Labor, Globalization and Building the Party

July 18, 2007

National Committee Report July 7, 2007

First I want to thank the Labor Commission members for their invaluable input in this report. Much of this report took shape at this years face-to-face Midwest regional commission meeting last May in Chicago. The National Board discussion of this report was also very helpful. I want to mention the two newest members of the Labor Commission, Melissa ORourke and John Wojcik. Melissa is our new Labor Commission coordinator and John is the new Labor Editor for the PWW. Both of them are here today and I hope all of you will get to know them if you dont already. Melissa and John have greatly improved the work of the commission and bring a lot of energy and passion to our work.

We tried a new approach at this last commission meeting. We discussed this opening in three distinct parts with three separate discussions. You can do that with a smaller group and it was very helpful allowing comrades to focus. So this report has three main components: 1 The Labor Movement Today, 2 New developments in labors response to Capitalist Globalization, and 3 Building the Party in labor.

The Labor Movement Today

At our commission meeting most all agreed that the US labor movement, taken as a whole, is making a dramatic and qualitative shift. Its moving in a more militant and class struggle direction. Most described it as a turning point. This was not some rose colored glasses estimate. We recognized and discussed the many continuing difficulties and the uneven development. But we all agreed that, notwithstanding all the problems, labor has shifted gears in the right direction.
Here are some of the general areas of development that we talked about: 1) labors new level of activity to end the war in Iraq and labors participation in the Peace movement; 2) labors increased work in coalitions, in building ties with those movements that are key components of the all peoples front. Labor increasingly sees itself as a champion of all the working class, not just its own members; 3) labors increased attention to the fight against racism, for unity. There is new recognition and appreciation for the diversity of the labor movement and the working class; 4) labors ties to the immigrant rights movement. Recognition of the stepped up role of immigrant workers in building and leading the labor movement; 5) labors fight for workers rights legislation such as the Employee Free Choice Act and increasing the minimum wage; 6) labors growing leadership role in the fight for national health care, especially for the Conyers Medicare for All Bill, HR 676; 7) labors preparation and mobilization for the 2008 elections; 8) the growing acceptance and appreciation in labor circles of the party, the YCL and our publications; 8) and the powerful role of retired workers and union retiree organizations in all of labors struggles.

This progressive current and direction in labor has been steadily building since the rank and file movements of the 70s and 80s. In the late 1980s our party took note of the fresh winds as labor leadership began to reflect this powerful movement from below. Its important to see the ever-increasing pace of developments. What we are seeing is not just gradual incremental change.

The victory against the ultra-right and Bush in the 2006 elections.

Labors increased mobilization, and more independent role in the 2006 elections, combined with the victories, brought hope and confidence to a labor movement already headed in a much better direction. It also brought the labor movement new clout and respect in the Democratic party and in the electoral arena, and in the progressive movements as well. Today progressives of all stripes speak more and more about the importance of labor and its participation in all kinds of struggles. Labors political independence also grew as it further refined and developed its own methods and political apparatus. With new clout, new respect and new organizational and political abilities labor quickly began to work on 2008. The AFL-CIO adopted a bold approach of taking the elections to the rank and file from the selection of candidates, to mobilization and outreach.
This new energy and fighting spirit is seen in this seasons union meetings and conferences. Those of us who attended the annual convention of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists in Chicago got a great taste of the changes.

In discussing a major labor voter registration drive for the 2008 elections the convention put forward a bold new approach. Instead of sending people across town or out of state to register folks, CBTU wants members to work in their own communities. They plan to develop neighborhood lists of unregistered voters and assign members to register people in their own targeted neighborhoods. CBTU sees these efforts as helping to build a neighborhood based labor get-out-the-vote apparatus. This approach is being picked up and talked about throughout labor. It dovetails with the AFL-CIOs vision of a army of shopstewards based in the workplace and neighborhood.

