Class struggle trade union caucus
For immediate full citizenship rights for all immigrants!
For mass Labor/Black/Brown mobilizations to stop La Migra raids and deportations!
Down with racist ICE/employer IMAGE programs!
Organize documented and undocumented workers through class struggle!
No to English-only bigotry! Same work, same contract across borders!
For joint Canadian, American, Mexican and Central American labor struggle!
The rank-and-file Fighting Union Caucus (Iowa) stands for working class defense of immigrant rights. From our perspective the fight for immigrant rights is crucial to the fight of the working class. We do not advocate and are absolutely opposed to second class, “back of the bus”, or rather in this case, “get out of the country” status for any section of the working class. This principle arises both from our defense of basic democratic rights and in defense of the international working class as a whole. The working class in America will be incapable of uniting and making significant gains unless they come to the defense of immigrants. Karl Marx wrote of chattel slavery “Labour cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded”. This quote could be applied metaphorically to Black oppression as well as immigrants today.
In the union organizing victory at Smithfield Foods in North Carolina in 2008, Black and Brown unity against anti-immigrant attacks played a major role in successful union organizing. In contrast, the South remains largely unorganized today because the CIO was unwilling to take on Jim Crow segregation during its Operation Dixie organizing drive from 1946-53. In other words, they failed to come to the defense of the democratic rights of the working class.
It is from this perspective that our caucus approaches the immigration question. We are trying to organize the working class to fight, not create an immigration policy for American capitalism. We do support reforms, but there are no immigration reforms supportable at this time. The Federal DREAM Act pushed by liberals and the sellout union tops of the AFL-CIO can best be described as a “Dream for the Pentagon Act” as it would serve as a recruiting tool for US imperialism to wage its bloody wars. Not to mention that our caucus unequivocally calls for immediate full citizenship rights, not a “pathway to citizenship”. We also oppose militarization of the borders and call for Labor/Black/Brown to clear out the racist, fascistic militias.
The racist Postville, Iowa raid and deportations at Agriprocessor, Inc. point to the intersection of labor and the fight for immigrant rights. This raid was conducted at a time that the UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) were conducting an organizing campaign. There were large rallies, largely organized by religious organizations. But what was needed was a fighting labor movement that would have organized massive Labor/Black/Brown mobilizations to defend the immigrant workers against La Migra. Labor action such as solidarity strikes should have been organized both throughout the Midwest, as well as nationally and internationally to demand no deportations and that all workers imprisoned be immediately released. And an organizing campaign should have been launched to organize not only Agriprocessors, but the entire meat-packing industry which is heavily immigrant, and the surrounding communities as well.
In the 1930’s, at Hormel in Austin, Minnesota, workers organized the Independent Union of All Workers using militant, class struggle means such as sit-down strikes. This was led by Frank Ellis, an IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) organizer and Trotskyist militants. They went on to organize much of Austin and surrounding communities “wall-to-wall”, including Iowa. This is the kind of organizing that is desperately needed today. It certainly isn’t going to come though from the servile, sellout, class collaborationist union bureaucracy. The union tops right now are more concerned with getting the Democrats back into office in 2012 than in organizing union workers for a real fight, much less organizing the vast mass of the unorganized. They have literally led the labor movement to the brink. What is needed today is to forge rank-and-file class struggle caucuses and committees of worker militants in the existing unions to fight for leadership. And to organize militant labor organizations independent of the official labor bodies as opportunities arise.
It is because of imperialism that people are driven through desperation to emigrate. People prefer to stay with their families and only leave due to economic or political circumstances. They are driven by brutal exploitation and despair to seek a better life in America. It is US imperialism and the drive for profit that has played the major role in forcing workers and peasants to leave their countries and seek a better life. For our class struggle caucus, the main enemy is at home and it is American capitalism, the capitalist ruling class and their Democratic/Republican political parties, not our fellow working class brothers and sisters.
Both political parties are the parties of war abroad and austerity at home. It is the Democratic Obama administration that has carried out more racist deportations of immigrants than any previous administration. It was also Obama who is playing the role of strikebreaker against the Longshoremen of the ILWU by deploying the Coast Guard. And it is largely Democratic Party mayors that are unleashing the police against the Occupy protests, when they are not busy terrorizing the Black and Brown communities or breaking strikes.
Capitalism is a world economic system; National divisions are maintained by the capitalists so that Capital can control its sources of wealth and in the imperialist club expand their exploitation beyond their borders. It was Marx that predicted that capital would seek to commodify the world and that despite capital being national in origin, it acts on an international basis, remaking the world in a manner in which it can exploit labor, thereby uniting all workers in an international class confrontation. We say workers of the world unite! There are no borders to capitalist nations which workers are bound to respect! The system is international, our class is international and the struggle is international.
We need joint, international labor struggle today. Same work, same contract, same pay across borders! Organize the maquiladoras! It should be further noted that many of these immigrants bring with them traditions of militant labor struggle and can be a huge asset to labor struggles and provide a link to our working class brothers and sisters abroad to help coordinate these struggles.
Our caucus platform raises transitional demands as a means of organizing and raising the consciousness of the working class to fight capitalism. But these demands are within the context of the understanding that they will require mass working class struggle. And we call for a complete break from all capitalist parties: the Democrats/Republicans and the various third parties and formations that have a pro-capitalist, liberal reformist program. The workers need their own independent class struggle workers party.
In the era of decaying American capitalism there is not a lot of maneuver room for even meager liberal reforms absent massive class struggle and independent working class politics. War, poverty, unemployment and exploitation are endemic to capitalism and cannot be eliminated short of getting rid of capitalism. We call for a 30 hour work week at 40 hours pay to spread the work around as a fight against unemployment. We are for a 100% cost-of-living to keep pace with inflation. We are for free, socialized medicine and free education for all. And we are opposed to US imperialist military actions, period. No ifs, ands or buts. US hands off the world! Our caucus platform speaks to the historic interests of the workers and prepares them to abolish capitalism. We stand for workers rule.
It is no accident that the West Coast Occupy movement has taken a more radical, working class direction shutting down the ports. Or that the Longshoremen of the ILWU in Longview are willing to engage in the kind of class struggle we advocate in our caucus platform. It is because there are class struggle, class conscious militants that are there fighting for that perspective.
Not the conservative motto, “A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work” but for the “Abolition of the wage system!”
Join us! We need good, militant workers!
*Organizational affiliation for personal identification purposes only
Unofficial, independent Rank-and-File Fighting Union Caucus composed of individual members of SEIU Local 199* and AFSCME Local 12*. Our caucus platform was developed in consultation with public workers in Iowa (SEIU 199 & AFSCME 12), California CDPH (CAPS, AFSCME & SEIU 1000 members) and California SF Superior Court (SEIU 1021) members & retirees.
Labor Donated 01/27/2012