Class struggle trade union caucus
The following is the leaflet that our union caucus helped create and distribute in a united front collaboration with the Independent Workers League (which our caucus has a supporter of, but which we are not affiliated with) in response to a “Rise Up to Raise the Minimum Wage” organized by SEIU 199 in Iowa City. We proposed a political program of working class struggle and raised demands such as jobs for all, a sliding scale of wages and hours and a workers poltiical party in contrast to the supportable, but minimal reformist demand of simply raising the minimum wage. In addition it should be pointed out that the political basis for this rally meshed very well with the Democratic Party and the 2012 elections, which was fairly explicitly expressed at the rally:
There were Democratic Party supporters from 99uniting.org at the rally gathering petition signatures.
As far as we can tell, the union leadership did little to organize for this rally. As union members, we didn’t even get an email until Thursday, two days before. We saw no leaflets distributed or posted in town, except for our united front leaflet which we posted. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the Labor Center’s Midwest School for Women Workers, the attendees would have pretty much been the union officials and a very small number of the rank-and-file. And what about trying to pull in the unorganized and from the Black, Brown and immigrant communtities?
It should also be noted that at the rally, the other leftists in attendance from the anarchist Wild Rose Collective and IWW were just “hanging out”. They will not directly challenge the pro-capitalist, class collaborationist union leadership and the binding of the working class to the capitalist Democratic Party. They were not even advancing their own ostensbile political program, be it the IWW’s or anarchism. So much for working class struggle.
Iowa City “Rise Up to Raise the Minimum Wage” Rally,
July 28th, Pedestrian Mall, 5 PM
Organize a real workers fight! Build class struggle united front contingents at rallies!
On July 28th, the officials of SEIU 199 have called for a “Rise Up to Raise the Minimum Wage” rally on
the Pedestrian Mall in Iowa City. The political basis of this rally is to “to tell elected officials, candidates, and
corporate CEOs that it’s time to raise the federal minimum wage”. While raising the minimum wage is a
supportable minimal reformist demand, it will not fundamentally (or much at all) alter the attacks on the
working class, the poor, women, the elderly, immigrants, or the oppressed communities of color. Not to
mention that the rally call mirrors the recent legislation by the capitalist Democratic Party to raise the
This rally is being organized by the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) officials. SEIU is
pumping tens of millions of dollars into the 2012 elections (they spent $85 million in 2008) in order to
preserve the jobs of the Democratic Party politicians while the workers, including SEIU rank-and-file, face
budget cuts and austerity. This is the same old Democratic Party song-and-dance that the labor tops have
pushed for decades. The result has been the decimation of organized labor and the working class as a whole.
With the vast majority of workers unorganized, the labor skates cannot claim to speak for the working class.
SEIU leaders, along with much of the other union tops have formally endorsed Barack Obama for reelection.
Obama was deploying the Coast Guard in Longview Washington to try to break the militant ILWU
21 (Longshoreman) strike. In other words, the union officials who are calling for workers to “rise
up” are supporting a military strikebreaker for President. It was the pro-Democratic Party labor
leadership that led the Wisconsin workers away from sentiment for a general strike into the dead-end of the
Recall elections, into the Democratic Party and into defeat.
We call on leftist organizations as well as worker militants to come together at the July 28th rally to
propose an alternative perspective to the class collaborationist, pro-capitalist, pro-Democratic Party politics
of the servile union bureaucracy. We propose that leftists and militant workers form up class
struggle united front contingents at rallies to point the way forward for the working class
and all the oppressed! What is needed in this country is some good old-fashioned working class struggle
that built the unions in the first place and won many of the gains that are now being taken back by the
capitalist ruling class.
Jobs for all at full union rates and benefits! For a 30 hour workweek at 40 hours pay to spread the
work around and create jobs! For a sliding scale of wages to keep pace with the cost-of-living!
Build rank-and-file caucuses in the unions based on a political program of working class struggle!
Oust the labor-fakers and forge a fighting union leadership!
Build Labor, Black and Brown committees in the community linked to organized labor!
Build factory and worksite committees and unemployed councils!
Defend our unions through militant working class struggle! Organize the unorganized “wall-to-wall”!
Revive the sit-down strike tactic and occupy the factories and businesses!
Build for an indefinite general strike! Shut it down!
For free, quality education for all! For open admissions and free tuition!
For worker/faculty/parent/student control of education!
Nationalize major industry and banks without compensation and run under workers control! For a
mass program of public works to create jobs and rebuild the decaying infrastructure of America!
Break with the Democrat/Republican parties of the bosses!
For a fighting workers party that is irreconcilably opposed to capital!
The following organizations support this leaflet and the call for class struggle contingents:
Independent Workers League
Fighting Union Caucus (Iowa)