Note: While teachers in Los Angeles Unified School District have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, members of the largest teachers union local in the US, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in New York City, are debating a proposed contract settlement. In this guest blog, UFT activist Dan Lupkin explains why he wants the proposed contract to be voted down. We invite other opinions on this debate underway in the UFT. – Lois Weiner
On June 26th, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated, against all odds, the incumbent Congressman from New York’s 14th district, a safe Democratic seat, in the party’s primary. Spectacular as it was to see a Democratic political boss (the “King of Queens”) humbled by a left-wing challenger, the real spoils of this victory do not lie in the House seat itself.
By: Dan La BotzJuly 30, 2018
The leadership of the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) voted this past weekend by a two-thirds majority to endorse Cynthia Nixon in the Democratic Primary race for New York State governor. The decision reflected similar majorities for Nixon among the total membership of the New York City branches. An accompanying motion also passed that linked DSA’s work on the Nixon campaign to the Julia Salazar campaign in the Democratic Primary for State Senate and tied it to our organization’s support for the New York State Health Act and the a city campaign create for expanded rent stabilization.
Since the majority of my fellow New York City socialists voted to endorse Nixon, I feel obligated as a member of the City Leadership Committee (CLC) to explain to our members why I cast my vote against, as did eleven other members of the 34-member body, while one person abstained.
— Reprinted from New Politics, vol. VI, no. 3, #23, Summer 1967 (printed June 1968)
At 4 am on April 30 , my wife and I stood with tears streaming down our faces on the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and 117th Street, watching the last of the Fayerweather Hall sit-ins being tossed into waiting police vans. We were not the only ones crying, nor were the tears merely those of pity or self-pity. There was also anger, frustration, and actual joy. The incredible—and inevitable—had happened; the “Big Bust” had come. Seven hundred and twenty student and faculty protesters were under arrest; more than 130 had been beaten up, some quite badly. The last illusions about what was happening were shed.
NYC taxi drivers launch campaign to save their industry following suicides
Over the past four months, four New York City taxi drivers have been pushed to suicide in an industry that is becoming increasingly dangerous. In response to the recent deaths, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance has launched a campaign for regulation and released its own proposal to re-establish driving as a viable occupation.
In its January meeting, after a pro-forma discussion, the Delegate Assembly of the UFT (United Federation of Teachers), which still has the legal right to bargain collectively on behalf of New York City's teachers, voted down a resolution to work with community groups to support Black Lives Matter in the schools in February. LeRoy Barr, UFT's assistant secretary, co-staff director, and Chairperson of the Unity Caucus, gave the UFT leadership's rationale for rejecting the motion. Support for BLM was, he contended, a splinter issue, divisive, at a time when the union had to stay focused on what was key, the Janus decision and the threat to collective bargaining rights.
Jabari Brisport, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), made an extraordinarily strong showing in his first bid for the New York City Council. Running on both the Green Party and Socialist lines in Crown Heights, District 35 of Brooklyn where he grew up, Jabari won almost 30 percent of the vote, receiving 8,619 votes. He was defeated by Democrat Laurie Cumbo, who took 68 percent of the vote while the Republican Christine Parker got just 4 percent.
Jabari ran as a socialist in a diverse district with a mixed population of African Americans, Afro-Caribbeans, orthodox and Hassidic Jews, upper middle class white newcomers, and young hipsters. The district has a population of 124,170, larger than many cities. The 2017 election saw one of the lowest turnouts in years. Only about 22 percent of the 5,053,842 registered voters in New York City as a whole cast ballots in the election.
Juan Gonzalez. Reclaiming Gotham: Bill de Blasio and The Movement to End America’s Tale of Two Cities. New York: New Press, 2017.
There is no better role model for aspiring radical scribes than Juan Gonzalez. The country’s leading Latino journalist is cohost of Democracy Now!, a former columnist for the New York Daily News, and twice winner of the Polk Award for his investigative reporting. Not many veterans of campus and community struggles in the Sixties and workplace organizing in the 1970s later moved into mainstream journalism with such distinction, Gonzalez has managed to combine daily newspapering with continued dedication to the cause of labor and minority communities.
In Staten Island, one union local is propelling a growing labor-community alliance deep in New York’s Republican recesses.
Raoul Peck’s powerful documentary “I Am Not Your Negro,” which was nominated for an Academy Award, has brought the great writer James Baldwin (1924-1987) to a new generation of Americans who may have been unfamiliar with Baldwin’s life and writings. “I Am Not Your Negro” presented Baldwin as a powerful voice of the black liberation movement, but hardly mentioned his longtime commitment not only to full equality for black Americans, but also to socialism.
Baldwin wrote in No Name in the Street that he had been a "convinced fellow traveler" at 13 who had marched in the May Day parade and then became a "Trotskyite" by age nineteen. Too young to have been involved in Harlem’s Communist Party in the 1930s, he claimed to have been a member of the Young People’s Socialist League, but that has never been confirmed.
