Friday, March 26, 2010

It’s about all of us

Cross-posted from the World Socialist Party of the United States website

In an article Peter Rachleff, a professor of History at Macalester College in St. Paul, reminds us of some statistics concerning the USA.

Between 1979 and 2005, the mean after-tax income of the top 1 percent of income earners rose 176 percent while that of the lower half rose less than 10 percent. In 1970, the average CEO earned forty times as much as the average worker. By 2010, it has become nearly 400 times.

80 percent of all the wealth in the U.S. is owned by the 10 percent at the top of our economic ladder, with some 38 percent of the wealth the property of the top 1 percent alone. The bottom 90 percent of the ladder has to share only 20 percent of the wealth.

“American workers have long organized in unions to gain a share of their productivity increases, assure fair treatment on the job, expand benefits, and lay a foundation for a secure retirement…For two generations, workers purchased cars and homes, sent their children to college, and enjoyed a genuine retirement…As the unionized percentage of the workforce shrank from 30 percent in the 1950s to 20 percent in the 1980s to little more than 10 percent in the 21st century, unions’ ability to defend their members’ wages, benefits, work rules, job descriptions, and rights on the job melted away…” Rachleff writes.

But he also describes that a union can fight back. Its success rested on the ability to make their struggle about “all of us.” To adopt an encompassing approach which pulls together its diverse membership , that builds alliances with the community and organises the support of other unions.

The WSP’s advice to workers would be :-

  • 1 ) Try to push wages and salaries as high as they are allowed to go by the owners and management.
  • 2 ) Organise democratically to achieve your aims, without reliance on leaders, who will often sell you down the river.
  • 3 ) Recognise that any union struggle is necessarily a defensive one as there can be no real and lasting victory within the profit system. So ready yourselves for the inevitable next battle.
  • Alan Johnstone

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