Statement by Rebecca Williamson, Socialist Workers Party candidate for Seattle City Council, Feb. 17.
I’m asking workers and our unions to spread the word and build solidarity with workers fighting against boss attacks today — from oil refinery workers battling against a boss lockout at Marathon Petroleum in Minnesota to warehouse workers fighting for a union at Amazon in Alabama. This is the road forward to building a stronger labor movement and uniting the working class.
I had the great pleasure last weekend to travel to Minnesota and join the refinery workers and labor supporters in a solidarity caravan. And I brought greetings with me from the Washington state Trajabadores Unidos por la Justicia, a union of fruit packers, and from some of my co-workers at the Walmart where I work.
I used to live in Minneapolis and was part of some fierce labor battles at the Dakota Premium Foods slaughterhouse there. The solidarity caravan was initiated by my old union, the United Food and Commercial Workers.
At the heart of the Marathon workers’ fight is safety, both their own and that of those who live around the refinery. The bosses there use anhydrous hydrofluoric acid, a dangerous chemical if not handled properly, to boost octane in the gas they produce. This same chemical caused an explosion at a Husky Energy refinery in Superior, Wisconsin, in 2018 that injured three dozen workers and forced evacuations in the city.
Like employers everywhere, Marathon bosses count on keeping workers divided and our struggles isolated. They use their connections with area cops and judges to put limits on the size of the picket lines and to try and enforce them. But they misjudge our capacities for determined and disciplined resistance and the importance of the support our struggles win when the word gets out.
Having gone to Minnesota puts me in a better position to win more support, to use my campaign to try and help shift the relationship of class forces toward the refinery workers.
I’m asking you to join with me. Tell your family, friends, co-workers and union about this fight and urge them to send support messages and donations and, if possible, to organize to visit the picket line.
Socialist Workers Party candidates around the country champion every struggle working people wage for jobs and to improve wages and working conditions. We explain that there are two central classes in society today — the bosses and the workers — with diametrically opposed interests.
The bosses control the cops, courts and government at all levels. But the workers have something stronger, if we use it — the overwhelming strength of our numbers, our ability to bring production and distribution to a halt, and the power of our solidarity.
The bosses face a crisis in their capitalist system today, with their profit rates tending to decline. Their goal is to make workers and farmers bear the brunt of this crisis. More workers will be forced to fight to defend their jobs, wages and working conditions.
The employers and their politicians use their media, their control of education and more to tell us day in and day out that we’re just not smart enough to be trusted with big decisions. We have to rely on them to run things. But this is a lie!
Winning broader support for union battles is the road to building the fighting labor movement we need. It also strengthens those who offer solidarity, helping us learn our real capacities and build class consciousness.
It points in the direction of workers and our unions organizing independently politically as well. Workers need our own party, a labor party. Such a party would organize workers in our millions to fight uncompromisingly for the interests of all the exploited and oppressed, and chart a course to take political power into our own hands.
Join us in building support for the Marathon refinery workers in Minnesota!