Statement by Malcolm Jarrett, Socialist Workers Party candidate for Pittsburgh mayor, July 7.
Striking steelworkers at Allegheny Technologies Inc. and autoworkers at Volvo Trucks in Virginia are discussing tentative deals reached by their unions. Oil refinery workers locked out by bosses at Marathon in Minnesota just returned to work, after standing their ground in defense of their safety and for the communities surrounding the plant. Each of the fights waged by these workers sets an example to millions of working people looking for ways to take on employers’ attacks.
With a virtual news blackout by the bosses’ press, spreading the word about the strike by coal miners at Warrior Met in Alabama is crucial for winning solidarity and turning up the pressure on the mine bosses.
Whatever immediate gains workers register in our struggles, the real fruit is the confidence we gain in ourselves and our fellow workers. Class-struggle experience teaches our interests are irreconcilable with those of the bosses and the Democratic and Republican parties that serve them. In a system based on exploitation, it is through revolutionary struggle that workers can extract some concessions and gain more confidence and class consciousness.
It will take more extensive workplace battles and organizing drives — struggles the crisis of capitalism is preparing — to end the retreat of our unions and forge the fighting social movement workers need.
Employers have the bit in their mouth today, taking advantage of every division among us to drive down wages and put the crisis of their capitalist system onto our backs. Central to this is fueling competition among workers for jobs. It is imperative for our unions to advance a program to counter unemployment.
That’s why the Socialist Workers Party urges unions to organize all workers to get vaccinated. This is crucial for our safety, for ending COVID-19 and for getting workers together in every mine, mill, factory, warehouse and retail outlet, where we can join together in action to defend our interests.
Our unions need to fight for a government-funded national public works program to put millions back to work now, at union-scale pay, to build houses, hospitals, schools and other essentials working people use. Our unions should fight for 30 hours work for 40 hours pay to spread the work around, with no cut in pay.
Rising prices are eroding the value of our wages. Protection from capitalism’s periodic bouts of inflation can be won by fighting for regular cost-of-living adjustments in every contract and for all benefits, including government programs like Social Security, so that every time prices go up, our wages rise to cover it.
A fighting union movement will draw together with it farmers, shopkeepers, housewives and other consumers into price committees, to demand the bosses open their books, to show all that the cause of inflation is not workers’ wage demands but the capitalists’ drive to maximize profits. These committees would fight to wrest control over the fixing of all prices.
Workers and farmers can organize to defend ourselves today, like the strikers we support are doing. This way we lay the foundation for future struggles and for building a movement of millions to overturn capitalist rule and establish a workers and farmers government. This is the most powerful tool we can wield to take control of the factories, land and banks out of the hands of the capitalists and into our own. In the course of the struggle, as Malcolm X explained, we see our own self-worth, clean ourselves up and become different people, capable of changing the world.
Making a socialist revolution opens the road to ending exploitation and oppression once and for all. Join the SWP in campaigning for a future truly worth living.