit of others. One half of the working class can't be liberated while the other half remains subject to harassment and overwork and inequality.

What do we want for the future?

And let women's day also be a time to reflect on what type of society it is when 200 years after declaring "all men are created equal," women are still oppressed and exploited, still make only two-thirds of men's salaries, still are subjected to an extra load of life's toils but less of life's rewards. It is a time to ask whether it is not just the lack of some law or other that is at stake? Or is something bigger at stake? Is not women's oppression rooted in the fact that all production and politics and law in this country is directed according to the wishes of privileged capitalists?

Can working women really be free, when the working class as a whole is thrown on the streets by layoffs, tortured by overwork and productivity drives, and forced to take wage cuts so corporate CEO's can make 25 or 50 or 100 times a worker's wage? Equality of misery is a step forward compared to the past, but shouldn't there be equality of liberation between working women and men? And doesn't this require breaking down the capitalist system which runs this society and replacing it with a socialist system of production for use, not profit? Here we refer to real socialism, workers' communism, not bureaucratic state capitalism like Russia used to have.

There are many questions to be pondered this women's day. The answers will determine what type of movement is built to defend women's rights. Let us build a fighting movement to defend women's rights, confront the anti-abortion bullies, and administer a real defeat to the millionaire men's club at the White House and Congress.


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Transit workers shut down Brooklyn Bridge

Transit workers in New York City are in an uproar against a proposed give-back contract.

Shouting "Vote No!" over 500 workers picketed the Transit Authority (TA) headquarters on February 12. They denounced the concessions in the proposed contract. And they threw indignant words at both the TA and the leaders of the Transit Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 who had agreed to the concessions.

They then began a march to City Hall. Along the way, other transit workers grabbed up thousands of anti-contract leaflets and hoisted hand-made picket signs. They plastered their hats and coats with bright red stickers proclaiming "Defeat the contract sellout! Organize to fight!"

The protest swelled to 1,000 angry workers. Chanting "No contract, no peace!" they marched onto the Manhattan-bound Brooklyn Bridge at the height of rush hour and closed it down. Over and over the workers shouted "A just contract or shut it down!"

Then, after marching onto City Hall, more than 300 workers took the train up to the headquarters of the TWU. Sonny Hall, the head of Local 100, flew into a panic. He called out the New York police to protect himself from his own union members. Thirty squad cars and over 100 policemen were brought out to deny the workers entry to their own union building.

Why such heat?


The 32,000 New York transit workers have been working without a contract since May 1 and they are fed up. In the last few months, there have been protest rallies of 2,000 workers. Work-to-rule slowdowns have cropped up. Protest leaflets and stickers have circulated widely. And workers have gone to union meetings to express their anger.

Finally, at the end of January, Sonny Hall announced that he had reached a deal with the TA But the "good contract" he promised turned out to be another rotten, take-back deal.

Workers are especially outraged at the proposal to trade a raise in basic wages for a lump-sum payment. For the first 15 months of the contract (which includes the period back to May 1), workers would get a $1,000 lump sum "retroactive cost of living adjustment" instead of a raise. The lump sum is smaller than what workers would receive through a retroactive 4% wage increase. And it is not rolled into the base wage or pensions. (In the last two years of the 38 month contract, workers would get a 4.5% and then a 2% wage increase.)

Workers could also get an additional 1% raise in the third year of the contract, but only if they help the TA achieve $14 million in productivity savings through speedup and job cuts. Already 3,000 transit jobs have been lost in the last four years. And now the union leaders are trying to throw in a piddling bribe to get workers to accept still more job cuts.

Workers are also outraged at other concessions. They would be forced to make co-payments for medical care and prescriptions, and the door was opened for more cuts in health benefits in the third year of the contract. New hires will have their pay cut. Suspended workers can be forced to work at 70% pay. And more.

The anger at this sellout deal could not be contained. Voting on the contract is done through mail-in ballots, which are open to manipulation, and probably won't be completed until the end of March. The workers were not content to sit and wait for such a vote. They began to take action.

Union sellouts threaten the rank and file

In the wake of the Brooklyn Bridge protest, Sonny Hall has come out with a stream of leaflets lying about what's in the contract and denouncing by name the Marxist-Leninist Party (MLP) and other dissidents for organizing opposition to the contract. He has gone so far as to claim that voting down the contract could lead to a loss of medical coverage, a loss of protective work rules, and the imposition of a three-year wage freeze. And he threatened workers that taking action would be "an illegal strike subject to Taylor Law fines to employees, workers' terminations, loss of seniority and more."

But, despite his threats, opposition continues to mount. The MLP has forcefully rebutted Hall's lies and distortions. It has widely circulated four protest leaflets, anti-contract stickers, and calls for the February 12 picket. The Party has taken an active part in the various rank- and-file protests and is working to build the movement into a force independent of the union sellouts, a force that can beat back the TA takeback drive. As the February 19 New York Workers' Voice points out:

"Sonny Hall and his band of flunkies hang like a millstone around our necks. They have served the TA so faithfully and for so long that today they actually spearhead the TA concessions drive against us. Instead of welcoming sentiment against concessions, they try to sabotage it and have gone so far as to call out the police against the membership.

"But meanwhile, there are exciting developments in the ranks. The Brooklyn Bridge shutdown, the work to rule on the #1 line, the hundreds of workers denouncing the sellout contract at union meetings, pickets, demonstrations, and petitions -- these are all signs that workers are getting into motion. It is only by bringing transit workers into action that we can stop the TA's concessions drive... To sit on our hands now -- or even to restrict ourselves to just voting 'No' -- means playing into the TA's hands.

"Right now, we have the initiative; we must use it. We must use this moment to get organized independent of the union officials. We 'must take the field and organize actions against the TA and against the sellout TWU bureaucrats. It is time to unite as one the shops, the gangs, the road and to fight the give-backs."

( Based on February 8th, 12th and 19th issues of "New York Workers' Voice," paper of the MLP-New York.)

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Condemn the forced return of Haitian refugees!

On February 24, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down an appeal against George Bush's decision to force Haitian refugees back to their homeland, where they face torture or death at the hands of the military dictatorship.

Since the military seized power in Haiti last September, a reign of terror has been imposed in Haiti. Thousands have taken to flimsy boats to seek refuge in the United States. But George Bush has brutally shut the door on these victims of terror.

First he ordered the Coast Guard and Navy to seize them in international waters and take them back to Haiti. Some 500 were returned. When this policy was restrained by a temporary court order, the White House persisted in its drive to prevent the Haitians from landing in Florida where they could haveaccess to legal due process. Instead, Bush had them placed in concentration camps at the U.S. Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba.

Now, with the approval of the Supreme Court of Injustice, the Haitian refugees are being turned over en masseto the military butchers that they fled. More than half of the 12,000 who are being forced back have already been returned. And when they get off the boat in Haiti, police interrogate and fingerprint them to create files on them.

This outrage ranks with President Roosevelt's decision to turn away the first wave of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi terror in the 1930's. And it is not just Bush and the conservative Supreme Court who are to blame. None of the Democratic candidates for the White House have seen fit to raise an outcry against Bush's shameful policy. And Congress has only made an empty gesture. On February 27, the House voted 217-165 to suspend repatriation, but by the time the bill passes through the Senate and goes to Bush who has threatened to veto it, all the Haitians will have been sent back. Meanwhile, the House also rejected 304-96 an amendment to give temporary protected status to newly-arrived Haitians.

U.S. policy: Asylum for the rich, but not poor blacks


The return of the Haitian boat people again shows up the cruel hypocrisy of U.S. refugee policy.

Without batting an eye, the U.S. gave refuge to the tyrant Marcos, who had looted the Philippines. It freely gave asylum to any rich ballet dancer or musician fleeing the former Soviet Union. It even provided former Haitian dictator "Baby Doc" Duvalier a jet to fly him to a fancy chateau in France when the Haitian people overthrew him in 1986. Tyrants, rich bloodsuckers, former Nazi scientists -- all have been welcomed in the U.S.

But when it comes to poor blacks fleeing terror from the Haitian military -- a military that had for decades been groomed by the U.S. -- the doors are shut.

No evidence of mass repression in Haiti?


The State Department says there is no evidence that the mass of Haitians are fleeing persecution or that anyone is harmed after they return. Both statements are lies.

Six major human rights reports have stated that since the coup, at least 1,500 people have been killed. Many Haitians are persecuted for no more than expressing their support for the ousted, popularly-elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide.

In February, two reporters from National Public Radio and the Chicago Tribune barely escaped with their lives after they had gone to investigate the burning of an entire village in the Haitian countryside. The village had been burned by rural "section chiefs" as retribution against pro-Aristide villagers.

Moreover, the UN Commission of Refugees has documented scores of cases of those forcibly returned being arrested, tortured and murdered.

Economic, not political, refugees?


The Bush administration also claims that the Haitians being returned are "economic refugees" but not victims of political terror.

This is largely a smokescreen. If that is indeed the case, why is it that during the eight months of Aristide's reign, the number of Haitians taking to boats to come to the U.S. had become a mere trickle? When Haitians felt hope in their country's future, they did not seek to make a desperate 600-mile journey in flimsy boats.

But this charge too is another expression of U.S. hypocrisy. We don't recall the State Department making such fine distinctions when it was some Russian ballet dancer or East European athlete seeking asylum in the U.S. to advance their careers. But they were privileged and white, while the Haitians are black and poor.

Moreover, the Soviet bloc asylum- seekers were from the "evil empire," while the Haitians are from a land whose brutal rulers have long been propped up by the U.S. government. Indeed, where it has involved a country which the U.S. is hostile to, such as Cuba or Viet Nam, Washington has given asylum even to people who were not well off, without making distinctions about whether they were "political" or "economic" refugees. But such a refugee policy was part of the bigger campaign to destabilize these countries.

There lies the crux of the issue. Washington does not feel that kind of hostility towards Haiti's regime. Whether or not the Haitians are seeking "economic" or "political" refuge, they are fleeing a land whose poverty and tyranny have been bolstered by a long history of U.S. imperialist intervention and domination.

What's behind this cruelty?


Why this brutal policy which has brought even more shame on America before the entire world?

For one thing, it's because Bush and the ruling establishment are racist. But what's more, by returning the Haitians, Bush wants to show solidarity with the Haitian dictators. Indeed, at the very same time that mass repatriation of boat people was begun, Bush also lifted some of the economic sanctions against Haiti. This opens the way for the 200 mostly U.S.-owned assembly plants to resume operations again. These are the sweatshops where Haitians work at $3 a day to make big profits for garment and electronics manufacturers in the U.S. Such a change in policy had been asked for by these business interests.

True, Bush still gives lip service to the idea that Aristide should be returned to the presidency in Haiti. And there is a plan in the works with such an objective, which we discuss in another article. But even if that plan returns Aristide -- and it's not certain it will do that -- he would find that all effective power has been stripped from him and handed over to conservative forces who are buddies of the military and Haitian elite.

This is another example of how the wealthy in the U.S. side with and back exploiters and tyrants against the working people abroad. It shows that U.S. immigration policy is nothing but a link in a chain of blatant racism and imperialism. The lesson from this for American workers is this: we must counter the international unity of the exploiters with the international unity of the workers.

Condemn the forced return of Haitian refugees! Support the Haitian toilers in their fight against tyranny!

