News, commentary and analysis by leaders of the Communist Party USA in New York State. We discuss State politics and issues in New York City, covering developments in labor, civil rights education, housing and more.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

James E. Jackson Jr. — an appreciation

Esther Cooper Jackson and James Jackson. PWW file photo.

"James E. Jackson Jr., a giant in the struggle for African American equality, world peace and socialism, passed away Sept. 1, just short of his 93rd birthday. He was one of the truly heroic figures of the African American freedom movement, the progressive movement generally, and the Communist Party USA. He was an activist, mass leader, theoretician, tactician, teacher, writer and humanist, beginning at age 16. He was devoted to Esther Cooper Jackson, his wife of 66 years, a major leader in her own right, and to his daughters Harriet and Kathryn and their families, as well as to his many friends and comrades..."

Visit the People's Weekly World for the full article:

Monday, September 17, 2007

David Cline 1947-2007

David Cline, former president of Veterans for Peace and co-founder of Vietnam Veterans Against the War passed away this weekend. He was a wonderful friend to many of us, a great leader and public figure in the peace movement.

He never hesitated to call me comrade and mean it sincerely. I remember working with Dave on the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign's tour of the U.S. just a few months ago, he always kept great spirits and humor despite his illness.

One of the most touching moments I have ever experienced is when Dave gave his Purple Heart medal to Nguyen Van Quy, a Vietnamese veteran and Agent Orange sufferer who came to the U.S. to testify in the lawsuit against the chemical companies responsible for the poisoning of Vietnamese and U.S. soldiers alike. Mr. Quy just passed away this July.

Dave always knew who his friends were, and who was the real enemy.

You will be missed, comrade.

For more information about the memorial services, making a donation in his honor, visit the Veterans for Peace Webpage.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Labor Mourns 9/11 Dead, Fights for Living

(Originally printed in the People's Weekly World newspaper.)

By Libero Della Piana

NEW YORK — The city’s labor movement gathered near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, Sept. 8, in a combined Sept. 11, 2001, commemoration, Labor Day tribute and call for federal legislation to ensure health care for those suffering from 9/11-related illnesses.

The rally stage stood just a few hundred feet from the World Trade Center site, with the black-shrouded Deutsche Bank building in the background. Just two weeks ago, two firefighters were killed and other workers were injured after responding to a fire in the building, which was being demolished floor-by-floor due to damage in the Sept. 11 attacks six years ago. The latest incident was a tragic reminder of the continuing dangers at the site and the ongoing problems of managing the cleanup and rebuilding of the area.

Two days before the rally, plans were revealed for the remaining buildings in the rebuilding of the WTC complex, with construction to begin in January. But concerns persist about the ongoing health risk in the area.

The New York City Central Labor Council called the rally, along with the New York State AFL-CIO and New York Building and Construction Trades Council, in place of the traditional annual Labor Day parade held in the city since 1882.

Labor Council President Gary LaBarbera, who is also president of Teamsters Local 282, reminded the crowd that “Labor Day is more than a parade; more than a barbecue; more than a picnic. Labor Day began as a rally,” and continues to signify the fight for just working conditions and economic rights.

A major theme this Labor Day was the struggle for health care for the thousands affected by the 9/11 attacks and the aftermath. Fires that burned for months at Ground Zero and the toxic dust that settled everywhere affected local residents, first responders and other workers in the area.

In addition, hundreds of volunteers, many of them union members — iron workers, operating engineers, construction workers, first responders and others — flocked to the site from around the country to help with the rescue and recovery operation in the hours, days and weeks following 9/11.

Most of those who worked on or around the massive pile of debris and ash did so without respirators, in part because Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Bush environmental chief Christine Todd Whitman gave an all-clear on the air quality in the area. Now thousands of workers and residents are suffering from ailments resulting from that exposure.

