Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Multiform militant activity of the trade-unions against the anti-people's policy

In the evening of January 9, massive and combative demonstrations were organized in Athens, ThessalonĂ­ki and other big cities of Greece, following the resolutions of many sectoral Federations, Labor Centers and trade-unions against the new anti-people bill that the SYRIZA-ANEL government is about to present in the Parliament.
This bill foresees a series of measures that the government has agreed with the EU and the IMF in the context of the 3rd evaluation of its policies.
So, with this new packet of measures, the government, among other things, intends to deliver a blow to the workers’ right to declare strike. According to the new bill, in order for a grass-root trade-union to declare a strike, 50% of the enrolled members should agree with it. Furthermore, it is a measure that the government intends to approve under the pretext of “democracy”, when at the same time in the workplaces the terrorism of the bosses rules supreme, the danger of layoffs for participating in a demonstration is imminent, especially in conditions where unemployment looms reaching particularly high rates.
Moreover, this bill will extend the property auctions against those that have debts to the State (e.g. to the revenue service, to the social security funds) and will further cut the remaining social benefits.
The demonstration of the trade-unions in Athens began with a rally in Omonia Square and ended with a meeting of a representation of the demonstrators with the leadership of the Ministry of Labor. When the march reached the Ministry, the representatives of the workers demanded the doors of the Ministry to open so that they could meet with the political leadership of the Ministry. Since their demands were left unanswered, they opened the doors themselves. Shouting slogans such as “The law is the just cause of the worker and not the profits of the capitalist” and “worker without you no cog can turn, you can do without the bosses, they “renamed” the Ministry of Labor to something more appropriate of its day’s work: “Ministry of IMF-EU-Bosses”.
In continuation a representation of the trade-unions went to the office of the minister Efi Ahtsioglou, where she was accompanied by the vice-minister Theano Fotiou. The representatives of the workers stressed that it is a shame to abolish the right of strike, a right for which generations of workers have shed their blood. They denounced that the new bill put forward from the government is exactly the same with a relevant law of the previous New Democracy (ND) government and reminded them that 35 unionists of PAME will be tried on the 18th of February for a similar demonstration where they took part against the ND law of 2013.
The minister chose to respond to the demand of the representatives of the workers to retract the part of the bill relevant with the strike with a dry “no” and to leave the office without giving any clear answers to the issues raised by the representatives of the workers.
The demonstrators remained for a long time under the ministry, shouting slogans, while they painted a big slogan in the entrance of the ministry that reads “Hands off the right of strike”. At the same time their loudspeakers where calling the people to participate in the strike on January 12 and in the rallies of the same day, while the workers were hanging an enormous banner in the ministry’s front reading “Government-big capital-EU listen well: Hands off the right of strike. It’s a worker’s right”

The rally at Omonia square
The march began earlier from Omonia square shouting the slogan “You will not abolish the right of strike, no matter what law you approve”
Giannis Tasioulas, president of the Federation of Construction Workers took the floor in the rally. As he stressed, the bill contradicts the government’s narrative. “The government must snap out of the fairytales about democracy” he noted, making reference to the government’s propaganda to justify the changes in the way of trade-union decision making for strikes. Their essential objective, he stressed, is for the police to penetrate in the trade-unions, to exercise a more asphyxiating control to the trade-union activity, to put bigger obstacles in taking decisions about strikes and combative demands.
The banner raised in the back of the stage read: “We advance to the counteroffensive. Hands-off the right of strike. Sign National General Collective Work Contract. 751 euro minimum wage. Sectoral Contracts with raises. Prohibit the auctions”.
The main slogan in the banners of the Federations and the Trade-Unions reads “Hands-off the right of strike”, and from the loudspeakers the workers are making a call of mass participation in the strike of January 12, decided by sectoral federations and labor centers. The majority in the trade-union confederations (GSEE-ADEDY) refused the proposal of the class oriented forces to call for a general national strike. Their decision was condemned by the class trade-unions that rally around the All-Workers Militant Front (PAME) that has made a wide call to trade-unions and sectoral Federations to participate in the 24-hour strike on Friday January 12 and to the rest of the militant initiatives organized in the next days.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Recy Taylor, Who Fought for Justice After a 1944 Rape, Dies at 97



By SEWELL CHAN
DEC. 29, 2017

NEW YORK TIMES

Recy Taylor, a 24-year-old African-American sharecropper, was walking home from church in Abbeville, Ala., on the night of Sept. 3, 1944, when she was abducted and raped by six white men.

The crime was extensively covered in the black press and an early catalyst for the civil rights movement. The N.A.A.C.P. sent a young activist from its Montgomery, Ala., chapter named Rosa Parks to investigate. African-Americans around the country demanded that the men be prosecuted.

But the attack, like many involving black victims during the Jim Crow era in the South, never went to trial. Two all-white, all-male grand juries refused to indict the men, even though one of them had confessed.

Decades passed before the case gained renewed attention, with the publication in 2010 of “At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance — a New History of the Civil Rights Movement From Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power,” by the historian Danielle L. McGuire. The book prompted an official apology in 2011 to Mrs. Taylor by the Alabama Legislature, which called the failure to prosecute her attackers “morally abhorrent and repugnant.”

Mrs. Taylor died in Abbeville on Thursday, three weeks after the release of “The Rape of Recy Taylor,” a documentary about the crime. She was 97. The death was confirmed by her brother, Robert Lee Corbitt.

“Many ladies got raped,” Mrs. Taylor said in the film, interviewed by its director, Nancy Buirski. “The peoples there — they seemed like they wasn’t concerned about what happened to me, and they didn’t try and do nothing about it. I can’t help but tell the truth of what they done to me.”

