Statement by Róger Calero, Socialist Workers Party candidate for New York City mayor, Aug. 4.
Solidarity is needed to reinforce the strike by 1,100 miners at Warrior Met Coal and build on support they received at their rally in Brookwood, Alabama, today. Their fight sets an example to millions of working people facing demands from bosses trying to revive their capitalist economy on our backs.
To be victorious, the strike needs not only the courage and determination members of the United Mine Workers of America have shown on the picket line. Spread the word. Get messages of support and contributions to their strike fund from fellow workers and unionists. Visit the picket lines and weekly Wednesday night rallies, and bring your family, friends and co-workers.
Bosses know the UMWA’s fight at Warrior Met, along with the long record of miners’ union battles against unsafe conditions, can inspire support from fellow workers. That’s why the bosses and their press imposed a news blackout on the strike.
After 78 miners were killed in an explosion at a West Virginia mine in 1968, miners and their families built a mass social movement. They took back control of their union, compelled governments to establish clinics across the coalfields — a gain for all working people — and won union control over mine operations. This resulted in lowering dust levels in the mines, sharply reducing crippling black lung disease and threats to their lives from fires and explosions. They won — and used — the right to shut down production when it was unsafe.
The bosses fought back, and for years they’ve held the upper hand in their drive against the UMWA. By 2019 less than 20% of miners were in the union. Black lung is up to its highest level in decades, and government agencies — under both Democratic and Republican administrations — turn a blind eye.
Like other coal bosses the new owners at Warrior Met used the bankruptcy courts to drive through cuts to wages and raise costs for health care in 2016. They increased use of subcontractors and moved to shortcut safety to speed up production.
Bosses will always push to reverse vital gains workers make during hard-fought struggles. This war between bosses and toilers will not cease until capitalist exploitation is ended. Only a working class that is conscious of its own power as a class can lead that fight.
The two great socialist revolutions of the imperialist epoch, the Russian and Cuban revolutions, show that with a leadership forged beforehand workers can take political power into our own hands. A workers and farmers government will expropriate the land, industry and banks held by the exploiting class, and reorganize production to meet human need.
To make that revolutionary change possible we need to build a vanguard working-class party, a party deeply rooted in the practice of principled politics and continuity with previous struggles against exploitation and oppression.
Acting on the fact that socialist revolution is necessary and possible, SWP candidates join labor and other struggles taking place today to advance this perspective.
All out in support of the Alabama miners!