Socialist Workers Party Statement

For a shorter workweek with no cut in pay to stop job cuts!

October 19, 2020

This statement was issued by Alyson Kennedy, Socialist Workers Party candidate for president, Oct. 7.

In the hands of the Democrats and Republicans, the two parties of ruling capitalist families, billions of dollars in government handouts have flowed into the pockets of the bosses during coronavirus-motivated lockdowns on production and trade. At the same time, all pretense of giving serious aid to the millions of workers who have lost their jobs — for now or for forever — has dried up.

If the boss class can rake in enough profits by putting us to work, they’ll put us to work. If they can’t, they won’t, and today many aren’t.

Those who are — like Amazon and Walmart — organize work and pay to maximize their profits with disdain for the conditions we have to work in. Amazon admitted Oct. 1 that 19,816 of their workers contracted COVID-19 so far this year.

For working people the rising joblessness, and the debt, insecurity, increasing addiction and other social evils that accompany it, are inexcusable and we have to fight to reverse them. Neither President Donald Trump nor Joe Biden offer proposals to do so.

Only a serious fight by workers and our unions to force the bosses and their government to provide jobs offers a way forward.

The SWP campaigns for working people in our millions to fight for a government-funded public works program to create jobs at union-scale wages to build things workers desperately need. That includes reopening hospitals, constructing schools where teachers and students can study safely and building housing and public transportation.

Some employers, like Southwest Airlines, say they are willing to limit layoffs if workers and our unions agree to deep enough pay cuts to shore up their profits.

My party says wherever layoffs are threatened, we should fight for workers’ hours to be cut to spread the available work around, but with no cut in weekly take-home pay. Our priority is the lives and conditions of the millions of working people, who create all the wealth, not the profits of a tiny handful of exploiters. Moreover, if the workweek was shortened to 30 hours with 40 hours pay in all jobs, it would help open up jobs for millions and reduce the sharp competition we face to get hired today — something bosses utilize to set workers against each other.

In the short run, we demand now that the government pay union-scale unemployment to all workers, with proper papers or not, for as long as they’re out of work.

Fighting and getting millions of our class back to work will make us stronger and more united. It will strengthen every on-the-job struggle workers are waging today for better pay, humane schedules, against unsafe working conditions and bosses’ attempts to make fewer of us do more and more work. It will put us in a better position to build unions and use union power to extend solidarity to farmers and all those exploited by capital.

To maintain the oppressive conditions their rule is based upon, the capitalists rely on their criminal “justice” system, which is marked by cop brutality, frame-ups, a system of heavy bail and plea bargains, brutal prisons and assaults on political rights. Their use of the death penalty — a weapon of terror aimed at intimidating the entire working class and its fighting vanguard — is on the rise by federal authorities. My campaign fights for its abolition.

Despite the violence the capitalist rulers inflict on working people and the misery their dog-eat-dog system imposes on our lives, workers and farmers are capable of building their own political party, a labor party, and wresting political power from the hands of the capitalist class.

Join the SWP 2020 campaign, which together with fellow working people fights for immediate protection from the effects of today’s crisis and presents the only realistic course forward.