LA Strike: Self-Mobilization of Workers and Communities

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This is the first essay in a series that we are republishing and/or hosting on the recent United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) strike. Originally published on New Politics

In January 2019, a massive strike of over 30,000 public school teachers stunned the Los Angeles power structure when it received massive, almost unanimous public support, especially in the city’s large Latinx and Black communities.  Latinx students now make up 75% of the city’s over 600,000 public school students. Even the anti-labor Los Angeles Times, which had issued dire warnings ahead of the strike, felt compelled to run a front-page headline on the third day that began with the words, “L.A. Teachers Bask in support for strike.”

This support, and the sustained pickets and rallies of teachers, students, parents, and other community members, forced the school board of the LA Unified School District (LAUSD) to concede considerable ground.  Everywhere, the union placards of the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) were printed in both Spanish and English. The mass outpouring in favor of the strike also helped change the national conversation about the privatized charter schools that are eating away at public education. And just as the West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona teachers’ strikes of 2018 paved the way for this one in LA, so the LA strike is very likely to be followed by major teacher strikes in Oakland, Denver, and other cities.

What Teachers and Students Are Facing

Public schools are underfunded, overcrowded, lack adequate social services and are subject to the worst impulses of neoliberalism. These attacks on public education disproportionately affect poor students, students of color, immigrant children, students whose primary language is not English, and those with disabilities. For months and years, LA teachers have been demanding a modest wage increase along with lower class size, accountability for charter schools, more support staff (nurses, counselors, librarians, etc.), less standardized testing, re-investment in education programs, and a stop to random searches and policing of students. A previous strike in 1989 demonstrated how demanding only a wage increase was short-sighted. LAUSD did meet teachers’ demands in ’89 but also increased class size, cut down on support staff and programs, and heavily charterized the district.

By 2014, a slate backed by progressive caucuses brought a new leadership to the UTLA. Moreover, the reinvigorated union lost hardly any members despite the reactionary Supreme Court decision making it harder for public sector unions to maintain their membership by making it “voluntary” even for workplaces with union contracts.

As a result of the January 2019 strike, the teachers won something on all of these issues, although in some cases only marginally. The seven-day strike commenced on Monday, January 14, Teachers wore #redfored, in/with the spirit of their fellow teachers in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Arizona who had engaged in similar labor struggles in 2018. Teachers would report to their respective school site at 6.30 am and picket heavily during school drop-off. A daily rally was held in downtown LA at the LAUSD headquarters. After the rally, teachers would return to their schools to picket at the end of school. Other actions involved protesting at the homes of school superintendent Austin Beutner and Monica Garcia (one of the more obstinate board members). Beutner the new superintendent is an investment banker with no teaching or education administration background. He was also a deputy mayor under Antonio Villaraigosa and has ties to billionaire Eli Broad.

Supporters from many political leanings joined teachers on the picket lines. In particular, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)-LA, the International Socialist Organization (ISO), and Black Rose/Rosa Negra (BRRN) were among the leftist groups that were conspicuously in solidarity with teachers picketing and offering resources, while several from the International Marxist-Humanist Organization (IMHO) participated as individuals. Teachers also coordinated their strike activity with other labor actions across the city.

Continue reading “LA Strike: Self-Mobilization of Workers and Communities”

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Sunday, April 29 – War and the Fascist Threat: From the Global to the Local

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The Coalition for Peace, Revolution & Social Justice invites you to a panel discussion:

WAR AND THE FASCIST THREAT: FROM THE GLOBAL TO THE LOCAL

Sunday, April 29, 2018, 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Westside Peace Center
3916 Sepulveda Blvd., near Venice Blvd. (free parking in rear-reserve spacing not in effect on weekends)
Suite 101-102, press #22 at door to get into building
Culver City (LA area)

Speakers:

Ali Kiani, International Marxist-Humanist Organization, on war and authoritarianism in Middle East
Michael Novick, Anti-Racist Action, roots of fascism in colonialism
Mimi Soltysik, Socialist Party, on alt right speakers on campus
Jamie Garcia, Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, on the surveillance state

Report-back from Year 2 of Trump: L.A. Rise Up!