[Photo: Haitian refugee at U.S. naval base at Guantanamo, Cuba awaits deportation.]

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General Motors throws down the gauntlet

General Motors issued a giant threat to workers in February -- give up more concessions or your plant will close!

GM head Robert Stempel spoke to all GM workers through closed-circuit TV on February 24. He announced that "We're going to each plant individually to see what that plant wants to do..." And he declared that "innovative labor agreements and work arrangements" are major factors deciding which plants live and which will die.

To emphasize his point, Stempel announced that the Moraine, Ohio truck plant had been saved from the chopping block because it had agreed to a whole slew of new concessions. The leaders of the International Union of Electrical Workers (IUE) who represent that plant just signed a new contract accepting cuts in benefits, lower pay for new hires, the slashing of job classifications, mandatory scheduling of vacations during a two- week nationwide shutdown, and a work schedule using three work crews on staggered shifts of four 10-hour days.

On the other hand, Stempel named a number of plants that will be closed because they did not offer enough concessions in the bidding war with workers at other plants.

GM is in trouble and it wants to make the workers pay for it. It has announced plans to shut 21 plants in the U.S. and Canada and to eliminate 74,000 jobs by 1995. And it is using the threat of plant closure to force workers into a bidding war over which plant will give up the most concessions to stay open. GM's aim here is not only to grab concessions at individual plants. By pitting worker against worker, it hopes to demoralize them all and prepare the way for national contract take-backs -- especially the elimination of job guarantees at the plants being shut down.

But why should the workers pay for GM's present crisis? Over the years GM has hauled in hundreds of billions in profits from slaving the workers. Even with its present losses, GM pays its executives astronomical salaries. Why, even after Stempel cut the pensions for former executives, Roger Smith (the last head of GM) is still receiving a pension of nearly $1 million a year.

Stempel and Smith and the wealthy stockholders and bankers have all gotten rich off the GM workers. Let them pay for their own crisis. The workers have to look out for themselves. Get organized for mass struggle against GM! Get organized to make the billionaires pay to either keep the plants open or to provide the workers full pay and benefits until they can find comparable jobs.

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Lessons from the crisis at GM

If you listen to the UAW bureaucrats, then you'd think that the only reason for the plant closings and layoffs is that GM is not competitive enough. A few trade barriers against Japan, a little more investment in U.S. plants rather than those in Mexico, and everything would be fine.

But the UAW leaders are hiding the simple fact that the job cuts at GM are the product of a worldwide overproduction crisis. In North America alone it is estimated that the Big Three, the Japanese, and the joint ventures have a combined production capacity of some six million vehicles more than can be sold in a good year. And with their own economic downturns the same problem is developing in Japan and Europe.

This crisis of overcapacity is a result of the capitalists' dog-eat-dog competition. In their drive for profits each of the multinational auto monopolies believe it will win a bigger share of the market. As a result, they have built plants and created capacity to produce far more cars and trucks than can be sold profitably. So to try to save their profits, they have to cut back, close plants and eliminate jobs. If GM could actually become more competitive, as the UAW preaches, it would simply mean that Ford or Chrysler or Honda or Toyota would be losing the competition and they would have to shut plants and eliminate jobs.

What is more, to become competitive each of the multinationals are on a crusade to drive down the workers. Whether they are U.S. or Japanese or European, each of the multinational auto giants are investing in new technology and plants that can produce more vehicles with less workers. More investment at GM will not save jobs. It will mean at most that GM is more competitive because it can produce with less workers.

At the same time, each multinational corporation is also scrounging over the entire world to find oppressed workers that can be super-exploited at lower pay. The multinationals invest only where they can make the most profits off the workers, and they shift production to other states and other countries whenever they see a chance for an extra buck. Each and every one of the multinationals is on a drive to increase the exploitation of workers both in the U.S. and other countries. Indeed, even as they compete, they form joint ventures to better exploit the workers.

In this situation, it is completely ridiculous for the workers to side with one monopoly against the others. Instead, two lessons should be learned.

First, U.S. workers cannot build a fight to defend their own jobs except by also supporting the struggles of workers in other countries. As long as the multinationals have free reign to super-exploit workers anywhere, then they have a weapon to cut jobs and grab concessions in this country. Instead of blaming Mexican or Korean or Japanese workers for the problem, we have to link arms with them, help them in their struggles, and built a common front against the multinationals that are exploiting us all.

Secondly, the fight for jobs must ultimately become a fight against the whole competitive system. When the capitalists are laying off workers not because of shortages, but because they have produced too much; when the capitalists cannot even provide jobs or a livelihood for the workers who are the very basis of the capitalists' profits; when technical progress and increased productivity mean misery and permanent worry; then it becomes clear that this system is no longer of any value.

The time is ripe for a change to a new and higher system, to socialism. Not a system based on producing profits for the wealthy few, but on meeting the needs of the vast majority. Not a system based on blind dog-eat-dog competition, but on a conscious collective effort to meet the needs of society. Not a stagnant bureaucracy, as existed in Russia, but a system based on the organization of the workers themselves. The present crisis shows that the economic situation is ripe for change. What is needed is for the workers to get organized to carry out such a revolution.

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UAW leaders say they'll fight--but not against GM

For over a decade, the top leaders of the United Auto Workers (UAW) have been granting the auto monopolies one concession after another and engaging the workers in plant-by-plant bidding wars over which will most help the companies become "more competitive."

Many rank-and-file workers have become disgusted with them. And opposition factions among the bureaucrats have denounced them for encouraging whipsawing between plants and failing to protect workers' jobs. Now, in the midst of delegate elections for the upcoming UAW convention, the top bureaucrats have suddenly begun to posture against GM.

Stephen Yokich, UAW vice-president and top bargainer with GM, has militantly declared that the union will not reopen the contract to negotiate changes in the job guarantees. And he vehemently denounced whipsawing between plants. Why, he even implied that the UAW leadership might call "selective strikes" to oppose whipsawing.

Is this new-found militancy to be believed? You can't trust it. When you look beneath the heated rhetoric, you find the UAW leaders are still out to help GM rather than fight it.

Take, for example, GM's demand that workers save them $150 million by switching their vacations to a two-week nationwide shutdown in July. The news media portrays Yokich defiantly rejecting the request. But what he did was leave it up to the locals at each plant to decide whether to go along with the demand or not. And under the threat of plant closure, many are agreeing to it. Instead of standing up to GM, Yokich is just feeding the bidding war between locals.

Or take GM's demand to cut overtime pay and allow more flexible scheduling by reorganizing plants into three work crews on staggered shifts of four 10-hour days. When it was first raised back in the fall of 1990, Yokich told workers at each plant to decide for themselves. And a number -- like the casting plant in Defiance, Ohio -- have already agreed to GM's demand. Indeed, this concession is one of the reasons that GM is closing casting plants in Michigan and Canada and shifting their production to the Defiance casting plant. When Yokich shouts that the UAW opposes whipsawing and won't approve this same work- scheduling arrangement at the Arlington, Texas plant (which offered the deal to compete with the Willow Run plant in Michigan), it looks like pretty empty play-acting.

Even UAW leaders' rejection of GM's demand to open the contract and renegotiate job guarantees does not go far enough. The present job guarantees are limited in a number of ways. Workers under two years seniority are not protected. GM is allowed to eliminate jobs through "attrition" -- just as long as one job is added for every two cut. And the job guarantees only last another year and a half, to when the present contract expires, or not even that long if the special fund set up to pay for them runs dry. More than half of the fund has already been used up and some predict it will be bankrupt by the summer.

The much-praised "job guarantees" are collapsing, but are the UAW leaders getting the rank and file organized for mass struggle against GM? Are they building a fight to make GM pay full wages and benefits for the laid-off -- not just for some workers, and not just till the fund runs dry, but until workers can get comparable jobs?

No. Instead of that, the UAW leaders' chief demand is that GM lobby for tougher trade measures against Japan and oppose a pending free-trade agreement with Mexico. That's not fighting GM, it's trying to help the auto giant against its multinational competitors. It's shifting the blame for job cuts away from GM and onto the hard-pressed workers in Mexico and other countries.

Workers should not be fooled by the fiery shouts of the UAW leaders these days. A serious fight for jobs can only be waged by supporting the struggles of our class brothers and sisters in Mexico, Japan, Korea and elsewhere, and by uniting with them in a common battle to make the auto billionaires pay. The UAW leaders are not even talking about such a battle. It's up to the rank and file to get organized on their own.

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15,000 Mexican workers strike 'maquiladora' plants


35,000 workers struck nine maquiladora plants in Matamoros, Mexico at the end of January. The strike began at two GM plants and then spread to plants owned by Zenith, United Technologies, Eaton Corporation, Trico, Deltronicos, Neco de Mexico, and Grupo Nova. Thousands of workers rallied outside factories waving red and black flags. At Deltronicos alone some 1,500 workers joined a militant picket.

The maquiladoras are plants that come under a special tariff-free arrangement between the U.S. and Mexico. They are mostly U.S.-owned or they produce parts to be exported to U.S. multinational monopolies. Altogether there are about half a million workers in the maquiladora plants. Most are women. They are slaved to death in mostly non-union shops, 48 hours a week, at an average wage of $28 a week. Child labor, brown lung, exposure to toxic chemicals, and other horrors abound. Tens of thousands of the workers are crowded into miserable shanty towns ringing the plants. The maquiladoras are the model for how U.S. monopolies want to mistreat the Mexican workers.

In Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas, many of the workers have joined unions and their conditions are somewhat better. They have won a 40-hour week and their wages are a bit higher. The strikers demanded a 30% wage increase.

After a day of striking, a few plants settled for a 20% wage hike. But the strike continued elsewhere. And another 35,000 workers were poised to strike on February 3 against another 62 plants represented by the Matamoros Maquiladora Association.

Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari rushed into town for a day to help the Association sort out how to break the strike. In blackmail typical of the U.S., the Association threatened that if workers won such a wage increase the multinationals would move their operations to other, lower-wage areas. And then, shortly after Salinas left, the strike leader Agapito Gonzalez Cavazos was arrested and hauled off to Mexico City on a three-year old "tax evasion" charge. A Mexico City judge quickly dismissed the charges and ordered Gonzalez released. But the federal prosecutor lodged new tax charges and he was arrested again.

Under this pressure, workers were forced to accept a contract that included only an 18.75% wage increase and, also, allowed companies to stop paying for Social Security benefits.

Gonzalez is the head of the Union of Day Laborers and Industrial Workers which is part of the CTM union federation. Although the CTM is affiliated to the ruling PRI party, President Salinas did not think twice about arresting him. To bolster the private-sector Mexican capitalists and prove that Mexico is "safe" for foreign investment, Salinas has been cracking down on strikes and other popular unrest, including jailing some of his own union officials. Again in this strike, Salinas proved he is a good partner of U.S. imperialism.

In the U.S., the leadership of the United Auto Workers sent a letter protesting the arrest of Gonzalez and contributing $15,000 to his union. But they did not bother to organize solidarity actions by U.S. workers at GM or other U.S. multinationals. Indeed, their token support was used mainly to claim that the undemocratic methods of Salinas prove Mexico would not be a good partner for a U.S.-Mexico free trade agreement. Instead of real solidarity in common struggle against the U.S. multinational exploiters, the UAW leaders imply that Mexican workers are stealing U.S. jobs and demand trade barriers against Mexico. Workers in the U.S. must reject the chauvinism of our trade union bureaucrats and link arms with our Mexican brothers and sisters if we are to mount a serious struggle against GM and the other capitalist exploiters.

