Fight Back! - News and Views from the People's Struggle This newspaper exists to build the people's struggle! We provide coverage and analysis of some of the key battles facing working and low-income people. es MN Anti-War Committee celebrates 20 years of fighting U.S. imperialism <p>Minneapolis, MN - On December 8 the MN Anti-War Committee celebrated its 20th anniversary at the Hook &amp; Ladder Theater in Minneapolis. The event featured music by Chickpea, Garbanzo and Refried, Mestifonia, Calliope Women’s Chorus and the Unlawful Assembly marching band. Interspersed through the event were spoken word artists Angelica and Aisha, Paul Dosh and the Anti-War Committee’s own Misty Rowan. The event had toasts from local activists celebrating the contributions the Anti-War Committee has made to fighting U.S. imperialism and to helping build social movements of resistance in the Twin Cities.</p> <p>Meredith Aby-Keirstead, a founding member of the Anti-War Committee, told the full theater about their committee’s experience leading civil disobedience, leading protests of tens of thousands and resisting FBI repression.</p> <p>Aby-Keirstead explained, “In 2010 the Anti-War Committee and many activists, including AWC members, who organized the protest at the 2008 Republican National Convention protests were raided and subpoenaed by the FBI to testify at a grand jury in Chicago. We were targeted because of our international solidarity with Palestine and Colombia. As one of three mothers of kids under six in the AWC who was subpoenaed I can honestly say this was a terrifying time. But it was also a time filled with a lot of love and support - especially from people in this room! We didn’t cooperate. We didn’t allow ourselves to be pitted against each other or to help the investigation into our movement.”</p> <p>Aby-Keirstead continued, “The good part of the story is that none of us were arrested or imprisoned because of two important actions taken right here in Minneapolis. We shined a light on the efforts to intimidate us and wouldn’t allow them to silence us and you - the movement here and around the country - protested and defended the right to protest and defended us. We stood together and said being anti-war is not a crime! That attack by the FBI could have been the end of the Anti-War Committee but it wasn’t! In fact today we are a vibrant anti-war group with tons of new members today and just last year led a protest of over 10,000 people against Trump’s racist Muslim ban!”</p> <p>The Anti-War Committee's turnout and speeches showed the strong and unity of this longtime activist organization. Many people left the party expressing their desire that the AWC continue to stand up and fight back against U.S. aggression and intervention.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Antiwar Movement Minnesota Anti-War Committee Thu, 13 Dec 2018 03:33:09 +0000 Fight Back 7139 at New Yorkers march against repression in Philippines on Human Rights Day <p>New York, NY - Around 60 New Yorkers gathered in front of the Consulate General of the Philippines, December 10, in Manhattan to mark the 70th anniversary of Human Rights Day. On this day in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).</p> <p>The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) called for the rally on the cold December evening. Chants could be heard throughout the streets, such as, “No justice! No peace! Stop the killings in the Philippines!” and “Defend democracy! Rise, resist, unite against Duterte’s tyranny!”</p> <p>The spirited group of protesters marched to Trump Towers after a round of speeches and singing, <em>We Shall Overcome</em>. They passed by the tourist-heavy Rockefeller Center and out-of-towners stopped ogling the giant Christmas tree to take pictures of the marchers.</p> <p>Jessica Schwartz from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression-NY gave a speech connecting U.S. imperialism and the human rights abuses abroad, stating, “That is why when we oppose Duterte, when we oppose Trump, we must fight for an end to the entire U.S. war machine. We here in the belly of the beast must continue speaking out, no matter what threats and intimidation we receive. From New York to the Philippines, stop the U.S. war machine!”</p> <p>The evening ended with a speaker from ICHRP, who announced their new campaign to have the U.S. stop sending aid to Philippine military and police.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Antiwar Movement Human Rights Day ICHRP International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines Filipinas Universal Declaration of Human Rights Wed, 12 Dec 2018 03:58:34 +0000 Fight Back 7138 at Interview with MLPD Chairwoman Gabi Fechtner on fighting the right in Germany <p><em>Fight Back!