‘Our Union’s in bed with the Bosses…’ Brookdale Rank-and-File Must Unite and Lead the Struggle

BROOKLYN, N.Y., July 29 — “So what they’re talking about doing here is building a whole working-class movement, beyond our union,” stated one Brookdale worker to another at a home visit by PLP members. Despite torrential rain, we met to discuss the ongoing struggle at Brookdale Hospital, which foreshadows the even bigger racist cuts coming from the Obama-Tea Party circus, such as the $655 billion federal cuts in Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. Brookdale Hospital and its 3,500 workers, in the majority black and Latino working-class Brownsville neighborhood have been stripped bare by the racist bosses of MediSys. The misleadership of Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU  — see previous CHALLENGE, 8/3).

Workers expressed their disappointment that the fight hasn’t escalated further, regardless of the militant sit-downs and picketing. “When we go outside now to march, we tell everybody in our department, ‘hey! You all should take your lunch break and come march with us!’“

After the previous months of struggle and confrontation between the workers and bosses, these workers didn’t hide their frustration with the declining militancy, and exasperation at how the hospital bosses are getting away scot-free. “We were telling the union for months what was going on here.” Another worker declared, “but they kept telling us to wait until the legal people did something.” The 1199 leaders are out for their own interests; it’s time to call upon new leadership, ourselves.

The MediSys-owned Peninsula Hospital, located in the borough of Queens, announced last week it is closing. This news was received with surprise and anxiety at Brookdale. The union Local 1199 leadership, is not only uninterested in fighting back at Brookdale, but uninterested in fighting back at all! Peninsula Hospital is closing due to the same series of attacks MediSys has made on Brookdale. Union leadership does not have the workers’ interests; as workers we need to unite and fight for our class interests.

A PL’er asked, “Why didn’t the union, which was aware of Peninsula’s troubles for months, organize any solidarity events between Brookdale, Peninsula, and every union member in the city with it’s 250,000 members?”

“Because our union’s in bed with the bosses!” shot back a worker.

PLP isn’t building some union or electoral party, but a fighting, revolutionary communist working-class party.

CHALLENGE, unlike all other media, is the working class’s paper and shows capitalism as the root cause of our current problems. Brookdale workers are learning that PLP is with them shoulder-to-shoulder. A major aspect of our struggle with the Brookdale workers has been trying to keep a long-term outlook. Strike or no strike, “win” or “lose” this round, the bosses’ racist class war rages on against the working class; the struggle continues.

Distribution of CHALLENGE to Brookdale workers, struggling with the workers over the ideas in the paper, making new friends, and uniting our lives through our struggles are the orders of the day. Communist revolution is necessary, and can happen as growing CHALLENGE networks make PLP’s ideas mass ideas.

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