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. en Republicans blocking Extended Unemployment Compensation (EUC) in House <p>Washington, DC – Legislation to restore unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed is being blocked by House Republicans. The Senate passed a bill to reinstate jobless benefits April 7, but passage in the House is required to bring back extended unemployment insurance.</p> <p>The Democratic leadership did not insist on including a benefit extension in last December’s budget compromise, giving Republicans the power to stop legislation to restore Extended Unemployment Compensation. </p> <p>About 3 million workers have been denied jobless benefits since the program was allowed to expire late last December.</p> <p>House Democrats are circulating a discharge petition, which if signed by a majority of House members, would force an immediate vote on the measure. To date, the discharge petition has been signed by 193 House members. The House of Representatives has 233 Republicans and 199 Democrats.</p> Capitalism and Economy Capitalism Extended Unemployment Compensation Republican Agenda unemployment insurance worker's rights Fri, 18 Apr 2014 22:25:15 +0000 Fight Back 4036 at University of South Florida students demand “Hands off Ukraine” <p>Tampa, FL - Tampa Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and anti-war activists from the community protested U.S. interference in Ukraine at Senator Marco Rubio's office, April 16. Marco Rubio supports efforts in the U.S. Senate to increase U.S. intervention and spend billions of taxpayer dollars in Ukraine. Students made three demands at Rubio’s office on the University of South Florida campus: No more U.S. intervention in Ukraine or Crimea; Stop U.S. aid to the illegitimate Ukrainian regime; and Oppose U.S. sanctions against Russia.</p> <p>Students gave fiery speeches denouncing Rubio's support for U.S. intervention. Dani Leppo of Tampa SDS said, "For far too long, the imperialist aggression of the U.S. has caused bloodshed throughout the world. From Colombia to Venezuela, Iraq to Afghanistan, resources and lives are stolen in the name of spreading so-called ‘democracy.’ We must respect the people of Ukraine and Crimea.”</p> <p>When they finished speaking, the protesters marched into Rubio's office to present their demands. The office was closed off and locked however, so protesters left a letter to Rubio listing their demands.</p> <p>SDS pointed out that the U.S. spent trillions on wars and foreign interventions while people suffered at home. Tampa SDS member Bridget White noted, “It’s ridiculous that the U.S. is backing real life fascists in the Ukraine. Can’t they be using this money to lower tuition instead?”</p> <p>SDS vows to continue the struggle against imperialism, fascism and Nazism wherever it appears.</p> Antiwar Movement anti-fascism anti-war Senator Rubio Students for a Democratic Society Ukraine University of South Florida US imperialism Fri, 18 Apr 2014 19:34:56 +0000 Fight Back 4035 at Minnesota SDS protest confronts war criminal Condoleezza Rice <p>Minneapolis, MN - Hundreds of students and community members gathered outside of Northrop Auditorium at the University of Minnesota (U of M), on the evening of April 17, to protest an appearance by Bush White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Rice was speaking as an invited guest of the University’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.</p> <p>The crowd of over 250 protesters, led by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), heard speakers including professors David Pellow and August Nimtz, AFSCME 3800 President Cherenne Horazuk, Welfare Rights Committee member Deb Howze, Anti-War Committee member Sabri Wazwaz and representatives from other student groups such as Whose Diversity and Students for Justice in Palestine.</p> <p>Speakers condemned Rice as a war criminal whose misconduct during the Bush administration included direct responsibility for the use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques.’ This torture was systematically implemented by the CIA and used at Black Sites around the world as well as prisons like Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.</p> <p>Protesters gathered in front of Northrop exercised their rights to ‘free speech’ by defying police orders banning the use of amplified sound.</p> <p>In the weeks before Rice’s appearance, SDS worked with several professors on a University Senate resolution, modeled after a similar one passed at Rutgers University, condemning the visit of Rice. Though the resolution failed, over 200 professors signed a petition opposing her visit, her receiving of $150,000 to speak, and condemning her role in the Bush administration.