Republicans, Democrats Are the Parties of Capital
We Need a Class-Struggle Workers Party!
Wisconsin: Mobilize Workers’ Power
to Defeat Union-Busting Bill!
Up to 10,000 workers and students jammed into Wisconsin's state Capitol on February 17 to protest
union-busting bill that would effectively eliminate collective bargaining for most public sector workers.
FEBRUARY 18 – Yesterday thousands of workers and students occupied the Wisconsin state capitol in Madison while tens of thousands surrounded the building for the third day in a row seeking to block the vicious “budget repair” bill being rammed through the state legislature by Governor Scott Walker. The unions have called on all 98,000 teachers to head to the capital Friday. Already so many have “sicked out” that the Madison schools had to shut down. The university is up in arms. This is the most massive labor mobilization in the United States in years. It shows that the working class is mad as hell and ready to fight. We have the power to stop Walker in his tracks. But to mobilize that power it’s necessary to break with the parties and politicians of capital and build a workers party that can wage this class struggle through to victory.
A demonstrator held up a sign in the capitol’s corridor‘s saying “The Class War Is Here.” That is so right. This is perhaps the most blatant piece of union-busting legislation since the days when labor unions were prosecuted under “criminal syndicalism” laws early in the last century. Slashing wages and benefits with a meat ax, the right-wing Republican Walker is going after the state’s public sector workers with a vengeance. The bill would effectively eliminate collective bargaining, while threatening to bring in the National Guard if the unions dare strike. But this assault on labor will not not be stopped by relying on the Democrats, whose most audacious act has been to flee the state. Legislative grandstanding may delay a vote but it will not win this battle. Workers’ power can.
There should be an immediate statewide public workers strike to sink the anti-labor bill, and it needs to rapidly spread to all sectors of labor to shut Wisconsin down. Teachers should mobilize together with students and parents to turn schools into strike organizing centers. Teamsters should tie up the Interstate highways with their rigs. There should be appeals for solidarity action elsewhere in the country. The resistance in Wisconsin can electrify the country, just as the occupation of the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago did in December 2008 – but on a far larger scale. It will take nothing less than a statewide general strike to defeat labor hater Walker. But union leaders block militant action as they chain workers to the Democrats. Now is the time to unleash labor’s power – it's use it or lose it!
The Wisconsin anti-union bill is only the first of a slew of anti-labor legislation in the works outlawing strikes and hamstringing public sector workers. Hundreds of labor unionists jammed into the Ohio state capitol in Columbus on Tuesday and again yesterday to protest Senate Bill 5, which would eliminate collective bargaining. The Illinois legislature is gearing up to ban teachers’strikes. In New York, where strikes by public sector workers are already outlawed under the state’s infamous Taylor Law, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo is slashing health care and education while threatening to rip up pensions and go after union seniority provisions in the state constitution. New York City’s billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg is threatening thousands of teacher layoffs. But they are not alone: Democrat Barack Obama in the White House has taken the lead in freezing government workers’ wages and spearheading attacks on teachers unions.
The fact is that the assault on labor is not just some right-wing Tea Party affair – it is a bipartisan capitalist attack, and it can only be defeated by mobilizing working people, the poor and oppressed independently of and against the parties of the bosses. A number of left groups (including the International Socialist Organization, Socialist Alternative, the Socialist Equaltiy Party and other social democrats) call to “tax the rich” to make up for budget shortfalls. The rulers are not short of dollars. Bankers are making money hand over fist. A single hedge fund manager gave himself a cool $5 billion last year, triple the size of the Wisconsin state deficit. The U.S. spends trillions on its imperialist wars and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. And if state treasuries had more cash, you can bet your bottom dollar they wouldn’t use it to fund public education. The purpose of this budget battle is to smash the unions!
We must stand and fight or see decades of union gains go down the tubes in a race to the bottom. Working people must break with the Democratic Party of racist police repression and imperialist war, and forge a class-struggle workers party that defends all the oppressed in fighting for socialist revolution. It’s us or them. ■
To contact the Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International, send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org