It’s been an oppressive week, but thankfully there are lots of opportunities to fight back. This week we have stories of the scab SCOTUS, Microsoft workers taking action, an analysis of the Berniecrat, cops and landlords, plus local occupations and the movement to abolish ICE. There’s a lot to unpack in this week’s Hellhole.
Janus: When it comes to scabs, the J is Silent.
This week, before deciding to retire, Justice Kennedy sided again with the capitalist class in standing against the rights of working people in the 5-4 decision that was Janus v. AFSCME. In a nutshell, the decision weaponized the first amendment so that now, anything that anyone doesn’t like can be used to by the right-wing court to legalize any sort of big-business approved corporate atrocity. What it means practically is that if someone is an employee in the largest union sector (public unions, like. teachers) they can now choose whether they want to pay for union services or whether they would rather receive precisely the same services for free. It’s been a long-term goal of the dark-money elite and with Trump making appointments their investments have paid off.
In the short term, this means a substantial decrease in union funding, and a corresponding decrease in the political and social expenditures that unions provide. This doesn’t just affect labor rallies and strikes, but the millions that unions spend on other movements that they support — think the immigration rights events, material support to the Occupy and Black Lives Matter movements, and local initiatives like minimum wage, sick days, and family leave just to name a few.
What the capitalist class has accomplished is not just a blow to Democrats, but a crippling of the major funding mechanism for the only large-scale institutional source of opposition to capitalism. Unions now have two paths to take. They can either become fee-for-service organizations after freeing themselves from the burden of being the sole representatives of a bargaining unit – true business unionism realized – or they can double down on militancy, start breaking laws, and organizing outside of their membership to create another working class small-L labor movement. We’re all in for supporting the latter. Have you gone to one of our workplace organizing collective meetings?
Seattle DSA and Microsoft Workers Tell the Company to Drop ICE
BREAKING: Seattle DSA members and Microsoft employees are demonstrating and handing out flyers outside of Microsoft HQ calling on the company to drop it's $19.4 million contract with ICE. #AbolishICE #KeepFamilesTogether #OccupyICE pic.twitter.com/IGbPfxWWxd
— Seattle DSA🌹 (@SeattleDSA) June 28, 2018
Yesterday, Seattle DSA, in coordination with righteous Microsoft employees, demonstrated on the Microsoft campuses in Redmond and South Lake Union against the company’s involvement with the agency currently running child concentration camps. Employees had posted an internal open letter last week calling on the company to drop it’s $19.4 million “mission-critical” contract with ICE, and received a nothing-burger from CEO Satya Nadella, so this week they kicked up the action with DSA’s help.
Microsoft holds many contracts with governmental agencies that perpetuate the police state and US imperial interests, mainly through their cloud computing technology. So our members are flyering in opposition to Microsoft’s support of ICE activities! pic.twitter.com/0ZAq1t3Xtf
— Boston DSA (@Boston_DSA) June 28, 2018
The banner hangs, pamphleteering, and press outreach went great – and even went as far as our comrades in Boston! For a write up of the day you can read yesterday’s dispatch!
Pramila Jayapal And What It Means To Be a Berniecrat
Pramila Jayapal, the US House representative for most of Seattle and some of the adjacent suburbs, was in the news. On Monday, her campaign announced that her staff has unionized with the Campaign Workers Guild. This makes her the first sitting Congressperson with unionized workers.
BREAKING: I am very proud to be the first sitting member of Congress whose campaign workers have unionized (with @CWG_Workers!).
Unions give workers a critical voice and they are the backbone of our middle class, and I hope we can be a model for campaigns throughout the country. pic.twitter.com/rz0yOpWoNd
— Pramila Jayapal (@PramilaJayapal) June 25, 2018
On Thursday, following up her previous statements and appearances in opposition to the newest events of the national fascist anti-immigrant crisis, Jayapal, along with hundreds of others from Women’s March were arrested protesting at the Capitol building.
