WHY SHOULD I JOIN WORKERS DEMOCRACY NETWORK?
You should join to help create a movement of the whole working class that makes decisions democratically. This movement does not yet exist. The labor movement - the AFL-CIO - that claims to represent working people is not democratic and excludes many types of workers including day laborers, welfare recipients, Workfare workers and temporary workers. We welcome these workers to WDN. The AFL-CIO is not willing to challenge the anti-worker laws that keep us divided up. WDN is building a movement that brings together all the different groups of people within the working class.
WHO IS THE WORKING CLASS?
Everyone who sells their labor for a living are members of the working class. This includes students, the unemployed, the disabled, retired workers, full-time parents and workers who are self-employed as well as wage earners in schools, hospital, offices and factories. It includes native-born and immigrants from all over the world, women and men of all ethnic backgrounds. We are different in thousands of ways but one thing we have in common is that we are all members of the working class, we all depend on our labor and that of our families. The real enemies of the working class are not other workers, but the capitalists - a tiny group of people who get their income mainly from stocks, bonds and real estate and who control the political parties and the government with their wealth. These people make their money from investment, not from work. The more profit they make, the less there is left for all of us. The working class also does not include small employers or supervisors and managers who control workers. However, sometimes these people stand together with the working class against the capitalists. Workers are 90% of the population. If we unite we are much stronger than the capitalists.
WHY ISN’T THERE ALREADY A WORKING-CLASS MOVEMENT?
The labor movement that has historically organized workers can’t do it anymore. Today unions operate as businesses that try to control workers and prevent protests. They are run undemocratically from the top down. They represent only a small fraction of workers and are getting smaller all the time. The trade unions divide workers up based on the type of work people do or along arbitrary lines, weakening their unity. Most important, the unions are committed to staying within the boundaries of the repressive laws such as the Taft-Hartley law that prevents workers’ solidarity. This law makes it illegal to have mass pickets, sit-down and solidarity strikes where different kinds of workers help each other. Because the unions won’t fight back against employers by organizing mass pickets, sit-down and solidarity strikes workers have been forced to work longer and longer hours for less real pay. Today workers remain divided and weak.
The WDN invites rank and file workers building caucuses in their unions who want a genuinely working class movement to affiliate to WDN. The AFL-CIO is committed to labor management cooperation. WDN is committed to workers power!
We need a new way to organize that will bring together the working class. Many groups are organizing outside the trade unions, such as the global justice and immigrant workers’ movements. These forces have brought tens of thousands into the streets. We need to bring together the movements that now exist-students, global-justice activists, immigrant workers, rank-and-file trade unionists, African-Americans and women-into a single powerful movement of the whole working class.
THE OBSTACLES TO UNITY
Forming working class unity is difficult because the corporations and the government work so hard to split us up into national, racial, ethnic, gender and a dozen other lines. The common theme of all bigotry is that the enemy is other workers who are fighting you for a piece of the pie. The more they get, the less you do. Workers Democracy Network opposes all nationalism and racism, all bigotry of any kind that turns workers against one another. We know that it is a lie that workers have to fight each other for a fixed amount of goods and jobs. When parts of the working class are oppressed and discriminated against, their low wages and conditions of work drive down everyone’s standards. The only solution for workers is to fight against any form of discrimination, be it religion, race, nationality, condition of immigration or gender. We must fight to bring all workers up to the same level. The only way to overcome bigotry and oppression is by all members of the working class fighting together against our real enemies-the capitalists and their corporations.
A NEW WAY OF UNITING THE WORKING CLASS
Since our founding in 1999 our aim has been to bring together all workers around their common interests in a democratic network. Without democracy we cannot succeed. Of course, many groups say they want to unify the working class. But WDN differs sharply in its methods and organization from these groups. In other groups decision making is concentrated in a very small number of individuals-a central committee or executive committee. The membership does not have control over their decisions and power is preserved through slate voting and secret membership lists. Often, these groups dictate that members with minority opinions must conceal their views and support the majority. Finally, these groups are founded with a detailed program that covers everything from A to Z. Such organizations require members to agree to the entire platform. But since disagreements with some part of the program are common, the results are endless splits and tiny splinter groups. Lack of internal democracy leads to lack of real unity. We are something different. This is a network of those who agree in principal, not in detail. We all agree to the Statement of Agreement. Within that agreement in principal, we can disagree about everything else and democratically decide what we have to do. Equally important, we do not place all power in a steering committee. The steering committee can be overruled by the voting membership (those who pay dues) —and in fact this has already happened. Nor do minority views have to be suppressed once a vote is taken. We recognize that those who oppose a certain action may not want to participate in it, but may be willing to work within the Network on other campaigns they do agree with. In this way we arrive at as much unity as possible at any time, without pushing out those who disagree. Democracy leads to unity. At the same time, democracy is the only guarantee that our organization will really represent the interests of workers.
