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Workers Vanguard No. 1062

20 February 2015
The closing date for news in this issue is 17 February.

Workers Vanguard

Shut Down All the Refineries!

Victory to Oil Workers Strike!

Picket Lines Mean Don’t Cross!

Some 5,200 oil refinery workers represented by the United Steelworkers (USW) are now on strike, chiefly over health and safety issues as well as the contracting out of maintenance jobs. Inadequate staffing forces workers to endure 12-hour shifts for as many as 16 days in a row, leaving them completely exhausted. Such grueling schedules are a major safety issue in this inherently dangerous industry made deadlier by corporate profit-gouging.

Even according to the bosses’ own reports, a fire or explosion occurs at a refinery almost every week. In 2005, a vapor leak at the BP refinery in Texas City, Texas, ignited when a contractor attempted to start his pickup; the resulting explosion killed 15 workers and injured more than 170. A fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, California, in August 2012 nearly incinerated 19 employees and forced 15,000 nearby residents to seek medical treatment for respiratory and other ailments. There must be union control of safety, including the right to stop work over dangerous conditions.

Organized labor has taken one hit after another in the bosses’ decades-long war on the unions. A real fight by the refinery workers—for many years organized in the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers (OCAW) before ending up through mergers in the USW—could breathe some life into the union movement. USW members produce 64 percent of the fuel in the U.S., meaning that they have tremendous potential social power. Shutting down refinery production altogether would not only cut off the flow of profits to Big Oil but also quickly cause the gears of industry to grind to a halt, threatening the bottom line of a broad section of the U.S. capitalist class.

However, the USW bureaucracy has the union engaging in battle with both hands tied behind its back. When the national contract covering 65 oil refineries expired on February 1, the USW initially struck only nine of those facilities, in California, Texas, Kentucky and Washington state. One week later, the strike was extended to BP refineries in Whiting, Indiana, and Toledo, Ohio. The bulk of the 30,000 USW refinery workers continue to work under rolling 24-hour contract extensions, a move by the union tops that has not sat well with those on the picket lines. (read on)

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About the ICL




V.I. LeninLeon TrotskyThe International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) is a proletarian, revolutionary and internationalist tendency committed to the task of building Leninist parties as national sections of a democratic-centralist international. Our aim is the achievement of new October Revolutions—nothing else, nothing other, nothing less. The ICL bases itself on Marxist historical, dialectical materialism and seeks in particular to carry forward the international working-class perspectives of Marxism developed in the theory and practice of the Bolshevik leaders V. I. Lenin and L. D. Trotsky and embodied in the decisions of the first four Congresses of the Communist International as well as key documents of the Fourth International such as the Transitional Program (1938) and "War and the Fourth International" (1934). We also look to James P. Cannon, a leader of the early American Communist Party who was won to Trotskyism and went on to become a principal founder of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), working in close collaboration with Leon Trotsky. The origins of the ICL are in the Spartacist League/U.S., which began as the Revolutionary Tendency in the SWP and was bureaucratically expelled in 1963. Our ICL "Declaration of Principles and Some Elements of Program" was modeled on the Declaration of Principles adopted at the 1966 founding conference of the SL/U.S.

Adopted at the Third International Conference of the ICL in early 1998, the declaration presently exists in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, German, Russian, Polish, Italian, Turkish, Indonesian, Greek and Tagalog. In this post-Soviet period, marked by a deep regression of proletarian consciousness, we continue to be guided by Trotsky's statement that "the task of the vanguard is above all not to let itself be carried along by the backward flow; it must swim against the current." Reforge the Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution!