|Written by La Voz de los Trabajadores|
|Friday, 06 May 2011 17:41|
|The Immigrant Workers’ Struggle
Latino immigrants have been fighting so that their rights as workers are recognized, be they citizen or resident, in this country. The right to work legally, to have a driver’s license, to not be deported, discriminated against, or incarcerated for being undocumented is a fundamental right for every human being.
There is no reason that immigrant workers should be considered outcasts. Their hard work and taxes should be enough to have their rights recognized automatically. Instead, their efforts are repaid with discrimination, over-exploitation, criminal treatment, and permanent denial of all their rights.
This was the sentiment expressed by the Sensenbrenner law that was defeated because of the large immigrant marches in 2006. SB1070 and the other legal attacks at the federal, state, and county levels were overcome in the same way. These policies of the Republican and Democratic parties are in the interest of the large imperialist bourgeoisie and try to create exploiting conditions that are increasingly brutal against the working class in order to raise their profits in this time of crisis.
The leaders of the union bureaucracy unconditionally support Obama and only occasionally criticize other Democrats. They say that the Obama administration has not been able to advance immigration reform and other policies that would benefit workers because the Republicans won’t let them. In reality, these union bureaucrats that have free entry to the government offices and earn the same salary as any company executive are not really concerned with what happens to immigrants and workers. Meanwhile, they can maintain their large privileges that make workers vulnerable to the plans of the bosses and allowing the government’s deportations, the unemployment they’ve created, the reduction of pay and benefits, and the attacks against union rights as has been happening in Wisconsin and Ohio.
When immigrants or workers join the fight against the bosses’ attacks, these bureaucratic union leaders make radical speeches to give the appearance that they are committed to struggle, but after they have appeased the masses they have no problem negotiating behind closed doors with the bosses and the government so that everything continues in the same way. This is what the union leaders did to stop the large immigrant marches in 2006.
Fortunately, many immigrant and union activists now are aware that they can’t trust these union bureaucrats and that we need to start a fight to remove these bureaucrats from these positions. To be able to advance this struggle, immigrants and workers have to trust their own strength and at the same time fight against the bosses and against the betrayals of the bureaucratic leaders.
A fight has started within the unions to democratize them and to expel the corrupt leaders so that these organizations return to the control of the workers and serve them as tools of struggle against the attacks on their rights.
The immigration problem in the United States is as old as the country. The American economy has always had to resort to waves of immigration to respond to the processes of economic expansion and growth. However, before 1970 American and immigrant workers were able to enjoy a trend of increasing salaries. From 1970 and onward, this trend stopped and wages began to decrease. This process coincided with the worsening of the chronic crisis of capitalism, originated by the falling rate of profit that has lasted to this day.
The Struggles of the Arab People Extends to the United States
The impact in the United States of the revolutions in Arab countries has been seen in the rise in gas prices. It’s the United States government as the head of world imperialism that has designed this economic scheme that today the masses in Arab and Middle Eastern countries are trying to destroy while taking control of their own resources. The problem of immigrants in the United States is the result of the policy that took away economic resources of the South American countries. And the deterioration of the living conditions of the American working class is part of the same policy.
The Revolution in the Western World is closer than ever thanks to the Momentum of the Revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East
The perspectives of the American working class to try to return to the times of prosperity are the same as always. Each economic crisis that hits the American economy is more and more severe and the cycles of recuperation are longer and more complicated because of the outbreak of more and more class struggles and conflicts around the world.
In this sense, the struggle of Latino immigrant workers in the United States will play a principal role in the sector of the working class that is most oppressed and exploited in the country together with other minorities, such as African-Americans. In 2006 immigrants showed the power of their mobilization. And the next time that they mobilize they will express themselves in a more forceful way.
For now, immigrants face hard attacks under the Obama administration with the complicity of the union leadership. A spontaneous explosion of the masses like that of 2006 will be more complicated by the bureaucratic leadership of the unions that will help the government to prevent these fight backs with deportations, lay-offs, persecution, and exploitation.
However, the workers’ mobilizations that in Wisconsin and Ohio are an encouraging sign which could be crucial for the unity of the working class in the event that these two processes of struggle coincide in another wave of mobilization. And our evaluation of the situation is that in the framework of these mobilizations at the end of last year in Europe and the revolutionary processes in North Africa and the Middle East, the systematic deterioration of the living conditions of the American working class will push the masses to mobilize in a more permanent way.
A Fight for New Leadership in the Unions
With such a low level of unionization in the United States and workers feeling like targets of the permanent attacks by the government and bosses reflected in the plans of budget cuts, generating massive lay-offs, and cuts to fundamental union and worker rights, rebellions can arise that are not planned. This is what has happened in the latest events of the mass movements in the United States. We think that it is necessary to prepare ourselves in terms of leadership for these events.
In this way, when struggle arises, the fighters that emerge can advance the construction of workers’ independent and democratic organizations. Today the union structure and the presence of a bureaucratic direction in the union create complacent organizations at the service of the bosses, controlled by the Democratic Party.
Workers’ direct struggle would bring new forms of organization in which the common worker could raise their grievances. This struggle has already been started with the flourishing of pro-democratic movements and opposition to the bureaucracy within the unions. This is expressed most strongly in SEIU International. These movements of opposition to the bureaucracy can become spaces where true alternatives of revolutionary leadership for the masses can emerge.
