The Workers' Advocate

Vol. 22, No. 4


25 cents April 1, 1992

[Front page:

Defend the clinics in Buffalo!;

SOUTH AFRICA: What's changing, what isn't;

May Day: Workers of the world, unite!]


Clinton says, 'Create more millionaires' .................. 2
Jerry Brown: Program for the rich............................. 3
Rally confronts Bush in California............................ 3
Chicago students protest Pat Buchanan..................... 3

No to police brutality and racism!

Get organized to fight police brutality....................... 4
Justice for Rodney King............................................ 4
Picket vs. rehiring of killer cop................................. 4
Chicago protests benefit for cop torturers................. 4

Strikes & workplace news

Caterpillar; NYC transit; Pittsburgh transit; Chicago Data East Pinball....................................................... 5

Defend women's rights!

'Freedom of Choice Act' and the status quo.............. 6
Abortion rights require more than a law.................... 6
March for women's rights in D.C. April 5................. 7
Defeat the politicians................................................. 7
What kind of system will liberate women................. 7
Who defended L.A. clinic?........................................ 7
International Women's Day in Chicago..................... 7

Pentagon dreams of world domination...................... 8

The fight against cutbacks

Illinois shifts welfare to the rich............................... 9
SCAN fights cutbacks in L.A.................................... 9
You're insured - unless you're sick........................... 9
Health care workers rally in New York City.............. 9
Congress in health care industry's pocket................. 9
Massachusetts to hike cost of health care.................. 9

International Workers' Day

Defend immigrant workers........................................ 10

The world in struggle

Nicaragua; Switzerland; Serbia; Greece; Bangladesh; Jamaica...................................................................... 11
Kurds; Turkey; Puerto Rico; Venezuela.................... 12

Defend the clinics in Buffalo!

SOUTH AFRICA: What's changing, what isn't

May Day: Workers of the world, unite!

Clinton says, 'I'd like to create more millionaires'

Jerry Brown:

'Man of the people,' with a program for the rich

Rally confronts Bush in California

Chicago students protest Pat Buchanan

No to police brutality and racism!

Strikes and workplace news

Fire killer cops in Norwalk, Connecticut!

Defend women's rights!

Dreams of world domination

Women pay the highest price

Illinois shifts welfare from the poor to the rich

SCAN fights cutbacks in L.A.

You're insured--unless you're sick

Health care workers rally in New York City

Health care industry has Congress in its pockets

Massachusetts to hike cost of health insurance

On International Workers' Day: Say no to racism! Defend immigrant workers!

D.C. police invade homeless shelter

The World on Struggle


Defend the clinics in Buffalo!

Operation Rescue, the organization of anti-abortion bullies, is planning to stage another Wichita in Buffalo, New York. They will be sending in forces from outside to blockade abortion clinics from April 20 to May 20. They also plan to harass the homes of the doctors and nurses who work at clinics. They are organizing this outrage to make it appear that there is mass support for the Supreme Court taking away women's abortion rights.

We say, "No more Wichitas!" Organize groups of friends, co-workers, fellow students and neighbors to go to Buffalo during April to defend the clinics. Support the women of Buffalo against the OR siege. No peace for anti-women bigots.

And we say, let everyone take an active role in the debates and questioning that is now going on in the pro-choice movement in Buffalo.

Resistance or dialing 911?

Some activists are organizing for mass confrontations against OR. They want to drive OR away from the clinics, to shout slogans against OR, to let OR feel the hatred people have for religious bigotry and anti-women abuse.

But the establishment-oriented forces insist that it should be left to the police and courts to deal with OR. They center their strategy on whether some state and county officials will ask for, and enforce, a court injunction. Some even threaten to call in the police equally on pro-choice activists and OR thugs, which means outright treachery and strikebreaking against the women's movement. Meanwhile NOW is establishing a peacekeeping force for use at the clinics. This means they may try to form a buffer line of marshals between OR and the pro- choice militants to prevent confrontation.

This is not just an issue for the movement in Buffalo. It is an issue that comes up at clinic defenses across the country.

We support the policy of mass defense and confrontation. If OR is the only mass presence at the clinics, it can pose as a beleaguered civil rights movement. If OR is only opposed by quiet onlookers, it can still pose as state-persecuted visionaries. But confrontation by clinic defenders blows up this charade. It shows up OR as a movement of thugs and bigots who want to establish a medieval tyranny over women. The more slogans about OR's real nature, the worse it is for OR. The more confrontation from pro-choice women and men, the more OR is demoralized.

Experience has shown that only mass action can keep the clinics open. The policy of relying on injunctions and police is what allowed OR to run roughshod in Wichita. NOW and NARAL leaders sought to keep pro-choice activists away from the clinics; and when they couldn't stop some activists from going to clinics, they asked them to refrain from confronting OR. The result? Wichita is a byword for what people don't want to see.

No more Wichitas! Oppose OR with mass confrontation!

[Graphic and photo: No more Wichitas! Boston clinic defense, July 1989.]

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SOUTH AFRICA: What's changing, what isn't

On Thursday, March 26th, 800 black coal miners were fired from their jobs in northern Natal Province, South Africa. Their crime? They had launched an underground strike to protest racist practices, the dismissal of three union leaders and the firing of 200 miners. In the course of the mine sit-in, strikers had held 15 white mine officials hostage. But even after the strike had ended and the officials were released unharmed, the miners were fired by Iscor mining company.

Meanwhile, there is talk in the country of widespread strikes after March 31. On that day, the government of F.W. de Klerk plans to add a 10% value added tax on many basic foods.

The more things change in South Africa, the more things stay the same. At the same time that the white minority regime is carrying out a program of political reforms, the limitations of that process can be seen in the fact that black workers continue to be harshly treated, and new and still more onerous burdens get placed on the largely poor black majority.

What does the referendum vote show?

On March 17 the white minority in South Africa went to the polls for a referendum on whether or not they support continuation of de Klerk's reform process aimed at a new constitution through negotiation. The vote was called by the president after his National Party lost a local by-election to the ultra-right Conservative Party.

The result was a solid mandate for de Klerk. A record high number of voters went to the polls, and among them over two-thirds voted in support of de Klerk's policy.

On the one hand, this vote means that the desire of the ultra-right parties to stall change in South Africa has been rejected by the vast majority of whites. It shows that the old way of running South Africa, dreamed of by the ultras, is dead. Change is inevitable. But how much change remains to be determined.

After the vote, some in the Conservative Party want to rejoin the negotiations in order to influence them. Other ultras -- the fascist groups -- speak of armed opposition. Some of them may attempt armed rebellion. But even if they don't, they are organizing to maintain a klan-type force to retard black people from making progress.

Meanwhile, even without the fascist threat, how much progress black people will make remains a question. De Klerk's victory does not spell full rights for the black people. After all, this was a vote based on the right of whites only to decide what kind of future South Africa will have. And they have voted to endorse de Klerk's program, which falls short of what the black majority wants and needs.

De Klerk is using the mandate he received as a negotiating chip against the black opposition. The National Party refuses to agree to the elementary democratic principle of majority rule. Instead, de Klerk wants to enshrine guaranteed "rights for minorities" in the next constitution.

"Minority rights" in South Africa does not mean giving special consideration to an oppressed minority. No, it means guaranteeing the white elite and its hangers-on a privileged place in the nation's economic and political system so they can continue to dominate social and political affairs even after democratic rights are won by the black majority. De Klerk wants a two-chamber parliament with an upper chamber based on ethnic divisions and a joint presidency. This is a prescription to ensure that when blacks get the vote, the legislature and the presidency will both be weakened to prevent any black-dominated government from making any radical changes.

De Klerk's stance underlines the need for the oppressed masses to press for more thorough changes. The constitutional talks can only reflect what is being determined by the struggle of different social forces. Nothing is going to be generously awarded to the slaves by the slave masters. The black and other oppressed people have to make their demands felt.

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May Day: Workers of the world, unite!

May 1st is International Workers' Day. On this day, workers around the world will rally and march. They will raise their demands and voice their hopes. And they will declare their unity with all who slave for wages -- no matter what country, what race, or what nationality.

May Day was born in the U.S. in 1886 with the fight of American workers for the eight-hour day. A few years later, the international workers' movement embraced May 1st as International Workers' Day.

In most countries, workers celebrate May Day. However, here in the U.S., in the home of May Day itself, the trade unions have long abandoned it. Why? Because the union leaders want to declare their loyalty not to the workers of other countries but to the exploiters of Wall Street. And they do not like the fact that May Day is associated with class struggle.

Yes, May Day is a day to organize the class struggle, and it is a day to build our solidarity with the workers of the whole world. For precisely those reasons, all who want progress for the working class should celebrate May Day. This year, as in years past, the Marxist-Leninist Party will hold rallies in several cities on the occasion of International Workers' Day.

A day for struggle

The businessmen, the politicians, the news media and the union big shots have all declared that class struggle is outdated. It is also supposed to be un-American.

But what is the daily reality that working people face? Is it not a class war by the other side, the corporations and government?

Every day, they are pushing workers and poor people further and further back. They are cutting jobs, slashing wages, overworking those on the job. Work place injuries are skyrocketing. The sense of security that many workers had is being shattered. As for those on the very bottom, they are being victimized by a savage war on welfare and other benefits. Minorities and women are also subject to a vicious offensive.

If we the working class do not fight back against this assault, what can we expect but further ruin? If we do not band together in collective struggle, what can we expect to do but drown?

May Day is a fitting time to recognize that the working class cannot expect to advance without struggle. The need for struggle couldn't be clearer. Yet the working class resistance is still weak. Among others, there are two major chains around the workers' necks that have weakened the American workers' movement.

The first is liberal-labor politics and the Democratic Party. The second is America-first chauvinism. When these chains are broken by workers we will see a serious fight for the interests of the downtrodden.

A day to voice our independent stand

The trade unions have sold the working people a bill of goods that the Democrats are our political representatives.

In truth, the Democratic Party is just another party of big business. They have collaborated with the Reagan-Bush offensive over the last decade. In the current elections, they are silent about the poor. And though they may posture about helping the "middle class," their program is merely warmed-over "trickle- down" economics.

It is time for the working class to remove this chain from around our necks. It is time to stop falling for election-year promises that with the Democrats in office, things will be 5% better. We do not need a politics that is different from that of the Republicans only in nickels and dimes.

The working class has its own interests which are opposed to those of the rich, the millionaires, the corporate bosses. We need a politics that expresses this independent stand.

The workers are rightly cynical of politics-as-usual. But cynicism is not enough. Ordinary workers have to take up the hard work to build our own kind of politics. This needs to be a politics that must be based among the rank-and-file workers, not the big shots and celebrities at the top. This ought to be a politics of mass struggle, not of cozying up to the bosses. This has to be a politics of building our own fighting organizations and the working class party, and not of looking for some big-time savior who will deliver us through our votes.

Not 'America first,' but international solidarity

The other chain that prevents workers from taking up struggle is chauvinism, the idea that American workers' loyalty ought to be with American companies and with the American government.

Today in the midst of economic hard times, we see this idea being spread far and wide. By the government, the politicians, the media, and the union leaders. They want us to bash the Japanese for the ills of the U.S. economy. They want us to blame Mexican and Korean workers for "stealing our jobs." And to blame immigrants as well. The trade union leaders won't organize workers to fight against the corporations; they would rather unite with them in favor of protectionist legislation in Congress.

Who gains by this crusade? Not the workers but the exploiters. The profit system is our enemy, so Japan-bashing or hysteria over free trade with Mexico only succeeds in diverting workers' eyes away from the real enemy. Meanwhile, it is the corporations who are first in line to make deals with the Japanese companies or to set up new plants abroad.

That is inevitable, since we live in a global capitalist economy. For the sake of fattening their profits, the capitalists of different countries naturally form alliances and they inevitably look to invest where labor is cheaper. If they didn't do that, they wouldn't be capitalists. For the union leaders to promote the idea that capitalism could follow a different policy is a disservice to the workers.

