(September 19-20, 2020)
Millions of workers and youth have taken to the streets since police officers in Minneapolis assassinated George Floyd. Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, they took to the streets in ever-growing mass protests — forging an insurgent movement not seen in many decades — to demand an end to police terror and systemic racism. Enough is enough, they proclaimed.
In Oakland, Calif., on Juneteenth, a march organized by International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Locals 10 and 34, made a stop at the Oakland Police Department. Community activists, including former political prisoners, spoke about their experiences with the Oakland police. Thousands chanted, “No Justice, No Peace — No Racist Police!”
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the United States, a resurgent, fighting spirit has flared up among frontline workers deprived of protective gear and measures essential to ensure their safety and that of their families and broader communities. Their daily struggle has amplified the resistance of workers across the country — teachers, autoworkers, and others — who over the past few years have been fighting to take back their unions and fend off the bosses’ assault on their rights, wages, benefits, and working conditions.
In oppressed communities across the United States, the same fighting spirit continues to take on police brutality, mass incarceration (targeting Black and Brown people disproportionately), gentrification and evictions, environmental injustice, and attacks on immigrants. In many cases, these movements overlap and support each other.
With inequality skyrocketing, healthcare costs and student debt mounting, climate change roiling the planet, democratic and civil rights (especially voting rights) under increased assault, wages and benefits evaporating, as well as gentrification and the lack of affordable housing on the rise, a majority in the United States (57%) have called for a new independent political party. (Gallup Headlines, July 19, 2019)
Now the crisis confronting the working class and communities of the oppressed will deepen under the impact of the economic and social shutdown that has been imposed to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. How will working people pay the accumulated debts from unpaid rent, mortgages and other loans, as well as costly utilities? Will we be confronted with the unacceptable choice of paying astronomical increases in healthcare insurance or losing coverage?
We know full well that it is the working class and communities of the oppressed who will bear the brunt of the corporate bailout – disguised as a stimulus package – as Democratic and Republican politicians declare that there are no more public funds available and as bosses maneuver to break union contracts and coerce the rollback of wages and benefits.
Unfortunately, most of the leaders of the trade unions and of many organizations representing oppressed nationalities remain to this day tied at the hip to the Democratic Party — a party that implements the permanent war agenda of global capitalism. This relationship is the number one obstacle to building working-class power and advancing the interests of the working class and all oppressed people.
A bolder worker fightback is essential.
New Openings for Independent Working-Class Politics
More than 700 leading labor and community activists have endorsed a Statement of Purpose — at the initiative of Labor and Community for an Independent Party (LCIP) — that calls for running independent labor-community candidates at the local and state level, as a step in the effort to build a new independent mass labor-based political party.
These candidates — mandated by local labor-community coalitions — are not limited to electoral politics; they must be fighting for the issues contained in their fightback platforms. This will help to cement the alliance between labor and the oppressed communities.
An important step has been taken to promote this orientation, with the convening of the “Break the Grip of the Two-Party System” regional conference on December 7, 2019, in Cleveland, OH, sponsored by the Labor Education and Arts Project (LEAP), in cooperation with the Labor Fightback Network (LFN), and LCIP.
In keeping with these developments, the LFN, the Ujima People’s Progress Party (a Black-led party based in Baltimore), and LCIP are convening an online national conference for independent working-class politics.
Such a national conference, of course, needs to incorporate the fight for independent Black working-class political action. Nnamdi Lumumba, convener of the Ujima People’s Progress Party, expressed well the articulation of the struggle for independent Black working-class politics and for a Labor-based party at the December “Break the Grip” conference in Cleveland, stating:
“We need to organize people around their own class interests and their own interests as nationally oppressed people. Helping to break the active or even passive support to the two capitalist, imperialist and white supremacist parties has been a fundamental goal of our efforts as the Ujima People’s Progress Party, as we seek to build a Black workers-led electoral party.
“While we support a national labor party that recognizes both the shared and independent struggles of oppressed and exploited workers on the job and in their communities, we affirm that nationally oppressed people have to center the discussion and self-organization around their own specific oppression. … Having said that, we need to create a mass-based working-class party that says capitalism does not serve you, imperialism does not serve you, and racism does not serve you.”
ILWU Local 10 retiree Clarence Thomas summed it up best when he noted that now is the time to point the way forward for independent working-class political action. “We have to strike while the iron is hot,” he stated.
If you agree with this call, please join us at the “Break the Grip of the Two-Party System” online conference on September 19-20. The conference Program Agenda is included below. The list of speakers will be sent out shortly.
Following is the registration link to the conference:
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Break the Grip of the Two-Party System Program Agenda
Saturday, September 19, 2020 2 PM EST/11 AM PST
Introduction/Q&A 2:00 -2:25 EST
LCIP Opening Panel Discussion/Q&A 2:25-2:51 EST
BREAK 2:51-3:10 EST
Intro to breakout rooms 3:10-3:20 EST
First Breakout Sessions 3:20-5:20 EST
a. Breakout room #1: Title: LCIP’s Relationship to Organizing with Working-Class Communities to Combat White Supremacy and End Systemic Racism
b. Breakout room #2: Title: LCIP’s Relationship to Migrant Workers and Immigrant Workers, Families, and Students
c. Breakout room #3: Title: LCIP’s Relationship to the Anti-war and Anti-imperialist movement(s)
Panel/Q&A Why We Endorse/Support LCIP: 5:20–5:50 EST
Overview of Sunday’s Program & Breakout Groups 5:50-6:00 EST
Sunday, September 20, 2020 2 PM EST/11 AM PST
Introduction 2:00 -2:15 EST
Second Breakout Sessions 2:15-3:15 EST
a. Breakout room #4: LCIP’s Relationship to Independent Political Action and Defending the Right to Self-Determination for Oppressed Communities of Color
b. Breakout room #5: LCIP’s Relationship to the Women’s Right’s Movement
c. Breakout room #6: LCIP’s Relationship to the Labor Movement
Report back from Saturday Breakout Session 1 & recommendations to LCIP on how to proceed 3:15-4:00 EST
BREAK 4:00-4:15 EST
Report back from Sunday morning Breakout Sessions 4:15-5:00 EST
Plenary session, Organizing LCIP Going Forward 5:00-5:40 EST
Closing remarks 5:40-6:00 EST