Working people are faced with low wages, declining living standards and increasing unemployment. Food and gas price are rising while a mounting housing crisis is causing many to lose their homes. All the while, trillions of dollars are wasted to defend oil interests in Iraq.
A movement needs to be built to fight for a living wage of at least $12.50 an hour or a guaranteed income of $500 per week for all, to fight foreclosures, for a free single-payer universal healthcare system, to extend unemployment benefits and to provide relief to all who need help. This should be paid for by taxing the rich and super-rich, such as the oil companies who are raking in record profits at a time when millions of Americans have to cut further into their food budgets to cover paying for gas or medicine..
Where do we begin?
At the local level, union activists, workers, young people, retirees, anti-war and community activists, need to build coalitions that organize protests and actions against skyrocketing prices. We need to bring anti-war resolutions into union locals to defend those in our communities who are losing their homes, and assist those who are taking action in their workplaces.
This struggle needs to be carried to the national level, as well. A national campaign could link up local campaigns to build for larger national demonstrations and days of action. In order to make a movement like this successful, unions need to play a leading role in organizing. On May 1 of this year, ILWU workers went on strike to protest the war in Iraq, shutting down ports across the West Coast for the day. This example demonstrates the potential power of unions and working people to fight back and turn the situation around.
Workplace actions such as the ILWU strike can be effective, but the problems must also be fought on the political plane. Despite the unions pouring money into the Democratic Party in the hope that this buys some influence, the Democrats have continued to support anti-worker legislation, such as NAFTA (passed under Bill Clinton) and to fund the war in Iraq.
The Democratic Party has proven time and time again to be a dead-end for social movements and unions. Big business has two parties we need one of our own! As a step in that direction, unions together with the antiwar movement should organize community campaigns to run our own candidates! A good example of such a grassroots effort is Cindy Sheehan, the prominent anti-war activist, who sprung up from the antiwar movement and is running for Congress in her California district against Democratic big wig Nancy Pelosi.