Red Flag Newspaper
International Communist Workers Party
LOS ANGELES, February 12—“This is our new pamphlet on the revolutionary role of soldiers,” said the Red Flag distributor outside an MTA division one early morning. “Do you know anybody in the military?”
“Me!” answered the driver. “I’m in the reserves. They tell us communism is dictatorship. Is that what you want?”
“What we’ve got now is the dictatorship of capital—those who have the gold make the rules. We’re mobilizing workers and soldiers to fight for a world without bosses, money, racism or borders—that’s communism,” responded the comrade.
The driver of the next car honked.
“I’ll read the pamphlet,” said the driver.
“We’ll talk again,” responded the comrade.”
Hundreds of MTA drivers, mechanics and service attendants read Red Flag every issue.
This workforce, one of the most racially integrated in Los Angeles, plays a crucial role in the functioning of capitalism. They also have extensive ties to soldiers, sailors and marines.
“Give me another one,” said a driver at another division. “I’m ex-military.”
Most of the MTA workers driving into the division that morning said they had close friends or family members in the military. Many said they were veterans or in the reserves. Everyone took the pamphlet. Several at this and other divisions said they would pass it along.
As the pamphlet points out, soldiers are crucial to maintaining the bosses’ power, both at home and during imperialist wars. Soldiers will be crucial in taking that power from them and using it for the working class by mobilizing to turn the guns around and fight for workers’ power. Mobilizing the masses for communism is our guiding principle—now and after the revolution.
Publishing this pamphlet and distributing it to industrial workers and students is an important step in increasing our party’s ties to working-class soldiers and sailors. It also makes clear the serious nature of the task before us and our strategy to win.
We must follow up the distribution of this pamphlet with more conversations with MTA and other workers: “Did you read the military pamphlet? Were you able to give it to anybody in the military? Do you have questions or comments?”
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. February 18—There was an explosion
in the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, California, today
near the Tesoro refinery in Carson where over 800 workers are
on strike. Four contracted workers were taken to a nearby hospital
with injuries. The blast was felt throughout the area, the equivalent
of a 1.7 earthquake. The workers are members of the same United
Steel Workers (USW) local 675 as the Tesoro strikers. They are
part of the 30,000 unionized US refinery workers who, if on a full
strike, would paralyze 64% of US refining capacity. The major
issue for the strikers is safety. This explosion shows that capitalism
is only out for profits—-putting all workers in danger.
Over 5000 oil refinery workers, represented by the USW, are
on strike. They are targeting Shell, Tesoro, and BP. They are fighting
against speed up, and other dangerous conditions including
being forced to work from 14 to 16 days straight for 12 hours a
day without enough workers.
ICWP members and other Red Flag readers have gone to the picket lines in Carson, CA. with Red Flag, communist leaflets and messages of communist solidarity. We call on workers and students to support the striking oil workers. We should organize political strikes in support, calling not for reforms but to destroy this inhumane exploitive murderous system with a communist revolution.
We are not just “allies” in their struggle. This is part of the struggle of all of us. The attacks that MTA and Boeing workers are feeling come from the same source as the attacks on the oil workers.
The only way to end these attacks is to get rid of the capitalist profit system. The fight to overthrow the system and replace it with a communist system is the fight we all need to be waging. We should build support for these workers by spreading these ideas, distributing Red Flag among our co-workers, families and friends in industries, schools and the military, and take this message to the picket lines.
These workers face daily a life and death struggle working under hazardous and dangerous conditions. A striker at the Tesoro refinery in Carson, California told us that on the first day of the strike there were multiple flares. A flare is an emergency burn off of gas necessary to stop damage to the equipment, in order to prevent an explosion. At least four times during the first day there was almost an explosion.
He told us that the company is warned weeks before an inspection—the capitalist government guarantees the bosses’ profits, not workers’ safety. The company cuts corners and covers up health and safety issues. When we asked him “What’s the answer to this?” he said we need “checks and balances.”
A comrade answered, “Not really. As long as we have production for profit, this dangerous, life-threatening situation will continue, not only for refinery workers, but also for surrounding neighborhoods and cities. The world is made even more dangerous because the production and sale of oil for profits fosters wars to control it and its profits. That’s the nature of capitalism. We need production for our own needs.”
In communism, safety will be our primary concern, not production. If a dangerous situation, we will stop all production in order to find out what the problem is and repair it. We’ll mobilize all the workers in the refinery and the neighbors around it to solve the problem as quickly as possible. Only then would we return to production. On the picket line, we have had friendly discussions and distributed Red Flag and the ICWP pamphlet about the key role of industrial workers in organizing communist revolution. We gave the strikers and MTA workers a communist leaflet. (see above)
When we asked one worker if they could run the refinery without bosses, he said, “Yes.” We asked what they would do differently. He said they would have “shorter shifts and more workers” to guarantee the workers’ safety. We agreed this is a life and death issue and said that it will take a communist revolution and a communist production to make workers’ safety the main thing.
One worker was very interested in the revolutionary history of oil workers, especially the workers in Baku in Russia who helped print and distribute Iskra (the Russian Communist newspaper) and build for the Russian Revolution of 1917. We explained that we fight for communism, not socialism that they fought for, which was state capitalism. He was interested and invited us to come back to the picket line soon, eagerly taking our literature, including the pamphlet on the revolutionary potential of soldiers. Another worker said he was “anti-communist” because he thinks people won’t cooperate. When we pointed out that he and his co-workers were cooperating in this strike, he said, “That’s different.” Even though he didn’t take Red Flag, he thanked us for coming to picket with them. We urge the strikers to join ICWP to fight for a communist world where the production of oil and everything else will be planned, organized and carried out safely and collectively by the workers of the world only for our class’ benefit.