</p> <p>Speaking to the rally, Stephanie Taylor of SDS stated, “Condoleezza is advocating for the erasure of history and the covering up of crimes committed.” Sociology Professor David Pellow spoke about how Rice’s ‘humanitarian’ work was done in places like Iraq with F-16 jets. He reminded the crowd that Rice was a board member for the Chevron Corporation which has been responsible for a long list of environmental disasters around the world. For her efforts, Rice had an oil tanker named after her. The name of the tanker was changed in the run up to the war on Iraq. Speaker Maggie Kilgo pointed out, “The illegal invasion of Iraq was predicated on the lie that Iraq had WMDs to disguise the fact that a great economic incentives provided a lucrative bounty to the American invaders and the private corporations that they brought with them.”</p> <p>In addition the record of illegal wars, occupation and systematic torture under the leadership of Rice and the Bush administration, SDS and other protesters highlighted that Rice, who was to speak about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, was bad choice to speak on the subject. In his open letter to Condoleezza Rice, U of M Humphrey School Roy Wilkins Professor of Human Relations and Social Justice Samuel Meyers, Jr. stated, “the argument is that you are black and a woman and even though you have expressed opposing views long held by the mainstream supporters of equal opportunity and fairness, and you are not an academic expert on the topic, your visit should be supported because, well, you are black and a woman!”</p> <p>Professor August Nimtz stated, “Hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of others” could have spoken to the “narrative about how a particular black family coped with, and refused to be broken by, that system” of white supremacy in the Jim Crow south. Nimtz himself grew up in the Jim Crow south in New Orleans and highlighted the fact that Rice was “missing in action” while some “90% of her cohorts made the decisive contributions for the victory, the Children’s Crusade, when the masses took to the streets.” Nimtz also highlighted her absence from struggles against apartheid in South Africa.</p> <p>Deb Howze of the Welfare Rights Committee told of the hypocrisy of Rice speaking on behalf of Civil Rights when Rice oversaw wars abroad that took billions of dollars to murder Iraqi’s including women and children while the women and children of the U.S. suffered and starved at home.</p> <p>After speaking in front of the auditorium, hundreds of protesters marched around the building and across campus. They returned to the side entry of Northrop where guests entered and were expected to exit from. Inside, during Rice’s speech several members of the audience wore orange jump suits and black hoods to protest her contributions of torture and crimes against humanity.</p> <p>Upon exiting the speech from Rice, hundreds of people were confronted by the protesters waiting outside the doors. Exiting guests had to walk through a canyon of loud protesters chanting slogans like “This is what democracy looks like, Rice is what hypocrisy looks like!”</p> <p>The protest led by SDS made it clear to Rice and the University of Minnesota that “War criminals are not welcome on our campus.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Antiwar Movement Condoleezza Rice SDS Students for a Democratic Society War crimes Student Movement Fri, 18 Apr 2014 16:57:59 +0000 Fight Back 4034 at Florida Sen. Negron blocking tuition equality, SDS calls emergency protests <p>Tallahassee, FL - On April 14, Senator Joe Negron released a statement announcing he is blocking SB 1400. SB 1400 is a bill in the Florida legislature to provide in-state tuition for undocumented students who attend high school in Florida. Negron is blocking the Appropriations Committee from hearing the bill before the end of legislative session. The Appropriations Committee is the third and final committee that SB 1400 needs to pass through before a full Senate vote. However, a motion can still be made within the Senate to call a vote of the bill on the floor.</p> <p>The bill has bipartisan support and great momentum behind it. The bill passed through the Florida House of Representatives as HB 851, with a vote of 81-33. Then SB 1400 passed through both the Education and Judiciary committees with votes of 5-4 and 7-2 respectively. Governor Rick Scott supports tuition equity and is prepared to sign the bill into law. The problem now is Negron.</p> <p>Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) is leading a campaign, with support on every campus, to demand in-state tuition for undocumented Florida students. SDS is spearheading the national Education for All campaign, and supports the Legalization for All movement to improve the lives of Dreamers and their parents and families.