Gary Walkowicz: Our Name Says It All

Gary Walkowicz: Speech at October 18 Meeting:

We have been living with the Covid pandemic for over 7 months now, and the working class has been hit the hardest. We have lost elders, friends, neighbors and co-workers, many of those deaths were unnecessary. Working people have suffered the consequences of a public health care system that the wealthy and their government have stripped of money. We have suffered the consequences of government leaders, starting with Trump, who have criminally downplayed the virus and failed to act, allowing a virulent virus to become even more deadly.

Everyone is wondering when we will get past this pandemic, when things will return to normal. But the “normal” before the pandemic, for the working class, was already a crisis. For the working class, normal was an economy increasingly offering only low-wage, temporary jobs. Normal was a society where the infrastructure was crumbling and schools weren’t given the money needed to educate our children. For the working class, normal was a health care system that didn’t keep people healthy.

We don’t know when we will be past the pandemic. But today, we see the capitalists already preparing for the “new” normal, the one they want, where the working class will be further impoverished, so that wealthy can get even richer.

The blood-sucking speculators on Wall Street are saying that they expect to keep getting even richer in the future, no matter who is elected president. Meanwhile, company after company, Disney, Allstate, Exxon, Boeing, American Airlines, United Airlines, to name just a few, all these companies have recently announced layoffs that they are planning in the near future. All these new layoffs will be coming on top of the ten million workers who have not returned to work since the start of the pandemic.

Governments at all levels are already proclaiming that due to the pandemic they will be reducing spending on public services. That means roads, bridges, water systems, schools, will further deteriorate. And that also means that many more  people who are working on public service jobs will be thrown out of work. Congress and the White House held back for months on a pitifully small stimulus bill that, even if passed, wouldn’t even touch what working people need for income, rent, mortgages and all of our bills.

This is the new normal that the capitalists and their government are planning for us. The working class in this country has seen its standard of living steadily go down since the 1970s. And now the wealthy class is preparing for us a new normal, a future where we would be driven down even further. This is what they want it to be.

But it doesn’t have to be our new normal. The working class can have something to say about this future that the capitalists have in mind for us. The working class can prepare and needs to prepare to bring our forces together to fight for the future that we want and need. The working class has answers to the problems caused by the capitalists’ economy.

There are many millions of people without a job today, wanting to work. But this was a problem even before the pandemic hit. Why were people out of work? One big reason for the unemployment was that the corporations eliminate jobs by speed-up, by putting more work on fewer workers. I saw this during my years working in an auto plant. Where once you had 10 people doing the work of 10 people, the companies have been cutting jobs and adding the work on the remaining workers, to the point where today you have 3 or 4 people doing the work of 10 people, destroying their bodies, while the other workers don’t have a job. All this for the benefit of the corporation’s profits.

But the working class has an answer to this unemployment. The first answer is to fight the speed-up, so workers don’t lose their jobs. And as far as all those workers already laid off? The answer to that is to bring back them back to work, as well as hiring other workers who want a job. If the bosses say that there is not enough work for everybody, fine, we can divide up the work, put the workloads back the way they used to be, or even less, so the jobs are reasonable. If the bosses say they still don’t need everybody, OK, everybody can work fewer hours per week to produce the things needed. And if the bosses say less hours means less pay, we say NO, pay everyone a full living wage every week, which would be equivalent to what we make in 40 hours, plus all the overtime they used to schedule us for. When the bosses say the money is not there, we say YES, it is there. Just take the money from the capitalist’s profits and from all the profits our labor has produced in the past.

These profits and wealth could also be used to make sure that our wages don’t  fall behind prices. When inflation goes up, our wages should go up.

The money is there to pay for all these things. And if we put more people to work and paid them a living wage, this would make the economy function for everybody. When people have a decent-paying jobs, they have the money to buy things, and when they buy things that creates even more jobs for more people.

There is another way to create jobs, that being to bring back the jobs that were taken away from public services.

For years, it has been the deliberate policy of governments at all levels, governments run by both Republicans and Democrats, to take money away from public services. They have taken public money, almost all of it being tax money paid by working people, since the rich like Trump pay little if any taxes, they have taken  our money and given it to the corporations, banks and the wealthy, in the form of tax breaks, tax refunds, subsidies, and bailouts. And when they take our money away from public services, they lay off all those people who work in public services.

For working people, we are hit twice, by the loss of jobs, and by the loss of the public services these workers provided. We suffer the consequences. We are living in the richest country in the world, but due to all the cuts to public health care, the health care we get in this country is worse than many other countries. Covid hit, and people are dying at a higher rate here than almost every other country in the world.

We know that our children’s education was already lacking before the pandemic. And now many children are at home from school, losing a crucial part of their social education because the capitalists won’t get off the money that could make the schools safe.

The working class has an answer to these crises. Take back the money stolen from working people. Put people back to work and restore public services. Hire the teachers, the maintenance people, the bus drivers, the counselors to run the schools safely. Hire the construction workers to build more schools. The same thing with fixing the roads, bridges, getting everyone clean water and good sewer systems. Hire all the workers needed to build and maintain this infrastructure.

This is what the working class would do. We would create jobs for everyone and improve lives for everyone. And it could be done. The money is already there. We should have the right to use it because we produce it.

The bankers, the hedge fund managers, the real estate speculators, the capitalists, they produce nothing. The labor of working people produces all the wealth of society. The working class has the right to the benefits of what we produce.

It is going to take a fight to get ahold of that money. While the capitalists make their plans for the “new normal” that they want, the working class can decide that we are ready to fight for a better future.

To make that fight we must stand together as one class, to have all our forces together, to not be divided. This is important, we can’t let ourselves be divided by racism.

The massive number of people who came into the streets after the murder of George Floyd were a protest against the racism which has existed for 400 years in this country. Racism is part and parcel of the capitalist system. The bosses have always used racism to try to divide the working class. The capitalists exploit the whole working class, and the black population has always been the most exploited part of the working class. But black workers have also led the kind of fights that the working class needs to make to really change things.

When we refuse to be divided, when we stand together, the working class can make the kind of fight that can change the whole society. No politicians or anyone else will do it for us. Only the working class has the power to make a better future for everyone.

This is what we say to people in our campaign.

This is what our name says, Working Class Party. We give working people a way to say that the working class needs its own party and they can say that they agree, by voting for us.

 

 

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