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Haiti
225th anniversary of anti-slavery, anti-colonial revolution

27/08/2016: A heroic and lasting inspiration to the oppressed everywhere

  Haiti

Scotland
Will the Corbyn uprising save Scottish Labour?

27/08/2016: Lessons of indyref and need for active anti-cuts policies

  Scotland

Greece
Athens bus cleaners win major victory

26/08/2016: Struggle achieves public contracts for 100s cleaning workers

  Greece

Russia
Twenty five years since the coup against Gorbachev

25/08/2016: Decades of ‘shock therapy capitalism’, wars and corruption

  Russia

Chile
Up to 2 million march against pensions robbery

24/08/2016: General strike threatened for 4 November as protests grow

  Chile

Quebec
Montreal workers strike for $15 an hour

22/08/2016: "Company totally underestimated workers’ determination"

  Quebec

 Video
Militant, Liverpool and Trotskyism today

22/08/2016: Russia Today covers historic Liverpool battle, led by the CWI in Britain

  Trotsky, Video

US
Build a new party of the 99%

21/08/2016: Support Jill Stein

  US

Middle East
ISIS’ waning “caliphate”

20/08/2016: Imperialist solutions are no solution at all

  Middle East

Russia
Twenty fifth anniversary of attempted coup

19/08/2016: Attempted Stalinist counter-revolution speeds up capitalist counter-revolution

  Russia

US
Trump in trouble

17/08/2016: Political polarisation deepens

  US

Philippines
Is Duterte following in Marcos’ footsteps?

16/08/2016: New president threatens martial law while leaning on ‘left’ parties for support

  Philippines

Britain
The Corbyn insurgency 2.0

15/08/2016: Now let’s finish the job

  Britain

 Video
Socialist Party general secretary Peter Taaffe on Channel 4

14/08/2016: Socialist party media coverage amid accusations of Trotskyist "entryism"

  Video

 Video
CWI around the world

13/08/2016: Video shown at the CWI Summer school of some sections’ activities

  CWI, Video

Quebec
World Social Forum 2016

13/08/2016: Tens of thousands of activists from around the world gather WSF in Montreal, 9-14 August

  Canada, Quebec

Hong Kong
Multinational MTR takes socialist Sally Tang Mei-ching to court

12/08/2016: Political motives behind ‘David versus Goliath’ trial

  Hong Kong

Britain
#KeepCorbyn - stand firm for socialism

10/08/2016: The fight for a Labour Party for the working class

  Britain

South Africa
Local elections a thunderous rebuke for ANC

09/08/2016: ANC polls less than 60% for first time since end of apartheid

  Africa, South Africa

Zimbabwe
Mugabe must fall!

05/08/2016: Mass revolt shakes the regime to its foundations

  Zimbabwe

The Olympics, big business and dictatorship

04/08/2016: A short history of the Olympics:

  History

 CWI Summer school
Brazil

04/08/2016: New cycle of struggle following right-wing parliamentary coup

  Brazil, CWI

 CWI Summer School
Economic instability, inter-imperialist tensions, workers struggles’ and political earthquakes

03/08/2016: Report of the discussion on world perspectives at the recent CWI Summer School

  CWI, Turkey

 CWI Summer School 2016
Fighting racism and the far right 

02/08/2016: Capitalist crisis and anti-immigrant reaction

  CWI

Germany
‘Brexit’ and the German Left

30/07/2016: Reject the bosses’ EU! For a Europe of working people - a voluntary socialist federation

  Germany

US
Most contentious Democratic Convention since 1968

29/07/2016: We need a new party of the 99% to defeat the billionaire class

  US

 Cameroon
Free jailed Buea activists!

28/07/2016: 100 protest outside the court demanding release of the 15

  Cameroon, Solidarity

Cote d’Ivoire
Protests against electricity prices

28/07/2016: The straw that broke the camel’s back!

  Ivory Coast

US
A call to action

27/07/2016: Walk out from the Democratic National Convention!

  US

Chile
One million protest against private pension fund

26/07/2016: After student protests, working class returns to streets

  Chile

Teamster Rebellion

70th anniversary of Labor’s historic victory in Minneapolis

www.socialistworld.net, 23/01/2005
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Seventy years ago, a small mid-western city was shaken to its very foundations. The 1934 Minneapolis Teamster strike is one of the greatest labor battles in U.S. history. For two months, the working class owned the streets.

