Something is different today. More workers are using their unions to fight the bosses’ relentless push to drive wages down, weaken health care and pensions, intensify already brutal work conditions and make workers’ schedules longer. This profit-driven offensive is eating away at the ability of workers to start and provide for our families, and is backed by a government beholden to the capitalist class. Their assaults lie behind the crisis of opioid and gambling addictions, declining life expectancy and falling birth rates.
Workers’ determination to fight these conditions is on the rise. Hand-written picket signs appear with to-the-point and often humorous repudiation of boss demands that we make more sacrifices.
Millions belong to unions today, and the power of the labor movement is looked to by millions more who’d like to be in a union, as well as by working farmers and other exploited producers looking for allies. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union in the U.S. refuses to unload ships Canadian bosses try to redirect from ports there where 7,400 dockworkers are on strike. This solidarity is an example to all.
Every worker can make a difference. Tell your co-workers about the ILWU fight, as well as strikes by United Electrical workers at Wabtec in Pennsylvania; BCTGM members at International Flavors and Fragrances in Tennessee; and anywhere else our class is locked in combat. Take action!
Bosses’ stock-in-trade is to try and divide workers every way possible. The UE strikers at Wabtec are fighting to close down divisive two-tier wages. Over 340,000 UPS workers, Teamsters union members, face a July 31 contract deadline, where bosses there try and pit full- and part-time workers against each other. Striking UNITE HERE hotel workers in Los Angeles demand bosses stop using E-Verify to try and divide workers and superexploit those without papers.
Bosses hope rising prices, low wages and daunting schedules will force workers to back off union activity as they try to cope. But building and strengthening the unions is the road to defending living standards and making family life possible.
Many workers on strike today are doing things they’ve never done before. These experiences help us recognize our own self-worth and act on our common interests as a class — a class locked in a never-ending fight against the class that exploits us. Build the unions! Build working-class solidarity! We can win!