</em> interviewed Gabi Fechtner, Chairwoman of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD), on the fight against the ultra-right in Germany and the current political situation.</p> <p><em><strong>Fight Back!</strong></em>: The capitalist media have reported much about the activity of the ultra-right and fascists in Germany. What has happened and how does the MLPD react?</p> <p><strong>Gabi Fechtner</strong>: In Germany we witness a rightward development of the grand coalition under chancellor Merkel, and of the bourgeois parties. This has led to a societal polarization in which, among the masses, there is a progressive change of mood as well as an effect of this trend to the right.</p> <p>Whereas less than 600,000 people participated in people's struggles and mass protests in 2017, through 21 October 2018 there were already 1.15 million participants. We have to count in addition - more than 2 million workers who took part in militant strikes for collective agreements at the beginning of the year. This year more than 3 million people have taken part in protests and demonstrations which were mostly directed politically against this development to the right. The MLPD, its youth league Rebell, and the Internationalist Alliance of progressive and revolutionary forces is actively participating in these activities in all parts of Germany and is growing into a new societal role.</p> <p>At the same time, the rightward development of the government prepared the ground for the so-called Alternative for Germany (AfD). Since 2015 the proto-fascist AfD has entered the German parliament and all regional parliaments and has established itself there. On 27 August in Chemnitz, several thousand fascists from all over Germany, supporters of the proto-fascist AfD, and hooligans bawled fascist slogans, hunted foreign-looking people and attacked anti-fascists.</p> <p>Against this, anti-fascist mass protest has developed in the whole country. There the slogan put up by us, “Ban all fascist organizations.” is meanwhile very popular.</p> <p>It is important not to underestimate the struggle over the mode of thinking on a mass scale against the social demagogy of the AfD. The AfD is paving the way for fascism, but is being presented in the media as a ‘protest party’ against those in power. Not every AfD voter is a right-wing person, but AfD’s reactionary propaganda against refugees definitely has an effect. We have distributed an extra brochure on this question, with a circulation of 50,000 copies.</p> <p>The progressive change of mood has to assert itself against rightist tendencies among the masses. For this we consolidate and develop our system of patient and systematic work among the masses.</p> <p><em><strong>Fight Back!</strong></em>: Do the ultra-rightists have influence on the trade union movement? If yes, how does the MLPD struggle against this?</p> <p><strong>Fechtner</strong>: The AfD has influence on backward workers with a low class consciousness. It even tries to extend its positions in particular there, but succeeds at this only among a minority. A new phenomenon is the growing protest against the AfD in the trade unions. Thus, in the last few weeks there have been protests against the AfD by union-organized industrial workers, among other things at Opel in Eisenach, Daimler in Sindelfingen or Volkswagen in Kassel. In most cases our comrades play a decisive role in this.</p> <p><em><strong> </strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>Fight Back!</strong></em>: Which role does the question of migrants in Germany play, and what happens with the movement for the protection of the rights of migrants and refugees?</p> <p><strong>Fechtner</strong>: One has to stress that there is a broad movement of solidarity with the refugees among the masses. An official study from the beginning of the year established that since 2015, 55% of the population have shown practical solidarity with refugees. In the “Seebrücke” (Sea Bridge) movement alone – against the death of thousands of refugees in the Mediterranean Sea – more than 150,000 people have participated in demonstrations and protests since June 2018.</p> <p>For a brief period in 2015 the Merkel government allowed 890,000 refugees into the country; now it pursues an ultra-reactionary policy towards refugees. Thus, in July 2018 only 13,000 refugees managed to come here. Ugly propaganda is being spread against refugees. Allegedly, the crime rate in Germany has exploded since 2015. However, according to the official criminal statistics it is at its lowest level in 25 years!</p> <p>In our work the proletarian policy towards refugees has become a trademark. We take the basic line that as communists we absolutely do not accept that there are first-class and second-class people.</p> <p><em><strong>Fight Back!</strong></em>: What do you think of the resignation of Angela Merkel, and what does this mean regarding the direction of German policy?