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Review

Build a Fighting Workers Movement

A review of the pamphlet Build a Fighting Workers Movement by the Labor Commission of Freedom Road Socialist Organization
by Joe Iosbaker |
March 16, 2009
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picture of front cover of pamphlet

This past Dec. 5, 250 workers occupied the Republic Windows and Doors factory on Goose Island in Chicago. They had been told a few days earlier that the company was closing and that there would be no severance pay, or even payment of wages or sick or vacation pay owed them. Their protest, targeting their company and the Bank of America, became a national symbol of working people’s anger at the rich and powerful. “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out,” they chanted as their story was reported across the world.

Now over three months later, there has been no wave of labor action in the U.S. to follow up this spectacular beginning. Why? Aren’t millions of workers just as angry? Don’t they want to strike blows against the billionaires on Wall Street?

Of course the working class wants to fight. The problem is there is no leadership in place to direct the anger at the class of people that are responsible for the misery in our lives.

This is a good time for the publication of this pamphlet from Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), reflecting over 20 years of experience in the labor movement. The pamphlet states the problem clearly: “Class collaborationism dominates organized labor.”

Build a Fighting Workers Movement briefly presents the weaknesses of the major unions in the U.S. The examples there can be updated anew: Instead of more headlines of righteous workers in combat with greedy bosses, labor news since the start of the year has been about SEIU’s national president, Andy Stern, crushing the militant, democratic United Healthcare Workers-West; and about the UAW opening up contracts to make further concessions to the Big Three, instead of using the billions of dollars the union has in the bank to fund a rebellion against the destruction of the standard of living their members fought for in earlier generations.

FRSO knows that the change sought in the unions isn’t a matter of electing a few new national leaders. “Our strategic task in the trade unions in this period is to place them on a class struggle basis,” states the pamphlet. And perhaps uniquely among left forces in labor, FRSO has a strategy to step by step transform the unions, beginning by uniting the “militant minority” among the rank and file as we call it; a phrase borrowed from the great U.S. communist, W.Z. Foster. The militant minority is that section of the workers that wants to fight the bosses and that sees that the trade union bureaucrats are not capable of leading that fight.

I urge Fight Back! readers to check out Build a Fighting Workers Movement. Print more copies from the PDF format on the FRSO website and share them with co-workers. And share your opinions of it with us. Write us at [email protected]

You can read the pamphlet Build a Fighting Workers Movement by clicking here:

http://www.frso.org/about/pamphlets/2009-fighting-workers-movement.pdf

Joe Iosbaker is co-chair of the Labor Commission of Freedom Road Socialist Organization

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