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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Monday July 15th 2024

Chicago and Back

By Peter Molenaar

In early mid March, the big ice off Chicago extended not quite indefinitely to the east. While there, I was to learn that an elder comrade from the Steel Workers Union had passed away. So, the handshake received at the last Party convention had been a warm farewell. Will the sparkle of eroding snowpack be gone by April 1st?

The CPUSA Labor Commission has for many years convened in the “Windy City”. This time around we took a fresh look at our industrial concentration policy””the very policy which led to my employment at Smith Foundry and my connection to this community. But, in this modern world, it appears the high-tech sector and the crisis of low wage workers have emerged relative to the old emphasis on “core industries”.

It”'s hard to believe that I must now play role model before the Young Communist League!

My turn to speak”¦

“Regarding the elevation of low wage workers, allow me to reflect from a Minnesota viewpoint”. As the previous speaker had commended Latino workers, I held up the “Minneapolis Labor Review”, the front page of which featured a photo which had been cropped to frame the participation of Somali women. The big picture was an auditorium of the Minneapolis Convention Center filled with SEIU Local 26 janitors and security officers who had gathered to authorize a strike.

“Readers should know that these 6000 workers united to defeat employer demands which would have destroyed many families. In fact, significant contractual gains were made, in some measure owing to SEIU”'s mobilization of community support. “Local 26 has become a splendid ”˜school of communism”' within Labor inasmuch as they forge deep bonds between people who might otherwise not associate”.

However, the Chicago gathering was not happy to learn of the tension between African American and Somali students at Minneapolis South High”¦yet the unity displayed there in the Circle Dance bodes well for all youth everywhere.

I concluded with a reference to the American Crystal Sugar lockout. It has been almost two years since the bosses told 1,300 workers to get lost. The lives of how many families have been smashed, the fabric of how many communities torn?

Will there be flooding this year in the Red River Valley?

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