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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 72/No. 15      April 14, 2008


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(lead article)
Support truckers’ fight against
squeeze on standard of living!
The Star Ledger/Mitsu Yasukawa
Dan Fein, left, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Congress in New York’s 10th District, addresses April 1 rally of truckers in New Jersey. “We need a labor party based on fighting unions to organize working people in the political arena,” he said.

The following statement was released March 28 by Róger Calero, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. president.

My campaign calls on all working people to stand in solidarity with truck drivers fighting back against the decline in their standard of living, longer hours on the job, and unsafe working conditions.

As the capitalist economic crisis unfolds, truckers and all working people face rising unemployment and spiraling inflation for basic necessities like food, fuel, and rent. Truck drivers are being devastated right now by skyrocketing fuel, maintenance, and insurance costs. Diesel prices have hit record levels. Parasitic insurance companies tie drivers’ credit ratings to insurance premiums, meaning that insurance rates go up as drivers’ ability to pay their bills on time goes down. Truck drivers face similar conditions to those who labor in mines, construction sites, and manufacturing plants all over the country—speedup and longer hours that compromise safety on the job.

When elected, I will use the authority of the presidency to support struggles by truck drivers, and other workers, to unionize. I will introduce legislation to exempt individual owner-operators from antitrust laws that make it illegal for them to strike.

My administration will repeal all sales taxes, including fuel taxes, which are reactionary because they disproportionately burden working people.

I will appoint socialists to the Department of Labor who will institute an automatic cost-of-living increase in workers’ wages and per-load rates. As diesel, maintenance, and insurance prices go up, truckers’ income would go up to match so that they bring home the same size paycheck. My administration will end the rigging of inflation statistics that grossly understates the rising cost of fuel and other necessities. Government calculations will be based on what working people actually face at the gas pump and in the grocery store.

I will introduce legislation to create a massive public works program that will put millions to work at union-scale wages to repair deteriorating infrastructure that increases the dangers truckers face every day. Crumbling roads and bridges mean more wear-and-tear on tires and vehicles, adding additional maintenance costs that the giant transportation companies foist on individual owner-operators.

My administration will put forward legislation to nationalize the energy industry, taking these profit-driven corporations out of private hands and running them as public utilities for the benefit of the majority. We will fight to open up the books of the oil and coal monopolies to reveal how they compromise the lives and livelihoods of millions of working people for their own profit. We will demand that oil refineries, coal mines, and ports be placed under workers’ control to enforce safe working conditions, reasonable prices for energy, and higher wages.

Workers cannot wage a struggle around these demands while tied to the Democrats and Republicans. We need a labor party based on fighting unions. This plank is central to the campaign that my running mate, Alyson Kennedy, and I are waging.

A labor party can contest against the capitalist parties in the political arena and bring the weight of the labor movement to bear on economic and social questions. The protests and strikes by truck drivers are one stepping stone toward a transformed labor movement that can fight in the broad interests of the working class as a whole.

To replace the state power of the tiny propertied minority that rules today we must build a revolutionary movement of millions. That movement will establish a workers and farmers government that can begin organizing society in the interests of the vast majority.
Related articles:
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Truckers stop work nationwide
Vice presidential candidate brings socialist campaign to farmers
McCain proposes shift from Bush foreign policy
‘Americanism,’ Barack Obama, and Malcolm X

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