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Mexican miners fight for jobs


More than 800 miners from the Cananea mines in Sonora, Mexico held a mass assembly at their union headquarters on January 15. They denounced the company's many violations of their contract. They were especially angry that miners are being laid-off and replaced with outside contractors used to set up machinery in the mines.

A section of the miners marched on the company office to bring the bosses back to answer their demands. But the main company heads were not to be found. So the miners grabbed two smaller bosses, paraded them through the town, and then hauled them to the union hall. At last report, a state labor relations official had been rushed in to negotiate on the miners' demands.

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No to Japan-bashing! The profit system is the enemy.

Murder of Japanese man may be result of Japan-bashing

The Japan-bashing which has become fashionable among politicians and the media is fueling racist assaults against Asian residents in the U.S.

Yasuo Kato, a Japanese businessman, was stabbed to death in Camarillo, California, just two weeks after being threatened by a man who blamed Japan for the loss of his job. While police are investigating other motives, this may be the first death from the current wave of Japan-bashing.

The last decade, which has seen growing Japan-bashing, has seen increasing anti-Asian violence. In 1982, Vincent Chin, a Chinese-American engineer, was beaten to death in Detroit by an auto plant supervisor. The massacre of Indochinese children in a Stockton, California schoolyard in 1989 was also the result of anti-Asian bigotry.

In the final analysis, the establishment which engages in Japan-bashing demagoguery is to blame for this ugly racism.


Civil Rights Commission criticizes politicians

The racist hysteria against Japan has gotten so bad that the U.S. Civil Rights Commission has been forced to urge politicians to halt their Japan-bashing.

In a report describing increased anti- Asian violence, the commission said, "Political leaders contribute to the problem when they unthinkingly lash out at Japan as the cause of U.S. economic difficulties. More importantly, political and governmental leaders have yet to make it a national priority to prevent and denounce anti-Asian prejudice and violence."

The report also criticized schools for not teaching about the history of Asian- Americans, and blamed the news media for neglecting hate crimes.

These criticisms add up to a major indictment of the establishment. But the Civil Rights Commission is part of that establishment, and thus it sees no remedies beyond appeals to the very same forces who are encouraging racism. Not much can be expected from that.

Those who seriously oppose racism will have to build an anti-racist movement among the working people to expose and confront all racist attacks and the ruling class which stands behind them.

There are layoffs in Japan too

Lee Iacocca and other Japan-bashers make it appear that the recession, plant closings and layoffs in the U.S. are caused by Japanese corporations. The truth is, the economic crisis here is the result of the capitalist profit system. And, because capitalism is global, the current recession is of worldwide scope. And Japan is not immune from the impact of the crisis.

Though the slowdown isn't as severe there, workers are having to bear the burden of the crisis, just like here. In many factories, workers' pay is being cut by reducing overtime work. And layoffs are hitting certain sectors too. Japan has imported many Brazilians of Japanese origin to work at low wages. Such workers are bearing the brunt of recent dismissals. Mitsubishi Electric fired dozens of Japanese-Brazilian workers last October. Some 5,000 more are threatened with layoff in Hamamatsu city where motorcycle makers are located.

Capitalism is the workers' enemy, and it doesn't matter what nationality the bosses are. They operate on the same profit-making logic. To defend their interests, the workers have to fight against this system, not the nationality of this or that employer. And we must unite with our fellow workers across national borders.

Postal workers face similar conditions in Japan and U.S.

Workers in Japan have to confront similar conditions as in the U.S. One example of this is what postal workers face during December.

The U.S. Postal Service makes life hell for postal clerks during December. Mandatory overtime for several weeks, without any days off, is common for LSM operators, for instance.

A report from Osaka in Japan points out that workers there have to work overtime for three hours every day during the season when New Year's cards are being handled. They go for 14 straight days without any off days. And just like in the U.S. the postal union officials go along with this type of overwork.

There too rank-and-file workers find ways to protest. The youth section of an Osaka branch of the union recently sent an open letter to the national leadership condemning them for neglecting the workers' health.

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Strikes & workplace news


Caterpillar strike spreads

Workers spread their strike to all the Caterpillar plants in Illinois in February.

On February 17, Caterpillar declared that it was ready to negotiate and ended its more than three-month lockout of 5,600 workers at its Aurora and East Peoria plants. But the workers didn't trust the company and refused to return to work. They joined the 2,400 other workers on strike at other plants in Decatur and East Peoria.

On February 19, the first bargaining session was held since October 31. But Caterpillar still refused to sign a pattern agreement that had been negotiated earlier with Deere and Co. And, in what it called its final offer, it continued to demand a series of concessions. Caterpillar is the world's largest maker of earth- moving equipment and is highly profitable. But it claims it must have concessions to remain competitive in the world market. The leaders of the United Auto Workers (UAW) rejected their demands.

Two days later, about 2,750 workers at the Mossville, Illinois engine plant joined the strike.

Unfortunately, the UAW leaders are sticking to their "selective" strike strategy. They have kept another 5,200 workers -- nearly a third of the Caterpillar work force -- on the job at plants in Memphis, Denver, and York, Pennsylvania. The UAW leaders have been reluctant to strike all along. It is up to the rank and file to spread the strike to all plants and completely turn off the faucet of Caterpillar profits.

[Photo: Caterpillar workers picket in Decatur, Illinois.]

Longshoremen protest lockout

The Southern Pacific locked out 350 longshoremen at its container transfer facility in Los Angeles on February 11. It ended its deal with the subcontractor that hired the longshoremen and began operating the facility with only 200 Southern Pacific employees. Although these workers are represented by the Transportation and Communication Workers Union, they are working without many of the protective rules of the longshoremen and the workload has been nearly doubled.

The locked-out longshoremen were outraged and immediately began picketing. On February 17, longshoremen up and down the West Coast joined the protest, idling ships in ports from Alaska to San Diego. As many as 5,000 longshoremen marched to the Los Angeles Harbor Department to demand the restoration of the jobs.

[Photo: 5,000 longshoremen demonstrate In L.A. against Southern Pacific lockout.]

Unsafe work is part of Post Office job-cutting drive

The January 27th issue of New York Workers' Voice reports that the job-cutting drive of the United States Postal Service is causing intensive speedup and unsafe working conditions. At the FDR station in New York, letter carriers are even being ordered to follow procedures which management itself had previously declared to be unsafe.

For example, the FDR management has ordered letter carriers to use tubs (hampers) for mail delivery. But these have been outlawed for years at the station because of an accident involving them. Similarly, satchel carts are now to be used in some office buildings and taken into passenger elevators. But at the station itself the use of satchel carts is considered a safety violation that calls for disciplinary action "up to and including removal." Workers are also being ordered to carry more weight in their bags and to use staircases to deliver mail even though both are known to cause more injuries.

Letter carriers have been resisting these changes, including some outright refusals to carry out unsafe orders. But the union bureaucrats have been undercutting efforts to organize a collective battle against the USPS. Vince Sombrotto, the head of the National Association of Letter Carriers, insisted that carriers passively "follow orders" and grieve it later. According to him, carriers should leave it up to management and the grievance procedure to eventually ban unsafe methods, even though the methods in question have already been declared illegal in the past. The rank and file will have to get organized on their own.

Court restricts organizing

After a series of rulings undercutting the rights of minorities and women, the Supreme Court turned its guns against organizing drives on January 27.

The Court gave bosses the right to bar union organizers from all company property. It specifically ruled in favor of owners of the Lechmere Shopping Plaza near Hartford, Connecticut. They had blocked union organizers from entering the mall's parking lot, which is essentially a public lot, to leaflet workers.

The action overturned a 1955 Supreme Court ruling that declared private property rights had to yield to the extent needed to permit the communication of information on the right to organize.

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Budget axe falls on the poor in Connecticut


Torturing the poor is the most fashionable trend among state governments. Connecticut is the latest state to embark on this course in full force. Last year Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker sought to balance the budget by instituting a state income tax. Faced with a storm of protest, he changed course. This year he swung the budget axe on the poor and boasted of how he would boss them around.

At the beginning of February, Weicker announced his new turn in budgetary matters. There were to be no new taxes on businesses or the wealthy. Instead there would be $1.1 billion in cuts, especially in welfare and social programs. It is admitted that some of these cuts won't really save much money, because people will be forced onto the streets, and therefore a bit more money has been set aside to deal with homelessness, as well as to run the prisons. But the businessmen consider that it sets a morally uplifting example if the poor have to shiver in the streets, or be warehoused in jails.

Shredding general assistance

One-tenth of the $1.1 billion savings involve ripping apart the general assistance program. Two-thirds of the 35,000 people on this welfare program will have their benefits reduced or simply be thrown into the streets. Elsewhere, Michigan eliminated General Assistance altogether last year, and Ohio and Illinois adopted drastic restrictions.

These cuts are being justified on the grounds that some of the recipients are able-bodied individuals who should get jobs. Connecticut officials, for example, claim that 42% of GA recipients are "employable." Under the new proposal, those deemed "employable" will only receive assistance for at most six months out of any twelve-month period. In Ohio, a six-month limit was adopted last year, and 130,000 people are to be axed in April. And Illinois set a nine-month limit for this year (and six months for the next), so that 85,000 people will be axed on April 1.

State employees under the gun too

But where the "employable" are supposed to get employed is anyone's guess. As the economy decays, there are fewer and fewer jobs. And Weicker's budget makes things worse by striking at the state employees. 3,800 jobs are to be eliminated. Those still working will have to foot more of their health insurance bill. And the retired will see a freeze on pension funding.

Standardized rates

As well, welfare cuts are being made in the name of uniformity. Until now, welfare rates have varied across the state. Standard rates are to be set, and these rates will amount to steep cuts for many thousands of people. Michigan too is experimenting with making cuts in the name of establishing uniform rates.

Unsaid by Weicker, in Connecticut as elsewhere a dose of racism intensifies the cruelty to the poor. About three- quarters of the welfare recipients in Connecticut are black or Hispanic, and the businessmen don't see why they should spend on the minorities. And in California, Governor Wilson cuts welfare while shouting against the immigrants.

Does It help the children?

While boasting of his axe, Weicker pretends that he is really a reformer who will help the poor. Why, he claims, his priorities are "jobs and children." He says he will spare families with children and even make improvements that will result in breaking the cycle of dependency. But in fact he is eliminating cost-of-living increases to AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) and other programs families depend on.

His concern for children amounts to putting the screws to their parents. He boasts that the welfare department will now put pressure on families to ensure that their children go to school everyday. But at the same time he is slashing educational aid to towns. The towns are to save money by dropping educational and social programs, and Weicker is releasing them from a number of state-mandated requirements.

All the cuts will lead to desperation and more crime. Weicker claims that "make no mistake, I am also mindful of the hurt and anger that rise in too many Connecticut hearts." Perhaps he is, for Weicker is expanding some areas of state government -- there will be more hiring for the prison system.

The governor is trying to sell this budget by claiming that if a better business climate is created it will mean jobs. Right. Tell that to the 9,000 plus GM workers facing factory close-downs in Michigan where Governor John Engler has carried out some of the most drastic welfare cuts around.