So what is the solution? It is to actually build a fighting workers' movement, linked with strong bonds with the workers of other countries. International solidarity of the workers isn't just a nice idea; it is a practical necessity for the workers both here and abroad. Global capitalism is a powerful enemy. It can only be combated if the workers of rich and poor countries can overcome their competition among one another, if they can pool their energies, resources, and experience.

A practical question

International solidarity is not just a dream. More and more, we are offered practical opportunities to bring it into being. As capitalist industry develops in foreign countries, the workers there do not sit still forever and accept slaving for pitiful wages. Look around and you will see many signs of workers' struggle.

* South Korea was a low-wage haven for a long time, but the workers could not be held back. The last few years have seen a growing wave of strikes and union organizing in the face of harsh government and company attacks. Only a couple of months ago, the Hyundai workers occupied their plants in a strike reminiscent of the 1937 Flint sit-down at General Motors.

* The border towns of Mexico have become home to dozens of maquiladora industries from the U.S. Here too the workers are not remaining quiet. Just last month, workers in several plants in Matamoros went on strike for better wages and conditions.

* Asia has become a low-wage haven for many garment manufacturers from Europe and the U.S. Tens of thousands of women workers are being brought into industry. Their conditions are miserable, but they too are not sitting still. Garment workers in Bangladesh, for example, have been attempting to unionize, and for the last year there has been a bitter fight against Comtrade Apparels owned by the Beximco conglomerate which does business with U.S. and other companies.

Each of these cases is a testimony to the relentless spirit of workers to fight back against capitalism's outrages. But more, each of them is also an opportunity for workers in the U.S. to develop the fight for international solidarity.

Yet the U.S. trade unions -- if they do anything at all -- do no more than give lip service to supporting such struggles. They are busier campaigning in Congress for import quotas and similar protection. Yet what is needed is for U.S. workers to organize active campaigns in support of the strikes and unionizing of workers abroad.

Why were there no protests against Hyundai or its U.S. corporate allies? Why were there no campaigns against the U.S. companies facing strikes in Matamoros? Why is there no effort to pressure clothing companies to improve the wages and working conditions of garment workers abroad?

We cannot expect the union leaders to take up such efforts. They are in bed with the corporations. It is again up to rank-and-file workers to take up the tasks of building international solidarity. Each step taken today, no matter how small, will play a role in building up the huge potential that lies dormant in a united struggle of the workers across national borders.

Organize the class struggle!

Build the independent movement of the workers!

The profit system is the enemy; don't blame foreigners!

Support the struggles of workers in Mexico, Korea and elsewhere!

Workers of the world, unite!

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Clinton says, 'I'd like to create more millionaires'

When Bill Clinton -- the frontrunner for the Democratic Party presidential nomination -- speaks at campaign rallies he likes to claim he is fighting for the "forgotten middle class." But when he's talking to the capitalist businessmen he frankly admits he has more serious priorities.

"I'd like to create more millionaires than Reagan and Bush did," Clinton declared in recent interviews with Business Week and the Gannett News Service. Millionaires, not the little folk, that's where his attention is focused.

A politician of big business


Clinton's ties to big business are well known.

For example, in this election campaign he has raised about $7 million. It is estimated from the record of contributors to the Federal Election Commission that from one-fourth to one-third of that total comes from Wall Street investment bankers and lawyers. $1.5 million alone came from two fund-raising parties organized by hotshots of the Goldman, Sachs investment house. And another one-fourth of his campaign funds has been raised by Washington lobbyists for big business, like the Patton, Boggs and Blow firm.

This connection to the capitalists is nothing new. As governor of Arkansas, Clinton has been especially cozy with Don Tyson, the president of the world's biggest chicken processing company. Tyson Foods is notorious for exploiting its workers and polluting Arkansas. Half of the 600 miles of streams in the northwest part of the state, where the poultry industry is centered, are so polluted by chicken and livestock waste that they are off-limits to swimming. And the fecal coliform and nitrate pollution of the White River is so bad it is threatening the drinking water supply for 300,000 people.

Despite this, the Clinton administration gave Tyson $7.8 million in tax breaks from 1988 to 1990, and another $900,000 for roads and infrastructure for a new Tyson plant. Clinton calls this "creating jobs," but it has more the ugly odor of "creating more millionaires."

Handouts to the rich...


Of course Clinton claims his policies differ from those of Bush. As he put it, "I'd like to create more millionaires than Reagan and Bush did, but I would like to do it in the context of an economic policy that (gives) the incentive to invest in our country."

Clinton argues that Bush's handouts to the rich give them incentives to invest abroad, whereas he would provide incentives to modernize U.S. factories to "compete and win in the global economy."

Like Bush, Clinton wants to cut the capital gains tax for the rich. But he wants the cuts "targeted to long-term investments."

And like Bush he wants to hand tax breaks to the billionaires for research and development and for investments in new plants and equipment. But he would "change the tax code so that there's an incentive to reinvest in the most modern equipment here and so that we don't give extra incentives to move overseas."

But whether the tax breaks are for investment in runaway shops to other countries or for modernizing U.S. plants, they are still handouts to the filthy rich corporations. And they still mean eliminating workers' jobs.

...and job cuts for the workers


For example, Clinton recently complained that "We are still using as many people or more people to produce cars than some other countries." He wants those jobs cut, and so he supported GM's plans to slash 75,000 jobs and the whipsawing of one plant against another to get more concessions from the workers.

Clinton actually applauded workers at GM's Arlington, Texas plant for giving work rule concessions which would help GM shut down its Willow Run, Michigan plant and consolidate production in Arlington. When pressed on this while he campaigned in Michigan, Clinton said he "may not have been fair" in praising Arlington, but only because he had just found out that Willow Run union leaders had also offered job-eliminating work rule givebacks.

Job elimination through vicious whip- sawing between plants in the U.S., and between U.S. and foreign workers, is Clinton's policy just as much as it is Bush's.

Of course the "neo-liberal" Clinton would soften the blow with more money for education and job retraining. But, as jobs are slashed right and left, what jobs are the laid-off to be retrained for? Clinton can't really say. He simply talks about putting the unemployed in "other hi-tech areas" (with the laid-off in the computer industry?) and giving the unemployed "access to small-business capital" (so 75,000 laid-off auto workers will become small businessmen?). Get real!

Liberalism - for the wealthy


Still, there are those who say vote for Clinton because -- although he is a fiscal conservative like Bush in economic policy -- on other matters he is a "social-liberal." Why, Clinton supposedly wants to give the middle class a tax break, help out black people, provide universal health care, support abortion rights, and cut defense spending. But a quick look at Clinton's policies on these matters shows that his liberalism is only for the wealthy.

The fraud of a middle class tax break


Take the issue of the middle class tax break. Clinton has promised to raise taxes on those making over $200,000 a year in order to pay for a 10% tax cut for those who make less.

But a study of his plan shows that its main benefits go to the richest of the "middle class." Clinton's plan would save about $800 a year for families who make $100,000. Meanwhile, those making $20,000 a year would get only about $100.

Cutbacks against the poor and minorities


Meanwhile, Clinton twists his appeal to the "middle class" toward blaming their problems on the poor.

For example, like Bush and Buchanan and ex-klansman David Duke, Clinton is campaigning against welfare recipients. He calls for "an end to welfare as we know it" with a plan that would require welfare recipients to get a job within two years. Where the poor are to find jobs, and how they could keep them without the necessary childcare, transportation, and other support, is anyone's guess. But such "workfare" programs, which were in fact pioneered by the Democrats, are not really aimed at helping the poor climb out of poverty. Rather they aim at eliminating public assistance to poor people.

Of course the attack on welfare is also a code word for racism. Duke, Buchanan and Bush like to couch their racist crusade against minorities and immigrants in noise about welfare abuse and bringing "discipline" to the supposedly lazy.

Clinton has distanced himself from this racist crusade with a lot of talk about racial harmony. But he is no saint either. He has gotten caught golfing at a number of segregated country clubs in Arkansas. And while his economic programs may not be targeted specifically against minorities, they will bear particularly heavily upon them.

Health care to help the corporations


And what about health care? Clinton is promoted for his promises about a universal health care plan. But his aim in this is most of all to save the profits of the big corporations and make them more competitive. And this aim has determined that his health care plan will be of little help, and could even hurt, the health care for the working people.

Clinton's plan would not nationalize health care or change the present system where insurers, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and doctors rake in fabulous profits off the workers. Nor would he tax the rich to pay for bringing health care to those presently uninsured. Instead, he plans to finance universal coverage primarily by cutting health care costs. But if you are not cutting health care industry profits, and you are not getting rid of the huge waste from using capitalist insurers and so forth, then what does cutting costs mean? Primarily it means cutting the services that people receive. And if costs rise anyway? Well, then working people will be taxed to pay for it.


Abortion rights -- as long as you can't get them


Clinton is said to support abortion rights, but that support is lukewarm. He will not go out of his way to fight for women's right to choose.

For example, as the Arkansas governor, he signed into law a parental notification bill that restricts abortions for young women. And, what is more, Arkansas is one of the states where it is the most difficult to get an abortion because of the lack of clinics and doctors. Of course rich women can still get to the few clinics or fly to other states. But for the workers and poor, the ability to exercise their right to choose an abortion is all but eliminated. Clinton has been the governor for 12 years and has never done anything to change the situation.

If we take his stand in Arkansas as the real indication of what Clinton would do as president, then it appears that he will protect the right to get an abortion as long as working people can't get them.

Maintaining the imperialist war machine


Clinton is also promoted for wanting to cut the military budget. But his plan for a 33% reduction is only a little more than what Bush has called for and not even as much as many Congressional Democrats have demanded. Indeed, it won't cut the war budget back to anywhere near the level it was before the monstrous buildup by Reagan and Bush.

Clinton wants to limit the cuts in order to preserve the U.S. as the world's top cop and continue to plunder working people of other countries. Indeed, Clinton is even using Bush's pretexts of bomb threats, etc. to crusade against "Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya." He is promising to be a hard-nosed warrior just like Bush with statements like, "You can't let people like that have the bomb...No matter who is elected, it is going to be a monthly gut-check for the next couple of years until we solve this." And he is even suggesting that, when Bush slapped the knuckles of the Israeli regime for building more settlements on the West Bank, the president was not being strong enough in backing the blood-soaked Zionists against the Palestinians.

Despite the flap over Clinton's supposed opposition to the Vietnam war, he is certainly no peacenik. Rather he is a politician dedicated to serving the U.S. capitalists, whether it is their exploitation of the workers at home or their aggression and plunder of people abroad.

But then what can you expect from a Democrat? They are just another capitalist party, no different in essentials from the Republicans. An alternative to these twin parties of the rich will only be created by organizing an independent movement based on the working masses and in struggle against the capitalist exploiters.

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Jerry Brown:

'Man of the people,' with a program for the rich

What do you do when a millionaire politician from the Democratic Party machine tells you that "Money is the root of all political evil"? You may believe the message, but you had better not trust the messenger.

And that's precisely the story with Jerry Brown. His land and investments make him a millionaire. And his history is that of a hard-core Democratic Party politician -- he was the governor of California for eight years and the head of the Democratic Party in California right up to 1990. Yet, Brown is running for president claiming that he will fight "to turn this system around" and get rid of the "self-sustaining political elite."

Is Brown's "anti-incumbent" transformation to be believed? No way. Brown has put on the "populist" mantle not to help the working people but, rather, to disguise the pro-capitalist remedies he is pushing. He recognizes the disgruntlement among the working people, saying "I think the No. 1 threat to America is internal. Our problem is the growing despair and alienation of tens of millions of people right here." And he worries that the Democrats' image of being a party of the workers and poor has become tarnished and that "The Democratic choice is being undermined." He promises that his candidacy will transform the Democratic Party.

But this effort to dress up the pro-capitalist Democratic machine in pro- people colors is a bit thin. Underneath the sweet talk, you can still see peeking out Brown's real love affair with the wealthy capitalists and their rotten, exploiting system.