Canyon Lalama, Minneapolis

With the emergence of a daring socialist leadership, the workers of Teamsters Local 574 were able to win massive improvements in their conditions. The average union truck driver went from earning 28 cents per hour to 52 cents per hour.

After years of bitter defeats for the union movement, in 1934 three major strikes - in Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Toledo - changed everything. Led by socialists who understood the necessity of militant mass action against the bosses and the anti-union laws, these strikes sparked the colossal uprising of the American working class over the following decade, forcing through many of the benefits working people enjoy to this day.

In the early 1930s, the Great Depression was in full swing. Businesses cut wages and laid off workers in order to maintain high profits. Workers faced sweatshop conditions, low wages, long hours, and the constant threat of being laid off.

The conditions of the coal industry in Minneapolis were typical for the time. In his extraordinary book, Teamster Rebellion, Farrell Dobbs (a leader of the 1934 strike) describes his own situation: "We were just squeaking by when I was cut to forty-eight hours a week. It was a welcome physical relief since coal heavers had to work like mules, but there was also a two-dollar cut in weekly pay…. The thin flesh of mere subsistence was being scraped down to the bare bones of outright poverty…. On top of all that, I could expect to be laid off in the spring…. And I could be fired at any time without recourse merely at the employer’s whim."

These conditions led to massive anger. Workers were joining the American Federation of Labor in growing numbers, seeking a solution to their difficult circumstances.

Unfortunately, the AFL leadership had abandoned the idea of real struggle. Instead, they tried to win favor with the bosses by siding with them and rigging union structures to maintain their privileged positions. This "business unionism" led to massive defeats.

Workers in Minneapolis also faced the deceptively named Citizens Alliance, an association of employers dominated by the wealthiest local capitalists that specialized in strike breaking. It had the full support of the police force, local newspapers, and politicians. The Citizens Alliance declared an open-shop policy in the city, and issued a decree to all businesses that "no union was needed, in any form, for bargaining with the labor force."

The socialist union activists believed, in contrast with the AFL leaders, that the working class, when mobilized and conscious of itself as a class, is the most powerful force in society. They also recognized that even the most basic benefits for workers have only been obtained through uncompromising struggle against the bosses and their politicians.

In Local 574, union activists with the Communist League of America came to the forefront. The League was organized around the ideas of Leon Trotsky and others who rejected the rotten politics of Stalinism in favor of genuine Marxism and workers’ democracy.

These organizers mounted an audacious organizing drive around a clear program of demands worked out through extensive discussion with the workers. Instead of limiting themselves to what the employers said they could afford, the Minneapolis Teamsters fought for what the workers needed to achieve a decent standard of living. Organized around these demands, Local 574 quickly grew from only 75 members in 1933 to over 7,000 only one year later.

The Teamsters International union was ruled by a cynical, corrupt president, Daniel Tobin, who boasted that the Teamsters were "not the rubbish that have come into other organizations." The union didn’t want people to join, he added, "if they are going on strike tomorrow."

The socialist activists quickly changed this. Local 574 was transformed from a mountain of red tape and bureaucracy into a highly democratic, fighting organization. All major decisions were made during mass meetings, rather than being dictated from above. The membership also elected a strike committee of 100 rank-and-file members to prepare for the struggles ahead.

The Battle Begins

In January of 1934, the first shots of the class war were fired. Local 574 voted to take strike action for a living wage and shorter working hours. Militant mass picketing took place immediately, and all coal transportation in the city was shut down.

The timing was perfect. Minnesota is known for its cold winters, and the public was soon clamoring for a quick settlement. The bosses were forced to settle. They gave in to a few wage increase demands and officially recognized the union.

Union members throughout the region gained confidence. Unorganized workers looked toward the union movement with hope. A strike had been won in Minneapolis for the first time in years. But to achieve a decent standard of living, Local 574 needed to organize the entire regional trucking industry, or their bargaining power would be undercut by other workers willing to work cheaper. Plans were drawn up for an industry-wide organizing drive and a walkout.

The Citizens Alliance prepared to fight tooth and nail against the union. They strengthened their ties with the mayor and police force and organized a massive propaganda campaign in the local papers against the growing "communist plot."

The old guard union leaders feared that a walkout would be spoiled by unemployed workers. There were about 30,000 jobless in Minneapolis at the time, almost a third of the population, trying to get by on the stingy government dole.

The socialists in the union, however, saw those out of work as allies rather than enemies. Local 574 adopted a strategy of organizing an unemployed section of the union and fought for public relief for needy members. This helped raise the level of class-consciousness among the jobless workers, turning them into pickets rather than scabs.