From liberal to independent, and still a slave of business

Weicker is a long-time member of the liberal wing of the Republican party. Recently he left the Republican party and won election in 1990 as an independent. But he is oriented towards the businessmen and the ruling establishment as much as any other politician. That is why when the businesspeople cried out in anger, he gave up even the thought of taxing them. But when the poor cry out, in pain, he hires more prison guards.

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California students fight fee increases

College students in California are up in arms against budget cutbacks and fee increases.

On January 17, regents of the University of California voted a 22% increase in student fees at its nine campuses. This latest move by the regents means that fees have doubled in the last three years alone and now total a whopping $3,036 per year for California residents. This doesn't include what U.C. students must pay for room, board, books and other living expenses. The fee hikes threaten to drive many poorer students out of school altogether.

In response to this latest attack on their right to an education, U.C. students protested from one end of the state to the other.

About 300 U.C. Davis students rallied outside Freeborn Hall, the site of the regents' meeting. After the regents left, the students broke through police lines shouting "Fight Back" and took over the hall. Police attacked the protesters and arrested five. In spite of this, students held the hall. By evening their numbers had grown to 1,500. Over the next four days hundreds more community people and students came to the hall to participate in the protest. On January 21st, 350 of the activists carried their protest from Davis to the state capital in Sacramento where the state legislature was about to reconvene. They denounced the cutbacks in education and demanded an end to the fee increases.

On January 31, at U.C. Berkeley, 75 students staged a sit-in at Moffit Library against the cutbacks and the fee increases. The University administration had gotten wind of the students' plans to take over the library and closed it themselves in the early afternoon to prevent hundreds of other students from joining the sit-in. The students who were turned away rallied outside shouting "We want to study, let us in!" Three hundred students and community supporters demonstrated late into the night outside the library. When campus police tried to clear the library, students inside refused to leave. The cops ended up dragging each protester out of the library and arresting them as activists shouted "Education is a right! Fight, fight, fight!" and "Inside. Outside. We're all on the same side!" Five students at U.C. Berkeley have also begun a hunger strike demanding that the fee hikes be rescinded.

Protests have also broken out at the U.C. campuses in Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Irvine.

Meanwhile, student protests also erupted at California State University. In mid-February the Cal State finance committee of the board of trustees ratified a 40% increase in tuition for the 20-college system's 370,000 students. They were hit just last year with a 20% fee increase and big layoffs of teachers and class cancellations. Tuition will now rise from $936 to $1,308 per year.

Angry students from Cal State campuses at Long Beach, San Diego and Pomona organized a protest at the Long Beach campus where the committee was meeting. They threw garbage on the table where the vote had been taken. Meanwhile students outside held a demonstration shouting "Hell no, we won't pay, got to find another way!" They also built a shantytown and made plans for further protests.

On February 24, about 300 Cal State students staged a noisy demonstration in Sacramento in front of Governor Wilson's office protesting budget cutbacks and fee and tuition hikes. A section of the students held a sit-in in the hallway outside the governor's office blowing whistles and shouting slogans. Nineteen were arrested.

This wave of protest is a welcome development. There are millions of us who are angry and tired of being soaked by the rich while more and more of our children go without food, shelter, health care and a decent education. Students, their parents, and all working and poor people -- we've got to get organized to make the rich pay!

(Based in part on a February issue of the "Bay Area Workers' Voice," paper of the MLP, San Francisco Bay Area.)

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Students protest aid cuts at Columbia University

About 300 students blockaded doors to the administration building at Columbia University in New York City February 11. They shouted "Keep financial aid; remember the promise you made!" and "The students united will never be defeated!" They then scaled a wall and occupied an office. Various scuffles broke out with security forces who tried to clear students from the building.

Columbia has long had a policy of "need-blind" admissions. Students are supposed to be admitted without consideration of their ability to pay and the University is supposed to pay ''full coverage" of any costs that a student cannot afford. But now the University says it can't cover the needs of all the students it accepts. It has proposed a ceiling of $15 million in financial aid to students, which will leave some students without assistance. The protesters emphasized that without financial aid "need-blind" admissions is just a empty promise.

[Photo: Students blockade Columbia library in protest against cuts in financial aid.]

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Homelessness grows among veterans

Every day during the war in the Persian Gulf, President Bush and Congress shouted "support our troops." But the minute the war was over, they threw the soldiers out on the street like old-worn-out socks. For example, recent reports indicate that there is a growing number of veterans from the Gulf, Vietnam, and other wars who are homeless. Even according to the gross underestimations of the government, there are between 150,000and 250,000 military veterans who are homeless on any given night.

But as their plight grows worse the federal, state and local governments are cutting veterans' benefits. In Michigan, for example, there are reported to be some 25,000 homeless veterans. But Governor Engler abolished the Homeless Veterans Initiative which this year would have provided $248,000 in food and shelter. Meanwhile, President Bush's new budget proposal contains a five-year cut in veterans' benefits to the tune of $3.2 billion.

Obviously when Bush and the Democrats shouted "support our troops" they were not really concerned about the working people who had been pushed into uniform to do the dirty work for U.S. imperialism. Oh no, they meant support the wealthy generals; support the U.S. war machine; support the imperialist drive to control the oil in the Middle East. They postured concern for the ordinary soldiers only to gain support from workers for that rich man's war.

There is a lesson in this. Workers cannot support the imperialist drive of the filthy rich capitalist rulers of this country. Instead, we must launch our own war, a class war of the workers against the exploiters.

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Seattle: Youth confront neo-nazis and cops

An angry march of 400 anti-racist youth confronted neo-nazi skinheads and the police in Seattle on January 25.

"Give nazi skins the boot!" was the call on one of the posters organizing this protest against racist attacks and gay- bashing. The young people were particularly angry about the Christmas eve attack on Anthony Johnson, a 40-year- old black man. A gang of neo-nazis, who did not know him, followed Mr. Johnson off a metro bus in the University district. Shouting racist obscenities, the nazis beat Mr. Johnson unconscious and stabbed him.

The anti-racists were also mad at the police who have treated the neo-nazis with kid gloves. Only one of the attackers of Mr. Johnson was arrested, and he was charged only with second degree assault.

Neo-nazis chased off the streets


The 400 protesters included young workers, high school and college students, anti-racist skinheads, supporters of the Marxist-Leninist Party and other leftists. They marched through the University District and then on to Capitol Hill.

On Broadway, three nazi skinheads appeared on the sidewalk. They carried shields with "SS" and Aryan Nations symbols. They gave the Hitler salute, flipped-off the march, and shouted anti-gay obscenities at the protesters. Immediately, about half the march ran toward the nazis, who turned and "ran for their lives" down the middle of the street.

The police set up a line to block the protest. But about 30 marchers got through the line and followed the nazis in hot pursuit. Two blocks away, the nazis ran into an apartment building for refuge. A police van arrived at the same time as the first handful of protesters. The cops jumped out with their clubs swinging. They savagely beat the five or six protesters at the scene. Some were beaten to the ground, some were gripped with chokeholds, one was held with a pistol to his head. But then the larger group of 30 marchers arrived. They surrounded the cops and, after a short tussle, succeeded in freeing all the protesters.

The march proceeded down Broadway, and about 150 marchers went to the police station at 12th and Pine. They militantly shouted slogans such as: "Police protect their own!" "No cops! No KKK! No fascist USA!" "Nazi cops, out of the CD!" (Central District).

A police riot


After these events, the police attempted to suppress the march. Fifty cops in full riot gear joined the couple dozen police on horses and in vans. They repeatedly surrounded and attacked the march as it went down Broadway and nearby streets. Thirteen of the 14 arrests took place when the riot squad attacked not the march, but a handful of protesters who had left the march and were standing on the sidewalk.

About 50 or so marchers refused to quit and moved down Broadway again. A half dozen kept ahead of the march, mingling among shoppers and parked cars. They grabbed any rocks or bottles they could find and kept a rain of debris falling on the police vans following the march. Hundreds of shoppers watched the spectacle of this bold confrontation of the police.

Unable to quell the protest, the police finally took out their frustrations on the shoppers. They massed the riot cops and mounted police on a block at a time and cleared three blocks in this manner. Several shoppers were clubbed and one was arrested for the "crime" of accusing the police of brutality. At least one news reporter was threatened with arrest if he "raised his camera to his eye again." (University of Washington Daily, Jan. 27)

Marchers blamed for police riot


The media immediately blamed the marchers. The Seattle Post-Intelligencerdescribed the anti-racist marchers as "thugs," "ruffians," a "mob," and "a hard core of hooligans who doled out their own bigotry in the worst Brownshirt tradition." (Jan. 29) According to the P-I, "Seattle police responded well." Meanwhile, Mayor Norm Rice declared that "all force used by the police was justified," and that the march was led by "communist front groups."

Now when avowed nazis randomly attacked Anthony Johnson, the police basically let them go, and the P-I tried to excuse them saying that Mr. Johnson may have attacked them. But when a mass protest takes action against the neo-nazis, then the anti-racists are labeled Brownshirts and the police are glorified for attacking them.

Why are the police and the mayor and the media so intent on vilifying the anti-racist fighters and protecting the racist neo-nazis?

One reason, of course, is the role and character of the police themselves. They are generally pumped up on anti-crime, anti-drug hysteria directed against minorities and youth. They spend a big part of their time harassing, roughing up, and arresting black people and especially black youth. As well, a portion of the police has storm-trooper views and is politically active. During the war on Iraq, for example, off-duty Seattle police carried out the counter-protest that attacked the anti-war demonstration at the Federal Building.

But there is a higher level pulling the strings and pushing the buttons of the cops. The posture of "constitutional rights for all, including nazis," is not the motive of government policy, but a liberal-sounding cover to fool the naive. The real issue is that a main pillar of political control is the use of racism to divide the masses.

Among other things, the capitalist establishment seeks to keep racist gangs in the wings in order to balance them off against the development of progressive movements of workers, youth, or other oppressed groups. Mayor Norm Rice may talk about multiculturalism, but his knee-jerk reaction in defense of the police attack indicates that, when push comes to shove, he, like other black mayors, knows what the real powers expect.

The government and media protection of the neo-nazis shows that racism must be fought with militant mass action. The January 25 protest was right on the mark. It trashed the neo-nazis counter-protest. And more. It forced the police, the media and the mayor to expose where they truly stand.

(Based on a February 16 leaflet of the MLP-Seattle Branch.)

[Photo: March in Seattle against racist skinhead and nazi violence.]

No to border crackdown on Mexican immigrants!

Early in February, TV cameras witnessed as many as 50 Mexican men, women and children at a time dashing through speeding freeway traffic up Interstate 5 near San Diego to elude border guards and cross into the U.S. Hungry for jobs and a decent living, the immigrants are forced to resort to the most desperate measures.

But instead of showing them any sympathy, the Bush administration is ordering a new crackdown on Mexican immigrants. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and Border Patrol are adding another 500 agents to the already 3,800-strong force patrolling the border. The army is turning over to them military vehicles and other equipment left from the Persian Gulf war. The Army is also building a 10-foot-high steel-panel fence that will eventually extend nearly 12 miles along the border south of San Diego.

