Demand mass public works program to provide jobs!

April 20, 2020

Alyson Kennedy, Socialist Workers Party 2020 candidate for U.S. president, issued the following statement April 8. Malcolm Jarrett is the party’s 2020 vice presidential candidate.

Workers face an urgent need to defend ourselves from the bosses’ assaults today. The only way the capitalists can defend their profits is to step up attacks on those still working, at the same time  they throw others of us out on the street. Workers gain confidence when we organize to resist bosses’ ceaseless efforts to make us pay for their crisis — as they are doing by speeding up production, pressing workers to do more and reducing real wages. 

Growing joblessness and spreading lockdowns will sap the strength, morale and fighting capacities of the working class. Bosses will use it as a lever to press us to accept less pay and worse conditions. At every step they seek to foster competition between workers. Today’s furloughs deepen our isolation and exacerbate every other problem workers face.

The working class has to protect itself from the impact of spreading depression conditions and fight to overcome the biggest division we face — between those in and out of work.

Socialist Workers Party members are involved in skirmishes and struggles being waged on the shop floor in workplaces around the country — from Walmart to the railroads, taking initiatives with co-workers to push back the bosses’ attacks, organizing solidarity and looking for ways to extend these fights. 

  • To strengthen our struggles the Socialist Workers Party urges workers to fight for a massive government-funded public works program to put millions back to work now  at union-scale wages, to build the hospitals, housing and other essentials working people need. Above all, such a fight will strengthen and unite us for bigger struggles that are coming. In contrast, the government says to hunker down at home to wait for a “recovery,” while it helps the bosses dump the burden of the crisis on our backs. Workers have everything to gain and nothing to lose by fighting for jobs and going to work.

We should demand the government put laid-off construction workers to work instead of the National Guard to build field hospitals. Let the workers who have the skills and know-how to work safely construct vital medical facilities, with union protection. 

Capitalist politicians and the bosses’ media, and sometimes our union officials, urge workers to subordinate everything to “combat the virus” — a call to subordinate our interests to their profit-driven system. The bosses will never put their profit drive “on hold.” Neither should workers abandon efforts to defend ourselves from what they seek to impose. 

To try to get us to turn on fellow workers they encourage us to point fingers at each other for “spreading” the virus. They fine and threaten to jail us if we don’t stay at home. They hope they can deter us from waging determined struggles against the conditions we face — conditions created by the crisis of their system. 

But working people worldwide can discover our own capacities through common class-struggle action against those who exploit us. As workers gain such experiences we become battle-tested and more open to recognizing our own capacities to transform our conditions, to organize and fight to end the exploitative social relations dog-eat-dog capitalism depends on.

The SWP 2020 campaign has a button that features two slogans: “Build a labor party” and “For workers control of production.” 

  • To prevent the bosses from producing shoddy and dangerous goods, or refusing to make what workers need, and lying about their costs, workers need to wrest more and more control of production. This is the only road to control the pace of production and safety on the job and for consumers as well. And organizing production will be a school for workers to learn how to run the whole economy in the interests of the vast majority.
  • To fight effectively workers need their own party, a labor party. A party that joins in fights on the shop floor and on the streets 365 days a year. A party that organizes working people to lead all the exploited and oppressed to overthrow the bosses’ capitalist government and take political power into our own hands.

In today’s crisis there will be growing opportunities to draw workers towards a party that fights for this course. Join the SWP and the party’s candidates around the country participating in workers’ actions today and advancing a resolute class-struggle road forward.