Reprinted by the RCP: In The Communist, Vol. 1, No. 2, May 1, 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The strike of the Ford workers is in its third week now. The capitalists are starting to hurt and their faithful lackeys the trade union misleaders are itching for their chance to sell us out and show their loyalty to the monopoly capitalist class. In the next few days, all kinds of schemes and clauses will be thrown out onto the negotiating table in the mad scramble to get us back on the line.
At this time, Communists and all advanced workers must grasp the general character of the strike as well as its particular features in order to lead the auto workers forward. A Chairman Mao teaches us, “in capitalist society, contradictions find expression in acute antagonisms and conflicts in sharp class struggle; they cannot be resolved by the capitalist system itself and can only be resolved by socialist revolution.” Whether one stands for resolving the contradictions between the bourgeoisie and the working class by socialist revolution or through the capitalist system is a basic line of demarcation between genuine communists who fight for the interests of the proletariat versus the sham communists, the trade union misleaders (TUM’s), (lackeys of the monopoly capitalist within the ranks of the workers) as well as opportunists of all shades. EXPOSE THE REVISIONIST AND OPPORTUNIST SELL-OUT SCHEME FOR 30 FOR 40 (32 FOR 40)–FIGHT FOR THE SIX HOUR DAY!
Because of the auto workers’ militant resistance against speed-up and forced overtime, misleaders of all shades have been forced to put forward demands around this issue. Woodcock put forth the bourgeois scheme of 32 for 40–40 hours pay for 32 hours work. The revisionist “C’PUSA echoed this cry with 30 for 40. The October League stumbles around even deeper in the fog with the vaguest slogan for “a shorter work week”.
All these are treacherous slogans because they serve the monopoly capitalists by covering up the criminal nature of the wage labor system. It gives the working class an illusion that what we are getting for “40” is a “fair wage”. Yet we know that during 40 hours of work, we are producing much more than the 40 hours of pay that is given to us. What we should ask for is all the fruits of our labor, including the surplus value that the capitalists have robbed from us. This is what Marx taught us: “Instead of the conservative motto, ’a fair day’s wages for a fair day’s work!’ They ought to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchwords: ’Abolition of the wage system!’
The schemes of these right opportunists are put forward under the cover of “creating jobs”, therefore “serving the needs of the working class.” This only exposes further the bankruptcy of the schemes. Unemployment is inevitable as long as there is capitalism. Even the bourgeoisie admits this. In Fortune magazine, Jack Gould, an economist at the University of Chicago Business School, states that some unemployment helps to make the system efficient. ”To try to run the economy at zero unemployment would be like an automobile dealer trying to run his operation with zero inventory.” he says.
So who are the misleaders trying to fool? No gains for the working class come in the back door–we can fight for full employment only by mobilizing the whole working class to militantly demand no layoffs and to struggle and unite with the struggle of the employed and unemployed against the whole monopoly capitalist class and the state.
On the other hand, the Revolutionary “Communist” Party (RCP) opposes the whole issue as a “shaft”. With their short-sighted outlook of fighting for only what is “immediate and possible” (pragmatism) they liquidate the historic struggle of the working class for a normal working day.
Only the demand for the six hour day represents the genuine stand with the working class. As Comrade Engels wrote, “... capital regards the laborer as nothing else than labor power . . . The capitalist sees only the continuously available surplus-population and wears it out . . . Capital is reckless of the health or length of life of the laborer, unless under compulsion from society . . . Establishment of a normal working day–the result of centuries of struggle between capitalist and laborer.”
The working class has historically fought militantly against unemployment. SUB funds are a good example of concessions wrested away from the bourgeoisie by the struggle of our class. What is the real significance of these concessions? Comrade Lenin, writing about a new factory law, stated, “the significance of the new law lies in the fact that it necessarily and inevitably gives a fresh impetus to the Russian working class movement. We have seen how the law tries wherever possible to leave loopholes for the employers, to leave the most important points vague and indefinite. Everywhere there is bound to be conflict between the employers and the workers over the application of this law; and this conflict will embrace a far larger area, for the law applies to the whole of Russia. The workers will be able to wage the struggle consciously and firmly, to insist on their demands. “So, we cannot stop fighting! These forced concessions means we must push our struggle to an even higher level.
Unemployment is also part and parcel of the exploitation of the capitalist system. Under capitalism, automation and improvements in technology in industries such as auto will not improve the well-being of the workers. Increased mechanization will only displace more workers onto the streets since one man now will be able to perform three men’s jobs. Speedups and overtime are additional methods that the capitalists use to drive workers out of jobs. Furthermore, the capitalists want to keep a pool of permanently unemployed workers in the market to keep down the price of labor.
We must stand firmly in fighting against these attacks; we must fight for NO LAYOFFS, NO SPEED-UPS, NO FORCED OVERTIME in the concrete struggle. But we must understand that these demands cannot be won consistently for the entire working class. So we must fight for them in the context of overthrowing the entire monopoly capitalist system!
The auto monopolies and the UAW misleaders trumpet the fact that auto workers get the best deal: the uncapped COLA, which is supposedly allowing us to keep up with rampant inflation year after year. These are straight-out lies!
COLA was devised by General Motors president, Charles E. Wilson in 1940! To stop the waves of strikes at that time and to restore production, GM offered the COLA formulas. Yet the truth is, even the best COLA only covers for yearly inflation at a rate of 5%.
Inflation is a means used by the capitalists to exploit and rob the working class. The 1973 contract brought the auto workers only a miniscule wage increase of 3% a year, which is far below the constantly rising rate of inflation. The COLA doesn’t come close to making up for the difference! But even the bourgeoisie is forced to admit that real wages have gone down at least since 1973! We must demand one-year contracts and not be fooled by all the fancy COLA formulas that the bourgeoisie use to try to cool us off. We must utilize the strike weapon and fight for straight wage increases every year as our real wage is eaten up by inflation and taxes.
Comrade workers! The situation is truly excellent. In the face of the irresistable upsurge in the working class and all oppressed peoples, the hypocritical shell of bourgeois democracy and all forms of opportunism and collaborationism are being unmasked. The bourgeoisie and all reactionaries are trembling and scrambling in desperation to preserve their rotten and parasitic system of exploitation. There is only one way out. We must grasp tightly our historical mission as the only consistently revolutionary class. We must begin the immediate and all-around preparation for the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The Workers’ Viewpoint Organization is the only organization that has consistently based ourselves on the universal truths of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse tung Thought, and applied it to the concrete conditions of the U.S. revolution. We are the direct product of the irresistable upsurge of the U.S. working class. We represent this irresistable trend based on the overall most correct line in the context of providing leadership to the best elements in the Communist Movement and the working class movement. We are the only organization that can serve as the foundation for the new Party of the Bolshevik type. Only such a Party which bases itself on the correctness of ideological and political line and on the iron discipline that is forged in the thick of class struggle can lead the working class in its fight for the final aim of socialism.