Tuesday, December 1, 2009
As part of a national response to President Obama's announcement this Tuesday to increase troops in Afghanistan by 34,000 men and women, citizens of Virginia are being asked to express their dissent by participating in a statewide call-in day to their Representatives and Senators Webb and Warner.
Call these numbers and ask to speak to elected official you are calling. If you can only speak to a staff member, that is okay, but make sure to ask if your concerns and thoughts will be passed on to the Senator or Representative. Make sure you mention that you are a voting citizen of the congressional district that you live in.
Here are some suggestions of what you might say to your elected officials:
-remind them that Congress has the power to stop the president from sending more troops by denying the funds he will be requesting.
-ask that immediate hearings be held to explore civilian and non-violent solutions to the crisis in Afghanistan.
-remind them that 40% unemployment in Afghanistan contributes to increased recruitment by the Taliban.
-ask that a cash for work program that pays Afghans to rebuild their country be instituted immediately.
-remind them that women's rights have lessened and rapes have increased under the US occupation, that the current Afghan government treats women just the same as the Taliban does, and that women's rights and democracy are only paid lip service by those who would have us occupy Afghanistan.
-demand an end to the war and occupation, and demand that war funding be re-routed towards a more productive approach in Afghanistan.
Call Senator Warner (202) 224-2023
Call Senator Webb (202) 224-4024
Call your Representative-
Rep. Wittman, 1st (202) 225-4261
Rep. Nye, 2nd (202) 225-4215
Rep. Scott, 3rd (202) 225-8351
Rep. Forbes, 4th (202) 225 - 6365
Rep. Perriello, 5th (202) 225-4711
Rep. Goodlatte, 6th (202) 225-5431
Rep. Cantor, 7th (202) 225-2815
Rep. Moran, 8th (202) 225-4376
Rep. Boucher, 9th (202) 225-3861
Rep. Wolf, 10th (202) 225-5136
Rep. Connolly, 11th (202) 225-1492
For a list of all of Virginia's representatives in Congress go to- http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW_by_State.shtml#va and click on your rep. to find their HOME OFFICE number.
You can get more information at
PLEASE FORWARD THIS E-MAIL TO OTHER VIRGINIANS, point out the link for contacts of other Virginia representatives, or do the work for your friends!
Sunday, November 1, 2009
The and Organizations to End the Afghanistan War and Occupation (yes, the coalition's name is this long! whew!) is a collaborative effort of the following organizations:
Charlottesville Center for Peace & Justice
UVA Muslim Students Association
Charlottesville UU Peace Action Committee
Code Pink Charlottesville Chapter
Events will be held in Charlottesville and include a protest, speakers forum, cultural event, and movie screening. Check the SPCVA calendar for full event details.
For more information about the Afganistan War, visit:
Amnesty International's information about Afganistan
Friends Committee on National Legislation
*disclaimer: FCNL is not a co-sponsor of this event, but they are a trusted resource for information concerning the war in Afganistan
Monday, October 12, 2009
of the Socialist Party of Central Virginia
Whereas, the sustainability of the environment has been cast aside in pursuit of fleeting profits for the energy interests, and
Whereas, workers for the public good have been unjustly denied the rights to seek common cause with one another and collectively bargain with their employer, and
Whereas, workers in the Commonwealth of Virginia have been subjected to a hyper-exploitative hourly wage of $2.13 an hour, and
Whereas, the prevailing minimum wage is insufficient to safeguard a quality of life that allows for savings, security and personal development, and
Whereas, the two major political parties have conspired to raise unreasonably high barriers to entry of third parties into the political process, and
Whereas, the Commonwealth has erected odious voter registration requirements that limit democratic participation in our representative system of government, and
Whereas, the horrific treatment of immigrants in our Commonwealth does a disservice not only to those individuals who are subject to the limitations on their liberties, but also to the memories of all the peoples of the continent, who were migrants to this land at some point in the past, and
Whereas, the existing tax code represents a retreat from a commitment to a progressive system of taxation that recognizes that those with the most can afford to give more than those with the least, and
Whereas, the Commonwealth should guarantee the safety and comfort of those who travel our public highways;
Be it resolved that the Socialist Party of Central Virginia calls for the adoption, at the MINIMUM, of the following resolutions to address some of the greatest injustices and missteps of our government, taken, in its relentless fealty to the powerful industrial, economic, and cultural interests that enshrine the wealthy as holding dominion over the public:
1) Immediate repeal of Section 15-A of the Constitution of Virginia that bans gay marriage or domestic partnerships.
