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|Last update Jul 24, 2023
|WHAT DISTINGUISHES OUR PARTY – The line
running from Marx to Lenin to the foundation
of the Third International and the birth
of the Communist Party of Italy in Leghorn
(Livorno) 1921, and from there to the struggle
of the Italian Communist Left
against the degeneration in Moscow
and to the rejection of popular fronts
and coalition of resistance groups
– The tough work of restoring the revolutionary doctrine and the party organ, in contact with the working class, outside the realm of personal politics and electoralist manoevrings
|PUBLIC PARTY MEETINGS IN THE USA
To contact us, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Across the United States, 340,000
logistical workers, organized with the International Brotherhood of
Teamsters, have been struggling against UPS (United Parcel Service) for
increased wages, the end of a two-tier classification system, the end of
forced overtime, the creation of full-time positions, heat protections,
and other critical demands. Party militants across the United States
intervened in this struggle with the use of the following leaflet.
UPS Workers and the Working Class in the USA:
UPS workers are bringing a company which reported $100 billion in profits in 2022 to its knees. It is a powerful example of the kind of leverage workers can have when our unions organize themselves around strike power and national bargaining strategies beyond individual workplaces. Companies need workers because our labor is the only source of surplus value (true profit). The bourgeois press complains that the UPS strike is expected to result in $7 billion in economic “damages” if it extends past 10 days. It is true that workers can only defend ourselves from the bosses’ exploitation by “damaging” the companies’ profit-making capabilities. In our society dominated by the drive toward profit accumulation, workers’ only point of leverage to defend ourselves from the constant attacks of the employers lies in making collective demands and collectively withholding our labor in ever-growing numbers. When workers are divided, bargaining for isolated individual contracts around issues particular to a single section of workers, we are always in a weaker position. The fact that UPS workers created a credible strike threat against UPS, and have so far won on most all of their demands, points to the power workers can have when we unite across territories; however, for workers to maximize our leverage, solidarity must extend beyond the horizons of any one particular company and industry.
In the event of a strike, UPS would inevitably divert shipping to other firms they have contracted with; thus, we encourage UPS workers to link with the struggles of other logistical workers and appeal to their solidarity. We salute the 3,300 pilots from the Independent Pilots Association union committed to striking in solidarity with UPS workers. As is well known, Amazon workers are beginning to get unionized across the country. Today, USPS workers in the American Postal Workers Union continue to struggle against ever-deteriorating workplace conditions and low wages. Just last year, 100,000 rail workers across 12 different unions nearly led the largest strike in decades. In a strike against UPS, postal traffic would be diverted to all of these other sectors. For UPS workers to get the best deal, it is necessary for workers across these industries to unite and thwart the efforts of the company to undermine the strike. Since a UPS strike would impact the many capitalist firms that rely on the company for its services, the longer the strike extends, the more effective the workers are in bringing its operation to a halt, and the more likely it is that the agents of the two political parties representing the collective interests of the capitalist class will be tapped to activate the State’s coercive powers and attempt to force workers back to work.
The deteriorating living standard and working conditions of UPS workers is the result of a general capitalist crisis in which both Democrats and Republicans are just the puppets of the bourgeois State. Both parties act completely in line with the capitalist State’s only existential purpose, to ensure the profit-making ability of the capitalist class. Since the recession of 2008-2009, world capitalism has not yet emerged from economic crisis; we live in an unstable capitalism being kept alive with the band-aid fixes of large cash injections from central banks and the fresh blood of new surplus squeezed from increased rates of worker exploitation (faster work pace, lower wages, etc.). In recent years, this crisis has only gotten worse. In order to stabilize the system to prevent hyper-inflation in 2022 (a result of pandemic policies of quantitative easing and skyrocketing oil prices after the beginning of the imperialist war which exploded in Ukraine that year), the Federal Reserve increased interest rates. By raising interest rates, the State instigates the creation of unemployment, thus lowering wages and the leverage of workers in the labor market in order to preserve capitalism’s profit-making capability. As Jerome Powell (Democratic Party-nominated Chair of the Federal Reserve) said when raising interest rates, there needs to be “some softening of labor market conditions”. Powell also said that the Federal Reserve’s hope was “to get wages down and then get inflation down without having to slow the economy”. These policies are intended to attack workers’ collective bargaining power by creating more unemployment, putting workers in greater competition with each other, and enabling bosses to more easily break our solidarity, ward off strikes, and decrease wages. In short, both the Democratic and Republican Party continue to be tools in the hands of the bosses to repress and attack the working class and our ability to fight back.
As unfortunate as it is, both Teamsters leadership and the Democratic Socialists of America are in bed with the Democrats — politicians who do not hesitate to brutalize the working class. Teamsters leadership promotes Democratic politicians through their social media and in the 2018 elections spent $1,750,068 on political contributions to the Democratic Party. In the 2022 election cycle, UPS spent $3.5 million on political contributions to both Democrats and Republicans. So today, UPS workers are fighting against a company that gives money to the same party to which the leadership of the union gives money! As for the DSA, in December 2022, 3 out of 4 of DSA-US House of Representatives members voted yes for the law that imposed an agreement on rail workers that did not include the sick days that rail workers struggled for. This law took railroad workers’ supposed “right to strike” away and forced them back to work under brutal conditions similar to those that UPS workers experience. This act of class war was a bi-partisan affair with the vast majority of Democrats (including DSA Democrats) and Republicans falling into line to ensure the struggle of rail workers was snuffed out and repressed!
With UPS workers continuing to be on the move and bourgeois parties working to extend and continue their influence on the working class, it is with relentless, unified, offensive class action that UPS workers and the working class as a whole may defend its living and working conditions. We salute UPS workers for their combative footing in the course of their recent campaign. We encourage UPS workers to keep up the fight — don’t leave part time workers behind! Consider the positive impact that striking can have for the wider working class. Onwards!For United Class Action!
What did the supporters of Ukraine and the "rule of law" expect? That Prigozhin’s mercenary troops would lead a revival of "true democracy" in Russia? Said this way, it sounds like a highly improbable statement.
Yet for those who disdain revolution, the collapse of the enemy’s home front in a war is only possible through a sudden and unexpected outbreak of military anarchy.
Following the logic of the lesser of two evils, many were convinced — at least for a few hours — to choose between Putin and Prigozhin, perhaps thinking him only a temporary evil so that Ukraine, the West and democracy would prevail against Russia, even at the cost of making a celebration out of it, as certain experts in geopolitics and military affairs predict and wish.
In war, capitalism, having reached its imperialist stage, reveals its true, fascist nature behind every fighting front, behind its parliamentary democratic veneer.
We communists do not choose between two
factions struggling for power in an imperialist State. Certainly we regret
not seeing the proletariat rise up against this war, infamous on both
sides of the front; but in the absence of the world communist party this
solution is impossible.
