A Labor Day leaflet
73532.1325 at compuserve.com
Tue Sep 3 09:20:50 MDT 1996
From: Joseph Green
Sept. 3, 1996
A LABOR DAY LEAFLET
The following two articles are from the August 30, 1996 issue (#12) of
Detroit Workers' Voice, which has been distributed at "Earthfest '96", at the
Labor Day parade organized by the unions in downtown Detroit, and elsewhere.
Detroit Workers' Voice is published by the Detroit Marxist-Leninist Study
Group, (P.O.Box 13261, Detroit MI 48213-2061).
We need a real struggle against the bosses!
A big problem facing the working class of Detroit and the country
today is illustrated by the long-standing newspaper strike. That problem is:
faced with the vicious wage-cutting, union-busting attacks of the employers,
the union leaders do not want to put up a serious fight!
The top union leaders and AFL-CIO bigwigs in the newspaper strike
support boycotts, passive civil disobedience in downtown Detroit, even a
weekly newspaper -- but all these tactics have proved futile for over a year
because the key issue is not faced: production of the newspapers must be shut
down by mass marching and picketing. This is the only way major strikes have
ever been won: there would be no industrial unions today if the workers in
the 1930's had not shut down the bosses' production, as in the Flint GM sit-
down strikes of 1937. Without it, the newspaper strike is slowly fading away.
A third of the strikers have already had to find other jobs, while the unions'
Detroit Sunday Journal itself worries that the News and Free Press may be
approaching profitability again.
Yet the Detroit newspaper workers have always had and still had
widespread public support. Members of our class are displaying "No News or
Free Press Wanted Here" signs from Algonac to Monroe, from downtown Detroit to
Pontiac. But capital (Big Business) gives up nothing without a serious fight.
The only way to hurt the bosses severely in the pocket book is to shut down
It can be done. It was done Labor Day weekend last year and the
weekend after. Newspaper workers, auto workers and workers of other trades
faced down the police, beat off their attacks and had virtually closed the
Sterling plant (the helicoptering out of the Sunday edition was a joke, far
too expensive to continue).
But during the following week the employers got one of their flunkey
judges (the government, including the judiciary, is on the side of the
employers on all major issues) to issue an injunction barring mass picketing.
This injunction could have been defied, if only the union leaders had allowed
the same (or bigger) mobilization of workers as the week before. The workers
had already defeated the same police as would have tried to enforce the
But the union leadership caved in, called off the mass mobilization,
and so only 300 workers showed up (compared to 2000 previously). The leaders
then whined that the workers were too weak to defy the injunction. No, this
weakness was caused by the top union leaders themselves; the mass of workers
had been ready for mass picketing! But the union leaders told everyone to
drive slowly around the plant and try to create a traffic jam instead.
The sentiment to support the strikers was running high among the
workers in the auto plants and elsewhere in those weeks, but the craven union
leaders prevented the working class of Detroit from expressing its unity and
strength. This was a historic sellout, a turning point that has allowed
production to continue to date and the strike to drag out with no settlement
in sight. The strikers are faced with the strong possibility of the strike
being lost altogether, or settled with the worst possible terms for the
workers. In either case, this would be a disastrous defeat for the newspaper
workers and their families and it would only help the rapacious bosses step up
their robbery of the workers of other trades. And this possibility becomes
more real every day as the union leadership lets the strike slowly peter out.
Oh yes, the union leadership has a lot of suggestions to keep strikers
busy. There are supposed to be other ways to win the strike besides shutting
down the plant. But these other "solutions" have proven weak at best. The
consumer boycott of the papers is OK as a supplement to mass action to stop
production of the paper, but it can't win the strike by itself. The
publication of the Detroit Sunday Journal has eaten up hundreds of thousands
of dollars which could have paid for strike support or for the defense of
workers arrested or jailed in a serious fight to stop production. And worse
yet, the union misleaders encouraged faith that the NLRB would save the
workers. And what did the NLRB do? Its recent ruling further limited picketing
and tied the union in knots.
And the union leaders also say to vote for, and help finance the
campaigns of, establishment politicians, politicians who speak for the
capitalists and who fill their coffers with campaign contributions from them.
Some say the Democrats will save us from the Republican offensive. Yet Clinton
has just signed a bill slashing welfare so as to force more people to accept
lower wages, and this bill also singles out whole sections of the working
class for especially brutal treatment as millions of immigrants are thrown to
the wolves. Meanwhile Clinton spends more and more money on police and on
wiretapping. Aside from the direct capitalist tools, the Democrats and
Republicans, a "Labor Party" has just been founded a couple of months ago. But
this "labor party" won't criticize the union bureaucrats and isn't even sure
what it thinks of the Democrats. This is a "labor party" just as tightly
controlled by the top union leaders as the unions themselves, not a true party
of the militant workers.
The AFL-CIO leadership is committing these sellouts because it is in
bed with the capitalists as a whole, even while they complain about this or
that particular boss. The AFL-CIO leadership seeks not class struggle but
accommodation with the employers and a position in the councils of the
capitalist class. They are used to promising to rein in worker militancy in
exchange for minor concessions from the bosses, and even when the employers
are out for blood, the union leaders just don't have it in them to stand for
a real fight. In return, the top union leaders get high salaries and status,
even while unions are gutted and the rank-and-file workers suffer wage cuts.
