SPEAK OUT NOW News For Working People January 2014

News For Working People
2013 - A Year of Hardships and Possibilities
Looking back on 2013, we see a volatile world, a world
of increasing misery but also explosive anger. Cynicism and
despair can erupt into anger and resistance at any moment.
In this period nothing is predictable and anything is possible.
The Robbery of the Working Class
The capitalist class has enriched itself in record amounts
by robbing the working class. Companies are making more
money than at any time since 1947. Bank profits broke the
records for the last three years, making about 175 billion
dollars last year. In the U.S. the wealth gap is larger than at
any time in history. The richest one percent own 42 percent
of all the wealth, and the richest ten percent owns 85 percent.
The CEOs earns 380 times the average worker – it takes a
worker two months to earn what a CEO makes in an hour.
The rich have gotten richer only because workers have
gotten poorer. Companies have fired workers, cut our overall
pay or benefits, and pushed more work onto fewer of us.
Today fewer Americans are working than at any time in the
last forty years. Meanwhile in 2012, for the first time ever,
global corporations invested more in foreign markets than
in the U.S. And even more in 2013. The consequences for
much of this investment has been intensified misery for the
international working class, and a decrease in wages and
living standards for everyone.
Ravaging the Planet
Global energy production has continued to increase in every
major category – oil, coal, and natural gas, dumping more
carbon into the atmosphere and accelerating the warming
of the planet. Like the U.S., world energy companies have
resorted to the most destructive methods available in their
race for the dwindling reserves of energy – including blowing
up mountaintops, more dangerous deep water drilling, going
after reserves in the newly melted arctic, and poisoning
water supplies through the polluting gas-extraction process
known as fracking.
Profits Before People
The policies of the capitalist class and their political
servants aim at one goal – profit. This is true even when
they promise to solve real problems. For example, under the
Affordable Care Act, what was promoted as affordable health
insurance has only become a way to force people to pay for
very expensive insurance and medical care. The profits of
the health care industry are expected to more than double in
the next two years. Health care costs have increased by over
27 percent in the last two years. This law may have provided
some small benefit to working people, but it has been a gold
mine for the health care industry.
Last year we saw the true priorities of the politicians. The
Democrat and Republican parties could not agree upon how
large to make the cuts to social services. Last March, $85
billion was cut from programs funding education and other
social services, forcing hundreds
of thousands of government
workers to take unpaid furloughs.
Over 600,000 children from poor
families were cut from food
assistance, and about 125,000
families were cut from federal
housing assistance. And when
politicians couldn’t agree upon
another round of deep cuts, they
instead provoked the temporary
so-called government shutdown,
disrupting the lives of millions of
poor and working class families
by canceling funding, laying
off workers, and closing down
programs. The priorities of the
government couldn’t be any
clearer – they put the profits of
the corporations first.
The consequence of all of
this is our lives are even more
difficult, especially for the
poorest sections of society. A young Black male in Oakland
has an equal probability of being killed than going to college.
Oakland has nearly twelve robberies per day, has the highest
crime rate in California, and leads the country in the number
of robberies per 100,000 people. And Oakland is in no way
unique. In 2012, there were 131 homicides in Oakland, 513
in Chicago, 500 in Los Angeles, 414 in New York, 410 in
Detroit, 324 in Philadelphia and 200 in Baltimore, totaling
2492 deaths in these cities alone. Without hope and the
chance to live a decent life, the level of violence will not
go away. In this climate, would anyone be surprised if there
were explosions of anger coming from any of these cities?
The Resilience of the Working Class
Despite all of the attacks, there is still resistance in the
working class not just around the world but in this country
too. In every major country from South Africa, to Egypt,
Brazil, Indonesia, China, India, and South Korea, workers
have been waging struggles to resist exploitation.
