Fight for workers control of production, job safety

White House executive orders aim to hold workers in check

By Terry Evans
February 8, 2021
Chart shows steep fall in employment in 2020, even with partial recovery. Rate is falling again now. Workers need to be at work, alongside fellow workers, to fight attacks by bosses, gov’t.
Chart shows steep fall in employment in 2020, even with partial recovery. Rate is falling again now. Workers need to be at work, alongside fellow workers, to fight attacks by bosses, gov’t.

President Joe Biden spent his first days in office churning out executive orders, avoiding debate or vote by Congress. He aims to put a stamp of “political correctness” on government agencies and much more. These measures are a danger to the working class.

At the same time, nothing has changed about the disaster of widespread joblessness afflicting working people. His administration, as Trump’s did, governs over a crisis of the capitalist class that bosses are offloading onto the backs of working people.

Monthslong lockdowns on production and commerce, on the pretext of fighting COVID-19, are fueling job cuts, especially among restaurant, retail, airline and hotel workers. The employment to population ratio — the percentage of working-age people who actually have a job — was down to 57.4% in December, from 61% a year earlier. And that doesn’t include the growing millions who are forced to work part time.

Some 29% of small businesses closed down last year. The government reported that over 960,000 workers filed for initial state unemployment benefits for the week ending Jan. 16, with nearly 16 million workers on unemployment rolls. Millions more have lost their jobs but aren’t eligible for relief.

City workers in Mount Vernon, New York, were told by Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard to “choose” between 60 being laid off or 15 days of furloughs for all of them. Other bosses say their workers’ “choice” is between job cuts or wage cuts. Many impose both.

“Workers and our unions need to fight for a shorter workweek with no cut in take-home pay,” Joanne Kuniansky, Socialist Workers Party candidate for New Jersey governor, told a Jan. 23 meeting at the campaign headquarters in Union City. “And to fight for a government-funded public works program to put millions back to work at union scale, building schools, hospitals, day care centers and other things workers need.”

Kuniansky, a Walmart worker, visited the picket line of striking workers at the Hunts Point Produce Market and then used her campaign to build solidarity with their fight.

“Only struggles by workers as a class against the capitalist rulers offers a way forward,” she said. “Workers need to organize their own party, a labor party. The SWP campaign is an example of what a labor party could do, to lead millions to overturn capitalist rule and form a workers and farmers government.”

Biden builds ‘administrative state’

Biden’s administration is the political continuation of the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, including many of the same people back in government. They seek to regulate, browbeat and control workers, saying they will “take care” of working people, who they hold in contempt.

Under Obama, “woke” liberals extended mandatory racial sensitivity programs to government workers and others to “correct” them from being inherently “racist.” These programs are grounded in “critical race” theory, which says history isn’t rooted in the conflict of classes, but is defined by race. One such indoctrination program said, “The validity of your ideas is dependent on the color of your skin.” These programs are the opposite of the mighty mass movement that mobilized workers to overthrow Jim Crow segregation.

One of Biden’s first executive orders on Jan. 20 reinstated mandatory “critical race”-based training programs for government workers.

This spate of edicts by Biden can “rebuild a fortified ‘administrative state,’” said Neil Eggleston and Alexa Kissinger in the Jan. 25 New York Times.

In sharp contrast, “the SWP’s campaign acts on the fact that the working class must rely on itself to speak and act for all those exploited and oppressed by capitalism,” Kuniansky said. “A stronger capitalist state, with more bureaucracy, regulations and power over our lives is dangerous.”

Thousands of National Guard troops and other armed forces were mobilized for Biden’s inauguration and at state Capitols, justified by unsubstantiated “threats” of assault by would-be paramilitaries and conspiracy theorists.

In fact the only violent actions that took place Jan. 20 were organized by antifa and other middle-class radicals in Seattle and Portland, Oregon. Carrying a banner reading, “We don’t want Biden — We want revenge!” Black-clad forces led attacks on the Democratic Party headquarters in Portland. These middle-class groups glorify violence and resentment, holding a lot in common with fascist groups they claim to oppose.

Liberals target ‘deplorables’

These beefed-up security measures were aimed at boosting their impeachment drive against Trump for allegedly “inciting insurrection” at the Capitol building Jan. 6. Democrats, and some Never-Trump Republicans, are determined to convict him in a Senate trial, then pass a motion to prevent Trump from holding office again. They want to stop him — or anyone like him — from running in 2024. And they’re calling for legal charges and other steps to bankrupt him, his family and political associates, and to seek vengeance against those who supported him.

Their problem is that a Biden government, like that of Obama and Clinton, will continue to breed alienation among workers and set the groundwork for a candidate to challenge the swamp in Washington again.

Their real target is not the former president, but the millions who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for the Biden/Harris ticket. In fact, some 80 million eligible voters decided not to vote at all in 2020, many repelled by both the Democratic and Republican candidates.

From the time Trump was elected in 2016, liberal media and politicians campaigned to bring him down. Their vitriol and hysteria spawned violent assaults.

In 2017 James Hodgkinson, a supporter of Democrat Bernie Sanders, used a semi-automatic weapon to try to kill as many Republican congressmen as possible at a baseball game in Washington. He seriously wounded House Republican Whip Steve Scalise before Capitol cops shot Hodgkinson.

The liberals turned to the FBI — Washington’s political police — to pursue a frame-up of Trump that led to his first impeachment trial. But they failed to present evidence for their bogus charges that Trump colluded with Moscow to win the election.

Now they are using an FBI probe of “domestic terrorists,” who they say were behind the Capitol building intrusion, to go after rights workers need. The New York Times ran an opinion column Jan. 21 insisting that the constitutional right to free speech and assembly is an “obstacle” today, making it harder “for the FBI to pursue investigations.”

“These rights, which took a revolution to win, are critical for working people and our ability to fight to defend ourselves,” Kuniansky said. “The SWP ran its own presidential ticket in 2020 — Alyson Kennedy and Malcolm Jarrett — explaining that the two-party shell game is a central obstacle for working people. We have to organize ourselves.”