The NLRB regulations that govern union activity and the internal rules set by
the AFL-CIO itself are built around this principle of class accommodation
between the workers and the bosses. And union stewards and lower union
officials are forced to toe the same line, even though they don't get the
rewards of the top bureaucrats. Many workers enter these positions hoping to
make a difference, but find that nothing changes. Workers are indeed better
off with a union than without, but today's unions are dominated by a
leadership that is leading the workers to one defeat after another.
The only answer is a militant, mass rank-and-file workers' movement!
In strikes like that at the Detroit newspapers, production must be shut down
by mass picketing, or they will be defeated like the struggles at Staley and
Caterpillar. Workers from other workplaces should be ready to come out when
needed to support strikers.
Workers are under attack all through this country, and we must develop
networks at each workplace and linking workplaces. When conditions are ripe,
workers must not wait for approval from the union leaders before launching
mass actions. This includes both large actions at big strikes and small
actions at some workplaces, like a slowdown or a work-to-rule in your own
department. Small actions too are important. They can be the nuts and bolts
that build up trust and confidence among the workers and begin to teach us
that through our solidarity and militant action we can defeat the employers'
attacks. The present union leadership will attempt to undermine these
struggles and all independent links among the workers, sometimes by outright
attacks, sometimes by trying to take them over so as to make them tame, so we
workers must be prepared to criticize and expose these sellouts openly among
our peers. We must be prepared not just to be militant, but also to build up
our own organizations to fight on the economic and political issues. Only
with struggle and organization and opposition to class collaboration will
there be a militant workers' movement. Only thus can the movement be oriented
to struggle against the capitalist ruling class, not accommodation with it.
Only thus will there be an all-out struggle against the arrogant capitalist
offensive that is impoverishing and torturing us.
Down with the bloodsucking newspaper bosses!
Fight the wage-slashing, union-busting capitalist offensive!
Mass action, not faith in the NLRB, or the politicians, or the "corporate
Build a militant, mass, rank-and-file workers' movement independent of the
Sellout union leaders, out of the way!
Read a genuine working class theoretical journal:
Communist Voice is a theoretical journal which not only exposes the
capitalist system, but deals with the tragedy that has befallen the
revolutionary movement. It confronts the thorny questions and controversies
facing progressive activists today, and holds that the crisis of the working
class movement can only be overcome if Marxist theory again enlightens the
struggle for the emancipation of the exploited. The liberating ideas of Marx,
Engels and Lenin been twisted beyond recognition, not only by outright
capitalist spokespeople, but also by the false "communist" regimes of China,
Cuba and others today, and of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe of
yesterday. Communist Voice denounces these distortions (revisions) of the
ideas of Marxism-Leninism -- whether Stalinism or Trotskyism or reformism --
and stands for placing revolutionary theory on a solid basis through the
criticism of revisionism and by analyzing the new developments in the basic
economic and political structure of the world today. Through this work, the
Communist Voice seeks to pave the way for communism to once again become the
red, fighting banner of the revolutionary working class movement. Only the
influence of the real communist theory can help the goal of a classless,
communist society again spread among the workers and oppressed here and around
the globe. Only the spread of anti-revisionist Marxism can overcome the
influence of liberal, reformist and petty-bourgeois nationalist trends and
allow the struggle against capitalism to break out in full force.
The revolutionary parties and movements of the working class in the 19th
and 20th centuries never achieved their full goals. The working masses fought
monarchy, fascism, colonialism, and various capitalist classes, and also made
its first attempts to establish a new social system--however these attempts
never went beyond the first steps. This tradition of struggle will arise again
in the 21st century, as the masses are faced with how to escape from the
escalating misery brought by capitalist development around the world. To
hasten the day of the revival of the revolutionary mass movement, the CV
opposes the neo-conservative and reformist ideologies that are dominant today.
It holds that progressive work today means more than opposing the ultra
conservatives and more than trying to reform the marketplace. It means
contributing to reorganizing the working class once again on a basis
independent of the liberals and reformists as well as the conservatives. The
CV sees its theoretical tasks as helping to clear the way for a future
reorganization of the working class into, first and foremost, its own
political party, as well as other organizations that truly uphold proletarian
Communist Voice thus continues the Marxist-Leninist and anti-revisionist
cause to which its predecessor, the Workers' Advocate, was dedicated. For a
quarter of a century, the Workers' Advocate was the paper of a series of
activist organizations, the last one being the Marxist-Leninist Party. The
demoralization of the revolutionary ranks included the dissolution of the MLP,
and along with it, the Workers' Advocate. But the Communist Voice continues,
in a different form, with fewer resources, and with more emphasis on the
theoretical task, the struggle of the Workers' Advocate to contribute to the
development of a mass communist party.
The Communist Voice is published by the Communist Voice Organization
which links together members in a few cities. The CVO calls on all activists
who want to fight capitalism in all its guises to join with us in opposing all
the bankrupt theories and practices of the past -- from Western-style
capitalism to Stalinist state capitalism, from reformism to anarchism, from
reliance on the pro-capitalist trade union bigwigs to "left" communist
sectarianism toward "impure" struggles. It is time to lay the basis for the
revolutionary communism of the future by revitalizing the communist theory and
practice of today. Only when communism spreads among the millions and millions
of oppressed can the struggle against capitalism again become a force that
shakes the world! <>
--- from list marxism at lists.village.virginia.edu ---
More information about the Marxism