Immediate passage of legislation allowing marriage rights for same-sex couples and civil unions for opposite-sex couples.
2) Immediate bans on mountain top removal mining, new coal fired plants, new nuclear reactors, and new coal ash waste sites.
Economic incentives such as tax breaks and subsidies for electricity co-ops and companies to invest in solar power and other energy alternatives.
3) Collective bargaining rights for state employees to freely and legally form unions to represent their interests.
4) Minimum Wage increase for tipped wage employees from $2.13 per hour to a minimum of $4.40 per hour.
5) Increase the minimum wage in Virginia to $8.00 per hour, with annual increases by $.75 per hour until a living wage is met, based on EPI estimations for Virginia as a whole, and with subsequent raises in the minimum to allow for annual cost of living increases.
6) Expanded access to state ballots for alternative political parties, including a reduction of the number of signatures required for ballot access, and party name identification.
7) Same day voter registration.
8) Comprehensive changes to how the commonwealth treats immigrants:
Defeat of proposed legislation that invites bias based policing such as HB 2136 and HB 1695.
Defeat of any legislation similar to HJ729 which would change the state constitution to implement English as the official language of the Commonwealth.
Allow undocumented people to apply for and be issued driver’s licenses.
Allow immigrants expanded and greater access to work visas.
End detentions for immigrants awaiting deportation.
Allow habeus corpus rights for all immigrants including the undocumented.
9) Change Virginia’s tax code from the current regressive model to a progressive model whereby the lowest earners are taxed at a lower rate, with higher earners paying a higher percentage of their incomes in taxes. $0-$30,000 pays 0%, $30,001-$44,999 pays 5.75%, $45,000-$69,999 pays 6.25%, $70,000-$99,999 pays 7%, $100,000-$250,000 pays 10%, $250,001-$999,999 pays 12%, $1,000,000 and up pays 15%
10) Reopen rest stops on our inter-state highways.
Contact the candidates!
the websites associated with these addresses contain phone numbers-Give em' a call!
Creigh Deeds firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob McDonnell email@example.com
Bill Bolling firstname.lastname@example.org
Jody Wagner www.jodyforva.com/contact
Ken Cuccinelli www.cuccinelli.com/action_ctr.htm
Steve Shannon www.shannon2009.com/contact
All seats for the House of Delegates are up for election,
a good list with contact info can be found at-
and don't forget your town,city, and council elections as well! (try www.sbe.virginia.gov to find out more)
You can always drop the Socialist Party of Central Virginia a line at email@example.com
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
During the SPCVA local meeting, a new Chair and Treasurer were elected.
Reagan Greenfiled, Chair
Aaron Smith-Walter, Treasurer
The next meeting is scheduled for Sunday, September 27th.
Meeting location and time TBA.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Last week I received an e-mail sent by David Swanson, well known activist, inviting folks to attend a rally to support single-payer healthcare, the amendment to allow states to draft their own single-payer systems, and call for medicare to be an immediate public option. He sent this call to board members of my local peace group, asking if anyone of us could speak at the rally. I jumped at the chance. As a socialist I was thrilled to give my perspective especially knowing that there is strong support in my community for single-payer. I diligently began research on my topic- "Profits over People- How private insurers are censoring single-payer and influencing reform to their advantage." I had some correspondence with Andrea Miller, former congressional candidate and strong single-payer advocate who was also to speak with David Swanson and me.
In the midst of becoming extremely grumpy with the issue of quelling support for HR 676, and the insurance capitalists crafting the current "reform" legislation, my phone rang. It was Andrea. She was convinced that AFSCME (the union on tour for "healthcare") wanted her to tailor her message to support the corporate sponsored reform package HR 3200. She let me know there was no way in hell she would do that. She also let the folks at AFSCME know that as well. The issue of single-payer had been discussed by David Swanson with union organizers, and had been cleared. The "sudden" change was puzzling, especially considering the call had been put out to thousands of people that this was a single-payer rally.
I let Andrea know that I understood her completely, and that I too, would not change my message. I quickly e-mailed David for some clarification. I also slyly e-mailed the organizer of the rally- asking when I should arrive, if they needed help, and that I was happy to be able to speak about single-payer!
