First Published: Progressive Labor Vol. 5, No. 2, December 1965
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
Workers’ efforts to organize unions in order to raise wages, shorten hours, and improve working conditions go back to the earliest days of capitalism and the very beginnings of U. S. history.
Throughout history, the bosses have always tried to keep workers divided, unorganized and weak, in order to intensify their exploitation and thereby grab bigger profits. U.S. labor history is one of the most violent in the world.
Thanks to the heroic work of thousands of union organizers and millions of workers, 16 million workers have been organized, despite numerous defeats and setbacks. But three-fourths of the working class remains unorganized.
The capitalist class has never stopped–and will never stop–its efforts to destroy and weaken the trade union movement The capitalists recognize that decisive class battles occur when the organized section of the working class goes into action, and that a powerful, militant trade union movement is a constant threat to profits.
* * *
The basic anti-union practices of the bosses are:
1. Use of their government apparatus–federal, state, country and city; judges, courts, police and troops–to undermine and break unions and strikes by means of violence, injunctions, prosecutions of labor leaders, anti-labor laws (Railway Labor Act, Taft-Hartley Act, Kennedy-Landrum-Griffin Act, Walter-McCarran Act, Smith Act), and so-called “impartial” government agencies to “mediate” and “arbitrate” the class struggle; use of witch-hunting committees such as the House Un-American Activities Committee and Senate McClellan Committee to prosecute many unions, notably the Mine, Mill & Smelter Workers and the Teamsters.
2. Almost universal discrimination against black people and against Puerto Ricans, Mexican-Americans, Indians and other national minorities, the idea being to keep workers weak and divided, fighting each other instead of the boss.
3. Use of schools, books, newspapers, radio, TV and other means of communication to lie about unions and their activities.
4. Intimidation, persecution and exclusion from unions of revolutionary and militant workers by means of anti-communist legislation and propaganda, in order to deprive workers of capable and dedicated leaders and to outlaw the advocacy of socialism.
5. Buying off and controlling the unions through over-paid, corrupt union officials, “labor statesmen” who fear struggle and are advocates of capitalist exploitation and support the policies of the capitalist class at home and abroad. One source of corruption is the multi-million dollar pension and welfare funds invested in stocks, bonds and other capitalist enterprises; union officials become capitalist investment administrators.
6. Using “left” misleaders who talk about socialism only to cover up sell-outs to the bosses, and who make deals that appear to benefit the workers but in reality only serve the employers.
7. Using the expansion of the war industries to try to persuade workers that they can benefit from the arms economy and from U.S. imperialism’s wars. Propaganda pretending that it is “patriotic” and “in the national interest” to fight workers in other countries so Wall Street profits can be preserved. Using wars to clamp on a wage-freeze. Using martial law and armed force in so-called “war emergencies” or “national emergencies” to break strikes and put down uprisings.
* * *
When the American Federation of Labor was founded in 1886, it adopted as the preamble to its constitution these words:
...a struggle is going on in all the nations of the civilized world, between the oppressors and the oppressed of all countries, a struggle between the capitalist and the laborer, which grows in intensity from year to year, and will work disastrous results to the toiling millions if they are not combined for mutual protection and benefit.
Many of the founders of the AFL were socialists. Until well into the 1920’s, it was quite common for AFL leaders to be socialists, and in many areas the unions worked with the Socialist Party and later the Communist Party.
However, throughout its history the AFL was always dominated by reactionary and opportunistic misleaders such as Samuel Gompers and William Green. Imposing a narrow craft-union outlook on the AFL, these reactionaries again and again sabotaged efforts to organize industrial unions. They fought the socialist wing and developed the opportunistic political policy toward the capitalist parties of “rewarding friends and punishing enemies,” which in practice meant–and still means– cooperating with employers instead of fighting them, cooperating with employers against the workers.
Before the CIO days, real gains for the workers were nearly always won by those unions, both inside and outside the AFL, that were led by militant and revolutionary-minded workers such as Eugene V. Debs, William D. (Big Bill) Haywood, and William Z. Foster. Despite many sectarian mistakes, such as dual unionism and syndicalism, it was the numerous struggles for industrial unionism, led by Debs, Haywood, Foster and many other revolutionary leaders, that developed the foundation for the great industrial organizing drive of the 1930’s.
* * *
The CIO (Committee for Industrial Organization) was formed in 1936 in rebellion against the reactionary, bureaucratic AFL leadership. Specifically, it was formed to do one job the old AFL leaders would not and could not do: to organize the mass production industries into industrial unions. The CIO was a great historic advance for the U.S. working class. It followed a militant policy with communists and other left-wingers prominent in leadership; it fought the oppressors. And during the early days of the CIO, the mass production industries were organized in sweeping mass campaigns, bringing gains for the workers never seen before or since.
The fundamental reason the CIO succeeded in organizing the basic industries – steel, auto, electrical, textile, maritime and others – was that it was led by a strong left-center coalition, with militant class struggle policies and tactics.
With the development of U.S. imperialism’s cold war offensive after World War II, Philip Murray, Walter Reuther, James B. Carey and other anti-communist center forces put on the brakes. They split the left-center CIO coalition. Supporting U.S. imperialism’s policies of cold war, they preached class peace “in the national interest,” expelled those CIO unions with militant leadership, and worked with the employers to push socialists and communists out of the leadership and out of the CIO. The result, in plain words, was that the CIO went to hell.
The 11 expelled unions, with more than a million members, were attacked ferociously by the employers and the government. The cold war labor leaders and the Catholic hierarchy cooperated in the union-busting drive, using the weapons of red-baiting and raiding to go with the government’s use of anti-labor laws, especially the Taft-Hartley Act and the Smith Act.
Several union officers went to prison. One union, the Marine Cooks & Stewards, was destroyed. All unions were weakened. Despite intensive efforts by the progressive-led unions, the employer attack was not defeated, and the ruling class succeeded temporarily in lining up most unions for the cold war program. The reactionary offensive succeeded for three basic reasons:
1. Failure by the communists during the growth of the CIO, in which they played an important role, to develop mass socialist and revolutionary consciousness among the rank and file in the labor movement. Reliance on the liberal Roosevelt administrations before and during World War II created mass illusions about the ruling class. Workers were left unprepared ideologically for the postwar employer attack.
2. Reliance by communist and progressive unionists on the center-Murray forces to continue indefinitely the left-center coalition that built the CIO. They failed to explain the limitations of liberalism; they should have understood that a united front (left-center coalition) does not mean ideological surrender for the sake of unity–on the contrary, it requires even more intensive exposure of reformism, so that workers will be prepared to fight against betrayals.