Born on Dec. 31, 1919, to a family of sharecroppers in Abbeville, in southeastern Alabama, Recy (pronounced “REE-see”) Corbitt found herself caring for six younger siblings after their mother died when she was 17.

On the night of the attack, she had gone to Rock Hill Holiness Church for a Pentecostal service of singing and praying and was walking home along a country highway bounded by peanut farms. A friend, Fannie Daniel, 61, and Ms. Daniel’s 18-year-old son, West, were with her. They noticed a green Chevrolet passing by several times.

Eventually the car stopped, and seven young white men, armed with guns and knives, stepped out. One of them, Herbert Lovett, the oldest in the group, ordered the three to halt, and then pointed a shotgun at them when they ignored him.
The men forced Mrs. Taylor into the car at gunpoint and drove her to a grove of pine trees on the side of the road, where they forced her to disrobe. She begged to be allowed to go, citing her husband and their 3-year-old daughter. But Mr. Lovett was unmoved. Ordering her to “act just like you do with your husband or I’ll cut your damn throat,” he and five other men raped her. (A seventh young man, Billy Howerton, said later that he did not take part because he knew Mrs. Taylor.)
Dumped out of the car, Mrs. Taylor removed her blindfold and stumbled toward safety. Her father, Benny Corbitt, had learned of the abduction and gone searching for her. Soon the county sheriff, George H. Gamble, arrived.
Mrs. Taylor told Sheriff Gamble that she could not identify her assailants, but her description of the car matched only one vehicle in the county, that of Hugo Wilson. When the sheriff returned with Mr. Wilson and his father, Mrs. Taylor identified Mr. Wilson as one of her attackers, as did the teenage friend.
Questioned at the county jail, Mr. Wilson acknowledged that he and five others — Mr. Lovett, Dillard York, Luther Lee, Willie Joe Culpepper and Robert Gamble — “all had intercourse with her,” but insisted that they had paid her and that it was not rape. The sheriff sent Mr. Wilson home.
The next evening, Mrs. Taylor faced new threats: White vigilantes set her porch on fire. The following day, she and her husband, Willie Guy Taylor, and their daughter, Joyce Lee, moved in with her father and siblings. Mr. Corbitt, her father, would sleep in a chinaberry tree in the backyard, watching over the family while cradling a double-barreled shotgun, going inside to sleep only after the sun rose.
As word of the crime spread through Alabama’s black community the N.A.A.C.P.’s Montgomery chapter sent Mrs. Parks, who had spent much of her childhood in Abbeville, to interview Mrs. Taylor.
The deputy sheriff, Lewey Corbitt (not a close relation), was not happy about Mrs. Parks’s presence. He drove past the house repeatedly and then forcibly ejected her. “I don’t want any troublemakers here in Abbeville,” he warned her. “If you don’t go, I’ll lock you up.”
Mindful of the outrage surrounding the case of the Scottsboro Boys — nine black teenagers who had been wrongly accused of raping two white women in 1931 — the county prosecutor took care to provide a semblance of equal justice. But it was an empty gesture.
When the grand jury met on Oct. 3 and 4, 1944, Mrs. Taylor’s loved ones were the only witnesses. None of the men had been arrested, and there had not been a police lineup, so Mrs. Taylor could not identify her attackers.
The grand jury declined to indict the men. Word spread through union halls, churches, barbershops, pool halls and, significantly, through the black press. “Alabama Whites Attack Woman; Not Punished,” declared a headline in The Pittsburgh Courier, an African-American newspaper.
It was the final year of World War II, and some blacks likened their struggle for equal rights to the fight against fascism. Eugene Gordon, a black writer for The Daily Worker, a Communist newspaper in New York, interviewed Mrs. Taylor and told his readers, “The raping of Mrs. Recy Taylor was a fascist-like brutal violation of her personal rights as a woman and as a citizen of democracy.”
At an emergency meeting in the Hotel Theresa in Harlem on Nov. 25, 1944, the Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor, which Mrs. Parks had helped organize, became a national organization. It spearheaded a campaign of letters, petitions and postcards urging Gov. Chauncey Sparks to investigate.
The governor, who was a mentor of the segregationist future governor George C. Wallace, came under considerable pressure as African-American activists like W. E. B. DuBois and Mary Church Terrell and writers like Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes took up Mrs. Taylor’s cause.
The governor sent investigators, who found that Sheriff Gamble had lied about having arrested the men. By then, four of the seven men had admitted to having had sex with Mrs. Taylor, but they insisted that she had participated willingly.
One of the men, Willie Joe Culpepper, however, backed up Mrs. Taylor’s account, saying she had been coerced.
“She was crying and asking us to let her go home to her husband and baby,” he said.
Despite the confession, a second grand jury, on Feb. 14, 1945, refused to hand up an indictment.
The civil rights activists eventually moved on, and Mrs. Taylor faded into obscurity. Fearing reprisals, she moved to Montgomery for a few months with help from Mrs. Parks. Eventually the family moved to Central Florida, where Mrs. Taylor picked oranges.
She and Mr. Taylor separated, and he died in the early 1960s. Their only child died in a car crash in 1967. Mrs. Taylor had two subsequent partners, both of whom died. She lived for many years in Winter Haven, Fla., before failing health prompted her relatives to bring her back to Abbeville.
In addition to her brother, she is survived by two sisters, Lillie Kinsey and Mary Murry; a granddaughter; and several great-grandchildren.
The publication of Ms. McGuire’s book led to apologies from the mayor of Abbeville and from the county and state governments in 2011. The Alabama Legislature’s apology was formally presented to Mrs. Taylor on Mother’s Day that year at the Pentecostal church, now known as Abbeville Memorial Church of God in Christ, where she had worshiped the night of the crime.

In Ms. Buirski’s film, Mrs. Taylor recalled how she could have easily been killed. “The Lord was just with me that night,” she said.