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Rank and File Leaders say:

No progress without struggle

by Kay Fox and Richard Berg |
February 1, 2002
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Berg and Fox are Rank and File leaders in Teamster Local 743

The system is based on greed. What system? You know...the system, the capitalist system or whatever you want to call it.

Where we work, the University of Chicago Hospitals, or for that matter, in any other hospital, decisions are made based on money. They do not make important decisions based on fairness or quality healthcare for patients, but always based on money. MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!

This is not true just in healthcare, but in every business and every industry in the United States. The boss says, "if we don't put money first, the guys down the block, our competitors, will wipe us out."

This system of greed could care less about families who have inadequate healthcare, people with childcare needs, tired workers who need more vacation time, students lacking tuition money or a homeless family on a cold night. This system will only do what is right when it is forced to - when it costs even more money to do otherwise.

This is where we come in. We need to build a movement strong enough to demand and to get justice. The anti-slavery fighter Frederick Douglass said it best, "If there is no struggle, there is no progress."

As workers, we are in the best position to demand and win justice for all people. Our labor creates the wealth, yet the rich and powerful make all the decisions. Do we want quality healthcare - or a larger salary for the presidents of the hospitals and insurance companies?

We need to build a movement that demands quality healthcare for all, decent wages and benefits for healthcare workers - and decent wages and benefits for all workers.

One thing that we need to accomplish for this is strong labor unions. Unions are the main organizations of workers. Our unions should stand in the forefront of the battle for justice. They are a vital weapon in our efforts to make things better for regular people.

Unfortunately, many union leaders see their interests as the same as the boss. They collaborate with the boss, putting their own greed ahead of the interests of the workers - even those workers who they are paid to represent.

Often, this kind of union representation leads to corruption. But whether it becomes corrupt or not, it is a dead-end for working people. It never leads to justice.

There is a battle going on within the labor movement - between those workers and leaders who want to struggle for a better life on the one hand, and those collaborationist leaders who will sell us out on the other.

We believe that Frederick Douglass was right to insist on the need to fight back. Now is the time to unite all workers around a program of working class struggle. Now is the time to transform our unions into tools for justice based in the battles of working people.

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