Flattening the masses with a "flat tax" and sales tax

Look for example at Brown's proposed flat tax. Brown claims this is "the only new idea in this campaign," but it is just a rehash of programs that Reagan advocated but could not get passed. He claims that it will bring "fairness" to the tax structure, but really it is a further measure to shift the burden of taxation from the rich to the working people.

Brown's proposal would sweep away the present graduated tax structure -- that is supposed to tax people proportionate to their income -- and eliminate the Social Security payroll taxes and gasoline taxes. They would be replaced with a flat 13% tax on personal income and on business income. This would mean a whopping cut for the richest families, whose tax rate would fall from 31% of income to only 13%.

Nevertheless, Brown claims it would still benefit the masses by simplifying the tax structure, getting rid of deductions and exemptions used by the wealthy to avoid paying much, and eliminate the need for tax lawyers, accountants, etc. However, eliminating the deductions for the rich could be done within a graduated tax system, without cutting the taxes of the rich. And that would have the same effect of eliminating the search for loopholes and the need for lawyers and other professional swindlers.

But the fact is, Brown doesn't really eliminate all the deductions and exemptions. For example, he adds things like a 100% write-off for new equipment in the business income tax.

All this taken together means a huge cut in taxes going into the government. To make up the difference, Brown would add on a 13% "value-added" tax, a form of national sales tax in which products are taxed at each stage of production. Brown claims this would not be passed on to consumers. But everywhere it's been used, in Europe and elsewhere, the tax is in fact paid by the purchasers, as are sales taxes in general. This then is a particularly regressive tax, hitting the poor and working people the hardest. And it might not be large enough to cover the short-fall from the individual and business income tax and would soon have to be raised.

The overall effect is a huge shift of taxes away from the richest and onto the working people. The Citizens for Tax Justice estimates that under Brown's plan a family making $566,700 a year would get an average tax cut of $66,000. But a family earning about $32,000 would see their overall taxes rise by nearly $2,000. And the poorer families, earning only about $8,270, would suffer a tax increase of $2,160.

Trickle-down jobs promises

And this is really all Brown's economic policy amounts to. He has no program to create jobs and simply falls back on Reaganite "trickle-down."

Brown declares, "Give business a very generous tax break for 10 years to establish new businesses and hire people who are not working." But Reagan, and Bush after him, have already done that more than 10 years. And it has only meant that the executives and bankers have gotten a good deal richer while job cuts are growing.

Part of the crusade against welfare recipients

Meanwhile, Brown has also joined the Reaganite crusade against welfare recipients. His "innovative" plan would subsidize capitalists to hire welfare recipients. Their pay would be their welfare check plus "whatever the employer can pay." Under this plan, welfare recipients would lose their other benefits -- Medicaid, food stamps, etc. -- at the rate of 20% a year, and see them eliminated totally in five years.

In short, welfare recipients would be forced to work at essentially minimum wage (since what employer is going to pay more), be driven off benefits, and their capitalist bosses would have to pay them little or nothing since the government is subsidizing them.

This will no more get people on welfare into jobs than the other "workfare" plans. Nor will it provide the daycare and other support poor people need to help them keep a job. But it's a neat trick to get some ultra-cheap labor for the bosses while driving the poor off welfare.

And it is typical of Brown's whole program. Far from "turning this system around," Brown will perpetuate the greedy gouging of the working people by the capitalists that Reagan and Bush are so well known for.

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Rally confronts Bush in California

2,000 activists denounced Bush on February 25 outside St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. They denounced and ridiculed the wealthy businessmen and politicians who came to the hotel to hear Bush speak. They shouted "George Bush is guilty, of crimes against the people!," "Bush, you liar, we'll set your ass on fire!" and "Fight AIDS, Act Up, Fight back!" The police tried to keep them safely across the street from the hotel, so the Republicans could pretend that nothing was happening. But the demonstrators shook the police barricades, and at one point tore some apart. Nine AIDS activists entered the hotel to continue their protest, while 600 other activists took to the streets, stopping traffic with a march down Market Street. 15 were arrested.

The demonstration combined youth, the homeless, people who worked downtown, and a section of activists from the 60's. It was loud and spirited. But some of the participants were somewhat discouraged because of the results of the Persian Gulf war and the ebb in the movement since the big anti-war protests. They wouldn't miss a chance to denounce Bush, but they couldn't see how the movement is evolving, and so everything seems stuck and stagnating to them. Actually, the widespread protest movement during the brief Gulf War, the intermittent stirrings of anti-racist and anti-cutbacks protests, and the presence of fresh new forces at a number of the demonstrations, show that something is stirring among the people. Still small and scattered, a new movement is maturing among the working people, who are being tortured by recession, racism, and reaction. The coming struggles will not simply repeat the past, but be based on the new economic and political realities of today. It is the task of the Workers' Advocate and communist leaflets, which had a good reception at this demonstration, to bring this perspective to activists and workers and help prepare them for the new movement of the 90's.

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Chicago students protest Pat Buchanan

[Photo: High school students in Chicago organized a demonstration against Pat Buchanan on March 10. Buchanan is an ultra right-winger who is running for the Republican presidential nomination. He campaigns for bigotry against immigrants, blacks, and women.]

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No to police brutality and racism!

Get organized to fight police brutality!

It's a year since the video of the brutal police beating of Rodney King flashed across the country's TV screens. And still the powers-that-be have done nothing to change the situation. While the cops involved are now on trial (see accompanying article), their chief Daryl Gates still heads the Los Angeles Police Department, and new cases of racist police abuse surface every other day in that city. What is more, evidence continues to emerge proving that L.A. is no isolated case. Systematic police brutality spreads across the whole country, bearing down especially harshly on the oppressed minorities and constantly threatening the youth, protesters, and all the working people.

The latest revealing report comes from the Gannett News Service. It studied 100 major brutality lawsuits in 22 states in which victims won $100,000 or more.

That study shows that the cops involved in beatings, chokings, shootings, and other outrages are seldom disciplined and almost never fired. Of the 100 cases looked at -- in which courts found the police guilty of brutality -- only eight officers were disciplined and only five fired.

Indeed, the study found that the brutal cops were more likely to be promoted than they were to be disciplined. While only eight cops were disciplined, at least 17 others got promoted in their departments and another two left for higher ranking jobs in other police departments.

Gannett provides a number of ugly examples. In Goldsboro, N.C. two cops beat and choked a man to death simply because he did not stop walking down the street when they ordered him to. A court found them guilty of unnecessary brutality and awarded the man's seven-year-old son $220,000. But one of the cops was promoted to captain. And the other is now the chief of police in Rolesville, N.C.

In another case, in Albuquerque, New Mexico the district attorney and the department's internal affairs division cleared a cop of any wrongdoing in the shooting and killing of Johnny Lopez, a burglary suspect. But when a civil suit went to court, a jury found the cop guilty and awarded Lopez' family $332,500. After that award, the police department made the cop "officer of the month."

These and other examples, like the police torture of suspects in Chicago (see accompanying article), show that the beating of Rodney King was no isolated example. Police brutality is widespread, it is encouraged by the police departments, and it is condoned and covered up by the district attorneys and city governments. Indeed, George Bush's praise for L.A. chief Daryl Gates makes it clear that support for police brutality stretches right up to the White House.

Systematic police brutality is one of the means used to oppress minorities in this country, and it is a constant threat against struggles by the masses for progressive change. The police are a vital part of the machine of violence that is used by the capitalist ruling class to hold down the oppressed minorities and all working people. Their abuse won't be stopped by minor reforms that tinker with the system. It will be eliminated only by a revolutionary struggle that tears this system down.

While the ruling class has not lifted a finger against the police terror, there are stirrings for change in cities across the country. In this paper we carry articles on a series of protests in various cities against the police. These protests, which are still small and scattered, need to be welded into a broad mass movement that can stand against the police abuse and target the racist capitalist system that has produced it. Workers -- black, brown, red and white -- get organized to fight these outrages!

Justice for Rodney King

The trial of four Los Angeles cops who brutally beat Rodney King began March 5. But there is not a lot of hope that justice will be served in this trial.

In the first place, the judge ordered the trial moved away from L.A. to be "fair" to the police. But far from fair, the move has stacked the deck against King. The new location is in Simi Valley, a small town in Ventura County just north of L.A. Only 2% of the county's population is black. And some 4,000 cops and their families live in Simi Valley and the neighboring Thousand Oaks. This has led to a good deal of pro-police sentiment among the jurors who were selected. None of the twelve jurors is black, and only one is Latina, and one is Filipino- American. The jurors include one whose brother is a retired L.A. police sergeant, a park ranger, a retired naval officer, and one whose son wants to become a cop. And at least half of the jurors made openly pro-police statements.

What is more, the prosecution has carried out a shoddy case. Among other things, it failed to call dozens of key witnesses, including any of the more than 30 civilians who watched the beating from their apartments and cars. And, although it used an expert witness in the grand jury hearing to emphasize that the cops' use of batons and kicks was clearly improper, it produced no expert witness for this jury trial. It has basically left an opening for the defense to plead the cops were simply following accepted procedures when they clubbed, kicked and shocked King with a taser stun gun.

And in fact that is what the defense is doing. It has actually gone to the point of claiming the policemen were "stomping" King, not "kicking" him, claiming that "stomping" is normal police procedure. The fact that they can even make such arguments proves that it is not just these cops -- the entire police department, and the city government that runs it, is the problem.

If these cops happen to get convicted you can be sure it is not the result of the case put up by the city's prosecutors. No, they will be convicted only because too many people know the truth.

Picket vs rehiring of killer cop

70 people picketed the police department in Delray Beach, Florida last month. They opposed the rehiring of a cop who murdered an unarmed man. One of the protest signs read: "Don't shoot, I left my car keys at home." This refers to the fact that Police Sgt. Don West claimed he shot only after a mechanic named Ricky Guarine lunged at him with a gun, when there was nothing but car keys in Guarine's hands.

Although several witnesses, including another cop, said the shooting was unnecessary, two grand juries cleared West. But after community protests, an interim police chief fired West for violating department policies. On February 3 an arbitrator ordered that West be suspended for five months rather than fired.

Protesters also carried signs declaring "Fire bad cops" and "Reinstate West, then Rollins and Thurlow next?" This refers to West Palm Beach cops who were fired the week before for the 1990 beating death of Bobby Jewett.

Chicago protest hits benefit for cop torturers

About 100 people protested February 25 against the benefit rally organized for three Chicago cops who have been suspended for torturing suspects. Slogans rang out: "Burge tortures blacks, police throw a party!" "No Burge, No KKK, no fascist USA!" "We want justice!" and "Code of silence equals racist violence!"

The benefit was called by other policemen to support Commander Jon Burge and Detectives Patrick O'Hara and John Yacaitis. They have been brought before a police hearing to decide whether they should be fired for the systematic torture of a series of black suspects. The police department and the city government have been covering up for these cops for some time, and no decision is expected from the hearing anytime soon.

Indeed the hearings were only called after mass outrage pushed a federal court to order the release of an earlier report by the Office of Professional Standards, a civilian oversight board. That report was done in September, 1990 but was kept secret by police officials.

It showed that there was systematic torture and abuse of black suspects at the Brighton Park police station over a 13-year period from 1973-1986, including electric shock, beatings, suffocation, and psychological torture. At least 50 cases of blacks and Latinos being tortured have come to light.

Jon Burge headed up the torture. He was a military police interrogator in Vietnam where he learned to use torture techniques against Vietnamese revolutionaries. In his 25 years of police work, he has received 13 departmental commendations. He has been promoted steadily to his present rank of Commander of Detectives of Area 3. He has been repeatedly praised not only by the police department but also by the mayor. The two other cops facing the hearing have also been commended for their investigative skills. Meanwhile, at least four other cops have been implicated in the torture, but no action has been taken against them.

The fact is that Leroy Martin, the present Chicago Police Superintendent, was the commander of the Brighton Park station during one of the years when the abuse was rampant. He has denied any knowledge of the torture. But he has headed up attempts to cover up the incidents and is known for his fascist mentality. Recently, he actually called for suspension of the U.S. constitution in order to have a free hand to "fight crime." When it was pointed out that this sounded a lot like what happened in Nazi Germany, Martin replied, "And they had a very low crime rate."

