Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Boston school transit drivers wildcat strike

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Boston school bus drivers went on a wildcat strike to protest their pay and working conditions. The private bus company that runs the system, Veolia, also runs MV para transit in the San Francisco bay Area. The workers at MV receive less pay and fewer benefits than public sector transit drivers. The cops have been scabbing on the workers taking kids to school and the usual hypocrisy is flowing from the mouths of the politicians who attack the workers for causing such disruption to education.  This comes from politicians of parties that have savaged public eduction, presided over the elimination of hundreds of thousands of public school teachers and closing down of schools. Suddenly, when workers are forced to strike (and a wildcat strike is not taken lightly) to defend our livelihoods we are are attacked by these people in their media.  Their claims have no validity.

Tom Hock, the union busting negiotiator that was brought in to bust the BART unions is also connected to Veolia.  We have seen over the past few months a golden opportunity missed yet again as transit workers as well as other public sector workers at the City of Oakland, the East Bay Regional parks and EBMUD, the East Bay water utility, have all been in contract talks at the same time yet no serious effort at all has been made by the leadership of these locals or the Bay Area Labor movement as a whole to unite these struggles, link them to community struggles and collectively fight against the present capitalist offensive.

A direct action campaign for jobs for all, a $20 an hour minimum wage, a massive federally led national infrastructure program, free public transportation for seniors, the disabled, those on assistance and the unemployed as well as expanded public sector pensions for all workers, nationally provided health care on demand and free federally funded education at all levels would draw in all sections of the working class in a united struggle against the 1%'s austerity agenda directed by the Democratic and Republican parties.

The bosses and their media will say this is unrealistic but we must reject their realism and demand what we need not what is profitable to the 1%.  They will also say society cannot afford it and this will be echoed by the Labor hierarchy but this is nonsense. These basic human needs can easily be paid for by ending all the predatory wars fought to defend the profits of US corporations and bringing the troops home. A different approach to foreign policy would liberate billions for social needs. The trillions that private corporations are hoarding or using for speculation rather than investing in social production can be liberated form the hands of a few private individuals and put to public use by taking in to public ownership, management and control the commanding heights, or dominant sectors of the economy.  The 1% stashes trillion away in secretive tax havens---we can and must put a stop to this.

We will also be told that we cannot win these things.  We cannot win them by using the same old methods of appealing to politicians of the two Wall Street parties and their mouthpieces in academia. Or appealing to the courts where money is king. We can only rely on our own strength and the building of a united direct action movement that can defy their laws and injunctions and drive back or at very least neutralize the police who are used to crush strikes.  We have the numbers, we can do this, the present union leadership will not, and lawyers and liberals in the Democratic Party can not.

Out of such a movement can arise an independent political party of workers and the poor that will allow us to fight on both fronts for a future that can lead to genuine freedom and security. This wildcat strike above is another example of the anger beneath the surface of US society that is beginning to break through in to the open.

You can read more here.

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