Saturday, May 23, 2009
USA: For a Fighting Action Program
We reprint a proposal submitted by the Humanists for Socialist Revolution to be considered and voted on by the Workers Emergency Recovery Campaign WERC at their teach-in held in San Francisco on Saturday May 9. The main organizer behind WERC is Socialist Organizer the US branch of the Lambertists.
The formation of WERC could become a step in the right direction in the massive fight against the biggest attacks on the working class since the Great Depression. Unfortunately, however, WERC’s platform, as currently formulated, has some serious shortcomings. It is a list of generally supportable demands, but along with the demands there are built-in limitations seemingly designed to keep this campaign palatable to capitalist “friends of labor,” such as the Greens and the Progressive Democrats, who have signed on as endorsers of WERC.
The current gaggle of “liberal/progressive” Democratic politicians, as well as the bloated and entrenched labor bureaucracy, have come together to negotiate away our jobs, our social programs, and our benefit packages. In the coming weeks and months, we can expect a further watering down of the Employee Free Choice Act; a total inability to provide a plan for affordable, quality universal health care; layoffs and/or furloughs of thousands of public workers and teachers; school closures; tuition rises and restrictions on student registration at public colleges; and the commensurate ever-increasing expansion of prisons and the military-industrial complex.
To counter the current attacks against the unions and all working people, we need massive united labor actions from coast to coast. Factory occupations, such as the one at Republic Windows and Doors, are necessary to stop massive layoffs and closures of factories and workplaces. Unified strikes of public workers, teachers, and students are the only tactic that can save social programs, education, and the social safety net. But the current labor leadership, entrenched in its love affair with the Democratic Party, is incapable of launching the type of struggle that can win against the current attacks.
WERC’s current platform and program are not adequate as a fight-back strategy. For example, WERC calls for nationalizing the banks and the automobile industry. But reformist social democratic governments have nationalized banks during this crisis and before. They keep the banks and the financial institutions going for the benefit of the bankers and the capitalists, and then they de-nationalize them when it is safe to do so, returning the bank’s assets and operating capital to private hands once the risk of failure has been averted with the aid of public resources. Therefore, in contrast to pro-capitalist nationalization schemes, we must call for the nationalization of banks, financial institutions, and basic industries under workers’ control and without compensation.
Similarly, WERC’s action plan is limited to measures such as writing letters to President Obama begging him to turn against his benefactors. WERC’s program suggests that labor activists conduct a cross-class campaign of educational forums, devoid of any concrete preparation for the type of militant struggles labor must engage in if we are to turn the current class war around. Of course educational forums are needed to supplement the education we get from the bosses’ frontal attacks every day. But what we really need from labor activists are strategies and tactics for turning our unions back into truly democratic fighting organizations that act in the interest of the entire working class, rather than in their own narrow interests or that of the labor aristocracy.
We propose that WERC commit to organizing and publicizing regional, inter-union general meetings to organize and coordinate preparatory committees in every local.
The preparatory committees, in turn, can take the lead in preparing, mobilizing, and motivating workers in their own locals to help lay the necessary groundwork for massive actions. WERC’s role should be to serve as a framework around which workers can construct sustained, ongoing, democratically run coalitions of unions, working class communities, and the unemployed, with the goal of building for broad-based, militant direct actions such as massive strikes and occupations of workplaces, schools and universities. Our brothers and sisters in France have shown that such actions are the natural response of the working class. We should start organizing and follow their example.
We propose that the WERC adopt the following program and method of transitional demands, to be implemented by mobilizing the working class for a massive fightback:
1. Full Employment at prevailing union rates for all who are willing and able to work. To assure full employment, thirty hours of work for forty hours’ pay must be implemented to spread the available work to all and to compensate for the increased rate of production over the last 50 years that has been exploited by capital to sustain high unemployment rates and lower real wages. Passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) will assist workers in forging fighting unions capable of winning full employment. To that end we must mobilize demonstrations demanding the right to organize not be impeded and for passage of the EFCA.
2. Failing industries (both financial and industrial) must be taken over (nationalized) under workers’ control without compensation to provide adequate access to credit and to get the wheels of industry rolling again. For example, the Big Three automakers, as well as the domestic plants of foreign auto manufacturers, should be taken over under workers’ control. Only then can the industry be rationally planned to assure that production is retooled to provide, first and foremost, a public transportation and energy infrastructure that obviates the need for excessive auto production and the commensurate waste of petroleum. The production of non-polluting electric cars, for example, must be planned and coordinated under workers’ control as a step toward staving off the environmental disasters threatened by climate change.
3. Stop Layoffs! When the bosses declare layoffs or attempt to close down a workplace, workers should occupy the factories and the workplaces and establish workers’ control. Follow the example of our Argentinean brothers and sisters, and go even further by establishing a massive network of occupied workplaces as democratically run organs of an incipient planned rational economy.
4. Housing is a right! Stop all foreclosures and evictions. Move the homeless and those in overcrowded housing into housing already vacated due to foreclosures and the falling real estate market. Massive public works projects to build adequate housing for all, and put people to work doing socially necessary construction, must be financed by a banking industry nationalized and coordinated under workers’ control.
5. Quality universal public education at no charge from daycare and pre-school through the graduate level. Working people know that without a good education, our children have no future. To confront the current economic and environmental crisis, everyone’s intellectual potential must be cultivated. Through education we can build a rational economy and divest the world of poverty and drudgery. Education should be under the control of teachers, parents, and students old enough to participate. In that way, we will assure quality education and not the miseducation, overtesting, and ruling class propaganda that currently plague our public schools.
6. Quality free universal health care at no charge from prenatal to the grave is long overdue. Each person must be given access to the benefit of medical science and current treatment options. Insurance companies must have no “place at the table”; the only way to provide health care for all is to divest it of the profit motive. To accomplish democratic health care, all medical institutions must be placed under worker (Doctor, Nurses, Staff) control with community/patient participation.
7. End attacks on undocumented workers! End the ICE raids! Full employment rights for all workers! To end capital flight through working class solidarity across borders, we demand: Same work, same contract, same wages and working conditions! Down with the maquiladoras! Open all the borders. For the right of all workers to cross the borders and seek work and establish their homes without restrictions and arrests. Free all detained undocumented workers!
8. US troops out of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the rest of the world. Down with imperialist oppression. The defeat of imperialism is a victory for workers and the oppressed in the world.
9. We cannot count on Obama and the capitalists to clean up the environment and prevent catastrophic climate change. For them, profit always comes before the environment and the need of the workers. But the time to stop climate change is running out. The working class must combine its struggle against capitalist exploitation, and against the current economic crisis, with environmental consciousness. We must fight for workers’ control of industry in order to transform the current, outmoded technology of industrial production to totally green and sustainable technology.
10. Break with Democrats. No cross-class coalitions with Democrats and pro-capitalist Green Party politicians. For a struggle to replace the union bureaucracies that give our dues to the capitalist Democratic Party. Fight for the independence of the working class! We need to build a workers’ or labor party based on democratically run unions and organizations of the oppressed and the unemployed.
11. For a workers’ government that can and will implement and defend all the above transitional demands. To accomplish these goals, working people need their own government. If we allow the capitalists to control the state via their government, they will continue to attack and ultimately destroy our social gains. To defend our gains, we need workers’ power.
Humanists for Revolutionary Socialism are based in the US and are a Fraternal Group in discussion with the FLT.
You can find information about them on their website here.