Obviously the problem is not just with the three cops called before the police hearing. The problem is the whole racist police department and the city government that directs it.

[Photo: Chicago activists denounce cops party for torturer Burge.]

People denounce murder of 14-year-old in E. Hartford

Residents of the Hockanum Park housing project confronted East Hartford, Connecticut Police Chief Shay on February 20. They denounced the murder of a 14-year-old black youth, Eric Reyes.

Reyes was killed by a plainclothes cop, who shot him in the abdomen at close range. He had chased Reyes to take him back to the terribly overcrowded Long Lane reform school.

The cop claims Reyes pulled the gun from his pocket and was holding it by the barrel toward himself. The policeman says he grabbed to take the gun away and "instinctively" pulled the trigger. Witnesses say it was coldblooded murder. Several friends of Reyes had raced up to try to pry the cop away, thinking Reyes was being attacked by a stranger. One reports the cop turned on him and declared, "You're gonna be the first Puerto Rican to die in East Hartford."

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Strikes and workplace news

20,000 march in support of Caterpillar strikers

Over 20,000 workers swarmed through downtown Peoria, Illinois on March 22 in a huge show of solidarity with the Caterpillar strike. Machinists, teachers, letter carriers, autoworkers, and others came from all over the Midwest to show their support. The boisterous rally was a big lift for the strikers and helped spread word of the strike far and wide.

The strikers have been locked in battle with Caterpillar for nearly five months. The company refuses to sign a pattern agreement based on the contract signed with the John Deere Co. workers last year. It is even trying to break up the national agreement into separate plant contracts and is demanding a series of takebacks. Although Caterpillar is the world's largest manufacturer of earth moving equipment, and is quite profitable, it claims it needs new concessions to remain "globally competitive."

The workers are determined to beat back the concession demands. But unfortunately, the leaders of the United Auto Workers have weakened the struggle by restricting it to a selective strike. Even while nearly 11,000 workers walk the picket line, the UAW hacks have kept over 5,000 Caterpillar workers working on the job. It is up to the rank-and-file strikers to spread the struggle to the plants still working in Memphis, Denver and York, Pennsylvania.

New York City transit workers reject contract

[Photo: New York City transit workers rally March 3 against the sellout contract.]

New York City transit workers overwhelmingly rejected a proposed takeback contract at the end of March. The workers stood up to intense pressure from the Transit Authority. And they also defied the leadership of the Transport Workers Union which had recommended the contract and used threats and blackmail to try and force a "yes" vote. The vote was 13,110 against and 7,226 for, a nearly 2 to 1 margin for rejection.

The March 25 New York Workers' Voicereports that, "By voting down the contract, transit workers are demanding a halt to the TA takeback offensive and the long history of TWU sellouts. But much remains to be done to gain any improvement over the rejected contract



"Transit workers need a program of heightened mass activity. This is where our strength lies.

"Without system-wide mass rallies and marches, would transit workers have gained the confidence to challenge the threats of Sonny Hall [the TWl) head] and his claim to represent us? Without smaller meetings, petitions, and actions at the job sites, would we have uncovered the depth of discontent with the contract or brought forward new activist workers? Without circulating anti-contract leaflets and stickers, would over 13,000 workers have voted No?

"During the past six weeks, we passedour first test of strength with the TA and union bureaucracy. Now a harder test is ahead of us. We cannot wait on Hall to do the right thing. We cannot wait for others to step forward as 'saviors4 either. We must organize ourselves and launch mass actions outside of the umbrella and control of the TWU bureaucracy....

"TheWorkers' Voice calls for the immediate organization and staging of a series of Days of Protest, combining system-wide protest actions off the job with mass actions on the job. Workers could openly wear protest armbands, or pull off meetings, pickets, and job actions, depending on conditions.

"Such Days of Protest should also be used to get the attention of the entire city and build solidarity with the riding public and workers in other sectors. This is also an important training ground since transit workers must be prepared to strike if necessary.

"Word is already getting around for a Tuesday, April 7th,Day of Protest, which includes an 11:00 a.m. rally aimed primarily at night shift workers. Every effort must be made to make this a success, along with on-the-job protests for all transit workers.

"In addition to any other plans that may be laid, it is only fitting that Friday, May 1st should be the occasion for another mammoth Day of Protest. May 1st will mark one year that we have been working without a contract. And May 1st is also International Workers' Day. What better way to celebrate May Day than to give Jay Street [the TA headquarters] a big headache, if not a coronary?"

Pittsburgh transit workers strike

2,700 transit workers went on strike in Pittsburgh on March 16, their first strike since 1976. The strike immobilized all of Pittsburgh's buses and trolleys, creating mammoth congestion in a city that normally carries 285,000 riders a day.

According to the Times,workers of Local 85 of the Amalgamated Transit Union had been working without a contract since Dec. 1. The union reportedly wanted the Port Authority Transit to follow a fact-finding recommendation for a 12% raise over 3 years. The last contract offer from the Authority was for a one and one half percent increase, plus quarterly cost-of-living increases and a continuation of benefits. The vote in favor of a strike was 2,125 to 94.

(From March 25 "New York Workers' Voice," paper of MLP-New York.)

Chicago: Temporary workers fight hazardous fumes

Data East Pinball employs around 220 workers at its plant in a suburb of Chicago. Most of them are women workers and nearly all are immigrants, mainly from Mexico. As is more and more common, the company relies on temporary employment agencies to provide a big percentage of its workforce. These workers have no benefits and few rights. They usually just work three months before being replaced by new "temps."

For the capitalist owners of factories like Data East "temporary workers" are cheaper and easier to hire than regular full time workers. These companies count on being able to demand that the temporary workers put up with any kind of overwork, harassment or dangerous conditions. And they expect you to be grateful for the $4.25 an hour.

But the workers at Data East are showing that temporary workers or not, they won't accept being treated like animals.

Toxic fumes and gases -- no joke!

In two incidents in seven days, workers at Data East Pinball manufacturing company were poisoned by a "mysterious" gas leaking in the plant.

On March 4, workers began fainting and complaining of weakness and headaches, finally evacuating the plant against the wishes of the supervisors. They were ordered back, but many workers began fainting after only a few minutes. The plant was again evacuated and eventually twenty workers were taken to a local hospital. The company fired one worker who got into an argument with the police chief about the treatment of the workers after police and paramedics arrived.

On March 11, workers again began fainting, vomiting and complaining of severe headaches. Even a technician from a laboratory investigating the fumes fainted! The supervisors finally evacuated the plant.

So far all of the workers seemingly have recovered from the effects of the mystery gas. But the company still insists that there isn't and wasn't any problem.

Many workers are outraged and rightly so. A flyer was distributed at the factory denouncing the company, the supervisor, and plant manager for negligence. Workers are demanding an investigation and complete explanation of what happened on both days and the repair of whatever caused the leaks. They want all workers paid for lost time due to the evacuations and immediate arrangements for payment of medical bills. They also want any fired workers reinstated with back pay. And they want a supervisor and plant manager fired or disciplined for their outrageous lack of concern for the workers' safety.

The company meanwhile has fired the most outspoken workers and started rumors that the INS might come and raid the plant if things don't calm down. Company spies ran around grabbing flyers away from workers and at least one worker was called into the office and asked who he got a flyer from. The funny thing is that it wasn't until after the flyer was passed out at the factory that the company suddenly decided to announce that it would be paying all the medical bills for the workers who were ill. Before that, it refused to take responsibility for the bills. This shows that it is only action by the workers that has a chance to win anything from these sweatshop bosses.

To fight against these conditions, we need organization and a broad solidarity with workers from other factories, temporary agencies and the community. Only by standing together can we fight back against the daily injustices and go on to build up a revolutionary workers' movement to fight against all exploitation.

(From March 27 "Chicago Workers' Voice," paper of MLP-Chicago.)

[Photo: A Data East Pinball worker being treated by paramedic]

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Fire killer cops in Norwalk, Connecticut!

Shouting "No justice, no peace!" 100 protesters picketed the Norwalk, Connecticut police station on February 27. They demanded the firing of policemen who killed two teen-agers. The cops had chased a car carrying four young black men into the city of Bridgeport and fired 17 times at the vehicle. The car then skidded off an embankment and into a creek. Two of the occupants of the car, including a 12-year-old, drowned. One other was hospitalized with bullet wounds.

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Defend women's rights!

Will 'Freedom of Choice Act' save abortion rights?

As the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the pro-establishment wing of the women's rights groups says that Congress will save the day. What we must do, they say, is elect some more liberal Democrats or Republicans. They point to the Freedom of Choice Act in Congress that is supposed to write Roe v. Wade into law. Of course Congress also approved Bush's Supreme Court nominees, allowing the Court to be stacked with opponents of abortion rights. But now we are supposed to hold our breath for it to act.

In fact, the Freedom of Choice Act will hardly make up for the stacking of the Supreme Court. It has loopholes that will allow judges and state lawmakers to continue to strip away abortion rights. So even if the. bill is passed, the fight will still take place in state after state. And it is not clear that Congress will pass it, or that it won't add crippling amendments to it.

The Freedom of Choice Act


The bill is presently quite short. Its heart, section 2, reads as follows:

"(a) In general. -- Except as provided in subsection (b), a State may not restrict the right of a woman to choose to terminate a pregnancy --

(1) before fetal viability; or

(2) at any time, if such termination is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman.

(b) Medically Necessary Requirements. -- A State may impose requirements medically necessary to protect the life or health of women referred to in subsection (a)."

At first glance, it appears this bill prevents states from restricting the vast majority of abortions. After all, only a small percentage of abortions take place after the fetus could survive on its own outside the womb. If the bill's term "fetal viability" was interpreted in any reasonable sense, this would mean allowing abortions in the first two trimesters (six months) of pregnancy. And of course any reasonable person would want abortions to be carried out in a safe way, according to the proper medical requirements.




But there is no guarantee that "fetal viability" or "medically necessary requirement" will be interpreted in this way. Quite the contrary. Reagan and Bush have packed the federal courts as well as the Supreme Court with their anti-abortion appointees. Most state legislatures have already stopped Medicaid from paying for abortions for poor women, and some are in a frenzy to end abortion altogether. It is these judges and state legislatures who will do most of the interpreting.

One bill after another has already come from the state legislatures, or been proposed, to stop abortions under the guise of simply regulating it. There has been "parental notification" and fetal viability questions. And there has been a whole series of harsh restrictions in the name of medical necessity, such as waiting periods, "informed consent" (subjecting women to anti-abortion lectures), and restricting abortions to hospitals rather than clinics. And the Reagan-Bush federal judges and Supreme Court have become skilled in allowing such restrictions.

The Congressional debate


The serious nature of the bill's loopholes is also clear from the Congressional debate itself on the Freedom of Choice bill. There are clashing opinions on what the bill's loopholes mean and what the bill allows. For example, the Congressional Quarterly cites "an aide to one of the bill's lead sponsors in the Senate" as saying "It's clear you're going to have to live with some sort of parental notification." CQ goes on to add that "The issue is so touchy and divisive within the universe of abortion rights backers [among the politicians, that is] that few will comment at all, and even fewer will speak on the record." (Feb. 29, p. 469)

Thus the bill may be interpreted as allowing states to mandate parental notification or other restrictions as they choose. Or the bill may even be amended to force parental notification or other restrictions across the whole country.

Straight out of Roe v. Wade?


Some people, like liberal Democratic Congressman Don Edwards from California, laud this bill as having "language... drawn directly from Roe." (Ibid., p. 468) But this is a deceptive claim. Even now, without amendment, the Act is weaker than Roe v. Wade. For example, it puts certain qualifications on abortions in general, while Roe v. Wade restricted the qualifications to the second and third trimester of pregnancy, or even only the third trimester. And it drops the explicit language of Roe v. Wade which restricted the use of such qualifications as anti-abortion loopholes.