The Split in Labor

Im not going to say a lot about the split in labor, but folks thought I should say something. The split continues to cause problems. It continues to be negative. And there are some alarming new class collaborationist ideas associated with some of the leaders of Change to Win. Even so, the drive for unity from below remains strong. Unity at the local and state Central Labor Council level continues to improve. As we noted before, it is the local level, where the rubber meets the road, that drives reunification. We have to continue to be outspoken and help build a movement for reunification. As weve said before, there is no real basis for the split, and the crying needs of the class struggle and the pressures of capitalist globalization all continue to press for reunification.

My worry is that we not get too hung up on the insider details of the split. Sometimes the discussion becomes almost labor gossip. Its a hell of a lot easier to talk about whats wrong with a particular labor leaders ideas than it is to figure out how were going to play a role in helping to see, for example, that autoworkers dont get the shaft in negotiations this year. But more on that later.

The Economic Situation

Time and my lack of expertise do not allow for a rounded picture of the economic situation of workers today. But like most workers, even us untrained activists have a pretty good sense that things are going from bad to worse for workers and their families, including what some in labor call the middle class. Actually what they really mean by middle class is workers who have better union level wages and benefits.

Working families are losing their homes at an alarming rate. In April of this year foreclosures were up 65% year over year from 2006. Some of the hardest hit states are California, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Connecticut. All indications are that foreclosure rates will continue to accelerate for some time to come. And while the housing market bubble and real estate speculation get a lot of attention, even mainstream economist acknowledge that the loss of manufacturing jobs is one of the main contributors to the disturbing rate of foreclosures. To make things even worse, in the face of hard times millions of families are borrowing against their homes to stay afloat so that actual homeowner equity is at all time lows.
According to the Economic Policy institute, in 2005 14.1% of Americans – 41.3 million – were living in poverty, all indications are that these figures have only grown worse in the last couple of years. We all know that roughly 46 million are without any health care insurance and the number is growing.

Real wages and purchasing power are way down while the costs of everyday living are steadily climbing. College costs are skyrocketing and most working class youth who can make it to college, leave burdened with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Even college and a union job no longer guarantee young people a path to buying a decent home and comfortably raising a family.

I have a feeling that all the bad indicators for workers are about to take a further hit as the effects of billions in wasteful military spending come home to roost, much as workers suffered from the economic consequences of the Vietnam war. This combined with the corporate offensive to cut wages and benefits and the consequent loss in purchasing power for working families, might be pushing the economy towards an even greater downturn.
In any case capitalist globalization and the export of capital, combined with the attacks on labor have steadily forced down living standards and conditions for millions of workers. Insecurity and economic stress are clearly rising in working families as measured by numerous polls and surveys. According to AFL-CIO polling: healthcare, the war in Iraq and jobs, top the list of concerns for workers and their families in that order.

Downward pressure on wages and working conditions for union workers puts tremendous downward pressure on all workers including those at the bottom of the economic pyramid. And its clear that the sustained attacks on the unions and union manufacturing workers for the last 25 years has a terrible racist edge. Especially for African-Americans, Latinos, and other oppressed workers, union manufacturing jobs in the basic industries like auto and steel, have been key to upward mobility and a better standard of living. These jobs have been critical to raising the living standards of whole communities and conversely as these jobs go, the same communities are laid to waste. This truth is glaring in cities like Detroit and Gary. Like hundreds of other communities and neighborhoods based on manufacturing industries, they have been decimated.

Auto Negotiations

With that in mind I want to raise what I think is one of the most critical battles facing the working class and the labor movement this year. On September 14 the contracts between the United Auto Workers and the so-called Big Three, GM, Chrysler and Ford, expire. These negotiations will not just be the same old chipping away by the companies. It will not be about the incremental cuts in healthcare, wages and other benefits that weve suffered through since the corporate offensive that began with the crushing of the PATCO union in the early 1980s and then the concessions in steel and auto.

The struggle to defend the autoworkers at Delphi ended badly. Delphi workers have been forced to approve a contract that for some older workers will mean a 50% reduction in wages and benefits. Others of the best paid Delphi workers are being tempted and will have to accept cash buyouts. This will leave new hires and younger workers making really less than half of what Delphi workers have been getting wages dropping down to around $14 an hour and benefits being slashed or eliminated. This is incredible in an industry that once offered the nations highest wages and conditions. This is an industry that invests billions overseas and that has made extraordinary profits over the years.

