NEW YORK — The lesson of Wisconsin state workers was that instead of accepting whatever the state government gives us, we should organize mass struggle. For that, they received overwhelming workers’ support. Here, it’s a different story.
The CSEA (Civil Service Employees Association) union sold out NY government workers in a projected agreement with the state that attacks the living standards of 66,000 workers in the operational services unit. The Governor of NY, Andrew Cuomo, congratulated the union leadership, in a communication sent in June that reads: “The union has worked very hard to get an agreement that benefits its membership in these difficult times.”
“This is sheer hypocrisy,” was the comment from one NYS worker, who asked, “how does this benefit the workers if we are not getting a raise for two years? How is this beneficial when we’d only get a 2% raise in 2015 and 2016? They don’t see the impact of the high cost of living, the increases in rents, transportation, and gas? To make matters worse they are taking more out of our pay for health insurance — giving our money to the “poor” corporations that are already sucking our blood; how is that?”
Who Benefits From Workers’ Sacrifice?
During the third week of June several state workers were fired. One of them had a salary of $32,000 a year, but in a few days another person making twice as much, $65,000 a year, replaced him, to do exactly the same job. That’s only one example of the way state bureaucracy works.
The majority of the jobs lost, though, were in the lower-wage levels, and have not been replaced, making twice as much work for those still holding a job. The job and wage cuts are both racist and sexist, as the workers affected are black, Latino and women.
Meanwhile, at the higher levels, bureaucracy is growing, as is the case in SUNY Downstate, where a new position as president assistant (with a bloated salary) appeared overnight. There is no talk of sacrifice at that level.
The sacrifice that Obama, Cuomo and friends are talking about is the sacrifice of workers. We’re told that the crisis is everyone’s problem. But when things get better and the bosses are making money, we don’t get pay raises or better services; there is no talk of sharing the wealth.
Make the Bosses Pay For Their Crisis
The state makes billions collecting our taxes, the big shots get the most money and those of us who do all the work get paid a small portion of any company’s budget. Meanwhile, the war eats up billions of dollars. It is a lie that there is no money; the crisis is the product of the war and the bosses’ own greed for profits. Let the bosses bear the brunt of their crisis; we shouldn’t have to pay for it.
Union Leadership Always Helps the Bosses
The union didn’t talk to us first, because the union didn’t want to fight. Reading the small print of the proposed contract, it is clearly stated that: “The reduction of the labor force or the closing of departments will be done by the heads of departments.” The union leadership, meanwhile, pushes the lie that there won’t be any layoffs, and that’s the reason why they were forced to sign an agreement that doesn’t include a pay raise.
There was not even a small attempt to fight back. The union leadership was in a hurry to sign an agreement, and made a call to the workers to help “solve” the crisis. They only want us to rubber-stamp what they’ve already agreed to with the bosses. The union leadership treats us like recyclable trash to be used to keep their plush salaries rolling in. The union is just there to defend the bosses’ interests — giving in and surrendering everything that we workers fought for and achieved through years of struggles and many sacrifices.
The Reality of the Working Class
We grow poorer by the day; we are carrying the burden of a capitalist system in crisis, and we’re at the end of our rope. We’re barely surviving. We work just to pay rent, eat and support the capitalist parasites that squeeze us as hard as they can with their taxes. We are now living in a historical period dominated by inter-imperialist rivalry. U.S. bosses have needed to spend billions of dollars in their wars to profit from and control the flow of oil that their capitalist rivals in Europe, China and throughout Asia need to keep their economies going.
The U.S. capitalists’ fight to maintain their top-dog position in gathering international profits leads to the worsening of the economic and political situation worldwide: the unemployment of millions of workers who end up in the streets, and medical services not only getting worse but becoming nonexistent for millions of workers.
As workers we have the power to sweep this mafia off the face of the earth and to build our own system, A COMMUNIST SYSTEM, as the only solution. In this new system, we won’t need money because we’d work only for the things that we need, such as housing, health care, education, food and recreation. In the past, workers in the Soviet Union and China demonstrated that this can be achieved with workers’ power even though their gains have been reversed through alliances with capitalists. PLP will not repeat that mistake and will build real communism without bosses and their profits.
Health workers, teachers, students, parents, organized in Progressive Labor Party can be an incredible force. We can understand that the conditions of workers everywhere in the world are our own conditions. The growth of our working-class consciousness will enable our forces worldwide to defeat, once and for all, the abusive, blood-sucking capitalist system.