building block Coalitions for an independent party of labor and the communities of the oppressed by Alan Benjamin

Originally published on 9/26/2019

The launching by Bernie Sanders during his election campaign of the Workplace Democracy Act — “a plan aimed at doubling union membership over the next four years” — is extremely significant. … But this poses the $64,000 question: How will this Workplace Democracy Act see the light of day?

When Bill Clinton was in office, he enacted NAFTA, the anti-labor “free trade” agreement that accelerated the massive flight of union-scale jobs to low-wage sweatshops, or maquiladoras, south of the border. The Democrats controlled both houses of Congress at the beginning of Barack Obama’s first term in office. Obama had campaigned across the nation’s Rust Belt for the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would have given unions the ability to organize through a majority sign-up process. But Obama buckled under the pressure of the captains of industry and finance, who run and control the Democratic Party just as they control the Republican Party — and EFCA was dropped like a hot potato. … 

There is a new openness to building an independent labor-based political party. This goal was adopted at the 2017 national convention of the AFL-CIO. But it won’t become a reality without a conscious effort today to regroup the partisans of independent politics in coalitions of labor and communities of the oppressed that launch independent working class candidates for office, beginning at the local level, in the November 2020 elections.

Building politically independent labor-community coalitions that incorporate Single Payer Healthcare and the Workplace Democracy Act among their primary demands and mobilize around them is the place to start. These coalitions can become the building blocks of an independent party of labor and the communities of the oppressed.

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