The Delphi bloodletting has driven the auto transnationals, the big three and Wall Street into a frenzy for more. Already the companies have started bargaining in the press. First Ford announced that it would be seeking a 30% cut in the wage and benefit package. Then GM and Chrysler announced in the Wall Street Journal that they would be seeking similar cuts. I dont think weve seen this kind of wage slashing effort since the early 1920s. I went back and read some of William Z. Fosters accounts of the early 1920s wage cutting by the monopolies. This offensive began right after the defeat of the 1919 Little Steel Strike. Then, like now, there was an all out attack on the labor movement. Congress was dominated by big business and ultra-right forces. One thing I found particularly interesting, was that demands for severe wage cuts came at a time when several leading industries were beginning to move their factories to the South, in search of cheap wages and lower living standards for workers. In particular, the garment and textile industries were imposing severe wage cuts on workers in the North while at the same time whipsawing them against their lower-paid fellow workers in the South. Kind of rings a bell today doesnt it, with auto workers, and steelworkers and many others being whipsawed against their brothers and sisters in low-wage, developing countries?

The threat is clear. Give us any problems and we will close the plant and leave you with nothing. We are faced with some really hard questions around this fight to defend the autoworkers. How important is this fight? I think it is clear that this is a fight to defend the living standards of the whole working class. No easy answers to be sure, but its clear that autoworkers alone havent much a chance. Where is their leverage? They threatened to strike Delphi and then backed down. Some will blame that on the union leadership, but I dont think its that simple. I dont think anyone saw a way to win. Militant talk only goes so far. And, to be frank, one big problem we face is that mostly the leadership of the union doesnt see the power of solidarity and unity with the rest of labor, either at home or abroad. Unfortunately mostly they dont see these negotiations in a broader context beyond their own ranks. But the fact is the only way autoworkers can really defend themselves in this situation is in unity and solidarity with a much broader front of workers at home and abroad.

So what can we do? When I was in Detroit a couple of weeks ago John Rummel and the district leadership organized a meeting where we kicked this around some. The discussion included some real veterans of the struggles in auto. One thing said in the discussion struck me. Part of our role has to be to put out the issues and ideas around this fight, not only to autoworkers but to all workers. Thats one place I think we can make a good start. We have to begin a campaign in the pages of the Peoples Weekly World, Political Affairs and Dynamic, much like weve done around the campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act. We have to show that whats at stake is critical to all workers and their families, critical to everyone in the progressive movement.
We have to explain whats at stake also in every organization and movement were active in. We need resolutions of support and pledges of solidarity with the UAW and their members. We need letters to the editor, folks on talk radio, and articles in union newsletters. In addition I think we have to raise this with our international contacts and comrades. Can we help get pledges of solidarity from unions and workers in other countries? Can we make the case to our international friends and comrades that this is a battle that affects the class globally? But we also all need to put our thinking caps on and figure out what more we can do. We cant just throw up our hands. This is the kind of critical class battle that we all have to help win.

New developments in labors response to Capitalist Globalization

The global class struggle more and more shapes the class struggle in each country including ours. The Big Three negotiations in auto are a perfect example. GM, Chrysler and Ford are no more US corporations than are Toyota, Mercedes and Mitsubishi. These are all global transnational monopolies; they each have vast concentrations of capital and manufacturing facilities around the world. GM, Chrysler and Ford only become US corporations, when its time to whipsaw US workers against GM Chrysler, Ford, Toyota, Mercedes, and Mitsubishi workers around the world in a race to the bottom. I take that back. They also become US corporations when it comes time for tax breaks and bailouts.

As our science predicted way back in Marxs day, capitalism has become truly a global system. Yet global economic integration, the gargantuan concentrations of finance capital, the mobility of production, incredible advances in transportation systems, and the science and technology revolution, have gone far beyond what anyone could have imagined in Marxs day. Capitalism is the dominant global system. And thus capitalist globalization has a big jump on working class and peoples globalization.