While the Atlantic bourgeois regret not having seen Prigozhin beat Putin, Putin’s supporters see in him the ferryman to a "multipolar" world, in which they hope there will be no room for US hegemony.
But they must take note of the latest episode of the television-style series in which the progressive abjuration of the Russian revolution of October 1917 was revealed, the "stab in the back", rightly attributed by Putin to the Bolsheviks, against the imperialist WWI, of the Tsar before, and of the bourgeois after February.
It is becoming increasingly impossible for the Muscovite government to adopt a State ideology capable of harmonizing the federation of republics with the historical past of Russia, prison of peoples, claimed in toto starting from Ivan the Terrible through Peter the Great and reaching as far as the faded and inept Nicholas II.
Putin will not be able to cease to be republican and tsarist at the same time, just as his Turkish counterpart Erdoğan will continue to be moderately Kemalist in form but Ottoman at heart, as well as in Turkey’s imperialist projections.
It is no coincidence that both heads of State have had to defend themselves against coups d’état and it is no coincidence that every time this has happened they have had to support each other, in spite of the age-old rhetoric of national history, which on the one hand wanted to free the Christian faithful from sultan, on the other to defend good Muslim believers from the hated "moskof".
Adopting mercenary troops is always a double-edged sword. If you manage to reassure your population by sheltering them at least in part from the deaths of war, the soldiers of fortune are always treacherous and ready to change sides: versed in the profession of arms, they sell themselves to the highest bidder and readily abandon those destined for defeat.
Russia’s internal balance of power remains unstable. The war will have to continue with the army’s morale decimated by enemy bullets and defections.
The reason of State will continue to be that screen behind which to hide the abomination of the organized violence of the ruling class. But it is possible that one day the co-honest raison d’état, amidst wars, revolts and exterminations, will end up in military anarchy. The State’s sagging institutional and military superstructures are already showing cracks.
Then let this filthy Behemoth of capital fall to the ground, the proletariat will then deliver its fatal coup de grace and the communist future will again truly be within the reach of humanity.
Mexico’s working class has long lacked the benefits of an independent labor movement, similar to those in the United States and Canada. Low wages, scarcity of labor rights and impunity in cases of labor rights violations have made Mexico an attractive investment destination for international capital. The Mexican bourgeoisie has largely allowed the arrival of new capital, driven by the prospect of more open export markets and the hope of alleviating the various crises the country has faced. This overproduction has led countries like the United States to export their surplus capital to Mexico, where labor exploitation can grow unhindered, thus alleviating the crisis and undermining labor movements throughout North America. Working class responses to this international problem have been marked by theoretical confusion. Now we are again faced with an impending crisis and an increase in capital exports to Mexico, largely influenced by the trade war with China. This underscores the need for a unity of interests among the working class in all countries and the importance of a clear workers’ program, guided by an independent communist party. Such a party must confront the challenges of international trade, capital flows and imperial conflicts arising on the continent in a comprehensive manner, without repeating the shortcomings of previous movements that focused primarily on national approaches.
The international movement of capital is strongly influenced by overproduction, which leads capital-rich countries such as the United States to look for new ways and places to invest. Previously, this capital flow was directed towards China because of its economic openness, but presently there is an increase in its movement towards countries such as Mexico. This shift became evident during the US-China trade war, which resulted in a stagnation of Chinese commodity imports to the US, signaling that the flow of capital exports from the US to China has decreased. In fact, China now has its own surplus capital that it seeks to export, which is reflected in the declining share of commodity exports in its GDP. On the other hand, commodity exports from Mexico and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to the United States have experienced significant growth, signaling that US capital has begun to move to these locations. Among these is India, where a phenomenon equivalent to that of Mexico can be observed. Despite belonging to the bloc of nations known as BRICS, a formation of large regional economies also including Brazil, Russia, India and China, Mexico has not seen explicit sanctions from the US government, thus indicating that economic factors, combined with the trade war, have redirected capital exports to countries like Mexico. This shift has benefited several Mexican industries, such as the automotive and computer parts sectors.
The growth of capital in Mexico has empowered the Mexican bourgeoisie to reverse past trade impositions. This shift in the balance of trade in Mexico’s favor began after the signing of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Free trade had a positive impact on Mexico’s exports to the United States, resulting in an influx of capital into Mexico. However, this trend was hampered by increasing US investment in China at the turn of the century, and has intensified again since the US-China trade war. With its newfound power, the Mexican State has implemented protectionist measures to safeguard its domestic markets, including the “nationalization” of 13 electricity-generating plants belonging to the Spanish company Iberdrola, and the prohibition of genetically modified corn for human consumption and glyphosate. Additionally, the export of crude oil produced by Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) has been reduced, with future plans to completely halt exportation entirely. The nationalization of lithium mines has been carried out as well. These measures have allowed Mexican capital to have greater control over numerous industries that were previously dominated by foreign investors.
The Mexican Business Council (CMN) confirmed that Mexican companies will invest $30 billion by 2023. Rolando Vega, president of CMN, which includes the 62 largest companies in the country, told the media that the historic opportunity presented by the potential relocation of companies, also known as “nearshoring”, must be seized. The Mexican government also estimates that by the end of the year there will be a 3% growth, driven mainly by direct foreign investment, as a result of nearshoring. In 2022, the foreign investment figure reached $35 billion, the highest since 2015. It appears this amount will continue to increase in the coming years. Interest rates have been rising almost in parallel with those of the US. In May interest rates were 11.25%, avoiding a massive outflow of capital, and this has played out in favor of the peso appreciating against the dollar. At that time, $1 was equivalent to an average of 18 pesos, while during the previous government $1 was equivalent to an average of 20 pesos. Banking capital is one of the most benefited. The 15 richest families in the country have increased their fortunes by 645 billion pesos, in contrast to the increase in the number living in poverty from 51.9 million to 55.7 million. The government is managing with a neoliberal policy in the classic style, despite its critical attitude toward previous governments.
On the other hand, the United States seeks to protect its access to Mexican markets in a variety of ways, despite the increasing flow of capital into Mexico and the power this gives the country. One such strategy is through the threat of a trade war. The Office of the US Trade Representative has issued an ultimatum to Mexico, demanding the opening of its markets to genetically modified corn, foreign oil companies and energy producers, as well as increases in oversight. If no agreement is reached, the case will be submitted to an arbitration panel under T-MEC (known in the US as USMCA, or the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement), which replaced NAFTA, and American sanctions will be imposed on Mexico. In addition to this threat, some Republican politicians, such as Senator Lindsey Graham and former President Donald Trump, have mentioned the possibility of military intervention in Mexico, justified by the cartels’ control of fentanyl production. This position reflects the ideological consensus within the US Republican Party. While this military intervention is only remotely possible, it would certainly be used to address US trade concerns in Mexico. The American media reflects these new attitudes, emphasizing the alleged loss of democracy under the AMLO government, the “control” of Mexico by drug cartels, and other significant problems.
