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Tidbits - February 27, 2014

Reader Comments - Ukraine; Venezuela; Chokwe Lumumba; UAW-Volkswagen; North Carolina; State Pensions; Wisconsin; Prisons and Solitary Confinement; Jordan Davis; Announcements - Freedom Rider Diary - Book Signings - Coast-to-Coast - Mar 3 - 10; Celebration of Working Women & International Women's Day! - New York - Mar 7; Cecily McMillan Trail Postponed - Again - Motions to be presented Mar 19; Seventh CCDS/Kendra Alexander Foundation Banquet - Berkeley - Mar 30

Tidbits - Reader Comments and Announcements - Feb. 27, 2014,Portside

Re: Events in the Ukraine

Watching the main stream media's increased coverage of the latest violence in the Ukraine, is once again frustrating as the pundits repeat the US line that the demonstrators are peaceful and the Ukraine government is causing the violence. Of course the situation is far more complex than that and it is revealing that neither Obama nor liberal reporters like Rachel Maddow mention that some of the demonstrators have been using Molotov cocktails and now even firearms against the police.

I have seen the police be violent against peaceful demonstrators for years, but if demonstrators here threw Molotov cocktails, much less pulled out pistols, you know what the American police would do.

My observation and question is, why do you think the president and the media are carefully censoring any mention of the protesters with guns, burning and killing the police, and the Ukrainian police so far being incredibly restrained?

Ukrainian government may be corrupt and deserve to be replaced, but not with another US supported fascist regime. We've seen that happen too many times.

Walter Teague


The following from Michael Roberts blog is the best brief description I know of the political/economic crises facing the Ukraine.

    Ukraine: Hobson's Choice
    By Michael Roberts -  February 27. 2014
    Michael Roberts Blog

Mel Rothenberg

Re: Towards Another Coup in Venezuela?; US Support for Regime Change in Venezuela is a Mistake

I haven't had a chance to read the article yet, but I understand there are mostly students protesting in Venezuela and that there is severe poverty, massive censorship and growing corruption in the Maduro regime...

Aurora Barnes
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

I've been to Venezuela and while there are some problems to be addressed it's no worst than any other Latin American country. Just look at history and you will see that there is a very good chance these riots are instigated by the U.S. government.But, who am I to talk. I live in the United States, A nation where poverty is sky high, corrupt politicians have undermined its social safety net -has escalating social-economic inequality and its democracy is about to be overthrown by a greedy corrupt bunch of Wall Street plutocrats.

Kenneth Sullivan
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Nothing, nothing is as it appears in our media. What gets reported and how - it's all about yanking your chain. Period. And it keeps getting worse. I check out CNN, Fox, even MSNBC every now and then to see what's being fed to us, but don't stay long enough to get sucked in. MediaWatch just dropped the US media free press score to #46 - and that's being charitable.

Chris Horton
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Chokwe Lumumba: A Revolutionary to the End

I can't help but think of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, who died suddenly at his desk in City Hall thirty years ago.

Sandy Eaton
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Reflections on the Defeat Suffered by the TN Workers in Volkswagen

I think continuing to function as a minority committee/union after a defeat is always a tough thing to pull off. The polarization among the workers could become institutionalised and limits the space for the boss' errors to affect the 'no' votes. But that said, Fletcher is raising the right questions. I hope that union activists can find the way to broaden and deepen this discussion.

Paul Friedman
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


The UAW's rejection of community supports reminds us of the ILWU rejecting Occupy support at its defeat at Longview.-MM

Fletcher's argument would be strengthened by referring to this report:  

    "As powerful right-wing forces flush with cash mounted open opposition, the union refused support from local activists. The UAW did little to counter right-wing threats and scare tactics, and refused to expand the effort into a broader grassroots campaign in support of the union. According to labor reporter Mike Elk, who has reported on the story from Chattanooga for several months, local supporters of the union drive - including many already-unionized Tennessee workers - approached the UAW about coordinating a grassroots community response to the vicious anti-union campaign, but were rebuffed. When the group Chattanooga for Workers organized a community forum of 150 people to support the drive, Elk reported that only three UAW members were visible in the audience.

    In turning away the smaller groups, the UAW was working against its own interests. It may have feared that it would no longer be fully in control of the messaging of such a campaign if smaller community groups with less organizational discipline became involved. Straying too far off the official message could have led the union to run afoul of a neutrality agreement signed with Volkswagen before the campaign began. Unions often seek neutrality agreements to ensure that employers will not attempt to destroy organizing efforts; in this case, part of the agreement entailed the union committing not to bad-mouth the company, and the company agreeing not to bad-mouth the union. (Clearly, Corker and Norquist agreed to no such provisions.)"

