by La Voz – San Jose
The opposition makes progress while the union leadership gets worse
After the negotiations of the Master Plan in April of last year, the election of USWW leaders has been the most important fact in this union organization. In the elections of last month in October, United Janitors of the North presented 3 candidates to the Executive Board in the South Bay Area. These candidates are militant workers ,recognized defenders of the need for a union organization and of the rights of janitors. During the electoral campaign, they raised a body of 5 principals :
1. Union independence from the bosses, the government, and the bureaucracy
2. For permanent mobilization of workers as a method of struggle
3. Union democracy
4. Solidarity with the working class and people
5. The fight against oppression and for the defense of womyn workers
These principles have been part of the project of the opposition since its appearance in 2008. The implementations of these principles in the most important struggles of the janitors has been what has allowed the opposition to identify with the workers so that they begin to see them as a serious alternative for struggle against the political traitors and bureaucratic leaders of the USWW.
In the past electoral campaign, the candidates from the opposition went out to visit job sites to discuss with the janitors two urgent tasks at the current stage of the struggle: First: the necessity to unify around these principles for the struggle to confront the attacks of the bosses in the job site; to be able to unmask the political patron of the union leadership and to orientate to an independent struggle for an immigration reform that responds to the expectations of workers. Second: a call to the most conscious leaders to advance a campaign of education and a formation of class leaders that defend a union of struggle,that is democratic and that gives hard working womyn the place of direction (leadership) that they deserve. This campaign and formation of leaders focuses on incorporating the experiences of struggle that every worker and leader brings form their own country in order to integrate it to the everyday struggle of the work site. Simultaneously, to learn from the history of the U.S. working class struggle to, in this way, know how to respond to the complex process of unity that needs to be taken to become the leader of a process of emancipation from capitalist exploitation and oppression.
During the electoral campaign, the task was to explain this proposal. The opposition held more than 20 reunions with around 600 workers in the job sites to whom two pamphlets were distributed, which showed that message. The results of that work was, on the one hand, breaking the isolation in which the bureaucracy had placed the opposition with their attacks before the elections, especially in the betrayal in the negotiation of the last master contract. Breaking the isolation, participating with independent candidates and of opposition, allowed the United Janitors of the North to come in contact again with the base from where it was born. On the other hand, the opposition won important leaders in key job sites that they were in charge of materializing the results in the voting: The candidates from the bureaucracy received on average 120 votes against 75 of the opposition.
Who really won in the elections?
If we clarify how each force achieved the results in the election, we will be able to know a bit more of who in reality made advancements in the elections. The bureaucracy, which was totally discredited in the workplace, had to resort to votes by mail. Their candidates, with all the support of the staff of the union, made no active presentation in the work sites during the campaign. Where they tried, they came out defeated. Their leaders are feeble minded and deceived workers, put as puppets to serve the interests of the bureaucrats, & have no critical capacity to lead a struggle. The real campaign of the bureaucracy was carried out by the organizers whose tasks was to mail the voting forms to workers’ homes & demanding that they return it obligatorily with the answers that organizers themselves had indicated. With a total of 1000 voting forms sent by mail there is no doubt that many of the uninformed janitors fell in their traps
On the other hand, the votes of the opposition were won by the candidates of the opposition through the discussions with the workers on how to organize a fight against a union leadership that is continuously betraying the workers and that is allied with the bosses to sell-out the workers. The most advanced leaders that understand this urgency and express the sentiment of struggle bases were those who took the lead to organize their co-workers to go to the polls.
By looking at the results of the election in this way, the campaign of the opposition is no doubt the big winner in the election process, and not the bureaucracy.
Its true that the weakness of this year’s opposition group did not allow for a participation with a list for all the positions of leadership in the union like it did in the elections of 2009. However, the other fact is that in 2009, the opposition had candidates for all positions, but not a body of principles and a platform to fight for. In these elections, what made the big difference was the presence of the opposition that has candidates dedicated to promoting a program that responds to the sentiments of struggle of the janitors and that this is the winning option. From now on, the foundations of the opposition are firm enough to resume an opposition movement at the level of the entire Union.