[Marxism] Cindy Sheehan's labor platform is second to none

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Mon Jul 21 01:18:23 MDT 2008

July 6, 2008
Pelosi opponent's labor agenda is second to none

Antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan is running to unseat the leader of the
Democrats in the House of Representatives. Unlike Nancy Pelosi, Sheehan is a
working class mother, whose son Casey was killed fighting this rich man's
war. Here is the program Cindy Sheehan will fight for as a member of


Cindy Sheehan recognizes the historic significance of unions in building a
strong working/middle class in America. Courageous union activists and
organizations have brought about the end of child labor and the advent of
the 40-hour week, benefits and living wages, among other positive changes.

*  Restore Workers' Rights to Organize & Bargain Collectively

The right to organize unions, bargain freely and strike when necessary is
being destroyed by employers and their representatives in government. 

Today, nearly 1 out of 10 workers involved in union organizing drives is
fired illegally by employers who wage a campaign of fear, threats and slick
propaganda to keep workers from exercising a genuinely free choice. That is
why union membership is declining. And as union membership falls so do the
wages of all working people, union and non-union alike.

I support the repeal of all laws that prevent unions from organizing new
members and bargaining collectively. All employees of federal, state and
local governments must have full collective-bargaining rights.

*  Repeal Taft-Hartley, Restore the Right to Strike

The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 severely restricts the activities of unions in
favor of the employers. It was initially vetoed by then-president Harry
Truman (D-Mo.). More Democrats joined Republicans in voting to override the
veto than voted against the act. Yet most labor unions and labor leaderships
continue to support Democrats.

I will work actively to repeal Taft-Hartley because coming from a
working-class background, I believe it is a basic human right to be able to
use collective strength and will at the bargaining table, as workers need to
be protected from the avarice of employers and the government.

The right to strike of all workers in the United states -- including local,
state and federal employees -- is a fundamental principle of the workers'
movement that must be safeguarded. The right to withhold one's labor is a
basic human right that our government should guarantee to all working
people, including to those in the military.

All scabbing must be banned, and no workers should be fired without just

*  Repeal All "Free Trade" Agreements

Another international and national workers' struggle that I support is the
struggle to repeal "free trade" agreements. Such trade treaties are designed
to depress wages and oppress workers in every country that are signed
parties to these agreements.

Fair trade that respects the rights of workers and enforces these rights
through unions and binding collective-bargaining agreements -- along with
enforceable and sustainable environmental protections -- must be put into

A worker who makes shoes, cars or any other goods should receive the same
livable pay and benefits in whatever country he or she is employed. Wages
and working conditions should be equalized to the highest standards, not the
lowest common denominator.

*  For Single-Payer Healthcare and Affordable Housing

Issues that affect the working-class population of the 8th District and the
nation are healthcare and affordable housing. I support H.R. 676, which
takes the insurance companies out of the healthcare equation and creates a
universal, single-payer healthcare system.

Affordable housing is being destroyed from New Orleans to San Francisco's
Bayview/Hunter's Point neighborhood -- and the resulting gentrification is
pushing our neighbors of color out of the city, which threatens the dynamic
diversity of San Francisco. 

The current price of fuel and food makes it difficult for working-class and
poor residents to sustain a reasonable standard of living. They must not
lose their homes to real estate speculators. Moreover, if one lower-income
home is destroyed, it must be replaced with another comparable home. 

I support the passage of any bill guaranteeing a one-for-one replacement,
and I urge more help for people under a certain income level who are losing
their homes and who were victims of predatory lenders. Unemployment benefits
and food-stamp benefits should also be extended in this precarious economy.

*  For Immigrant Workers' Rights

As a person whose ancestors immigrated to the United States from Scotland
and Germany to give their families and succeeding generations the
opportunity for economic equality, I believe in compassionate and humane
treatment of immigrant workers.

Immigrant workers should have the right to join unions regardless of their
legal status. All undocumented immigrants, whether employed or not, should
have a swift and expedited path to legalization in the form of Green Cards. 