As well, the administration is talking about recalling work permits, and even green cards, and issuing new ones that are supposedly counterfeit-resistant at a cost of $70 for each immigrant. It also wants to create a new computerized "National Criminal Alien Tracking Center" to hound the immigrants.

Mexican government lends a hand


Although Mexican government officials wring their hands over U.S. attacks on immigrants, they are at times joining in the crackdown.

For example, it was Mexican officials who suppressed immigrants preparing to dash across the freeway. The U.S. Border Patrol had threatened to shut down four of six Interstate 5 lanes and station 25 agents to grab immigrants dashing up the freeway. But before they could act, Mexican officials sent in an elite unit of the Mexican border police to lower the boom on the immigrants first.

It is reported that they were concerned that shutting down several lanes on the freeway might hurt Mexican businessmen and the tourist trade.

Why the crackdown?


Nobody really expects the new crackdown to stem the flow of Mexican immigrants into the U.S. any more than past crackdowns have. As long as U.S. domination and Mexican capitalism are driving peasants off the land, causing high unemployment and forcing workers on starvation wages, then some working people from Mexico will continue to hope they can improve their lot by crossing to the U.S.

But the real point of the crackdown is to terrorize the immigrants, to force them into a semi-underground existence, and to keep them in the position of a low-wage, super-oppressed stratum of the U.S. work force.

The creation of a Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Mexico won't change this one bit. U.S. President Bush and Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari claim that shifting Mexico from a state capitalist set-up to a free-market economy which is more open to U.S. multinationals will raise up the workers and stop the flow of immigrants into the U.S. But there have already been six years of drastic changes in Mexico including wholesale privatization and rewriting laws to open the country to U.S. investment. And the only ones to benefit have been the U.S. multinationals and Mexican businessmen. A Free Trade Agreement will only continue the trend of super-exploiting Mexican workers and threatening U.S. workers to accept lower pay and benefits.

At the same time, a Free Trade Agreement will make more obvious the role of U.S. imperialism and the Mexican capitalists. This will show the U.S. workers they face a common enemy with their class brothers and sisters in Mexico. The working class answer to capitalist free trade must be to open up bridges of solidarity between the exploited in the two countries.

Workers, we must say: No to the pitting of U.S. workers against Mexican workers! No to the crackdown against immigrant workers! Full rights for all immigrants -- both documented and undocumented! Solidarity between U.S. and Mexican workers in the fight against the filthy rich exploiters -- both U.S. imperialism and the Mexican capitalists!

[Graphic: Caricature of signs on 1-5. The signs warn of pedestrians crossing, referring to immigrants.]

School segregation growing

More separate, more unequal

Racist segregation of public schools is again on the rise. With the enormous struggles from the 1950's into the 1970's, the black people's movement had brought about a trend towards integration and more equal treatment in the schools. But in the last decade that trend has been reversed.

In 1988, black students were more likely to attend a mostly minority school than they were in 1980. And Latinos were even less likely than blacks to share classrooms with white students. These were the findings of a new study by the National School Boards Association (NSBA).

The segregation is most evident in the northeast, where half of the black students attend schools that have less than a 10% white enrollment. Meanwhile, such mid-western states as Illinois and Michigan and such western and southern states as Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona and Wisconsin were also among the states with the most segregated schools for either blacks or Latinos.

Only schools in the deep south showed no similar increase in segregation -- largely because that is where many of the biggest struggles were fought and where the courts had been forced to continue supervising desegregation plans. But the Bush administration is trying to eliminate court-ordered plans and open the door to increasing segregation in those states as well.

Racism or "demographic changes"?


The Bush government and many local officials argue that the growing segregation is not caused by intentional racism. Oh no, they say, segregation is just a matter of "demographic changes" -- such as the growing percentage of minority students in public schools, especially in the inner cities, and the movement of white families to the suburbs.

But demographic changes don't explain why die-hard politicians and reactionary courts have consistently blocked attempts at cross-district integration which could have dealt with growing segregation between inner city and suburban schools. Demographic changes also fail to explain why there is a pattern of segregated schools occurring even when minorities move to the suburbs, as the NSBA study showed. As well, it is known that not only does segregated housing help create segregated schools but, also, segregated schools contribute to the development of segregated housing patterns.

The fact is that the federal and local governments have been on a crusade to break down barriers to racism in every sphere and are fostering discrimination in employment and housing, as well as in the schools. A good example of the role of the racist governments is the controversy over school segregation in DeKalb County, Georgia which is now before the Supreme Court.

Bush out to dismantle school integration plans


DeKalb County encompasses the northeast suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. Around 60% of its public school students are black. More than half of them attend schools that have 90% or higher black enrollment. Meanwhile, more than a quarter of the white students are in schools where over 90% of the student body is white. Per-pupil expenditures are up to $341 less for black students and the black schools received fewer books, are assigned fewer experienced teachers, and suffer many other inequities.

Here is a clear case of racist segregation. But the school board argues that this is not its fault. It claims to have tried to integrate the schools under a court-ordered plan, but new segregation occurred because of "demographic changes" which the board could not control.

The Bush administration has gone to bat for the school board and is arguing that the Supreme Court should abolish the court-supervised integration plan and free DeKalb County to go on its natural segregationist way. If Bush wins this case it could be a precedent to dismantle court-supervised integration plans in some 500 other school districts in the south and other areas of the country.

But a quick look at the history of DeKalb County shows there is nothing "natural" about its segregation.

How the government fostered segregation


Faced with the widespread struggles of the black people at the time, the court ordered DeKalb County to eliminate its dual education system in 1969. It demanded the closing of the six all-black schools, which all the black students in DeKalb County were forced to attend, and the integration of the black students and teachers into the rest of the system.

The school board did close the black schools, but only to create new ones. It assigned the black kids to only certain white schools, which then became virtually all black. By 1972 there were 12 all-black schools in the district.

During this period the population swelled, and more black people moved into these suburbs. From 1969 to the present, black students grew from 6% to about 60% of the student body.

But racist real estate developers and the powers-that-be ensured the growth took on a new pattern of segregation. Black people were steered into the southern part of the county. Racism, and panic that the value of their homes would fall, was fostered to push white people out and into the northern part.

Meanwhile, the school board repeatedly redrew school attendance lines so that white students were assigned to the northern white schools and black students were pushed into the black schools in the south. By refusing to integrate and equalize the schools, the board actually contributed to the development of the segregated housing patterns which, in turn, fed more segregation of the schools.

The Bush administration wants the Supreme Court to OK this racism. And there is little doubt it will do it.

For years the Court has been making one racist ruling after another. In 1974 it ruled against plans to integrate Detroit's predominantly black schools by sending students between the city and the white suburbs. This set the precedent which has prevented almost all attempts at cross-district integration.

And just last year, it ruled in an Oklahoma case that school districts could be freed from supervision by the federal courts once they had taken all "practical" steps to eliminate the "vestiges" of official segregation. According to the Boston Globe, Oklahoma City's new freedom has produced 11 elementary schools that are 90% black and 22 that are 90% white.

The Court, together with the federal and local governments, is encouraging the spread of segregation.

Workers must fight this racism


In the face of the growing segregation, some "respectable" black officials and black nationalists are arguing that the movement should abandon the goal of integration. It should simply work for equal quality in education, they say.

But the example of DeKalb County, and numerous studies, show that the rule of "separate means unequal" is as true today as it was in the 1950's. The segregated black and Latino schools suffer from lower funding, less supplies and equipment, less experienced teachers and other bad conditions.

What is more, the segregation of the schools helps separate white, black and Latino workers and is used to foster racism to split up the working class. In fact, the schools for most working people are rapidly deteriorating. But segregation is used by the capitalist ruling class not only to oppress the minorities but to undermine a struggle by the entire working class -- blacks, Latinos, and whites united -- for a quality education for all our children.

Most people want the schools integrated and large segments are willing to resort to busing to do it. Even the polls taken by the capitalists show this. A recent one -- by the Boston Globe and KRC Communications Research -- found that 53% of the people supported busing if that were the only way to achieve racially balanced schools. But integration and quality schools will only be achieved through mass struggle. Let all the workers unite to fight against the racist courts and government.

School boycott in Dinuba, Ca.

Chicano students and their parents have carried out a two-month school boycott to fight the racist policies of the school district in Dinuba, a town in the Central Valley of California.

The Mexican-American students face discrimination in how they are disciplined. They are railroaded into special education classes and continuation school. And they are subjected to the racist comments of bigoted teachers. Some 65% of Dinuba's 12,000 residents, and over 75% of its students, are Mexican-American or immigrants. But there is not a single Latino teacher or administrator at the high school. And there are only two Latino teachers in the entire school district.

Beginning December 2, hundreds of students stayed out of class to protest. Parents have also organized marches and 1,000 people protested at a school board meeting where they stood up against beatings and arrests by racist police.

At last report, the all-white school board has refused to negotiate. The District Superintendent Mark Fabrizio told boycott leaders to "go to hell," and declared he would "rather bankrupt the district than negotiate with hoodlums."

(Based, in part on a February issue of the "Bay Area Workers' Voice,"paper of the MLP, San Francisco Bay Area.)

High school students denounce racist leaflets

In the early hours of February 3, racists sneaked onto the campus of Castro Valley High School in Castro Valley, California and left behind leaflets attacking blacks. The leaflets were stuck in the lockers of black students and slipped under the doors of schoolrooms of black teachers. The same morning the leaflets were also tacked up around the campuses of Arroyo and San Lorenzo High in San Lorenzo.

Students in all the schools have denounced the leaflets. A number of teachers have turned their classes into forums against racism. At Castro Valley High, 300 students jammed a lunch time meeting to speak out against racism. They also demanded more minority teachers and a curriculum that teaches about the history and accomplishments of all cultures.

(Based on a February issue of the "Bay Area Workers' Voice," paper of the MLP, San Francisco Bay Area.)

Buchanan: a David Duke with 'respectability'

Patrick Buchanan hit front page news in New Hampshire by riding the growing wave of hostility to President Bush. But no one should make the mistake of thinking Buchanan is some kind of alternative. Oh no, he is a standard bearer of arch-conservative Republicanism who believes that what is wrong with Bush is that he has not stuck closely enough to the disastrous agenda of Reagan.

He complains, for example, that Bush deserted Reaganomics by failing to go far enough in cutting taxes, reducing spending and deregulating businesses. Of course, in the language of Reaganism, cutting taxes means simply cutting taxes for the rich. Reduced spending means cutting social programs for the poor and working people. And deregulating business means opening the economy up for speculation and corruption as happened with the S&L debacle.

Buchanan is rather short on laying out a concrete economic program. But you can get the gist of his ideas by looking at his one concrete tax proposal. He calls for cutting in half the capital gains tax for those with incomes over $500,000, down to about 14%. Bush proposes cutting it down to 15.4%. In other words, Buchanan wants to give the rich bigger handouts than Bush. This will undoubtedly charm the big businessmen, but for working people it spells the same economic disaster, plant closings and unemployment that has been bequeathed to us by Reagan and Bush.

Of course, Buchanan, like every politician these days, claims that he is really for middle class America. This doesn't mean he has anything against the rich, but that he wants to trample on the most oppressed. Racism plus attacks on the homeless, on immigrants, and on women is the center of his mean-spirited campaign. His program most resembles that of ex-klansman David Duke. Indeed, back in 1989 Buchanan suggested that the way for the Republicans to deal with Duke was to "Take a hard look at Duke's portfolio of winning issues; and expropriate those not in conflict with G.O.P. principles." Obviously, Buchanan has taken his own advice.

