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U.S. delegation’s address to World Working Youth Congress in Rome

By staff |
November 11, 2017
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Fight Back News Service is circulating the following the text of a speech delivered by is Richard Blake, delivered to the third World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) World Working Youth Congress, which took place in Rome, Italy, Nov. 2-3.

Greetings comrades, from the militant workers of the United States. I want to thank the World Federation of Trade Unions and the USB for hosting this Congress and inviting me to be here.

My name is Richard Blake. I am a warehouse worker in my home state of Florida and an elected shop steward in my union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Like much of the rest of the world, the war on U.S. workers by the employers has not ceased for a moment since the 2008 financial crisis. Workers, and especially the working youth, are experiencing falling wages, worsening conditions and declining benefits. Young workers are looking at a future with failing old-age pensions and jobs with no protections whatsoever. Many have debts from school or medical bills that they will never pay back.

And now, our new president, Donald Trump, launches new attacks on the rights of unions to organize and even exist. He threatens to privatize Social Security and eliminate welfare rights. On top of that, President Trump’s government works day and night to divide our working class by appealing to the chauvinism of white workers.

More than ever, the U.S. working class needs a united and militant response to these attacks.

Unfortunately, the majority of our union leaders have chosen collaboration with the bosses over struggle. These class traitors make huge salaries while our unions lose members every year. Workers in our unions, including young workers, are realizing more and more that our union leaders are not capable of defending the interests of our class, the working class.

Therefore, it is up to us, the militant and revolutionary trade unionists of the U.S. to take this dissatisfaction and turn it into power within our unions to turn them into internationalist, class struggle organizations.

This struggle is more important than ever as our government passes law after law criminalizing trade union activity. As our bourgeoisie takes more from us every year and with every new contract. As our capitalists work to privatize all government services and Social Security. As our government threatens the entire world with war.

To put our unions on a class struggle basis would mean:

  • A willingness to fight concessions by using our most powerful weapon, the strike, instead of accepting defeats like our leaders currently do.
  • Solidarity with the movement for political rights of African Americans, Latinos and immigrants. Young workers currently suffer the worst from daily police killings where there are never any punishments for these killer cops.
  • Internationalism and solidarity with the anti-imperialist struggle around the world. Just as many brave dockworkers refused to load military equipment for the criminal invasion of Iraq in 2003, we must refuse to aid any U.S. imperialist endeavor and instead actively work to stop them. As Che Guevara once said, militants in the U.S. live in the belly of the best so we have a special duty to do this.
  • And finally, class struggle unions in the U.S. would join the WFTU.

This is a difficult task, but we are gaining strength continuously.

For example, in my union, a transport union of 1.4 million workers, class conscious unionists came within 6 thousand votes of winning national leadership. And in local unions where we have taken power, we strike and we win.

So this is the situation in the U.S.:

  • A right-wing Trump government that gives every gift to the capitalists that they ask for.
  • A fascist movement trying to attract white youth to its banner.
  • A working class who wants to fight the bosses and a trade union bureaucracy that refuses to lead them.

But we believe that with struggle, the full force of our working class can turn to fight its real enemy, the enemy of all working people: the U.S. imperialist class.

And it is on behalf of the revolutionary trade unionist youth in the U.S. that I tell you that we are honored and excited to continue working with the WFTU and this Youth Congress. We look to your example in our ongoing fight against our capitalist class and against yellow trade unionism.

And it is the working youth, who are receiving fewer and fewer crumbs from the capitalist syste , who must be the center of our struggle against the imperialist class and for an end to exploitation of man by man.

Long Live the WFTU!Long Live the International Working Youth!

Death to Imperialism!

Thank you.