The Guest Worker programs introduced in recent years with bipartisan support
are designed to make indentured servants out of our brothers and sisters
from Mexico, Central and South America and to benefit employers unwilling to
pay a living wage or benefits to employees.

I oppose the militarization of the border and the funding of ICE and other
governmental agencies set up to terrorize immigrant workers, who are driven
to the United States by the "free trade" and "structural adjustment"
policies implemented by Democrats and Republicans. 

All these policies are aimed at privatizing the economies of the immigrants'
countries of origin in the interests of the multinational corporations.
Peasants driven from their lands and workers laid off from their jobs in the
public sector or in nationally owned industries are forced to flee to the
United States in a desperate quest to feed their families.

*  For Free and Quality Education

Free and quality education is a basic human right from infants in day care
to students in universities. Working parents should be entitled to safe and
stimulating day care for their infants and, as in most industrialized
countries, university education should be free for those who qualify for and
want to avail themselves of it. Until we institute such a program, all
university students should be given very liberal repayment terms for their
student loans that come with very low interest rates.

In lieu of university education, which not every student qualifies for, or
desires, there should be support of apprenticeship programs and state and
federal job training for those who want to learn a skill that doesn't
involve putting on a U.S. military uniform and learning how to kill other

We should bring our troops home from all countries where our troops are
deployed to promote occupation, corporate greed and empire.

No Child Left Behind -- a Democratic as well as Republican plan -- should be
repealed, and teachers, schools and school districts should be free to
respond to the needs of their classrooms and communities and not be limited
to teaching to stringent performance-based tests in order to receive federal

NCLB is also a recruiting tool for the U.S. military, as it allows military
recruiters into schools and permits the schools to administer the Armed
Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test, which is a military
competence test. NCLB does not prepare our children for university. It is
aimed at privatizing poorly performing schools while also funneling students
directly to the military.

*  For Job Creation

For decades, making tools of war or paying for wars of aggression has
consumed most of our federal budget, many times long after the wars have
ended. Little has been invested in the basic infrastructure of our country,
where our bridges and levees are failing. Students attend crumbling schools,
and there are potholes the size of bathtubs in our roads.

The budget of the Pentagon must be slashed and the trillions of dollars
being poured into the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan must end and a
federal job-creation program similar to the WPA must be put into place. The
workers in these jobs must be paid the prevailing wage, and the jobs must be
created in partnership with relevant unions.

Deregulation of airlines, telecommunications, media, energy, banking,
insurance and other industries has created a dangerous and unhealthy
environment for working people and for our entire society. The deregulation
of these industries has allowed the corporate profiteers to destroy proper
oversight and health and safety regulations.

*  Regulate the Media

The deregulation of the media and telecommunications industry has not only
cost hundreds of thousands of jobs, it has intensified the monopolization of
the media. The media conglomerates (Fox, Murdock, Clear Channel and others)
are able to manipulate the media and destroy local programming. This has
prevented the public from getting independent news and information,
particularly on the effects of deregulation, privatization and war.

I will oppose multiple ownership of newspaper, cable, broadcast, internet
and all other media operations.

I will require that all license holders of commercial television and radio
stations carry and promote local programming, with stiff penalties,
including loss of licenses, if they violate these rules. I also will support
revoking their licenses if they have a record of violating local, state and
federal labor laws by illegally firing and discriminating against workers
for union activities.

I also support federal funding for public labor-community broadcast and
internet systems, including Wi-fi and other technologies, to allow the use
of these new communication technologies for all working people, especially
for low-income workers.

*  Stop Deregulation and Privatization

The present financial crisis has been fueled by the elimination of all
financial regulatory measures, particularly by the repeal in 1999 of the
Glass-Steagall Act (GSA), which in 1933, in the immediate aftermath of the
Great Depression, had separated investment and commercial banking
activities. The repeal of GSA -- which was demanded by the corporate elite
-- was supported actively by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and other leaders of
the Democratic Party.

The Federal Reserve System does not represent consumers, workers or the
public. I support elected community-labor boards in which there will be
accountability from those running our financial system.

