What Should the Verizon Strikers Do?
by Dave Stratman
August 18, 2011
Billionaire Warren Buffett said, "There is a class war in this country, and my class is winning." These 45,000 Verizon employees, members of the CWA and IBEW, are on the front lines of the class war. They are fighting for us all.
Verizon's demands for concessions from its workers are part of the relentless attack that corporations and the government have waged on working people for the last forty years. Verizon is trying to set the clock back before the 1960s and early ‘70s, when workers won new benefits on a rising tide of militancy. Millions of ordinary people in those years challenged the powerful and demanded racial and social equality, an end to savage wars, and real democracy.
In response, the rulers went on the counter-attack. The government gave corporations tax breaks to ship millions of jobs overseas or to automate them out of existence. It slashed support for housing and unemployment and welfare and jobs programs. Corporations wiped out millions of pensions. Strikes were betrayed or crushed. In a multitude of ways people's lives were made less secure. The result? In the years since 1972, profits, productivity and inequality have soared, while wages and benefits have plummeted.
A great deal is at stake in this strike, perhaps more than most people understand. It is not just about health care and other issues on the table, important as these are. This strike is part of a larger class war about the role of working people in society. It is about what values should shape our society and who should control it. Do we want a society based on greed and competition and inequality? Or do we want a land of solidarity and equality for all? Do we want a dictatorship of the rich or real democracy?
The strikers need to explain far and wide the meaning of their strike as part of the class war, and they need to go on the offensive. What can they do? Three things:
The Verizon struggle is one battle in a long war. Success in the struggle will not be measured only by the next contract. It will be measured by whether the strikers emerge strengthened from the strike and better able to wage the continuing struggle. This is what their strike strategy should aim for.
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