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Related Categories: East Bay | Labor & Workers
View other events for the week of 3/14/2015
The Future of Railroads: Safety, Workers, Community & the Environment Conference
Date Saturday March 14
Time 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Location Details
Richmond Recreation Center
3230 Macdonald Avenue
Richmond, CA 94804
Event Type Conference
Organizer/Author
“The Future of Railroads: Safety, Workers, Community & the Environment” is the title of two back-to-back conferences; the first on Saturday, March 14, 2015 in Richmond, California; the second on Saturday, March 21 in Olympia, Washington.

Everyday a tragic trail derailment occurs, often transporting highly flammable Bakken Shale or Tar Sand, from North Dakota or Alberta, to refineries across North America. The 47 -- preventable-- deaths in Lac-Mégantic has wakened people to the dangers of oil trains and the movement of trains in general through their communities. Environmental activists are up-in-arms about the amounts of fossil fuels moving by rail. Farmers and other shippers are concerned about the congestion that has occurred in recent months, but in part to the oil boom. The rail networks in the U.S. and Canada and clogged with crude-by-rail, displacing the already heavy traffic of grains headed to port for export.

The public generally has no idea what goes on daily on America’s railroads. Chronic crew fatigue, single employee train crews, excessively long and heavy trains, draconian availability policies, short staffing, limited time off work create challenging safety issues of concern not just to railroaders, but to the entire population.

Please join us at this cutting edge conference that brings together railroad workers, environmentalists, community activists and concerned workers from other sectors, in order to build the movement for a safer and greener railroad, on that is more responsive to the needs of workers, trackside communities, citizens in general, and society as a whole.

Members of the Empire Logistics/Global Supply Chains Study Group (http://thepublicschool.org/node/38423) will facilitate the following workshop:

● Energy Supply Chain Inquiry

Interactive workshop where all participants will brainstorm ways for solidarity to flow through the various working class sectors down the chains – and model ways for strikes and direct action to flow from the point of extraction to the point of consumption, including the communities where the energy commodities pass through. All necessary materials (maps of rail lines, rail yards, ports & refineries; flowcharts of fossil fuel supply chains; etc.) will be provided.

Other workshops will be:

● Railroading 101
Single Employee Train Crews
Importance of Teamwork & Crew Fatigue
The Problem with Long & Heavy Trains

● Environmentalism 101
Climate Change & Crude-by-Rail 101
Political Ecology 101

● Solutionary Rail: A vision for electrified higher-speed rail

For more information and to register online, see the website at http://www.RailroadConference.org

● Railroad Workers United: http://railroadworkersunited.org/

● Empire Logistics Mapping Project: https://www.empirelogistics.org/#10/37.7783/-122.2703
el-rwulogos.jpg
Added to the calendar on Thursday Feb 26th, 2015 10:35 PM
§Tesoro Refinery on Strike in Martinez, California
by Thursday Feb 26th, 2015 10:35 PM
800_tesoro_martinez.jpg

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Sam Pablo
Thursday Feb 26th, 2015 11:50 PM
800_sfbayrefineries.jpg
Here's the complex of refineries that makes this part of the Bay Area a "cancer cluster."

Workers need a program that fights for a clean planned socialist economy!

We need safe decent jobs, quality education, medical care, pensions, and housing for all!  We need massive infrastructure programs with investment of billions to employ the unemployed, to make the transition to clean energy production.  Millions are out of work or have sub-living minimum wages and survive in poverty while the owners of the energy and transport industries attack working conditions and violate our safety both at work and in our homes and in the wild.  The energy extraction and transportation industry under capitalist ownership driven by the profit motive will not and cannot make this work safe, therefore our program requires the expropriation of the extraction and energy industry as well as the transportation industry and the commanding heights of the economy because they are all intertwined.  Only social ownership of the means of production, workers self-management and a rational socially planned economy can provide a road out of the economic and environmental crisis.  To advance the conditions of workers we submit that this conference resolves and calls upon rail workers to initiate strike actions that stops the Obama/Buffet fossil fuel dependency and perpetuation plan; to call on steel workers, auto and electrical workers to launch the general strike that initiates the retooling and massive implementation of clean energy solutions (solar, wind and geothermal) now!

We can learn well from what railroad union organizer, socialist and wobblie, Eugene V. Debs taught workers over one hundred years ago. On December 10th 1905 at the Grand Central Palace in NYC Debs admonished the crowd of workers and forward thinking people, socialists, anarchists and trade unionists:

“The Industrial Workers is organized— not to conciliate, but to fight the capitalist class. We have no object in concealing any part of our mission; we would have it perfectly understood. We deny that there is anything in common between workingmen and capitalists. We insist that workingmen must organize to get rid of capitalists and make themselves the masters of the tools with which they work, freely employ themselves, secure to themselves all they produce, and enjoy to the full the fruit of their labor.”

He then asked the rhetorical question:  “Why should you be dependent upon a capitalist? Why should this capitalist own a tool he cannot use? And why should not you own the tool without which you cannot live?”