State by state


As a result, the Freedom of Choice Act would prevent any state from outright banning abortion, but it would allow the present method of nibbling away at abortion rights piece by piece. Where the state legislatures are hostile to abortion rights, they would still be able to write one restriction after another into law. There would be a fight state by state over abortion rights, as there is now.

Congress is in no hurry


Meanwhile Congress is in no hurry to pass this bill. It sits there in Congress year after year.

In the House, the Democratic leadership keeps saying that it isn't the time yet for the bill. Most recently, they say to wait until the Supreme Court openly overturns Roe v. Wade.

Meanwhile Senate Majority Leader Mitchell isn't sure that the Act should be passed at all. He "told reporters in early February that he had 'serious reservations' about the constitutionality of the Freedom of Choice Act, suggesting that Congress should initiate a new amendment to the Constitution rather than a statute.' " (Ibid., p. 470)

Nor is there any hope that Congress will pass it by the two-thirds majority needed to overcome a Bush veto.

Who will defend abortion rights?


Congress represents the capitalist rulers of this country. Every day they pass budget measures that make life harder for working class women and men. Every day they worry about what the business interests want, and how much the businesspeople will contribute to their campaigns. That is why they are in no hurry to defend the legal right to abortion. And they are definitely not going to provide the material resources needed for women as a whole to exercise the legal right to abortion.

The battle for abortion rights cannot be entrusted to these phonies in Washington, D.C. The battle will be lost before it begins, if it degenerates into telling people to vote for capitalist-minded candidates, hoping against hope that the politicians will finally do something besides sinking deeper into corruption and scandals and anti-women budget cuts.

The task at hand is working to build up mass rallies and marches, the militant clinic defenses and other actions. The task at hand is to inspire the working women and men that they must act on their own behalf. Roe v. Wade was not granted to women on a silver platter, but won by the mass struggle of the 60's and 70's. The Supreme Court conceded the right to abortion only after seeing year after year of people angry and in the streets on one issue after another: civil rights, anti-war, and women's rights. And the present anti-woman offensive will only be stopped when the ordinary people of this country stir once more, and take politics into their own hands.

Abortion rights require more than law

It is not sufficient that women have the legal right to safe, legal abortions. There must also be access to decent and affordable medical facilities. Today, the right to abortion has already become a hollow phrase for millions of women. The growing legal restrictions are one reason. But there is also the lack of health care for poor women, the puritanical restrictions on the rights of the poor, and the small number of doctors and hospitals available to perform abortions.

Lack of funds


In 1977 Congress banned the use of federal funds to help low-income women pay for abortions. And many states have followed suit, so that today only 13 states allow Medicaid funds to be used for abortion.

Yet abortions, like other medical expenses, are a huge financial hardship for poor women. A standard first trimester abortion costs $200-$300. If it takes them some time to raise the money, they may find that the price has escalated astronomically. Abortions in the second trimester can easily cost one or two thousand dollars.

Few places to go


Meanwhile there is a decline in the number of medical facilities that will do abortions. From 1977 to 1988 the number of hospitals offering abortion has dropped by a third. While an increasing percentage of abortions are being done in clinics, this does not make up the gap. For example, 83% of counties in this country, containing almost one-third of all women of child-bearing age, did not have a hospital or clinic which would perform an abortion. In rural areas the nearest facility may be hundreds of miles away.

Doctor shortage


And clinics, even in big cities, are finding it harder to find doctors. At one time, some doctors were outraged by the mass butchery of women from the illegal procedures that resulted from the banning of abortion. But this memory has' grown dim for most doctors (although this carnage continues today in full force in Mexico and elsewhere where abortion is illegal). Besides, most doctors are wealthy or hope to be so, and as a whole, the medical profession doesn't have much sympathy for the problems of the poor. So they certainly don't see much reason to risk their careers to serve poor women in the face of the harassment and death threats by the religious fanatics.

For that matter, it is harder to get training in abortion. The medical establishment is cutting way back. For example, in 1985 only a quarter of obstetrics- gynecology residency programs required training in abortion. This has fallen to 13% for first trimester abortions, and 7% for second trimester abortions.

A right denied


As a result, many women simply cannot obtain a legal abortion. Already tragedies are resulting from botched self-abortions or from women being forced to bear children.

The struggle for abortion rights requires not only the legal right for an abortion, but a thorough reform of the medical and social welfare systems. Health care must become a right of all people. And the system of capitalist tyranny over the poor, which denies them adequate resources and inflicts a thousand and one humiliating and brutal conditions upon them, must be smashed.

[Photo: International Women's Day marchers in San Francisco.]

March for women's rights, Washington, April 5!


Today there is a backlash against women's rights. The capitalists and their government are trying to drive women back. The right wing is crusading against women, and the liberals are saying that you have to be realistic. Abortion rights are being restricted, religious fanatics are brutalizing women and clinics, and the Supreme Court has whittled down Roe v. Wade to a pale memory. The restructuring of the economy and the drastic cutbacks in social programs have had a devastating effect on poor women trying to raise children. And the politicians are blaming the victims, denouncing the poor for being poor.

The attacks on women and the working class at this time are no accident. The American capitalists want to save their profits during the recession by squeezing every penny they can from the workers' livelihoods. CEO's cut wages and benefits in the name of global competitiveness, while giving themselves multimillion dollar bonuses. Then they scapegoat women, immigrants, and minorities to divert anger away from the real causes of the growing mass misery.

Working women and men, students, and youth: let's go to Washington on April 5 to demonstrate to the rich and their government that we won't go back to the illegal abortions and butchering of women! That we won't give up any of the rights that women have won! That* we won't tighten our belts so that the rich can hang on to their profits!


Defeat the politicians


Some of the leaders who have called the April 5 demonstration have given the slogan "defeat Bush." But how is Bush to be defeated? And what about the other politicians who are oppressing us?

Indeed, a massive wave of anger and disgust has been building up at the politicians. People are asking how to get rid of this plague of corrupt servants of the rich. Term limitation? Third party with big names? Grassroots organizing for struggle?

NOW has declared the "New Party" (it doesn't have a name yet). But this new party is still based on regrouping the old politicians and finding some liberals to vote for. And the leaders of NOW, NARAL, and other establishment- oriented groups will go on backing some Democrats (or even liberal Republicans) in '92.

This means pushing the working women and men back into the same old political quagmire that they hate and despise. It means telling them for the one hundredth time that the Democrats will save them -- if only the politicians can tear themselves away from counting out the subsidies to businessmen.

Our interest must not be defeating Bush as an individual, but defeating Bush as the leader of the capitalist class. This means confronting the capitalist offensive which is bearing down on us like a ton of bricks.

We say, this will not be accomplished by a new law, or by reshuffling the political alignments of the spokespeople of the rich. It requires turning away from the professional talkers and vote-getters, and the fat trade union bureaucrats and respectable "community leaders." It means an independent movement based on the respectable "community leaders." It means an independent movement based on the working class and the protest movements of women, minorities, strikers, students.


The struggles for women's rights and working class liberation must be linked


To really defend women's rights, the movement must take up the demands of working and poor women, and orient its activities to them.

There must be a militant movement in the streets and work places to confront the reactionaries, the employers, and the whole rotten establishment. This means building a new politics, independent of the old political machines. It means the politics of mass struggle, of confrontation. And it means that the workers' movement, if it is to raise its head against the capitalist backlash, must itself hold high the banner of women's rights. One half of the working class can't be successful, while the other half remains subject to harassment and inequality.


How were women's rights won in the 60's and 70's? It was the widespread questioning and struggle, the mass rejection of the old injustice, the demonstrations and rebellions, that caused the ruling class to concede some rights. It was women raising their own demands, and women taking part in the surging movements against the Vietnam war, against racial discrimination, for government relief of poverty, and for workers' rights against profit-crazed employers.

We must learn from the strengths of the past, and also the weaknesses. To build such a movement, we must do better than in the past in organizing the working women and men to stand up at work place and to take part in the political movement. We must do better in separating from the reformist politicians and the capitalist parties.


This is the only way we can defend our rights today. Defeat the backlash! Don't back the lesser of two capitalist evils, but join together with workers, minorities and all oppressed in a new movement for liberation! The rights of women and the working class will only be won by the masses themselves, when they take matters into their own hands!


Who defended L.A. clinic: Activists or police?


250 pro-choice demonstrators defended the Her Clinic in Los Angeles on Monday morning, February 17. They locked arms, shouted slogans and kept the clinic open by confronting anti-abortion barbarians from Operation Rescue (OR).

Meanwhile the police sat on their hands for three hours, and let the religious bigots from OR do what they pleased. Many activists began to fume at the police. Finally the cops acted -- against the defenders of women's rights. They set up a yellow ribbon tape and used a line of police cars as a barrier to fence in the clinic defenders. They wanted to isolate the clinic defenders and also prevent them from getting at OR. Then the cops, working with OR, proceeded to single out a few pro-choice activists for arrest.

The clinic defenders remained defiant and in high spirits. A bit later, they saw the police finally arrest a handful of the OR blockaders. The Los Angeles Police Department is known nationally for its brutality against ordinary people, black people like Rodney King, Latinos, and others. But when it comes to OR, they are meek as kittens and let them harass clinics and patients for hours on end. It was the activists who kept the clinic open, and they saw with their own eyes what law and order means for the common people. Below we reprint a letter to The Workers' Advocate from an outraged clinic defender. Arrested that day at the clinic, a number of hours later Steve Hampton wrote the following words:


Letter from a clinic defender


February 17, 1992

To the editor:

"Justice" in America is a sham and a fraud. Case in point: the clinic defense just south of downtown Los Angeles earlier today. The mean-spirited Operation Rescue crew was there, harassing young minority women who wanted to use the clinic, and pushing, shoving, and hitting several of the clinic defenders. All this was reported to the police, who were there in large numbers and did nothing about it. Instead, the police arrested three of the clinic defenders! One, a Queer Nation activist, was charged with "using an offensive world" (evidently the pigs meant "word," but can't spell). Two others -- myself and a young Latino -- were arrested on the basis of a totally false allegation by a woman OR supporter. This sick, pathetic woman hates herself so much she is willing to actively participate in the oppression of her own sex.

In my case, she accused me of pushing her, when the truth was just the opposite. Incredible, the police carried out a "citizen's arrest" on her behalf, despite the fact that she was obviously unhurt, and had an equally blatant motive to falsely accuse me. The police didn't even bother asking me my side of the story before arresting me! Just try getting the police to make a "citizen's arrest" for you under normal circumstances, and you'll see how hard (more likely, impossible) it is. In this case, the LAPD practically rolled out the red carpet for the fascistic women-hating religious fanatics.


Of course the bible-thumping OR bigots are despicable, but the more important point here is to see that the LAPD automatically took the side of OR, with a complete disregard for facts, fairness, and common sense. The LAPD has not changed one bit since the Rodney King beating. The police officer who took me in (a decent sort) even admitted that the charge against me wouldn't hold up, and that the woman who'd made the charge was a real jerk. But of course, he was just "following orders," like a good German. The decision to arrest me was obviously made at a higher level, by the captain on the scene (or higher). The police moved to arrest three of the most militant (but peaceful) clinic defenders, in order to intimidate the rest and give the OR fascists, who were badly outnumbered, a shot in the arm. Two of us were assisting in the vital work of escorting women into the clinic, and protecting them from harassment on the street, and greatly resented being taken away from it. It is a sufficient commentary on this society that when a man takes the morally responsible stand of protecting women and their rights, he is rewarded for it -- by being promptly clapped in jail. On the other hand, had I been out there screaming at women and shoving tracts in their faces, the cops would have patted me on the back for a job well done!


The next time the OR fanatics try to storm a clinic, they should be met by such a massive outpouring of workers' and black power that neither the cowardly OR bullies, nor their allies the police, will dare to show their faces. Down with fascist pigs! All power to the working class!