3. Failure of the progressive-led unions to unite in a second federation of labor after their expulsion from the CIO. This should have been done in order to increase as much as possible their ability to defeat the reactionary attacks, not only by means of mutual defense measures, but also by developing a counter-offensive against the capitalist class, by winning new gains for their members and organizing the unorganized. The best defense for defeating the reactionary offensive would have been a united campaign by all the expelled unions to continue the bold, aggressive policy that had built the CIO, the policy Murray and Reuther had abandoned.
With the militant-led unions expelled from the CIO, the AFL-CIO was formed in 1955. The merger of the two large federations was supposed to give the labor movement unparalleled strength in its efforts to organize the unorganized, especially in the South; to fight for shorter hours at no loss in pay; to undertake independent political action; and to end raiding, which was crippling labor.
In all these stated objectives, the new federation failed The truth is that the merger of the AFL and the CIO was a “cold war marriage” engineered by the ruling class and its stooges in labor in order to weaken the labor movement.
After the merger, organizing diminished. The South remains a hell-hole of oppression without significant unionization. The goal of shorter working hours remains a myth in most unions, a slogan to be dragged out hypocritically in pre-negotiations speech-making. The labor movement is more closely tied to the two parties of monopoly than ever before. Raiding occurs everywhere, and the Teamsters and many other unions still stand outside the sanctified structure of the AFL-CIO. Black trade unionists are still alienated from the labor movement and are still treated as inferior people on the job and in the union halls. In fact, the labor movement has lost two million members since the merger!
The basis of the failure of the AFL-CIO has been the class collaboration policies followed by the labor officialdom, particularly their support for U.S. imperialism’s cold war program. This class collaboration has squandered workers’ militancy and created apathy and pessimism among the rank and file.
The percentage of unorganized workers increases each year. Even more militantly-led unions like the Teamsters find themselves fighting defensively much of the time.
But there is also the beginning of a surge of militancy among masses of workers, such as the 1965 East Coast Longshoremen’s strike, in which union leaders were pushed by their membership to demand and win substantial gains. The Workers are beginning to move.
The entire trade union movement in the U.S. is approaching a momentous crisis: Will it continue to degenerate and become a “labor front” completely under the domination of the reactionary and aggressive ruling class, or will it revive its militancy and once again be an effective instrument to advance the conditions and welfare of the U.S. working class?
We are told that U.S. workers enjoy the highest living standard in the world, and that their conditions have improved greatly over the past half-century; hours of work are shorter, working conditions better, and hourly wage rates higher.
This relative improvement in the conditions of the working class, advertised by capitalist economists and propagandists as justifying capitalist exploitation, is more apparent than real, and is fundamentally the result of two factors:
1. U.S. capitalism, enjoying a number of favorable historical and geographical advantages, has emerged over the* past half-century as the strongest imperialist power in the world. Raking in superprofits from colonial exploitation of peoples in Latin America, Asia and Africa, and from the doubly-exploited black people in the U.S., the capitalist class has been able to grant various economic benefits to a section of the white workers.
2. These economic gains by skilled and industrial workers were not granted voluntarily by the capitalist class, however, but were won through bitter class struggles waged principally by the trade union movement.
* * *
Despite relative gains for some workers, the rate of exploitation continues to increase. Each year, a larger share of production goes for profits, a smaller share for wages and other workers’ income.
While U. S. capitalism is still the strongest imperialist power, during the past decade its position has shifted to one of decline, relative both to the developing socialist world and to the still powerful capitalist states of Europe and Japan. Further, the position of U.S. imperialism is being decisively undermined by the anti-imperialist national revolutions developing in Latin America, Asia and Africa, and especially by that of the black people in the U.S.
As crisis deepens for U.S. capitalism at home and abroad, the attack has been intensified on living and working conditions of all U.S. workers in order to sustain the maximum profit drive of the capitalist class. This renewed profit drive at home takes on many forms:
1. Replacement of workers by machines (automation and mechanization).
2. Speed-up, crew-cutting, and mergers of companies to eliminate workers.
3. Expansion of credit and loan buying at increasing interest rates.
4. Development of state capitalism, guaranteeing of profits, and the increase in the interest rate on the constantly-growing national debt.
5. Lengthening of the working day per family. This is done by means of compulsory overtime, and by increasing the cost of living so that workers must take extra jobs (moonlighting), and so that there must be at least two job-holders if a family is to keep the bills paid.
6. Shifting of an increased tax burden from the capitalists to the workers so that more than one-third of wages go for taxes, which end up in the pockets of the capitalist class.
7. Undermining of unions and union standards by cutting wages, hiring scabs, moving plants to unorganized and low-wage areas at home and abroad, and passing anti-labor legislation.
Thus, in this, “the world’s richest nation,” workers and their families face increasing mass unemployment, deteriorating working conditions, widespread insecurity, poverty and debt.
Unemployment has become a way of life for millions of workers, particularly for black workers and oppressed minorities such as Puerto Ricans, Mexican-Americans and Indians, and most especially for young people.
Indicative of the trend in critical unemployment for youth, black and white, are these statistics based on official government figures for the past decade (1953-1963):
Percentage of Youth Unemployment
These figures show that unemployment has more than doubled for white youth and more than tripled for black youth over the past decade. They also show that while black youth unemployment was only slightly higher in 1953 than white youth unemployment, by 1963 it was almost twice as great.
It is also important to note that these figures do not include a significant percentage of young people who are out of school and have stopped looking for jobs because there are no jobs. These young people are not counted by the government as being in the labor force. Therefore, the figures above actually represent a low estimate of the depth of the unemployment crisis confronting U.S. working class youth.
The grinding down of U.S. workers’ conditions takes on additional forms:
1. The decline in actual buying power for the great majority of the workers from 1955 to the present. The increasing exploitation and impoverishment of millions and tens of millions of workers since World War II.
2. The increasing attacks and squeeze on millions of workers on welfare.
3. The deterioration of schools, overcrowding in classrooms, shortage of competent teachers, and inferior scholastic standards in working-class districts, especially the black and Spanish-speaking districts.
4. Widespread slum housing conditions and landlord rent gouging, which force workers to pay 30 to 50 per cent of wages for rent in large cities.
5. The rising costs of hospital, medical and dental care.
6. The increase in industrial accidents and deaths caused by speed-up and crew-cutting.
* * *
Despite the abject surrender of the AFL-CIO officialdom to the anti-labor offensive, and the stepped-up profit drive of the U. S. capitalist class, the working class will not accept mass poverty and deteriorating living and working conditions.
Bitter class battles, involving even skilled workers, have developed, and the outlook is for longer, more bitter and more violent class warfare, such as the coal miners’ struggles throughout Appalachia.
Only the most class-conscious workers, those imbued with a revolutionary perspective of a new society without exploitation, those guided by a sound Marxist-Leninist program, can re-invigorate the labor movement with a new sense of purpose and direction.
To revive trade union militancy, to end the policies of class collaboration, to defeat the anti-labor offensive of Big Business it is necessary to develop again throughout the labor movement the historic perspective of socialism.