The phone rang again, it was Sian Lewis from AFSCME telling me that they were all full on speakers, and that I was not needed. I was so taken aback I couldn't find the words to confront her, I again sly said, maybe I'll see you tomorrow anyway. A few moments later I got the news from David, he too had been dis-invited. The story they fed him was that they suddenly had too many speakers (originally they were hard pressed, that's why I got the gig!). David is no person to be yanked around. He squeeezed it out that all mention of single-payer was now forbidden, and any supporters of HR 676 were not welcome.
I was so upset I began to shake. This ugly attempt to destroy all views at a rally for something so important was amplified by all of the research I had just done on how HR 3200 has been influenced by private insurance profits. Andrea was too upset to come to town, she was worried she might attack someone, and felt her time was better spent working on other matters related to healthcare. David Swanson and I diligently went to work notifying everyone we had sent the call to about how we had been duped. We asked that folks show up with single-payer signs and attitudes anyway (or not show up at all). David got to work blogging about the incident. For the record, David Swanson is etremely hard working, and a very vocal and well known activist, dis-inviting him to a rally is like telling Yo-Yo Ma he can't play in your string quartet.
I set about to quickly raising some rabble rousers. Alerted the Charlottesville members of our Socialist Party Central Virginia, some good friends, and members of my local peace group. I grabbed some sign making material, printed out some paphlets comparing the two bills in congress, and continued to boil in my own feelings of betrayal. This all happened in about a twelve hour time span, in the middle of the goings on of regular life, work and sleep.
The morning came and I headed downtown to the rally. The first thing I noticed was a good friend sitting with his single-payer sign. And then I realized, all of the other people arriving early also had signs for single-payer! This was good news, these weren't people I knew, I figured word had gotten out about the betrayal. Nope, they had come prepared to support HR 676. I started talking to folks and told them what had happened, and most agreed it was awful, and that they would still wave their signs and be vocal about single-payer. A woman from one of the local television stations had arrived, I had already informed her about what was going on. She interviewed me. More single-payer folks arrived, and so did more friends, and our local Socialist Party contingent.
The healthcare tour bus arrived, they passed out vague signs about public options. Half of the crowd had signs for HR 676! the others seemed confused. A woman came out dressed like Flava Flav with a t-shirt reading public option (a la Public Enemy) and yelled "what do we want?"
and before any other response could be given I shouted as loud as I could "SINGLE-PAYER". She didn't bother to continue on with the "when do we want it part". More grumblings from the crowd, "we want single-payer" "why can't we talk about single-payer?". So she faced reality, and attempted to reason with the crowd. "I know we don't all agree on things, but we are here to have a rally for healthcare reform and shared responsibility". That didn't go over great, there was another attempt at the calll and response cheer. At one point, a long time friend and former co-worker of mine very loudly pointed out some of the flaws of reform, and the tragedy of waiting for reforms. He pointed out that what AFSCME was supporting would make things worse. He demanded to be heard. She said they were here for their rally, and that they had a permit. My friend said "I have a permit too, I am a citizen". Other single-payer folks raised their voices periodically, but then kind of quieted to hear what the speakers might say.
There were only three speakers.
Uh, I thought they had so many that they couldn't find room for me and David and Andrea? The speakers they had spoke about how insurance companies were greedy, that they needed reform, that HR 3200 made sense by supporting competition etc. The sentiment was genuine, but the policy being supported was written and paid for by private insurance profits to the tune of 1.4 million dollars per day, and is a plan not worthy of supporting. Certainly from a negotiating standpoint, including single-payer in the discussion would be a grand idea. From a moral and practical standpoint- single-payer covers more people, and is cheaper than "reform" and "public option" policy. It could be implemented quickly too. And it doesn't require competition or profiting off of the suffering and deaths of others.
The rest of the rally I spent talking to the media and some old and new friends. I was very happy to have members of the Socialist Party of Central Virginia local be able to show up and wave some signs at a moments notice. I was also very happy to know that I have friends willing to take a stand on something so important. Indeed, even more happy to know that a pile of complete strangers could see through this attempt to dupe people into supporting something they don't support, and that they too, are willing to stand up and say what is right. Only for a brief moment afterwards, I felt a bit of guilt of having divided support for real change in this world. But the guilt went away, because it wasn't me who was divisive, one moment we were included in the conversation, the next we weren't welcome. It is this kind of event that convinces me that radical solutions and tactics are the only way to get real change, look where working with reformists gets you. We still have much work to do on healthcare and single-payer, but hey, with friends like Democrats and AFSCME, who needs enemies?
