Workers and our unions need to raise the banner of fighting to shorten the workweek to 30 hours without a single penny cut from take-home pay. This can prevent layoffs and keep millions of fellow workers on the job.
Winning 30 hours work for 40 hours pay in the mines, mills, factories, warehouses and retail outlets would sharply reduce the mounting competition among us for jobs. It would prevent bosses using the threat of furloughs or slashing working hours to press for cuts in wages. Most importantly, it would get more workers back to the one place where we can join together and act as a class to fight the bosses’ efforts to force us to pay for the crisis of their capitalist system.
The struggles we wage on the job over hours, wages, working conditions and our health are the only road forward. Nurses at the Montefiore hospital in New Rochelle, New York, organized a two-day strike for more hiring to make desperately needed medical care safely available, and to ease the unbearable workloads they face. Tens of thousands of farmers in India and toilers in Kurdistan are mobilizing to defend their livelihoods. These fights occur amid mass unemployment and government lockdowns.
Broader struggles by workers for better wages and safer working conditions, and for cradle-to-grave health care as a right will grow faster when hiring picks up and workers sense there is more room to fight.
Through these battles working people learn the full measure of our own worth and our capacities for disciplined action and to win solidarity. In action we gain class consciousness and we see more clearly there is no common interest between workers and bosses.
Today the government shows its disdain for the life and limb of working people by refusing to use the centralized resources of the country to produce, distribute and deliver the vaccine to everyone. Instead, this is all organized in ways geared to advance the profits of private bosses. It’s in the hands of bosses at FedEx and UPS, Walgreens and CVS and for-profit hospitals who insist on short staffing.
In their hands the vaccine or any medical care will always be a commodity to be bought and sold. They act to prevent competitors from acquiring it, ensuring millions in other countries and throughout the semicolonial world will be left without immunization for months, if not years.
Their actions reflect the values of a class whose morality is whatever turns the highest profit. Their Democratic and Republican parties, their cops, courts, prisons and death penalty are organized to defend that dog-eat-dog system.
Working people must build our own political party, a labor party that defends all those oppressed and exploited by capital. With a labor party we can chart a course to take political power out of the hands of the bosses and bankers and replace their bankrupt system with a workers and farmers government.
The revolution made by working people in Cuba in 1959 showed that when workers and farmers take political power, and establish control over the land, factories and banks, they control their own future. It is a powerful example for working people everywhere.
Learning how Cuban workers and farmers made their revolution, joining activities to celebrate its 62nd anniversary on Jan. 1, and organizing public actions to defend the Cuban Revolution against Washington’s brutal embargo can help point the road forward.