Everything depends on the level of radicalization that is reached.
Until now, the opposition movements have more or less expressed revolutionary union programs in which the principle demand is to bring democracy to these union organizations so that workers can advance their struggles. However, there isn’t a single movement of opposition that consciously proposes the break from the Democratic Party and the open fight against the privileges of the bureaucracy.
There are some such movements, but they are embryonic and do not have broad reach. But as these opposition movements develop in struggle, the necessity of breaking away from the Democratic Party will be evident for the workers. To reach this level of consciousness it will be indispensable to raise the slogan “No to privileges of the leaders of workers’ organizations!” This is the only way in which workers of the base will be able to have full trust in their leadership.
The privileges within workers’ organization are a lethal weapon against the unity of the working class. In mass organizations that are truly revolutionary, the function of the leadership is to push forward the objectives and tasks that workers democratically decide in their decision-making bodies. To eliminate privileges would remove all the possibilities that can corrupt the consciousness of the leaders.
The fight against privileges within workers’ organizations is at the same time the most effective form of combating racism and oppression against women and LGBT peoples. Revolutionary organizations or mass organizations that do not have in their program the fight against bourgeois and bureaucratic privileges are weakening the principle of class solidarity and democracy. The rupture and the fight against social inequalities will cause workers to self-identify as a class in struggle against the control of capitalism, which is the system that perpetuates exploitation and oppression.
Using the economic power created by the oppression and pillage of peoples around the world, the imperialist bourgeoisie has implemented a policy to corrupt the conscious members of the working class. The fundamental material of success of these politics has been the concession of privileges to certain workers in order to encourage the competition of some workers against each other. This serves their racist and discriminatory politics. The enjoyable stable economy that existed for years has permitted the imperialist bourgeoisie in the United States to construct an ideology to justify the existence of White racism, oppression, and discrimination against other races.
This has impeded the advancement of the revolutionary consciousness of the American working class. This scheme has reproduced oppression of the rest of the peoples of the world. But things are changing and the economic crisis of capitalism and the attacks of the bourgeoisie against the working class together are creating the conditions in which the entire working class is prone to mobilization. In the vanguard will be the most exploited and oppressed sectors. This is apparent by the fact that in these multiracial unions, in which you find the most impoverished layers of the proletariat, there are the most emerging movements of opposition.
A Program to Fight
1 – Democracy for workers. As we said before, anti-bureaucratic processes are beginning to form within unions in which the most pertinent slogan is union democracy. This is the first step to advance fights against the politics of the bosses. The bureaucracy is the most important barrier workers encounter the moment they begin to flight against their bosses. If there isn’t democracy, workers cannot push forward their demands. But the fight for democracy within unions is a fight against the privileges of the union leaders.
2 – No to privileges! The opposition movements within unions that demand democracy without demanding the end to privileges are in danger of losing their fight. Workers’ trust cannot be gained without fighting the union’s hierarchical structure, created by wages and benefits for the union leadership and staff that are two, three, four, or more times greater than the wages and benefits of a regular worker. This structure should be torn down.
3 – Break away from the bosses. A union constructed with a base that combats the privileges of the bureaucracy and fights for full democracy is a union that can guarantee that its organization will not be manipulated by the bosses. If the workers direct the union, it can be independent from the bosses, and this will guarantee the permanent mobilization of its members to win their demands.
4 – For permanent mobilization and solidarity. The method of working class struggle is the permanent mobilization of the masses. This method guarantees the revolutionary advancement of the consciousness of workers. Without mobilization, it is impossible to destroy the bureaucracy and even less possible to destroy the bosses. However, the struggle against the union bureaucracy needs a political tactic of class confrontation that allows the education of workers that are trapped in the conciliatory politics of the leadership in order to advance the mobilization. On this point, class solidarity is crucial. Fights directed by union bureaucrats are isolated fights that leave workers exposed to attacks by the bosses and government. Only unity of the working class will create conditions for the triumph of workers’ struggle.
5 – No concessions to the bosses. This point of the program of opposition movements is important because it is the way that union bureaucrats always encage workers at the convenience of the bosses. For the victory of workers’ rights supported by class mobilization and solidarity!
6 – Break away from the Democratic Party. In unions the leadership compels workers to participate in politics but always imposes the Democrat candidates. The COPA is the voluntary contribution of workers to political campaigns that is used to pay the campaigns of Democrat candidates. These candidates always promise workers that they will give them more union liberties, more immigrant rights, healthcare for all, and so on. But after they are elected, these candidates leave workers waiting for what will never come, while their wages decrease, there are lay-offs, and there is even more discrimination against immigrants. We are making a call to not commit this political error anymore and for unions to participate in independent politics. There are many union workers that can be good candidates to raise the workers’ struggle to the political level and to fight for their own working class party that can support unions. No more Democrat candidates supported by unions!
7– Fight for the defense of immigrant rights and for the rights of other oppressed peoples. This is a crucial point for a program for struggle in the anti-bureaucratic movements and union opposition. The struggle for full immigrant rights should be the demand that reflects the class content of a program for working class struggle. American workers have in their conscience a bourgeois ideology that immigrants are secondary or tertiary workers. This is the same ideology that defends racism. The working class should raise the fight for full immigrant rights and for the rights of all oppressed and discriminated people.