Brandon Collins is secretary of the Socialist Party of Central Virginia and a board member of the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice
You can see local news reports of this rally at:
and read about it at:
David Swanson's story about the incident at:
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The video and story can be found at the Socialist Webzine:
The Socialist WebZine: Socialists at Central Virginia Health Care Town Hall
Friday, August 14, 2009
To paraphrase an old historic adage, "When the going gets too tough declare victory and move on." All of the town hall meetings across the country that have been disrupted and shut down by the lunatic right-wingers isn't the real threat to achieving universal healthcare. Get ready folks because the very people in Washington, DC, including the president, who are calling for universal care will be the ones who will scuttle real reform by passing and signing a bill into law that is pretty much all window dressing and very little window. The White House is now calling it "health insurance reform." It has recently come to light that a behind the scenes deal has already been struck by Obama and the Democrats with the big pharmaceutical companies that will not allow for government negotiating to lower prescription drug prices.
Now the president is out in Montana with Senator Max "I sold my vote and soul a long time ago to big insurance" Baucus telling the American people that the bill Baucus is writing and steering through the Senate Finance Committee will be the bill he supports. Meanwhile, Baucus does not support any type of substantive public option. Baucus' next door neighbor, North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad, has also come out against a public option. Preferring a vague wait-and-see "co-op" approach to healthcare which will not accomplish real reform. It's no wonder big insurance supports this idea too because they don't want to give up any of their profits. They've given millions of dollars to the campaigns of many Democrats like Baucus and Conrad among others and expect something in return. Our president has been bending over backward favoring compromise to the point of looking like a game of political "Twister."
Plain and simple, the issue of real healthcare reform is slowly turning into how it can be prevented without it looking like it has been prevented. It is very seldom that I ever agree with a conservative, but I heard one on television recently say that Obama is going to sell the left wing of his party out over healthcare reform. Unfortunately, with his recent balking at his own campaign promise of removing the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, he isn't leaving much room to believe otherwise about his commitment to reforming our ailing healthcare system. Bill Maher got it right when he said the time for the audacity of hope is past. He's hoping for a little more audacity. Don't hold your breath Bill.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
In all 10 people attended the meeting. 7 of those folks voted to form a new local called the Socialist Party of Central Virginia. The boundaries of the new local begin with Rockingham County, down to Augusta County, then SE to Virginia Beach (including Richmond/Petersburg/Chesterfield inside the local), up the coast to Northumberland and back over to Rockingham. Temporary officers were elected.
The new local has much work to be done! Once chartered officially by the National Committee of the SP-USA, we will set some by-laws, and figure out how to proceed.
It is our hope to encourage and assist in the formation of other Virginia locals, as well as in DC and Maryland. We hope to become as active as possible in the areas of socialized health care, the Employee Free Choice Act, Immigrant solidarity and rights, GLBT rights, and of course- opposing the wars and occupations.
We currently have 15 members within the boundaries of the local, and look forward to bringing in new comrades, as well as some old ones!
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Previous attempts have been made at UVA to increase wages for workers, these campaigns have had small successes, but have generally fizzled out after the 4 years of schooling that students have are up. WASU is seeking to create a longer lasting campaign by working more closely with workers, students, and the Charlottesville community. As work continues inside UVA, spreading the effort to the Charlottesville community at large is an important goal for WASU as well. With the staff union now dismantled, it is ever more important for workers and students to support fair wages and policies from the contractors at UVA.
Socialist Party members in Charlottesville have involved themselves in WASU and wholeheartedly support their efforts, both on grounds and in the community at large. We call on ALL employers in Charlottesville to increase wages to $11.42 per hour and a MINIMUM of $4.40 and hour for tipped employees.
On March 19, 2003, George W. Bush smugly announced on television that the invasion of Iraq had begun, we watched, shocked and awed at the massive bombing that followed. In the lead up to the war, more than 200,000 people marched in Washington to oppose the invasion, quite an impressive showing from the anti-war crowd considering the war hadn’t even started yet.
6 years later, we find ourselves as deep as we have ever been in Iraq, and the anti-war crowd much smaller. Brandon, Noah and Reagan from the Socialist Party USA in Virginia joined our SP-USA comrades Greg (national secretary) Billy, Kristin, Alana (from the NYC local) and Peter for the March 21, 2009 March on the Pentagon and Corporate War Profiteers organized, mainly, by ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Rascism). The size of the crowd has been reported as less than 3000 in the press, and over 10,000 by ANSWER. I would guess around 5000. Either way you look at it, this was a small showing. The protest focused not only on Iraq, but Afghanistan and Palestine (and Pakistan to some extent). The people present were almost entirely from leftist, radical, activist groups. I witnessed very little participation by more moderate groups. Indeed, marching with the Socialist Party-USA contingent we almost felt like moderates in this crowd! Despite the more aggressive appearance and rhetoric of these folks, there was very little in the way of “militant” action.