But incredible things are beginning to happen in the realm of global labor solidarity. More and more, the US labor movement gets it. A little over a year ago, in our last major discussion of capitalist globalization and labor and in my pamphlet on the subject, we discussed several forms of international labor solidarity. We said it was far too early to speculate as to what new forms labor and the unions would ultimately develop to fight back globally. Well guess what? Now a year later, its not all that early.

We mentioned the dreams of some labor activists to build global trade unions. And we chuckled a little, and made jokes about a revival of the IWW. Yet today, the United Steelworkers is taking just those steps. Two months ago, they announced plans to merge with the two largest industrial unions in Great Britain. Two weeks ago, the top officers of the Steelworkers union were in Britain at a conference to begin the merger process. And that is only the beginning of their plans. The Steelworkers have identified key industrial unions on every continent with whom they are developing strategic alliances. The Steelworkers have a vision and a plan for building a mighty global industrial union that can challenge transnational capital.

Significantly the first joint action of the USW and Britains UNITE union was to launch a joint campaign to demand the US and British governments cease aid to the Colombian government. Their press release stated, While researching merging, the two unions agreed to provide material and financial resources for joint international solidarity projects. This effort in Colombia will be the first, and it was chosen, the two unions said yesterday, because the assassinations in Colombia present the most alarming situation for trade unionists anywhere in the world. The USW and Unite condemned the roles played by the US and UK governments in Columbia. Then just this week the New York Times reported on a lawsuit by the USW against Drummond Coal because of its role in financing death squads and paramilitaries in Colombia.

In truth the Steelworkers have been on the cutting edge of trade union response to capitalist globalization since they absorbed the lessons of strikes at Ravenswood and Bridgestone/Firestone, but they are not the only ones. In the last few weeks several other unions have taken unprecedented steps towards developing truly global forms of struggle.
Just a month or so ago, the International Association of Machinists held a very meeting of Boeing unions from around the world. They went beyond sharing information and pledging solidarity. It was much more than that. The Machinists discussed with Boeing unions from around the world how to set a bottom line on wages and working conditions in their contracts. In other words, the Machinists union is joining with Boeing workers from around the world to develop a global coordinated strategy in their negotiations with this giant transnational.

Similar meetings and conferences are beginning to take place in other key global industries. The current issue of the UAW journal reports on similar meetings with Ford workers in Thailand. These kinds of meetings around particular industries or companies have taken place in textiles and garment, steel and machine tool, in food processing, among public service workers, transportation workers, and others. And again these are not just information sharing meetings, but rather meeting leading to specific strategic campaigns and action to deal with the transnationals.
Its interesting to note that in several of the announcements and press conferences about these meetings, the phrase Workers of the World Unite has been used. I think all of this illustrates that the world labor movement is taking steps to make a practical reality out of what is perhaps our movements best-known slogan.

Here, I also want to mention that labors global concerns go beyond their immediate industries and their immediate struggle with transnational corporations. Recently there was an extraordinary conference in New York City on labor and climate change. Besides good representation from some of the key industrial unions in the United States, the conference had 50 representatives from unions from around the world. It was a very high-level discussion on issues of sustainability, poverty, development and the impact of climate change on working people. This was the fourth in a series of global labor conferences on climate change. One took place in South America and two others in Africa, with significant participation from European unions. And I think we all know about the incredible participation of labor unions from around the world in efforts to end the war in Iraq as another example.

We should also note that one of labors big priorities this year was achieved just a week ago when fast track trade authority lapsed and the Democratic controlled Congress did not act to renew it. This was in large part due to the united labor movements hard work to end fast track. Both the AFL-CIO and Change to Win put up a united fight against fast track based on demands to include enforceable labor and environmental standards in all agreements. It also means that the four so-called free trade agreements now being considered have little chance of passage. And it looks like labor will make redoing the existing trade agreements like NAFTA a 2008 campaign issue.


Increasingly, the world labor movement and the US labor movement understand immigration issues to be issues of capitalist globalization. That is, they understand that plunder of developing countries is the root problem causing the incredible new waves of immigration. Both of the worlds main trade union federations, the World Federation of Trade Unions and the International Trade Union Confederation, have begun to deal with immigration in this manner. Increasingly the unions and workers blame the unfair trade policies of the industrial nations and the plunder of transnational corporations and banks for the misery, racism and xenophobia against immigrant workers and their families. The growing economic unease and attacks on living standards will certainly be used to foster even more extreme forms of racism and immigrant bashing both nationally and internationally. This is a rising danger here and abroad. It underlines the importance of our work in labor on this issue.