Originating in the early pre-monopoly period of capitalism, trade unions are workers’ organizations formed in order to resist exploitation and to struggle for better wages and conditions. The organized workers are generally more class-conscious than the unorganized. Nevertheless, because the unions are both a broad and an elementary form of organization, they reflect not only the advanced but also the backward trends in the working class. Karl Marx wrote in Value, Price & Profit:
Trades Unions work well as centres of resistance against the encroachments of capital. They fail partially from an injudicious use of their power. They fail generally from limiting themselves to a guerrilla war against the effects of the existing system, instead of simultaneously trying to change it, instead of using their organised forces as a lever for the final emancipation of the working class, that is to say, the ultimate abolition of the wages system.
Despite a bloody history of struggle to organize and to improve conditions, reforms have not resulted in a decent, secure life for working people. Every gain is continuously threatened, if only by a plant shut-down or a runaway to another city. As long as the ownership of land and industry is under control of the capitalist class, the economy is run solely for the maximum profit interest of the bosses, and their state power is used to protect their capitalist system.
* * *
In the United States, the labor movement has a militant history, including the important tradition of its revolutionary sector. In the recent past, however, this has been obscured by the temporary domination in the top leadership of reformist and collaborationist leaders and trends.
In our country, the industrial working class, black and white, constitutes the chief potential base for socialist revolution. Therefore, the chief task of revolutionaries in the trade union movement is to lead the struggle to insure that the unions not only truly reflect the present class struggles of the workers, but also become an instrument and weapon in the hands of the working class for its future; a school of preparation for the revolutionary abolition of exploitation altogether.
Achievement of this historic goal is dependent both on development of objective economic and political conditions and on the work of revolutionaries, guided by Marxism-Leninism and a clear and correct strategic and tactical program.
The main tasks of such a program are these:
1. To expand the organized class struggle against the main enemy: finance capital, the big corporations, U. S. imperialism. To unite, strengthen and expand the organizations of the workers.
2. To destroy the capitalists’ control of the trade union movement by defeating the ruling class’ political line, destroying their ideological control, thus isolating and defeating also their “partners,” the corrupt, capitalist-minded union officials, and to bring into leadership new workers from the rank and file–militant, dedicated and revolutionary.
3. To win immediate gains under capitalism, but above all to develop the political, class and socialist consciousness of workers, and thereby build a mass socialist base and a new revolutionary leadership, which is an indispensable condition for victory of the working class.
4. As the consistent enemy of capitalism to unite and give leadership to all the masses against exploitation, against imperialist aggression, and against fascist reaction. To support the Black Liberation Movement, various demands and movements of working farmers, middle class groups, national groups, to work out special approaches to the problems and struggle of youth, students, and women, and to build the nationwide and worldwide united front against imperialist war and fascist reaction. To promote international solidarity.
* * *
A revolutionary program must advance immediate goals as well as long-range goals. In advancing such a program, revolutionary and militant workers must avoid the fundamental error of the old Communist Party, which separates the long-range struggle for socialism from the immediate struggle for reforms.
When revolutionary and militant workers isolate themselves from the immediate struggles of the workers out of fear that reforms only create illusions, they commit a serious sectarian error.
They fail to recognize that illusions about the capitalist system are destroyed primarily through actual experiences in organized class struggles. As a result of such self isolation, revolutionaries fail to become an integral part of the workers’ struggles, and fail to identify themselves with the immediate interests of the working class. They also fail to help build the organizations of workers and fail to learn the necessary tactics through actual battles to defeat the capitalist class enemy.
They fail to raise the political, class and socialist consciousness of workers by learning correct lessons from the work of new, real revolutionary leaders. Thus, they become arm-chair generals who fear to lead troops in actual battles against the enemy, and as a result there are no troops who follow their leadership.
* * *
On the other hand, when revolutionary and militant workers participate in immediate struggles for reforms, but either conceal or set aside their Socialist aims and principles, they commit a serious opportunist error.
Either out of fear that their socialist views will isolate them, or that their revolutionary position will give a “kiss of death” to the immediate struggle, or out of a misconception that “socialism is not on the order of the day,” they reduce their activities to those of other reformists and thereby forget the very purpose of being revolutionaries.
Seeing the immediate struggle as everything, they fail to raise the political, class and socialist understanding of workers. They fail to expose the relationship of the labor bureaucrats to the ruling class; instead, they tail after the bureaucrats so as to avoid being “too left.”
They fail to expose the nature of the capitalist state and the reformist nature of simple trade unionism. They fear to fight for the truth, and, as a result, they eventually abandon all fundamental Marxist-Leninist principles, Thus, out of fear of isolation, they abandon struggle entirely–and thereby become isolated.
* * *
Revolutionary and militant workers must learn to apply skillfully the Marxist-Leninist principle of “developing the socialist and political class consciousness of workers through the spontaneous strivings of the labor movement” (Lenin) and “of taking care of the future through the present” (Marx and Engels).
There are no mechanical formulas for applying this tactical principle. Each industry, shop and union must be carefully studied to understand its specific features in order to know how best to advance the revolutionary program. However, there are several tactical objectives that should guide revolutionary work in the trade union movement in the period ahead.
Revolutionary and militant workers must be guided by the slogan, An injury to one is an injury to all. We must advance labor solidarity in all battles against the capitalist class enemy, vigorously combat discrimination, scabbing, and all practices that cause disunity.
However, unity merely in form, such as the AFL-CIO merger, is no guarantee of progress. Unity, if it is to have any meaning at all, has to be built around a consistent fight for program. Otherwise, what emerges in practice is disunity, or what is worse, the unity of the labor officialdom with the bosses.
Unity of workers on a class struggle program must begin “down below,” that is, with the unity of workers in a department, a shop, a plant, or an industry. Local rank and file committees and caucuses, on a class struggle program, can develop ultimately, through cooperation and coordination, into a national movement to throw out the corrupt Meany-Reuther officialdom.
To achieve the maximum possible labor unity, many groups besides union members must be involved, particularly the Black Liberation Movement, other oppressed national minorities, the unemployed, agricultural workers–all those who are exploited by capitalism.
* * *
One powerful and effective form of labor unity is the policy of joint negotiations by unions in the same industry, on the basis that no union will settle until all have satisfactory settlements, and that if one union has to strike, all will strike together and go back together. Many such alliances exist already, notably those between the Teamsters and other unions, including the ILWU Warehousemen, Retail Clerks, Upholsterers, Laborers, Operating Engineers, Carpenters, and Mine, Mill & Smelter Workers.
An even more powerful form of labor unity is industrial unionism, in which all the workers in one industry belong to a single union. Craft unions, dividing the workers, competing with each other for jobs, bidding against each other to give employers the cheapest deal, often scabbing on each other – such narrow unions cannot do the job that workers want done.