International Women's Day in Chicago


The Marxist-Leninist Party held a march on Saturday, March 7 in a Latino working class community to mark working women's day. Activists carried placards, and distributed leaflets and newspapers in English and Spanish. The gave short speeches at a street corner, with one comrade saying:

"Today we celebrate international working women's day, March 8. The situation today sees the working class facing attacks: unemployment; poverty; and cuts in social services, education, and health care. For working class women there is a double oppression: abortion and birth control rights are under attack, and there is forced sterilization, and discrimination in jobs, education, and salary. Women are angry. We need to build a movement united to fight for rights for women; women and men united to fight for their rights, and those of their children and families, for a better world, for an end to oppression, for socialism."


The next day, on March 8th, 70 people from various groups marked International Women's Day by demonstrating on Chicago's North Side. After a rally at Oz Park, they marched to several targets, such as "the big nasty," a bar which was denounced for its degrading practices towards women; and DePaul University, which was criticized for hiring a student who is an admitted rapist as a dorm security guard, and for threatening to revoke the scholarships of students who demonstrate on campus.


[Photo: March for International Women's Day, March 8, Chicago.]


What kind of system will liberate women?


Every step women take toward equality and liberation comes into conflict with the interests of wealth and capital. That is what is shown by the experience of the women's movement -- on abortion rights, on job discrimination, on child care, on a liveable wage. The inferior status of women is far too profitable.

This is why the movement must stand against the rich and their parties. But more than that, it says something about what the ultimate goal must be.

The liberation of women requires far more than just legal equality. Legal equality alone does not remove the double burden of not only working for a living, but having predominant responsibility for housework and child rearing. It does not relieve low wages and lack of social benefits. If equality is not to mean equality of hunger, equality of poverty, equality of powerlessness, then there must be a society where the majority no longer toils for the profits of a privileged upper class.

The rich gloat about the demise of the Soviet Union. But the revolution ended in Russia and Eastern Europe decades and decades ago. In the early days, when there was revolution, the status and activity of women was raised a hundredfold. Then when the Soviet Union gave up the road to communism and instead consolidated a bureaucratic sort of capitalism, women were pushed back into traditional capitalist roles. This shows that the emancipation of women is tied to the fate of the revolutionary movement as a whole.


The collapse of the Soviet Union tears down the prestige of the revisionist distortion of socialism. And this distortion was another obstacle on the road to a classless, communist society.

Whether here or in Russia, a society based on a growing gap between rich and poor must be a society that lives by oppression. Women's liberation cannot be accomplished in such societies.

The path of women's liberation is the path of struggle of the working and oppressed against capitalism. It is the path of abolishing the profit motive and building a society based on mutual benefit for all. It is the path of building a society built on spreading the benefits of large-scale production and modern technique to everyone -- so that working women do not drudge their lives away on petty chores, but stand up as equal masters of all spheres of life, along with working men. It is the path of socialist reorganization of society.

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Dreams of world domination


On March 8, the New York Times published parts of a leaked Pentagon document which seeks to define America's global role in the next century.

In this document, the Pentagon spells out its vision of a world dominated by a single superpower -- the United States. The report is a detailed justification for maintaining a massive war machine to bully the whole world. Not only will the Pentagon exercise its power against small and medium powers who refuse to toe Washington's line but the document openly asserts that the U.S. government must ensure that no "potential competitors" aspire to a greater role than they currently occupy. This is an implicit challenge to Japan and Germany (and the European superpower in the making).

The dilemma facing the warmakers


Today the Pentagon and the entire military-industrial complex in the U.S. are faced with a major dilemma: How do you maintain a massive war machine when its main justification, the Soviet Union, has collapsed?

For one thing, the Pentagon planners are simply manufacturing bogeymen to keep justifying high levels of military spending. But they are also seriously preparing for new military adventures and wars in different parts of the globe. And the new strategy document also shows that the Pentagon wants to use the large military machine as an instrument in U.S. imperialism's growing rivalry with its main economic competitors today.

For 45 years, the U.S. government built up a mammoth arsenal of mass destruction in the name of containing the Soviet challenge. No war ever took place with Moscow, but the war machine was used to build an extensive U.S. empire around the globe. The Pentagon and CIA organized numerous coups and wars in the third world to preserve U.S. spheres of influence.

Millions of Vietnamese, Central Americans, and others suffered from these imperialist actions. And at home too, the war machine exacted an enormous price. Massive resources went into the parasitic military sector. Millions of youth were brought into the military to kill foreign peoples and be cannon fodder for the wealthy ruling class. Culture, education and the entire social fabric were permeated with militarism and "We are No. 1" jingoism, which had its own heavy cost in the corruption of society with backward values.

With the end of the Cold War, many people have looked for an end to this way of life. But change will not come easy. It will require taking on the entrenched interests of the capitalist military-industrial complex.

What the military planners envision


Within the imperial state, the thinking goes the other way. The ruling circles are discussing, not scrapping the war machine but preserving--even expanding -- its role, now that the Cold War is over.

U.S. imperialism does face a big dilemma. It is hard to justify the huge standing army. It is difficult to keep hundreds of thousands of American troops in Europe. It is hard to preserve all the bases with which the Pentagon has ringed the world.

Some cuts the Pentagon is being forced to make. Some bases are being closed at home and abroad, and some troops are being demobilized. But the Bush administration and Pentagon still want to maintain a 1.6 million-member military at a cost of $1.2 trillion over the next five years. The leaked Pentagon document titled "Defense Planning Guidance for 1994-1999" describes the purposes of such a war machine.

World policeman


The list of enemies with which to justify a large military is dwindling, but the Pentagon document makes sure that several are listed with whom the U.S. imperialists can speculate on potential wars.

The document warns of "irrational acts" by Cuba and North Korea. The truth is, Cuba is desperately trying to survive in the face of a tight economic squeeze brought on by the U.S. blockade and the end of Soviet aid. If there is any irrational act likely, it will be from the U.S. rulers who may want to add a military adventure to the ongoing squeeze. And North Korea is taking rapid steps to reconcile with the South, steps which have worried some U.S. militarists that there may soon be little reason to justify the large U.S. military presence in South Korea.

Of course, the Iraqi threat is paraded around again. Last year's Persian Gulf War came as the first big opportunity for the Pentagon to assert its post-Cold War role. It was a declaration that the U.S. will not allow any upstart local power to expand its influence, even if that power had been built up with U.S. support in previous years. As long as Saddam Hussein remains in power, the U.S. will keep pointing to the Iraqi threat as one reason for potential military adventures and wars.

The document does not even want to give up the "Russian threat" even though Moscow under Yeltsin is today a friend of the U.S. Russian targets for U.S. nuclear missiles are to be maintained. The Pentagon claims that it isn't certain that an unfriendly regime may not emerge there.

The Pentagon also adds the possibility of military action against Pakistan and India, as examples of countries with nuclear capability. Indeed, the document establishes the U.S. government's right to militarily determine who will and will not be allowed to have nuclear potential in the contemporary world.

Challenging Europe and Japan


What has given the Pentagon document its greatest notoriety is its point that "potential competitors" must not be allowed to take on roles beyond what they have now. This is a reference to Germany and Europe, and Japan and Korea. The document suggests that these powers must be convinced (i.e., pressured) to stick to the political and military status they currently occupy.

During the Cold War, the U.S. maintained an alliance with Japan and Europe. They were brought into military alliances like NATO and the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty; there was also an economic and political alliance, where conflicts were managed. With the cement of the Cold War gone, increasing economic rivalry between Europe, Japan and the U.S. stand out in sharper relief. And political aims also take on a tendency to diverge as well. This inevitably shows up also in tendencies in both Japan and Europe to increase their independent military role. In the European Community, there is an open discussion about Europe establishing its own military alliance and cutting loose from NATO. And the Japanese ruling class also debates increasing the size and role of its military.

These are the trends worrying the Pentagon. The document explicitly says that the U.S. must ensure that Europe not aspire to any independent military role. And that Japan or Korea should not take on enhanced roles as regional powers. In other words, U.S. imperialism must remain the predominant military power in both Europe and East Asia.


What is left unsaid is that U.S. imperialism wants to use its military superiority as a club against its economic rivals. During the Gulf War this was spelled out by certain bourgeois observers. They recognized that the U.S. is slipping economically with respect to Japan and Europe and that the way to re-establish U.S. economic predominance would be to use its military superpower status to gain economic leverage with these rival powers.

But the Pentagon's hope to browbeat Japan and Europe is unlikely to prevail. Through the years of the Cold War, U.S. imperialism may have been able to keep Japan and Europe in a subordinate role in a common Western imperialist alliance. Today the U.S. may be the only military superpower, but with the collapse of the Soviet Union, there is no way it can prevent the conflicts with its economic competitors from growing and coming more and more to the surface. Economic rivalry leads inevitably to political differences, and to the desire to use military power differently. And eventually, economic rivalry between great powers bears the seeds of direct military confrontation.


To end the threat of war, we must eliminate imperialism


The end of the Cold War does not mean that the world has entered a new era of peace.

As is shown by last year's Gulf War, the current bullying of Libya, and the growing U.S. intervention in the Andes under the pretext of the "war on drugs," U.S. imperialism is poised for new military adventures in different parts of the world.

What is more, the end of the Cold War has opened up a new period of imperialist rivalries, with the potential that sometime in the future, military confrontations may well break out among those who are allies today. Such military outbreaks will be yet another disaster for the peoples of the world. This century has already seen the terrible destruction of world wars which were the product of the bloody ambitions of capitalist imperialism.

To do away with the threat of small wars or that of another horrifying world war, we have to do away with the system of imperialism which breeds economic and military conflicts. That requires a class to come to power which can establish truly fraternal ties between the peoples of the world. Ties to the advantage of all, not the narrow interest of one ruling set of exploiters or another. That class is the international working class.


[Photo: "Highway of Death" where U.S. warplanes massacred thousands of fleeing Iraqis during the Persian Gulf War. The Pentagon plans more such murderous wars in coming years.]

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Women pay the highest price

Illinois shifts welfare from the poor to the rich


At the end of March, cuts in social programs hit with full force. Sixty thousand will get no more general assistance this year, as poor people will only be allowed relief for part of each year. Thousands more will hit the streets homeless. Even the title "general assistance" has been replaced with "transitional assistance," to be more in line with the government's program of eliminating welfare.

These cuts were mandated six months ago as a way to solve the budget crisis by gouging the poor. There hasn't even been time for the full misery from these cuts to become apparent, but already there's more budget problems to be solved. Once again the solutions show today's ruling class priorities. The politicians want even deeper and deadlier cuts in services for the poor, the elderly and the disabled.


Some feast while others starve


Of course the politicians wouldn't think of cutting the handouts to the rich. There's plenty of money to line the pockets of the construction capitalists, the real estate brokers and the bankers. They will gorge themselves on the lucrative deals to finance a massive expansion of McCormick Place and the proposed Lake Calumet Airport.


The rich feed on tax dollars from the state coffers while the poor feed in dumpsters. It is the miracle of capitalist priorities. Welfare for the rich, financed by eliminating welfare for the poor. The rich don't see the misery of the poor as a problem: they just see spending money on the poor as the problem and are working hard to eliminate this problem by redirecting the money into their own pockets.

The latest proposals


The new proposal hits poor families and assistance for the aged and disabled.

It was not enough for the Illinois legislature to specify that poor people on "transitional assistance" only need to buy food nine months this year, and six months out of every subsequent year. This time $33 million is to be cut from welfare grants to poor families. A Chicago mother with two children would see her monthly check reduced from a near- starvation level of $376 a month to a desperate $342.


The Department of Aging plans to cut $3.3 million from its budget. It will eliminate in-home services such as meal preparation and housekeeping for 2,000 elderly and disabled people. Another 25,000 people will face a reduction in the number of hours of help they receive each week.

Women get hit the hardest


"Stomp on the poor" seems to be the battle cry of the politicians. And these cuts will hit especially hard at poor women. Women on welfare will find their options limited to "what kind of desperation this month?" Pay for heat or pay for food? This has been the alternative for quite some time. More and more poor people won't be able to pay for either. Where some were on the verge of homelessness, now it seems a certain fate for many.