NAFTA and its successor agreement have had significant effects not only on trade disputes, but also on the Mexican labor movement. After the Mexican Revolution, many sectors in Mexico were dominated by State unions that were often under the direct control of the regime. These unions “negotiated” wage increases that, in reality, resulted in a decrease in workers’ purchasing power. Following the crises of 1976 and ‘83, the search for greater surplus value and the need for export markets led the Mexican bourgeoisie to open the country to trade, which destabilized the import substitution model previously used. These changes, together with the effectiveness of controlled unions, which were used to reduce wages, led to a historic decline in wages in Mexico and the impoverishment of its working class. In response to the large flow of capital into Mexico, the programs of the Mexican, American and Canadian working classes converged in the creation of independent Mexican unions. Strikes were held in all three countries, putting pressure on their respective governments. In response, the United States proposed the North American Labor Agreement (NAALC), a treaty that bureaucratized the investigation of labor violations and sought to appease the working class without solving the underlying problem. Finally, due to the aforementioned pressure and the perception that the Mexican labor system represented “unfair competition”, especially from conservative sectors in the US, greater labor protections were agreed to in the T-MEC (USMCA) in 2018. These protections, however, existed only in theory until the signing of labor reforms in 2019, which improved the process for reporting labor violations and poor working conditions. This was in large part thanks to pressure from Mexican unions.
Another phenomenon that characterizes relations between the United States and Mexico is migration. We can observe that the movement of migrants responds to the needs of capital in the region. From 2005-14, the migration trend was mainly dominated by emigration from the United States to Mexico. This trend has gained prominence since the pandemic, when many American workers moved to Mexican cities to escape rising living costs at home and to take advantage of remote working. This trend, however, increasingly impoverishes the Mexican working class. In contrast, the United States has experienced high rates of immigration from other countries, which helps to valorize American surplus capital and reduce production costs, thus alleviating the country’s prevailing overproduction problem and impoverishing the domestic working class. However, this effect has not been sufficient to solve the problem. Contrary to what one might think, more and more Mexicans are returning to their country, motivated by the same reasons as Americans. The bourgeois media present this as a confrontation between the two populations, where some win and others lose. In reality, this apparent conflict between the two nations shows the unity of the working class, driven by the flow and concentration of capital. The American working class cannot be free while the Mexican working class is in chains; neither can Mexican workers be free while neighboring Americans are exploited.
This internationalism is in stark contrast to the traditional rhetoric of the bourgeoisie, which promotes nationalist divisions. Time and again, the Mexican bourgeoisie seeks to extol national interests, represented by economic growth driven by the flow of capital into Mexico, as interests that unite the Mexican proletariat and its national bourgeoisie. These interests, however, are directly opposed to those of the workers, since “national glory” is always at the expense of the blood and toil of workers. First, this flow of capital into Mexico is based on the potential surplus value of the Mexican worker, which is considerably higher than that of countries like China and the United States. The supposed “national interest” in this case is to maximize labor exploitation in order to attract more capital. To achieve this, both the bourgeoisie and the nation have an interest in increasing the working day, reducing wages and decreasing investment in labor safety measures. Historically, this is what has happened under conditions of strong corporatism, controlled unions and the labor system utilized during the 1980s. The Mexican bourgeoisie worked successfully to convert economic growth into the casualization of Mexican labor seen today. As long as this is not the case, and wages go up, it will only be because of the coordinated action of the workers, and external circumstances that do not allow it. The presence of a strong opportunist left is essential to divert workers’ struggles and absorb them back into the logic of capital, all for the sake of maintaining national order and capitalist economic growth.
Mexico’s populist government seeks to “integrate” the interests of the working class with that of the nation. However, improvements for the working class will only materialize if it remains independent and militant in the face of the bourgeoisie. The adherence of the most advanced branches of the proletariat to the left bourgeois parties would represent the end of the struggle and a massive disarmament of the working class. A resulting popular front would be subject to the inevitable laws of capitalist competition and, despite the good intentions of its leaders, would only achieve concessions to the extent that they do not disturb the relations of production. In times of growth, these concessions would be convenient for disarming the workers, and in times of crisis, they would only translate into greater labor precariousness, which would be made possible by their disarmament. A naïve view of the current situation could lead us to conclude that support for the United States is the best thing to do, as the US seeks to improve freedom of association in Mexico. However, reality shows that the US is in the same situation as Mexico. Its support for independent unions is based on the fact that Mexican labor exploitation is considered “unfair” to its national interests, and only then are small concessions appropriate. However, when independent Mexican unions do not contribute to the growth of American industry, especially during a crisis when there is a capital surplus, their national interests would change. At that point, Mexico would not be seen as attracting American capital in an “unfair” way, but would be alleviating the world crisis by absorbing global capital surplus. The bourgeois world would be compelled to maximize exploitation in Mexico, and imperialist competitors would converge on this objective despite their differences.
Faced with the negative consequences of a popular front, the only solution for the workers lies in strengthening the labor movement to the detriment of capital and the nation. Given that the interests of the workers are contrary to those of the nation, and that they can only achieve improvements through an independent labor movement, it is necessary to take this further and advocate revolutionary defeatism, turning setbacks in any imperialist conflict into advances for the revolutionary seizure of power. In the short term, this materializes in an independent, international movement with a program oriented toward wage increases, shorter working hours and improvements in working conditions, against national interests in both Mexico and the US. The programs of proletarian struggle in each country should not be limited to purely national demands, since historically it has been shown that capital will use the weaker position of the proletariat in other nations to weaken the strongest workers’ movements. Only in this way can apparent national antagonisms like gentrification and immigration be resolved, and the real antagonism between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat be revealed.
This central contradiction lies at the very heart of the capitalist system, lurking in the depths of divergence between the social nature of the mode of production and the individual appropriation characteristic of capital. This contradiction manifests itself in the conflict between the bourgeoisie and proletariat, but it is also reflected in the very core of the US empire. The United States stands as the predominant world force due to its economic power, which makes it the epicenter of crises in overproduction and the producer of a massive surplus of capital that needs to be exported to countries like China, India or Mexico, where it is more profitable to unload. The export of this capital simultaneously strengthens these nations, creating national bourgeoisies powerful enough to challenge American domination. This phenomenon has been evident in the current case of China, as well as in the history of the United States, itself once a center for European investment. Thus, American power is characterized by this crucial contradiction: its economic power enables it to exercise global dominance, but at the same time drives it to strengthen potential rivals capable of confronting it. This contradiction will inevitably find its resolution in imperialist wars, but it also contains within itself its own negation, opening up the possibility of a society beyond capitalism struggling to emerge.
In summary, Mexico is at a pivotal historical moment. It has experienced a significant increase in capital inflows, which has strengthened its economy and allowed it to gain control of key domestic markets such as oil, corn and lithium, among others. In the face of the US government’s uncertain response, Mexican leaders have resorted to nationalist and opportunistic rhetoric to mobilize workers in defense of the homeland and against the United States. However, this political alliance only serves to maintain the bourgeois order and, due to economic necessities, imposes the interests of the bourgeoisie on all other classes. This translates into the generalized impoverishment of the population, a result that unfortunately aligns with what has historically occurred in similar situations in Mexico. This situation not only represents a defeat for the working class in one country, but for an entire continent.