Revolutionary and progressive workers must also build toward independent political action by organized labor and the working class.
For the most part, labor seeks political expression through the Democratic Party, and relies on northern and western liberals to realize its program. This reliance on capitalist liberals is one reason for labor’s political impotence.
The political and class consciousness of workers can be increased only by exposing the capitalist control of the two-party system, and by developing the understanding through specific political exposures that the government, regardless of which party is in temporary control, is actually the political general staff of the ruling class.
* * *
The primary way to advance working class political consciousness is not to rely on highly-paid professional lobbyists, or to wait passively for elections to determine which “lesser evil” capitalist politician labor should vote for. The main tactic in political work must be the development of direct mass political action by the workers, leading to establishment of independent political action committees in the shops and communities.
Workers’ understanding must be developed so that they fight the bosses politically as well as economically; so that they learn that the strike is not only a powerful economic weapon but also a potent political weapon. To realize the full potential of independent political action, the working class must build alliances with the Black Liberation Movement, small farmers, and peace and civil liberties movements. Such alliances can lay the foundation for a new people’s political party, which can break the two-party capitalist political monopoly and produce significant gains for working people.
Of course, it is necessary to emphasize that such a new people’s party, while it would be a historic political advance, could not end capitalist oppression. For as long as capitalism exists, there will be capitalist oppression. Such a people’s party cannot be regarded as a substitute for a working class revolutionary party. Only the Marxist-Leninist party can lead the fight of the workers and their allies to do away with capitalism and establish socialism However, a people’s party can participate in the struggle for socialism and can perform a useful function^ under socialism, as experience has shown in several socialist countries, especially China.
Tactical concepts advanced by the labor officialdom and some old social democrat and revisionist groups, such as concentrating most political work within the Democratic Party, follow from policy that is wrong in principle. This policy is one of identifying enemies as friends and trailing after bourgeois leadership, which is the essence of class collaboration in politics and has the effect of trapping the working class into continuous political support for the ruling class. On the excuse of “working at the political level of the masses,” the two-party monopoly is not challenged and no independent alternatives are developed.
The task of revolutionaries is not merely to know the political level of the masses; it is also to raise that level. Where unions and unionists are politically active in one or both capitalist parties, revolutionaries must work to raise class political demands so as to expose bourgeois politicians and policy, developing an independent class line and furthering growth of a third party movement. This can be done by means of independent political action campaigns, independent labor and socialist candidates, exposure of the two-party system and the state apparatus of the ruling class, and the many-sided fight to build an anti-imperialist and antifascist political coalition of the people directed against Big Business.
Most U.S. workers have been misled on the issue of socialism. Many believe the capitalist class propaganda that the lands of socialism are oppressive and that socialism is imposed on the people without their consent Many believe that socialism is a threat to their freedom and that U.S. revolutionaries are foreign agents.
Red-baiting and anti-communist propaganda have become principal instruments of the employers and phony labor leaders. Anti-communism cannot be combatted successfully unless the mass of U.S. workers understand the truth about socialism and the real aims of U.S. revolutionaries.
* * *
The surrender and failure of old socialist groups and the C.P. to explain the perspective of socialism openly and boldly has greatly assisted the ruling class in undermining, weakening and destroying militancy in the trade union movement.
A genuine revolutionary party, as Marx and Engels pointed out over a century ago, disdains to conceal its aims, and openly advocates the necessity for a socialist revolution in the U. S. Constitutional rights are best defended by exercising them It is necessary for revolutionaries to use every opportunity to develop workers’ understanding that real economic security, freedom and peace can be achieved only by a revolutionary transformation of capitalist society into socialism.
Mass circulation of revolutionary newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, leaflets and books; development of study circles, discussion groups and forums on socialism; active defense of the rights of all revolutionaries persecuted by the government, employers and their stooges–such frank, open, bold activities for socialist goals can revive militancy in the unions.
Of course, this brings violent opposition from the capitalists and their government, particularly from the police, and from their stooge labor leaders.
Lenin wrote in “Left-Wing Communism”:
You must be capable of every sacrifice, of overcoming the greatest obstacles in order to carry on agitation and propaganda systematically, perseveringly, persistently and patiently, precisely in those institutions, societies and associations–even the most reactionary–in which proletarian or semi-proletarian masses are to be found.
Success in this work of developing socialist consciousness among the masses can make unions more powerful instruments to win immediate gains, and the struggles of the workers in their unions will provide experience and schooling for the inevitable and ever-nearer fight to abolish capitalism and establish socialism.
Socialist revolution cannot be achieved in this country without the leadership of a disciplined revolutionary party that has firm roots in the working class and the ability to use the science of Marxism-Leninism to defeat the capitalists. This party can be built only in the course of mass struggle, and it must be developed and strengthened consciously.
Capitalism must be defeated ideologically, politically and economically. To do this, the working class needs a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist party that can function under all conditions and lead the struggle against the capitalists all the way to victory.
Every week, on the average, at least 50,000 jobs vanish in the U.S. as new machines replace workers. While some displaced workers manage to get other jobs as new capital builds new plants, mechanization does increase the army of permanent unemployed. Every big corporation has a research department inventing new machines. The U.S. government spends $13.8 billion a year on research and development, more of it to invent more machines to create more unemployment. Capitalist politicians make pretty speeches about “war on poverty,” then pass new laws to spend more of the workers’ taxes for more machines to take away more jobs.
That is the way capitalism operates, the only way it can operate. For the capitalists run things for their own profit. They don’t have to pay wages to machines, and the workers not replaced by machines have to produce more than ever.
This swindle isn’t going to last forever, of course. The working people of the U.S. will take over the factories, banks, mines, ships and all other means of production. The working people will establish their own government, a socialist government.
Our socialist government will use new machines not to produce unemployment but to produce more goods in less working time at higher wages and lower prices. The labor power set free by mechanization and automation will be used for more science, research, education, health measures and other social services, and to promote wider participation in cultural life and recreation. Thus, under socialism the workers will get all the benefits of new machines.
So our main job is to kick out the capitalists and establish socialism.
But that doesn’t mean we can just sit around and wait for socialism. We have to fight back now against what the capitalists try to do to us. A working class and a people that does not fight for its material needs, and for its dignity, will never get to socialism, and is in danger of being reduced to fascist slavery. We can fight back, successfully. We can’t make capitalism work tike socialism, but we can limit some of the capitalist thievery. And in fighting back, we are organizing for the most important fight of all: we are preparing to dump capitalism and establish socialism.
* * *
Two great changes have occurred in U. S. industry since World War II: the transformation of the entire economy into an instrument for war, and the large-scale introduction of new machines. The most revolutionary kind of mechanization is the application of automatic controls to create automation: an elaborate system of machines all operated as one unit, with a few operators and maintenance men replacing hundreds of production workers.