Women at the time were generally relegated to unpaid housework and economic dependence on men, so the strike severely affected the working-class women. The socialist union leaders tapped into the women’s skills by setting up a women’s auxiliary of the union, which helped their struggle immensely.

The women helped staff strike headquarters, ensured that workers and their families were well fed, and provided necessary first aid in the coming battles with the police. Women also reinforced the picket lines and participated in street fights that later occurred. Secretaries for the bosses and politicians acted as spies for the union, secretly duplicating letters and memos that often allowed Local 574 to stay one step ahead of the employers.

The women’s auxiliary also had a profound effect on the consciousness of the men, many of whom had seen union activity as "a night out with the boys." These sexist attitudes quickly changed when they saw the badly needed support that their wives and girlfriends brought to the movement.

Walkout

By May 16, 1934, the bosses were still refusing to meet most workers’ demands, and a walkout began. Thousands of workers poured into the street, and the strike headquarters was buzzing with activity. Due to the careful planning and preparation, the entire trucking industry was shut down. Nothing moved without union permission.

The rank and file developed the ingenious idea of cruising pickets in order to achieve a total shutdown of the trucking industry. Strikers were stationed at payphones throughout the city. Whenever a truck was seen driving without a union sign, a cruising squad filled with pickets quickly moved to the spot and blocked the scabs from making their delivery.

Local 574 produced a daily strike newspaper called The Organizer. This was the first daily strike paper in the country, and it helped counteract the corporate newspapers’ propaganda and re-enforce the consciousness of the city’s working class. It revealed the true role of the police, the Democrats and Republicans, and the legal system in defending the bosses’ interests.

The frustrated Citizens Alliance used its connections with the capitalist politicians of both parties to issue legal injunctions against the union to stop the strike. These were promptly ignored by the strikers, who realized it was necessary to break the bosses’ law in order to win.

Police and deputies armed with clubs attempted to break up picket lines and enforce the injunctions. However, the strikers and their supporters vastly outnumbered them. On more than one occasion, workers armed with sticks were able to defeat the police in the streets.

On July 20, known as "Bloody Friday," the Citizens Alliance lured cruising picket squads into a corner with a scab truck, where over 100 policemen with full riot gear and guns were waiting. Without warning, the cops opened fire. Sixty-seven were wounded and one union member, sh:Henry Ness, was killed.

It became clear to all that naked class warfare was being fought in the streets. Bloody Friday, instead of scaring the workers into submission, angered and further mobilized not only members of Local 574 but also the entire working class of Minneapolis. Other unions donated money and resources and held solidarity walkouts. Henry Ness’s funeral drew over 20,000 into the streets in a solemn procession that turned into a mass protest.

Realizing that the police had been rendered ineffective, the Governor called in the National Guard on behalf of the employers. Democratic President Roosevelt, a supposed friend of labor, sent about 4,000 troops into Minneapolis.

The National Guard set up a prison camp on the state fair grounds and patrolled the streets armed with machine guns. They arrested the socialist leaders in hopes of cutting off the union’s head, but thanks to the involvement and education of the rank and file to rely on their own independent strength, this tactic failed miserably. A new leadership was quickly elected, and the strike continued in full force.

After seven weeks, the employers finally gave in. The demands of the workers were accepted, and Minneapolis was transformed into a union town. The workers not only won their demands for decent wages and union recognition but also established new traditions of solidarity and struggle, which showed the way forward for other workers in Minneapolis and around the country.

Lessons for Today

Today we are faced with disillusionment in the union movement. Less than 13% of the workforce in the U.S. is unionized, down from 35% in 1955. In this period of economic downturn and stagnation, workers face cutbacks in wages and benefits in all sectors, and there is the constant threat of layoffs and outsourcing. Over 47 million workers make under $10 per hour, pushed into poverty by ruthless corporations like Wal-Mart.

Workers are being told to limit their demands to what corporations say they can afford in the "competitive global marketplace," and most union leaders buy into this logic. But the experience of 1934 shows that militant, class-conscious leadership, fighting for far-reaching demands that promise to transform the lives of working people, can mobilize workers’ collective strength to overcome any obstacle.

If today’s unions, potentially far more powerful than the labor movement of 1934, launched a bold struggle to organize the unorganized, to fight for a living wage for all and national healthcare, these "impossible" demands could be achieved. Like in 1934, even a few local victories can show the way forward. To quote Farrell Dobbs: "The tinder of discontent begins to pile up. Any spark can light it, and once lit, the fire can spread rapidly."