Meanwhile the majority of workers who provide in-home services are women. And women who make very low wages at that. But this doesn't matter to the politicians. They throw these women out of their jobs right at the time that welfare cutbacks will hurt them most!


In-home services such as meal preparation and housekeeping frequently make the difference as to whether a family member can keep her job or will have to stay home in order to care for a loved one. In nearly all cases caring for elderly and disabled relatives falls on women. Now the women who lose the in-home service will have to work even harder. They face the triple burden of a job, caring for their own families and caring for an invalid loved one.

Raise your voices!


Why should working and poor people take this lying down? Why should we accept that the rich get huge handouts from the state budget while the poor get squeezed to the wall? Let's stand up against these attacks on the poor. Make the rich pay for the budget crisis! Sporadic protests and demonstrations have already broken out to fight these cutbacks. But this is only a start. These actions must develop from isolated affairs to a big movement of the oppressed. The working people must raise their voices on their own behalf, in their own interest, contemptuous of all the establishment parties and their insignificant variations in priorities. We must recognize the exploiting system that stands behind the rhetoric of the politicians and their budget priorities. All those on the bottom, all those who live by their labor and not by corporate privilege, all those injured by the cutbacks, must unite their individual interests and sorrows into a movement of all the workers and oppressed against the capitalist ruling class.




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SCAN fights cutbacks in L.A.


Teachers and other public sector workers in Los Angeles have faced year after year of cutbacks. Some activist workers are getting upset at their unions' policy of running after the Democratic Party and bowing down before the school board and the legislature. They are not exactly sure what to do about the union leaders who promote the policy of begging the enemy, but they want mass action. They demand, not sharing the sacrifices, but putting the burden on the rich.

At the end of February and beginning of March, the School/Community Action Network (SCAN) was formed in Los Angeles. Around it are teachers inspired by the development of the Teachers Action Network, activists from the Chicago Caucus of the UTLA (United Teachers of Los Angeles), militants from the Classified Workers SEIU Local 99, and some parent groups from the Latino and black communities.

SCAN is presently building a campaign to fight the education cuts and oppose Governor Wilson's referendum to cut welfare and victimize the poor. It plans public forums in April leading up to a mass demonstration at the state office building downtown on May 9.

A number of other groups, such as Jobs with Peace and also the Campaign for Fair Share, also say they will support and build for the May 9 action. There has been an agreement that there will be no Democratic or Republican officials speaking from the action's platform. While the reformists in this coalition may undermine this agreement, SCAN's eagerness for it is a sign of the growing discontent with the capitalist politicians.


The union leaders are not happy at these sparks of mass initiative. The leaders of the public employee unions are standing aside from the May 9 action, and the UTLA hacks have denounced it. They try to frighten rank-and-file workers away by saying that the May 9 demonstration is being "built by the communists" (a great sin in the eyes of pro-capitalist union leaders) and, even worse, by "those who support the cause of the Palestinians" (an even worse sin in the eyes of these diehard supporters of U.S. imperialist policy). Some teachers think that the reason certain union leaders oppose the May 9 action is that they have a deal with Governor Wilson. In return for supporting his miserable referendum, with its vicious attacks on the poverty-stricken, the union leaders hope Wilson won't make further cuts in the education budget.

This no-action stand by the union leaders has caused many workers to really see red. Over the year, a series of these stands have given rise to the formation of several groups of concerned workers. A number of teachers formed the Teachers Action Network during the Gulf War, and later took up the struggle against the cutbacks. Militant black bus drivers and others have formed Members for Union Democracy inside SEIU Local 99. The formation of SCAN is the latest sign of the growing desire for struggle.


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You're insured--unless you're sick


Last month, Blue Cross in New Jersey readjusted its rates. It announced that the increase was modest overall. But some people found that their premiums tripled. And this is becoming more common across the country. In California, for example, insurance companies are restricted to doubling their rate in a single year. And cases of doubling year after year have been noted.

Previously, people who had insurance as part of a large group, such as through their work place, felt secure that the cost of their insurance would remain relatively stable from year to year. At worst, the insurance won't cover pre-existing conditions.

But insurance companies have stepped up the practice of raising rates on people who have purchased insurance, even as part of larger groups, as these people develop medical problems. They have especially done this to employees at small work places, but this practice is spreading to larger and larger groups.


(New York Times, March 4) Meanwhile fewer and fewer workers are having health insurance paid as a benefit, or they may find that employers won't hire them if the insurance company will charge too much for their health insurance.

So if you have insurance, you can be sure of keeping it, provided you stay healthy. But should you have serious medical expenses, you may find that the cost of the insurance rises to the point of absurdity, and you have to abandon it. This is the American system of private enterprise health insurance, or unsurance, as one economist has put it. Your medical expenses will be paid, provided you are healthy. If you are sick, however, watch out.

The only way out is to provide a national and comprehensive system of health care. Private health insurance at its best left scores of millions of people out in the cold. And today it is proving incapable of coping with any of the major crises, such as the AIDS epidemic, and even of maintaining its level of coverage of the past.

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Health care workers rally in New York City

25,000 health care workers took to New York City streets against health cutbacks on February 7. Their anger was directed against a proposal by liberal Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo to slash about $1 billion in Medicaid payments to hospitals statewide.

The workers shouted "No cuts!" and "Tax the rich!" as they marched in mid-Manhattan to a rally at Columbus Circle. Also participating were patients who would be hurt by the cuts.

Cuomo's new cut would devastate the already crumbling health care system in New York. But liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, the bourgeois politicians serve the interests of the capitalists, not the working people.

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Health care industry has Congress in its pockets

Every Congressional politician is yapping about health care reform these days. But more important than their promises is the large and growing number of lobbyists for the health establishment, insurance companies, medical supply houses and pharmaceutical associations, and the funds they funnel into election campaigns. As the health care debate has heated up, the number of such groups with offices or paid lobbyists in Washington has risen from 117 in 1979 to 741 at present. (New York Times,March 18) Over the last decade, these groups have also lavished some $60 million in campaign contributions to candidates. The American Medical Association alone has spent about $12 million during this time.

Is it any wonder that nothing is done that would offend wealthy doctors, profit-hungry insurance companies, or fat medical supply houses? And beyond the health establishment, the bourgeois politicians are also beholden to corporate America as a whole, whose main interest in health is throwing the increasing cost of health care onto the shoulders of their workers. These corporations also want to spend as little as possible on work place safety and environmental controls. The result? Tens of millions of poor and working people go without basic medical or dental care, including growing numbers of children, although total spending on health care is higher than ever.

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Massachusetts to hike cost of health insurance

Massachusetts Governor Weld has plans to force state workers to pay 35% of the cost of their health insurance, up from 10% at present. At the same time he wants to freeze state workers' wages for a fifth straight year. Weld hopes to set 35% as the new standard not only for state workers but, also for MBTA (transit), city and town workers.

Weld of course says he is squeezing the state workers to help the beleaguered taxpayer. Garbage! Any serious look at his budget proposals will show that the tax breaks are for the rich. The average worker gets two dollars a week, if that, while the rich get millions. No wonder commercial and real estate interests call it: "a no holds barred business lobby wishlist." (Banker and Tradesman,Feb. 5.)

But on top of this, by forcing public sector workers to pay more for their health insurance Weld is helping create a climate where every private employer can do the same. Right now the average non-government worker who has insurance pays 25%. If the state goes to 35%, how long will it take for private employers to realize what they can get away with? Not long. State and local workers are not being squeezed for the poor working class taxpayer. They are being squeezed for the rich, plain and simple.

(Taken from February issue of the "Boston Worker," paper of the MLP-Boston.)

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On International Workers' Day: Say no to racism! Defend immigrant workers!


The world may be divided into nation states, but we all live in an increasingly integrated world capitalist economy. As goods and capital flow from one corner of the world to others, so does labor.

Today more than 40 million people cross national frontiers to work in other countries. Mexicans migrate to the U.S.; Arabs, Africans, and East Europeans go to West Europe; and South and East Asians work in the Middle East.

The lot of most migrant workers is a bitter one. Often they work in the lowest paying and hardest jobs. They live in miserable ghetto conditions. Add to that racism and police harassment to make sure that they "stay in their place," i.e., that they do not demand better wages and living conditions.

In today's economic hard times, racism against immigrant workers is growing around the world. It is spearheaded by ultra-right wing forces who want to gain political success with narrow-minded racist hysteria. Forces like David Duke and Pat Buchanan in the U.S. and neo-nazis in Germany. It is encouraged by governments and mainstream bourgeois political parties -- like George Bush and the European governments -- who also see its value in splitting up the working people.

International Workers' Day is a fitting time to reflect on the need for unity among workers of all nationalities. If the workers allow the racists to split our ranks, it is only we who will be weaker. The profit-makers will only stomp on the working class more easily.

Although we see growth in racist sentiment in many places against immigrants, it is not that everyone supports this. There is also increased resistance. And building this resistance is essential for the revitalization of the workers' movement.

Below we report on some examples of anti-immigrant outrages around the world and the resistance to them:

Anti-immigrant party wins more votes in France


Local and regional elections were held across France on March 23. These elections, showed that the French voters are alienated from the main established parties, and the ruling Socialist Party got a major drubbing. The campaign and the results also showed a disturbing development -- the rise to bourgeois respectability of the racist, right-wing National Front Party led by Jean-Marie Le Pen.

For years Le Pen has been preaching that all of France's problems should be blamed on immigrants, especially those from North Africa. With the deepening economic crisis, and the crisis of the major parties, this year Le Pen's party ended up with 14% of the vote.

The bourgeoisie interprets the vote to mean that the ruling Socialist Party must make even more concessions to the right, must adopt ever harsher anti-immigrant policies. But among the French people, there were also signs of spirited resistance to Le Pen.

During the campaign Le Pen's party was greeted with militant demonstrations throughout the country when it attempted to hold meetings and rallies.

On March 19, for example, 3,000 people turned out in Paris for a two-hour march against the National Front. A group of several hundred youth broke away and attempted to march directly on the site of the racist party's last election rally in the city. The police attempted to block them, and the anti-racist protesters resisted. They overturned cars and smashed store windows.

Anti-racist march in Spain


As in France, in Spain also the government is targeting immigrants from North Africa as the scapegoat for problems in the capitalist economy. Arab workers get blamed for social crime, drug traffic, etc. But the immigrant workers are organizing and getting support from the mass of Spanish working class people.

300 immigrants occupied a church in Barcelona in mid-February to dramatize their demand for residency permits. As a result of their protest the government sped up the processing of residency requests.

Then on February 23 some 40,000 people held a street demonstration in Barcelona to oppose the racist scapegoating of immigrant workers. Protesters demanded the repeal of the 1986 Alien Registration Law, which forced many immigrants into illegality. A popular slogan was "No to the Europe of the rich; no to racism."

Immigrant workers say no to racism in Sweden


Racist violence has been increasing in Sweden against immigrants. An Iranian- born student was murdered in November. And a series of shootings has taken place recently.

Immigrant groups called for a one- hour work stoppage to protest racism on February 21. Although the national union leaders gave lip service to the call, they did little or nothing to organize the action. The initiative to organize local and work place protests was taken up by immigrant workers and other activists.

A few places did indeed observe the one-hour stoppage. Other places halted work for a few minutes. And in the evening, demonstrations and torchlight marches were organized all over the country.

Bahrain deports runaway Asian workers


The government of Bahrain recently bragged that it has deported hundreds of Asian immigrant workers in the past few months. These workers were guilty of nothing more than quitting their jobs and seeking work from some other employer. This is a crime in Bahrain, where immigrants are supposed to remain tied like slaves to one capitalist master.

Bahrain is an oil-rich sheikdom in the Persian Gulf. Its system of exploiting immigrant labor is similar to that in Kuwait and the other emirates. Impoverished laborers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, etc. are brought into the country to work, but are not allowed any social or political rights. They cannot have trade unions, cannot ever become citizens, and cannot leave their capitalist lord no matter how abusive he is.

