The past few weeks have been filled with important developments in the union movement in the United States. The auto strike has grown to involve 25,000 workers, and even forced Biden to speak out. 75,000 Kaiser Permanente workers joined the fight this Wednesday in the largest health worker strike in the nation’s history. Meanwhile, scriptwriters and the vulnerable sectors of Starbucks, delivery workers and fast food achieved important victories.
The tide of union struggle in the United States has not stopped. The car strike is intensifying, between the increase in the number of strikers, who now have more than 25 thousand workers, and the attacks on employers with hundreds of layoffs in the sector. In this regard, A coalition of 8 unions representing workers at Kaiser Permanente, the largest private healthcare provider in the US, is holding a 3-day strike this Wednesdaywhich can be extended in November when one of the contracts with this company expires.
In this regard, 53,000 waiters, kitchen and cleaning workers in Las Vegas hotels and casinos They voted at the end of September to authorize their union for a strike that could be triggered at any time.
Meanwhile, recent weeks have also brought significant gains to various sectors of the workforce. First of all, screenwriters reach a landmark agreement after a historic 148-day strikewhere the cooperation of the actors’ union, which continues the strike, is the key.
For their part, the Starbucks workers hit back at company’s anti-union strategywhich paid better wages in non-unionized shops: the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled against the employer, who demanded higher wages in unionized shops.
In California, fast food workers achieved a historic victory, reflecting the fight of more than a decade in the “Fight For 15” movement. At the end of September, the governor signed a law raising the minimum wage in the sector to $20 an hour (an increase of more than 20%).(1) and the creation of the first “fast food council” with workers’ representation, where wage increases and working conditions will be discussed. This is considered a great victory by the workers, who have a say in their working conditions for the first time, although this “Council” is likely to seek to limit their claims.
For their part, the app delivery drivers in New York managed to get the supreme court to rule in their favor, confirming the victory months ago in which the platform companies Uber, Doordash and Grubhub were imposed. them to pay the minimum wage of 17.96 dollars per hour.
The union movement at the center of the scene
Today it cannot be denied that many of the main political developments in the United States have been linked to the union movement. Before going, the automotive strike was put at the forefront of the national debate, with the participation of the president of the United States himself, Joe Biden, in one of the pickets, the first time that a Yankee president had done it in history. However, it is clear that his participation, as well as his statements about being a “pro-union president” are a complete mockery of seeking votes for next year’s elections, especially the votes of workers. .
For the same reason that, two days later, Donald Trump approached another auto parts factory (but yes, a non-union factory and invited by the bosses), to say that “he will not allow the automotive industry will die. .” , although there is no specific reference to the strike, neither in favor (of course) nor against, something that is clearly motivated by the great sympathy generated by the workers’ claim.
As we said at the beginning, 2023 will be the year with the most strikers since 1980 with the Kaiser Permanente strike. But the question that may arise is, why is there so much union activity? This is where one of the major factors in the world economy comes into play, which is inflation, which produces severe pressure on the living conditions of workers and drives fights for needs. Added to this element is the experience of how companies take advantage of the pandemic to increase their surplus profits while crushing workers’ wages. That is what claims such as the UAW demand for a 40% wage increase, because while salaries have lost inflation, the profits of companies and the salaries of their CEOs have increased like never before.
It is clear that a process of recomposition of the Yankee working class continues, and this is a great counterweight for the left world situation. Despite starting from a very low floor, this is a reality that emerges everywhere: almost literally every day there are new workplaces where the formation of unions is voted. Today 65% of the US population thinks unions are positive: that’s a big change compared to 40 years ago. And the emergence of unions reflected the struggle for the right of the working class to organize, something that was completely out of the picture.
Of course, the process requires a union, and the leap to a more political consciousness is difficult. But none of that denies in any way that this is a very progressive process. That the great working class in a country like the United States begins to rise, to demand, even to win conflicts, to create new leaders, and above all to mobilize thousands of workers , can only have a positive effect.
Defending the right to organize as a class and to fight against our class enemies, the bourgeoisie, is a very important starting point. Then they must continue to remove all obstacles, like the leaders of the bureaucracy, relying on the workers’ own strength as the foundation to win. And above all, overcome the traps of the Democratic Party and figures like Biden, who seek to exploit the unions to strengthen themselves in the elections while managing the business owners and stopping the independent workers’ organization. That is why it is important to build our own party, of the working class, socialist and anti-capitalist, which offers a way for all the exploited and oppressed with the vision of changing the whole society by organizing against this capitalist system.
(1) This is a salary that is significantly higher than the minimum wage in the State of California (one of the highest in the country), which is $15.50. In the US there are different regulations in each state, while the federal minimum wage has been a scandalous $7.25 per hour since 2009.
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