</p> <p><strong><em>Fechtner</em></strong>: The parties of the grand coalition are in a deep crisis of confidence. According to the latest opinion poll, SPD and CDU/CSU would get only 41% of the votes; in 2005 they still got almost 70% of the votes in the federal elections. The masses increasingly are searching for a societal alternative.</p> <p>Angela Merkel has up till now stepped down only as chairwoman of the CDU, not as chancellor. This serves the dampening of the contradictions after various CDU defeats in the elections. The dispute about the successor to Merkel is a test for the future course of the government. All three candidates (Merz/Kramp-Karrenbauer/Spahn) seeking to succeed her as chairperson of the CDU represent a reactionary direction and a deepening of the development to the right. However, there definitely are different views as to how this is to be sold to the masses. Merz especially, until recently a boss at BlackRock, is a demagogic hard-liner who stands for more open internal and external reaction.</p> <p>The MLPD and the Internationalist Alliance have long been demanding the resignation of the government and new elections. We fight to stop the rampant rightward development through the struggle of the masses, while building up the Internationalist Alliance and strengthening the socialist alternative.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Capitalismo y Economía Socialism Anti-fascism Anti-racism Europa Gabi Fechtner Germany Internacional Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany Merkel Tue, 11 Dec 2018 21:58:21 +0000 Fight Back 7136 at Venezuela: Wages, prices and lessons in working-class power <p>Chicago, IL - In the months since President Nicolás Maduro’s re-election, the Venezuelan bourgeoisie - more politically and socially isolated than at any point in their history - has launched into a vicious struggle against the working class, which is rising to a position of revolutionary potential not yet seen.</p> <p>Unable to struggle politically, as their parties have worked themselves into irrelevance with their embrace of fascist violence and open affiliation with the U.S. government, the bourgeoisie are increasingly battling the working class at the source of their irreconcilability: the point of production.</p> <p>The Venezuelan bourgeoisie and its landlord allies, is a class in open contempt with the present reality. This contempt takes a violent form in the countryside, where the big landlords order the killings of communists among the farmworkers and campesinos. In the cities, this contempt takes a more well-known form - workers are illegally fired, collective contracts are blatantly ignored and union militants are harassed by bought-off police on the laughable charge of “acts of hate” against their employer.</p> <p><strong>Prices: Workers held hostage by the rich</strong></p> <p>While this repression targets organized workers specifically, the bourgeoisie lashes out against all working people in general with their price hikes. Since 2013, the Venezuelan state has had the power to set the price for basic goods and services through the Law of Just Prices. The Maduro government enters into negotiations with the largest privately-owned companies to win them over to the new prices, which are then announced and implemented across the country.</p> <p>In October, new “agreed prices” were declared by Maduro, timed with the Labor Ministry’s announcement of a new national minimum wage at BsS 1800, the first minimum wage pegged to the new currency. Workers could finally afford to shop at grocery stores without spending their entire paychecks, which has been the norm during these brutal years of corporate economic warfare.</p> <p>Relief, however, was short-lived. Grocery store chains that had agreed to the new prices suddenly changed course and raised prices how they saw fit. Outrage soared. Officers of the SUNDDE (National Superintendence for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights) occupied what stores they could to enforce the agreed prices, but they could not be everywhere at once, and when they left stores prices rose once again.</p> <p>While the agreed prices were made irrelevant, employers made use of the confusion around the new wage table - implemented by the Labor Ministry, which adjusted other wages according to the new minimum wage - to go on the offensive against trade unions. They attempted to scrap union contracts as irrelevant under the new currency and fired worker militants. Functionaries in the Labor Ministry, tasked with defending workers, looked the other way.