Last night, January 26, 2018, the Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice (CPRSJ) sponsored a banner drop on the theme of observing the onset of Year 2 of the Trump Regime, calling on L.A. to Rise Up! in downtown Los Angeles. We had positive responses from several motorists and passersby, and also held a brief rally with speeches by Mimi Soltysik of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition on police surveillance, Ali Kiani of the International Marxist-Humanist Organization (IMHO) on war threats and imperialism in the Middle East, and Silvia La Rote of the Black Rose/Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation (BRRN) for an update on the J20 protesters and resisting the criminalization of social movements.

Responding to Capitalism’s Wars at Home and Abroad: Sunday, January 14, 2018

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Courtesy Fernando Martí, Justseeds

Sunday, January 14, 2018, 6:15 PM

Art Share

801 East Fourth Place (Arts District), Los Ángeles

(Free parking in roof lot across the street on Hewitt St. by the Aztec calendar, also accessible by Metro)

Sponsored by the Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice (CPRSJ)

Speakers:

Hamid Khan, Stop LAPD Spying Campaign, on domestic surveillance

Maureen Cruise and Kirsten Magnuson, Health Care for All-Los Angeles, beyond Obamacare

Kevin B. Anderson, UCSB Professor and CPRSJ, on Trump’s wars and war threats

Ali Kiani, International Marxist-Humanist Organization, on Iranian uprising

The thoroughly reactionary processes put into motion by the Trump regime range from wars, threats of wars, and an increase in the international arms trade, to the wars on working people and people of color here in the U.S. These include increased police surveillance and the attempts to abolish Obamacare. Trump’s open support of racial and gender hierarchies and of authoritarianism represent, along with his economic nationalism, new politics with fascist overtones. But the way for these policies was prepared by a series of neoliberal administrations, from Clinton, to Bush, to Obama. And while the U.S. is by far the world’s largest and most aggressive imperialist power, it is not alone in threatening or making war, or in repressing its people and lowering its living standards. This has been shown by the uprising by Iranian workers. We need to rise up, not by fighting for a return to the neoliberal Obama years, but by deepening the struggle against both Trump and the system that produced him.

Sponsors of the CPRSJ:

Black Rose/Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation-Los Angeles

Campus Marxist-Humanists, UCSB

International Marxist-Humanist Organization, West Coast Chapter

Socialist Party, Los Angeles Local

Members of Solidarity: A Socialist, Feminist, Anti-Racist Organization, Los Angeles Branch

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/CPRSJ/

https://cprsj.wordpress.com/

Speeches from October 27 CPRSJ Demonstration against War Threats over Korea and Iran: An Iranian-American Perspective

by Ali Kiani, International Marxist-Humanist Organization (IMHO)

There is growing risk of a U.S.-Korea war. After Trump’s speech at the United Nations, where he declared that there will be no North Korea left after a U.S. attack, and the recent attack of U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Iran in the United Nations Security Council, there can be no doubt that the possibility of war is real. In fact, with war in Syria, Yemen, and the recent war between Iraq and the Kurdish Peshmerga, I have to say that it has already started. The political contradiction of imperialism today is centered in the Middle East and the eyes of the world should be focused on this deeply troubled region. This is because what Trump has planned for Korea is certainly linked to the Middle East and the military presence of Russia in that region, which should be considered a matter of urgency for all Marxist, socialist, humanist and progressive anti war peace activists today. The violence of “imperialist peace time ” is over and we are entering the violence of an era of imperialist war in the capitalist system. This brings a growing risk of wars between the U.S. and North Korea, and of the U.S. and Iran. The aggression of U.S. in the Middle East and the response to it of reactionary governments of North Korea, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Turkey, which are willing to sacrifice their own people’s humanity and even existence to stay in power, means that a surprise attack could be started from anywhere. This could escalate to a form of chemical or nuclear attack that could cost the lives of millions of people. It can only be stopped by a united front of revolutionary and progressive forces, of anticapitalist antiwar activists around the world fighting to stop neofacist rightwing racist actions of Trump.