It is not only production workers who are affected. Some of the most advanced forms of automation take the place of bookkeepers, bank clerks and other white collar workers.
Only the biggest corporations can afford the huge costs of installing automation, so only the biggest corporations get the profits of automation. The big ones defeat and smash and swallow up smaller rivals; the big ones pile up big masses of capital to grab markets in colonial and semi-colonial countries and in weaker capitalist countries. This grabbing has produced a long series of small wars in the last 20 years–and it is also helping to produce the rise of revolts in which colonial countries are throwing out the imperialists.
* * *
For the workers, mechanization and automation mean insecurity, and often disaster. Traditional skilled and semi-skilled trades become useless in many cases. Workers are removed farther and farther from the commodities they produce; they have less and less reason to take pride in their work.
In those factories made obsolete by new machines, employers intensify speed-up in an effort to compete. If they can, they cut wages and lengthen hours. Eventually, such factories modernize or have to be closed down.
The big corporations hammer down the prices they pay for the products of middle and small industry, and for raw materials. This hits particularly at colonial or semi-colonial countries, and most particularly at the non-industrial countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
At home, the big corporations hammer down the prices they pay for agricultural products, which intensifies the super-exploitation of farm labor, especially black workers.
The clean modern factory, operated by a small force of technical workers, is presented as a model of modern, civilized production, with peaceful labor-employer relations, a lovely picture of the “partnership of labor and capital.”
But such a plant brings in its huge profits only because somewhere else there are workers who are sweated and speeded and driven, and have to be held down. That is the fundamental reason why cops are used at home, and why U.S. imperialism has troops in more than 60 other countries.
* * *
Labor-saving machines are not objectionable in themselves, for in the long run they produce more goods for people to enjoy. What is objectionable is the way in which capitalism introduces new machines, their use to increase profits at the workers’ expense, to bring on unemployment and depression and hunger.
Craft-by-craft, union-by-union efforts to cope with mechanization have benefited a few workers, but only a few, and have sometimes delayed mass firings for a time, but only for a time. Nothing can be accomplished by tricky deals with employers, such as the Mechanization & Modernization agreements signed by the International Longshoremen’s & Warehousemen’s Union (ILWU) for West Coast longshoremen. That agreement gave up precious working conditions; it allows employers full latitude to introduce new machines and methods in return for a kitty of $5 million a year, to be divided up by old-timers going on pension, newer men being barred from participation, even in the future. What longshoremen get out of it compares with employers’ profit increases as pennies compare with dollars.
Some union leaders, trying to control new processes and new machines, have resorted to raiding instead of working with other unions to deal effectively with the problem. Other union officials have become so degenerate as to make speeches welcoming mechanization that wipes out their members’ jobs.
The principal way to deal effectively and correctly with the problem is to fight to shorten working hours with no cut in daily or weekly pay. Labor has done it before, and must do it again. In the last century, fierce economic and political struggles cut the work-day to 12 hours, then to ten, then to eight; in this century, only 30 years ago, new struggles cut the work-week from six days to five.
The great necessity is a giant nationwide movement of millions of workers, combining job action and contract struggles for a set of economic and legislative demands capable of uniting employed and unemployed, black and white, old and young, men and women, skilled and unskilled. Such a movement must ask the support of working people abroad, who are themselves fighting exploitation by U.S. imperialism and who need our help as we need theirs. We are fighting the same enemy; we must work together; we must help each other.
It will not be easy. In past struggles for shorter hours, hundreds of workers were murdered by state and federal troops, police and employer gunmen. The capitalists of today and their government will do everything they can do to preserve their profits and their privileges.
There are new factors in today’s fight for shorter hours. Employers use the fear of layoffs to drive workers ^o get all they can, right now. Many workers put in long overtime hours, and others hold down two jobs–“moonlighting.”
Hence, if the fight for shorter hours is to achieve its goal of cutting unemployment, there must also be a movement to outlaw moonlighting and unnecessary overtime.
Under present conditions, to hold two jobs, or to work unnecessary overtime, while other workers are jobless, is nothing but a disguised form of scabbing. Workers and their unions must take up this challenge. An injury to one is an injury to all.
The average job requires more skill today than in the past. So, along with shorter hours must come greater opportunities for education: paid job training for workers of all ages, and paid work-and-study combinations, especially for young workers and for minority workers denied proper education by discrimination.
We must fight, too, for union contract provisions that there shall be no change in methods of operation except by agreement between union and employer, meaning that there shall be no change unless the jobs and conditions of the workers are maintained or improved. Where there is no such contract provision (and often where there is), workers must fight to establish the rule by job action. Workers must have a say on how fast they work, and must collectively resist the employers’ constant efforts to intensify speed-up.
Unemployment, economic insecurity and crisis have always been features of the capitalist system. In the current era of the decline of world capitalism, the rise of world socialism, and the anti-imperialist national liberation revolutions, the capitalist class is impelled to intensify the exploitation of the working class. According to government figures, 77 million people in the U.S. “are living in conditions of deprivation and degradation.”
With bold leadership and initiative, tens of thousands of workers–indeed, millions of workers– can be won to organized struggle for one or more of these demands:
1. Shorter hours with no reduction in pay: four-day week with five days’ pay, or six-hour day with eight hours’ pay. No overtime work except in a real emergency, with workers guarding against employer attempts to stretch the meaning of the word emergency; extra work must go to the unemployed. Guarantee workers an adequate number of regular hours’ work in each year so there will be no need for overtime.
2. Federal and state minimum wages of $2.50 an hour, $100 a week.
3. Pensions at 60 for all workers at the federal minimum wage.
4. Longer vacations.
5. Unemployment insurance for all workers as long as they are out of work, including young people looking for their first jobs, at the federal minimum wage. Extend disability insurance, which exists in only four states, to the whole country at the federal minimum wage.
6. Financial aid to make possible full education for all working class young people; paid work and study combinations and paid job training for both young and older workers. Housing and family allowances for young families and for large families. Unions to develop recreation and sports, cultural activities, entertainment and hobbies with special attention to young workers.
7. No changes in methods of operation or production, such as mechanization or automation, without approval by the workers. No closing down of any worker’s job until he is provided with one that is equal or better.
8. Fight to establish union hiring halls, with employers required to call the halls to fill all jobs so they cannot discriminate against any worker. Rotary hiring, workers to be dispatched in the order in which they were registered. Provide a system of registration for young people, unemployed and members of national minorities so that the union hiring hall does not degenerate into a mere job trust. Unions to cooperate with each other to give jobs to strikers on condition that strike duties are performed by such strikers. Abolish private employment agencies.
9. Open closed plants and put them into operation.
10. Organize the unorganized.
11. Organize the unemployed into a union of their own, affiliated with organized labor but having autonomous rights to run their own affairs.
