Durham-López campaign statement: Lessons of the Wisconsin recall- Time for labor to reject the bosses’ parties and fight for all workers

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For a downloadable copy of this statement, click here. [PDF, 386kB]

Last year, hundreds of thousands of snow-covered Wisconsinites showed labor how to fight austerity. Workers and students occupied the capitol to resist Governor Scott Walker’s budget cuts and attacks on collective bargaining. They demanded jobs and healthcare for all, and many were ready to use labor’s most powerful weapon, the general strike.

So how could Walker prevail in a recall election just 16 months later? It wasn’t just due to corporate cash. The key problem is that the recall diverted the movement’s full energy into the electoral effort rather than keeping the protest movement alive. As a final blow, Democratic Party strategists dumped labor rights and other progressive issues that should have been at the heart of the effort.

Now, union leaders are raising the specter of a national Walker-style juggernaut to convince unionists that they have to campaign for Democrats again. There could not be a more dead-end strategy.

Two parties, one war on workers
Republican governors have led the attack on public employee union rights and benefits, and even managed to pass right-to-work legislation in union- heavy Indiana. Meanwhile, Democratic governor Jerry Brown has his own plan to gut the pensions of California’s public workers. And Congressional Democrats continue to approve trillions for imperialist wars – money that should be spent on healthcare, education, and other social services.

Obama: change the bosses like
The president did not set foot in Wisconsin to defend union rights. He was busy passing pro-corporate free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia (the nation with the world’s highest murder rate for unionists). His education “reform” agenda, which relies on high stakes testing and non-union charter schools, is an attack on teachers’ unions. And his administration has deported immigrant workers at a much higher rate than during Bush’s time.

Is there a labor party in the house?
If only. Independent political action would be far better than tailoring “labor’s agenda” to what the Democrats are willing to do – a process that sells out workers, especially the most exploited: women, people of color and immigrants.

Working people look to the unions to bring the class together to struggle for economic and social justice. Such a movement could also dispel resentment over union members’ wages, benefits, and pensions by championing the needs of low paid and unemployed workers.

Last year’s successful campaign to repeal an anti-union law in Ohio shows that grass-roots organizing works. Imagine how much more power those fighting in the trenches would have if they had a mass party that could challenge the bosses’ politicians.

Protest the twin party scam!
Clearly, voting for the “lesser evil” only enables both parties as they march to the right. Many union leaders have already endorsed Obama, but members are not bound by this. Instead write in truly pro-labor and antiwar candidates Stephen Durham for president and Christina López for vice president. Here are Freedom Socialist candidates’ ideas for how to provide jobs for all, end discrimination, and restore and expand social services.

This is what workers really need, and this November we can vote for it! Let’s protest the twin-party con game and move the political debate to the left.

National campaign office:
4710 University Way NE, #100
Seattle, WA 98105
206-985-4621 • VoteSocialism@gmail.com
Twitter @VoteSocialism

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