Call to Action: Stop U.S. War Threats Against North Korea and Iran!

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Call for Demonstration by the Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice (CPRSJ)

Friday, October 27, 6PM: Westwood Federal Building, Veteran and Wilshire

 

Stop US war threats against North Korea!

Stop US war threats against Iran!

Abolish nuclear weapons everywhere and the capitalist system that produced them!

 

Trump’s aggressive moves over Korea and Iran have taken us closer to nuclear war than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. In threatening before the United Nations to destroy both the regime and the 25 million people of North Korea, Trump crossed a barrier not seen even at the height of the Cold War. Therefore, it is imperative that concerned people who see these threats as madness gather publicly to express our opposition, not only to Trump and to the capitalist system on which he stands, but also to all other powers, great and small, which threaten their neighbors and their own people with war and repression. As citizens and residents of the US, we feel a special responsibility to do everything we can to stay the hand of the most vicious, authoritarian, and warmongering administration in our history.

Please join us on October 27!

 

Sponsors of the CPRSJ:

Alliance of Syrian and Iranian Socialists

Black Rose/Rosa Negra Los Angeles

Campus Marxist Humanists, UC Santa Barbara

International Marxist-Humanist Organization, West Coast branch

Socialist Party of USA, Los Angeles chapter

Members of Solidarity, a Socialist, Feminist, Anti-Racist Organization

Endorsers of the October 27th action:

San Gabriel Valley Anarcha-Feminism

Los Angeles Anarchist Book Fair Collective

Stop LAPD Spying Coalition

Dyne Suh, JD UCLA and Korean-American rights activist

Douglas Kellner, UCLA professor

Rev. Jim Conn, former mayor of Santa Monica and social activist

Peter McLaren, Chapman University professor

John Foran, UCSB Professor

Report-back from CPRSJ Launch in Los Angeles, July 14

On July 14, Bastille Day, nearly fifty people came to the Westside Peace Center for the first public meeting of the Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice (CPRSJ). There was a healthy mix of younger and older activists with representation of much of LA’s ethnic diversity as well.

Four speeches were given by representatives of groups that convened the Coalition: Frieda Afary from the Alliance of Syrian and Iranian Socialists, Zach Medeiros from Socialist Party USA, Javier Sethness from Black Rose/Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation, and Kevin B. Anderson from the International Marxist-Humanist Organization. The speeches have been posted at the Coalition website here.

A lively debate followed about the Coalition’s published Principles of Unity, its membership, actions for the future, and strategies for moving forward. Representatives of several other organizations participated in the discussion, which centered on issues like our position of targeting all imperialist powers, including but not limited to the U.S., and the relationship of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity to building a solid movement in LA. Other discussion points included incorporating opposition to ableism into our work, especially in light of the leading role played by persons with disabilities in confronting the Republican assault on healthcare. Overall, support was high and most people in attendance felt that there was a need for a new revolutionary, anti-capitalist, and humanist anti-war coalition that opposes all forms of war and militarism, whether from the greatest global hegemon, the USA, or from other powers, great or small. At the same time, those in attendance who supported our work also wanted to keep the focus not only on war and imperialism abroad, but also on the fascist threat at home and the struggles against it on the part of working people, immigrants, people of color, women, the LGBTQIA community, and people with disabilities.

In the coming weeks, the Coalition will broaden its work, reaching out to the individuals and organizations that have expressed interest in working with us, and also to the broader LA community.

In the meantime, we encourage all of our supporters to subscribe via the Contact page on our website, and to download and distribute our Principles of Unity.