12. No taxation on incomes under $6000 a year; shift tax burden to rich, hitting corporation profits. Abolish all sales taxes.
13. Distribution of surplus food to all the hungry.
14. Public works, using the huge sums now wasted on war: schools, hospitals, low-rent and low-price housing, and dams for power, flood control and irrigation. Full union wages on all public projects of every kind, and no discrimination in employment.
15. Expand trade on a mutually beneficial basis with the socialist world. End bans on trade with China and Cuba.
16. Price control, rent control, and credit control.
17. Free medical and dental care for all.
18. Full wages for physically handicapped persons.
For generations, the labor movement has talked about organizing the South, but little has been done.
In Mississippi, for example, only 10 per cent of non-agricultural workers are organized, and black farm workers are only beginning to be organized into the Mississippi Freedom Labor Union. Southern wages are well below those in the rest of the country, and black workers are at the bottom in every way, North as well as South; their wages are lowest, they do the dirty work and are barred from most skilled jobs, and they suffer far more unemployment than white workers do.
Besides their “regular” profits, capitalists make an extra profit, a super-profit, of at least $16 billion a year from the North-South wage differential and the black-white wage differential. The imperialist ruling class has used, is using, and will use murder, legal frameups, and the armed forces to try to preserve that super-profit. Where black and white people are murdered just for trying to establish the right to vote, it will take more than picket lines and strikes to organize labor unions.
The failure of the present mis-leaders of labor to organize the South, to end jim crow practices, or to give vigorous support to the Black Liberation Movement, has deepened divisions between black and white workers and between the labor movement and the Black Liberation Movement.
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Black workers are ready, willing and able to support and build the labor movement. But the bosses spend hundreds of millions of dollars to foster the myth of white supremacy. Divisions between black and white workers undermine the unions and are immensely profitable to employers.
Because most white workers do not understand, fully or at all, the necessity of ending jim crow practices, black workers are building and maintaining organizations of their own to fight for their special needs, such as the Mississippi Freedom Labor Union. These organizations, rather than fostering divisions, are in fact necessary to overcome division. For discrimination will not be destroyed automatically, nor will segregation and all the other forms of special oppression; it will take struggle to destroy them, long and difficult struggle; and that struggle can be conducted only by workers who are organized Only the black workers can lead the battle for full emancipation, and they have to be organized in order to do it.
The key task of organizing the South can never be accomplished by ordinary trade union methods. It can be done only in full alliance with the Black Liberation Movement To organize the South, the entire system of jim crow capitalist oppression must be challenged: police, sheriffs, FBI, courts, legislatures, mayors, governors, and–most especially– the ruling Democratic Party, in Washington as well as in the South.
A successful southern organizing drive means winning the white southern workers to support, in their own self-interest, the fight to end all jim crow practices in the unions, on the job, and in the community.
These are important parts of a correct program:
1. Organize Black Workers’ Councils and caucuses, North and South, East and West, to secure equality in the trade unions and to advance the fight for freedom.
2. Organize Black Self-Defense Committees to resist employer and government violence.
3. Organize the South with black and white unionists sharing leadership.
4. Clean out all forms of discrimination within the unions.
5. Preferential hiring and skilled job training for Puerto Rican, Mexican, Indian and black workers to make up, in part, for decades or centuries of discrimination.
6. Organize agricultural workers, sharecroppers, tenant farmers and poor farmers. Support the Mississippi Freedom Labor Union and other similar unions in the South.
7. Stiff jail sentences for company officials, landlords, real estate agents, government officials, and union leaders guilty of discrimination.
8. Prison for police guilty of brutality.
9. Advancement of black workers and representatives of other oppressed minorities at all levels of union leadership.
Under capitalism, women are paid lower wages than men, even when they do the same work, and generally even when they do more highly-skilled work. Women are barred from many jobs. And most union contracts allow and sanctify this discrimination, agreeing to sex differentials of 20 cents to $1 an hour, which increases employer profits enormously.
Only in the Soviet Union, China and the other socialist countries has an enforceable policy been written into law requiring equal status of women with men in every field of political, economic, social and cultural life. One of the most notable events of recent years is the emancipation of more than 300 million Chinese women, almost one-quarter of all the women on earth, who were formerly held in the most humiliating and degrading subjection.
Also notable is the rise of women’s movements in Africa and Latin America, the participation of women in the successful Cuban revolution, and the heroic liberation struggle of the women of north and south Vietnam: this is the era of the emancipation of women.
There are as many women in the U.S. as there are men. But of the nearly 70 million workers with jobs, men outnumber women 2 to 1. Government unemployment statistics, notoriously inaccurate, are most inaccurate about women; they acknowledge unemployment of only 1 and a half million women, whereas the real figure is several times larger. The statistics do not include the many millions of women who have never had jobs, or those who have been out of work so long that they are “no longer in the labor market,” as the U.S. Department of Labor puts it Of the women workers who have jobs, 2 and a half million still work for 75 cents an hour or less.
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Black women, and those of other minority groups, suffer double exploitation and discrimination, being paid even less than white women and being pushed usually into the drudgery jobs. The double discrimination extends to the government statistics, which acknowledge only 307,000 “colored” (non-white) women unemployed out of at least 10 million.
Of all women workers, nearly 3 million are counted by the Census as “non-white.” Most of these are black. About 40 per cent of black women work on paid jobs. The lower wages paid to black men mean that relatively more black wives and mothers must go out to work in an effort to meet living costs for the family.
But the policy of double discrimination means that these women find it doubly hard to get any well-paid jobs. The largest number of black women workers are still in private household jobs, although recently there has been the beginning of some growth in employment in other services and in clerical and factory jobs. Industrial and professional jobs, and job training, should be made available so that no woman and no family–black or white–must depend on domestic drudgery for a living. Housework should be provided on a community, neighborhood or co-operative basis, not by exploiting individual domestic workers.
After years of struggle by working women and some unions, Congress passed, on June 10, 1963, an “equal pay” law “...for the purpose of correcting the existence...of wage differentials based on sex.” But this “equal pay” law does not protect the women in the lowest-paid industries where the majority of workers are often black, Filipino, Indian, Mexican-American or Puerto Rican.
In most states, women who lose work to have babies get no unemployment insurance or disability insurance.
The present labor leadership does little about any of this, and rarely even talks about it. Discrimination against women is taken for granted. Many unions sign contracts giving men bigger wage raises than women get, increasing the discrimination. Few unions have women officers, even those with large numbers of women members. Because of neglect of their grievances by most union officials, many women workers are apathetic toward unions, or even antagonistic.
Men workers have a special responsibility on this whole issue: to understand that there IS an issue, and to do something about it; to get rid of an idea that is worth millions of dollars to employers. Men workers must learn again the truth of the historic labor slogan: An injury to one is an injury to all!
