Latest on the strike wave rocking Mexico

As reported only by WSWS:

Mexico: Metalworkers, universities join strike wave as 90,000 Walmart workers threaten to walk out

By Andrea Lobo 
28 February 2019

Mexico: Metalworkers, universities join strike wave as 90,000 Walmart workers threaten to walk out

Dozens of maquiladora plants that agreed to the “20-32”—a 20 percent raise and a bonus of 32,000 pesos (US$1,700)—demanded by workers in Matamoros, Mexico, are escalating their reprisals against the historic wave of strikes that began in the city on January 12. This has included thousands of firings.

Rosalinda, a worker at Kearfott who has made public appeals for support from the international working class through the W orld S ocialist W eb S ite, reported that she was fired this weekend along with 30 of the most militant workers. “We are still organizing to help those on strike and to keep battling those union leaders that have supported the companies, allowing them to step on the agreement,” she said, referring to a no-reprisal clause.

“Since the salary increased significantly, they don’t want to pay that. Moreover, they have ended the 40-hour week to continue with 48 hours for all fellow workers,” she added.

An Inteva worker told the WSWS that, after agreeing to the “20-32,” the company carried out a series of layoffs as maquiladoras “attempt to fire everyone, pay full severance, and force those who want to continue working to agree to 176 weekly pesos and not the [post-raise] 211 pesos. Some will change their business name to bring down salaries again. Of course, they’ll do this with the help of the trade union.”

The largest business umbrella organization in Mexico, the Business Coordinating Council (CCE) threatened up to 50,000 layoffs in Matamoros in response to “the invitations to carry out work stoppages in other cities.” Meanwhile, the maquiladora owners’ association, Index, which includes companies that produce 68 percent of Mexican exports, continue to appeal for the intervention of the administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (also known as AMLO) of the ruling Movement for National Regeneration (MORENA) party and the union bureaucracy to stop the greater independent initiative by and militancy of rank-and-file workers across the country.

In the same state of Tamaulipas, about 200 metalworkers struck at a yard in the town of Altamira owned by the Spain-headquartered Dragados Offshore. Amid demands of up to 100 percent wage increases, this was followed Tuesday by a strike of 2,000 workers of the same company in a yard in the state of Veracruz about 20 miles south and, on Wednesday, by a blockade of the gates in Altamira, turning it into a total strike among the 2,900 workers.

The trade union, which belongs to the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), has feigned support for the actions while working to negotiate down the demands.

Today, after rejecting a 1 percent raise proposal and demanding 12 percent instead, workers at the Autonomous University of Mexico City (UACM) plan to join a wave of strikes across public universities that began 28 days ago with demands for a 20 percent raise at the Autonomous Metropolitan University. Workers there were inspired by the Matamoros rebellion. The Universities of Oaxaca, Coahuila and Chapingo are also on strike.

Hundreds of elementary and high-school teachers have also been on strike since January in the southern states of Oaxaca and Michoacán demanding unpaid allowances. For several weeks, they blocked crucial railways that severely affected trade through the largest Mexican seaport at Lázaro Cárdenas. About 1,000 striking teachers demonstrated in front of the Public Education Secretariat in Mexico City on Wednesday.

On Monday about 400 workers at three plants in Matamoros—Sigosa steelworks, Seyco Joits and Sistemas Estructurales y de Construcción— struck demanding the “20-32.” The associated local union, led by Javier Zuñiga García, has claimed to support the wildcat strikes while arguing that workers in these plants already make more than others in the city.

After partial stoppages since January 29, the 700 Coca-Cola workers in Matamoros at one of the largest bottling plants in Latin America have been on a full-fledged strike for two weeks in defiance of court rulings branding their action “illegal.”

Since Tuesday, about 500 workers at the Spring Window Fashions maquiladora in Ciudad Victoria, 200 miles southwest of Matamoros, have been striking, demanding to leave the trade union since it rejected their demands for a 16 percent raise. Claiming to be “independent” but belonging to the same right-wing CTM, the Industrial Maquiladora Union led by María Dolores Zúñiga convinced workers to transfer to her union.

Zúñiga canceled a planned strike earlier this month among 6,000 workers, agreeing to a 16 percent raise compared to the 30 percent demanded by workers. In response, one of these companies, Kemet, announced this week that it would eliminate two of its four shifts and fire 700 workers, with Zúñiga discarding any fight and simply advocating workers demand full severance pay.