</p> <p>Students for a Democratic Society is organizing a call-in April 18 to Senator Jack Latvala. Please call Senator Latvala at 727-793-2797, and demand that he opts to save Senate Bill 1400 that will grant access to higher education for thousands of Florida undocumented students.</p> <p>Students will also be meeting with Senator Don Gaetz, president of the senate, at the capitol on April 21 to dissuade him from attempts to block moving the bill to the Senate floor.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> SB 1400 SDS Senator Joe Negron Students for a Democratic Society Tuition Equity Immigrant Rights Student Movement Fri, 18 Apr 2014 16:38:46 +0000 Fight Back 4033 at Photos from U of MN protest against war criminal Condoleezza Rice Antiwar Movement Student Movement Fri, 18 Apr 2014 02:42:50 +0000 Fight Back 4032 at Anti-war activist proudly pleads guilty to ‘disturbing’ U.S. war criminal General Petraeus <p>Grand Rapids, MI - Anti-war activist Deb Van Poolen appeared in the 61st District Court here, April 15, with a group of supporters. Van Poolen pled guilty to the charge of creating a disturbance on Jan. 31 at the DeVos Place Convention Center.</p> <p>With great interest, Judge Kim Schaefer asked the defendant if she had created a disturbance that day. Van Poolen proudly said, “Yes, I stood up and spoke in front of several hundred people, and I said, ‘General David Petraeus you are a war criminal responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children. I am a graduate of Calvin College and a follower of Jesus Christ and I am here to speak out.’”</p> <p>Judge Schaefer interrupted and asked what the effect was. Van Poolen responded, “Petraeus stopped speaking and then two men brought me outside.”</p> <p>Next Van Poolen’s lawyer David LeGrande spoke in her defense, saying, “It was an intentional act of civil disobedience. The tradition sees it as appropriate to break laws and deal with the consequences…to right injustice.” Defense attorney LeGrande continued, “She performed a public service by challenging militarism and the often unchallenged acts of aggression by the U.S. She is a full-time ideologue and I mean that in the best sense of the word. She has the support of local activists in court today and the support of communities in other parts of our country and the world.”</p> <p>Judge Schaefer, appreciating this exceptional plea in her court. asked if Van Poolen had any final comments.</p> <p>Van Poolen responded, “I was practicing free speech in a non-violent way. I did so with the sincere belief that, to call attention to the outrageous and immoral acts of U.S. leaders, civil disobedience is required. I hope my actions followed in the footsteps of other great and inspiring leaders.”</p> <p>Van Poolen is required to pay $160 in restitution as requested by the prosecution and about $300 in court costs and fees for a total near $460. She plans to enter a work program with other low-income women doing physical labor to pay off their debts to the justice system. Anti-war activists in Grand Rapids are also raising funds in solidarity with her bold action.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Antiwar Movement Deb Van Poolen General Petraeus Political Repression Wed, 16 Apr 2014 20:44:08 +0000 Fight Back 4030 at Occupy Wall Street reunion in south Florida calls for solidarity <p>Miami, FL – More than 30 south Florida activists gathered April 13 at the Margaret Pace Park. Occupy Miami, part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, organized a reunion for Occupiers and invited other local organizers to take part in discussions. The Occupy movement inspired many to join the fight for justice and many Miami Occupiers continue to organize.</p> <p>Members of Broward and Miami-Dade Green Party, People’s Opposition to War, Imperialism, and Racism (POWIR), Veterans for Peace, Progressive Democrats of America-Miami, Reclaim Your Power and Equality and Amnesty International participated in discussions summing up the past couple of years. Local activists are looking forward too, with upcoming plans to celebrate May Day - International Workers’ Day.</p> <p>Palestine solidarity organizers are planning a commemoration of Al-Nakba, “the catastrophe,” when millions of Palestinians were violently forced to leave their homes in historic Palestine on May 15, 1948. Arab-American women’s leader Rasmea Odeh will be a focus of the May 15 event. Odeh is the target of political repression and is going to court in Detroit on June 10. A nationwide solidarity campaign at <a href=""></a> is building up to support Odeh.