Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Walmart workers, Black Friday: All out in Support.

My companion has a friend who is 75 years old. She is working at Walmart. She has no transport so she has to take the bus to and from work. Just today my companion and I gave her our second car which is very old in the hope that it will last for a while so she can get out of waiting at bus stops in the brutal Chicago winter.

Our friend has to work at her age while the Walton family who owns Walmart have billions of dollars.  The Walton family are capitalist vultures of the worst kind. The six members of their family have a net worth equal to the 30% of the US population with the lowest income in the country. Think about this. Use your imagination. These six creatures have more than tens of millions of American families. They could buy our friend a dozen cars to go to work in and they would not even notice it.

They have amassed their wealth by exploiting workers in the US and China. And when workers object they intimidate, harass and fire them. The Waltons are thugs of the worst order. They are now trying to take action in the courts to stop the presently striking workers from fighting for their rights. These workers who are on the picket line must receive our all out support. They are leading the way for all US workers. They must also get our full support in trying to convince their fellow Walmart workers to join them on the picket line. Close every store by mass picketing. We must also help the strikers to convince potential customers to respect and not pass their pickets.

Every Walmart store should now be targeted and a support committee of trade unionists and activists set up to support these workers with industrial action organized but also solidarity action such as bringing them food and drink to keep them and their families going. This is an opportunity for the Occupy movement to be revitalized.

The union leaders have the power to make the strike a success. They must see what is going on here. They are up against a determined and vicious outfit. If the workers win here this could turn around the mood in the country. If the workers lose here this could strengthen the feeling that the bosses cannot be defeated. The union leaders have been carrying out a policy based on the idea that the bosses offensive cannot be defeated so they have been making concession after concession. It is not an exaggeration to say that the union leaders would not be too happy about the idea of a clear and resounding victory for the Walmart workers. After all it would undercut their argument that the bosses cannot be defeated in this period. And it would undercut their strategy of defeatism of the last decades.

If the Walmart workers win, get the right to organize, get a minimum wage of at least $15 an hour, get full benefits, this would prove that what the union leaders have been saying that victories cannot be won in this period is not correct. The union leaders must stop their retreat in front of the bosses offensive and pull out their forces and stop Walmart.  They can do this by stopping all deliveries, all energy and all pick ups from every Walmart store and do this by mass picketing and the workers in the delivery and collection utility companies refusing to work, going on strike also. At the same time it must be explained that higher wages does not mean higher prices for the customers. The extra wages and benefits must come out of the billions of profits of the Walton mob.

At the same time as the union leaders take this action here in the US they must put together an organizing drive into China. Walmart imports $30 billion from China every year and these imports come from even worse paid workers than the $8.00 an hour US workers. Build a united international organizing drive to organize Walmart wherever it has a store and wherever it gets supplies.

Victory on this front can open up victories on many other fronts, in other industries and sectors of the world economy. It can show that international organizing drives can be set in motion and can be victorious. A whole new world situation could develop. That is the potential significance of the Walmart strike. The union leaders must get their asses off the White House soft seats where the Democrats pretend to listen to them when in reality Obama and the Democrats and the Republicans are meeting with and listening to the CEO's and dominant leaders of the corporations.

As we fight for this approach from the union leaders we have to recognize that the they are tied to capitalism and its profit system, tied to the Democratic Party and so are unlikely to take these actions. But we have to continue to demand they take these actions and to pressure them to do so by building fighting caucuses in the workplaces, the unions at all levels, and the neighborhoods and schools and colleges. The Walmart workers’ fight can help build such new fighting oppositions and the generalized mass movement that is necessary for us to win..


No comments: