There is a national movement to raise the minimum wage taking place at a time when real wages in general are going down. Bourgeois economists divide the labor force into fifths, from highest to lowest-paid. Adjusted for inflation, between 2009 and 2014, wages declined 2.6% for the highest paid fifth of the labor force. Others lost even more, 3%, 4%, 4.7%, and 5.7% for the remaining divisions in descending order. This is because it is the 1%—especially the 0.1%—who are benefiting from the “upswing.” In comparison, The New York Times reported that the top 25 hedge fund managers made $11.62 billion, or $467 million per hedge fund manager in 2014. Based on a 40-hour work week and 52 weeks a year, each made more than $224,500 per hour. That is quite a living wage!
The crisis of capitalism is the main reason for the decline in wages and paid benefits. This diseased system can only offer a reduced standard of living for the vast majority of the population. However, in the struggle against capitalism, the workers need leaders with a socialist program. Instead, we have trade union leaders who accept capitalism as the only possible system. They refuse to build a mass labor party to fight in the workers’ interests. They refuse to mobilize the class toward a general strike and to take the anti-labor laws head-on. They simply accommodate the workers to the austerity—and then they wonder why the proportion of the labor force organized into unions has been mired in a decades-long decline!
Look at the recent negotiations at Chrysler, where the workers rejected the first proposed contract because of the two-tier hiring and wages system, but the second contract, although somewhat improved, keeps the two tiers and promises changes after this contract expires! It is clear that the workers do not like this situation, but they see no way forward, and they are misdirected by the present labor leaders.
There is no quick solution to this problem, but there is a way forward. We need to build an alternative leadership in all of the unions, unorganized workplaces, high schools, colleges, and universities. We need a press that is supported 100% by the workers—no money from big business, which would compromise our message. This is what the IMT is doing here in the US, Canada, Mexico, and in more than 40 other countries. That is what Socialist Appeal is all about.
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