LOS ANGELES — Joel Britton, Socialist Workers Party candidate for California governor, spoke about opportunities to expand the reach of the party and its program to working people at a Militant Labor Forum here July 23. Also speaking was Phil Gavcus, an emergency room nurse at Providence St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica.
Britton described SWP members’ participation in protests at the Port of Oakland organized by owner-operator truckers demanding an exemption from California Assembly Bill 5, which reclassifies the drivers as employees not independent contractors. “Many unions, including the Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union, touted this bill as providing a road to organizing these ‘misclassified’ workers into their unions,” he said.
“Uber, Lyft, Door Dash and other gig outfit bosses spent $200 million to win a ‘yes’ vote on a ballot measure that exempted their employees from AB5.
“AB5 is no substitute for organizing truckers into a union,” said Britton. He urged participants to read Teamster Politics by SWP leader Farrell Dobbs. It describes how a fighting Teamsters union in the 1930s reached out to independent truckers to bring them into the union.
Gavcus, a longtime reader of the Militant, said he appreciates the paper’s coverage of the labor movement. He’s a member of his union’s bargaining committee and described the shifts without breaks imposed by management on the nurses, the lack of supplies and low pay. He urged participants to join an Aug. 1 union protest at the hospital.
“The capitalist crisis we speak of is a growing crisis of trade and production. It is not new,” Britton said. “Capitalists face a declining rate of profit, even as they rake in billions in profits off the labor of workers.
“They face intensified competition for markets, raw materials and labor. Competition among capitalist countries brings with it the likelihood of more and bigger wars. As brutal as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine is — the largest war in Europe since World War II — the next one could be more destructive and widespread.
“Neither Democrats nor Republicans have any answers to inflation, or the jobs crisis faced by millions,” Britton said. “Class struggle, not class collaboration is what is needed. Use our own organized power. We should never subordinate working-class interests to the employers and their parties, whether Democratic or Republican.
“Independence, class independence is required if the working class is to advance like we can in the coming years. We need our own party, a labor party that can fight for a workers and farmers government.”