Like Duke, Buchanan goes after the poorest of the poor. Duke targets welfare recipients, and goes so far as to suggest forced sterilization of welfare mothers. Buchanan likes to target the homeless, and goes so far as to call for the forcible removal of homeless people from the streets, even jailing them if necessary. As he put it in New Hampshire, "we've got an obligation to keep our streets and our cities safe...I think they [the homeless] shouldn't be wandering the streets frightening women and people."

Like Duke he ridicules Bush for giving in to "racial quotas" which he claims means "reverse discrimination" against whites. He does not decry the overwhelming racial discrimination against black people, and Latinos, and Native people. Oh no. Defending the privileges of whites is one of his major themes as he speaks again and again about preserving "our Western heritage" and our "English-speaking nation" from "some landfill called multi-culturalism" and "illegal immigrants," or even "a million Zulus." He goes so far as to call for "phasing out troops in NATO" in order to "make them border guards in the Southwest." And it was only in April 1990 when he warned about a supposed "ethnic suicide" of whites while "Asia, Africa and Latin America are exploding."

Buchanan also chastises Bush for not being firm enough in trampling on women's right to choose whether to have an abortion. Draped in "right-to-life" hypocrisy, Buchanan's actual idea is to drive women back into the "traditional family" as passive housewives. As he once wrote in a newspaper column, "The momma bird builds the nest. So it was, so it ever shall be. Ronald Reagan is not responsible for this; God is."

And when he runs out of oppressed people to attack in the U.S., then like Duke, Buchanan turns to "America first" Japan-bashing.

And finally, while Duke is a nazi, Buchanan has a tendency to admire the wonders of nazi Germany and dump on the Jews.

But the enormous problems confronting working people in this country aren't caused by some foreign threat, or by the poor, or minorities, or women. They are caused by the filthy rich capitalists. If we are to find an alternative to Bush, and his Reaganite program, in this election it won't be with Buchanan. And it won't be with the Democrats either, who in their search for "electability" end up being just watered-down Reaganites. Working people will have to organize their own alternative, an independent movement to make the capitalists pay for the economic crisis.

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Defend women's rights!

Make it a pro-choice spring in Buffalo

Operation Rescue, the right-wing organization that has been waging a reactionary crusade against women's rights all across the country, is coming to Buffalo. According to Randall Terry, one of its notorious leaders, the "Spring of Life" campaign will begin in mid-April. Their plan is to blockade clinics, bully women seeking abortions and harass doctors.

These reactionary bullies must be stopped.

But they have many "respectable" friends in high places. For eight years, the Reagan administration gave leadership to the right-wing anti-abortion movement. For the past three years, Bush has followed suit. Slowly, through the courts, the federal government and the state legislatures, abortion rights are being whittled down to nothing. Today, the Supreme Court is on the verge of reversingRoe v. Wade.

Events here in Buffalo and across the country show that the only thing that has deterred them is thousands upon thousands of ordinary women and men who have come out to defend the clinics, to participate in the demonstrations and rallies, to confront these anti-women thugs.

What are the courts, police and politicians up to?

Leaving things in the hands of the courts, police and politicians, won't stop Operation Rescue.

Events last summer in Wichita showed that the police and courts can't be relied upon to keep the clinics open. And what do we see when we turn to Buffalo?

Since October 1988, there are numerous examples of the police refusing to arrest anti-abortionists blockading clinics. When arrests have taken place, they have ended in nothing more than violations and appearance tickets. The temporary restraining order issued by federal judge Arcara in September 1990 has netted five arrests and only one conviction (of a violation) in a year and a half.

Meanwhile, the fanatics of Project Rescue have continued to picket the clinics weekly, harassing patients, singing hymns, etc.

Now the temporary restraining order has become a preliminary injunction. Arcara commented that the defendants can not only picket, sing, pray, but also have two sidewalk counselors approach a patient. Clearly this injunction is not designed to stop OR.

And there's more. Mayor Griffin has welcomed Operation Rescue with open arms, saying these fanatics should receive medals.

Meanwhile, the Common Council has adopted a statement that OR is not welcome in Buffalo. Their main concern however is not women's rights, but overburdening the police department.

The Erie County government is no different. While Gorski postures that he will not allow these bullies to break the law, the past actions of his administration tell a different story. In 1989, when two leaders of Project Rescue were in Erie County Holding Center, the sheriff allowed them to hold press conferences and news interviews, giving them a forum for their reactionary views. And again, his main concern is not women's rights (in fact he opposes abortion rights), but how much it will cost the county if OR comes.

What path for defending abortion rights?

No, it is up to us, the common people, the defenders of women's rights, to put a spoke in the plans of the anti-abortion bullies. And indeed, pro-choice activists are getting organized to oppose Operation Rescue. There are signs that many people are eager to take action against Operation Rescue, and preparations have already begun.

Recently, a new coalition has formed in opposition to Randall Terry's visit. Buffalo United For Choice (BUC) is a coalition of student, community and political organizations who support the right of women to choose an abortion. But while all are agreed that Operation Rescue must be opposed, there is a debate taking place on the best way to accomplish this.

Stay at home and rely on legalism?

The lawyers of the Pro-Choice Network (PCN), an organization whose leaders are primarily concerned with getting pro-choice officials elected to office, have been counseling the activists in BUC against organizing militant clinic defense when Randall Terry comes to town. Their primary concern is maintaining the "goodwill of the federal judge." They say that organizing a militant response to OR might jeopardize the preliminary injunction. And they even suggest that the supposedly anti-OR injunction will be enforced against militant pro-choice forces.

This is what the leadership of the PCN has consistently promoted, and it has not put a damper on OR but on the pro-choice movement. During the past year, in order to keep clinic defenses within a respectable framework, they have discouraged activists from going to the clinics. This has especially been the case since the temporary restraining order was issued. And they have a long list of rules for those who come anyway: no placards denouncing the religious fanatics, no slogans, no arguing. Even when Randall Terry came to town last September/ October and threatened on public radio to make Buffalo bigger than Wichita, the PCN discouraged pro-choice forces from coming out to clinics. This has tied the hands of pro-choice activists and discouraged the recruitment of new forces to the movement. Needless to say, it has not stopped the weekly harassment of women by anti-abortion fanatics.

Confront OR and bring the working people into the struggle

An opposing view has been fought for by militant pro-choice activists such as the supporters of the Marxist-Leninist Party. This other view is that pro-choice women and men themselves must organize a mass movement. It holds that the important thing is to develop the initiative of the working people to defend their own rights, whether at clinics, at the work place, in unions, or at political forums.

It points out that mass action is not only necessary to defend the clinics, but to show the whole world that OR's claim to represent the people is a lie, and to develop the people's spirit to fight for women's rights on all fronts. Abandoning clinic defense, or toning it down to a silent vigil, anxiously crossing one's fingers in hope of police action, means allowing OR to spread the lie that its views are the dominant ones. It means giving OR a free hand to create the impression that it is the overwhelming majority, oppressed by police tyranny. But confronting OR means showing that the working people will not stand for OR's brutality and tyranny, and exposing that the establishment is the defender of anti-women violence.

This view points out the sorry results of relying on the courts and police. It shows that again and again the lawyers and legalists have been forced to cover up the sorry deeds of the police and courts and politicians. But it doesn't help the working people to be told lies about how the ruling class institutions are defending them. It doesn't prepare them to confront OR today and the reactionary laws and court rulings that lie ahead. What helps defend women's rights is the truth, because this truth will encourage the working people, the poor, and progressive students and youth to take matters into their own hands.

The movement's concern should not be with pleasing a federal judge or remaining respectable in the eyes of certain politicians. On the contrary, there should be more exposure of the misdeeds of the courts and politicians. The hotter the pro-choice movement makes it for all those ruling class figures who oppose or waffle on abortion rights, the more the establishment will have to think twice about letting clinics be closed and letting women patients be assaulted.

Send the religious fanatics a message

We must not let OR get away with their anti-women crusade. What is needed is a movement that can stand up to OR's bullying tactics and put them in their place. The turnout last October 5 at Womenservices clinic is an excellent example. Despite the warnings about "over reacting" to Randall Terry's threats, 200 pro-choice activists came out with placards and slogans to denounce the anti-abortion fanatics.

Let's make sure the religious fanatics find their gloomy dogmas and brutal anti-woman attacks confronted by a joyous, pro-choice spring when they come to Buffalo this April. It's up to the pro-choice movement to defend the clinics and confront OR. Let's go all out to bring as many working people, youth, and minorities to the clinics as possible. All out for the defense of women's rights!

Utah: defending abortion rights

3,000 supporters of abortion rights rallied on January 25 in Salt Lake City. This was the first anniversary of the passing of a Utah law that bans virtually all abortions. It allows abortion only in cases of rape or incest, if the woman is threatened with "grave damage" to her health, or if the baby will have severe defects. The law is currently being challenged in the courts.

The rally drew students from several college campuses, as well as steel workers from three plants.

A taste of its own medicine

Operation Rescue not only masses thugs outside clinics, but it goes to the homes of doctors who perform abortions and harass them and their families. But recently activists in and around Detroit turned the tables on the holy bullies. Having learned of OR's plans to picket a doctor's home on February 22, about 15 defenders of abortion rights held a counter-picket that day at the home of local OR leader Lynn Mills.

A few days later, on February 26, pro-choice forces demonstrated in Detroit to protest the so-called "informed consent" law which the Michigan legislature is about to pass. The law requires doctors to try to frighten women, with lies in the guise of medical information, to deter them from abortion. It also mandates a 24-hour waiting period before women can have the abortion. This forces a second appointment for an abortion, and would be a real hardship for many women, especially for women with jobs or for those who already have to travel to different counties to find health clinics.

From bombs to shotgun attacks

The anti-abortion crusaders claim they are simply upholding a "right-to-life," yet they have bombed clinics in the past, and they still beat up patients and doctors whenever they have the chance. In Springfield, Missouri last December 28, a man with a 12-gauge shotgun walked into a health clinic and demanded to see the doctor. He shot the clinic manager, in the back and the owner of the building in the stomach, resulting in their hospitalization and the closing of the clinic. Missouri Right-to-Life spokesman Margaret Schatz was quoted in the local press as saying that she didn't condone it, but then couldn't resist going on to chuckle that " is one less abortion clinic we have to deal with. And it has strengthened the people who want to close other clinics even more." How much more than shooting? Setting bombs again as the anti-abortion fanatics did not so long ago? Or perhaps a more traditional method, burning at the stake like in the Inquisition?

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Stop the destruction of the ozone layer!

The first week of February the space agency NASA reported alarming findings on the rapid destruction of the earth's ozone layer over both poles, as well as upcoming depletion at lower latitudes. Previously, ozone loss had been detected mainly over Antarctica.

The ozone layer is the earth's upper atmosphere where ultraviolet (UV) rays are absorbed, protecting life on earth from lethal excess radiation. NASA's data showed that the ozone is being destroyed by chlorine atoms from industrial releases.

This is a huge environmental disaster that threatens human beings and the earth's ecological system.