</p> <p>The Occupy Wall Street movement experienced repression at the hands of the U.S. government and the Occupy Miami reunion called for people to stand in solidarity with activists like Rasmea Odeh who are being targeted.</p> <p>Pamela Maldonado, lead organizer with POWIR said, “We as activists experience repression, but we also practice solidarity that protects our movements. When we come together to fight we have a bigger impact. Together we are stronger.”</p> <p>People spoke of ways to support each other’s work and strengthen the fight for justice. The spirited collaboration of the community helps to solidify the movement going forward.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Occupy Miami Occupy Wall Street Occupy Wall Street Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:32:58 +0000 Fight Back 4029 at More than 2000 attend Labor Notes Conference <p>Chicago, IL - Over 2000 people attended the 2014 Labor Notes conference here, April 4-6, bringing together some of the best fighters in the labor movement for 140 crowded workshops of people discussing how to rebuild labor in the U.S. and abroad, and a militant protest at Staples on behalf of postal workers fighting privatization.</p> <p>Mark Dimonstein, the newly-elected president of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), gave a rousing speech in defense of postal workers and public sector unions.</p> <p>"We're living in a moment when six members of the Walmart family have the accumulated wealth of 40% of this country," he said, detailing how the super-rich avoid paying taxes and, after successfully beating down private sector unions, have now "unleashed their fury on public sector unions." Dimonstein added, "When they don't pay who does? We do. And when they still don't have the money they take it out of the public sector.”</p> <p>Asked to say something about the victory of his reform slate in the APWU, Dimonstein explained, "We simply told our members the truth as we understood it, we went to the rank and file around this country, we never offered a path of guaranteed or easy victories, the only thing we guaranteed is if we were elected we would wage an unrelenting fight alongside the membership to save the public postal service, the fight to rebuild our union contracts, the fight to save our union, and we promised to enter the battlefield without white flags or surrendering, that was our promise. We asked the members to support us if they want a union the is willing to fight back."</p> <p>Conference attendee Charles Jordan, of Teamsters Local 804 in New York City, was recently on the front lines of a battle with UPS in his local. Teamsters of Local 804 were fighting the unjust firing of their union steward, who has 24 years working for UPS. In response to management walking him off the job, 250 drivers held an emergency protest outside their facility. UPS started replacing some of the 250 and said they were going to fire all of them. A campaign to save their jobs resulted in a victory where all 250 are back at work now.</p> <p>Jordan stated, "The support for Local 804 was great. It was understood that the 804 fight was not only to primarily get our drivers reinstated, but also to protect the act of solidarity shown that fateful day when the drivers remembered, 'an injury to one, is an injury to all,' and they stood up for their brother unjustly fired."</p> <p><em>Fight Back! </em>hosted a party Saturday evening that featured class struggle unionists, including the president of an AFSCME local in Minnesota; a labor leader from El Salvador, where the people just elected a pro-worker government; a leader of the Chicago Teachers Union, a worker from Teamsters 804 who was one of the 250 UPS workers that recently went on strike, and many more.</p> <p>One of the teachers in attendance at the<em> Fight Back!</em> party asked the crowd, “Where has unions following the rules gotten us? The game is rigged. Unions are going to have to start breaking the rules and looking at civil disobedience."</p> <p>Blake Branum, a rank-and-file Teamster from Local 344 in Milwaukee, said, "I was astounded not only by how much knowledge I had taken in but by the diverse amount of people who are proud and unwilling to compromise what they believe in their heart.”</p> <p>Cherrene Horazuk, president of AFSCME 3800, told the party attendees, "We know that working people win when we stand up and fight back, when we fight the boss for a better workplace, when we use the most powerful tools in our toolbox - the strike and solidarity - and when we organize as a class to make this a better place for all working people."