</p> <p><strong>Workers on the march</strong></p> <p>These attacks were not taken lying down - they are responded to with the march of the working class. At the head of this mobilization, bringing together great swathes of the labor movement and broader working class, stand the communists. On November 8, two assemblies were held in Caracas - the National Gathering of the Working Class held by Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Popular Unity (UPRA), and the National Gathering for Class Struggle Unionism held by the National Front for Working Class Struggle (FNLCT). Both mass fronts are connected to the revolutionary parties of the working class - UPRA to the Revolutionary Party of Labor (PRT), while the FNLCT to the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV).</p> <p>Out of these assemblies, which each brought together hundreds of delegates from trade unions, communes and social movements, came similar demands: a raise in the new national minimum wage, which had actually led to sharp wage cuts; the reinstatement of all illegally fired workers; a nationally-enforced freeze of prices and swift justice to any business owners that refuse to cooperate; and the removal from the Labor Ministry of any corrupt elements.</p> <p>Following the lead of the FNLCT and UPRA, thousands of workers have mobilized across the country, holding demonstrations outside of government buildings and the local chambers of commerce. Both have demonstrated outside of the Constituent National Assembly, and their comrades within the legislature have ensured their voices are heard.</p> <p>Alongside of these political demonstrations, workers continue to seize greater power for themselves in the economy. A shining example of this can be seen in the state of Lara, where the statewide labor federation — the FBST-CCP Lara, led by the Marxist-Leninist Labor Current — has taken up the task of transforming the workers into the organized vanguard they need to be. Every day they organize more workers in their state to form workers’ productive councils (CPTs) to directly take control of the means of production. There is nothing that the bourgeoisie fears more.</p> <p>These demonstrations are not anti-government — there is no opposition to “worker president” Nicolás Maduro or “comrade Minister” Eduardo Piñate. They are demonstrations for the advance of the Bolivarian Revolution to a new stage. They are demonstrations of workers who can no longer tolerate half-measures in the struggle. As the FBST-CCP Lara said in their press statement on the recent crisis, "What we have won with our lives, our victories will not be negotiated over with the parasitic bourgeoisie, much less when they do not respect the agreements of the prices of products. No more conciliation with the enemies of the people.”</p> <p>The demonstrations have been met with positive moves. At the beginning of December, Maduro announced that the minimum wage would be raised, from BsS 1800 to BsS 4500. While time will tell if this will have a long-lasting impact on wages (hyperinflation is still a problem, although much less so under the new currency), this is nonetheless an improvement, and a direct response to the workers. On December 8, Labor Minister Piñate addressed the outrage over price hikes, and stated that the only way to end speculation lies in the seizure of production by the workers. “It is the workers who really know the costs of production,” said the Minister, “and this is one of the CPTs’ tasks in the public and private sectors, to put themselves at the head of production and in the struggle against speculation. It is a very important task.”</p> <p><strong>Some lessons</strong></p> <p>Venezuela still remains within the confines of capitalist social relations. Swathes of the economy are state-owned, yes. And workers organized into communes or workers productive councils continue to surge, taking control of this factory or that workplace, ensuring that the new economy will work in their interests. But the bourgeoisie remains, and its claws are dug deep, particularly in the service and distribution sectors. This is why the economic war is felt the most on the shelves of grocery stores - it is where the bourgeoisie has its firmest grasp.</p> <p>Prices decided on by the national government matter little when the bourgeoisie refuses to cooperate. Setting a new wage table that seeks to “emancipate the working class” (in the words of Eduardo Piñate) cannot happen in an economy that is still unplanned and still belonging to a parasitic class. And the revolutionary caliber of a government minister matters little when many of the functionaries on all levels are crooks, willing to work for the bourgeoisie that is the source of all of their country’s woes.</p> <p>But the workers are in motion, and once they have begun their march to liberation they can be unstoppable. Communists in Venezuela have long argued that socialism can only come to their country once the working class comes into leadership of the Bolivarian Revolution. With workers winning victory after victory, and with their exploiters desperately holding on to what power they can, it seems that this question of leadership may soon be answered.