Dr. Robin Herbert of Mount Sinai Hospital, who directs the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program, told the rally about the ongoing health problems experienced by these workers. “Four out of 10 of those treated have one or more lung problems such as asthma,” she said. “One in 10 have back problems or other musculoskeletal problems.” The monitoring program, which includes several medical centers in the New York area, performed examinations on 9,500 World Trade Center responders between July 2002 and April 2004.

Also among the speakers, New York’s Sen. Hillary Clinton vowed not to forget those who “launched and carried out the greatest rescue mission in history.” She declared, “We are going to rescue the rescuers.”

Congress did not pass federal funding for treatment of WTC-related medical treatment and tracking until December 2005, more than four years after the tragedy.

Every speaker at the rally hailed the new 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, introduced three days after the rally. The bill would guarantee ongoing funding for the treatment of all those across the country suffering from 9/11-related ailments, and would provide compensation to those who lost their jobs due to such illnesses. The bill would also reopen the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and make it available to those suffering from rescue and cleanup work at the WTC.

New York Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler and Republican Rep. Vito Fossella introduced the bill. Fossella, the only Republican in the city’s congressional delegation, portrays himself as a “fiscal conservative” and has voted against extending funding for Katrina relief. While he has been vocal in support of ongoing protection for WTC victims, Fossella is also a big supporter of Bush’s Iraq war policies.

Rally speakers linked the war and the lack of action to support the heroes of 9/11 at home. Christine Quinn, speaker of the New York City Council, pointed out that it would cost $256 million per year for the health needs of 9/11 victims. “That’s one day in Iraq,” she noted, referring to the cost of the ongoing U.S. occupation. “Why can’t we find one day for 9/11 victims?” she asked.

Other speakers, including Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), Ed Malloy, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, and New York State AFL-CIO President Dennis Hughes, noted that workers built this country, championed economic and social justice and have always made sacrifices for their neighbors and families.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Join us at the 2007 NYC Labor Day Demo: Saturday, September 8

Help us distribute copies of the People's Weekly World newspaper at New York City's Labor Day demonstration this Saturday, September 8. We will meet on the northwest corner of Church and Vessey Streets across from Ground Zero at 9:30am. You can also pick up copies to take to your union's contingent in the march.

At 10:00am, the New York City Central Labor Council, the New York State AFL-CIO and the NY Building and Construction Trades Council are sponsoring a rally adjacent to 7 World Trade Center.

According to the Central Labor Council, "This Labor Day, as we remember the contributions of working people, the heroes of 9/11, and those who so honorably protect our freedom and security here and abroad, we join together to support labor’s efforts to address the long-term health needs, ongoing medical monitoring, treatment and compensation for first responders and other workers suffering from the long-term effects of 9/11."

For more information and to download a flyer, visit:
New York City Central Labor Council

Starrett City and the Fight for Affordable Housing

Housing in New York City is certainly in crisis. Working people find it harder and harder to live because of the cost of living, in particular, skyrocketing rents. Even the bastions of affordable housing in the city, such as Stuyvesant Town/Cooper Village and Starrett City are threatened.

A recent article on developments with Starrett City from the People's Weekly World newspaper notes that,

"Elected officials agree that raising the Starrett units to market rate would further worsen the current affordable-housing crunch in New York City. Of the more than 1.5 million New Yorkers living in poverty, less than a third currently have access to housing deemed “affordable” by the New York City Housing Authority.

'In New York City, the most basic of needs — a place to live — has become too expensive for the middle class and those struggling to make it,' said Rep. Weiner. Legislation now being considered in Albany and Washington would protect present and future tenants in future sales of Mitchell-Lama housing.

Starrett City is just a symptom of what is happening all over New York City. East Side, West Side, all around the town, it’s the same story. Landlords, especially large corporations, are pushing tenants out either by outright purchase of buildings or by just whittling away at the governor/mayor-appointed rent guidelines board, which has just passed another 5.25 and 7.25 percent increase for one- and two-year leases on rent-stabilized apartments."
For more information on the struggle to defend affordable housing at Starrett City, visit the following websites:

Save Starrett City

Metropolitan Council on Housing