Jayapal was one of the early and successful Berniecrats. While the term “Berniecrat” is quickly becoming as meaningless as “Progressive,” for the moment it still reflects someone who recognizes the failures of the Democratic Party and that the party needs to serve the people. This ranges from a vague sense of inequality being bad to larger reforms like supporting Medicare For All, policies which while not necessarily anti-capitalist, at least get things moving away from the hard-right drift that the country has been on for decades.
If the Democrats want to see their Blue Wave happen, they must realize that these kinds of policies that Jayapal and other Berniecrats support shouldn’t be notable outliers, but the solid bedrock of the party. The disenfranchisement of voters by Republican maneuvering and people choosing not to vote because their material conditions get worse no matter which of the parties is in power lies at the feet of the conservative Democratic establishment.
Ultimately, whether the Democrats realize as a party that Berniecrats like Jayapal should just be the starting point of a leftward move to resolve the immediate Trumpian crisis, it doesn’t change the work for socialists. If we have to fight fascists or a centrist part of capital, we’re out to build a world free from the oppressions of the capitalist system.
Seattle Police Had a No Good, Very Bad Day
Seattle Police are mad in an unlinked MyNorthwest story that they don’t get to be more abusive without backlash. They shouldn’t be surprised that people stand up to their violence, especially when they kill our neighbors like Charleena Lyles. Cops, seriously, get a hammer, close those slammers, and build housing.
Speaking of which…
Landlords: Still Greedy After All These Years
The Seattle Times recently found nearly a quarter of apartments are vacant in the middle of a housing crisis. It’s clear there’s a lot of supply unused, but surprisingly, prices haven’t fallen as considerably as the “basic economics” internet commenters assured us they would.
Will Seattle find a way to de-commodify land so that the people won’t have to shell out to predatory, racist banks and slumlords? Will Bruce Harrell have fewer houses next election cycle? Or live here? Why is Olympia stacked with landlords who use surplus properties to gouge workers? Will Mike Eliason finally get his dream of sweet baugruppen housing?
Well, it is a hellhole but it’s our Hellhole. If the people demand it: we can house, feed, and clothe everyone. Everyone. Immigrants too. Refugees too. We just need to take back what’s ours from the bosses.
¡No nos moverán!
Last Friday night, a coalition of activists from a variety of organizations and tendencies formed an occupying encampment outside of the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, gathering under the name Occupy NWDC. With close collaboration from the Puyallup tribe, the group at the camp would routinely stage “audible solidarity” actions at 9 AM and 9 PM daily. Demonstrators would bang on pots and pans, play drums, and be loud with the goal of reaching those being held to let them know there are people on the outside fighting for them.
But on Tuesday, several Tacoma PD vehicles arrived on the street where the audible solidarity action was taking place and swiftly attacked, brutalized, and arrested an estimated 10 participants, including one juvenile. This only spurred more people to come to the camp, and even though the police served a 24-hour eviction notice the following day, Wednesday night’s noise action was the largest yet. As of this writing the activists had to pack up and remove the camp for now, but the audible solidarity actions are expected to continue.
— Occupy ICE NWDC (@Occupy_NWDC) June 28, 2018
Another force which has been working tirelessly to fight NWDC and ICE’s power and presence in the region is NWDC Resistance/Resistencia al NWDC. NWDCR has been active for years supporting hunger strikers within the prison and advocating for both better treatment of detainees as well as an end to all deportations. Since the news broke about ICE’s family separations, NWDCR has held daily vigils outside of downtown Seattle’s ICE building to call attention to their shameful practices. Earlier this month they shut down 2nd Avenue in a demonstration that drove morning commute traffic to a halt, and later that week they rallied outside of SeaTac’s Federal Detention Center, another prison where many undocumented immigrants are being held.
The next big event is Solidarity Day, a rally this coming Sunday afternoon to continue to show detainees that they aren’t alone and to show ICE that they’re being watched. The more people that show up, the safer the event will be and the greater the impact they’ll have. If you’re free, NWDCR and all of us who support them want to see you there.
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Hellhole is written by members of the Seattle DSA communications team. Unless expressly stated, Dispatches do not necessarily reflect the views of Seattle DSA as an organization or its leadership.