The new information, from the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite and ER-2 research plane, points to such a severe environmental crisis that even the Bush administration (notorious for pooh-poohing the ozone problem) instantaneously abandoned its position of stonewalling ozone protection. It is now calling for an accelerated (1995) deadline to end all U.S. production of chloroflourocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-eating compounds.

The Montreal International Protocol of 1987 had set the original international deadline for a 50% reduction by 1991. In 1990 this was amended to a total phaseout by 2000. All these moves smack of "too little, too late," since 20 million tons of chlorine pollutants have already been dumped into the atmosphere. In fact, even if their release ended today, the ozone layer would still take a century to recover.

Production for profit endangering the whole planet

The current ozone panic shows the consequences of ignoring environmental time bombs for the sake of profits.

The ozone layer problem was discovered in 1974-78. But the corporate producers of CFCs and other ozone-destroying chemicals have lobbied successfully against strong restrictions. And they have cashed in on the continuing widespread use of the chemicals for industrial solvents, refrigerants and other applications.

Pentagon the major culprit

The biggest culprit in both production and use of CFCs is the military-industrial complex. According to a February 11 report by environmental groups, two- thirds of all U.S. production of CFCs comes from the military, plus 26 military contractors and three nuclear weapons plants. Together they released some 16.7 million pounds of CFCs in 1989.

Even in the face of the new information, Pentagon spokesman Glen Flood holds that, "We will continue to use CFCs in most of our weapons systems until there is a tested, proven and qualified substitute." (Detroit Free Press, Feb. 12) Apparently the Pentagon sees fit to continue building weapons of mass destruction with CFCs until the sky literally falls.

What is happening in the ozone layer?

NASA's report made waves because its January 20 research flight over the northern polar vortex (winds blowing around the pole due to the earth's rotation) found a record 1.5 parts per billion concentration of chlorine monoxide (CIO). This is a byproduct, agent, and telltale sign of ozone destruction. The CIO level in the northern polar region was even higher than in the ozone "hole" that appears seasonally over Antarctica (1 ppb.). Data also showed that the vortex had wobbled off the pole, bringing the potential northern "hole" as far south as Bangkok.

Comparable CIO levels were also found over Northern Europe, pointing to a potential ozone loss of 1-2% PER DAY during the critical period, pending weather conditions. Previous studies had shown a loss of only 4-8% PER DECADE in the northern hemisphere. Now, we can expect a 40% springtime dip in ozone levels over northern U.S., Europe, Canada and Russia, whenever the appropriate atmospheric conditions appear during the critical period, either this year or in the next few years. This is comparable to Antarctica's 50% seasonal dip, with its accompanying radiation dangers.

Why the sudden rise of CIO in the northern hemisphere?

Depletion of ozone happens when a series of conditions are met: 1) Chlorine is present in the upper atmosphere from pollution; 2) A cloud of ice crystals or dust particles engulfs the chlorine compounds, acting as a net for the reactions between chlorine and ozone; 3) Sunlight triggers the reactions in this brew, when it rises over the North Pole in the spring, or the South Pole in winter.

The result is that Chlorine breaks up ozone molecules, forming CIO molecules. These attack more ozone, producing oxygen and chlorine. This process repeats itself over and over; so one chlorine atom can break 100,000 ozone molecules.

The reason for the drastic northern buildup up of CIO was found in an October research flight. Last year's eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines threw volcanic dust into the stratosphere, providing the platform for chlorine-ozone interactions.

How do the ozone holes impact life?

The health and environmental dangers from ozone depletion are many and potentially devastating. They are caused by the excess radiation which will pass through the atmosphere to the earth. They include the following:

* EYE DAMAGE. Increased UV would damage the eyes of many species, including humans, causing cataracts and blindness.

* CANCERS. Both non-lethal skin cancers and the fatal melanoma, as well as other cancers, will increase. It is estimated that a 10% overall ozone drop would cause a 26% rise in non-lethal skin cancers. In Australia, New Zealand and southern Chile, there are already UV monitoring and public warnings, as well as guidelines for being indoors from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., wearing hats, etc.

* PHYTOPLANKTON KILLS. The marine phytoplankton, the mainstay of the ocean food chain, may be destroyed. This would also deplete fish populations. In Antarctica the phytoplankton are already producing UV-absorbing pigments -- a sign they are being bombarded with increased levels of radiation. How far this pigment can protect the phytoplankton, and against what levels of UV, is not yet known.

* SUPPRESSION OF PHOTOSYNTHESIS. UV radiation disrupts photosynthesis, which would result in damage to agriculture. Research already indicates lower yields of wheat, sorghum and peas in Australia.

* WEATHER CHANGES. Ozone's absorption of UV releases heat which helps create stratospheric winds, which drive the weather patterns. With ozone depletion, this process could change.

Fight for stronger measures against CFCs!

The industrialists, the capitalist government and the military brass in the U.S. have strongly resisted protecting the ozone layer, and they are responsible for the threats to public health and the global environment. This is the case with many other environmental dangers, too.

It will be necessary for the masses of people to build powerful struggles to change these policies. CFCs are now being recycled by some chemical companies, instead of being vented into the atmosphere. As well, alternatives are being developed to CFCs. But since these developments are being made in accordance with profit-making, they are not widespread or rigorous enough. It is up to the people of the U.S. and other countries to demand further measures.

The ozone crisis shows how capitalist production undermines life on this planet. It shows that we need a different system of running the economy, which is not based on profit-making but the interests of the people and the long-term health of the planet. It is a strong argument in favor of workers' socialism.

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World Bank bigshot says:

Dump pollution on poor countries

The chief economist of the World Bank, Lawrence Summers, sent a memo to some of his colleagues on December 12. It found its way to the British Economist magazine where it was published on February 8. We quote some of his remarks:

"Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCS [less developed countries]?...

"I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest-wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that....

"I've always thought that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly under-polluted..."

Here is the voice of Western imperialism showing its basic, heartless attitude to the poor of the world. The World Bank pretends to be for "development" but in fact, it is an agency for making third world economies conform to the needs and requirements of the rich countries' imperialism. Its "economic logic" is the logic whereby an Englishman's or an American's life is worth that of a hundred Indians or Africans. This is the same attitude which saw nothing wrong in the recent Gulf war which killed more than 100,000 Iraqis. The World Bank hides these imperialist attitudes in its internal discussions, and this is why it was embarrassed by the memo being leaked out.

And such an attitude doesn't just refer to pollution. As Lawrence Summers himself noted -- and on this he was right on the mark -- in concluding his memo:

"The problem with the arguments against all these proposals for more pollution in the LDCS (intrinsic rights to certain goods, moral reasons, social concerns, lack of adequate markets, etc.) could be turned around and used more or less effectively against every Bank proposal for liberalization." The Bank proposals for "liberalization" refer to the austerity plans which have created massive impoverishment of the poor in Latin America, Africa and Asia in recent years.

The Economist found Lawrence Summer's language "crass," but noted that "on the economics, his points are hard to answer. The Bank should make this debate public." The following week, the magazine published an editorial supporting much of the World Bank economist's views and declared that "clean development" is a curse on the third world. In short, the magazine leaked the World Bank memo, not because it found it wrong, but because it agrees with its basic premises and wants to have a public discussion of the subject. What else can you expect from this voice of British capitalism which has a long and filthy history of exploiting the poor of the world?

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'Struggle' hosts an evening of revolutionary culture

On February 15, about 50 people enjoyed a program of revolutionary culture sponsored by Struggle magazine in Detroit. Struggle is put out by the local branch of the Marxist-Leninist Party as a forum for poems, songs, and stories that reflect the struggles of the workers and oppressed.

A highlight of the evening was a play written and performed by postal workers. It told the story of how injured workers organized and fought back against the harassment of the Postal Service and workers' compensation. The audience was delighted by the play's mocking of the all-too-real cruelty of the postal and workers' compensation officials, the postal doctor, and the chicken-hearted union bureaucrats.

Postal workers also performed a song about a worker who realizes the need for getting organized in the wake of the Royal Oak massacre.

Another audience favorite was a satirical song against the racist wave of Japan-bashing. This was performed by a postal worker and a steel worker. Two students from Cass Technical High School performed biting songs against police repression at the high schools and backward religious indoctrination at Catholic schools.

Some performers came quite a distance. A black revolutionary poet from the San Francisco area was given a big ovation for his dramatic performance of poems on slavery and unemployment. Performers from Boston had a wide-ranging repertoire ranging from a poem on the socialist future of the workers to a comedic monologue representing the thoughts of Bush and the rich.

There were songs and poems for women's rights, the Palestinian struggle, against the U.S. war in the Gulf and many other contributions to the four-hour program too numerous to mention.

The program helped stoke a mood of rebellion against the capitalist establishment. Just as workers must organize themselves for economic and political battles, so they must also create a new culture to counter the rich man's media with its promotion of war and police repression, racism and sexism, and the glorification of the wealthy and powerful. The Struggle cultural evening was a step forward on this road.

(From March 1 "Detroit Workers' Voice, " paper of MLP-Detroit.)

[Photo: Songs of working class struggle filled the air at Struggle magazine's cultural evening in Detroit.]

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New agreement won't bring democracy


An agreement has been signed in Washington, D.C. between ousted Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide and parliamentarians from that Caribbean country. The deal was brokered by the U.S. government and the Organization of American States (OAS). Washington says this pact clears the way to "return Haiti to democracy."

That's just not so. Take a look at the agreement.

To go into force, the pact has to be ratified by the Haitian parliament. But who dominates that parliament? It's the corrupt, professional politicians who represent the interests of the status quo. It is no secret that they considered even Aristide's very modest reforms last year as too radical. What is more significant, the parliament is a mere talk shop. Power in Haiti is firmly in the hands of the brutal military. And Haiti's parliament will do the army's bidding -- as it did when it supported the coup against Aristide last October.

The agreement recognizes Aristide as chief of state. But that sounds like more than it actually means. It does not even specify when he would be allowed to return to Haiti. More importantly, the agreement strips Aristide of all effective power. If he were allowed to return by the army -- at press time they have yet to give their assent -- he will be just a fig leaf. Aristide would only add a civilian face to what will in effect remain a military dictatorship.

According to the pact, Aristide would have to co-govern with the Prime Minister. In fact, the greater part of governmental power would be in the hands of the Prime Minister and his cabinet. Rene Theodore would become the Prime Minister. He is head of Haiti's Communist Party. But that party is communist only in name. It has long been a tame, reformist force, and it stands for a moderate capitalist program. It has consistently opposed the mass struggles and strivings of the working and poor people.

In effect, Haiti's parliament of professional politicians will really control the civilian government. And since they are beholden to the elite and the army, it is certain that no policy will be undertaken which threatens the interests of the establishment in the least bit.

And what about justice for the victims of the brutal repression carried out by the army? What about action against their crime of carrying out a coup d'etat against the elected president? Nothing is to be done. The agreement provides a general amnesty for the perpetrators of the coup.

This is democracy?


Aristide was elected by nearly 70% of the Haitian people. They saw in him hopes for a change because he had a reputation for standing up against tyranny and for expressing solidarity with the toilers. When he came to power, he tried to run a government which balanced between the establishment and the people. He wanted to carry out some mild reforms but not threaten the interests of the wealthy. The reforms he did launch were limited -- like some reforms in the military and police and a raise in the minimum wage. To preserve his standing among the masses, Aristide also encouraged their hopes and continued to blast the corrupt among the wealthy. All that proved too much for the bourgeoisie and the military, who had him ousted.