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Nicolás Maduro Venezuela Mon, 10 Dec 2018 21:49:41 +0000 Fight Back 7135 at Chicago charter school strikers win major victory <p>Chicago, IL - The 500 striking Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) members at 15 UNO/Acero charter schools won a major victory in the early morning of December 9, when a tentative agreement was reached.</p> <p>Chris Baehrend, the chairman of the Charter Division of the CTU stated, “This is a victory for students, parents, teachers and all staff. Because we stayed united, we won smaller class sizes, sanctuary schools, a reduced school year and equal pay with district [non-charter] teachers.”</p> <p>CTU educators at UNO/Acero schools have been on strike since Tuesday, December 4, and have held the picket lines at their schools with parents and other supporters.</p> <p>The strike was the first of a charter operator in the nation.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Strikes Teachers Unions undefined Mon, 10 Dec 2018 01:03:31 +0000 Fight Back 7134 at Day 4: CTU charter school teachers continue strike <p>Chicago, IL - UNO/Acero teachers and paraprofessionals continue to strike at 15 schools, December 7. Since Tuesday, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) educators at UNO/Acero schools have held the picket lines and protested for more classroom resources, smaller class sizes, sanctuary protections for their immigrant students and fair wages—particularly for low-wage paraprofessionals.</p> <p>The strike is the first of a charter operator in the nation. It began almost five years to the day after the charter operator's previous CEO was forced to resign for doling out insider contracts and living large on public dollars that should have bankrolled schoolbooks and student supports.</p> <p>On Friday, December 7, UNO/Acero management filed unfair labor practice charges - a ULP - against the CTU, based on bogus allegations that even the charter operator's lawyers described as 'hearsay' and the union described as a desperate press stunt. On Saturday, Latinx elected officials publicly blasted Rodriguez, telling him to either reach a fair agreement with strikers or resign.</p> <p>A rally of strikers, parents, neighborhood residents and labor allies will take place on Sunday, December 9, at 1 p.m. at the CTU union hall at 1901 W. Carroll Avenue.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo charter schools Chicago Teachers Union Strikes Teachers Unions UNO/ACERO charter school network Sun, 09 Dec 2018 03:24:44 +0000 Fight Back 7133 at France: The WFTU on the side of the French workers <p><em>Fight Back News Service is circulating the following statement from the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU).</em></p> <p>The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) expresses its solidarity with the workers and people of France who are fighting against the policy of high prices and excessive taxation of the French government and at the same time are protesting against the anti-labor policies of the European Union and the IMF. The international class-oriented trade union movement joins its voice to that of the working youth in France, with the homeless, the unemployed, the new-poor, immigrants for a world without capitalist exploitation.</p> <p>The police state and state violence highlight the role of the state and the goals of the bourgeoisie. President Macron’s maneuvers to weaken protests through false and hypocritical social dialogues should not trap the working class and the people. The class unions, the class-oriented vanguard can significantly help the people masses, leaving their own mark, giving the orientation, the content and the appropriate forms of struggle, isolating the neo-fascist and racist elements, in order to strengthen the struggle and the anti-capitalist claims.</p> <p><strong>Long live internationalist solidarity!<br /> The WFTU Secretariat</strong></p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Europa WFTU World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) Sun, 09 Dec 2018 03:21:32 +0000 Fight Back 7132 at Weak jobs report feeds recession fears, stock market falls again <p>San José, CA - On Friday, December 7, the Department of Labor released its report on the job market in November. There was a net gain of 155,000 jobs, less than the predicted 200,000 and less than the average gains for the first ten months of the year. While the official unemployment rate stayed the same at 3.7%, the broadest measure of unemployment, which includes part-time workers who can’t find full-time work, ticked up to 7.6%, more than twice the official rate.