“Hey did you see Gustavo’s finger?” a worker asked me.
“Yeah that thing looked sick; the health and safety rules are a joke around here.” I replied.
“I know, I think they (the Environmental Health and Safety people) are just here so they can keep OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) off the bosses’ backs.”
We were talking about our co-worker who almost lost his finger because the safety guards on our machines had been disabled and the machine turned causing two hydraulic jaws to close on his hand while he was trying to clear a jam. Of course, the bosses tried to blame our co-worker for having his hand in the machine but as machinists we have to do that sometimes. The bosses knew in advance that the guards had been disabled but did nothing to prevent this injury.
The correct solution would have been to turn the machine off and call maintenance to fix the problem but because the competition in the aerospace industry is so fierce, the bosses are cutting costs everywhere while pushing for more production. The result is workers working long hours and not getting adequate rest. This combined with the bosses not keeping an adequate maintenance department creates dangerous conditions for us as workers; conditions that we must confront together.
The bottom line is that the bosses don’t care how many people get hurt or sick because of their long hours and dangerous machines. Their main objective is to out-produce their rivals at the cheapest cost possible. Almost anyone I talk to on the floor understands this but they don’t see that there is a way to change this rotten profit system. The key will be to win these workers to communist politics and help them understand that the U.S. bosses are competing with other imperialists around the world to maintain their system. The Iraq war is further putting U.S. capitalism in crisis and more wars are on the horizon. The imperialists know this and are pushing more racism and nationalism so workers will pay for these wars with their labor and lives.
CHALLENGE will play an essential role in developing workers’ understanding of capitalism and inter-imperialist rivalry. Within a relatively short period of time I have been able to start a network of CHALLENGE readers who are interested in learning more about how they and the Party can build a movement to end capitalism and build a world based on workers’ interests. One of these friends said that at first he was a bit nervous because he had never seen a group like PLP with so many different “races” having a discussion but that after he saw how we are all equal regardless of color he felt much more comfortable and encouraged to come again.
We understand that it is a long road ahead of us but with the help of students, teachers soldiers and workers inside the factories working towards the same goal, these small networks can grow to be large networks and study-action groups. They can lead struggles against the bosses and recruit more workers committed to ending capitalism, and establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat led by our Party.
Worker from the Southwest United States