China is a special issue for us. Building ties with such a huge global section of the working class is important in and of itself. But because of the role of US-based transnationals, and the lingering problems of anti-communism, building ties between the Chinese and American labor movements and peoples are strategic concerns. Time doesnt permit a fuller discussion of the latest developments but things are slowly improving. More and more in the labor movement and even in the leadership, the main fire is shifting from Communist China to the transnationals. Its uneven of course and we can all give examples of racist and jingoistic reactions. Yet progress is being made. Change to Win has taken several top level leaders to visit China and to establish relations with the All China Federation of Trade Unions. I have to say that the things being said by the Change to Win leaders about these trips make some of the same arguments we make about why its important to engage and build ties with the ACFTU.

We are constantly hearing about new contacts being made between Chinese and US labor, including by local unions and central labor bodies. We are continuing to work to help develop these kinds of ties. In addition, as weve stressed before, we have to look at helping to broaden ties with labor in India, Africa and Russia, three more key strategic sections of the global working class.

I believe these new developments in globalized labor solidarity are the beginnings of a historic shift in how the working class and the unions fight. It is the emerging recognition that working class and labor leverage is shifting and will increasingly be best realized globally. I also think the shift will accelerate and come into being much faster than we might now think. This shift is fully in line with the new level of global economic integration and the transnationalization of capital.
Building the Party in labor

Obviously, from our point of view, one thing all this demands, is that we build the Communist Party, the Young Communist League and our press. And in particular, it underlines our need to build our movement among workers, and in labor. I dont think the political climate or the possibilities have ever been better in my generations lifetime.

This is not a question of just wanting a bigger organization. A bigger party, a bigger YCL, and a much wider circulation of our press and literature is essential to the class struggle, a necessity for the working class and the oppressed. All of our collective experience and all of our science tells us this. This has come through loud and clear in our clubs and in our districts, as weve discussed Sam Webbs important paper on the role of tasks of the party.

One important aspect of the new developments in labor affects our party very deeply. That is the growing acceptance of the Communist Party as a legitimate, useful and welcome part of the labor movement. Of course this acceptance is not universal. There are still problems of anti-communism in the movement. In short, like all the progressive trends in labor, it is uneven.
However, some of our veteran trade union comrades say that the acceptance of the party today is better than it was at the height of the CIO organizing days, before the big business anti-communist witch hunts. Yet, steelworker veteran George Edwards makes the point that while our relations may be better, what we dont have today is the rank-and-file troops that we had in the CIO days. Increasing our membership in key industries and among workers in general is critical to furthering these new trends.

I think its important to explore why we have become so accepted. I think its because of our style of work, our consistent solidarity and our constant partisanship for labor. Its our strong support and the wonderful coverage in our publications. We get comments all the time about the labor coverage in the PWW. Both the PWW and PA are well respected and our reporters well treated at labor conferences and meetings. Its our unrelenting struggle for unity. And its that our folks are known as hard workers.

I think it is our approach to coalition building, and our hard work for the goals of the labor movement that are the keys to our acceptance. As mentioned earlier we won tremendous respect and appreciation from many in the labor movement, because of our principled and early stand against the split. But it wasnt just our position on the split, it was also that our comrades in the labor movement, even as we plowed into the 2004 elections, took action to promote unity and to get the discussion more down in the ranks. In unions on both sides of the split we helped pass resolutions, helped get the issues discussed in union meetings and conferences and everywhere put labor unity first. We fought hard to aim fire at the corporations and transnationals and not at others in labor. And while our friends in labor do not always agree with us on every issue, we do win respect for our efforts at promoting solidarity and labor unity.
We have well-known comrades, operating at many different levels of the trade union movement. We have comrades on central labor councils, and some are even officers. We have comrades elected to local union office. We have comrades in union staff positions. Many of these comrades are known as communists, and a few are open communists who distribute our literature and talk to their fellow workers about the party. But we have far too few shop workers, who circulate our press and materials among their fellow workers. This cannot stand.

