New Zealanders March Against Attacks on Muslims

Hundreds of Thousands Show Solidarity

By Joseph Rosen

On March 15, a white supremacist Trump supporter carried out a brutal massacre of 50 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand.  These fascists think their actions will get popular support, but tens of thousands of New Zealanders, white and not, Muslim and non-Muslim prove them wrong. Along with thousands more across the world, they poured into the streets to show solidarity with Muslims.  Like the recent Pittsburgh synagogue massacre and the deadly 2015 attack on the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, this was an assault on families gathered in worship.  In Christchurch, the terrorist also specifically targeted immigrants. Among the dead and injured were families who had fled to New Zealand seeking refuge from the devastation of the Western imperialist wars on Palestine, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

The mass murderer cited Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” The Trump administration’s racist and anti-immigrant program has included a “Muslim ban” on travel and an expansion in concentration camps for undocumented men, women, and children whom Trump regularly dehumanizes as “criminal.” In the wake of the attack, Trump has downplayed the threat of white nationalism. In contrast, the New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Hearn stated that “as a nation, [we need] to confront racism, violence and extremism.” While this statement is a welcome rebuke of Trump, her hypocrisy needs to be challenged. Like Democrats in the U.S. who condemn Trump’s racist rhetoric but happily support and fund genocidal wars against Arab countries, Hearn’s own party is in a governing coalition with the right-wing “New Zealand First” party whose leaders echo the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant tirades of Trump and who, together with the Hearn’s Labour Party, support the U.S.-led wars and military occupations in the Muslim-majority countries of Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Horrific as these individual fascists’ attacks are, U.S. wars for oil and profit on the Muslim-majority countries of the Middle East have cost the lives of millions more. The most obvious difference between the terrorist attack in New Zealand and George W. Bush’s self-described “crusade” against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan is that Bush is responsible for the death and displacement of millions of people. Another difference is that Bush’s wars garnered profits for his capitalist friends. Dick Cheney’s former company Halliburton alone gained $17.2 billion in Iraq war-related revenue from 2003-2006. But rather than admit that these wars are fought for private profit, the capitalist-owned media promote the white supremacist idea that the “civilized” West is at war with its “uncivilized” other.

The capitalists can only carry out their wars for profit if they succeed in dividing the working class against itself. Their media outlets gave the New Zealand fascist the publicity that he sought. To win over a section of the workers to support, promote, fight and die in their wars, they will resort to the most hideous racism and lies. In countries such as the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and Israel– all founded on the right of white settlers to the “spoils” of their government’s colonial plunder– white workers have been repeatedly duped by the racist myths and lies of their bosses. Yet their adherence to this hateful ideology hasn’t done anything to reverse the general decline in their living standards which continue to worsen under capitalism.

Workers cannot play into the hand of these would-be Nazis. We must organize ourselves through international solidarity and solidarity at home. This means opposing imperialist wars for profit and rejecting white supremacy.

Uber and Lyft Drivers Strike in Los Angeles

Drivers for Uber and Lyft picketing at Uber’s Los Angeles headquarters.

On March 27, hundreds of Uber and Lyft drivers staged a one-day strike to protest cuts that Uber made to drivers’ pay rates. As the company goes on a spending spree buying up its competitors around the world  (Uber just shelled out $3.1 billion to buy out a competitor company based in Dubai), struggling drivers in Los Angeles and part of nearby Orange County are having their per-mile compensation cut by 25 percent. There are an estimated 30,000 full-time app-based drivers in Los Angeles alone.

The strike was organized by LA Rideshare Drivers United, an organization with a membership of nearly 3,000 drivers in Los Angeles. They are demanding a $27.86 minimum (pre-expenses) hourly rate and a 10 percent cap on the commission that the companies take for each fare. This follows the recent success of organized workers in New York City who won a $17.22/hr wage (after expenses)— the first minimum pay rate for app-based drivers in the country. The Independent Drivers Guild, which represents about 70,000 app-based drivers in New York City, expects its full time drivers to get an extra $9,600 a year from the pay raise.

Because Uber and Lyft have gotten away with classifying workers as independent contractors, the companies haven’t had to pay minimum wages to their employees or provide them with overtime, workers’ comp, family leave or sick pay. In fact, the majority of app-based drivers make less than the minimum wage in their state. But the drivers won’t stand for it much longer; they have shown that when they get organized for a fight, they can win.

Pass the Gender Equality Act!