Therefore, it is the duty of the working classes throughout North America to coordinate their actions in a unified program that addresses the specific problems facing workers in each nation. In this way, they will be able to confront the movement of capital between countries as a tool of the bourgeoisie. This movement is only a reflection of the growing need to obtain surplus value and only generates imperialist conflicts, such as the one we are currently witnessing. Its solution lies in proletarian revolution and the destruction of capital entirely.
As the economic crisis worsened and the government’s recipes for dealing with it at least partially failed, the Turkish bourgeoisie found a diversion in the vindication of democratic freedoms, protest over cronyism and widespread corruption. A heterogeneous set of grievances against the ruling party came to the attention of voters: disrespect for civil rights, women, minorities, Kurds, homosexuals and trans people; lack of merit in access to State organs and offices; hostile stance toward Western-style secular democratic principles; arbitrary arrests of opponents and journalists and subsequent court convictions.
Yes, some space was given to the oppression of the working class, but in the debunked forms in which it is denounced by every bourgeois opposition force, insisting on the lack of job security, wages below subsistence and the legally established minimum, the legal presence of child workers in factories, etc.
The opposition had therefore declared this year’s elections crucial, that “the people” would finally make the “right decision” and that “Turkey” would emerge from this difficult situation. Many leftist parties adhered to this rhetoric.
This presented a “polarized” society in which, even in significant sections
of the working class, there was an expectation that “this time” would
achieve a real electoral “victory”. “Turkey” would return to the path of
parliamentary democracy and solve its problems peacefully, according to the
democratic standards of a European State and become a country “better able
to compete with the world”.
Instead, this round of elections has also been yet another showdown between bourgeois gangs, which for now suggests at least a temporary compromise between the warring factions, with the winner Erdoğan’s coven trying to grab the lion’s share.
One of the internal contrasts within the Turkish bourgeoisie is between organizations of the industrial bosses. The large industrialists were traditionally organized in the TÜSİAD (Turkish Industry and Business Association), founded in 1971, with more than 2,100 members representing 4,500 companies, which fuel 80% of foreign trade, employ 50% of the workforce and pay 80% of the companies’ taxes. In contrast, a new, relatively small but fast-growing group of bosses is organized in the MÜSİAD (Association of Independent Industrialists and Entrepreneurs), founded in 1990, with 13,000 members controlling 60,000 companies. The TÜSİAD declares itself secular and pro-Western, the MÜSİAD Islamist and pro-government.
On the external front, the TÜSİAD favors close relations with the West, particularly the United States, while the MÜSİAD supports the policies of the current government, which aspires to become a relatively independent regional imperialist power.
In the early years Erdoğan was supported by the TÜSİAD, who openly backed his bid for EU membership. But after the time of the Gezi movement in 2013, Erdoğan and the TÜSİAD drifted apart until Erdoğan accused the TÜSİAD of siding with the opposition. Erdoğan, in addition to being a politician, is the head of one of the largest “families” in Turkey today, with considerable influence in the new bourgeoisie organized in the MÜSİAD.
Between the “old” and the “new” bourgeoisie, the major accusation boils down
to that of “unfair competition”, the rampant bourgeoisie, favored by the
government, often employing immigrant workers at very low wages and in poor
conditions, while large industries are mostly obliged to hire within the
framework of legal regulations. Another issue is the government’s policies
on interest rates.
Despite what was said in election propaganda, Erdoğan’s first move after the elections was to extend an olive branch to the big bourgeoisie. Mehmet Şimşek, known for his closeness to strict Western-style economic policies, was appointed as a powerful minister of treasury and finance — a clear attempt to soften the financial markets. In addition, controversial figures such as Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu found no place in the cabinet.
The TÜSİAD immediately accepted Erdoğan’s generous offer, calling for stability and reforms. Some opposition journalists and economists went further and, endorsing Mehmet Şimşek’s appointment, agreed that “we are all in the same boat”.
Thus, just as the results of the elections were determined at the table and not at the ballot box, the end of the country’s crisis was dissolved not by the flaunted “will of the people” but by moves calculated in consideration of the power relations among the domestic bourgeois gangs and among the imperialist powers. Erdoğan’s victory was at the same time a victory for Russia, the Gulf States and most European States, which fear migrants, and a partial defeat for the United States and European States whose interests are more aligned with NATO.
With the resolution of the crisis in Turkey, the U.S. in particular will not hesitate to normalize relations with Erdoğan, in exchange for allowing Sweden to join NATO, and perhaps with the delivery of F-16s, which was denied after the purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft weapon system.
All these facts suggest that in all likelihood a compromise has been reached on Turkey and its place in the imperialist hierarchy.
However, the economy remains in serious crisis, official inflation is still
over 40% annually, and a significant recovery in accumulation is certainly
not in sight. In short, it would be wrong to think that the warring parties
have permanently recomposed their disagreements.
None of the parties that participated in the elections promised lighter working conditions and hours or wage increases that would counter inflation. No party demanded more rights for oppressed minorities or refugees fleeing war.
When one considers who has been harmed and who has benefited from the common positions of the opposing parties, it is clear that all are actually on the side of the bourgeoisie and never of the workers.
Democracy is a system in which there is no place for parties that oppose the bourgeoisie.
The participation of communists in elections, besides being of no effect toward the seizure of power by the working class, is now also to be ruled out as a propaganda forum, because of the serious misunderstandings it inevitably engenders in the class about the revolutionary aims of the party.Bourgeois democracy now throughout the world no longer contains any progressive aspects. All the more so for the workers and the oppressed.
Even these elections in Turkey, beyond the red-hot climate between the two sides of the parties, were kept within the democratic institutional framework and did not have the disruptive, perhaps even bloody, outcomes that a propaganda interested in dramatizing that card-carrying ritual was hinting at. In fact, the aim of the ruling class is to shift the attention of proletarians to interclass issues and to prevent any circumstantial and non-generic reference to the working-class condition, even by artfully emphasizing and magnifying the minimal and insignificant program differences between the parties in the field.
The elections in Turkey proved once again that the bourgeoisie, behind the democratic mask, as long as it can will never give up an iota of State repression. Turkey’s oppressed groups (women, Kurds, homosexuals, trans people, immigrants, etc.) know this: genocide, torture, massacres, forced migration, executions, unjust sentences and similar disgusting and monstrous events are not a thing of the past! As much as the bourgeois States try to hide it, as much as they deny it, they continue to commit these abominations.