From this meeting we have to seriously grapple with the problems of industrial concentration. We had some very interesting discussions aimed at trying to build a new approach to industrial concentration at our joint Economics and Labor commission think tank, over a year ago. It was a very good discussion, and we did list a number of key areas and key industries for concentration. We basically said that the traditional concentration industries remain valid for today, and we took a look at new sectors of the economy that are playing a critical role. So, for example, we looked at health care, we looked at the utilities, we thought about the role of high-tech industries and computers in modern production, and we took a very thoughtful look at the new and enhanced role of communications and transportation in a modern global economy.

But I think its clear the challenge is not simply a list. The challenge is how to get to the concretes in our particular situation. It is how to take account of our actual abilities and forces. We have to start with a realistic assessment. A list of industries or important sectors of the economy is not a concentration policy, and frankly, its not much of a guide. Saying that does not negate the importance of all the industries that we listed. Still the question remains – where to begin?

Our party is primarily located in urban areas. Many of these urban areas have been decimated by globalization, plant closings, and runaway industries. Even when we speak of neighborhood concentration, its getting harder and harder to identify working class neighborhoods where mostly industrial and mass manufacturing workers live.

While we live in a big country, and one size could not possibly fit every situation, I wonder if it might not be fruitful to begin with thinking about just three industries for national concentration, given our real forces and abilities. This will seem like pragmatism to some, but we do have to be practical. We do have to be realistic and set for ourselves goals that can actually be accomplished. I should hasten to add that a national concentration policy does not preclude local concentration efforts that fit the situation of particular clubs and districts. Not at all!
I want to propose for discussion that we map a national industrial concentration policy based on the strengths of the party organization and our actual placement in the country both where we have party organization and where we have comrades already involved in the proposed concentration industries.

Transportation – both transit and longshore in particular. Many urban centers, where the party has its strongest forces, are also transportation centers important to the whole country and to the global economy. Just take a look at New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and Seattle, for example. Think about the West Coast Longshore fight a couple of years ago. Think about the New York transit strike.

Steel – Here we have a long history of involvement and we still have people deeply involved in the union. Here we have some of the best opportunities for recruiting. Lets look at Ohio, Pittsburgh, Tucson, Gary and Chicago.

Auto – Again here we have a long history and are still very involved around the union. Lets look at Detroit, St. Louis and Dallas.

I say national concentration because I think we have to give national attention and concrete help in these areas, first of all from the labor commission, but also from the whole party leadership. Industrial concentration has to be a policy of the whole party. I think if we can build on the relations and situations we have in these areas to recruit, and grow the circulation or our press, and build the party and YCL, we will be in a much better situation to move the party overall. In addition to todays discussion, and working with the Organization commission, the Labor commission needs to have discussions with each of these districts about these ideas.

At our May labor commission meeting, we asked Terry Albano, our PWW editor, to lead a discussion of our role in helping to make the Peoples Weekly World a centerpiece of our efforts to build the party in the labor movement. It was a very lively and fruitful discussion. I think one of the most important ideas discussed was the notion that all of our trade union comrades should be encouraged to use a small bundle of the Peoples Weekly World in their daily work. This is not to take the place of regular distributions at union halls, plant gates or central labor councils. Instead, the idea is to also give papers to the people we work with all the time. To use the PWW as a concrete and specific recruiting tool. In other words, to use the PWW, not just to reach the masses, but to bring our closest contacts closer. Again, to stress that this is in no way meant to take away from our general use of the PWW. In fact, we all agreed that we need to increase the use of the paper at plant gates, on the picket lines, at union halls and central labor councils.
I think its a sign of the times, and the new possibilities, that were getting such a good response to this proposal of small personal bundles. Already several comrades have taken up this idea, and have been pleasantly surprised with the results. We have learned not to prejudge peoples reactions. Some come back to us later and request a sub after declining the first time we ask.
In this discussion of small bundles we also discussed lists. Recruiting and building our press should be collective efforts, not solitary pursuits. We need all kinds of lists. We need lists of people we want to sell subscriptions to. We need lists of people we want to recruit. The idea of lists comes up every time we have a serious discussion of recruiting and building the party. I remember back in the late 1960s in Nashville, Tennessee, when Danny Rubin discussed lists with a bunch of us new comrades. Lists really work. They are not just a mechanical device. When we collectively make lists, when we collectively discuss lists, when we think together about how to move the people on our list closer to us, we can make real progress. Why? Because lists focus our attention. Because lists allow us to set goals, to have checkup, and to take practical steps.

