For several weeks last fall, French transit workers engaged in a series of strikes to defend their pensions and jobs. Other workers and students also struck. Meanwhile, the cops murdered two youths, sparking an anti-racist rebellion of African and Arab youth. It is inter-imperialist rivalry that is spawning increased racist attacks on our living standards worldwide, attacks which impel these strikes and rebellions.
French bosses are using president Sarkozy to attack industrial workers and youth, shredding the old social contract. The pro-capitalist union leaders refuse to counter these attacks. The bosses have their strategy for the future; what is ours?
The major imperialist powers are freely investing capital globally. New transportation and communications systems are creating rapid, mass migration of workers. The industrial working class is expanding, especially in India and China, where migration is mainly internal, from rural areas to the cities. In Europe and the U.S., migration is primarily from Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. In Latin America, workers migrate from poorer countries to those somewhat less poor — from Haiti to Dominican Republic, from Nicaragua and Honduras to El Salvador, from neighboring countries to Brazil and Argentina. The bosses use this mobility to force large pools of unemployed workers to compete for jobs. We can use this greater connection to build an international movement against capitalism.
Transportation systems that move people and commodities are becoming increasingly critical to capitalist profit. The transportation industries can be the Achilles heel of capitalism if we can organize breakthroughs here. This adds importance to the recent transport strikes in France, Italy, Spain and elsewhere, and the struggle in mass transit worldwide.
Our strategy is to unite the unemployed, immigrant and industrial workers in a movement for communist revolution, bringing workers to power and crushing the racist bosses. With communist leadership, transportation workers can take the lead.
French transit workers were able to draw students and other workers into the struggle, but lacked the leadership to unite with the unemployed and immigrant youth. Communist leadership is necessary to develop the anti-racist class consciousness required to advance at this time.
Among transit workers in NYC, Washington D.C., Chicago and the West Coast, we’re fighting racist attacks and cutbacks that target a mostly black work-force that serves an even larger black, Latino and immigrant population. We struggle to keep the fight against racism in the forefront of contract fights and union elections. We organized support for those left to die in New Orleans during Katrina, and more recently for the Jena 6. We have tried to pass union resolutions and collected money from co-workers.
Mainly, we’re fighting to spread CHALLENGE and PLP literature in our garages, bus barns and workplaces. We’re trying to develop personal and group discussions among co-workers, inviting them to study-action groups and PLP club meetings. Self-critically, we can do much better on this. The better we do, the better we can do. We must fight against getting buried in the daily demands of “union work.”
The transportation unions are shadows of their former selves. Strikes, like the 2005 NYC transit walkout, are seldom used and often broken. This year the rulers will spend over a billion of our dollars in a sucker’s bet on the 2008 presidential elections. Clinton, Obama and Edwards are the bosses’ shell game. Whoever we choose, we lose! No matter who’s elected president, more and deadlier imperialist wars will still rage, racist terror will be used to attack and divide us, and transportation workers will face more cutbacks and attacks. These are the laws of capitalism.
Transit workers, airline workers, railroad workers and truck drivers are the lifeline of modern industrial society. We can be a key force for communist revolution. The current inter-imperialist rivalry is leading to wars that will make Iraq look like a tea party. Slowly but surely, a new generation of black, Latino and women transportation workers will be building a mass international PLP to end the profit system once and for all.