The following statement by Helen Meyers, Socialist Workers Party candidate for St. Paul City Council, was released Sept. 18.
The nearly 50,000 autoworkers on strike against attacks by bosses at General Motors are fighting not just for themselves, but for the entire working class. I’ve joined them on their picket lines and they deserve the solidarity of all those who stand on the side of working people.
Millions of other workers know only too well conditions like those GM bosses have imposed. Two-tier wages that the companies use to divide workers. The massive expansion of so-called temporary workers who make even worse wages than the lowest tier of “permanent” workers.
The gutting of pension plans and their replacement with 401(k) schemes that rise and fall with the vagaries of the stock market. After a life of making the capitalist owners rich, workers often are barely able to survive on the measly “benefits” that are doled out.
United Auto Workers members at GM have said “enough!” and are using their power to stand up to the bosses’ attacks. It’s part of other labor struggles taking place today that are a harbinger of more to come.
On July 29 miners laid off from the Blackjewel company blocked rail tracks at its Cloverlick No. 3 mine to prevent the bosses from moving and selling coal until they pay the miners the wages they are owed.
And at Walmart a number of workers walked off the job and refused to work in dangerous conditions at the San Leandro, California, store when the lights went out Aug. 16.
These examples, large and small, point the way forward to organizing the unorganized. Walmart workers and the Blackjewel miners don’t have a union. But their resistance shows how workers gain confidence and learn what we are capable of.
Working-class solidarity can make a difference in beating back the bosses’ attacks. Tell your co-workers, friends and family about the GM strike and miners’ fight. Organize others to show their support and join the picket lines at factories and warehouses in over a dozen states. Visit the miners’ camp in Harlan County, Kentucky. Get your union, your church or your workmates involved in activity in solidarity with these workers. Send messages of support.
And this is the road to build a broader working-class movement, Many of the questions posed — the right to a job, government-guaranteed health care and retirement — are social questions. We need to organize to fight against the twin political parties of the bosses and their government to win them.