After workers at Walmart in Matamoros and many other cities were planning to join the wave of wildcat strikes to demand the “20-32,” the Revolutionary Confederation of Workers and Peasants (CROC), affiliated with the right-wing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), quickly mobilized to enroll workers and take over negotiations to prevent the wildcat strikes. Instead, the CROC issued a strike announcement for March 20 involving about 90,000 of the 200,000 workers at Mexico’s biggest retailer. A Walmart spokeswoman told Reuters on Monday after speaking to the union that “the dialogue was positive.”

In Matamoros, 15 auto parts suppliers are still on strike. The Mexican Association of the Auto Industry (AMIA) noted to El Financiero on Monday that 80 percent of parts produced in the city go to the US and Canada, seriously crippling production at major plants there, and that within Mexico the strike has shut down production at three assembly plants and seven others have been affected.

The president of the Mexican Association of Cars Distributors (AMDA) summed up to the financial daily that companies in Matamoros have two options: appeal for police intervention or leave the city. “There is a sentiment of a lack of rule of law given how this situation was triggered and there is fear that the same could happen in other border cities like Ciudad Juárez,” he added.

On Tuesday, the president of the Mexican Confederation of Industrial Chambers (CONCAMIN), Francisco Cervantes Díaz, said they are working closely with the AMLO administration and MORENA senator and union leader, Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, to address the wave of “illegal” strikes. “The problem could extend to the Bajío region and the south of the country,” he warned.

Facing the growing challenge from below and the deepening of the crisis of global capitalism, the Mexican ruling class and its US imperialist bosses will act with increasing ruthlessness. As López Obrador accelerates the creation of a new National Guard for domestic military operations, the Central Bank and Goldman Sachs dramatically cut down their 2019 growth forecasts for Mexico this week—with the latter warning of “idiosyncratic factors like strikes.”

Meanwhile, the trade-union bureaucracy is working everywhere to co-opt, isolate and shut down each rank-and-file struggle, while strengthening its corrupt and corporatist collaboration with management and the state.

On the other hand, workers across North America and globally are going on the offensive after decades of a one-sided war by major corporations against their living standards. This year has seen 71,000 teachers from several states participate in a wave of strikes, while almost 2,000 workers at the Wabtec locomotive plant in Pennsylvania initiated Tuesday the first major strike in the manufacturing sector in three years, according to the Huffington Post. Resistance is also growing against General Motors’ plant closures in the US and Canada and mass layoffs by the largest automakers partly being used extort concessions out of the 140,000 US autoworkers facing contract negotiations later this year.Workers entering the class struggle need to break decisively from the nationalist and pro-capitalist trade unions and parties to coordinate their struggles internationally against the same corporate and financial elite in a political and revolutionary movement for socialism.

NOW it’s okay to say that the White Helmets were a total propaganda fraud, and that Assad DID NOT “gas his own people”

And the Oscar Goes to White Helmets: Covert Jackals Propagandized as Saviors

BY RAINER SHEA ON FEBRUARY 25, 2019

The network of “humanitarian” Syria regime change groups recently experienced yet another major PR crisis. On February 9, James Harkin, a journalist who’s written for The Guardian and the Financial Times and is the director of the Center for Investigative Journalism, published an article in The Intercept titled What happened in Douma? Searching for facts in the fog of Syria’s propaganda war. Harkin’s conclusions were essentially reiterations of what less mainstream journalists had found in the past, which meant he likely would have experienced blowback if he’d talked about them during the height of the pro-war Syria propaganda campaign in April of last year. According to Harkin’s investigations, sarin had not been used at the site of the supposed Douma chemical attack, and the hospital scene had apparently been staged.

Shortly afterward, this assessment of the April 2018 Douma incident was confirmed by a statement from the BBC reporter Riam Dalati. Dalati Tweeted: “After 6 months of investigations, i can prove without a doubt that the #Douma Hospital scene was staged. No fatalities occurred in the hospital. All the #WH, activists and people I spoke to are in #Idlib or #EuphratesShield areas. Only one person was in #Damascus.”

Acknowledging these basic realities about what happened in Douma is now accepted within the mainstream of journalistic discussion. And the relatively mild challenges to the official narrative that Harkin and Dalati presented come after a mountain of evidence has appeared against the claim that Assad had “gassed his own people.” According to interviews made by the renowned journalist Robert Fisk, witnesses to the incident suffered not from gas poisoning but from dust inhalation. This version of the story was later supported by other witnesses to the Douma incident, who testified at the Hague in April of 2018 that they hadn’t experienced chemical poisoning. Given these facts, it makes sense why Fisk also reported that White Helmets members on the scene had needlessly incited panic by dishonestly shouting “Gas!” in a triage center.