And in the U.S., coal mining towns have seen dozens
of actions blocking the destructive practice of mountain
top removal. Native American organizations along with
other activists in different states have worked together to
block further oil extraction on ancient lands and in wildlife
areas, protesting the proposed Keystone pipeline. Citizens
in dozens of cities across the country have blocked energy
companies from carrying out fracking, polluting the air and
making their water supply toxic.
Last year we also saw increased determination by hundreds
A Year of Environmental Catastrophe
The level of environmental destruction caused by the system
of capitalism is becoming more and more obvious to anyone
reading the headlines. Last year in 2013, we saw some of the
absolute worst disasters caused by climate change. This past year
20,000 people were killed in natural disasters – nearly twice as
many as in 2012. And these numbers don’t include those who
will die from hunger, disease, and exposure to the elements after
their homes are destroyed. Here are some of the worst disasters
from this past year:
• In the Philippines, Typhoon Haiyan caused massive
destruction. This typhoon is the largest in recorded history. It
killed over 7,000 people and forced one million out of their
• Winter storms in Europe reached their highest levels in 60
years. Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, France, and the
U.K. faced hurricane-force winds causing billions of dollars
in damage.
• In the U.S., the Midwest was battered by 74 tornadoes
including a massive one in Moore, Oklahoma which killed
24 people and caused $3.5 billion in damage, making it the
most expensive tornado in history.
• In December, the polar weather system, disrupted by rising
temperatures, sent cold air much further south than in recent
years, resulting in temperatures below freezing across the
U.S. This cold spell, known as the “Polar Vortex,” has killed
21 people across the U.S.
These disasters are just the most extreme examples of the
results of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change issued a report this year that predicts famine due
to temperature changes, farming to become impossible due to
of undocumented immigrant youth. Young people who have
grown up in this country undocumented have begun to
openly demand full citizenship rights, defying deportation,
protesting in front of immigration buildings.
In workplaces we have seen small signs of resistance. This
year, some of the lowest paid workers in the fast food and
service industry began organizing to increase the minimum
wage and win the right to have a union. In the Bay Area
,workers at BART and AC Transit refused to just go along
with the attacks of management. At AC transit, workers
voted against a concessionary contract twice. And BART
workers engaged in two limited strikes against the arrogance
of BART management, showing the Bay Area the potential
power of transit workers on strike. These struggles hinted at
the potential that could be unleashed if workers are able to
organize their forces together.
While these struggles have been very small and have not
led to any major victories, they show that despite the difficult
times we are living in, that not all workers are not passive in
the face of these attacks.
We can’t expect the assault by the ruling class around the
world to let up. They are confident they can take more from
us, amassing even more wealth. But at the same time, we can
be sure that the potential for workers to stand up and fight
together is also within reach. 2014 and the coming years will
be the time for workers to begin to come together, joining our
struggles, standing up to these attacks, and fight for a world
that is run for our interests, the needs of the vast majority of
the people, not the interests and wealth of a narrow few.
lack of water, ecosystems becoming uninhabitable for wildlife,
along with more extreme storms, floods and temperatures.
The world’s most powerful countries, led by the U.S., are
doing nothing to put a stop to any of this. In November, the
United Nations held a climate conference in Warsaw, Poland,
reporting that all efforts to regulate pollution have been a failure.
Temperatures are rising at nearly double the rate the U.N.
hoped to achieve by regulation. By the end of the 21st century,
temperatures will increase by nearly five degrees celsius – an
increase promising catastrophic environmental destruction. Just
90 corporations worldwide are the source of two-thirds of all
greenhouse gases. These corporations and the governments who
serve them have decided that their profits are worth more than
our planet’s future. It’s up to us to change the story in the coming
years by organizing to fight against the polluters and their system
before it destroys all of us!
Aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan - Philipines
U.S. Drone Strikes:
Terrorizing the World
The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan
and Iraq has not meant an end to U.S. military
violence against people in the Middle East and
other parts of the world. The U.S. government’s
latest strategy is to bring terror by launching
attacks from unmanned drones. Supposedly these
strikes are meant to target so-called “terrorists”
but in fact the strikes are a form of terrorism by the
U.S. meant to intimidate and enforce its power.