Michael Munk


I hesitate  to tell this story because it does not look good for the UAW.  In the 60's  I worked in a parts plant in Chicago.  The company said that we would have to take a wage cut because competitors were paying less.  A big meeting was held for everyone to talk about it.  A vice-president came to run it.  They gave out information  about a place in Arkansas that was paying a lot less.  One of our members who was an international trustee  said that we should take the cut because she was educated and could find another job, but other people in the plant were not educated.  This didn't go over very well.  I found papers in the trash from the company that told about a plant in Michigan with a UAW contract where the pay was higher than ours.  The people were all against taking a cut.  The vote was no.  Soon another meeting was held, very short, presided over by a field representative where a quick no vote was taken and that was the end of it.  I think that the international  union didn't want the trouble of fighting against the cut.

Pam Wright,


All good points. We have watched this "chicken shit" approach to the relationship between unions and companies develop for many years. What have we gotten?  Over paid union officials thinking they somehow have something in common with corporate executives and a shrinking union base. Any experienced union organizer would recognize immediately that to give up the ability to do house visits, in spite of the "pipe dream" of neutrality, was a poison pill for the campaign. The biggest failure of this UAW organizing drive was the UAW officials forgetting the history that launched the organization in the early years...engaging whole communities in the struggles to win their fights.

Nick Jones

One Answer to the Question Posed to and About the UAW and Volkswagen Defeat

MIGHT be found if we ask, "From whence came the CAW?  The Canadian Auto Workers was the result of a protest - a repudiation by the Canadian members of UAW against concessions agreed to in Detroit of which they disapproved..

The next question that UAW might address  -- as well might most US unions -- is Howcum??  How is it that so many Canadian unions which were originally organized by staffers from AFL and CIO -- going way back to the 19th Century with the MOLDERS -- that is the  "International Molders and Foundry Workers Union of North America" an affiliated trade union<; of the AFL-CIO <;. (The union traced its roots back to the formation of the "Iron Molders' Union of North America," established in 1859.)

The differences between unions in Canada and in the US -- even when they are affiliates of the same "Internationals" (i.e. Teamsters, UMWA, ILGWU, etc.) is all the more striking when one realizes that Canadian labor law was copied, word-for-word, from the U.S. Wagner Act.

Partial answer: Canada did not suffer with centuries of slavery and legal segregation which contributed to an America where we see Color and are blinded to Class.

Other answers?

Martin Morand

Re: Benefit Cuts Pushed People Out of the Work Force in NC

Thanks much for the article re North Carolina's backward approach to 'helping' the unemployed. We have similar problems here in Tennessee, plus our Governor has closed half of the 'Career Centers and laid off the workers who were trained to HELP folks find new jobs.

Mary Leila Greene Wilson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Putting State Pension Costs in Context
(posted on Portside Labor)

While it is fair to point to the relationship between pension fund shortfalls and corrupt tax breaks to private interests, a further question must be asked.  Did the union leadership that negotiated the pensions not see this coming?  And if not, why not?  Is the current economic crisis the whole explanation?  Promising members a better pension than they can realistically expect might win support for the leadership in the short run - but the members actually deserve honest numbers from the start.

Carl Proper

Re: Scott Walker's Dopey Defenders: Beltway Hacks Think Racist Emails Are a Snooze

An explanation is a continued, concerted effort, by all means necessary, on the part of big donors, institutional powers, and establishment GOP, to thwart libertarian trends and candidates, such as Ron Paul, Rand Paul, and former NM Governor Gary Johnson .

Very truly yours,

Peter J. Nickitas

Re: The Science of Solitary Confinement

This is a cruel nation

Tucc Gary
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Clarence Thomas, Jordan Davis, and America's 'Sensitivity' About Race

Terrance Heath's apologia for misogynistic, homophobic, thuggery-glorifying rap music and Black hip-hop youth culture is horribly misplaced.  Though there's nothing that justifies the killing of Jordan Davis and the wounding of his friends by an obviously-deranged white man, his anger at the loud, vicious music that enraged him cannot be so readily dismissed.

I wonder if Heath has actually listened to much of current rap music, is familiar with readily-accessible rap songs such as "Dirty Bitch" and "Fast Car Bitch," what he thinks of rapper Too Short using the word "fuck" four times in one just one sentence of a rap vocal he mouths, how a lot of rap music by allegedly "militant" young Black males actually conforms to the standard Nazi-Ku Klux Klan stereotype of the young Black male as a dangerous, conscienceless thug?  Already this destructive aspect of rap "culture" was noted in the 1980s by Mumia Abu-jamal in his essay, "My Addidas;" yet such drivel gets actively promoted by "entrepreneurs" seeking the fast buck, even at the expense of decent and humane values.  No, this is the "culture" of the lumpenproletariat, not a legitimate cultural expression of Black freedom fighters such as the Civil Rights protestors of the 1960s, of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.  Yet it is too readily foisted as a "legitimate" cultural expression and is actively promoted by far too many in the Black music industry.

This cultural pathology drowns out the positive rap of groups like Public Enemy and Dead Prez, who do not get the airplay they deserve, nor the audiences of Black youth who could learn from their honest cultural expressions.  Just seems like another example of white overcompensation due to guilt, an excuse of anything Black, even when it clearly smacks of cultural and ethical nihilism.  It is definitely not a music of liberation, only of thuggery and destruction, and far too much tolerated by both Black and white.