Right now, employers in 29 states can legally fire LGBTQ workers just because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. There are no federal protections preventing this kind of discrimination. That could change, however, if congress passes the Equality Act introduced by Rep. David Cicilline and Sen. Jeff Merkley.

LGBTQ activists have fought for this type of legislation for decades, but such protections would be a win for all workers. The capitalist class relies on keeping working people divided. There are more workers than there are bosses. But if the bosses can pit white workers against black workers, immigrant workers against non immigrant workers, LGBTQ workers against non LGBTQ workers, then it is the bosses who win.

We should remain hopeful and keep organizing, because many already see through the divide-and-conquer strategy. In 2016, the Public Region Research Institute conducted 42,000 interviews in all 50 states, and 70 percent of those interviewed said that they would support a bill like the Equality Act. Working class unity is possible and necessary.

Mexican Walmart Workers Threaten to Strike, Get 5% Pay Raise

Walmart México has agreed to give workers a 5.5% annual pay increase and a productivity bonus linked to sales after 8,500 workers threatened to go on strike.

Earlier in March, the Revolutionary Confederation of Laborers and Farmworkers (CROC) had announced the strike, which was set to begin on March 21st and was to cover ten states.

Significantly, this announcement came on the heels of another strike wave that began in northern Mexico in January. That strike wave began in the auto plants, then spread to a Coca-Cola bottling plant and Walmart stores in Matamoros and several other northern cities. The result of those actions is that thousands of factory workers won 20% pay increases and annual bonuses of 32,000 pesos (US $1,650); that is, after the work stoppages cost the bosses an estimated $50 million a day!

As for the Walmart workers, the pay increase and bonus arrangement are big wins, as this section of workers is highly exploited. The primarily women cashiers and other low-ranking employees currently earn, on average 140 and 150 pesos (US $7 to $7.50) per day. They are also not enrolled in medical insurance or retirement schemes. According to the National Association of Shop and Private Office Workers, Walmart discriminates against pregnant women, doesn’t abide by the right to an eight-hour working day, breaks the law by not paying overtime, and dismisses workers unfairly.

The workers have achieved gains simply by threatening to strike, demonstrating their collective power, which is potentially massive. René Sasores Barea, the union’s secretary general, said, “The winds of change are blowing and . . . employers must understand that.”

Minnesota: Somali Amazon Warehouse Workers Stop Work Demand Respect for Immigrant Workers!

Amazon workers in Shakopee, Minnesota, stop work on March 8. Sign reads: “We are humans, not robots.”

30 Workers at an Amazon fulfillment center in Shakopee, Minnesota, carried out a three-hour work stoppage on March 8 during the night shift. Most are Somali immigrants who face especially high levels of mistreatment because of their religious and immigrant status.

In December, 100 Somali-American workers and supporters marched on the Shakopee fulfillment center. Employee Khadra Hassan, said, “The head of Amazon [Jeff Bezos] doesn’t know who his workers are or what they’re faced with. We are not getting what we need from Amazon.” Hassan nearly lost miscarried her baby when she passed out while lifting heavy boxes in the extreme heat. She says that she was denied services when she reported to Amazon’s health office, because her benefits had not kicked in yet.

During the work stoppage on March 8, a photo uploaded to Facebook went viral. It showed the workers holding up a sign reading, “We are humans, not robots.” The post also listed their complaints against Amazon, including racist promotion practices, outrageous work intensity, lack of language translation services, lack of health benefits, the need for more bathroom visits, and prayer breaks.

Amazon fulfillment center workers in Poland uploaded a video to the internet expressing solidarity, showing the international scope of the workers’ struggle. Last year on “Black Friday”, an estimated 2,400 Amazon workers went on strike across Europe, in Spain, Italy, Germany, and France.

As workers become increasingly linked up through global markets and digital communications systems, the possibilities of international worker coordination become more and more feasible.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is the richest person in the world, worth an estimated $138 billion. The company’s profits nearly doubled between 2017 and 2018, yet Amazon paid no federal income taxes. All that wealth should go to the working people who actually produce it, and to the betterment of society.. There is no reason that one man should hoard $138 billion dollars, or even a million dollars.

13,000 NY Nurses Winning Patient Safety

13,000 nurses employed by the Montefiore, Mount Sinai, and New York Presbyterian hospital systems and represented by the New York State Nurses Association, have been working hard to raise awareness about conditions they and their patients face by understaffing. There are not enough nurses to care for the volume of patients, and the nurses themselves are dangerously overworked during long shifts.

