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Letters of December 20

Healthcare Worker and Marie Fired In Retaliation
Marie Trinidad, a respiratory therapist, was fired from Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago. She worked there for seven years and was active in a petition drive demanding more staff and equipment, which she helped present to the board of directors at their annual meeting. This struggle resulted in a temporary improvement in the number of staff and more equipment was purchased by the respiratory care department, as well as some staff members getting a raise. But the reforms won under capitalism (i.e. the dictatorship of the bosses) are temporary. Working conditions have deteriorated; heavier assignment loads are regularly piled on fewer workers.  When bosses are faced with economic crises they attack workers, and especially workers who fight back against oppressive working conditions.
Marie was given an especially heavy assignment one night. Her assignment was to cover the 5th and 6th floors, as well as the busy emergency room of a trauma center on a hot Saturday night. She called the supervisor to complain, because the shift had been left short staffed. Management had switched another therapist’s weekend and had not replaced her, which left the shift with four instead of the customary five therapists. During her busy night, Marie was occupied working amongst the three areas, and notified the charge therapist that she was unable to respond to several calls because she was occupied on the various floors.
The supervisor came in from home and sent Marie home without explanation. The next night, Marie came to work but was almost immediately sent home again without explanation. The next day a group of workers confronted the president of the hospital to find out why. All he offered was a weak promise to “look into the matter.”
Following this, the respiratory manager demanded to know why she went to speak with the president, but assured Marie that she would be paid for the time she was sent home. But instead, the following Monday, Marie was fired for “refusal to perform assigned duties.” In reality, she was fired for complaining about working conditions and retaliation for going over the manager’s head and complaining to the president.
PLP is organizing to help Marie get her job back. Several workers have questioned why she was fired and have written letters of support. The manager has tried to silence workers by telling them not to talk about what happened.
This is an example of how workers have to stick together and fight for our class, the working- class. We are the class that produces all goods and services, and the ruling-class is the class that exploits and oppresses us. What side are you on? Join PLP and build the fight against the racist and sexist bosses!
DC: Thanks for Fighting Racism Dinner
Today November 18 makrs  the 32nd Thanks-for-Fighting-Racism Feast was held in the Washington, DC – Baltimore area. This celebration is a PLP answer to Thanksgiving, which unfortunately celebrates the genocide of Native Americans.
This year, over 70 anti-racist fighters—Black, Latin, Asian, and white--assembled to report on their struggles and share a spectacular feast. Students from Howard University’s HUResist reported on their battles against former FBI Director James Comey and on their engagement with the working-class members of the community surrounding the University. A Baltimore activist in the struggle for justice for Tyrone West, who was murdered by racist cops, reported on the ongoing, weekly actions against police brutality in Baltimore.
A worker who participated in the PLP contingent at the Charlottesville anti-Nazi protest reported on our successful activity there, while another comrade gave a stirring speech about the need to build the PLP as a revolutionary party in order to have the means to make a communist revolution, the solution to all aggressions by capitalism.
A highlight of the night’s event was the report that we had raised $900 towards the legal defense of the Anaheim 3 who had boldly confronted the knife-wielding Klansmen and were arrested instead of the Klan. Invigorated by the strong ties made at this event, the anti-racists pledged to re-double their efforts against racism in this increasingly dangerous time for the world’s working-class.
Howard Student Continue to Resist FBI Director Comey
The students in HUResist at Howard University in Washington, DC, USA have continued their activism this semester. After shutting down former FBI Director James Comey at the university’s opening convocation (see CHALLENGE, 10/11), they have continued to bird-dog him as he continues his year-long Howard University appointment as the Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King Endowed Chair in Public Policy.
The University has tried numerous dodges to limit student access to Comey, but the students have succeeded in challenging him at every event where he speaks. Comey shows both his arrogance and ignorance when challenged by the students.
When asked why, under his watch at the FBI, the reward for the return of Assata Shakur doubled, he said he didn’t know anything about that. When asked why he supported the racist “Broken Windows” theory of policing and the phony “Ferguson effect,” he claimed he didn’t know about those things either.
In short, he refused to respond to the tough questions the students asked, further clarifying that the University had no business honoring this ruling-class jackal by appointing him to a prestigious position. Brushing Comey aside, the students are continuing their efforts to build an alliance with working-class members of the surrounding community who are threatened by gentrification and poverty.
They are engaged in developing a local food pantry and surveying local residents to determine what the next steps should be for HUResist. At their recent food distribution to the homeless, they witnessed a case of police brutality. Stepping up, they filmed it and joined in a formal complaint to the police department. The struggle never ends!
Hurricane Maria and Access to Meds
Hurricane Maria, that devastated Puerto Rico, is not just a catastrophe for our Puerto Rican working-class sisters and brothers, but also directly for workers in the mainland U.S.
Many pharmaceutical companies, to reap the benefits of extra-low wages, had located themselves in Puerto Rico, in order to 1) pay the lowest wages possible, 2) enjoy weaker, if any, regulations against pollution and worker safety hazards (that are rarely enforced anyway), 3) decrease their corporate taxes—in short, to enhance their profits off the labor and endangerment of the working class.
In addition to the devastating destruction of homes and lives faced by our Puerto Rican sisters and brothers, the drug factories in PR also suffered significant direct storm damage. And just as the working class there is experiencing storm-caused shortages of electricity and clean water, so are the drug factories, though theirs will undoubtedly be restored sooner.
One vital medical product is saline, in which all sorts of medicines are dissolved and administered particularly in hospitals. But manufacturers of saline were among those encountering damage, resulting in a shortage of saline in mainland US as well as Puerto Rican hospitals.
No doubt there are many other medicines that are in short supply as well. This is one way that the working class suffers from the bosses’ globalization.
Capitalism truly kills, and not just our fellow Puerto Rican working-class mates. The old International Workers of the World (IWW) slogan, “An injury to one is an injury to all,” is not just an attitude that can unite the working class and not just true through indirect pathways, but is literally true in many situations.
All workers need to come to understand that when one portion of our class anywhere in the world, including in the same country, suffers, we all suffer, often directly as well as indirectly. The main thing blocking that realization is the very same racism that the capitalists resort to when they aid Puerto Rican storm victims even less than they aid mainland working-class victims. Racism is the enemy of us all and the friend only of our capitalist exploiters and oppressors.

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