During those weeks in April, the efforts from the media to attack all journalists and academics who challenged the official Syria narrative were extreme, to the point where people couldn’t help but notice how uniform and seemingly coordinated the behavior from the press was getting. And even now, as the official narrative about the Douma incident falls apart beyond repair, the West’s pro-war Syria propagandists are trying to delegitimize Harkin and Dalati’s findings.

In response to Dalati, the Global Public Policy Institute’s Tobias Schneider tweeted in a noticeably defensive manner: “Almost a year later, people are still squabbling over the intricacies of the 7 April 2018 Douma chemical attacks. Madness.” Schneider, who has ties to the neoconservative Atlantic Council and is complicit with the GPPI’s connections to a network of pro-regime change oligarchs, has also announced that the GPPI will be publishing an analytical study “on the logic underpinning the Syrian regime’s systematic use of improvised chlorine bombs in particular.”

The promoters of the Syria war propaganda have been acting so desperate because they’ve been caught in too many deceptions. At this point, anyone who looks at even the most mainstream accounts of recent events in Syria will find not just that the Douma hospital scene was staged, but that the White Helmets made a deliberately false report about the incident. If they look into James Mattis’ admission last February that there’s no evidence Assad was behind the April 2017 chemical incident, they’ll also find that our government and media have lately engaged in a pattern of lying to us about Syria.

Tribulation Now@TribulationNow

I think folks forgot this .. just a couple months ago
US Finally Admits “No Evidence” Assad Used Sarin Gas

If they search a little deeper, they’ll find the appalling series of lies that have gone into these and the many other Western charges against Assad. For instance, the fraudulent nature of the White Helmets has now been proven beyond all dispute; last December, a UN panel detailed organ harvesting and staged attacks. (This revelation follows the fraudulent reports and recruitmentsof jihadist sympathizers that the White Helmets have been long known to engage in.)

They’ll also find that the emergence of the White Helmets has correlated with maybe the most extensive and sophisticated war propaganda campaign in history.

Click on the link for the rest.

Thought police imagine a “disturbing link” between “conspiracy theories” and “petty crime”

So if you have concerns about the safety of vaccines, you’re likelier to run red lights than those who don’t?
Soon it will be against the law to call this sort of “study” total horse-shit.MCM

BIRDS OF A FEATHER

The Disturbing Link Between Conspiracy Theories and Petty Crime

A new study shows that people who believe in conspiracy theories are more likely to engage in petty crime, like running a red light or avoiding taxes.

Audrey McNamara

02.26.19 4:12 PM ET

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

People who believe in conspiracy theories are more likely to commit petty crime, according to new research by English psychologists.

The study, which was conducted by the universities of Kent and Staffordshire, showed that a belief in conspiracy theories—such as anti-vaccination and flat earth theories—may also actually make people more inclined to engage in everyday crime, like running a red light or avoiding taxes.

Click on the link for the rest,

Ford production crippled by Mexican workers’ strike

From the WSWS, the only outlet covering this story. (Thanks as usual to Joe Surkiewicz).MCM

Ford production crippled by Mexican workers’ strike

By Jerry White 
27 February 2019

The strike by tens of thousands of maquiladora workers in Matamoros, Mexico, across the border from Brownsville, Texas, has had a crippling effect on production at major auto assembly plants in the United States and Canada, which are owned by Ford and other automakers.

After concealing this fact for more than six weeks after the January 12 strike began, the news media in the US is finally acknowledging the impact of the walkouts by 70,000 Mexican workers at foreign-based companies that supply steering wheels, seat belts and other parts to the Detroit automakers.

This impact on production was first reported by the World Socialist Web Siteon January 19, based on reports from workers at Ford’s Flat Rock assembly plant in suburban Detroit. Workers told the WSWS that the company was temporarily suspending production due to a shortage of steering wheels caused by the walkout in Mexico.

On Tuesday, the Detroit Free Press, which has very close ties both to the auto companies and the United Auto Workers (UAW), wrote, “A labor strike in Mexico forced Ford Motor Co. to build Mustang cars and Explorer SUVs with temporary steering wheels and hold thousands of the vehicles in nearby parking lots awaiting parts, the Free Press has learned.

“While waiting, Ford sent approximately 3,200 factory workers home for two weeks of unplanned down time at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant south of Detroit, the company confirmed Monday. In addition, workers at the Oakville Assembly Plant in Ontario were sent home for three days while waiting for parts to install in the Ford Flex and Lincoln Nautilus.”

