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Marxist-Leninist Organizing Committee

Documents of the First Congress of the MLOC – Resolutions

Resolution on the Trade Unions

1. Today the trade union apparatus has become an extension of the bourgeois state. Controlled by the labor aristocracy and run by the trade union bureaucrats, it serves to prop up the rule of the bourgeoisie, promote disunity within the ranks of the working class, and sow class peace.

At few periods since the inception of trade unions in this country have they so served the interests of the bourgeoisie, and abandoned the interests of the working class. The lack of trade union unity, the existence of national chauvinism, class collaboration and goon tactics characterize the reformist trade unions today. The result has been that while the bourgeoisie has sought to place the burden of the general crisis of capitalism on the backs of the workers through soaring prices, layoffs, unemployment and overtime, the earning power, health and safety, and well-being of the masses continue to worsen. This is an iron law of capitalism.

2. Our task in the trade unions is to wage the class struggle on all fronts in order to neutralize the influence of the labor aristocracy and kick out the trade union bureaucrats from the unions. Through this struggle the working class, under the leadership of its vanguard party, will take control of the trade unions and transform them into revolutionary fighting weapons of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie.

The trade unions are the organizing centers of the working class, the most important mats organizations of workers. By linking the party to the trade unions, the spontaneous trade union struggle will be transformed into a class conscious struggle for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism.

3. The history and development of the trade unions is a guide to their legitimate role in the class struggle. Formed in the middle of the 1700’s, trade unions first arose in order to eliminate the existing competition among the workers. They arose as organising centers that provided the workers with their initial lessons in class struggle. The solidarity learned in the course of the trade union struggle was a school of socialism.

The immediate aims of the first trade unions were to win the basic economic demands of the workers, through collective action. Immediately it became apparent that the function of the trade unions was not only to fight on the economic front, but to fight for the abolition of wage slavery itself, to fight to end the rule of capitalism. Many of the fundamental rights of the working class today were a result of the early trade union struggles, such as the eight hour day. Today this advance has been almost completely eroded by the capitalists, with the assistance of the trade union bureaucrats.

The first unions were among the skilled workers. Later, unions of non-skilled, or industrial workers arose. Many of the early trade unions were formed by communists, particularly the unions of unskilled workers.

With the rise and development of imperialism, the bourgeoisie was able to use the superprofits gained from the exploitation of oppressed nations and colonies in order to bribe the upper stratum of the working class movement, the labor aristocrats and the trade union bureaucrats, in order to maintain control of the trade unions.

The merger of the AFL-CIO in 1955 reflected the complete dominance of the skilled labor aristocracy over the trade union movement. Long before, the once revolutionary Communist Party, U.S.A. had sold out the interests of the workers and followed the course of class betrayal, leaving the proletariat without genuine leadership in its battle against the bourgeoisie.

Today, in the factories and fields, mines and mills, there is a wave of spontaneous struggle against the bourgeoisie and their social props. The growth of the strike movement, the increase in wildcats, the growing political character of the struggles, all are indications that we are entering a period in which class struggle is moving from an ebb to a flow. Slowly, but certainly, the class struggle is sharpening. The storm clouds of great battles ahead are filling the air.

4. The task of communist work in the trade unions is to assist and to lead the day to day struggles, while linking them with the final aims of our movement–the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, socialism and communism.

This task can only be accomplished through systematic, patient and careful work in the trade unions, by waging the class struggle to make every factory a fortress. Any opportunist viewpoint which denies the necessity for working in the trade unions, or which supports dual unionism, or that belittles the nature of the class struggle to be waged, and suggests reform of trade unions or pure trade unionism, is the line of class collaboration.

The very success of the revolution, of our party, requires that we link the party to the trade unions on a day to day basis.

The history of the trade unions and communism in the United States is such that the Communist Party, U.S.A. arose long after the trade unions were established as the main fighting centers for the economic demands of the workers. The result was that the “C”PUSA grew up under conditions separate from the trade unions, and did not immediately win their backing. While headway was made during the 1930’s, it was soon lost with the revisionist course charted by the “C”PUSA. Today, several unions and countless locals are controlled by the revisionist “C”PUSA, but Marxist-Leninists still do not have significant leadership in any major trade unions.

This situation must be overcome through a scientific course of concentrating a superior force in the trade unions, particularly in the industrial unions, to drive out the reformists and opportunists and to win over the leadership of the trade unions. This means changing the alignment of class forces in the unions, and the class nature of the unions themselves

5. From the outset the Marxist-Leninist Organizing Committee has struggled to grasp the central importance of successful work in the trade unions. Towards this end we have carried out a strategic plan of concentration, built factory nuclei, fractions and are moving toward the development of programs for class struggle in each of the major unions. Special attention has been correctly paid to the struggle to unionize the Black Belt South and the Southwest, to bring women workers into socialized production, and to fight all manifestations of social chauvinism and national oppression.

The course we have charted for work in the trade unions is a correct course–but we have not yet laid a solid foundation to guarantee our success. We do not need more proclamations about the importance of trade union work or the necessity to build factory nuclei. What we need is solid communist work in the trade unions. We need to actually turn the factories into our fortresses.

6. In the course of the trade union work of the Marxist-Leninist Organizing Committee, real progress has been made in breaking with social democratic viewpoints on the trade unions. But this is not sufficient. Therefore, in order to make every factory our fortress, the Marxist-Leninist Organizing Committee:
RESOLVES to actually place the primary attention of all mass work of our organization on the class struggle in the trade unions– to fight for communist leadership in the day to day struggles, to forge factory nuclei and fractions, and to actively take up the struggle on a day to day basis.
RESOLVES to intensify our struggle to neutralize the influence of the labor aristocracy and to drive the trade union bureaucrats out of the unions.
RESOLVES to fight for the genuine unity of the trade union movement; the equality and unity of all nationalities in the trade unions; against all “right to work” and anti-union or anti-strike laws and regulations; to protect the safety, health and overall well-being of the working class and to insure that the trade unions carry on this fight; to actively bring working class women into social production with genuine equality.
RESOLVES to take UNITE! and all other means of agitation and propaganda of the Marxist-Leninist Organizing Committee actively to the workers, to promote the development of secret networks of distribution inside the plants, to actively develop the shop papers of the Marxist-Leninist Organizing Committee and regular, consistent agitation and propaganda on the day to day struggles of the workers.
RESOLVES to organize the unorganized on an industrial union basis.