The first few weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency has seen an amazing explosion of mobilizing to oppose him and his administration on oh-so-many levels. And that has been heartening.
But it is not enough.
By: Micah LandauFebruary 9, 2017
It’s been two weeks since Donald Trump’s inauguration sparked some of the largest rallies in American history. Each week since has also seen demonstrations, culminating in those that broke out at airports across the country at the end of January to protest the president’s new Muslim ban barring travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Mass protests are in large measure a bellwether of popular sentiment. They carry an implicit threat that politicians who defy the will of the people will be voted out, but that threat must be channeled strategically, or it will dissipate.
The good news is that the MORE/New Action slate won the seven seats on the UFT Executive Board elected by high school teachers. Furthermore, voter turnout increased across the board from roughly 18% in 2013 to roughly 24% in 2016. Finally, the absolute number of votes for the opposition increased in every division. However, still less than one-quarter of UFT members participated in this election. And the slight increase in voter turnout benefited the ruling Unity caucus at least as much as it benefited MORE/New Action.
Nearly 20 years ago, as I left the War Resisters League, or WRL, offices in lower Manhattan for the first time, I noticed that my fingertips were covered in black soot and ink. My hands were full of tracts and leaflets, and I had been looking through nonviolence training materials for the last hour. I tried to rub the dirt off onto my jeans, but it wouldn’t budge and later even soap and water had to work really hard.
On Tuesday, March 22, the New York City Council is expected to pass Mayor Bill de Blasio’s housing and zoning plan, which permanently ties the creation of a relatively small amount of not-that-affordable housing to the massive co-production of luxury housing.[i] It is being sold as the best we can do with the tools that we have. It is not. Instead, it puts to work the most lucrative and least effective tools available, and locks the city into repeated cycles of gentrification and displacement.
A view from the Puerto Rican diaspora
Puerto Rico is undergoing a profound fiscal crisis. Our country is besieged by the big interests of Wall Street’s credit agencies and vulture funds, which as they’ve done in other parts of the world, such as Spain, Greece and Argentina, only seek an uncontrolled increase in their profits. These profits come at the cost of great sacrifices to working people, which include drastic cuts to social services that will have a special impact on education and health care.
In order to impose their inhumane demands, they use their powerful influence within government structures, in the courts and in the mass media to guarantee payment of the immoral and odious debt, with no concern for the deterioration of our quality of life and the elimination of hard-won labor rights. They establish, de facto, a dictatorship of oligarchic and monopoly capital over the whole of society, the working class majority stripped of the financial resources needed to insure a dignified subsistence.
The last protest of the day of the New York City Climate Protests was at a Broadway theatre where Gov. Cuomo was scheduled to attend. It was a spirited demonstration complete with a little orchestra and playful costumes focused on persuading Cuomo to veto the Port Ambrose Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant off the coast of Long Island right near JFK airport. Opponents argue that it is very dangerous security risk, terrible for the environment, and would kill the chance for a 700-megawatt wind farm that would create 17,000 local jobs.
Review of Michael Gould-Wartofsky, The Occupiers. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.
Occupy was the largest political mobilization of my lifetime. The explosion of energy it produced gave the feeling of perpetuity, with thousands of volunteers supporting each other through donations of food and standing together in solidarity against the police. But as the encampments became rooted, many had to check their excitement with a growing sense of disillusionment. It was clear that the Occupy strategy, and how it played out in practice, was rife with weaknesses that were ultimately exploited by those who sought to destroy Occupy and the discourse that it created.
Technology of Resistance
By: Saulo ColonAugust 25, 2015
May First/People Link is being attacked in a Denial of Service attack that is unprecedented in its length and viciousness. We have been fighting off this attack for over three weeks now.
We are convinced that the attack is political. We know how the attackers are targeting us, we know they are targeting the entire organization’s systems and we know that they are carefully monitoring our responses because they are quickly adapting to every move our technologists make to return us to service.
Global Cities and Diasporic Networks in the aftermath of Syriza’s Victory
Since the pressures of international financial capital and its subservient political elites will continue with the same if not greater intensity, it is also certain that a new cycle of social mobilization in Greece and the rest of Europe will begin again.
By: newpoliticsFebruary 25, 2015
[Eds.: On Monday, March 2, 2015, in New York City a trial begins for eleven activists who are refusing to plead guilty to disorderly conduct and pay fines for taking part in a climate sit-in in Manhattan's Financial District last September. The Flood Wall Street Eleven plan instead to use their trial to illustrate that the bankers who finance climate change are the real harbingers of disorder. Below is a collective statement from the group. You can sign a petition in their support here.]
In order to solve a problem, you must first identify its’ source. . .