The newspaper reported that the supply of steering wheels had resumed as of Monday and that Ford planned to inform its Flat Rock workers that they would remain on two shifts for two weeks in April to make up for lost production.

“We had a parts shortage due to a supplier issue,” Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker told the Free Press. “It affected Flat Rock and Mustang, specifically. The Explorer was affected, and we did continue to build. We did not take down time at the Chicago Assembly Plant. We will be upfitting those vehicles affected by the [parts] shortage, just like Mustang.” She added, “The situation is resolved. Parts are flowing.”

While the statement by Ford did not mention the strikes in Mexico, the Free Press said its investigation pointed to “Mexico as the culprit.” The newspaper pointed to Swedish-based Autoliv, which has plants in Matamoros and produces steering wheels.

The two Detroit daily newspapers (the Free Press and the Detroit News), along with the rest of the news media in the US and Canada, conducted a news blackout on the Matamoros strike. The media has been joined by the UAW and the Unifor union in Canada. This was driven by the fear that US and Canadian workers would emulate the actions of the Mexican workers who revolted against the corporate-controlled unions and organized independent strike committees to spread the strike across more than 45 factories.

What struck terror in the hearts of the corporate media mouthpieces and union executives most was the fact that the Matamoros workers issued calls for US workers to join their fight against the global automakers.

The promotion of the lie that Mexican workers are docile and satisfied with their miserable conditions and are offering themselves up as cheap labor to “steal” American jobs, has long been the stock-in-trade of the unions, Donald Trump and the Democratic Party. As US and Canadian workers see Mexican workers fighting back, they increasingly understand that the Mexican workers are not their enemies but their class brothers and sisters fighting the same global corporations and pro-company unions.

The striving by workers to unify across borders was highlighted by the videosent by striking workers at the Michigan-based Fisher Dynamics plant in Matamoros expressing their solidarity with the February 9 demonstration against GM plant closings organized by the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter and the Steering Committee of the Coalition of Rank-and-File Committees.

The Free Press and the Detroit News were silent about the February 9 demonstration, which called for US and Canadian workers to build their own rank-and-file committees, independent of the unions, and explicitly called for the unity of all North American workers in opposition to the anti-Mexican campaign of the UAW and Unifor.

Now that several of the strikes have been settled, the media has begun to report on the impact of the strike. At the same time, industry analysts are warning about the dangers of an internationally coordinated struggle against the global automakers, which have long pitted workers against each other in a race to the bottom.

“These strikes underscore how highly integrated the supply lines are,” Harley Shaiken, a professor at the University of California Berkeley, told the Free Press. “Most customers prefer steering wheels, so when you get this kind of disruption, it can paralyze production across North America. If you have labor unrest in Mexico, it impacts the U.S. And you have unrest now because you’ve had suppressed wages for decades.”

Jeoff Burris, founder of Plymouth-based Advanced Purchasing Dynamics, a supply chain consultant to auto suppliers primarily in North America, told the Free Press, “Companies worldwide look to Mexico as a low-cost labor region that can easily and efficiently ship finished components throughout the U.S. and Canada.”

Burris added, “It’s not routine for Mexico to have labor disruptions that upset the making of vehicles… My concern is the new Mexico administration has kind of unleashed a genie in a bottle. They’ve built a huge amount of expectations. Those expectations are similar to what happened in the US in the 1960s and ‘70s, when strikes were very prevalent in the automotive industry. That’s the thing I look at.”

The new administration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has in fact done everything it can to contain opposition while proposing to expand the number of free trade zones along the border.

Obrador’s promise to double the minimum wage in more expensive communities along the US border to 176.2 pesos, or $9.28 a day, did not affect workers in the Matamoros factories who were already making the minimum wage. This sparked widespread outrage against the unions and corporations and the wave of strikes demanding “20/32,” or a 20 percent pay raise and one-time 32,000 pesos ($1,662) bonus.

Over the last several weeks, the maquiladora owners, the unions and state authorities have stepped up the repression of strikers, including thug attacks by union bureaucrats and mass layoffs and victimization of strike leaders. This underscores the necessity of US and Canadian autoworkers coming to the defense of Mexican workers and establishing the closest links with them.

Two weeks before the Free Press article acknowledging the production slowdown in the US and Canada, a Flat Rock worker told the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter, “Astonishing that the walkout in Mexico, and particularly Ford’s supplier of steering wheels SHUT THEM DOWN and there is zero coverage in any major media source. Not even the Detroit News/Free Press.