So today we have to ask what has changed?  Is there any reason to make common ground between the workers and the capitalists?  Consider Deb’s analysis of the economics and see if it sounds familiar:

“Every few years there is a panic, industrial paralysis, and hundreds of thousands of workers are flung into the streets; no work, no wages; and so they throng the highways in search of employment that cannot be found; they become vagrants, tramps, outcasts, criminals. It is in this way that the human being degenerates, and that crime graduates in the capitalist system, all the way from petty larceny to homicide.”

Jailed for organizing the 1894 Pullman rail workers strike Debs read from Marx ultimately guiding these comments:

“At the beginning of industrial society men worked with hand tools; a boy could learn a trade, make himself the master of the simple tools with which he worked, and employ himself and enjoy what he produced; but that simple tool of a century ago has become a mammoth social instrument; in a word, that tool has been socialized. Not only this, but production has been socialized. As small a commodity as a pin or a pen, or a match involves for its production all of the social labor of the land; but this evolution is not yet complete; the tool has been socialized, production has been socialized, and now ownership must also be socialized; in other words, those great social instruments that are used in modern industry for the production of wealth, those great social agencies that are socially made and socially used, must also be socially owned.”

The actual workers organizations here today can either declare the truth that the early IWW and Debs fought for as the clarion call of the working class and likewise declare that this assembly also resolves that:  “We deny that there is anything in common between workingmen and capitalists. We insist that workingmen must organize to get rid of capitalists and make themselves the masters of the tools…” and initiate the call for strike action to defeat the capitalist offensive.   Or by lack of declaration turn the political leadership of this assembly back to the NGO’s who organized it.

Today in the shadow of the legacy of Eugene V. Debs, workers face the decades old subservience of the trade union leaders to the ruling class.  Through which the bosses orchestrate their will by control of the labor aristocracy maintaining and perpetuating a backward consciousness across the working class that traps workers behind the misleaders, the so called  progressive layer of Democrats, the  NGO’s that pose as environmentalists  and fake left outfits like the Richmond Progressive Alliance, Socialist Alternative, libcom.org, the IWW (redux) and the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee  who all come together at this conference under the banner of workers safety and environmental concern and conspire to keep the workers separated from their historic transitional socialist  program. 

Today this Rail Safety conference (http://www.railroadconference.org/) sponsored  and supported by a host of seemingly pleasant and progressive NGO’s have  tied this assembly by a thousand threads to the big bourgeoisie[i] .  This seemingly educational forum can either serve the interests of the working class or it can serve as the embryo of the Popular Front which shackles labor to capital in all forms of cross class alliances up to and including state power.  If the assembly does not declare for the program of the working class the program of the board members of the NGO’s dominates by default.   If you care to follow the links of the sponsors you will find:

The Lands Council  is backed by co-owner of Keystone Software now owned by Tude City IMS running logistics for big rail, ocean and lake vessels.   Behind the Communities for a Better Environment you have  Liberty Hill Foundation behind which you find the Ford Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation and the California Endowment  which includes the likes Russ Gould who served as Senior Vice President for Wachovia Bank. Dan DeLeon joined The California Endowment in 2008 as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and he was the L.A. regional vice president of Finance for Time Warner Cable. Climate Solutions at its web site promotes the CERES  Washington/Oregon Business Climate Declaration which is supported by anti-union Whole Foods and Charter School promoter Microsoft and of course CERES  backs the  Obama Climate Action Plan.  The CERES Mobilizing Business Leadership for a Sustainable  World has Anne Stausboll sitting on their board.  She is the CEO of CalPERS and was the chief investment officer of CalPERS at the peak of the real estate bubble and crashed workers  retirements in the bubble after employers withheld contributions  during the “fat years”!  She sits on the advisory Board of the Toigo Foundation which is a tool for the big bourgeoisie governed by the likes of Carlye group and JP Morgan.  Then you have the Washington Environmental Council on whose board Jim Hanna from Starbucks environmental affairs department sits.   And behind it all is the main conference sponsor Backbone Campaign whose board member Sandra VanderVen is the senior organizer at Fuse Washington and still volunteers for MoveOn.org  and in Fuse you have the likes of Dean Nielsen principle of Cerillion N4 Partners  a political consultant who worked for Clinton in 92 and for  Solidarity in Poland, Gore/Lieberman, EMILY’s list, the NEA, NARAL and the Democratic party in several states. 

To counter the program of the NGO’s we need our workers program.  It starts with the fight to turn unions into class struggle organs and leads to a workers/labor party that fights for a workers government.  The path is via a Transitional Program  based on a method that exposes the current need (e.g. jobs) and resolves it by shortening the work week 30 hrs. work for 40 hours pay.  The incompatibility of the workers needs with the inability of the capitalists to resolve the crisis leads step by step to the expropriation of the capitalist class.   But unfortunately the working class misleaders from Socialist Alternative,  the  IWW and the TWSC have something in common with their bourgeois partners at this conference, their unwillingness to raise the historic program of the working class. This is how the fake left acts to pave the path for the triumph of the popular front and the defeat of the working class.  Workers need their revolutionary party and world party of socialist revolution to defeat the fakers and break the illusions in the popular front from Richmond California to Cape Town, São Paulo, Athens and Caracas.

Communist Workers Group March 14, 2015

cwgclasswar@gmail.com

www.cwgusa.wordpress.com

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