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Labor Notes Labor Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:22:58 +0000 Fight Back 4028 at Chicago forum on U.S. role in Ukraine: fascists attempt disruption <p>Chicago, IL - Under attack from aggressive Ukrainian fascists, 40 anti-war activists held a teach-in here on the unfolding Ukraine crisis and NATO expansion, April 12. An equal sized crowd of Ukrainian reactionaries, one carrying the battle flag of the fascist Ukrainian Insurgent Army and another man wearing a scarf bearing the insignia of the violent neo-Nazi Right Sector, attempted to push their way into the door of the union hall during the speakers’ presentations. </p> <p>When they failed to get inside, one of them slipped a Right Sector leaflet through the door. It included language used in Hitler’s Mein Kampf, such as the need for “living space” for Ukrainians. The flyer defines Ukrainians as a “genetic community,” meaning that the Russians and Jews that live there aren’t part of their nation.</p> <p>Delivering his remarks over the muffled chanting from outside, Rick Rozoff from the Stop NATO Network detailed the U.S.’s imperialist maneuvers in Ukraine, emphasizing the role of NATO as a vehicle for American foreign policy. Rozoff explained the State Department intervention in Ukraine and arms build up in Eastern Europe as part of a long-term strategy to besiege Russia. </p> <p>Speakers from the Anti-War Committee-Chicago included Kait McIntyre, who is running as an anti-war candidate for Boeing’s Board of Directors. McIntyre’s campaign targets the world’s second largest weapons manufacturer, headquartered here in Chicago, which profits off the billions poured into drone warfare and NATO expansion by the U.S. defense budget. </p> <p>Sara Flounders of the International Action Center in New York outlined the historical cooperation between the U.S. and fascist forces in Europe. The U.S. propelled these forces into power during the violent breakup of Yugoslavia, aided by the NATO bombardment. She stated that the U.S. actively maintains right-wing opposition movements around the world in order to eliminate governments that assert their national independence. </p> <p>With the fascist Svoboda party now occupying prominent positions in the new Ukrainian regime, the anti-war movement must take a strong stand against U.S.-funding of the Kiev junta, whose rise to power, as Rozoff noted, echoed Mussolini’s March on Rome. Alfonso Casal of the American Party of Labor (APL) told attendees about the history of fascism in the Ukraine. The panel was organized by Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Workers World Party (WWP) and APL, with Erich Struch of WWP as chair of the event.</p> <p>Many young people attended and contributed to the engaging discussion. </p> <p>The participants bravely defied right-wing intimidation to stage this important teach-in, refusing to allow the fascists to shut down the meeting.</p> Antiwar Movement anti-fascism anti-war fascism NATO Right Sector Svoboda Ukraine Ukraine US imperialism Wed, 16 Apr 2014 01:49:05 +0000 Fight Back 4027 at Tampa forum demands “Legalization for all, stop the deportations” <p>Tampa, FL - Over two dozen activists attended a panel discussion here, at the University of South Florida in Tampa. " Legalization for all, stop the deportations!" read the banner at the front of the room. Professor Masao Suzuki of San Jose, California, an economist and expert on immigration, was the guest speaker.</p> <p>Professor Suzuki began the immigration panel with a report on what is happening across the country with immigration. In 2006, the House of Representatives passed the Sensenbrenner Bill, a big attack upon undocumented immigrants. The bill contained harsh consequences for being undocumented, like a mandatory $3000 fine before being deported. Also, the bill had a felony charge and up to three years in prison for friends, family members or good Samaritans housing or aiding undocumented immigrants. The reactionary Sensenbrenner bill sparked the largest marches in U.S. history, with millions upon millions of immigrants and their supporters taking to the streets of every city, big and small. This became known as the Mega-marches of May Day 2006.</p> <p>Suzuki spoke about the January 2013 Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR), which was supposed to help immigrants but took a turn for the worse. The Republicans changed it, adding more and more repressive measures, until there was more bad than good in it for the people. The current CIR bill adds more militarization at the border, more stalking at the workplace thru E-verify, more abuse of immigrant workers with the Guest-Worker Visa, an extreme wait of ten years to apply, and higher cost to immigrants.</p> <p>"Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are interested in the passing of CIR at this time. And that is why we are urging those who support CIR to join forces with those pushing to put a stop to the deportations and those who are urging for Deferred Action for All, or DAFA," says Suzuki. "Not only would DAFA be an immediate relief, it would help stop the over 1100 daily deportations."