We started the march in front of the Lincoln Memorial led by a procession of coffins representing various countries (including the U$) affected by U$ militarism . Crossing over the Arlington Memorial Bridge we were confronted by a small, but vocal, band of counter protesters. This was quite ugly, first we saw the “al queda supporters marching” sign, much signage and name calling of “terrorist” and “traitor”. We then witnessed 3 very disgusting things from the counter protesters, the first was Jane Fonda being hung by a noose in effigy, with a sign reading “Jane Fonda commie traitor bitch”. This was extremely ugly, but really, how effective do they think bringing up Jane Fonda with this crowd was going to be? We passed a man holding some kind of nationalistic banner, a marcher shouted something about him being a Klan member, the counter protester then smugly said “the Klan, yeah, I am, so what” and smiled. Ugliest of all was very vocal older woman with a mega phone berating a young boy, 8 years old or so. The behavior of this nationalistic pro-war group is a good indicator of how far we have to go in this country to promote peace and sanity. It was in the same location that we witnessed some ugly antics as well from our fellow marchers, some young anarchist types throwing mud and provoking the counter protesters. I believe this shows that the peace movement has a long way to go as well. The ethic of non-violence didn’t seem so important to some. In fact, a window was broken, and a small band of anarchists tried to block the march at one point (no one seemed to know why). While it is understandable that a lot of folks feel frustrations, these incidents speak to the underlying issue of who is actively participating in dissent in this country. Personally I find some comfort in the fact that so many leftist groups are engaging in anti-war activities, but the lack of more moderate voices, and more pacifist activism shows that something is amiss. Perhaps the biggest factor in this is overwhelming acceptance of the Obama administration’s war plans as being somehow a more reasonable foreign policy . Are anarchists, socialists and communists the only people out here who feel a need to oppose militarism and corporate endorsement of the wars and occupations? Judging from my experience I would say this is so. Of course, there are other factors- ANSWER’s notorious control of their “coalition”, poor promotion, and perhaps economic woes on the part of folks who might have made the trip had they been in a better financial situation.
The march was long, past the Pentagon, down a dirt road and storage facility (?) and into Crystal City, the heart of the corporate headquarters of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics and KBR, it was here that we saw the biggest police presence. Regular D.C. cops with shields, batons, and an occasional tear gas launcher, pretty much stood shoulder to shoulder at corporate entrances and around buildings with lots of windows. They had cameras, and a big blue tank, to be expected I suppose. What was truly enlightening was the military and covert presence on rooftops, lots of cameras with zoom lenses, uniformed and non-uniformed men with walkie talkies, more cameras, sniper rifles and machine guns. Here was a visual affirmation of what we’ve known all along- these corporations are running the war on terror and they have an armed endorsement from the government to show for it. Lockheed Martin made 150 million in bonuses alone last year, a pretty good wage if all you have to do is listen to a few hundred leftists dissenting in front of your office for a few hours. The cops wouldn’t allow the coffins to be delivered, so they were left in the street where the day wound day with speeches and chanting.
While personally I found the day quite productive (meeting with fellow socialists and planning for organizing in Virginia), I was still left wondering why there weren’t more people, and what are we really doing in the peace movement? Perhaps the April 4 march on Wall Street will be more inclusive, get more press, and be more inspiring, and perhaps the two demonstrations have the ability to show people that it is still necessary and appropriate to criticize and to mobilize. I sure hope so, we have a long way to go.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Background Information About the Detention Center:
Plans for the proposed detention 1,040 bed center were announced in September 2008 by the Farmville Town Council. The center is to be run by Immigrant Centers of America-Farmville LLC (ICA) by contract with the City of Farmville and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICA is a corporation newly created for this project, they have no experience in prison management, it’s principal investors are two real estate developers and the CEO of an industrial bakery supply company. Some of the funding is to come from the Virginia Tobacco Foundation to assist lost revenue from tobacco farming in that area. Other funding has remained secret. The agreement has ICE paying the City of Farmville $64 per detainee/per day and in turn ICA receives from Farmville $63 of the $64. ICA stands to make 8-12 million dollars annually.