The Kurds, the women, the discriminated, those who pay the price for these cruelties, will never be able to mitigate the oppression they suffer through the instrument of elections. Of course, before the elections some parties of the bourgeois left claimed “you can solve your problems by voting for us every four years”. This attitude only reinforces the illusion that the solution lies in voting rather than in subordinating every social demand to the strength of the working class, its independent organization, unionization and strikes, and rather than the delusion that it is easier to achieve socialism through reformism, “common sense” and an electoral victory.
The will of capital will always come out of the ballot box. It will not be education that will open voters’ eyes. Nor will their status as exploited wage earners or oppressed minorities. The dominant ideology will always be the ideology of the ruling class. Only in the Communist Party is the condemnation of bourgeois society consciously guarded.
The idea that the young proletarian and oppressed generations will come to communism solely because of the effect of social evolution and the increasingly cosmopolitan environment, access to more information thanks to the internet and the rapid increase in the number of students in universities and migration from rural to urban areas is completely wrong.
In fact, these elections have shown that right-wing tendencies are also on the rise in the younger generation. Many, including young people, complain that the current government is not racist enough, that immigrants are the cause of their problems.
Once again it has been shown that the road to workers’ liberation does not pass through bourgeois democracy.
The true communist party does not give up its principles and is not
afraid to express them lest it lose supporters or, worse, votes! The true
communist party has nothing to do with bourgeois democracy, which stinks
like a sewer, where we are fed filthy lies of all kinds.
In the first half of 2023, several important class struggles took place in Turkey. Continuing the period of struggles initiated by the strike of Kocaeli Bekaert workers organized in the Birleşik Metal (DİSK) union on December 13-30 (“Bekaert Strike Despite Strike Ban”) and the Antep foundry strike that united Turkish and Syrian workers and ended on January 5 (“Turkish and Syrian Foundry Workers Unite in Gaziantep”), we can consider these struggles as signs that the reaction of the Turkish working class to the economic crisis is approaching a critical threshold. On the other hand, it is important to note that these struggles took place as independent cases and have not yet emerged as a common class movement.
The biggest struggles in this period took place in the private sector,
mostly in workplaces where DİSK or Türk-İş unions were organized. The most
important exception to this was the de facto strike of the Trendyol GO motor
carriers in the first month of the year. On January 16, workers in Istanbul
gathered in front of the company’s headquarters to protest working
conditions and low wages, and shut down their bikes. On January 17, 350
workers in Izmir and 300 in Bursa joined the struggle. The struggle of
Trendyol GO workers would continue until an agreement was reached with the
employer on January 24th. The Tourism, Entertainment and Service Workers
Union, which is very active among the strikers and is not part of any
confederation, described the agreement, in which the employer made certain
concessions, as a gain. The small base unions outside the confederations
contain some of the most combative sections of the Turkish working class and
are fighting hard first to organize and then for better living and working
conditions in many difficult sectors that the opportunist leaders of the
leftist confederations and regime confederations do not want to get involved
in. However, it should not be overlooked that the base unions outside the
confederations have, for the time being, very little numerical strength and
influence in the wider class. At a time when workers in the rank and file of
DİSK and even Türk-İş have begun to struggle en masse, it can be said that
the struggles of the small rank and file unions are lagging behind to some
It would not be long before the workers of Birleşik Metal would be engaged in another important struggle. On February 26th, 1200 workers at Mata Otomativ in Tuzla, Istanbul, which produces spare parts for Tesla, walked off the job despite threats from the boss, demanding the reinstatement of 50 militant workers who had been fired, improved working conditions, workplace safety and a raise. Continued threats turned the one-hour work stoppage into an indefinite de facto strike. The number of workers fired by the company during the process would reach 650, and scabs would enter the factory where riot police prevented workers from approaching. The company executives eventually approached the leaders of the CHP and the İYİP and asked for help. In response, a prominent CHP MP instructed Birleşik Metal leaders to “get together with the employer and end this business”. Although the opportunist Birleşik Metal management failed to comply with this instruction from their political patrons, when the workers came to Ankara on the 30th day of their resistance to make their voices heard, the chairman of Birleşik Metal visited another senior CHP leader and asked the party to get involved in the process on behalf of the workers. The Mata workers were sent off from the CHP headquarters with slogans, but the CHP’s support did not go much beyond that. Mata workers continue their struggle in Tuzla.
On March 31st, Uluğ Enerji workers organized by another DİSK member union, Enerji Sen, began their struggle with a one-day work stoppage in Bursa, Balıkesir, Yalova and Çanakkale over a dispute in the collective agreement. Although unions in the energy sector do not have the legal right to strike, the 1700 workers organized by Enerji Sen would continue their struggle with actions such as work slowdowns. On April 10, the workers set out from the cities where they worked, met in Ankara and staged a demonstration in front of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. The struggle of Uluğ Enerji workers continues, demanding a raise and an end to the suppression of union activities.
Members of Genel İş, the union of DİSK that organizes municipal workers,
have also been involved in important struggles recently. The collective
bargaining negotiations between Genel İş and the Social Democrat Public
Employers’ Union (SODEMSEN), of which the workers of IZELMAN and IZENERJİ
companies belonging to the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality are members,
failed to reach a conclusion. Although one of the leaders of Genel-İş
said, “[t]he best collective agreement is the one that ends at the table”,
workers at İZELMAN, which employs over 7,000 workers, and İZENERJİ, which
employs 10,000 workers, rejected the 35% and then 38% raises and harsh
working conditions imposed on them. At IZELMAN, male workers grew beards,
while those in official clothes went to work in civilian clothes to
protest against the municipality. On April 5, Genel İş decided for a
three-hour work stoppage. On April 17, SODEMSEN and Genel İş agreed on a
54% raise at İZELMAN. SODEMSEN offered IZENERJI 45%, but the workers
rejected it. On April 18, IZENERJI workers stopped work for half a day and
demonstrated in front of the company headquarters. The collective
bargaining process of İZENERJİ workers is still not finalized.
The struggle of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality workers against the effects of the economic crisis and intensive working conditions has found an echo in Selçuk, one of the city’s districts. After the ongoing collective bargaining negotiations between Belediye İş, a union affiliated to the Türk İş Confederation, and SODEMSEN, representing the Selçuk Municipality, failed to reach an agreement, on April 4th the union announced that it would hold a ballot in front of its 400 members to vote on whether to go on strike. 92% of the workers voted yes to striking, thus making the strike decision official. If no agreement is reached between the union and SODEMSEN, the strike is expected to start in June after a 60-day period.