The Haitian masses have made it clear that they want radical change. Democracy in Haiti would mean carrying out such changes. But even last year Aristide could not carry much out, given that real power remained in the hands of the elite and the military. With the latest agreement, he will be able to do even less. This is a travesty of the popular will.

Aristide has done a disservice to the masses by signing such a craven agreement. He did it because he has thrown in his lot with gradualism as the way to change, and because he has tied himself with U.S. imperialism and the OAS establishment who are no friends of radical change in Haiti.

Indeed, the only reason the U.S. and the OAS have brokered this agreement is to have a way to lift the sanctions they imposed after the coup. Bush has already softened U.S. sanctions and the agreement calls for the OAS to lift all sanctions after Haiti's parliament ratifies the deal. U.S. imperialism is not interested in democracy in Haiti. It wants stability so that U.S. corporations can continue to exploit Haitian labor at slave wages; and Washington knows that the military it has trained over decades is the guarantor of that stability.

Haiti needs revolution


Substantial changes in Haiti will not come through compromises with the establishment or by counting on imperialism to save the people. The generals, the businessmen and landlords, and the capitalist governments of the OAS all stand for the status quo. The only way there can be democracy and improvements in the conditions of the masses is through revolutionary means. Aristide does not stand for that. The Haitian masses will have to be their own liberators, by undertaking the painful work of building their own organizations and spearheading a revolt which can smash up their violent tormentors.

In 1791 that's what the Haitian slaves rose up for in the great revolt against French colonialism and slavery. Two centuries later, that's what they will have to do again if they are to make their way to freedom against U.S. domination and Haitian military tyranny.

[Photo: Haitians rally in NYC, Feb. 7.]

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The world in struggle

White minority still calls the shots on S. Africa

South Africa's president, F.W. de Klerk, has announced a referendum for March 17 to decide whether the country's voters support de Klerk's reforms. This will be another whites-only election to determine the future of South Africa. Despite all the talk of reform, the white minority still calls all the shots in South Africa. About three million people, 8% of the population, will be eligible to vote.

This referendum again shows up how little change there has been in the fundamentals of South Africa's political order. And the decision to seek white approval for de Klerk's reforms shows also that the ruling National Party will only allow such changes that fit the mood of the white minority. And that white minority is overwhelmingly dominated by ruling class and racist parties.

The referendum was ordered after the ruling National Party lost a by-election in February to the racist party which stands to its right, the Conservatives. The election in Potchefstroom was considered important, because this district had been a stronghold of de Klerk's National Party. Losing it to the Conservative Party, which opposes de Klerk's reforms, signified that a significant portion of the white electorate was switching its allegiances towards a more hard-line defense of racist, white minority rule.

If the National Party loses, de Klerk will call for new parliamentary elections -- again only whites would vote in that. It is however expected that de Klerk's Party will win the referendum -- but barely so. In either case, a strong showing against de Klerk by white conservatives is certain. And this will mean that even if he wins, the proposals that he will negotiate in the ongoing constitutional reform talks will be weighted further to the right -- fewer concessions will be made to the rights of the country's majority, the disenfranchised blacks. The referendum vote will be used as a club against the African National Congress and its allies that they had better keep their demands toned down in order to get the approval of the whites.

The problem with the reform process

This shows up one of crucial flaws of the hope that black and other non-white people will win their rights through negotiations with de Klerk.

Over the last few years, de Klerk and his National Party have decided that they can no longer block the black people'sstruggle through violence alone, but they have to look for a deal with the anti-apartheid opposition. Discussions for a new political order have been underway in CODESA (Convention for a Democratic South Africa) between most of the country's political forces, except the ultra-racists and some radicals within the anti-apartheid movement.

Much has been made about how this constitutional process is peacefully clearing the way towards a new, non-racial democracy in South Africa. But there is a fundamental, undemocratic flaw in it. The people who will decide on the new South Africa are not all the country's people, but the white minority. De Klerk has declared that whatever CODESA decides will have to be ratified by the whites. The March 17 referendum confirms that.

How can this be a road towards democracy? The white minority has ruled over the black majority for decades. They have enjoyed all political rights and the economic privileges of a system of savage discrimination. Giving that minority a veto power over reform means that the reforms can only go so far -- they could give some political rights to the blacks, but nowhere near enough to bring into being actual majority rule. And for sure, the economy will remain in the hands of the white capitalists.

What path for black rights?

Trying to please the white electorate and convince them to support de Klerk is not the path to win black political rights. It is not even the best way to make sure that black demands are strongly felt in the CODESA talks. The white minority is making clear its wishes, so too must the black masses. They cannot do it through elections which do not exist for them, they have to do it through their mass struggle.

History has shown that progress for the blacks in South Africa depends on the strength of the black people's struggle. It was only because of the upsurge of the mid-1980's that de Klerk conceded even the reforms that he has undertaken. If the black people were able to mount a revolutionary struggle to thoroughly clear away the racist order, that would win them the greatest freedom. But even if they are today unable to organize and win a revolution, it is the strength of their mass movement which will determine how much they can wrest from the ruling establishment.

[Photo: Anti-apartheid activists in Johannesburg denounce de Klerk's racist referendum.]

Anti-abortion ruling creates outrage in Ireland

The Catholic church has succeeded in banning both abortion and birth control in Ireland. Then in 1983 a referendum wrote an anti-abortion amendment into the Irish constitution by a two-to-one margin, and the addresses of foreign clinics were censored from Irish publications. But thousands of Irish women continue to go to England to get abortions. And now brutal court action against an Irish teenager has outraged the Irish people.

A 14-year-old woman was raped by a friend of her father. She planned to travel to England with her parents to get a legal abortion. But they informed the police of their plans because they wanted to know whether to preserve the aborted fetus as evidence in the rape trial. The police acted immediately -- against the woman. A Dublin court banned the young woman from leaving the country, claiming that this was mandated by the 1983 amendment. The court acted with complete disregard for the teenager's needs and mental state. Moreover, a travel ban was unprecedented, and threatened the rights of all Irish women.

The Irish Supreme Court has just overruled the lower court and allowed the woman to travel, although it hasn't yet given its reasons.

The Irish are indignant

But this has not come soon enough to avert mass anger in Ireland. The decision of the Dublin court had led to a series of protests. On February 22, for instance, 6,000 demonstrators marched through Dublin demanding abortion rights. They held a sit-in on O'Connel Bridge, bringing the downtown area to a standstill. Support protests have also taken place in cities abroad such as London and New York. There is already some talk that the 1983 amendment may at least be modified.

Under the pressure of this widespread indignation, even the anti-abortion prime minister, Albert Reynolds, and some Catholic church bigwigs, worry that the travel ban may have been a mistake. The government tried to cool things off by itself providing for the pregnant teen representation before the Supreme Court. This is the atmosphere in which the Supreme Court acted hastily to remove the travel ban.

The conservative politicians and the Catholic church hierarchy don't want things to get out of hand. They want to defend the bans on divorce and homosexuality as well as abortion. This is the anti-people, repressive order that the "right-to-life" crusaders would like to impose here in the U.S. too.

And West Germany?

The press has said that the Irish travel ban may violate European human rights declarations. It certainly violates what the working people regard as their rights, but the bourgeoisie has long regarded antiabortion atrocities as the right of the ruling classes. For example, paragraph 218 of West Germany's abortion law provides a year in jail for all woman getting first-trimester abortions abroad. (This law is still in effect in the western part of reunified Germany, although German women can evade it by traveling for an abortion to the eastern section of Germany, which has been allowed to keep legal abortion for two years.) But it is difficult to discover which women are defying this law. Therefore West German border officials began questioning, and even physically examining, women returning to Germany from certain cities. The case of Kathrin K. made the world press. In March last year she was forced to submit to a vaginal exam upon returning to reunified Germany, and was charged with obtaining a foreign abortion.

There is nothing that the anti-abortion forces would stop at. From the Dublin court's travel ban to Germany's vaginal exams at the border. Here in the United States they assault women and doctors at clinics. They are "thought police" who ban government-aided clinics for the poor from mentioning abortion, or demand that all doctors be made to recite anti-abortion lectures. And Guam, imitating a similar Irish ban, is trying to outlaw anyone even talking about where abortions can be obtained elsewhere in the United States. This complete disregard of the rights of others, this inquisition-style brutality, has generated revulsion across the U.S., and now in Ireland.

More strikes in Bangladesh

Bangladesh continues to be engulfed by protests among laboring people, who are trying to protect themselves in the face of a devastating economic crisis.

Starting February 8, over 60,000 bus and truck drivers across Bangladesh went on strike. Their main demand is for the lowering of gasoline prices.

Meanwhile, nearly 250,000 school teachers are continuing the campaign they began in January. On February 19th, 50,000 of them rallied in Dhaka and launched a mass hunger strike, defying threats by the government. The miserably-paid teachers are preparing for an all-out strike and mass action to shut down Dhaka on May 19.

Other government workers are also in motion. Some 25,000 employees of government-owned banks carried out a one-day strike on February 5.

The right-wing government of Mrs. Khaleda Zia is railing against strikes, but refuses to consider the demands of the toilers. Meanwhile, she is preparing to step up repression. In the name of "suppressing terrorism," the ruling party has proposed draconic legislation that would curtail many democratic rights.

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Bank employees struggle in Germany

Bank employees are gearing up for a nationwide strike after their unions walked out of contract talks at the end of February. The bankers, who made record profits last year, are refusing to go above a 5% pay increase. Already scattered warning strikes have been held in several parts of Germany.

Czech bus workers strike

Bus drivers in Czechoslovakia staged a 24-hour strike on February 10. They succeeded in shutting down traffic throughout much of the country. The strike opposed the government's decision to reduce transportation subsidies by half.

Transit workers fight job cuts in Spain

Madrid bus drivers began a month long strike on February 3. They are fighting against job cuts and deteriorating working conditions. Meanwhile, subway workers in Barcelona were also out on strike against impending layoffs.

Customs agents protest police attack

2,000 trucks were stranded at the Spanish-French border crossing of La Jonquera on February 26 due to a strike by Spanish customs agents. The agents had struck to demand compensation for layoffs which are expected next January due to European Community policy changes. The strikers protested the attack by French riot police on a rally of Spanish and French customs agents the day before.

General strike in Portugal

A nationwide strike by public service workers caused widespread disruption across Portugal on February 18. The action was most effective in Lisbon, where workers paralyzed schools, transport and hospitals. The strike was called to protest the government's unilateral imposition of an 8% pay increase which falls short of workers' demands.

Lithuanian workers oppose privatization

Nearly three-quarters of public service workers in Lithuania went out on strike in February. They are fighting against the government's privatization policy, which will result in many job losses and reduction of public services.

Oil workers rally in Russia

Oil workers in the Komi Autonomous Republic in northern Russia have held a series of warning strikes. They halted a tenth of oil production in the area. The workers are protesting unkept promises by Boris Yeltsin to improve their conditions.

Jute industry in India paralyzed

Workers in the Indian jute industry have shut down 54 privately-owned mills demanding a pay increase. The strike, now in its second month, is the sixth jute strike in the last 20 years.

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