Endorsing & Enforcing Railroad Workers' Right to Strike
Dec 29, 2022
- The labor movement has long been recognized as the most important engine for socialist change in society due to its power to halt the flow of goods and services the capitalist class depends on.
- Socialists recognize that the right to strike or threat thereof is the primary and most powerful instrument of the labor movement and should never be surrendered under any circumstances.
- Railroad workers have been working under inhumane Dickensian conditions where their employers will not grant them even a single sick day during a pandemic in order to disgustingly benefit themselves by extracting larger profits from their labor.
- A central demand of the rail worker’s unions has been to be granted a reasonable period of sick leave.
- Rail workers died at more than twice the rate of other workers from Jan. 2020 to May 2022 and more than three times other workers in 2021 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s MMWR.
- The United States shifted to a service economy model, which reduced reliance on domestic production for the stuff of everyday life. This reduced the power of domestic factory workers, but wildly enhanced the potential power of logistics workers in airline, shipping, trucking, and rail industries that are situated between a global production system and a domestic consumption system.
- Threatened by this potential halt to critical infrastructure, the capitalist government is attempting to declare the strike illegal via the passage of legislation. This in effect would make railroad workers involuntary labor, banned under the 13th amendment (except for its racist loophole for people convicted of a crime). Presumably, such a law will be eventually backed with force of arms if workers disobey.
- DSA National put out a statement calling for a NO vote on H.J. 100 at 10:41am, about two hours before roll call at 1:02pm. While not ideal, this is sufficient time for DSA federal representatives to be made aware of it.
- Three DSA elected officials, Reps. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortes (AOC), Jamaal Bowman, and Cori Bush voted for a bill that would make the railroad strike illegal. We applaud the fact that Rep. Rashida Tlaib did vote no.
- AOC tweeted that the union asked her to vote this way to protect a sick days amendment that would obviously die in the Senate (and did).
- The DSA has long had issues with our federal elected officials deviating from our political platform.
- We must call our representatives to explain themselves to the DSA National Political Committee. While we are encouraged by DSA National releasing a statement that denounces the vote to break the strike and which calls for a town hall to discuss this, this statement does not meet all of our demands, which include a meeting with the wayward electeds to demand an explanation.
- It is critical that DSA state in the clearest terms that we did not endorse H.J. 100 and do endorse workers’ right to strike. To do otherwise will perhaps irreparably damage our ability to support striking workers. Why would they trust an organization whose representatives actively attacked them from the heights of federal power?
Therefore be it resolved,
- Central Jersey DSA endorses the “Railroad Workers United Open Letter to Congress and the President”.
- Central Jersey DSA endorses the letter authored by Seattle DSA Local Council “3 DSA Members in Congress Vote to Ban Railroad Strike — They Don’t Speak For Us”.
- If a railroad strike actually develops, Central Jersey DSA will do its part to support the strike.
- Central Jersey DSA will publish this resolution on social media to educate our constituency and the broader public on our position.