But we also need to ensure that the fire, once re-lit, does not go out again. The constant back and forth between workers and the bosses cannot be solved within the capitalist system. The only way that workers will be guaranteed security in jobs, healthcare, and living standards is by not only fighting the bosses, but their system as a whole. It is essential to connect struggles for reforms today with the broader struggle against capitalism and for democratic socialism.



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NEWS

Scotland: Will the Corbyn uprising save Scottish Labour?
27/08/2016, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI) :
Lessons of indyref and need for active anti-cuts policies

Greece: Athens bus cleaners win major victory
26/08/2016, Interview with Eleni Mitsou (Xekinima - CWI Greece) and Apostolis Cassimere’s (Board Member of OASA - Athens Bus Workers’ Union):
Struggle achieves public contracts for 100s cleaning workers

Pakistan: Vindictive management suspend and transfer Sindh teachers
24/08/2016, CWI Reporters, Sindh :
Solidarity protests needed!

Chile: Up to 2 million march against pensions robbery
24/08/2016, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Chile) reporters:
General strike threatened for 4 November as protests grow

Britain: Answer right’s attacks with firm socialist programme
23/08/2016, Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
#KeepCorbyn

Quebec: Montreal workers strike for $15 an hour
22/08/2016, Interview with Jacques Fontaine, a striking worker at the Old Port of Montreal:
"Company totally underestimated workers’ determination"

Video: Militant, Liverpool and Trotskyism today
22/08/2016, socialistworld.net:
Russia Today covers historic Liverpool battle, led by the CWI in Britain

US: Build a new party of the 99%
21/08/2016, Joshua Koritz, Socialist Alternative, USA:
Support Jill Stein

Philippines: Is Duterte following in Marcos’ footsteps?
16/08/2016, Vincent Kolo (CWI) interviews Philippines-based socialist, Gabriel:
New president threatens martial law while leaning on ‘left’ parties for support

Video: Socialist Party general secretary Peter Taaffe on Channel 4
14/08/2016, Socialistworld.net:
Socialist party media coverage amid accusations of Trotskyist "entryism"

Video: CWI around the world
13/08/2016, socialistworld.net:
Video shown at the CWI Summer school of some sections’ activities

Quebec: World Social Forum 2016
13/08/2016, socialistworld.net:
Tens of thousands of activists from around the world gather WSF in Montreal, 9-14 August

Hong Kong: Multinational MTR takes socialist Sally Tang Mei-ching to court
12/08/2016, Socialist Action reporters (CWI in Hong Kong):
Political motives behind ‘David versus Goliath’ trial

Britain: #KeepCorbyn - stand firm for socialism
10/08/2016, Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
The fight for a Labour Party for the working class

South Africa: Local elections a thunderous rebuke for ANC
09/08/2016, Weizmann Hamilton, Workers and Socialist Party (CWI in South Africa):
ANC polls less than 60% for first time since end of apartheid

Ireland: Non-payment of water bills rises to 73%
09/08/2016, Katia Hancke, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Abolish the charges now

Zimbabwe: Mugabe must fall!
05/08/2016, Statement by the Executive Committee of the Workers and Socialist Party (CWI in South Africa):
Mass revolt shakes the regime to its foundations

The Olympics, big business and dictatorship
04/08/2016, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
A short history of the Olympics:

CWI Summer school: Brazil
04/08/2016, Michael O’Brien, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
New cycle of struggle following right-wing parliamentary coup

CWI Summer School 2016: Fighting racism and the far right 
02/08/2016, Scott Jones, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Capitalist crisis and anti-immigrant reaction

Germany: Media seizes on violent attacks to whip up Islamophobia
01/08/2016, Sascha Stanicic, Sozialistische Alternative (CWI in Germany):
No security under capitalism

US: Most contentious Democratic Convention since 1968
29/07/2016, Patrick Ayers, Socialist Alternative (US):
We need a new party of the 99% to defeat the billionaire class

Cameroon: Free jailed Buea activists!
28/07/2016, CWI reporters:
100 protest outside the court demanding release of the 15

Cote d’Ivoire: Protests against electricity prices
28/07/2016, CWI in Cote d’Ivoire:
The straw that broke the camel’s back!