Men as well as women must fight for at least these demands:
1. Equal pay for equal work. End all forms of discrimination against women. Women, like men, must have the right to all jobs. Union contracts should provide for seniority in promotions, and should abolish the distinctions between “men’s jobs” and “women’s jobs.”
2. Elect women workers to union leadership, including international executive boards and union presidencies.
3. Preferential hiring and skilled job training for women, especially those of the minority groups, to make up, in part, for effects of past discrimination.
4. Fight commercial exploitation of sex; oppose age requirements based on such exploitation.
5. Unemployment insurance or disability insurance at full union scale for all work lost by women because of motherhood. Contract provisions giving women time off to have their babies, to stop the common employer practice of firing women who become pregnant. Employers to furnish child care in the form of nurseries, etc. Mothers to have time off with pay at certain times each working day to visit their children at the nursery.
6. Amendment of state and federal Fair Employment Practices (FEPC) laws to forbid discrimination because of sex.
Agriculture, almost completely unorganized in all states except Hawaii, is the largest unorganized industry in the country. The 3,581,000 farm workers constitute one of the most exploited groups; on the average, they get only 137 working days a year, wages of 85 cents an hour, and an annual income of $1164. Farm workers are denied the legal right to bargain collectively; in most states, they are denied unemployment insurance, disability insurance and compulsory workmen’s compensation. They do not have the protection of the wage-hour laws or child labor laws.
The small “family farm” is disappearing rapidly, and agriculture has become part of Big Business. The average investment per farm in the U.S. is $24,000. In California, the average investment is $82,000 per farm, but 6 per cent of the farmers own 76 per cent of the land. One corporation, the Kern County Land Co., owns 2800 square miles. Among the biggest “farmers” in California are the Bank of America, biggest bank in the world, and the Southern Pacific Railroad, longest railroad in the world. At one “milk factory” in California, 1800 cows are milked in 22 hours, and the highly-mechanized plant is cleaned and sterilized during the other two hours of the day. It takes 2500 acres of land to grow the 135 tons of feed the cows eat each day in this one plant.
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Organization of agricultural workers in the South is necessary if the Black Liberation Movement is to achieve its goals, for the most oppressed workers in the South are the black farm workers. Much of southern industry consists of plants processing agricultural products such as cotton, peanuts and sugar cane. Any effective organizing drive in the South must include agriculture.
In 49 of the 50 states, a few cannery and packing shed workers are organized in a few areas, but field workers are almost completely unorganized. Only in the state of Hawaii has anything substantial been done. There, the International Longshoremen’s & Warehousemen’s Union has 95 per cent of the agricultural workers, field workers as well as plant workers in a single state-wide union local with state-wide contracts covering the major industries, sugar and pineapple. The union has won long, tough strikes and has brought great gains, including pensions and medical care, since the agricultural workers were first organized in 1944. But with all this, the sober fact is that the average union wage in Hawaiian agriculture is still only a little more than $2 an hour, and the lowest wages are less than $2 an hour. The sugar industry of Hawaii competes with the unorganized, low-wage sugar industries elsewhere: beet sugar in California and Colorado; cane sugar in Louisiana and Puerto Rico. It will take union organization in many states to bring wages and conditions up from their present levels.
A minimum program for organizing agricultural workers must include:
1. Industrial unionism–all workers in one union so they can act together. Full support from all unions outside the industry, particularly the transportation unions, to see that any strikes are effective.
2. End all forms of discrimination, particularly the practice of barring members of national minorities from steady jobs and skilled jobs. Equal pay for equal work.
3. Union hiring halls, with employers required to call the halls for all new hires. Rotary hiring: men and women out of work the longest to be dispatched first
4. Immediate minimum wage of $2.50 an hour. Time and a half for overtime.
5. Outlaw child labor; demand special federal subsidies to provide schools for children of agricultural workers. Child care to be provided by employers.
6. Full legal rights, including the right to bargain collectively, disability and unemployment insurance, workmen’s compensation, and coverage by federal and state wage-hour laws.
7. Union steward system in the fields and plants to enforce union conditions.
8. Jail sheriffs, police and other public officials interfering in any way with union organization.
9. Adequate housing and living conditions for farm workers and their families. Open up the closed labor camps run by growers.
10. Full protection for foreign workers to stop the employer practice of making domestic workers and foreign workers compete against each other; agricultural workers to be brought in from other countries only with full union conditions prevailing. End the exploitative “bracero” programs.
U.S. imperialism has become the chief enemy of mankind. Almost every federal government bureau participates in war and the plans for new wars. War against the socialist countries. War against other imperialist countries. And most immediately, war against colonial countries: those already liberated, like Cuba; those fighting for liberation, like Vietnam, the Congo, the Dominican Republic; and others throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The only way to fight for peace is to oppose the makers of war, the imperialists.
The labor movement must demand abolition of atom bombs, and must push for other measures to prevent U.S. imperialism from making war. But especially the labor movement must give support to the vast colonial liberation movement, which is tearing imperialism to pieces.
U.S. imperialism, controlling dozens of colonial and semi-colonial countries, forcibly prevents them from building up their own industries. Wages are kept low; workers with steady jobs usually get less in a year than the average U.S. worker gets in a month. Unemployment is always high.
Thus, the workers of these countries simply do not have money to buy goods. That is one reason why U.S. trade is small with colonial and semi-why U.S. export is small to Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuela, Guatemala, Brazil, Greece, south Korea, south Vietnam–the list is a long one.
Only when these countries win freedom from domination by U.S. imperialism or any other imperialism–real freedom, complete political and economic independence–only then will they be able to keep their capital at home, build up their industries, raise wages, create a market, and raise their standard of living.
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It is the duty of U.S. workers and their unions to support every move for colonial freedom. Colonial workers are fighting the same corporations we are always fighting–Standard Oil, General Motors, U.S. Steel, and all the rest of the financial pirates.
These corporations close down plants in the U. S. and build new plants abroad, in order to run away from U.S. wage scales, in order to get the profitable advantage of low wages abroad. We can stop this racket only by cooperating with workers in other countries to help them raise their wages, particularly by helping them to win freedom from U.S. domination.
Imperialism is enormously profitable. Profits of 20 to 30 per cent a year are common; many corporations make 60 or 70 per cent; a few make 100 per cent and more.
The super-profits of imperialism are so great that the corporations can split their loot many ways and still have plenty left. Some of the superprofits are always used in every imperialist country to bribe a few workers, especially those with special skills. These bribed sections of the working class are the social base for corrupt labor fakers; that is why trade union movements in imperialist countries like the U.S., England and France have always been cursed with such phonies as George Meany, Walter Reuther, David J. McDonald and David Dubinsky. Invariably these fakers advocate capitalism and imperialism; invariably they work with the imperialist employers to preserve the colonial racket. The AFL-CIO spends hundreds of thousands of dollars every year trying to defeat and smash unions in colonial countries.