In 2013, the U.S. launched 55 drone strikes in
Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia, killing over 271
people. Since the program of drone strikes began
in 2004, 3,520 people have been killed. Many
people have been caught by the drone strikes
while going about their daily lives. In November
a drone strike destroyed a seminary in Pakistan. In
early December a drone strike hit a wedding party
in Yemen killing 13 people including a pregnant
woman and three children.
The U.S. government and the Obama
administration continue to claim that they are
waging the so-called “War on Terror,” however the
death of innocent civilians in these drone strikes
reveals the real goal of the program of unmanned
military drones – to terrorize the people of the
Middle East, of Africa, and of other regions of the
world where U.S. corporations have economic
interests at stake.
Some of the Fight Backs of 2013
The following is just a short list of some of the social struggles
that were waged across the world in 2013.
January – France
Hundreds of workers at the Citroen plant in the town of Aulnay
north of Paris disrupt production demanding permanent
contracts. They are struggling to keep their jobs after the closure
of their factory, part of Citroen’s layoff of 8,000 workers.
June – Brazil
From June 6-30th in Brazil, there was a massive movement of
hundreds of thousands in response to fare increases for public
transportation, cuts to other programs and police repression.
Brazil is one of the most unequal societies in the world. São
Paulo and Rio are among the 15 most expensive cities in the
world to live in.
Chris Kluwe:
Athlete of 2013
February - India
For two days starting February 20, workers from all across India
went on strike. The strike was only a demonstration of strength,
but involved 100 million workers making it the largest strike
in human history. Certainly this shows the immense power of
the Indian working class if it decides to mobilize its strength
all together.
March – Worldwide
Farmers in countries around the world from Argentina to the
United States began holding ongoing protests called “March
Against Monsanto,”protesting the big agribusiness company
who is responsible for the creation and sale of genetically
modified foods.
July – Egypt
In early July Egypt saw the biggest mass protests since the
Egyptian revolution in 2011. The mass demonstrations were
followed by a military coup against the Muslim Brotherhood
government led by Muhammad Morsi.
August – U.S.A.
In Washington D.C. over 1,000 people were arrested protesting
the Obama administration’s intention to allow the extension of
the Keystone XL pipeline, a massive project which would open
up the tar sands of Alberta, Canada to oil drilling. Scientists
believe this oil extraction would cause a massive release of
atmospheric pollution, dramatically increasing global warming.
September – Mexico
From September 14th-20th, Mexican teachers occupied public
buildings and shut down access the airport in Mexico City for
several hours protesting harsh education cuts and degraded
working conditions. For several days, 30,000 teachers and
supporters occupied the main public square in Mexico City.
October - Indonesia
From October 31 to November 1st, over 50,000 workers across
industries, from textiles to metalwork, went on strike for two
days to demand higher pay to cope with the rapidly rising costs
of fuel and other living essentials.
April – Hong Kong
Dock workers at the Kwai Tsing container terminal engaged
in a 40 day strike for higher wages were joined by protesters
for a mass demonstration on April 7th. The workers won an
agreement for ten percent higher wages against the company
which runs shipping in 71 ports worldwide.
November – Ukraine
Protesters begin camping out in the main square of Ukraine’s
capital, Kiev. This ongoing protest is in reaction to the
government’s relationship with Russia, and the brutal and
arbitrary police methods it uses to enforce it’s will. The protests
involved over a million people, showing a deep discontent with
the current regime.
May – Turkey
Beginning May 28th, For several months in Turkey, there were
major protests focused in the capital Istanbul’s Taksim Square
over the government’s privatization and handing over Taksim
Gezi Park, one of the last remaining public parks, over to urban
developers to make it into a shopping mall.
