Fight for cut in workweek, no cut in pay to stop layoffs!

Biden attacks political rights as bosses cut jobs and wages

By Terry Evans
February 15, 2021
Jan. 27 picket line at Borgers USA auto parts plant in Norwalk, Ohio. Workers went on strike Jan. 21 in fight to improve pay, benefits, and win recognition of their union.
The Advertiser-TribuneJan. 27 picket line at Borgers USA auto parts plant in Norwalk, Ohio. Workers went on strike Jan. 21 in fight to improve pay, benefits, and win recognition of their union.

Working people in the U.S. face an economic and social crisis with millions of jobs closed down and bosses attacking the hours, wages and working conditions of those still on the job in a drive to crush their competitors and defend their profits. President Joe Biden is doing nothing to reverse this. 

What he is doing is issuing reams of executive orders — diktats not debated or voted on by anyone — aimed at regulating working people more closely.

Liberals are convinced working people are too stupid to recognize what’s good for them, as evidenced, they say, by the over 140 million who either voted for Donald Trump in 2020 or didn’t vote for either capitalist party candidate. The Democrats are leading a serious and dangerous assault on hard-won political rights working people need, smearing those who disagree with them as “domestic terrorists.” 

Only 6.9% of the U.S. population has received at least one vaccination  dose against coronavirus as of Jan. 29. With health care organized solely for the profits of the owners of the hospital and pharmaceutical industries, barely half the meager number of vaccination doses shipped to states and nursing homes has been administered. At the same time, Pfizer, which raced to produce the first vaccine, announced Feb. 2 that it expected to rake in a profit margin in the “high 20s” as a percent of income on each shot. 

Examples of boss attacks on workers abound. Ford Motor Co. began idling two of the three shifts at its immense Chicago assembly plant Feb. 1, as well as idling light truck plants in Louisville, Kentucky, and Oakville, Ontario. Workers hit by the furloughs will only receive up to 75% of their pay. 

With restaurants, retail outlets and countless other jobs shut down, e-hail drivers face stiff competition for fares. Bosses at Lyft chose this moment to introduce a new “priority mode” feature. Drivers who turn it on are scheduled for more rides per hour than those that don’t, but they’re paid 10% less for each job. Those who don’t use it say they get hardly any rides at all. 

South Carolina Port Authority officials announced plans to open a large, new Charleston facility nonunion in March, challenging the East Coast-wide contract between the shippers’ association and the International Longshoremen’s Association. They say their state policy is “right to work,” meaning no union. 

Under these conditions many workers are looking for a way to push back against the attacks of the bosses and their government, and some skirmishes are taking place. This includes the organizing drive by Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, and the fight against Marathon Petroleum refinery bosses’ lockout in Minnesota. They deserve widespread publicity and solidarity. It is only out of these struggles that a stronger labor movement and working-class battles can grow. 

“This is the only road forward, a fight of class against class,” Joanne Kuniansky, Socialist Workers Party candidate for New Jersey governor, told a Militant Labor Forum in New York Jan. 30. 

“The SWP campaign urges workers to organize a fight for a government-funded public works program to put millions back to work now, at union-scale pay, to build the hospitals, housing, schools and other things working people need,” she said. “And for our unions to fight for a shorter workweek with no cut in pay, to stop more layoffs.” 

Kuniansky is one of several SWP candidates in 2021 whose campaigns offer workers a fighting perspective for our class to unite and battle to defend ourselves. “Through struggles working people more and more see ourselves as a class, preparing for bigger battles ahead. Through this we can forge a leadership to mobilize millions to overturn capitalist rule and bring a workers and farmers government to power,” she said. 

Until workers build their own party, breaking from the Democrats and Republicans, millions will react against the paternalistic and anti-working-class disdain of the Biden administration and will be drawn to Donald Trump or someone else like him who claims they’ll “drain the swamp” in Washington, bring back jobs and end the “American carnage.”

Attack on political rights

The Democrats, backed by a layer of Never-Trump Republicans and the middle-class left, are trying to whip up a hysteria over the so-called insurrection of Jan. 6. A relative handful of would-be paramilitaries and conspiracy theorists, including some reactionary Confederate-flag carriers, got into the Capitol for a while. Liberals are using this to try to drive Trump out of politics forever and to attack crucial political rights working people use.

They call for new laws against “domestic terrorism,” to give more leeway to spying, disruption and other assaults by the FBI — the capitalist rulers’ political police. They push greater use of conspiracy charges, indicting people for what they say and think, not for what they do.

There is a long history of these kinds of frame-ups and attacks — and they are used to target the working class and its vanguard. The Socialist Workers Party knows and fought successfully against these kinds of attacks in the past.

The Democrats are also trying to use this hysteria to deal blows to their main bourgeois opponent, the Republicans. “The enemy is within the House of Representatives,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared there Jan. 28, pointing her finger at Republicans. 

Addressing Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez cried, “You almost had me murdered.” All he did Jan. 6 was stand up in the Senate, challenging the 2020 election results. 

The impeachment trial of Trump — which the Democrats organized to hold after  he left office — is another part of their attack on political rights. In disregard for the Constitution, they rammed charges that Trump incited “insurrection or rebellion” through the House without allowing a single witness — even their own — to speak, examining any evidence or allowing the president to say anything in his defense. Then they sat on the indictment until after he left office.

Democrats are trampling on precedent and the law in an effort to prevent Trump or anyone like him from ever running for president again. If their impeachment move fails — which looks likely — they will seek any means possible to jail him and ruin his family and his associates, and bury them in endless litigation.

The liberals’ real target is the working class. They smear all those who backed Trump — including a larger number of Blacks and Latinos than in 2016 — as “white supremacists.” This is part of a broader effort on their part to make race — not the sharpening class differentiation in the country — the cutting edge of all politics.

The fact is there is no rise in “white supremacism” among working people. The mass Black-led mobilizations that overthrew Jim Crow segregation and developments since changed social relations in the U.S. That hasn’t been reversed.

The liberals’ goal in advancing this line is to put roadblocks in the way of workers of all races, colors and creeds coming together against the attacks of the bosses and their government.