The outlines and depth of a labor uprising are becoming clearer with everyday. The rail workers group, Rail Workers United (RWU), issued a statement in support of striking Minnesota Nurses explaining that rail workers face the same conditions and problems as nurses; speed up, lack of staffing, more dangerous conditions and an attempt by bosses, already making record profits, to squeeze every last drop of blood out of their workers. According to one locomotive engineer on the Union Pacific Railroad, “The job is really just becoming fewer people doing more work faster.” All of this is heading toward a showdown with railroad bosses and a strike this Friday.
And it’s not just on the railroads or in the hospitals. Doing more, faster, with fewer people is driving Amazon and UPS workers to the edge. It’s what’s causing disruptions in air travel, with staffing levels so low that any hiccup causes three hour delays and hour-long waits for baggage. Turnover among younger airline workers is enormous and senior workers quit as soon as they can. The naked drive for ever higher profits is what is behind a surging unionization effort by Delta Air Lines flight attendants. It’s what is behind the Machinist Union announcement that four unions (Transport Workers Union, Machinists, Teamsters and Association of Flight Attendants) will be collaborating to bring unionization to every Delta work group, over 70,000 workers.
Every little victory, every new Starbucks or Trader Joe’s store going union, appears to be setting the stage for some other group of workers stepping up, some new Chris Smalls stepping forward. Workers who were told they were heroes during the pandemic are incensed after being cast aside or told, “No, we just don’t have the money for staffing.” And this comes out of the mouths of executives who are literally living a life of luxury from record profits at their workers expense.
How do our political education efforts fit into this worker rebellion? How does it affect our social media, internal organizing and outreach? How can we recruit Amazon, Starbucks, Delta and Trader Joe’s workers into TCDSA and then retain them? Where do each one of us fit into this picture? It’s time for every person calling themselves a socialist to buckle up for the ride and move into action. It means more and more our focus will be getting to the picket line, raising money for the strike fund, and bringing these fights into our unions and community groups.
– Kip H., TCDSA Labor Branch co-chair