The Nurses Association has been pushing for the passage of the Safe Staffing for Quality Act, which would set staffing requirements in direct care facilities and nursing homes. Hospital administrators and lobbyists–more concerned about profit than care–have fought against the passage of the bill in New York, saying it would increase operating expenses.

Tre Kwon, a nurse at Mount Sinai, said, “It takes a lot of courage to point a finger at the hospital directors about the needs of patients. It really showed the boss how fired up we are and how passionate and fearless nurses are.”

International Working Women’s Day

Women in Bangladesh hold banner:”Ensure Health Protection of Women Workers”
Malaya Movement, International Women’s Alliance, Bayan USA, and IWWD Coalition mobilized people for International Working Women’s Day demonstrations in New York City.
Hundreds of women in Gaza celebrated International Working Women’s Day.
Spain: Women march with banner reading “Without Us, the World Stops.”

Despite Repression, French Workers Continue Rebellion Against Government of the Rich

73-year-old activist Geneviève Legay is attacked by riot police. She is in serious condition with a fractured skull. Her case shows the brutality of the French Police in their repression of the Yellow Vests.

The Yellow Vests, a group of French workers from all walks of life, have been taking to the streets every Saturday for months. These actions have taken place in cities, towns, and villages across France. They are protesting all the capitalist austerity measures that profit the rich and have disastrous consequences for the poor.

The police have used flash grenades, water cannons, riot guns, tear gas, and billy clubs to brutally repress protesters. More than 144 protestors and journalists have been severely injured by riot police. The name of Geneviève Legay, a 73 year old activist whose skull was fractured by riot police on March 23, has now become a rallying cry against the brutality of French President Emmanuel Macron who put out a statement bad-mouthing Legay for her “irresponsibility” and for being in a “prohibited area.” Some protestors have responded to this repression by destroying the private property of the super-rich or by torching cop cars.

Macron has declared that he would call upon the French army to prevent further protests. It is no surprise that Macron favors the protection of private property rights over human rights: he has spent most of his career working for ultra-rich bankers. Presidents like Macron ignore the fact that 80% of French people support the yellow vests, that 10,000 people die from unemployment every year. Rich capitalists like him see working-class people as expendable in the face of profit.

In Argentina, Over A Million March in Honor of Victims Of U.S.-Backed Military Dictatorship

Banner with the names and photos of the 30,000 detained and disappeared. Photo: Emergentes

43 years after a U.S. orchestrated military coup was carried out in Argentina, over a million people marched throughout the country to remember the 30,000 murdered and the thousands more who went missing during the horrible military dictatorship that followed.  This is what Trump & Co. want for Venezuela. March 24 marked the Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice.

The marches also protest the current right-wing government of Mauricio Macri which is trying to impose drastic hardships on the people. Macri is a close ally of Trump and the fascist Bolsanaro in Brazil.

Finally – Some Truth About the U.S. Attempts to Colonize Venezuela

U.S. Imperialists Driving to Disastrous War – Workers Say No!

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Energy Secretary Rick Perry spoke to a conference of U.S. Big Oil companies asking them to get directly involved in the failing attempt to take over Venezuela.

Perry was asked if the overthrow of Maduro would lead to the reassertion of control over Venezuela’s oil reserves— the largest on the planet— by US-based energy giants. “Absolutely, I think that is the real message, that the national companies want to see this regime out so that we can return,” he replied.

Exxon used to control Venezuela’s oil until it was nationalized. The Bolivarian revolution used oil revenue to build houses, free education, free medical care and many other programs we don’t have here in the U.S. Of course we could if our national budget was not looted by the profiteering war industries.

In his speech, Pompeo stated that the goal of U.S. foreign policy was to dominate the world politically and economically by control global oil stocks.  He then went on to lay claim to energy reserves in the South China seas.  China responded angrily by saying the U.S should stay out of the region. U.S warplanes capable of carrying nuclear bombs were subsequently deployed in this area.

Pompeo, Trump, Bolton, and the majority of Democrats who vote for militarism are on a crazed mission to dominate the world, threatening us all with major wars for their own profit.

After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S installed a UNOCAL (an American oil company) employee as president. And prior to invading Iraq, V.P. and former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney personally brought together a consortium of U.S. oil companies where they drew maps parceling out Iraq’s oil for themselves.

This shows the true motives of U.S. imperialism which at the same time seeks to destroy any popular movement that might bring true democracy and real gains for the people.