The detention center is to utilize staff from Farmville’s other for-profit jail, Piedmont Regional Jail, where two immigrant detainee deaths have already occurred due to medical neglect. ICE has yet to approve the center, the City of Farmville has already approved the plan. Protesters marched to call for the City of Farmville to rescind it’s approval.
Protesters believe that imprisoning people for failed U$ economic and immigration policy is a violation of human rights, and does nothing to address the root causes of mass migration. Immigration violations are a civil offense, not criminal, and do not justify imprisonment. Other options to detention exist, with a high rate of success (93%), and are less costly and more humane. Systematic abuse is documented in every immigrant detention center. The profit motive for prisons is un-ethical, especially considering the profit motive is what causes forced migration to the U$.
The rally began at noon, Socialist Party USA members from Virginia attended along with immigrants, activists and other concerned citizens. Around 250 to 300 people attended and marched. The event was organized by People United and Mexicanos sin Fronteras, with participation from many other groups (including Socialist Party members in Virginia). Speeches were translated into English and Spanish, with a strong emphasis on human rights and dignity. The first speaker pointed out that most folks called immigrant, latino, or Hispanic are actually native Americans and should feel proud to be considered as such. Most of the speaking was decidedly anti-capitalist and centered around U$ economic policy, prisons for profits, and worker’s rights. All of the speeches were well received. A couple of musical acts and a puppet show were offered to the crowd.
We began the march around 3:00, Farmville police kept a watchful eye, but generally were respectful to the marchers and made sure that traffic was stopped for marchers crossing the streets. Organizers ran “security” to make sure that nothing got out of control, and mainly to ensure that protesters stayed on sidewalks and didn’t provoke onlookers or police. The town of Farmville is quite small (population 6845), while townspeople surely had feelings about the detention center, it must have been quite mind blowing to see 250 people, mostly latino, marching up Main Street and chanting in Spanish- “Farmville Escucha, Estamos en la Lucha” and “Aqui Estamos y No Nos Vamos y Si Nos Echan Nos Regresamos!”. Onlookers seemed generally friendly to the cause, it was the first warm day of the year, and plenty of people were out on the tiny main street. The march turned off of main street and went through what looked like a poorer part of town, past some churches, and back onto Main Street. The rally ended with much partying and dancing. Socialist Party members managed to distribute pamphlets about opposing the detention center, and listing the SP-USA platform on immigration. At the end of the day, a coalition was announced called the Virginia Immigrant Peoples Coalition, formed of the various groups attending and organizing the event, including the Socialist Party members in Virginia. We look forward to working with these folks and to following up on our opposition to the detention center.
For more information visit
The People United
Mexicanos sin Fronteras
Below is information from SP-VA pamphlet on the subject.
The Socialist Party in Virginia supports The People United’s campaign to Stop the Detention Center for these reasons:
Imprisoning people addresses only the effects of a failed immigration policy and is a violation of human rights.
Neo-liberal policies concerning unfair trade, U.S. corporations, multi-national corporations, and business globalization are the main contributors to poverty in other nations, and thus to migration to the U.S.
Conducting raids in the middle of the night in immigrant communities does nothing to address the root causes of mass migration.
Physical and mental abuse in immigrant detention facilities is common place. Detainees often are held for unreasonable amounts of time before deportation.
Because of language barriers and fear of attracting ICE attention, family members have little contact with detainees. Contact with the outside world, and even prison officials is limited to the point where systematic abuse becomes the norm.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement is partnering with the City of Farmville to build this facility. A no-bid contract has been granted to a private corporation- Immigration Centers of America which was created solely for this project.
ICA has no experience in detention.The main investors, responsible for management of the center, are real estate developers and the CEO of a bakery supply company. These people are investing in human detention, and stand to make a lot of money off of the deal. ICE will pay Farmville about $64 per day, per detainee. Farmville, in turn will pay the private corporation, ICA, about $63 per day, per detainee. It is estimated that ICA stands to make between 8 and 12 million dollars annually.
Running prisons for profit is un-ethical and a violation of human rights. The profit motive, by definition, would have detainees held for much longer times than necessary. Cutting costs in the center earn the investors money, but lead to sub-standard food and inadequate medical care, among other things. Big money in turn helps ICA to lobby lawmakers for harsher sentences, and more detainees.
Immigration, from the Socialist Party USA platform:
The Socialist Party works to build a world in which everyone will be able to freely move across borders, to visit and to live wherever they choose.
We recognize the central role global capitalism plays in forcing the immigration of people from the less developed to the more industrialized countries, often leading to further economic and social injustice.
