SWP: Workers need our own party, a labor party based on our unions

January 9, 2023

Statement by Ilona Gersh, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of Chicago, Dec. 28.

Ilona Gersh, Socialist Workers Party 2023 candidate for mayor of Chicago.
Militant/David RosenfeldIlona Gersh, Socialist Workers Party 2023 candidate for mayor of Chicago.

Recent experiences of millions of working people have driven home the fact that the key division in U.S. politics is not the conflicts between Democrats and Republicans, or liberals and conservatives. It’s the irreconcilable class vs. class interests that divide workers from the ruling capitalists and their upper-middle-class hangers-on whose relentless assaults on our unions, jobs, wages and working conditions mark capitalism’s social and moral crisis today.

With bipartisan support, President Joseph Biden led Congress to bar rail workers from striking against dangerous working conditions, unlivable work schedules and for better pay and paid sick leave. Bipartisan backing also ensured passage of the $1.66 trillion spending bill in Congress. It beefs up the U.S. rulers’ war machine that stands behind their class interests in conflicts with Moscow, Beijing and other rivals. It’s working people who will be the cannon fodder in the wars they’re preparing.

More cash is provided in the bill for the FBI and government prosecutors for frame-ups, part of their assault on constitutional freedoms being led by the White House. Such attacks are key to the rulers’ drive to hold working people in check, and to weaken our struggles, today and in the future.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

The fight to defend our class starts with building solidarity with striking United Auto Workers at Case New Holland in Iowa and Wisconsin, United Mine Workers at Warrior Met Coal in Alabama and other unionists forced into battle. Through labor struggles workers learn to rely on our own forces and see more clearly our common interests, our own worth, and prospects for building, extending and strengthening our unions.

We need a union-led fight for jobs, with the wages, hours and conditions necessary for families to live and find time to relax, study and get more active in our unions. We need a government-funded public works program to put millions back to work at union-scale pay to build houses, hospitals, child care centers, transportation and other things we need.

As we advance our fight against the attacks by the bosses and their government on the picket line, we need to build a political party of our own, a labor party based on our unions. This is the only way we can chart a political road forward based on the interests of workers and farmers against our class enemies.

The capitalist rulers’ foreign policy and expanding military are aimed at maintaining their position as top imperialist power worldwide. The working class needs our own foreign policy to extend solidarity to fellow working people on the frontline of class battles from Ukraine to Iran and elsewhere, and to demand an immediate end to Washington’s economic war against Cuba.

On Jan. 1 working people in Cuba will celebrate the 64th anniversary of their 1959 Revolution. Led by Fidel Castro and the July 26 Movement, they overthrew the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and went on to establish a workers and farmers government, take control of the factories and banks, implement a far-reaching land reform, and come to recognize they were making a socialist revolution. This is what makes it possible for them to have held Washington at bay for decades.

Workers and farmers in Cuba proved that with communist leadership our class is capable of charting a road to emancipation led by and for the exploited and oppressed. They set an example for working people in the U.S. and across the globe.

The single biggest contribution working people in the U.S. can make toward ending Washington’s economic and political war against the Cuban people is to fight to take power here in the world’s last empire, establish our own workers and farmers government and join in the worldwide struggle for socialism.