Britain: No compromise with Labour right wing
28/07/2016, Editorial of the Socialist, newspaper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
#Keep Corbyn

Chile: One million protest against private pension fund
26/07/2016, Celso Calfullan and Patricio Guzman Socialism Revolucionario (CIT/CWI Chile):
After student protests, working class returns to streets

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Haiti: 225th anniversary of anti-slavery, anti-colonial revolution
27/08/2016, Niall Mulholland, CWI:
A heroic and lasting inspiration to the oppressed everywhere

Russia: Twenty five years since the coup against Gorbachev
25/08/2016, Rob Jones, CWI in Russia :
Decades of ‘shock therapy capitalism’, wars and corruption

Middle East: ISIS’ waning “caliphate”
20/08/2016, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Imperialist solutions are no solution at all

Russia: Twenty fifth anniversary of attempted coup
19/08/2016, Clare Doyle, International Secretariat of the CWI:
Attempted Stalinist counter-revolution speeds up capitalist counter-revolution

US: Trump in trouble
17/08/2016, Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative, USA:
Political polarisation deepens

Britain: The Corbyn insurgency 2.0
15/08/2016, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Now let’s finish the job

CWI Summer School: Economic instability, inter-imperialist tensions, workers struggles’ and political earthquakes
03/08/2016, James McCabe, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Report of the discussion on world perspectives at the recent CWI Summer School

Germany: ‘Brexit’ and the German Left
30/07/2016, Sascha Stanicic, Sozialistische Alternative (CWI in Germany):
Reject the bosses’ EU! For a Europe of working people - a voluntary socialist federation

US: A call to action
27/07/2016, Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative (CWI in the US):
Walk out from the Democratic National Convention!

CWI Summer School: Europe in the aftermath of the Brexit shock
26/07/2016, Kevin Parslow, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Continent enters new phase of political and economic crises

US: Bernie Abandons 'the Revolution’
14/07/2016, Kshama Sawant, Socialist councillor Seattle City :
Time to back Green candidate Jill Stein

Australia: Close election result - A crisis for the establishment
08/07/2016, Socialist Party (CWI Australia) statement :
To fight anti-working class measures, we must build a socialist alternative

History: 1936 - Spain’s revolutionary promise
06/07/2016, Tony Saunois, from Socialism Today (July/August 2016):
Working class and peasants rose up against capitalist exploitation, poverty and fascism

US: Beyond Bernie
01/07/2016, Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative (CWI in the USA):
Still not with her

Britain: Referendum revolt
27/06/2016, Peter Taaffe, from Socialism Today (issue No.200, July-August 2016):
Capitalist establishment shattered

Asia: Conflict in the South China Sea
16/06/2016, This is an abridged version of an article by Vincent Kolo, originally published on chinaworker.info.:
Territorial disputes resemble pieces on a ‘geopolitical chessboard’ as the US and China struggle for hegemony in Asia

Middle East: ISIS under pressure on several fronts
15/06/2016, Niall Mulholland, CWI:
Working classes, through bitterest of experiences, will take to road of mass struggle again

EU: Left parties turning against bosses’ Europe
10/06/2016, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Progress in Portugal and Spain, confusion in Britain

Muhammad Ali: A fighter who inspired millions
09/06/2016, Hugo Pierre, Socialism Today (originally published in 2003):
Establishment forced to incorporate his legend into re-writing of history

Review: The working-class case against the EU
08/06/2016, Hannah Sell, article from Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Review of ‘And The Weak Must Suffer What They Must?’ by Yanis Varoufakis

France: Fight against Valls/Hollande government intensifies
31/05/2016, Clare Doyle, CWI:
Gauche Revolutionnaire statement underlines vital need for political alternative

Austria: Only 31,026 votes prevent far right’s Hofer becoming president
24/05/2016, Sonja Grusch, SLP (the Austrian section of the CWI):
‘Breathing space’ offers chance to build a fighting, democratic left alternative

Britain: EU referendum exposes gaping political fault-lines
24/05/2016, Peter Taaffe, from Socialism Today (monthly magazine of the Socialist Party England & Wales):
New road can open up for labour movement if working class relies on its own forces

Brazil: Fall of President Dilma Rousseff unleashes offensive against working class
19/05/2016, André Ferrari, LSR (‘Freedom, Socialism and Revolution’ - CWI Brazil):
The impeachment process and historic crisis of the PT (Workers’ Party)

Ireland: ‘Jobstown trials’ to go ahead
18/05/2016, Kieran Mahon, Anti-Austerity Alliance / Socialist Party Councillor, Dublin:
Government loses battle on water charges but wages war on Left