Week In Review

A Weekly Column by Bill Onasch
September 27, 2010

Raid Update
As promised in the
special alert we sent out late Friday night, here’s the latest we know about responses to the Friday FBI raids on the office of The Anti-War Committee in Minneapolis and the homes of labor and antiwar activists in at least four cities.

●A Saturday press conference in Chicago got wide media attention featuring SEIU member Joe Iosbaker and his wife Stephanie Weiner–both well known for their antiwar and labor solidarity activity–who described the 12-hour search of their home. The G-Men carted off 30 boxes of “evidence” from their home--including drawings and poetry by their children and a photo of Martin Luther King Jr. Among those expressing solidarity at the news briefing was Rev C.J. Hawking, Executive Director of Arise Chicago (formerly the Chicago Interfaith Committee on Worker Issues) and co-author with Steven Ashby of an excellent book about worker struggles at Staley in Decatur, IL

●All major national antiwar groups have rallied around the victims of the raids.

●Protests at FBI offices have already begun in places such as Minneapolis and Chicago. Scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, 9/28:

NYC, NY - 4:30 to 6pm Federal Building, 26 Federal Plaza
Newark, NJ - 5 to 6pm Federal Building Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA - 4:30pm Federal Building, 6th & Market
Washington DC - 4:30 - 5:30 FBI Building, 935 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Boston, MA - 5 pm, JFK Federal Building
Detroit, MI - 4:30 pm McNamara Federal Building, Michigan Ave. at Cass
Raleigh, NC - 9 am. Federal Building, 310 New Bern Ave
Asheville, NC - 5 pm Federal Building
Atlanta, GA - Noon, FBI Building
Los Angeles, CA - 5 pm, Downtown Federal Building, 300 N Los Angeles St
Tucson, AZ - 5 pm Federal Building

I had intended to include some historical background on how the FBI has been used for over a century to spy on and disrupt the labor, antiwar, and civil rights movements and also how their campaigns to repress our democratic rights have at times been stopped. But I soon recognized that justice to the topic could not be accomplished within this format. I hope to have a stand alone article posted soon.

In the meantime we will post updates on our Daily Labor News Digest about the current FBI caper.

Join the March–But Be Careful What You Ask For
If you live on the Eastern Seaboard you should make the effort to join the
March on Washington this Saturday, October 2. Initiated by SEIU 1199 and the NAACP, now endorsed by most union, civil rights, peace, and immigrant rights groups, it’s expected to mobilize tens–some think hundreds–of thousands of working people in a venue recently dominated by the cracked tea pots. This show that we’re still alive is reason enough to support it.

The official Core Policy is somewhat vague sentiments that mostly sound pretty good. But I find one formulation leaping out on the March site home page troubling--Demand the changes we voted for. As a matter of fact, those who followed the endorsement of the March organizers got exactly the change they voted for–one party replaced the other in control of the White House and Capitol Hill.

Of course, there have been other unwelcome changes felt throughout Mouseland since the new cats took charge. This has led to the President’s approval rating steadily sinking faster than Mets’ pennant hopes and the polls show total indifference to which party controls Congress. But, despite the format usually utilized for protests against a sitting government, those organizing Saturday’s mass march hope it will revive the base that thought they had won in 2008 in order to try to stave off likely Republican gains in the midterm elections. The center stage will attempt to distill cider from such rotten apples as compulsory private health insurance.

One of the most memorable quotes from Eugene Debs is “it’s better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want–and get it.” Granted, when Debs spoke these words there was a sizeable socialist opposition movement. He got nearly a million votes for President in 1920 while incarcerated in the Atlanta penitentiary. In these midterm elections the Labor Party has one candidate–in a state legislative contest in South Carolina–and there are only a handful of socialist candidates here and there. Most workers will not see a working class alternative on their ballot. Most workers will not vote.

I would like to see the official placards in Saturday’s March supplemented with some complementary demands.

US Labor Against the War is organizing a labor contingent around a good one,
Bring All the Troops and War Dollars Home Now

Labor for Single-Payer will be there demanding Medicare for All

Some other suggestions:

●Amend the Constitution to Guarantee Everyone a Job at a Living Wage
●Build A Just Transition Movement to Protect Jobs and the Environment
●A 32-Hour, 4-day Work Week With No Cut In Pay
●Make the Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes
●Free Higher Education For All

I didn’t think up these formulations. They are lifted from the basic program of the Labor Party. They represent change we urgently need, something we’d gladly vote for because we want it. And that suggests one more overarching demand that should be raised wherever working people gather–

Build a Labor Party

Another Inconvenient Truth
It’s getting to be the time of the year when I have to give serious attention to the financial situation of kclabor.org and the Week In Review. Newer readers should understand that we don’t have any hedge fund billionaires slipping us money--as some progressive sites accept. We don’t get any institutional grants. We haven’t in fact been offered any such support but we cherish our independence and would have to turn them down anyway. Nor have we ever charged to view our content or plastered paid advertising on our pages.

We have only two sources of cash–whatever the webmaster can spare from a monthly Social Security check and donations from readers who want to help keep us going. Over the past decade we’ve had good and not so good years. This past year was pretty lean. We covered the absolute essentials but the travel budget to cover important stories had to be slashed. I did make it to the Labor Notes conference but I had to pass on others such as the Labor for Single-Payer national meeting, the LabourStart international conference in Canada, the United Antiwar Conference in Albany–and I won’t make this Saturday’s March on Washington.

Soon we will have to pay such basics as our server host fee and our e-mail service. This happens to coincide with personal expenses such as car insurance and property taxes. Our main computer is going on five years old and will likely need to be replaced in coming months.

I know times are hard for most readers as well. But I have no alternative to coming to you with hat-in-hand. Though no contribution is too small–or too big–something in the 25-50 dollar range would keep us going another year.

You can easily use the PayPal button below--though you should know if you use a credit card a fee will be deducted before it reaches me. If you prefer, you can send a check or money order made payable to Bill Onasch to 3927 Kenwood, Kansas City, MO 64110.

Thanks for the help.

Anniversary Grats
We wish the folks at
Work Day Minnesota a happy tenth anniversary. This project of the Labor Education Service at the University of Minnesota went online just a few months after us and we’ve visited them virtually every day since. They are an excellent source of labor news, solidarity and history in Minnesota–and beyond.

That’s all for this week.

Alliance for Class & Climate Justice

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