Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Marxist-Leninist Organizing Committee

Documents of the First Congress of the MLOC – Resolutions


1. The historic mission of the trade unions is to become the organizing centers of the broad masses of the working class which fight not only for the economic well-being of the working class, but also for an end to wage slavery and the emancipation of the working class. The trade unions must support every social and political movement directed toward this aim. Today, however, this great weapon in the struggle against capital has become a weapon used by the capitalists to confine this struggle of the working class to reformism and legalism. The trade unions are controlled by the labor aristocracy and are run by the trade union bureaucrats whose purpose it is to keep the trade unions from taking up their historic mission. This they do by promoting class peace and cooperation, by refusing to build working class political actions independent from the bourgeois political parties, by refusing to organize the majority of workers, by promoting the interests of only the highly paid, skilled craft workers. In these and many other ways the trade union bureaucrats and the labor aristocracy prop up the bourgeoisie by promoting its interests among workers and extending its life by misdirecting the blows of the working class, that class and its allies which will one day lay the bourgeoisie in its grave.

2. The development of the working class and its basic mass organization, the trade union, occurred as a result of the development of the productive forces of capitalism. Initially the trade unions consisted of the skilled craft workers organized into manufacturing. These were the first workers to organize into craft unions; the carpenters, the blacksmiths, shoemakers, coopers, shipwrights, weavers, spinners, glass blowers, basket makers, printers, masons, smelters, etc. Many of these craft unions clearly saw that they must struggle to put an end to wage slavery, and they affiliated with the First International founded by Marx. Others, however, only saw the immediate gain of their own small group.

With the further development of capitalist production, the industrial proletariat developed. This strata of the proletariat was composed of peasants and small farmers driven from their land in order to provide the capitalist with “free labor” and of craft workers whose jobs became obsolete with the development of the productive forces. The unskilled industrial workers became the majority and the struggle of the craft workers ceased to be directed against the capitalists and was instead directed at the majority of the working class, as they tried to preserve their position. The craft unions still seek to hold back the forces of production which are eliminating their jobs and still try to maintain their position as the only organized section of the working class.

These high paid skilled craft workers are the aristocracy of labor. They are the source of opportunism in the working class.

Opportunism means sacrificing the fundamental interests of the masses to the temporary interests of an insignificant minority of the workers, or, in other words, an alliance between a section of the workers and the bourgeoisie, directed against the mass of the proletariat. (Lenin, The Collapse of the Second International, LCW, Vol. 21, p.242).

In the era of imperialism, the bourgeoisie is able to cement this alliance with the bribery of a section of the labor aristocracy and the top trade union bureaucrats. Exceptional wages and salaries are the primary form that this bribe takes. As well as money, this bribery takes the form of social position, positions in government and other privileges.

Historically in the United States, the labor aristocracy has had firm control of the trade union movement through the American Federation of Labor. Even after they created the Committee for Industrial Organizing’ (CIO), the AF of L systematically refused to organize the industrial proletariat. The break of the CIO from the AF of L in 1936 and the organization of steel, auto, rubber etc., was a major blow to the influence of the labor aristocracy.

The industrial unions of the CIO did not develop as organizing centers for the struggle to end wage slavery. Reformists maintained leadership of these unions and the Communist Party, U.S.A. failed to take up the task of building these unions into revolutionary organizations. In 1955, the dominance of the craft unions was again consolidated with the merger of the AF of L and the CIO. These craft unions still dominate the labor movement today through the Executive Board of the AFL-CIO. The AFL-CIO as a trade union center must be completely smashed, as it serves only the interests of the bourgeoisie.

3. The main bulk of the labor aristocracy today consists of the same craft workers in the construction trades, ship building trades, printing trades, die sinkers, etc. In addition to these the bourgeoisie seeks to increase the ranks of the labor aristocracy especially among the industrial unions through “artificially increasing the number of job classifications and categories, which lead to pronounced differences between the wages of ordinary workers and those of specialized workers.” (F. Kota, Two Opposing Lines in the World Trade Union Movement, p. 68).

4. The trade union bureaucrats are those paid functionaries in the trade unions. They are parasites on the labor of the working class. The top bureaucrats make huge salaries from the investments of the worker’s union dues in capitalist enterprises. They have substantial social and political position in the capitalist system as a reward for maintaining class peace.

5. The Marxist-Leninist Organizing Committee strives to lead the trade unions in taking up their historical role of emancipating the working class. In order to further this goal, the Marxist-Leninist Organizing Committee:
RESOLVES to organize and lead the struggle of the workers to throw the trade union bureaucrats out of the unions and establish trade union leadership that is based in the rank and file and guided by proletarian ideology.
RESOLVES to struggle against opportunism. This struggle is the pivot of our tactics in the trade union movement. To educate the masses of workers as to the source and nature of opportunism in the trade union movement. To expose and combat opportunist propaganda and agitation in the trade unions, clearly pointing out the ideological and social basis of such views. To completely neutralize the influence of the labor aristocracy over the trade union movement.
RESOLVES to smash the current bourgeois trade union bureaucracy and replace it with an apparatus built along proletarian lines. New elections, ratification of contracts, union committees, grievance procedures and dues systems, etc., will be instituted, that will allow for full union democracy in the interests of the vast majority of the workers rather than in the interests of the bureaucrats and the labor aristocracy.
RESOLVES to put forward the leading role of the industrial proletariat in the trade union movement. To struggle for the hegemony of the industrial unions within the AFL-CIO and ultimately smash this AFL-CIO center which only serves the bourgeoisie. To struggle to organize the unorganized. To struggle for equalization of wage rates and the elimination of piece work and incentives.