Red Flag Newspaper
International Communist Workers Party
Los Angeles, Ca. May, 2015. “I don’t have any reason to defend him. Whatever I have, I have gotten it by working hard; they haven’t given it to me for free,” said a garment worker and Red Flag reader from American Apparel. She was referring to the current campaign to reinstall the former owner Dov Charney as executive director of the factory.
The workers are unhappy with the current bosses of American Apparel. Charney and Hermandad Mexicana—an organization that supposedly fights for immigrants—are taking advantage of this discontent, trying to return Carney to his old throne.
These community “leaders,” hired by Charney, want to impose our former master on us. We don’t need masters. We need to unite and fight for a communist society without masters or exploitation. In a communist society the garment workers will produce to clothe the international working class, not to make anyone rich. Likewise, other workers will produce to feed, house, and provide medical care to the whole society. There will not be exploitation, speed-up or money.
Victory of Charney: Based on Exploitation and Deceit
Charney became famous—hailed by the bosses’ press—for producing in the US and for paying a little more than the minimum wage, providing massages to the workers and supporting the campaign to “Legalize L.A.” on behalf of undocumented workers.
Because of this he could sell the products for high prices. However, his production circles, based on incredible competition and inhuman speedup, produced desperation, tears, and illness among the workers.
Charney used the massages when a worker showed signs of fatigue. This was his whip: he mobilized the masseurs to guarantee that the worker didn’t stop producing. The machine had to keep roaring.
His campaign for legalization was to create an image that he cared about his workers seeking in exchange their gratitude so they would be loyal slaves, producing the maximum for him.
Charney wants to return as our master pretending to be our savior
“We know that you have many problems like layoffs, lack of health insurance, and fewer hours of work. But our goal is that Charney return to his post. Then he will resolve all these problems,” Nativo Lopez, leader of Hermandad Mexicana, told workers in a meeting.
But the company that Charney founded in 1989 with twenty workers, that grew to have more than 10,000 workers, experienced serious economic problems. The company sustained losses of $340 million in the last 5 years and had a debt of $200 million. It was bought by General Standard in 2014.
Hermandad Mexicana is organizing meetings with many workers to get them to support Charney. According to Hermandad more than 2,000 have signed cards and formed a Workers’ Committee. This will meet with the current management and partners of American Apparel to demand Charney’s reinstatement.
We should go to the meetings to be with these workers and to expose the game of these agents of exploitation and mobilize the workers around a communist vision of a world without wages.
There Are No Good Capitalist Masters
Our problems are caused by capitalism which is experiencing a global crisis of overproduction. This crisis is forcing many people to not buy or to buy less. The dog-eat-dog competition forces many manufacturers to produce more than they can sell. To avoid bankruptcy, they cut wages, benefits, work hours and jobs.
The laws of capitalism dictate that we are always sacrificed for the profits and fortunes of the bosses. No boss wants to or can change this. Only we can do that through a communist revolution.
Under capitalism the bosses make us believe that we depend on them, that thanks to them we can survive. But this is a big lie. It is the opposite: they become millionaires thanks to the work of the workers.
Our labor power is the most powerful engine in the world
The bosses can put fabric and a wad of bills on a machine. The executives can dance around it all night and nothing will happen. However when the worker sits and makes the machine roar, he or she creates added value that the bosses, when they sell the garment, convert into their profits.
They are millionaires; we are poor. “I’m very angry, I’m making $9 an hour and I pay $1000 in rent. Charney lives in the mansion that Charlie Chaplin owned. He is fighting for his own interests,” said another Red Flag reader.
A new communist world will be very different—we will not be exploited or be wage slaves. Let’s make our communist vision a reality. We invite the hundreds of readers of Red Flag at American Apparel and in the whole garment industry to join us in study groups, to distribute Red Flag and fight for communist revolution.
Seventy-two of our brothers and sisters died horribly on May 13 as fire raged through a Kentex shoe factory in an industrial district on the outskirts of Manila. Many burned to death, trapped by steel bars and mesh on second-floor windows. Others were suffocated by fumes from burning rubber and chemicals. The factory’s main gate was padlocked.
Government officials rushed to notice – too late! – the many violations of safety rules at the Kentex factory. Labor groups blamed these officials, too: they failed to inspect the many sweatshops like this one or enforce existing laws. A government report last September actually found Kentex to be “in compliance” with safety requirements!
There are plenty of guilty parties to this crime. Some will probably be charged. But the guiltiest of all is capitalism itself.
Seventy-two workers were murdered by capitalism’s inner drive to maximize profits.
The barred windows were meant to keep workers from “stealing” off-brand flip-flops that were the products of their own labor. We say that every penny of Kentex’s profits was stolen from the workers!
And how many more did Kentex murder with its poisonous chemical atmosphere? With its starvation piece-work wages ranging from 300 – 500 pesos (U.S.$6.70-$11.25) for a 12-hour shift?
Capitalist competition drives bosses to maximize profits by minimizing costs – especially labor costs! – and by selling as much stuff as possible.
Communism is the opposite. We will maximize the well-being of the masses by minimizing the burdens. We will produce for need, not for the market.
In communist society we will produce high-quality goods for everyone under the safest possible conditions. If something can’t be produced safely, we won’t produce it at all.
In communist society, we will work to serve each other, not for wages. There won’t be money or profits or accumulated wealth in the hands of a few.
Over one hundred Kentex workers had to get their jobs through a middleman who took a cut of their miserable pay. In communist society, nobody will have trouble finding useful work. Everyone will have the chance to learn and do many kinds of work. Nobody will suffer if there are times when they can’t work.
Seventy-two workers were murdered by capitalism’s obsession with private property.
The fire started when a welder was told to work on a steel door even though highly flammable chemicals were stored right next to it. “Why was welding work allowed near all those chemicals?” asked Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas.
We ask, “Why do factories need steel doors at all?”
Under capitalism, doors and locks exist to protect the bosses’ private property. So do laws, courts, and cops. They protect this property from the masses who labored to create it!
In communist society the masses will collectively own and operate factories, farms, and all other means of production. We will produce what we need and share it freely. No more private property! No more steel bars! No more steel doors! No more padlocks!
How many more of us must capitalism kill before we rise and destroy it with communist revolution?
Labor and political groups, including the militant socialist Partido Manggagawa (PM) have organized protests against the “partial privatization of labor inspection.” They demand compensation for families of the dead, criminal charges for the owners of Kentex and its illegal subcontractor CJC, and enforcement of safety laws. They call on workers and the families of the victims to “organize themselves” to “demand justice.”
Said a PM spokesman: “Unfortunately it took the death of dozens of workers to make it as clear as daylight: Contractualization kills! Labor rights violations kill too!”
We say: CAPITALISM KILLS! PM and its allies are trying to lead workers into the dangerous trap of reformism. Reform struggles, however militant, don’t build the revolutionary movement we need to realize PM’s stated hope for “a society that is free from the chains of wage slavery.”
We can only destroy the deadly chains of wage slavery by mobilizing the masses for the communist world we need. Read and distribute Red Flag in the Philippines--and everywhere! Help translate this and other articles into Tagalog and other languages! Join and build the International Communist Workers’ Party!