Many Canadian unions are part of U. S. unions and are controlled directly by U. S. union officials who assist U. S. imperialism in dominating Canada. The ugly and dirty business of one union raiding another has been spread to Canada by more than one U. S. union, notably by the Steelworkers under McDonald and I.W. Abel, and by the Seafarers under Paul Hall; the latter worked with shipowners to destroy the Canadian Seamen’s Union.
The Meany-Reuther fakers victimize U.S. workers, too, of course. They sell out in contract negotiations; they refuse to organize the unorganized; they refuse to fight for shorter hours. They maintain lily-white unions except where workers force changes. They do nothing about the murders in Mississippi except to endorse the employer-politicians who work with the Dixiecrats.
So U.S. workers have a double interest in helping colonial liberation movements. For when colonial peoples win their freedom, imperialism is weakened, and imperialism’s stooges in the U. S. labor movement can be defeated and dumped.
Truly, the workers of the colonial countries are our union brothers and sisters. We can never win our freedom unless our fellow workers in the colonial countries win their freedom, too.
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U.S. imperialism restricts trade with all socialist countries and forbids it altogether with China and Cuba. There was a time when China was the third best customer in U. S. foreign trade; wheat and lumber were shipped in great quantities, mostly through Pacific Coast ports; in 1929, for example, Portland, Oregon, shipped more than 120 million pounds of flour to China and more than 48 million pounds of wheat. Today, the socialist economies of China and Cuba provide their people with purchasing power far greater than when they were controlled by the imperialists. These markets could provide tens of thousands of jobs for U.S. workers if trade restrictions were ended.
These things the trade union movement must fight for:
1. End U.S. aggression in Vietnam, the Congo and the Dominican Republic. Withdraw all troops now. Stop the bombing of northern Vietnam now!
2. End U.S. attempts to subvert Cuba’s socialist revolution. Trade with Cuba.
3. End U. S. occupation of south Korea, Taiwan, Guantanamo, the Panama Canal Zone and more than 60 other countries. Withdraw all troops from all foreign bases.
4. End the draft
5. Immediate independence for Puerto Rico. Stop interference in other Latin American countries, and all other countries.
6. End U.S. domination of the United Nations, which has been used as an instrument of imperialist aggression in Korea, Cyprus, the Congo and elsewhere. Restore the rights of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations; kick out the Chiang Kai-shek stooges for U.S. imperialism. Trade with China. Organize a mass campaign to force diplomatic recognition of China by the U.S. government.
7. End U.S. support for fascist governments. End financial aid to Franco Spain and apartheid South Africa. End re-militarization and re-nazification of West Germany.
8. Freedom to travel to all socialist countries; organize trade union and cultural exchange and friendship.
9. International trade union solidarity and support for all colonial peoples struggling for independence. Expose and oust the labor officials who do the work of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the State Department and the military abroad by working against independence movements and by breaking unions.
10. Abolition of all forms of domination of Canadian unions by U. S. unions. Canadian workers have the right to run their own unions their own way without any interference from the U.S., including the right to withhold dues or per capita tax from U.S. unions, and including the right to withdraw from U. S. unions.
11. Organize mass action against manufacture and shipment of nuclear weapons, napalm, gas and germ warfare weapons to bases and war zones of aggression abroad. Organize mass action for abolition of these weapons.
Workers must not place their reliance on federal or state laws to bring more democracy into the labor movement. In fact, such laws are aimed at preventing rank and file militancy from kicking out the corrupt fakers.
Democracy results from the militant fight against the bosses, in which the union leadership relies on the rank and file to the fullest, and at the same time encourages the greatest membership participation in union affairs.
Most of the corrupt AFL-CIO officials have kept themselves in power for more than a quarter of a century. To break the grip of these fakers will be a difficult process. It will require the utmost skill, courage and dedication of revolutionary and militant trade unionists to battle successfully for the needs of the workers, to expose forthrightly the phony bureaucrats, while militantly advancing an alternative program of action.
These are some of the measures that must be struggled for in the unions:
1. Representation of black workers and members of oppressed national minorities on all levels of union leadership.
2. All leading committees of unions, including international executive boards and negotiating committees, should have a majority of shop workers.
3. Reliance on organized strength of workers to win gains; active rank and file committees; an effective shop steward system. End reliance on government mediation and arbitration; protect the right to strike; simplify grievance procedures.
4. Fight for repeal of anti-union laws restricting trade union democracy and hindering militancy: the Railway Labor Act, Taft-Hartley Act, Kennedy-Landrum-Griffin Act, Smith Act, Walter-McCarran Act, and all so-called “Right to Work” laws. Fight for repeal of all laws imposing compulsory arbitration and government-dictated settlement of contract issues.
5. Union leaders should be paid no more than the average wage earner in the industry. No union leader should be allowed to invest in the stock market, directly or indirectly, or in any other form of capitalist exploitation of workers.
6. Unions must eliminate red-baiting and all forms of discrimination based on sex, color, national origin and political or religious convictions, and must protect the rights of individuals against such discrimination.
The history of the labor movement in the U.S. shows that trade unions made their greatest advances when revolutionary-minded workers (the left wing) and progressive-minded workers (center forces) worked together on a common class struggle program.
But in those periods when the left and progressive forces were split because of red-baiting, opportunism or sectarianism, the trade unions suffered defeat and stagnation. The bosses and reactionary union leaders had little opposition, and did pretty much what they pleased. The labor movement has been in just such a period for the past 20 years.
Present conditions make it very difficult for the rank and file to start a cohesive counter-offensive for control of their unions and for a militant class struggle program. This is mainly because there is no significant left wing in the unions; many progressive workers and lower-ranking union officials, feeling isolated and impotent, fear to stick their necks out to oppose the reactionary top mis-leaders.
Although growing numbers of workers are striking, and fighting in various other ways, there is no ideological and political center to lead and coordinate these struggles.
Every effort must be made to build a new left-center coalition, bringing together militant workers from every industry, functioning both inside and outside the trade unions, linking together rank and file movements, caucuses, and independent workers’ organizations. The aim of such a movement should be to establish an independent national workers’ organization–to educate, activate and organize rank and file trade unionists, the unorganized and the unemployed.
Such an organization could take the lead in developing national campaigns on such central issues as: jobs, shorter working hours with no loss in pay, black liberation, organizing the South colonial freedom and halting U.S. imperialism’s wars.
To stimulate such a left-center progressive coalition and organization, a national independent radical trade union newspaper or magazine should be published.
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Every day, the U.S. working class is paying a greater tribute to U.S. imperialism. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” can be achieved in today’s world only by a socialist revolution. Revolutionaries always stand ready to fight in every day-to-day battle that can advance, in even the smallest way, the well-being of even the smallest group of workers. We openly declare:
Workers of the United States, unite! Fight for socialism! We will win!