Meanwhile, the main agenda for Türk İş in the first half of 2023 was the pay raise for 700,000 public workers with private sector status in the negotiations on the Framework Protocol for Public Collective Labor Agreements for 2023, which started on January 20th. The confederations representing the workers, Türk İş and Hak İş, were demanding a 45% raise against the State’s offer of 30%. On April 5-6, in Istanbul, Kocaeli, Eskişehir and Kayseri, workers from Harb İş, the union of Türk İş organized in the war industry, protested against the confederations’ demand for a below-inflation rate of pay and the fact that unionists were paid 4 to 5 times more than workers in what they described as “a rebellion that will continue to grow all over Turkey”. The workers demanded a 60% raise. On April 17th in Eskişehir, Harb İş members once again took to the streets to protest against Türk İş, Hak İş and the government. On April 18th, Harb Workers took to the streets in Ankara and Kayseri, and again on April 19th in Ankara, Marmaris and Afyon. In addition to Türk İş and Hak İş, Harb İş executives also took part in the protests. The fate of the raise that hundreds of thousands of public sector workers will receive remains uncertain as of now.
In April, Petrol workers also carried out a series of class actions. In
early April, in Kocaeli, 400 workers of the fertilizer producer Gübretaş,
who were members of Petrol İş, began to consider going on strike after no
new negotiations took place between the union and the boss. At Gübretaş,
where the union had demanded a 150% raise, the employer first offered 50%
and then 65%. On April 17, the workers staged a two-hour work stoppage.
The possibility of the struggle at Gübretaş evolving into a legal strike
remains. In the same period, on April 15th, 3 struggling workers, members
of Petrol İş, were fired from Drogsan pharmaceutical company in Ankara.
The workers did not go back to work on Saturday and started a protest in
front of the factory on Monday morning, April 17th. During the meeting
between the union and the boss, it was decided that the workers would
return to work until the meeting in the evening where the dismissed
workers were reinstated. Finally, in Mersin, the Soda and Kromsan
Factories and Salt Works failed to reach an agreement in the collective
bargaining negotiations and a legal strike has been called for May 12th.
Due to the schedule of collective bargaining negotiations in Turkey, workers’ struggles tend to intensify in the Spring. The wave of struggles that emerged after the central actions organized by DİSK on the minimum wage and KESK on the livelihood problems of public employees, which we discussed in our article “Class Struggle on the Rise in Turkey” in March 2022, was limited to the health sector, where inter-class tendencies are strong, as well as not very large enterprises organized by DİSK member unions, small unions outside the confederations and non-union workers who went on de facto strikes. In the 2023 strike wave, struggles took place in a larger number of enterprises with more workers. Workers who were members of DİSK fought in more sectors and in larger workplaces. It is a very important development that Türk İş members from different sectors also started to mobilize, especially the members of Harb Labor, who became the voice of 700,000 public sector workers in a widespread way, targeting regime unionism. By far the largest trade union confederation in Turkey, Türk İş is also the most useful regime trade union confederation of the Turkish bourgeoisie in keeping the working class in line.
The greatest weakness of the current wave of class struggles is that even the struggles of workers in the same enterprise and in the same line of work are taking place independently of each other. It is true that this is partly due to the way bourgeois law regulates collective labor agreements. On the other hand, the opportunist leaders of DİSK do not try to overcome this situation, which the leaders of Türk İş openly exploit to prevent workers from uniting, and instead of calling for class solidarity, they find the solution in begging for help from opposition bourgeois politicians. The emancipation of the working class, even in the unions, does not come from the ceiling, that is, from the agreements made by opportunist or pro-regime union leaders with each other, or with politicians and bosses. According to the International Communist Party, the solution lies in the unification of all the rank-and-file unions of the working class of Turkey, big and small, into a single front against the attacks of the bourgeoisie, drawing the workers oppressed by the regime unions to its side starting with the most combative ones.
And in these days, as we are about to close this issue of our newspaper, we come to the uprising in the French suburbs. It’s not the first explosion of discontent, but the most angry and widespread in the French banlieues, extending to hundreds of towns large and small, and has even crossed national borders, infecting Switzerland and Belgium.
A revolt without organization, without a political program and without immediate social objectives, like the previous ones, with assaults on shopping centers, ATMs, and police stations, carried out mostly by young and very young people.
These features of spontaneity and the absence of demands lend themselves to
the falsifications of the bourgeois press, which must conceal that their
king is naked and make a society in decay, decomposition, and putrefaction,
presentable and worthy of defense.
The blame for the riots, according to some, lies with immigrants of the Islamic faith, whose children, now French citizens, are unable and unwilling to integrate. Or the parents, of the loss of family authority. Two inconsistent and mutually incompatible explanations.
This revolt may be, at least for now, without a political or social program, but its intensity and extent makes it an expression of a deep malaise that cannot be dismissed by the miserable and impotent justificatory explanations of the bourgeois parties and press. A malaise expressed by thousands of unemployed youth.
It is an uprising of proletarian youth in an era in which 100 years of counterrevolution — Stalinist, fascist and democratic — have deprived the world proletariat of its party and class unions. Perhaps only now has the proletariat resumed the march of struggle, which will lead it to regain possession of its fundamental weapons of war, by which it will tear down rotten capitalist society. France may be one of the theaters of this new beginning.
Under these historical conditions, it could not be otherwise. It is not surprising that such uprisings do not attach themselves to parties, trade unions and other organs of social struggle. But this will happen, to the extent that the working class, in France and in all countries, is able to equip itself with genuine trade unions, ousting the agents of the bourgeoisie from the leadership of the present organizations, and defeating every form of all political trade union opportunism. It is a process whose success goes hand in hand with the strengthening of the International Communist Party.
The proletarians of the banlieues are not “integrated” into French bourgeois society because it is the entire proletariat that is less and less so, pushed back day by day into its real condition as an oppressed and exploited class, for which the words “citizenship”, “rights”, and “democracy” are only hateful and deceptive trappings.
We do not, therefore, lament the lack of integration into bourgeois society of the proletarians of the banlieues and all the slums of capital’s urban monstrosities, but we need to work toward their integration into the anti-capitalist struggle for the defense of the immediate needs of the entire working class.
In France the movement against pension reform, and earlier strikes for wage increases, marked an important step forward in strengthening class unionism. But the weight of regime unionism is still heavy, and the influence of opportunism in the combative trade union currents equally so. This restrains the integration of all its forces, including the invaluable forces of unemployed youth, into the proletarian struggle.
Confronted with the uprising, the new confederal leadership of the CGT could do nothing better than to issue its federation’s communiqué on June 29th framing the police officers: “Drama in Nanterre: the authorities must react!”.
The CGT leadership is not appealing to the workers to mobilize against police violence, also widely manifested in the movement of struggle against pension reform, but to the “public powers”, who are nothing more than cogs of the regime wielding such violence! They appeal to the executioners. After all, they organize the fuckers in the same union as the fucked.
“Unitè Cgt”, the area in which most of the conflicting currents of this regime union converge, which at its latest congress last March gained about 36% support, issued a communiqué calling, in the event that the government decreed a state of emergency, for a national general strike to force the resignation of the government, the dissolution of parliament, and the reform of the police and other institutions.
This is a false appeal for workers’ mobilization: in fact, the state of emergency is already in place, with 45,000 officers mobilized every night, thousands of arrests, and the courts summarily trying and sentencing hundreds of young people every day. The goal of reforming the institutions, the police, that is, the bourgeois State, makes explicit the reformist wishful thinking of such conflicting currents.
