Alyson Kennedy, Socialist Workers Party candidate for president, issued this statement Sept. 15.
The strike being waged by retail workers at Dominion stores in Newfoundland, Canada, members of the Unifor union, against cuts in wages and full-time jobs is in the interests of all working people. Solidarity from workers and our unions is needed to bolster their fight.
These workers confront conditions familiar to millions across North America and around the world. By standing tall and refusing to yield to bosses’ attacks on wages and working conditions, they provide an important example of why we need a fighting union movement in every workplace and how workers can act as union organizers.
The bosses and their government are pushing for workers to bear the brunt of today’s deepening social and economic crisis. This takes place as millions have been forced out of work. Neither of the bosses’ Democratic and Republican parties offer any solution to reverse high unemployment, rising prices and a deep health care crisis.
Only the Socialist Workers Party campaign presents immediate demands that offer working people a way to fight to defend ourselves and for a road forward.
We need to build and use our unions to wage a fight for a massive government-funded public works program to immediately put the millions tossed out of work back into a job at union-scale pay. They can build things workers urgently need — hospitals and schools, and to replace homes and infrastructure destroyed by recent hurricanes and the deadly spread of forest fires like those sweeping the West Coast.
Above all, this jobs program will undercut the growing competition among employed and unemployed — an antagonism the bosses take advantage of to pit workers against each other and press us to accept lower wages and worse working conditions.
Our unions need to fight for a shorter workweek — with no cut in weekly take-home pay — to prevent more layoffs. To defend our wages from further attack, we need automatic cost-of-living clauses in every contract, and for pensions and government-paid benefits like Social Security and unemployment. With prices of basic necessities rising, we should get a matching raise in our wages, pensions, and unemployment benefits.
Driven to deepen the exploitation of working people by their thirst for profits, bosses are pushing more work onto fewer workers, speeding up the pace of production, and forcing workers to toil shoulder to shoulder with no regard for safety or the spread of coronavirus. Only a fight by workers and our unions to take control of production, including all aspects of health and safety, can end the dangers to our lives and limbs as well as to consumers who use the products of our labor.
As workers wrest more control of production from the bosses, we can see more clearly our own capacities — to organize all of society and the entire economy in the interests of the toiling majority.
Out of our struggles over jobs, wages and working conditions and for union rights, workers can build our own political party, a labor party that speaks and acts for all who are exploited and oppressed by capital. Such a party will lead working people to take political power to form a workers and farmers government.
That will take a revolutionary struggle, like that led by Fidel Castro and the July 26 Movement in Cuba, who mobilized workers and farmers to take power into their own hands and organized solidarity with workers in struggle worldwide. Endorse the SWP 2020 campaign! Join in building a fighting labor movement!