Key question for workers is the need to be on the job

December 14, 2020

Competition among workers, an integral part of capitalism, and the bosses’ efforts to attack our wages and working conditions, intensifies in times of economic crisis like today. Bosses are using spreading unemployment to try and pit workers against each other, to demand pay cuts, speedup and other concessions, and to further weaken our unions. 

This is the central challenge facing working people. When workers are out of work, or confined to their homes under government lockdowns, they can lose their sense of belonging to a working class, a participant in fighting to defend ourselves. 

The capitalist rulers use their schools, media and political parties to tell us we’re incapable of uniting to wage effective struggles against the conditions their crisis-ridden system perpetuates. Instead, they tell us to look out for number one, rely on the government and wait the crisis out, hoping you’ll scrape through regardless of what happens to the rest of our class. 

But from on-the-job actions at workplaces around the country, to strikes by retail, hospital and other workers, working people are finding ways to come together and stand up to the employers’ unremitting drive to increase profits at our expense. We are fighting for jobs, better wages, and protection from the pandemic. The strike by workers at 11 Chicago care homes demanding more staff, a wage raise, a contract and equal pay is only the most recent instance. 

The discipline, courage and unity workers develop when we resist sets an example to millions of others who face similar conditions. We begin to learn what we are capable of becoming.

The Socialist Workers Party is campaigning for workers and our unions to mount an uncompromising struggle to compel the government to fund a public-works program to put millions back to work at union-scale wages, building the hospitals, houses, schools, day care centers and other things working people need. Whenever bosses threaten more layoffs, we need to fight for a shorter workweek with no cut in pay, 30 hours work for 40 hours pay!

As workers fight together, it opens the door to building our unions and our own political party, a labor party. Without a party of our own, workers see no other road than the dead end of trying to choose a “lesser evil” in the bosses’ Democratic and Republican parties. With our own party, we can champion the struggles of all those exploited and oppressed by capital and build an alliance with farmers under attack from the same class that exploits us. As we advance our struggle, we become different people, with self-confidence and grounded in social solidarity. We draw upon the lessons of past working-class battles — from the U.S. class struggle to the example of the 1959 revolution made by Cuban workers and farmers.

With our own party, working people will chart a course to take political power into our own hands and establish a workers and farmers government and lay the basis for a future based on the creativity and self-worth of every individual.