Young proletarians and the entire working class need a party that tells them clearly that this is the true face of the bourgeois regime, that democracy is only a veil to hide the dictatorship of the capitalist class over the working class. The goal that will assert itself in practice is not reform, but the destruction of the bourgeois State through the revolutionary seizure of power and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Only the political power of the working class will be able to crush the resistance of the ousted capitalists and implement the revolutionary transformations of the communist program.
Almost two centuries ago, we communists realized that the modern State is merely a “committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie” — that is, the whole class of bosses and owners. This remains true today. The State grows out of the capitalist economy, has its roots in it; its economic power relies on the revenues generated by capitalist accumulation. It depends, therefore, upon the dirty secret of all capitalist production: exploitation of the working class.
With Britain in the midst of a dramatic flare-up of the class struggle, workers in industries like rail are being encouraged to look towards a single, miraculous cure for all of their troubles. This cure, peddled by the Labour Party, union leaderships and self-proclaimed socialist organizations alike, is nationalization — the takeover of a given industry by the State. Even labour formations with a reputation for radicalism have uncritically accepted the notion that, by making the State their boss, workers can improve their economic position. For example, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, vilified as an extreme and unreasonable organization for its role in the ongoing rail strikes, demanded in 2021 that “the Government make urgent moves to bring the entire rail network into public ownership”.
The push for nationalization of industry has a long history in Britain, going back to the formation of the Labour Party itself. But far from being a radical measure that will lift workers out of their current misery, nationalization is fool’s gold – an illusion that will only replace one exploiter with another. In place of a particular capitalist, workers would be exploited by the ideal collective capitalist, the State. It’s for this reason that British communists, like Sylvia Pankhurst, have fought against nationalization.
When the State intervenes in the economy, it does so to ensure optimal economic growth, thus developing its own power, as well as that of the capitalist class. In order to do this, it must protect certain general conditions for capitalist production. These include the existence of a working class fit and docile enough for exploitation — a requirement that explains State-funded healthcare programs, for example, and the maintenance of a public transport network capable of handling the ceaseless traffic in people, goods and services engendered by capitalism. Just like the individual capitalist, the State has an interest in extracting as much surplus as possible from the workers’ labor, as cheaply as possible. After all, projects which fail to pay for themselves impose a tax burden on the national economy which, if sufficiently heavy, could itself damage the capital accumulation upon which the State is based. Just like the individual capitalist, the State relates to the worker as a mere business expense — it purchases his or her labor-power at the going price and squeezes as much living labor as it can out of them. State-funded jobs do not exist for the sake of workers, but for the sake of the State and its purposes — purposes which, like that of the capitalist class, are diametrically opposed to the interests of workers.
There is thus no reason to believe that nationalization would automatically benefit workers. They would simply exchange one boss for another, remaining subordinate to the overall purpose of capital accumulation, continuing to function only as a cost factor to be minimized wherever possible. The ruling class and its State use nationalization for their own ends and are just as quick to toss it away when it no longer benefits them!
For confirmation of this, we need only look at the plight of workers employed by the National Health Service, Britain’s State-funded healthcare provider. Here — so far from enjoying the cornucopia of delights promised by the advocates of nationalization — nurses, junior doctors, ambulance staff and other medical personnel have been waging a desperate battle against real-terms wage cuts and worsening conditions of work. With the hollow label of “key workers” still ringing in their ears, these highly trained professionals must contend with sharply declining living standards as well as staff and equipment shortages. Teachers, likewise, have been forced out on strike in order to obtain pay rises commensurate with inflation from the government. These State employees, like staff employed by Britain’s private train operating companies (TOCs), have learned that the only surefire way of improving their lot is to come together as workers in defense of their common interests.
The lesson here is clear: nationalization is not a magic bullet for the labor movement. It does not guarantee any improvement in workers’ living or working conditions, nor does it promise to forestall reductions in staffing and equipment levels. Indeed, in sectors like rail, the government is actively colluding with employers to lay off workers and promote cost-efficiency (read: greater exploitation, and therefore greater capital returns). Nationalization seeks to solve the problems labour presents the State, and the capitalist class as a whole, by removing the living embodiment of capitalist social relations — the capitalist — without addressing the fundamental cause of the exploitation of workers: the very same social relations!
It is of no use to argue that nationalization would be advantageous if implemented by a Labour government, as opposed to a Conservative one. The bourgeois State will always depend for its power upon the capitalist economy — that is, on the exploitation of workers. It will always treat workers as a cost-factor, one which must be minimized wherever possible. It will always leave workers in the lurch when it comes to working conditions, so long as the job can be done more cheaply. Generations of workers in healthcare, teaching and many other sectors can testify to this. Rather than an attack on private property, nationalization is a reinforcement of it: the State acts to preserve the capitalist economy, to shore up areas of weakness, to ensure the best possible conditions for the exploitation of labor.
Workers cannot expect salvation from the form of political organization of
their rulers. They can only grasp it with their own hands. Organized in
their class formations, in their unions and their political party, they must
strive towards that ‘ever-expanding union’ which constitutes the “fruit” of
all their struggles. They must come together as a class, under the
leadership of the communist party, to smash the bourgeois State and — with the
new political power they will construct — proceed to the abolition of private
property itself, since property relations are nothing more than the legal
expression of relations of production (Grundrisse).
As Engels said, in his 1891 letter to Max Oppenheim:
“Therein precisely lies the rub; for, so long as the propertied classes remain at the helm, nationalization never abolishes exploitation but merely changes its form — in the French, American or Swiss republics no less than in monarchist Central, and despotic Eastern, Europe”.
On June 18th, 2023, 1,800 medical workers at two Providence facilities in both Seaside, Oregon and Portland, Oregon went on strike; however, the regime union leadership in the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) sabotaged the workers’ struggle by convincing them to accept the notion of a limited “5 day strike”, encouraging workers to cooperate with the boss by allowing scabs easy access to the workplace and ultimately using the strike as an opportunity to promote ruling-class politicians in the Democratic Party.
After being exposed to an unknown and deadly virus while the capitalist economy could not produce enough protective equipment to provide a minimum of safety, at the onset of the 2020 pandemic, medical workers were described as “heroes" by the bosses and in the capitalist press, in order to encourage their self-sacrifice and to retain workers in a labor market that was being decimated by the crisis. In this period, some management practices relaxed in order to retain employees and keep their enterprises operational. With the end of the pandemic, however, the capitalist class is working hard to subordinate labor to content itself with its former bargaining power, while accepting low wages that don’t keep pace with inflation. Given these conditions, in workplaces where unions exist, leadership is often being forced into a position where strike action in unavoidable. For Oregon medical workers, nurses and clinicians, this was the first strike in 22 years. Despite this, at its conclusion none of the workers’ demands were met and the company continues to refuse to budge.
