Persistent, large-scale unemployment — a result of the crisis of capitalist production and trade exacerbated by government lockdowns — remains the biggest challenge before working people today. Organizing a fight to get the millions who have been thrown out of work back into jobs is essential to put workers and our unions in a stronger position to fight as a class against the bosses’ attacks on our wages, working conditions and basic dignity.
While hiring has begun to pick up, and some workers are being called back, millions are still without jobs, isolated from fellow workers. There are still almost 10 million the government lists as unemployed.
One of the biggest steps that can help is for all workers to get vaccinated. So far the biggest obstacle has been the for-profit system, which relies on private industry to develop, produce, distribute and deliver inoculations. They do so only for profit, at war with each other, with no centralized organization to maximize speed as well as safety.
The latest example is the contamination of at least 25 million doses at Emergent BioSolutions, a major factory manufacturing AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines under government contract. Company President Robert Kramer boasted profitability was “off-the-chart successful.”
But supplies are increasing, and the spread of vaccination can help sweep away government restrictions on production and commerce.
As job callbacks and hiring grow, the fight between bosses seeking to boost profits off our backs and workers fighting to defend jobs, wages and safe working conditions will sharpen. Today major labor battles are unfolding at ATI steel, the Warrior Met coal mine, Marathon Petroleum, St. Vincent Hospital and more. These fights call for maximum solidarity from all working people to help tip the balance in favor of labor.
At the same time, Democratic President Joseph Biden unveiled a $2 trillion-plus so-called American Jobs Plan, touted as the most far-reaching infrastructure program ever. But the fact is, this program does not create a single job. If it passes — far from a sure thing — it would give billions to bosses and governments at every level, with instructions to use them for a host of “green” and other schemes.
Biden promises to use the money to end pollution from carbon emissions by 2050, massively boost charging stations for electric cars, and other “woke” projects. Some, he says, will get bosses to provide union jobs. All will be tied to generating profits for the bosses.
One of the biggest beneficiaries will be Elon Musk, whose Tesla electric car, which costs thousands more than your car, is expected to use all those charging stations. Musk is the planet’s second richest person, with $169.9 billion on his asset ledger as of March 5. Forbes says he made $60 million that day.
Musk, like Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon and the Washington Post and number one on the richest person list, is notoriously anti-union. He prevented efforts by the United Auto Workers to organize a union at his Tesla electric vehicle plant in California in 2017. Last year he pressed to keep unions out of Tesla plants being built in Germany.
Others who will find a spot at the trough are Amtrak bosses, who would get $80 billion; port and airport owners, $42 billion; and $100 billion to tech bosses to extend broadband.
SWP: Workers need jobs now!
“What workers need is not a better plan to ‘fix’ capitalist exploitation, or to hash over Biden’s bill,” Malcolm Jarrett, Socialist Workers Party candidate for Pittsburgh mayor, told the Militant April 6. “We need a totally different class perspective, starting with building support for workers’ fights for jobs and wages — like the strike today by unionists in five states against attacks by ATI steel bosses.”
Jarrett walked the picket lines of striking ATI steelworkers around Pittsburgh this week.
“We need to use our unions to fight for a federal government-funded public works program to create millions of jobs at union-scale making things workers need, like housing, schools, hospitals, child care centers and much more,” he said. “And workers need to impose workers control of production in these jobs, to make sure they meet workers’ needs and are done safely.
“Our unions need to fight for a shorter workweek with no cut in pay to prevent further layoffs. The fight for these measures can unify and strengthen the working class and rebuild our unions as effective fighting instruments,” Jarrett said. “This is the road to build our own political party, a labor party, to fight to take political power into our own hands.”
Workers at Jeff Bezos’ Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, who have been fighting to bring the first union into the company, are awaiting the outcome of a union representation election that ended March 29. The bosses at Walmart, Target, Google and many other companies are watching with great interest. So are millions of working people across the country.
White House Press Secretary Jennifer Psaki told reporters April 2 that Biden’s bill will “revolutionize the clean energy jobs market.”
The capitalist rulers’ claim that their primary interest is protection of the environment is a lie. Their hope is to open new fields for profitable investment.
The source of ecological destruction is the same as the cause of the attacks workers face on our wages and conditions — the bosses’ ruthless competition for markets at the expense of their rivals. They are driven to defend their profits by making us pay for their efforts to crush their rivals, cutting costs with no regard for the consequences of the health of the planet.
“Only the fight by workers and our unions to take control of production out of the bosses’ hands can open the road to working people reorganizing labor and priorities in ways that benefit all working people while protecting our earth, skies and waters,” Jarrett said. “That’s the road to replace the dog-eat-dog dictatorship of capital with our own workers and farmers government, to organize society around the needs of land and labor.”