With mounting unemployment, it is essential that workers have a program to defend themselves.
No Layoffs, No Cutbacks
When the bosses say they aren’t making enough profits and they have to lay off workers, or worse, close plants, we need to reply: “We won’t accept it.” As workers, we didn’t create this crisis – it was caused by the capitalist system.
Under this system, if you don’t have a job, you can’t survive. So how can we accept layoffs? A worker without a job is condemned to serious economic hardship, and their family is put under enormous stress with possible family problems, marital breakup, homelessness, and even suicide.
Open the Books
But how do we counter the bosses’ argument that they have no money? Our immediate response must be: “Prove it!” We demand that the employer open their books.
By this we don’t mean just their bank statements and balance sheets, but their economic records, their correspondence with banks, the salaries and other financial perks of management. All share transactions and the relationships with all other related companies and government agencies should be made public knowledge. Then we will be in a position to judge the financial standing of the company. The wave of Enron-type corporate scandals is only the most recent example of managers’ secret dealings.
If the company can afford it, then we demand that the company maintain its workforce at existing rates of pay or higher.
Public Ownership of Bankrupt Companies
If the company cannot afford it, then management has failed. We demand that the company be taken out of private hands, and run under the democratic control of the workers. All assets should become public property by laws of imminent domain or through public ownership.
For example, if the failing airline industry had been placed under public ownership instead of the owners being given billions of dollars in handouts, the airline industry could retain jobs, improve safety, and provide better service for the public, all at cheaper airfares.
Publicly-run enterprises should be democratically managed by elected representatives of the workers and the community, as part of a national plan for the economy.
Guaranteed Job and Living Wage
We demand that every worker have a full-time job at a living wage, which we estimate to be at least $12.50 per hour. Those on disability or caring for children or other needy adults should be guaranteed an income of $500 per week. We also demand the establishment of a universal health care system, so everyone can have health care regardless of their situation in life.
Public Works Program
We need to set up a massive public works program to provide full employment and address the immediate needs of the working class and society. There are plenty of important projects: building high quality public transportation systems, cleaning up the environment, launching a massive health care program, rebuilding infrastructure, creating new industries, and building new schools, public hospitals and community centers.
Workers should be retrained as necessary to become part of these new industries. Public works programs are not new to this country. Most roads, bridges, railroads, and dams were built through public works programs that provided millions of jobs.
A 30-Hour Workweek With No Loss of Pay or Benefits
In this society, everyone should be guaranteed a job. An immediate step to achieve this would be to reduce the workweek to 30 hours, with no loss in pay or benefits. This would distribute all the existing work between the employed and unemployed. This stops one section of the working class from being thrown out of work and becoming destitute.
Make Big Business Pay
Many workers will ask: “How would all this be paid for? Won’t it mean a tax increase for workers?” We say “No!” Workers already pay too much in taxes.
First we need to repeal Bush’s recent tax cuts for the rich, slash military spending, and end corporate welfare. Then consider that factories are now running at 74% capacity. By running all US factories at 100% capacity, we could create millions of new jobs and give a huge boost to the economy.
Then there is all the waste of the capitalist system – the waste in short-term production, shoddy products designed to wear out quickly, and marketing. Over $1 trillion is spent every year on advertising. That sum could provide education, health care, clean water, and sanitation for all people on the planet. We do not accept the claim that in this day and age a decent life cannot be provided for all human beings.
Consider that due to the economic decline of capitalism, young people today will have a lower standard of living than their parents. We see this as proof of how this system is failing. Due to the anarchy of capitalism, with its destructive boom-and-bust cycle and massive inequality in wealth, there is no security anymore for workers or their families.
We can build a new society in the interests of workers by creating a socialist plan of production. This can be done by bringing the top 500 corporations that dominate the economy into public ownership. By establishing democratic workers’ control and management of the economy, we can ensure that the economy meets the needs of all working people, not those of the bosses.