After October 2, What Next?
The October 2nd demonstration in Washington, D.C., is a great step forward. We are now beginning to take matters into our own hands, relying on ourselves, and acting collectively.
Working people have been patiently waiting for the politicians to address our needs. Instead, they bailed out the banks and made the bankers whole, even though the banks' recklessness and greed caused this economic crisis. The politicians caved in and eliminated the possibility of a single-payer, government-run health care option when the private health insurance companies lobbied against it. As a result, for those who have health care, their rates went up 14 percent.
The politicians became servile and denied judges the power to alter the conditions of home loans in order to avert foreclosures when the banks unleashed their lobbyists to kill this option. Millions of Americans have unnecessarily lost their homes since the inception of this crisis. Finally, politicians recently passed a so-called "jobs bill" that will result in employment for only a few hundred thousand workers while 20 million jobless Americans are left stranded and without hope.
Given the paralysis of the politicians when it comes to helping us, we have taken the next logical step. We have stopped our patient waiting. We are standing up, coming together, and raising our collective voice to demand that our needs be addressed NOW! We are relying on ourselves, not on the Democrats, who have repeatedly given the banks and the corporations everything they want, while throwing a few leftover crumbs in our direction.
This demonstration and similar working class actions are the kinds of steps we need to take to achieve success. Working people won unemployment insurance, welfare, the right to unionize, and the eight-hour day by organizing huge demonstrations, not by staying home and hoping for change. And we can win far more today if we are prepared to mobilize our ranks, put up a fight, and initiate even larger demonstrations in the near future.
But our prospects for success will be crippled if we only raise demands at these demonstrations that are acceptable to the Democratic Party. We will not inspire working people to join us if we only ask the government to create a few hundred thousand jobs, while leaving most of the unemployed without hope. We will not inspire them if we simply say that Social Security should not be privatized, while leaving open the possibility of raising the retirement age and reducing our benefits. We will not inspire them if we only speak vaguely of bringing our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving exactly when up in the air. And we will not inspire them if we talk about affordable, quality health care for all, but fail to demand the only type of program that can guarantee such a result: single-payer health care.
The corporations and Wall Street have their own agenda. In their eyes, high unemployment is good because it keeps wages down for those who are working. And lower wages always mean higher profits. Home foreclosures are good because the banks can repossess the homes and resell them. The Employee Free Choice Act is bad because it greatly facilitates union organizing, and union jobs pay much better than nonunion jobs. Social Security is bad because employers are required to contribute to the fund.
While the Democratic Party receives plenty of money from unions, it receives much more from Wall Street and the corporations. Consequently, there should be little surprise that at the Democratic Party's insistence the demands of working people get so diluted they virtually disappear.
However, if the unions raise and mobilize their members around demands that truly and fully respond to the needs of working people, the size of our demonstrations will swell. Working people will quickly recognize that we are putting up a serious fight, as opposed to shilling for the Democratic Party. And by giving our needs objective reality, these demands can function as a rallying point to bring us all together, act collectively, and in a single voice make our demands heard. Here are examples of such demands:
- Create 20 million jobs! Make Wall Street pay!
- Tax the rich to fully fund education and social services!
- Hands off Social Security!
- Stop home foreclosures and evictions!
- Withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan NOW!
- Immediate legalization for all undocumented workers!
- Create a Medicare For All, single-payer health-care system!
- Pass the Employee Free Choice Act!
The WORKERS EMERGENCY RECOVERY CAMPAIGN (WERC) was organized to fight for these demands, because they resonate among working people, including union members, seniors, the Latino community, the unemployed, and many others. We are a national, grassroots organization of working people who want to reverse the current trends in our society that are resulting in the rich becoming increasingly richer while working people are finding it ever harder to make ends meet.
We are dedicated to encouraging working people and their unions to act independently of the Democratic Party so that we can take the first steps toward creating an independent political voice and instrument of our own -- one that is dedicated entirely to the needs of working people. After all, working people are expressing historic levels of disgust and disillusion in the political system. They are tired of the broken campaign promises of politicians. And they are tired of voting for Democrats who implement basically the same corporate agenda as the Republicans.
Working people are looking for alternatives to the Democrats and Republicans. As the unions begin to embrace the full range of demands that correspond to our needs and confront the government with them, workers and their unions will see that the next logical step will be for the unions to lay the foundation for a party of their own -- a Labor Party.
The WORKERS EMERGENCY RECOVERY CAMPAIGN is planning a conference in the spring of 2011 to promote this fightback around labor's independent demands and to discuss how best to advance the struggle for a political party of working people, a Labor Party.
We encourage union members and activists to contact us if you are interested in attending this conference and working with us to promote this campaign. Please support us in this effort [see coupon below]. Make a financial contribution to our campaign fund. Visit our website at www.wercampaign.org and sign up on our mailing list. Together we can make history.
Bill Leumer and Alan Benjamin,
Workers Emergency Recovery Campaign
* * * * * * * * * *
WORKERS EMERGENCY RECOVERY CAMPAIGN COUPON
[ ] I endorse this WERC statement, with its call for labor to mobilize its members and supporters around a platform of demands that meets the urgent needs of working people and the poor.
[ ] I am interested in attending the conference WERC is planning in the spring of 2011 to advance the struggle for independent working-class political action.
[ ] I pledge to send a contribution of $ _____ to help defray the costs of this campaign. My check will be made payable to WERC and sent to WERC, P.O. Box 40009, San Francisco, CA 94140.
UNION / ORG (list title, for id. only)
(please fill out coupon asap and return to < email@example.com>)
contribute to this article
contribute to this article
add comment to discussion
view discussion from this article