</p> <p>The professor continued, “The executive order of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA] in June of 2012 allowed for some young DREAMers to have immediate relief from being deported. If DAFA was issued to the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants, DACA could be an all-inclusive sigh of relief for the undocumented."</p> <p>Professor Suzuki ended his presentation saying, “But we know that DACA currently isn't applicable to all DREAMers and we know that because of the current criminalizing of the undocumented, many don't qualify. If DAFA were to be ordered by President Obama, we also know not everyone would be able to obtain DAFA. That is why we push not only for DAFA but also for legalization for all of the undocumented."</p> <p>Veronica Juarez spoke next about the tuition equity campaign of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in Florida. Tampa Bay SDS joined other chapters to organize for in-state tuition for the undocumented students of Florida. As it currently stands, undocumented Florida students pay 3.3 times as much as other students they went to high school with. SDS organized call-in days, campus speakouts and a big rally in the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee demanding politicians take action and make education affordable and fair.</p> <p>"It wasn't until we started having rallies, speak-outs and actually organizing affected students that we saw bills like Senate Bill 1400,” says Veronica Juarez of Tampa SDS.</p> <p>SB 1400 allows a DACA student to pay the same tuition rate as all other resident students of Florida. SB 1400 is well on its way and moving forward, having already passed the Judiciary portion needed to come into effect.</p> <p>Juarez pointed out two glaring problems, "The thing is, even though SB 1400 would make tuition more affordable for undocumented students, two bad amendments were sneaked into the law; the first being that the student would on paper, still not be a ‘resident of Florida’ and the second is that a student would have to be enrolled in a Florida high school for 24 consecutive months. This means DACA students who are migrant farm-workers would be most affected. Migrant families are forced to move with the changing crop seasons across the U.S."</p> <p>Marisol Marquez of Raíces en Tampa rounded out the immigration panel saying, "In Florida we saw that the majority of deportations involved the police using driving without a license as an excuse to detain and eventually deport. We wanted to help stop deportations and knew that if we pushed for Florida to issue drivers licenses to all of the undocumented, we could help."</p> <p>Raíces en Tampa is working to unite with other groups around Florida and create a buzz about driver's licenses for the undocumented. Raíces en Tampa created a campaign page called<a href=""> Driver's Licenses for All Undocumented - Florida</a> and is seeing a building movement around Florida.</p> <p>"We take a table and place it where we know there will be people interested. We walk around and ask people to come show their support!" says Marquez, describing how Raíces en Tampa has been able to go viral in the immigrant areas of Florida. "The people want to be able to drive without looking behind their shoulder and without fearing they will be torn away from the years they have put into trying to create a life for themselves in Florida."</p> <p>The organizing in the Tampa community is a completely new experience for some. "As an undocumented individual, being with Raíces en Tampa gives me not only a sense of identity, but the strength to continue fighting for everyone's dreams,” says Cristian Cintora, one of the newest members of Raíces en Tampa.</p> <p>Those in attendance were able to pick up free literature, buttons, information and even know-your-rights pamphlets from various groups including: Tampa Bay SDS, Raíces en Tampa, and Freedom Road Socialist Organization. Activists gathered for a picture and held up the banner, "Legalization for all, stop the deportations!"</p> <p>Marquez finished the event, announcing, "Future actions for Raíces en Tampa include coordinating May Day events in many cities to call for a stop to deportations, legalization for all, and for Florida politicians to issue driver's licenses to all of the undocumented. We hope everyone can come out or show their support by signing our <a href="">petition</a>."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> DACA DAFA legalization for all Masao Suzuki Raices en Tampa Tampa SDS Immigrant Rights Sat, 12 Apr 2014 03:35:41 +0000 Fight Back 4026 at