</p> <p>The weakness in the job market followed other economic reports that showed signs of a weaker economy. In particular, housing construction and business spending on buildings and equipment have weakened of late. These are the two sectors that lead the economy into a recession. Even before the stock market tumble of the last month, two-thirds of economists predicted a recession by the end of 2020.</p> <p>The weak economy, combined with more tensions with China, pounded the stock market again. A broad measure of stock prices, the S&amp;P 500, which includes 500 of the largest U.S. corporations, fell another 2.3%, and is now down for the entire year. Other indices, such as the popular Dow Jones Industrial Average and the technology-heavy NASDAQ also fell.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Capitalismo y Economía stock market Sat, 08 Dec 2018 17:00:35 +0000 Fight Back 7131 at Centro CSO rallies in support of refugee caravan <p>Los Angeles, CA - Community members and activists of Centro CSO held a rally and donation drive, December 1, in a busy street intersection of Boyle Heights to support of the Central American refugee caravan whose participants are currently seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana, Baja California.</p> <p>Chants and signs such as “Legalization for all,” “Jesús was a refugee” and “No human is illegal” were held by members of Arabs Against Hate and the Los Angeles Catholic Worker while the community stopped by and dropped off donations such as blankets, clothes, food and other personal necessities to be delivered to the southern border and given to refugees.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Centro CSO Inmigrantes Sat, 08 Dec 2018 16:57:45 +0000 Fight Back 7130 at Immigrant rights activists celebrate city council vote to create a Minneapolis Municipal ID <p>Minneapolis, MN - Immigrant rights activists celebrated as the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously, at their final meeting of the year, December 7 to create a new Minneapolis Municipal ID.</p> <p>The immigrant rights movement has led the push for creating municipal identification cards in cities around the country, especially within states where immigrants are excluded from obtaining drivers licenses or other official government identification. Minneapolis will be the second city in Minnesota to create a Municipal ID, following Northfield. Other than being useful for immigrants, Municipal IDs are also generally supported by and seen as beneficial to transgender and gender non-binary people, by people with housing instability, and by people too young to get other forms of identification. They often include benefits that are broadly appealing including discounts to cooperating businesses and institutions as well as reciprocal use as a bank card, and for public services such as libraries and public transportation. Many such features are in the works for the Minneapolis Municipal ID, according to speakers at a press conference immediately preceding the City Council meeting.</p> <p>At the press conference, community activists Victor Ramírez-Juárez of the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC), Jovita Morales of the Minnesota Immigrant Movement (MIM) and Roxy Anderson of the Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition spoke about the importance of a Municipal ID to their communities. They spoke along with Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, city council members Alondra Cano, Cam Gordon, Lisa Bender and Philippe Cunningham and leaders of public and private institutions that have pledged to add features to the Municipal ID to make it broadly appealing and successful.</p> <p>At the press conference, Jovita Morales talked about the grassroots efforts of the immigrant women’s group Mujeres en Liderazgo that started the movement for a Minneapolis Municipal ID a decade ago, and the long struggle to get to this point. Victor Ramírez-Juárez said, “MIRAC demands a true sanctuary city and the Municipal ID is one important step towards that goal. We thank the city for their progress in achieving accomplishing several of our Sanctuary Platform demands goals, including U Visa reform, establishing an Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, and ‘Know your ICE rights’ placards in police cars. But there is much more left to be done.” He also made a connection to the struggle against police brutality, expressing MIRAC’s support for creating a Minneapolis Police Accountability Council (MPAC).</p> <p>Immigrant rights movement activists say next steps will include efforts to expand the Municipal ID victory to other municipalities as well as to win drivers license access for all in Minnesota.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Anti-racism immigrant rights minneapolis MIRAc Municipal ID Inmigrantes Fri, 07 Dec 2018 23:44:06 +0000 Fight Back 7129 at