The following statement was released Oct. 10 by Dennis Richter, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate in California.
“I’m not the immigration police,” the head of the Carpenters union recently told the press. The union doesn’t ask painters where they were born or what papers they have, he said, we just sign them up.
Drivers and warehouse workers fighting for Teamsters union recognition at the Port of Los Angeles combined their three-day strike this week with a protest against the threatened deportation of immigrants — some of them truckers and union supporters — whose Temporary Protected Status is under attack by the White House. I joined them in Wilmington, along with other Socialist Workers Party supporters.
In the United States today, where there are more than 11 million immigrant workers without “proper” documents. My party, the SWP, campaigns for the unions to fight for amnesty for all of them. That way they can join the battle to build the unions without fear of raids, arrest and deportation. This is a life and death question to unite the labor movement.
The fate of U.S.- and foreign-born workers is intertwined. We work together. Our children go to school together. We need to stand up to the bosses together.
“We don’t care where you were born, what language you speak, the color of your skin or your sex. Let’s join together in the union to fight for the interests of all working people.” That’s the stance every union and every worker should take.
Just 6.5 percent of workers for private companies have a union today. That makes it easier for the bosses to impose speedup, cut corners on safety, push wages down, implement inhumane work schedules and take out their profit drive on our backs.
How is the capitalist class, a tiny minority, able to impose its will on the vast majority, the tens of millions of working people who produce all the wealth?
They work continually to divide us, pitting unemployed against employed, Black against Latino against Caucasian, native-born against foreign-born, men against women. Their goal is to convince us to see each other as the problem, not the exploitation, oppression and wars inherent in capitalism. The only way to counteract this is to unite in struggle to fight for workers’ rights.
More than 150 years ago, Karl Marx, the founder of the modern workers movement, wrote that the unions “must now learn to act deliberately as organizing centers of the working class in the broad interest of its complete emancipation.” They must act as the “champions and representatives of the whole working class.”
This is the road forward to organizing and building a fighting union movement. It is the road to building our own working-class party independent from the capitalist rulers’ state and their political parties, a labor party based on the unions that can challenge the bosses, fighting every day in the interests of the working class, and map out a course to take political power.