George Fish
Indianapolis, Indiana

Freedom Rider Diary - Book Signings - Coast-to-Coast - March 3 - 10 (San Francisco, Burbank, Santa Monica, New York City, Framingham, MA)

A Celebration of  Working Women & International Women's Day! - New York - March 7

Women Uniting...Leading...And Moving Forward!

You Are Cordially Invited to Attend!

FRIDAY, MARCH 7,  2014
5:00 PM to 6:00 PM - Reception
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM - Event Program

Joseph S, Murphy Institute, CUNY
25 West 43rd Street, 18th Floor - Between Fifth & Sixth Avenues, NYC

In Honor of Women in the Workforce and in Their Unions

Welcome  Remarks

  • Paula Finn, Associate Director, Joseph S. Murphy Institute, CUNY
  • Sonia Ivany, Regional Director, WDI NYC & President NYC LCLAA
  • Maria Figueroa, Director, Labor & Industrial Research, Cornell, ILR

Keynote  Speaker

  • Honorable Letitia "Tish" James, Public Advocate of the  City of New York

International Women's Day Special Presentation

  • Barbara Edmonds, Field Director, DC 37 & Minerva Solla, VP  1199
  • Presentation: African Latina Women's Dance Troupe, 1199  SEIU

Panel  Presentations:
Women Who Move New York!
Latonya  Crisp-Sauray, Recording-Secretary, Local 100, Transport Workers Union

Women Educating for Our Future!
Evelyn De Jesus
, Manhattan Director, United Federation of Teachers Chair, NYS Labor Religion Coalition

Women Providing Health Care Services!
Helen Shaub
, VP, NYS Director of Policy & Legislation, 1199 SEIU  UHWE

Women Who Build New York!
Elly Spicer
, Director, NYC DC of Carpenters, Labor Technical  College

Women Who Provide Social Services!
Yolanda Pumarejo
, Executive VP, Local 371, SSEU, DC 37, AFSCME

Sponsoring Organizations:
Workforce Development Institute, NYC CLUW, NYC-CLC, AFL-CIO, The Worker Institute at Cornell ILR , Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education & Labor Studies, CUNY

Event is Free of Charge

Please RSVP to: or

For more information, please call -212-510-6307

Cecily McMillan Trail Postponed - Again - Motions Now to be presented March 19

Address: 100 Centre Street, Part 41
Motion Hearing on Wednesday, March 19th. Trial will commence once ruling on motion is made.

Once again, Cecily's trial has been postponed. Once again, the court system is flexing it's muscles and proving that we as activists are at the whim of an unjust system. The motion hearing has been moved to March 19th, when Judge Zweibel will consider the motion presented by CecilyÆs attorney, Martin Stolar to unseal the records of the prosecution's primary witness: Office Bovell. This continued postponement provides further evidence that this legal system actively fights against us.

This will be the first case in OWS where an NYPD officerÆs records may be unsealed. We already know that Bovell has been involved in numerous incidents of violence, both in and outside of Occupy. The various civil suits against Bovell paint a grim picture of who we are dealing with.

The next step to joining us is to come help create a community of support around Cecily at the Solidarity Party on March 1st. It will be held at 520 Clinton Ave in Brooklyn from 8pm to 2am. We will there be raising money to cover costs of the legal defense. We also need to continue keeping pressure on the DA and continue to call on the Manhattan District Attorney to drop all the charges against Cecily. Join us March 1 in person, and join us in our efforts to push back against this corrupt system.

Bex Kuuleipoinaole
posted on Facebook - Cecily's Judgement Day

Seventh CCDS/Kendra Alexander Foundation Banquet - Berkeley - March 30

"The Road to Genuine Democracy" -- Seventh Annual CCDS/Kendra Alexander Foundation Banquet

Sunday, March 30  ---  2 - 5 pm

Redwood Gardens Community Room
2951 Derby Street

We are delighted to announce that our keynote speaker will be Gayle McLaughlin, Green Mayor of Richmond since 2006. Mayor McLaughlinÆs focus on environmental justice has led the city to move forward as a leader on many environmental initiatives, including leading efforts in solar installation and a model green job training program. In 2013 she gained national attention with a plan to use RichmondÆs eminent domain power to acquire troubled mortgages so as to stop a new wave of foreclosures.

Our program will also include performances by the Vukani Mawethu choir, Eliot Kenin, and Hali Hammer; awards for local activists and dinner catered by Jordon Alexander.

Please take a moment to think of what the political future would be without a socialist movement and what the vision of socialism has meant for you. Your financial support gives you a share of the collective ownership of the CCDS and its future. Thank you.

In Solidarity,
Steve Willett

Tickets:  $35.00 per person
We also invite you to sponsor our banquet with a donation of $100. Sponsors will be listed on the program and will receive one complimentary ticket for a donation of $100; and an additional complimentary ticket for each additional $75.

Please make checks payable to CCDS and mail to Ellen Schwartz, 9629 Bradhugh Ct., Sacramento, CA 95827


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