Thursday, April 16, 2015

Low waged workers take action in 236 US cities.

Sean O'Torrain.

In an unprecedented movement yesterday, April 15th, 2015, workers in 236 US cities either struck or demonstrated for a $15.00 an hour minimum wage and the right to join a union. Yesterday's actions were the most widespread in US history. Yesterday was a red letter day.

The consciousness is changing in the USA. Yes the balance of class forces remain in favor of the corporations. This is because this class has a monopoly over politics with its parties the Republicans and Democrats. It is because it owns and controls the mass media, the mass propaganda outlets, the TV stations, press etc. It is also because it controls the state apparatus, the cops with their body armor and their military vehicles and the armed forces with their weaponry. But as Bob Dylan sang: The Times They are a Changin'. This is shown by yesterdays movement in 236 cities. It was magnificent and inspiring. Workers and youth irrespective of gender, race, sexual orientation took to the streets together or struck together.

This movement is shifting the consciousness, shifting the national debate. The representatives of the corporations want to keep the debate on religion and so-called cultural issues but the mass of the population are now talking about something else. This really started with the Occupy Movement when it put on the agenda of the majority of the population the idea of 1%/99%. That is that 1% had the wealth and the 99% were either in or close to poverty. This idea has not been eradicated from US society. It is and will remain part of the national woodwork. Now a new idea has been added - low pay, poverty wages - two or three jobs needed to stay afloat while the rich have wealth never before seen in US society. No more than the 1%-99% idea will go away, the idea of ending low pay will not go away. It will not do so because it is rooted in the day to day reality of the overwhelming majority of the American people, the American working class. When ideas have a material base they will force their way to the surface.

But a question remains when there was such a movement yesterday, when there is such support for ending poverty and making the rich pay, why is the balance of class forces still on the side of the capitalist class, the corporations? The explanation for this is because the union leaders will not mobilize their forces to fight. There are 15 million members of trade unions in the US. They are concentrated in many of the industries such as transport, manufacturing, and the public sector. Key areas of the economy. Full time wage and salary workers have median weekly wages of $970 per week, non union of $763 per week. Plus being in a union brings with it better benefits, conditions and rights. The union leaders have the facts to go out and organize. So why do they not?

In my article yesterday I went a bit overboard in the heading because I was so angry at the union leaders for their refusal to fight. They practice the Team Concept, that is cooperating with the bosses in the work place and with the Democratic Party in politics. The overwhelming majority of the trade union leadership continue with these policies. The Service Employees International Union put resources into the Fight for Fifteen campaign and they are to be congratulated for this but even in that union the leader ship was initially split with a section saying they should not invest money in such a campaign when they were not sure they would get dues paying members out of it. A section of the leadership asked "Why should the union spend millions of dollars on a campaign that did not immediately net the organization dues-paying members?" (NYT April 16th.) Fortunately the union's leader, Mary Kay Henry prevailed and the union invested in the campaign.

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