Socialist Workers Party statement

Seize opportunities to strengthen unions!

August 14, 2023

Statement by Chris Hoeppner, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of Philadelphia, Aug. 2.

Recent rallies by Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers unionists on strike against International Flavors and Fragrances in Memphis, Tennessee, and by Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists in Los Angeles show how wide-ranging solidarity can be won to maximize the fighting power of the labor movement. Both actions show the openings to rally broad social forces behind the labor movement.

Alongside members of other BCTGM locals in Memphis, unionists from the United Auto Workers; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees; and Teamsters joined the action,  pledging support for the largely African American striking workers, side-by-side with representatives from the NAACP and the A. Philip Randolph Institute.

In Los Angeles striking actors and writers were joined by members of the United Food and Commercial Workers, Service Employees International Union, and United Teachers. Lyft and Uber drivers fighting for union representation, as well as fast-food workers, brought support. Like at other recent labor mobilizations, both actions were opportunities to get to know fellow fighters, learn from each other and forge stronger bonds based on our common class interests.

A decadeslong retreat by the working class and the unions is over. New opportunities exist to fight for what workers need, not what the bosses and governments say we must accept. These openings are evident in the confidence and combativity workers demonstrate resisting speedup, schedules that wreak havoc on our families, attacks on job safety, falling real wages and the lack of steady employment. While millions cannot get enough work, millions more are forced to hold down two or more jobs just to pay the bills.

The bosses’ relentless drive to profit at workers’ expense has produced a deep-going social and moral crisis. Organizing union solidarity is the foundation for building a stronger labor movement that can begin addressing the needs of all workers, those with or without a job, immigrants and native-born alike. A labor movement that can fight for 30 hours work for 40 hours pay to spread the work available around and prevent layoffs and for cost-of-living adjustments in every contract to combat price hikes.

To undermine union solidarity, the bosses claim that workers demand for higher pay means prices will go up. In fact higher wages mean workers have clawed back more of the fruits of our labor out of their profits.

Join Socialist Workers Party candidates in spreading the word about today’s union battles. Mobilize the solidarity that can help workers win!