1. We support secular democratic states, assuring equal rights to every citizen and resident in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
2. We oppose the militarization of the United States/Mexican border, and an increase in the service budget instead of the "military" budget of the INS.
3. We defend the rights of all immigrants to education, health care, and full civil and legal rights and call for an unconditional amnesty program for all undocumented people. We oppose the imposition of any fees on those receiving amnesty.
4. We call for an end to the use of "secret evidence" in deportation hearings, a ban on all immigration detentions and military tribunals, and full due process and habeus corpus rights in U.S. courts for all non-citizens on U.S. territory or in U.S. custody.
5. We demand an end to police raids in areas where immigrants congregate.
6. We oppose "guest worker" programs. We call for full citizenship rights upon demonstrating residency for six months.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
The RNC 8 are an anarchist/anti-authoritarian organization formed to organize for the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. They function as an informational clearing house and spokes-council for the RNC resistance. They manage food, housing, transportation, and engage in education and outreach.
In an attempt to stop RNC protests, on Saturday, August 30, 2008, the RNC 8 were falsely charged with conspiracy to riot in the 2nd degree in furtherance of terrorism. Search warrants were executed on three houses, seizing personal and household items. RNC organizers Monica Bicking, Garrett Fitzgerald, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor, Eryn Trimmer, and Luce Guillen-Givins were arrested. In addition, Rob Czernik and Max Specktor were arrested Monday, September 1st. In December 2008, three more felony charges were added by Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner- 2nd degree conspiracy to riot, 1st degree conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property in furtherance of terrorism, and 1st degree conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property (without the terrorism enhancement). These charges could carry a maximum of 12 years in prison.
The Socialist Party in Virginia gives our full support to the RNC 8. We believe that Susan Gaertner is more pursuant in thoughtcrime than legitimate criminal doings. No true crime was committed and the arrest and confinement of these people is a travesty and an embarrassment. The Socialist Party in Virginia believes that the RNC 8’s rights to congregate and to protest were trampled on and we in turn protest their internment. Would America even be what it is today without dissent? If you would like to join the Socialist Party in Virginia in support of the RNC 8 you can visit http://rnc8.org/ and sign a petition to ask Susan Gaertner to dismiss all charges.
Yours in Solidarity,
Socialist Party in Virginia
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Currently, the Virginia General Assembly (led by Republicans) is working to strengthen Virginia's "right to work" laws as a response to the Employee Free Choice Act. We must resist "right to work" laws and this will be the focus, for now, of ongoing discussion with Delegate Toscano and other Virginia legislators.
It is a terrible thing that our lawmakers won't raise our wages, and simultaneously work to make it harder for us to organize to get better wages by our own efforts.
Socialist Party in Virginia supports the raising of wages for all workers, including tipped employees!
Honorable Delegate Toscano,
As a citizen and restaurant worker in the 57th district, I respectfully ask that you give serious consideration to introducing legislation raising the minimum wage for tipped employees in the commonwealth. I am aware of your past attempts to raise the minimum wage, and thank you for your efforts. Unfortunately, the raising of the tipped employee wage is often left out of attempts to raise wages.
The current national minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13 per hour. This has been so since 1977, the rate of pay for tipped employees has remained that low for decades, and there has been no consideration for cost of living increases for tipped wage employees, mainly wait staff.
The current wage leaves many servers receiving paychecks for zero dollars, and thus, taxes still to be paid on the tips claimed, as the pay rate is too small to cover their tax obligation. When they make a certain amount in tips, taxes on those tips are withheld from paychecks, leaving the employee owing taxes after their paycheck. A server who makes close to a living wage off of tips, is then obligated to pay the commonwealth taxes at the end of the year. While most servers get most of their money back from the federal government, they are left owing the commonwealth taxes. These are working people struggling to pay bills, and to provide their own health insurance. A tax burden rather than a return is hurtful.
Many states require employers to pay more than the national $2.13/hour. Some states set the tipped employees rate at the current minimum wage, some have wages even higher. I suggest raising the rate to a level that leaves servers with some money left on their paychecks, after having taxes withheld. This could be configured by determining a living wage and making sure that the tax obligation can be met after employees receive a living wage through tips.
