Build Communist Collectives, Not Unions, For Real Workers’ Power
LOS ANGELES (USA)— “The Supreme Court is about to destroy public employee unions,” fretted an officer of a teachers’ local. “They’ve pretty much destroyed themselves,” said a member. “Like when our union changed its strike fund into a political campaign fund years ago.”
Unions never mobilized to destroy capitalist exploitation. They never will. They tie us to one capitalist political party or another – in the US, mainly to the Democrats. Only a revolutionary communist party can mobilize workers to lead the broad masses to take power. Then we will transform production to meet our own needs instead of the bosses’ profits.
Unions work for the capitalists, and many workers know it. In Mexico, for instance, perhaps 90% of unionized workers belong to “ghost unions” set up by company lawyers before workers are even hired. Union officials – tied to the governing party – pocket big money for helping keep wages low and turning out the vote.
Embroidery workers in El Salvador, mostly rural women working at home, make as little as $1-$2 for a 16-hour day. About 300 recently formed a union. But who really benefits from this campaign, organized by the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center which is funded mainly by the US government?
In communism workers won’t need unions. We ourselves will organize and manage production. Workers will meet regularly in local Party collectives (open to all) to plan, evaluate, and solve problems. We’ll make broader planning and policy decisions in regional or global Party collectives in close touch with local groups. Mainly we’ll work to expand communist social relations.
In Communism, We’ll All Produce and Share – No Capitalist State Means No “Public” or “Private” Workers”
In the US, 6.5% of private-sector workers but 34.5% of public employees are unionized. Public employees are foot-soldiers of the capitalist state. They run the institutions that enforce the capitalists’ class rule. In communism, all workers will participate in direct self-government. There will be no separate category of “public workers.” Communist state power will rely on mobilized masses, not on a repressive bureaucracy, as long as there are class enemies to suppress.
Some public unions — police and prison guards – are openly racist and anti-working-class. Others –teachers’ unions, AFSCME and SEIU – are “progressive.” They have enabled the Democratic Party to get out the vote. Many include large numbers of African-American members.
US bosses rely on teachers to train the next generation of exploited workers and imperialist foot-soldiers. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) boosts corporate-led “education reform.” For 50 years its officials have helped lead the US-imperialist Solidarity Center which promotes anti-communist unions and political movements throughout Latin America, Eastern Europe and elsewhere.
US Supreme Court Attacks Public Workers’ Unions
Forty years ago, the US Supreme Court upheld the “union shop” in the public sector in “Abboud vs. Detroit.” Unions could collect “agency fees” from non-members. That helps cover costs of collective bargaining, grievance representation, etc. Their political funds are kept separate, although the vast union bureaucracies are inherently political.
But unions are also expensive. US union workers earn 25% more than non-union workers. They often have more benefits. The pay gap between men and women is smaller for unionized US teachers. In this period of global capitalist crisis and sharpening competition, the US rulers are less willing to pay this price.
A year ago, the Supreme Court almost overturned Abboud in the “Friedrichs” case — then Justice Scalia died and the court split. This month it will hear “Janus vs. AFSCME” and probably end the agency fee at least for public unions. Republicans want to undermine the Democrats’ base of support. Democrats have figured out that they can mobilize for elections using “identity politics” like the huge “Women’s Marches.”
That’s why public employee union officials are panicking.
No More Ghosts and Zombies: Communism Means Life
Union officials and some socialists have accused us communists of “wanting to destroy the unions” because we’re not vigorously defending them.
These zombie unions have already destroyed themselves. By mobilizing for elections, not class struggle. By relying on courts, laws and bosses instead of on the workers. And by trying to get workers to pin our hopes for a decent life on a desperate, decaying profit system.
Our job isn’t to give bodies to ghosts or to revive zombies. It’s to build living communist collectives to destroy this deadly system.
Talk to everyone you can about communism. Share this paper with them. Write for it. Arrange to meet with, or create, a Party group. Donate money. Plan to march on May Day 2018 under the Red Flag of communism!
Read our pamphlet: Bigger Industrial Working Class: Bigger Communist Potential Worldwide
Available at: icwpredflag.org/IndustrialE/WorkE.html