WHAT DO WE DO?
We are building a movement that brings us all together to fight for better lives - better workplaces, schools, communities and homes. We use the strategies of the unemployed movement in the 1930s and the civil rights movement in the 1960s. These social movements unified the working-class with community- and workplace-based actions demanding justice over greed. These movements used mass picketing and solidarity strikes to change peoples lives for the better. The unemployed movement built community organizations that brought together employed and unemployed workers. They demanded a public works program where the government provided jobs for the unemployed. Then the unemployed movement demanded racial equality, better pay and working conditions on the public works jobs. The civil rights movement organized mass picketing and solidarity actions between African-American and white workers to demand equality for everyone. These tactics have built unified movements in the past and then can work again today! Workers Democracy is not willing to cut deals with the employers or accept the limitations of unjust laws. We want an independent political movement of working people that will not give in to the corruption of the political parties of big business - the Democrats and the Republicans. This movement involves on-the-ground campaigns that bring together all members of the working class together to confront injustice. We put forward alternatives both through workplace-community organizing and electoral campaigns tied to this organizing. The purpose of these projects is not only to win local victories. It is as well to draw people from many different groups in the working class into an unified, democratic movement.
But how can a small group like WDN work to unify the entire working class? We build class-wide organizations and coalitions, either temporary or long-lived, by bringing existing groups together around their common interests. We put forward ideas that build a greater unity of the working class in opposition to the capitalists. We have to start on a small scale within our local communities. Workers Democracy has affiliated groups in New York City, New Orleans and San Francisco and we are setting up more. We link together our local activities with Internet discussion, through our national newspaper, Workers Democracy, and through regional and national meetings.
WHAT IS THE LONG TERM GOAL?
The goal of this local work is to build larger and larger organizations that will unite the whole working class. An example of the type of organization that we aim for are the People’s Assemblies (Assemblea Popular) in Argentina. The Assemblies unite workers from all industries, unemployed, students and retirees in the neighborhoods, cities and nationally. The neighborhood assemblies, made up of all residents and workers in the neighborhood, meet weekly in a public place. Neighborhood assemblies elect delegates to city-wide and national assemblies so there is no permanent leadership. The People’s Assemblies have adopted an anti-capitalist program that includes nationalizing the banks and rebuilding the country for the working people.
If we can succeed in uniting the working class in a democratic manner, then we can transform society into a Workers Democracy, a society without capitalism where workers run society democratically.
WE ARE MANY, THEY ARE FEW!
It is only because of the divisions in the working class that a few capitalists can remain in power and that their capitalist system can continue to cripple and destroy our lives. If they remain in power, society will continue to decay and our living standards will continue to decline. The only way to stop this from happening is to overcome all the divisions we face and UNIFY!
WORKERS DEMOCRACY NETWORK AFFILIATED GROUPS
NEW JERSEY 973-736-0522 -- firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW ORLEANS (504) 314-6218-- email@example.com
SAN FRANCISCO 415-285-9564 -- firstname.lastname@example.org
To join Workers Democracy Network, just send the form below to our address (temporary, we are re-locating); 11 Calvin Terrace, West Orange, NJ 07052.
I wish to Join Workers Democracy Network and am in general agreement with your statement of agreement. I am sending a check for $20.00, payable to “Workers Democracy”. ($10.00 for those making less than $10 an hour, $20 Canadian for those living there, free for strikers and locked-out). This gives me a free subscription to Workers Democracy newspaper.
City___________________________________ State_________ Zip___________
Worker or Community Organization_____________________________
If you want to join our discussion list with or without becoming a WDN member, just send a request to email@example.com, saying you are in general agreement with our statement of agreement a ,giving your real name (one you use in everyday activity). Since we organize on the ground in North America, in you live in the US or Canada, please also supply your postal address. Otherwise, just give your country. Non-members may post once a day for a three month trial period, afterwards twice a month. Members may post twice a day (more in real emergencies).