The drive to privatize and contract out jobs is a threat to our workforce.
It undermines standards -- including the merit system -- and has replaced
them with nepotism and corruption. It has become a norm today for
contractors to pay off Congresspeople to obtain contracts.

I oppose all privatization of federal jobs and will require that all funds
disbursed by the federal government go only to government agencies, not to
private contractors.

I support the U.S. Postal System and oppose all efforts to privatize it
through contracting-out operations, including joint ventures with private
corporations. I will support Congressional investigations, with managers and
workers placed under oath, to examine the health and safety conditions in
the USPS that have led to the "going postal" incidents across the country,
including in San Francisco.

I support legislation making it illegal to force workers into jobs with
independent contractors in which employers such as FedEx use the
"independent contractor" status to prevent unionization and to transfer the
costs of unemployment, social security and workers' compensation to the
individual worker.

I also will investigate and eliminate the massive cost-shifting by the
insurance industry of workers' compensation costs. Millions of injured
workers are now forced to go on SSI and State Disability or to publicly
funded hospitals, thereby shifting these costs to the state. I will initiate
and organize Congressional hearings on these issues and put employers,
insurance executives and workers under oath to expose and change these
schemes. I also support criminal penalties for the conspiracies to shift
such costs to the federal government.

*  For a National Energy System, For a Mass Transit System

The growing environmental and energy crisis cannot be solved under private
ownership of the energy companies. We need a mass transportation system
administered by public-labor-community boards throughout the United States.

This will be financed by the nationalization of the oil, gas, and other
energy companies -- all of which have thwarted mass transportation to keep
profits flowing to their corporate stockholders.

The United States must build a system of bullet trains linking all parts of
the country. The auto assembly plants could be converted into plants that
build the trains and infrastructure needed for transforming qualitatively
our energy and transportation systems and for rebuilding our country.

I support federal funding for local community-based solar and wind systems
where feasible to provide an alternative to fossil fuels, and will oppose
the use and subsidy of nuclear energy. When elected, I will submit
legislation that will require that all federal funding of energy projects
provide for prevailing wages and allow full unionization of workers.

*  For Civil Rights and Privacy Protection

I oppose terrorism in the workplace. The constant harassment and
discrimination against union members and unorganized workers by the
corporations and multinationals who own and control all the wealth in the
United States and around the world should not be tolerated.

Workers are subject to heightened discrimination when they are injured on
the job. Many injured workers are fired illegally by the employers. The use
of the Transport Workers Identification Credentials (TWIC) Act to
discriminate against transportation workers with previous criminal records
must be stopped.

I am opposed to the organized destruction of our privacy and civil rights. I
support the repeal of the so-called "Patriot Act" and other "anti-terrorism"
acts that were supported by both the Democratic and Republicans parties --
and by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, in particular.

I am committed to defending the right of workers to privacy and condemn
spying by employers on their private lives. I oppose the special identity
cards for transportation workers and all forms of electronic
information-gathering used to discriminate against union organizers, injured
workers or workers with disabilities.

I will work to eliminate the massive intrusion into our lives by the
drug-testing industry. Using arbitrary drug tests, hundreds of thousands of
workers have been fired, and many have suffered retaliation for union

Use of private drug-testing companies should be eliminated. There needs to
be strict regulation of any testing of workers on the job.

I oppose the use of criminal drug laws to jail millions of working people.
The use of drugs by individuals is a public healthcare problem that will not
be resolved by spending billions of dollars on the prison industry. 

The corporatized and privatized prison industry holds untold numbers of
workers who have been incarcerated because of their race, sexual orientation
or nationality. This prison system warehouses millions of working men and
women for the sake of profits for the prison industry and in repayment for
their contributions to the Democratic and Republican parties.

This is my labor platform, that I will fight for as a member of Congress.

In solidarity,

Cindy Sheehan

For more information about Labor for Cindy, or to get involved in this
important campaign to elect Cindy Sheehan to Congress, go to
  or call 415 621 5027. Online contributions are welcome.

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