This is the wonderful system Bush and the other imperialists fought to defend in the Gulf war, when they said they wanted to "liberate" Kuwait.

[Photo: Immigrants march in Sweden against racist attacks.]

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D.C. police invade homeless shelter

A squad of federal marshals raided a homeless shelter one early morning in January. They woke the residents up, forced them to line up, and demanded IDs. Their identification was checked against a list of 7,000 outstanding warrants. Five people were arrested, two of them for traffic violations.

A shelter worker said the marshals had no search warrants. As well, the marshals admitted that, with one exception, they had no reason to believe that the persons cited in their list of outstanding warrants lived at the homeless shelter. There is no excuse for such high-handed harassment of the homeless. But the police justified the abuse by saying they had to control the situation because the homeless are "on drugs or deranged."

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The World on Struggle


Kurds resist Turkish oppression

Kurdish people are again being massacred. Warplanes are dropping bombs on them once more. But this tragedy is hardly being reported in the U.S. news media. And the Bush government does not even pretend to condemn the killings; instead it has declared its solidarity with the regime which is carrying out the brutal outrages.

The reason for this? It is the Kurds of Turkey who are being suppressed. And the Turkish bourgeoisie is a friend and ally of the U.S. government.

A new wave of struggle by the Kurds

Spring came to Turkish Kurdistan this year marking a new upsurge in the fight for freedom by this long-oppressed people. Newruz, the Kurdish new year, was celebrated by mass demonstrations and guerrilla attacks against the Turkish police and military.

On the weekend of March 21-22, protests broke out across southeastern Turkey where the Kurds live. Thousands poured out to celebrate Newruz in defiance of the authorities who have banned all demonstrations and refuse to let the Kurdish people have their own culture. Barricades went up to resist attacks by the police and military.

The government had massed 120,000 police and an unknown number of soldiers in the region to crush the Kurdish movement. Early reports indicate that the Kurdish demonstrators were met by brute force from these government forces. At least 50 people were killed over the weekend.

Kurdish guerrillas also opened an armed offensive against security forces with the celebration of the new year. They attacked police stations and patrol vehicles. Several policemen were killed. A Turkish bank was firebombed in Diyarbarkir.

The Turkish government also used its warplanes to attack guerrilla bases in northern Iraq. Dozens of people have been killed in these raids.

In Europe where many Kurdish refugees live, angry demonstrations were held in Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, etc. Police attacked the Kurdish protesters in several of these places.

Kurds face systematic oppression

More than 12 million Kurds live in Turkey. They are violently deprived of their national rights by the repressive, capitalist government. The Kurds are not allowed to use their language in schools or to publish Kurdish books. Until last year, it was even illegal to speak the Kurdish language in unofficial settings.

But the Kurdish people have never accepted this situation. At the cost of much pain and many sacrifices, they have kept alive their culture and persisted in their fight for freedom. Though their ranks are divided among those who want autonomy within Turkey and others who desire independence, the desire for the right to determine their own destiny is shared by all.

U.S. and European imperialism have armed Turkey

Last year during the Persian Gulf war, George Bush claimed to be the greatest friend of the Kurdish people -- the Kurds of Iraq. Of course, this was just a ploy. After having called on the Kurds to rise up against Saddam Hussein, Bush let them twist in the wind. To U.S. imperialism, the stability of a Ba-ath regime was preferable to the prospect of the Kurdish people being victorious. Bush was just playing a cynical game with the fate of the Kurds.

But the U.S. government does not even pretend to be against the oppression the Kurds face in Turkey. Turkey, after all, is a Western imperialist ally -- a longtime member of NATO. The warplanes bombing Kurds are U.S.- supplied. The guns and armored cars being used against Kurdish demonstrators have been provided by Germany. Last year during the Persian Gulf war, Turkey received fresh supplies of weapons from the U.S. and Germany.

TV pictures of German weapons being used against Kurdish rebels have embarrassed the German government. Bonn has protested attacks against Kurdish civilians and claims it is suspending arms shipments to Turkey. The German posture is a fraud. Who can believe them when they act oh-so shocked that weapons given to the Turkish police state are being used against the Kurds rather than "defense of a NATO partner"? It is no secret to anyone that the only wars Turkey has engaged in during recent decades have been against its own people and those in Cyprus.

But Washington feels no such embarrassment at all. It has responded to the latest massacres of Kurds in Turkey by turning reality upside down. The State Department said that it "condemned acts of terrorism...against officials and offices of the Turkish government." And, ignoring that the Turkish government still continues to deny the Kurdish people the right to have their own culture, the State Department said that it welcomes "the steps that the Turkey government has taken to allow all its citizens and specifically those of Kurdish descent, to exercise their human and cultural rights." Shooting demonstrators who want to celebrate the Kurdish new year -- that is how the U.S. sees Turkey respecting Kurdish cultural and human rights!

Here is another living example of Bush's "new world order." The rights of people be damned -- solidarity with murderous allies is what counts.

Turkey suppresses miners

The Turkish government is a thinly-veiled police state. But Turkey, with help from U.S. officials, claims to be a "modern and democratic" regime. Judge for yourself. Take a look at its role in the terrible mine disaster of early March.

Over 250 miners were killed in a coal mine near Kozlu when methane gas trapped in the mine exploded. The mine is owned and run by the government coal board, which says that its safety standards are "world class." This includes computer monitoring of methane gas levels. But despite the monitors, coal miners were given no warning of the high methane levels.

Last year coal miners demanded higher safety standards in the mines as part of their struggle in a two-month strike. But President Ozal met their demands with bayonets. The army was sent in to crush the strike, and Ozal said he would rather close the mines than agree to the workers' demands.

Since the mine disaster, police in the Kozlu area have arrested scores of people who were distributing leaflets about the explosion. Their crime: pointing out to the miners that the government's coal board is to blame for the fatal explosion and fire. Telling the truth to workers is a crime in "democratic" Turkey.

Puerto Rican workers fight austerity

Working people in Puerto Rico are beginning to organize resistance to the austerity drive that has decimated their living standards in recent years. Some examples include:

* 300 airport kitchen workers rallied outside San Juan's Luis Munoz Marin Airport on February 8 to protest the firing of unionized workers. The new owner of Airport Catering Service fired the workers and transferred their work to another, non-union shop. The kitchen workers are getting a lot of support from other sections of the working class in Puerto Rico.

* 500 teachers rallied outside the Education Department building in San Juan on February 7 to protest the nonpayment of scheduled raises. Puerto Rican Law 89 stipulates that teachers receive a raise of $ 19-25/month every five years. But the government, crying poverty, has refused to pay. At this point the government owes the teachers some $40-60 million in back pay.

* Sugar cane workers won a 30 cents an hour raise this year by threatening to strike against the state-owned Sugar Corporation. The sugar workers, who make between $3.85 and $5 per hour, refused to accept the Corporation's poverty plea.

The austerity drive of recent years has been impoverishing Puerto Rican workers, intensifying their misery. Average income is less than half that of Mississippi, the poorest U.S. state. To disrupt working class resistance, the Puerto Rican government is organizing an anti-immigrant campaign on the island, trying to blame immigrants from the Dominican Republic for the massive unemployment and poor living conditions.

[Photo: Teachers picket the Education Department in Puerto Rico.]

Students defy repression in Venezuela

Students in Venezuela have taken to the streets to defy the suspension of democratic rights following February's attempted military coup.

On March 19, hundreds attempted to march in Caracas to protest the government's repressive policy. They rallied in defiance of a government order not to demonstrate. After assembling in a poor neighborhood, they headed toward the city center. Police and national guardsmen attacked the demonstrators with tear gas and water cannons, but students fought back.

A week earlier, 25 people were arrested when police attacked another protest. That action was held to denounce the installation of a new cabinet by President Carlos Andres Perez.

Venezuela has seen increasing mass unrest among workers, students, and the poor over the last several months. The government has been following a right-wing capitalist economic policy which has enriched the wealthy few while driving down the conditions of the majority. As well, Perez' government officials are setting new records in skimming off the public treasury.

In February, some military officers sought to overthrow Carlos Andres Perez, taking advantage of popular discontent with the government. The coup attempt was put down. But Perez seized hold of the crisis to clamp down against the mass opposition among the working people. He banned demonstrations and censored the press.

However, as the recent student protests show, Venezuelans are starting to stand up against Perez' iron fist.

[Photo: Protesters clash with police in Caracas, March 11.]

Strikes in Nicaragua

Nicaraguan President Violeta Chamorro faces new strikes.

Some strikes and protests have been organized in the countryside by sugar cane workers. Workers are also resisting Chamorro's privatization schemes. For example, on February 11 employees of the national airline blocked the runway at Managua's airport to protest the plan to privatize the airline. Chamorro brushed aside the workers' demands and sent in the police to arrest them. Fifty- seven workers were thrown into jail and charged with "terrorism."

Chamorro is rapidly privatizing state-owned enterprises, including important sugar cane processing factories. These are sold off at a song to the rich. Chamorro doesn't even obey her own laws on privatization, and when the workers protest, the government replies with threats of pulling a Caracazco (like the recent repression against social protests in Caracas, Venezuela).

Living conditions are horrible, especially in the countryside where children are actually starving to death. Chamorro's plan is to keep wages below inflation, thus enforcing a steadily declining standard of living for workers. In this Chamorro has the support of imperialist financial institutions, which have given her some loans.

The Sandinista Party (FSLN), which claims to represent the toilers, is criticizing Chamorro for not privatizing according to her own laws. But they are generally supportive of her plan and have signed on to a concertacion (social pact) with Chamorro and the employers. In fights over privatization the Sandinistas try to mediate between Chamorro and the workers. They fight hard to maintain cushy positions for Sandinista managers, but the workers are pushed into the marginal economy of street peddling.

[Photo: Protest against jailing of airline workers in Nicaragua.]

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Schwarzkopf protested in Switzerland

On March 23rd, 300 people rallied in the town of Winterthur to denounce the visit of General Norman Schwarzkopf. Police demanded that the demonstrators disperse, and then launched a vicious attack with tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons. Protesters fought back by throwing rocks.

Schwarzkopfs visit to Switzerland was protested in many cities. He is seen as a symbol of the mass destruction carried out by the U.S. during the Persian Gull war.

Strikes break out in Serbia

Workers in their thousands blocked traffic in Belgrade during the last week of March. They protested against plummeting living standards. Dozens of strikes have taken place.

The country is facing spiraling monthly inflation, largely caused by the government freely printing currency to pay for the war against Croatia.

Public workers strike in Greece

Many public sector workers in Greece stayed off the job on March 10. Those striking included postal, telephone, railway, electrical and transit workers. Mass demonstrations were held outside the Ministry of Economics in Athens.

The workers are protesting Premier Mitsotakis' proposed legislation to freeze all public sector wages for this year. He also plans to cut social welfare spending.

Police attack striking sweepers in Bangladesh

Municipal employees in Dhaka are out on strike. On the evening of March 12, strikers in one neighborhood were set upon by a gang of armed men. When the workers resisted, police surrounded the area and launched a massive attack with clubs and tear gas.

The gas engulfed the neighborhood, causing residents to panic and run. More than a hundred people, including women and children, were badly hurt. At least one infant was killed.

The sweepers took the body of the murdered baby and organized a protest march to newspaper offices and the Press Club.

Workers take a stand in Niger

Niamey, the capital of Niger, was shut down by a general strike on March 2. Workers opposed the demands of mutinous army troops, who threatened to throw the country into militarist chaos. Niger is a country of seven million people in West Africa. For decades it has slumbered under military dictatorship. But now the tyranny is beginning to break up and the working class is making itself felt in political matters.

Workers oppose inflation in Lebanon

Workers in Lebanon staged a nationwide strike on March 6. They shut down factories, schools and businesses including Beirut airport. The strike protested the skyrocketing inflation which has made wages paid in the national currency virtually worthless.

After the strike the government mandated a 60% wage raise, but followed this with yet another devaluation of the currency, wiping out the workers' raise. At last report the trade unions were considering another general strike.

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