In the 57th district, a living wage is $17.22 per hour,(Economic Policy Institute- one parent one child) in an 8 hour shift that leaves $120.72 in tips after the $2.13 per hour times eight hours($17.04), the tax obligation on this for a 40 hour week would be around $175.94 Including Med, SS, Fed and Va taxes. This is higher than the $85.20 in wages paid by the employer ($2.13 x 40 hours)
Keep in mind that most restaurant workers don’t earn $120.72 in an 8 hour shift, and many don’t work 40 hours per week(17.22x40=688.80 wk) - (2.13x40=85.20 wage)= $603.60 tips wk
The average restaurant server in Virginia (Bureau of Labor Statistics- May 2007)earns $8.64 combined hourly and tips($7.30 median). Per week=$345.60-85.20=$260.40 tips (median=$292.00-$85.20=$206.80 tips) average 8hr shift=$52.08 tips
That leaves $2.27+$2.13= $4.40 Minimum wage to cover taxes($175.94wk) for those fortunate enough to earn a living wage combined($4.40/hr. x 40 hrs.) $176.00 + 512.80=688.80
At the current 2.13 that leaves a $10.02 paycheck after taxes for the average($260.40wk), if an employee makes just a small amount more than the average, that person is unable to meet the tax requirement ($75.18tax on $6.51/hr in tips)
An $8.58/hr increase to $10.71/hr would meet a living wage for average employees- avg. tips $260.40wk + $428.40($10.41 wage)= $688.80 living wage.
I would suggest an increase to the federal minimum wage for non-tipped employees($6.55/hr) as a compromised increase for tipped wage employees, somewhere between a living wage and the minimum increase needed.
Earning an average employee $522.40/wk with a tax obligation of $125.09,
With wages as $262.00, less tax($125.09)= $136.91 on a paycheck.
These figures may not be perfect, but are a pretty good representation of how income for restaurant servers could be improved. I am not an economist. Most restaurant employees spend at least an hour setting up, closing down, and doing side work while not earning tips, my belief is that these tasks deserve more than $2.13/hr., would likely have servers do a better job of things outside of taking care of customers, and offers some dignity to servers who are essentially working for free. I understand that a large increase might not be possible, but appreciate your best efforts to raise wage for tipped employees.
I thank you for your time and consideration,
E. Brandon Collins
(The Response Jan. 19, 2009)
Thank you for contacting me in support of increasing the minimum wage for tipped employees. As you may be aware, I patroned legislation to increase the minimum wage in Virginia for two years prior to the federal government taking action on this issue. Unfortunately, my legislation was unsuccessful, and the political climate has not changed significantly in the House of Delegates since that time. Additionally, while I agree that the minimum wage for tipped employees should be increased, the deadline to draft new legislation passed in early December. I will keep your request in my file for consideration in the next General Assembly session.
Please feel free to contact me at any time concerning legislative matters.
David J. Toscano
Thursday, January 8, 2009
As of January 5th, more than 500 Palestinians have died because of Israel's bombing of and subsequent ground assault on Gaza. Another 2,500 are reported injured. Of the 500 dead, a ¼, at the very least, are civilian. Israeli government officials cite ongoing Hamas rocket attacks as justification for this operation. An operation that has, so far, claimed only 5 Israeli lives.
As of December 29th, crossing the border into Gaza has been prohibited. This only serves to exacerbate a mounting crisis by impeding the delivery of humanitarian aid. While Israel claims to have provided aid of their own, reports of electricity and fuel shortages from inside Gaza tend to deflate Israeli assurances.
Our country's politicians have largely shown complicity. Amid anemic statements given to mainstream media outlets defending Israel's actions, unsettling facts about the United States' "defense" aid to Israel and its position of obstruction towards the peace process glare out. We are continuing our pattern of protecting Israel from responsibility by vetoing in the United Nations. We've even blocked the U.N. Security Council from making a statement. Not at all surprising, considering our country has sold many of the bombs used, and being used, in Israel's overreaction.
"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem," and, indeed, if the United States' silencing of the U.N. weren't bad enough, inaction promises to deteriorate the situation further. Syria has already broken off indirect peace talks and counterattacks from Hamas and Hezbollah (in Lebanon) seem probable.
Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people, likened by many to apartheid, has to be addressed. Whatever Israel's initial goals, the outcome has been ghettoization in Gaza and the West Bank. This continues to fuel the resentment of a people who will not, and should not, be unassimilated.
I ask you to hear the voices of Palestinians, victim to draconian "retaliation," and Israelis, who dissent to their government's response. Hear also the multitudes who have gathered throughout Europe, the United States, and the Arab world in protest. The eighth amendment to the Constitution decrees that "… cruel and unusual punishment [shall not] be inflicted." I hope that the United States' voice won't be the last heard in defense of its own doctrine.