South Korea
December – South Korea
From December 9th-30th, close to 8,000 railroad workers,
almost one third of the entire staff, were on strike to protest
the government’s efforts to begin the process of privatization
of the railways. The workers continued to fight despite the
government declaring their strike illegal and arresting union
leaders and firing teargas in union offices. The movement also
sparked protests in the general population against government
Where We Stand
The world we live in today is increasingly ruled by prejudice and fear, under a system of
widespread violence and war, where exploitation and oppression are the rule, with the many
dominated by the few. The name of this system is capitalism.
The Force For Change Exists Today
Everywhere, working people’s labor makes society run. Working people have the power to
bring this system to a halt and bring about the changes needed. Like slavery, feudalism and
other systems that enriched the minority at the expense of the majority, capitalism’s removal
is long over due. The time for socialism has come.
Contact us: www.SpeakOut-Now.org
Chris Kluwe was the punter for the Minnesota
Vikings for eight years. In May 2013, the Vikings fired
him for defying the coaches and owners by speaking
out in favor of same-sex marriage rights.
In a recent article, “I Was An NFL Player Until I
Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot,” Kluwe
retells the story of what happened to him. During the
summer of 2012, he spoke out against what was known
as the Minnesota Gay Marriage Amendment, which
tried to define marriage as “only a union of a man and a
woman.” After getting approval from the Vikings legal
department, he did several radio announcements and a
talk at a dinner for Minnesotans for Marriage Equality.
After Kluwe spoke out, he received silent support
from team members and other players in the NFL. Soon
Baltimore Ravens linebacker, Brendon Ayanbadejo,
spoke in favor of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage
in Maryland. A Maryland state legislator, Emmett C.
Burns Jr., wrote to the owner telling him to “inhibit
such expressions from your employee.” In response,
Kluwe wrote a letter of his own defending Ayanbadejo.
As soon as that letter was published, it went viral. The
first lines of the letter read: “I find it inconceivable
that you are an elected official of Maryland’s state
government. Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make
me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any
way responsible for shaping policy at any level.”
Soon afterwards, the Vikings coaching staff began
to put more pressure on him not to speak out. The
Vikings head coach told him he “needed to be quiet,
and stop speaking out on this stuff.” He told Kluwe,
“a wise coach once told me: there are two things you
don’t talk about in the NFL – politics and religion.”
And another Vikings coach, Mike Preifer, the specialteams coordinator, had it out for Kluwe. According to
Kluwe, “Priefer would use homophobic language in
my presence…He would ask me if I had written any
letters defending ‘the gays’ recently and denounce as
disgusting the idea that two men would kiss.” Kluwe
wrote that during one meeting with Priefer and several
players, “as we sat down in our chairs, Mike Priefer,
in one of the meanest voices I can ever recall hearing,
said: ‘We should round up all the gays, send them to an
island, and then nuke it until it glows.’”
Kluwe continued to express his opinions openly,
refusing to be silenced, and eventually he was kicked
off the team in May, 2013.
The idea that politics and sports don’t mix is
nonsense. Sports are part of this society, and banks and
corporations never hesitate to use athletes and sports
to push whatever agendas they choose. At every turn,
companies use athletes for advertisements to make
more money. But when athletes refuse to go along with
this and express their own opinions, they are told to
shut up, and their careers are threatened.
When players use their platform as athletes, in the
public eye, to stand up against bigotry of any sort,
or to give support to important social struggles, it’s
important – it can have a small impact, and it can be
encouraging. The more athletes who stand up and
speak out like Chris Kluwe the better.
We Stand For Socialism
A world based on peaceful collaboration and international cooperation of working class
people -- not the exploiters who rule today.
The common ownership and sharing of the world’s resources and productive capacity.
An egalitarian and democratic government, organized and controlled from the bottom
Protection of the world’s ecological systems, putting science to work to sustain life, not
destroy it.
A society where human relations are based on respect, equality and dignity of all peoples,
not racism, sexism or homophobia.
Email: [email protected]