The ONA, a member of the regime union federation AFL-CIO, announced its planned 5 day strike, 10 days in advance to Providence, as is required by hospital unions under the State legal apparatus. In the 10 day lead-up to the strike, Providence hired 453 scabs and parked a number of refrigerator trucks stocked with supplies onsite. The union leadership was unable and unwilling to maintain an effective picket line and put no priority in resisting these scabs in any manner throughout the strike. They claimed that “enough” economic damage was being done as things were to bring the boss back to the table around the workers’ demands; however, the results proved otherwise.
ONA’s “strike” was largely a symbolic action that fit well into the electoralist machinations of leadership eager to cozy up to capitalist class politicians for favors. With a neat end date and no real attempt being made to maintain a picket line or frustrate the entrance of replacement workers, it was guaranteed that the strike action would not interrupt union leadership’s larger work of passing labor reform initiatives along with their partners in the Democratic Party, who govern the State and for whom any serious labor unrest would reflect very poorly on. The kickoff rally for the strike organized by ONA featured a who’s who list of Democratic Party elite, as both speakers and attendees, including US Senator Jeff Merkley, and nearly a dozen other Democratic representatives from both houses of the Oregon State Legislature. Throughout the strike ONA, leadership engaged in a PR campaign on social media centering supportive comments from Democratic Party leadership along with other organs of the capitalist left, from Jobs with Justice to the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Union leadership on the picket line worked to keep a tame disposition in the striking workers, freezing any attempts by the rank and file to frustrate or demoralize scabs.
Union leadership consistently articulated the workers’ struggle around a supposed common interest with employers in “fixing” the healthcare system. They were careful to keep the narrative of the strike along narrow craft union lines instead of articulating the workers’ struggle through a class lens that could have appealed to workers across sectors for sympathy and solidarity. Their tactics didn’t count on working-class solidarity, though, because they relied on cowardly stratagems of class collaboration.
At the conclusion of the strike, Providence continued to refuse to come to the bargaining table and even reneged on previous contract offers; however, on the ONA’s website they celebrated “multiple victories” as a result of the strike, the primary one being the passage of Oregon House Bill 2697.
According to ONA’s Facebook page: “We believe HB 2697 is vital to fixing Oregon’s collapsing healthcare system…. Beginning this fall, ONA will engage in rule making with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) to guide them in implementing some of the most complex elements of the bill. And, between now and when the ratios and new committees of HB 2697 take effect next year, we will be training our staffing committee members to transition towards implementing those bill provisions into staffing plans”.
Such statements point to the way that ONA operates as a regime union, fully integrated with the State acting as a class collaborationist organ of the Democratic Party, negotiating the conditions of the sale of labor and renovating dysfunctional elements of the capitalist State regulatory bureaucracies. They claim to be “fixing Oregon’s collapsing healthcare system”; however, there is no “fixing” any aspect of an economic system fundamentally based on the exploitation of human labor. ONA leadership accepted defeat from the onset. Instead of building the workers’ collective power to combat their class enemy, after the strike, they turned to the capitalist class legal system to resolve the scab issue by suing the company for hiring replacement workers; however, under bourgeois law such legal maneuverings have just as much, if not more, chance of backfiring and setting a legal precedent with a result contrary to the workers’ interests.
In the course of the strike, the regime union nature of the Oregon Nurses Association, incapable of effectively conducting a class battle, became apparent. The manner in which ONA leadership used the strike as a relationship-building opportunity with elected officials ties into their broader strategic orientation of passing legislative reforms by currying favor with Democratic political leaders. Ultimately, their attempt to frame the passage of a labor reform law for medical workers as a “victory” won by the strike is a repugnant attempt by union leadership to distract workers from the fact that none of their bargaining demands were met: the strike was really only incidental to their legislative strategy. This demonstrates yet again why workers must reject the leadership of the regime unions who claim to represent them. Workers must instead build a union movement, centered in the unbridgeable chasm between the interests of the capitalist class and the working class, outside the regime union legal apparatus of the capitalist State, and towards a united class union front.
Members of the International Communist Party in Portland, Oregon intervened in the 5 day Providence medical workers’ strike which occurred in late June 2023. We focused our activities around supporting the workers’ coordination we participate in, called the “Class Struggle Action Network” (CSAN).
In the days leading up to the strike, CSAN organized participants for picket-line solidarity by emailing and texting the contact list of 90 workers in the area to sign up for shifts throughout the duration of the strike. A day before the strike, our militants assisted CSAN in surrounding the hotel where the scabs were staying with flyers letting the traveling nurses know they were being used to de-fang a strike. We encouraged them not to scab, but to instead join the rest of the workers in a class union movement.
On the first day of the strike, CSAN distributed about 400 leaflets at the kick-off rally. CSAN militants quickly gained respect and trust from the rank and file as well as some union organizers. One CSAN member was given a megaphone to lead chants. When we arrived at the “picket-line”, CSAN militants were given a tour by workers and information on the entrances that hold the most important choke points and the expected arrival times of scabs. We were given the only copy of a resolution passed by the Teamsters local which proved to drivers their union would support them honoring the picket by refusing to cross the line. CSAN members hung a banner at the main scab entrance/exit that read “picket lines mean do not cross”. Here, CSAN members held a picket line, helping to turn away a supply truck driven by a Teamsters union driver, and inconvenience 10 vans full of scabs as they came and went. There were some clashes with security on the picket, but one security worker just sat by. The next day this security worker approached a CSAN member and said “forget the boss, pay the workers”. The worker refused to be a part of further scab escorting. Rank and file workers and some union militants came to know some of us by name, effectively acknowledging us as sort of picket captains for the week at this entrance. Those workers began wearing CSAN buttons to show their support for the coordination.
On the second day, we distributed 60 more leaflets. CSAN militants and a few medical workers gathered once again at the scab entrance. Soon after our arrival, the scab buses began pouring in. CSAN members engaged in more slow-downs of the scab buses by slowly walking across the street while chanting slogans. As buses continued to dangerously push through workers, security stepped in to force us out of the way. After this conflict with security, union officials began organizing a presence in order to deter workers from effectively blocking or demoralizing scabs, while spreading fears of bad media stories in the capitalist press. They told workers that these tactics were not needed and “enough damage” was already being done.
On day three, we adjusted our approach. By this time, it became clear that the 5 day strike would be coming to an end with none of the workers demands being met. Rank and file members had already begun calling for workers to vote for an “indefinite” strike in August. In response, CSAN created a leaflet encouraging this idea along with calling attention to the class nature of the nurses’ strike. Over the next two days 100-200 of these leaflets were distributed in picket lines in both Portland and Seaside. At its conclusion, frustrated with the way their union handled the strike, several Providence medical workers reached out to CSAN to join the coordination.
A Leaflet on the Wagner Mutiny in Russia – Crisis in Russia – was written, translated and distributed into Bulgarian, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbo-Croatian and Turkish. The text is included in this issue.