October 17, 2004
The war against workers
Written by Mumia Abu-Jamal
from death row
Almost all of us, from wherever we have come, have something vital in common: we are engaged in the world of work.
Some of us are members of unions—as am I, a proud, card-carrying member of the National Writers Union, which is affiliated with the United Auto Workers.
Some of us, perhaps a majority, are not members of a union, and yet, as so-called “contingency workers,” as temps, as part-timers, as on-call workers, as workfare, as day laborers, as prison laborers, we are people who are workers, who add social good—and all of us are catching hell!
That’s because wherever there is a war against wages, that means a war against workers.
If we speak the truth, it doesn’t matter who wins the White House; workers are catching hell. That’s because the only choices before the American people are corporate choices; a thin narrow slice between two quite similar “brokerage parties,” that sell their souls to the highest bidder.
Think of it this way: The last president supported by vast labor votes was William Jefferson Clinton. And how did Clinton reward labor support? By passing NAFTA, and opening the door to the globalist monster that is sucking the life blood from most working families across the nation. The drastic loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs, and the resultant drop in wages, can be traced to the NAFTA bill.
That’s why a Million Worker March is now necessary: to break through the corporate gibble-gobble that now dominates the coming elections. Corporate candidates covered by corporate media for corporate interests. It’s no wonder it’s so slimy. It’s also no wonder that the word “workers” rarely, if ever, crosses the lips of the corporate candidates. It’s no wonder that the word “union” sounds like profanity when they mention it.
It is only the workers who can or will defend the interests of workers: universal health care for ALL people; a national living wage and livable retirement benefits; bring about democracy to the shop floor, so that decisions about work are made by those who labor; taxation that is progressive, on corporations and the wealthy, and relieves the burdens on the working class and poor; an end to wars waged for Corporate America, like Iraq; the immediate revocation of all anti-labor pacts, like NAFTA, FTAA, the WTO, and CAFTA; the repeal of Taft-Hartley; repeal of the so-called “Patriot Act”!
These are but some of the demands motivating the Million Worker March, but it can’t be all of them. Workers actually build this society; it is they, and only they, who can rebuild it.
This means a resurgence of the labor movement that is truly revolutionary—that does not “settle” for its slice, but changes the social order completely. The union movement has a history of exclusion that worked against its own class interests; what if—what IF—all of those people we mentioned a few moments ago—part-timers, on-calls, perma-temps, and yes prison laborers—were actually unionized? It would add immeasurably to the power of labor, and add to the power of unions generally as a social force in the social order! In a phrase, this is win-win. Social transformation is possible, but only—ONLY—with social organization!
When people organize, broadly, and as a social force, then you will hear those political whores speak the word “union” like they are speaking of a lover! Our esteemed ancestor, the great escaped captive and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, once said, “Power concedes nothing without demand.” He was right then; he is right now. Labor must unite to force this corrupt political system to yield. We, all of us, will be able to construct new realities, not merely demand them.
Or else we will be choosing the same monkeys to sit over us, as they betray us, forever. That time must end. Thank you!
This statement was given by Mumia Abu-Jamal in a taped presenation to the Million Worker March.
To download Mp3's of Mumia's commentaries visit
Mumia Abu-Jamal is the author of thre following books:
WE WANT FREEDOM:
'A Life in the Black Panther Party',
l'Live from Death Row',
'Death Blossoms', and
'All Things Censored'.
Write to Mumia directly at:
Mumia Abu-Jamal AM 8335
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370