One list we discussed in our May labor commission meeting is a list of who in labor reads the Peoples Weekly World. Dan prepared for our meeting, a list of local unions and other labor bodies that subscribe to the PWW or take a small bundle. Its quite an interesting list to build on. We want to follow up by getting a bigger picture from every district of who we know in labor that gets or sees the paper regularly. This list should include regular distributions at union meetings and labor councils, small bundles delivered to local union offices, subscriptions, and any other labor folks who receive the paper on a regular basis. I think well be surprised at the picture, this will give us. Were in the process of contacting districts on this project.
I also want to mention the efforts of the YCL to reach young workers. They have a great committee of their leadership, including Smiley, developing a detailed plan for establishing a young workers network. These efforts deserve the full support and attention of the party and the press. They are very aware that one major constituency of the labor movement – youth – are without a constituency group affiliated with the AFL-CIO. This should be a major concern of us all. It underlines our need to help recruit young workers and to build the party and YCL among youth.

What holds us back.

Part of our discussion has to be to examine what holds us back. I think its clear that fears of anti-communism and isolation, and even of being fired are still a factor. As Ive traveled and met with comrades around the country, I do think that fear is lessening. I have asked at many meetings, does anyone know anyone whos been fired for being a communist in the last 10 years? No one has come up with an example yet.

In many ways, I think that the fear of isolation is the bigger problem. In a small way, our new acceptance is a double-edged sword. Were in the thick of things, we are listened to like never before, were part of the gang, were included. And we really dont want to rock that boat. Its truly understandable. Some of us have been dreaming of a time when we can play this kind of a role for a long time. And we dont want to lose it. But I think we have to stretch ourselves some. We have to continue to do all the things that are key to our acceptance, but we also have to talk to people about our science and about our party. We have to push ourselves to be more open. And we have to do it collectively. We have to get away from the idea that our openness and our politics, are only private personal questions, somewhat akin to our love lives. But how do we do that? I clearly dont think we can do it with guilt or in the negative. Its not a moral question. Its not a personal failing. Its a political question of how the party supports our members and builds a sense of confidence in our goals, and in our methods, and in our works.

I think we have to start from the premise of Sam Webbs paper, the party is not just a good thing, its a necessary thing. We have to build on that with action. We have to build on the changes and on the positive trends. We have to collectively build our confidence, and that requires testing our ideas in life. We have to play up our best examples and our best experiences. We have to truly recognize the time of day and build on whats new and developing.

To sum up.

Things have really changed since the 2006 elections. And this is especially evident in the labor movement. Capitalist globalization, the economic crisis for workers and their families, the new progressive trends in labor, the burning need to find new ways of fighting back, the new levels of unity and coalition in the peoples movements, the new levels of labors independent political action and political involvement, are all factors crying out for a bigger and bolder Communist Party. We have our work cut out for us. We have to make this meeting, and the fast approaching regional conferences on party building, turning points for our party. And we have to do all this while remaining deeply dug into the struggles of today.

I want to end back with the auto workers. This is an immediate fight, that we cannot neglect or forget in the midst of all that we are discussing and all we have to do. Again, it is strategic for the whole class and for all working people. I guess for us the bottom-line question is, how can we fight side by side with the autoworkers and in that fight and welcome some of them into our party?

We are more and more accepted as part of the labor movement because we are more and more part of the labor movement and all of the peoples movements. We are dug in. The fighting spirit, the confidence and the energy of this meeting are a reflection of the growing fighting spirit, the confidence and energy of the working class and the broader peoples coalitions. Together we can and will make great progress!


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