“Absolutely incredible how much power the worker has when it is exercised,” he concluded, expressing his solidarity with the striking workers south of the border. “We need to stand united and, like our brave Mexican amigos, be willing to stand up and walk out,” he said, referring to the upcoming contracts for 150,000 GM, Ford and Chrysler workers whose contracts expire this September.

What passes now for broadcast “news”

Dumbing down the broadcast news consumer

By Wayne Madsen      
OpEdNews Op Eds 2/25/2019 at 15:39:31

Sarah Isgur Flores gladly signed a loyalty pledge to Trump before accepting the political director’s job at CNN
(Image by Communities Digital News)  

The hiring by CNN of Sarah Isgur Flores, a longtime Republican Party hack and former spokesman for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as the political director for the 2020 campaign should not surprise anyone. Lest anyone point to MSNBC as having more sense than CNN, it is noteworthy that Isgur also interviewed at 30 Rockefeller Center, NBC News headquarters in New York, for a position there prior to accepting the one at CNN. For a Donald Trump puppet, someone who gladly signed a loyalty pledge to Trump before accepting the political director’s job at CNNa network Isgur has previously called the “Clinton News Network”points to the degradation of broadcast news to nothing more than mindless infotainment and political insider navel gazing. The cable news networks and their money-losing broadcast cousins at ABC, CBS, and NBC are totally governed by ratings and not what’s in the public interest. For those who believe PBS is a safe haven, its Corporation for Public Broadcasting now counts Trump loyalists and contributions from the Koch Brothers among its many journalistic sins.

Bona fide journalists no longer command the top reporting positions at the cable news networks. When they are found, they are washed-up compromised pedantic characters like MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, CNN’s Dana Bash (once married to Jeremy Bash, a former Central Intelligence Agency flack, who now serves as a commentator for MSNBC), and Fox’s Karl Rove, George W. Bush’s former top political adviser.

Almost gone totally from the broadcast news scene are those who began as print reporters for newspapers or magazines. One notable exception is MSNBC’s intelligence reporter, Ken Dilanian, who, after he left the Los Angeles Times after he was found to have cleared his stories, prior to publication, with the CIA, was hired by the Associated Press before jumping to MSNBC. Dilanian recently reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee found no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. What Dilanian failed to report was that was only the opinion of the committee’s majority Republicans and their chairman, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC).

Click on the link for the rest.

“CIA’s ‘Black Panther’ tweets during Oscars leaves fans confused”

“Confused”—and those who know what Operation CHAOS may have been nauseated, too.
Watching the Oscars, I myself was struck (to put it mildly) by the promos for this upcoming show on ABC:
Following an emotional breakup, tough but tender FBI super-agent Will Chase (codename: Whiskey Cavalier) is assigned to work with CIA operative Francesca”Frankie” Trowbridge (codename: Fiery Tribune). Together, they lead an interagency team of flawed, funny and heroic spies — including Will’s best … MORE
MCM

CIA’s ‘Black Panther’ tweets during Oscars leaves fans confused

The agency sent out a dozen or so tweets about the fictional tech in the film.

The dark side of soy

From Douglas Yates:

So you think you know the skinny on soy. Really?

Kaayla T. Daniel, a champion of real food, presents the low-down on soy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ij14ET-8Fg

The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food

www.amazon.com/Whole-Soy-Story-Americas-Favorite/dp/0967089751/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_2

According to Daniel, seven years ago, the State of California was on the verge of moving soy infant formula to a prescription-only basis for babies birth to six months.Why? Because it’s an estrogen mimic, an endocrine disruptor widely sold to unsuspecting parents. The deception required a global public-relations massage, a deliberate distortion of the truth. When the story is sold by a trusted personality [Oprah], the flimflam is accepted hook, line, and sinker.When soy infant formula used in the first 6 months of life, it results in infants with 50-80 times the levels of manganese found in babies on dairy formula or breast milk. High levels of manganese cause neurological damage and slow brain development, which can lead to ADD, violent tendencies, crime, the court and prison system. There’s a terrible symmetry in this cascade of consequences: Soy products are a major part of America’s prison system diet. Rack ’em up; knock ‘em down.

Fact-check: Soy foods  down-regulates testosterone reduces quantity and quality of sperm  feminizes boys found in 80 percent of processed food causes fibroid tumors in girls and women causes early puberty in girls is implicated in reproductive failure, endometriosis, and breast cancerNotice the bamboozle effect in a number of comments: people become resentful when nap time is interrupted. dy