Socialist Workers Party statement

Workers need fighting unions, our own party

July 12, 2021

Statement by Willie Cotton Socialist Workers Party candidate for New York City public advocate, June 29.

 Working people — who bear the brunt of today’s crisis of the capitalist system — are looking for ways to resist attacks by the bosses. At places where we are represented by unions, some of us are using them to stand up to employers’ attacks on wages and working conditions.

Each of these fights — like the strike by miners at Warrior Met in Alabama and several others — set an example. Each one requires the solidarity of fellow workers and all our unions.

But the percentage of workers in private industry who are unionized has declined for decades, standing at only 6.3% today. That is because our union officials refuse to lead us to use our power to fight for what we need. Instead they’ve hogtied unions into getting out the vote for the Democrats, one of the bosses’ twin parties. But both capitalist parties — and the con game of their contests to exchange seats in government — exist to defend the profits and prerogatives of the bosses.

As unemployment begins to drop, some employers complain they can’t find enough workers willing to work for the pay and conditions they offer, as bosses seek to increase their profitability. Many workers feel more confident to see if they can find jobs that pay more and to fight to make gains on the job.

Now is a good time to organize. The road to improving pay and conditions lies in common struggle by workers against the class that exploits us.

“The necessity — and opportunities — for working people nonunion and union alike, to be bold, to organize ourselves, and to mobilize mutual solidarity have seldom been greater,” writes Socialist Workers Party National Secretary Jack Barnes in The Turn to Industry: Forging a Proletarian Party.

“The measure of our success will often not initially be the formation of new and powerful unions,” he writes. “It will be the experience and confidence workers gain as we act together. It will be our increasing political knowledge and consciousness of the employers — and of ourselves. It will be our pride and our readiness to stand up and be counted as we act together as part of a common class.”

This provides the foundation for building unions and a working class movement of millions in the years ahead as the crisis of capitalism continues to wreak havoc with our lives.

It is out of such struggles that a disciplined and class-conscious vanguard of the working class can be built. To speak and act on all political questions from the standpoint of our class and all exploited producers, not the bosses — from the capitalists’ profit-driven anarchy in production and distribution of vaccines to their responsibility for the deadly collapse of the Champlain Towers in Florida.

Out of these struggles working people and our unions will break with the bosses’ Democratic and Republican parties and build a party of our own. The national slate of SWP candidates in 2021 offers an example of what such a party would say and do.

Everywhere we explain why working people are capable of building a movement to replace capitalist rule with a workers and farmers government, and lead millions to take control over the factories, farms and entire economy. Join us in building a party to make a socialist revolution possible!