No to the UI Labor Center Closing!
Down with All the Cuts and All Tuition Increases!
For working class struggle to defeat the cuts and defend public education!
The Communist Workers Group (CWG-USA) strongly condemns the University of Iowa’s decision to close down the 67-year-old University of Iowa Labor Center, as well as the closing of the University of Iowa Center on Aging, Confucius Institute, Iowa Center for Assistive Technology Education and Research (I-CATER), Iowa Center for Higher Education (ICHE), Office of Iowa Practice Opportunities, and the UI Mobile Museum. We also strongly condemn the cuts to other University programs and the pending layoffs of over 30 employees.? On principle, the CWG generally opposes any cuts to public education or services that benefit students, the working class and society. We are for the expansion of public services.
The gutting of Chapter 20, Iowa’s collective bargaining law, was a major defeat in a long list of attacks on public sector workers. The closing of the Labor Center and the other recent cuts are just the latest in a string of reactionary attacks at the state level by the GOP governor Reynolds and the state legislature. The privatization of Medicaid management, public mental healthcare facility closings, perpetual tuition increases for students, the fetal heartbeat anti-abortion law (which is now in the courts)….all these attacks have led to a decline in the quality of life in the state. Even the farmers, the traditional GOP base, are facing hardships due to Trump’s trade war.? As Trump imposes social reaction at the national level, attacks are waged at the state levels on social gains. And the Democratic Party offers no solution. Their unwritten slogan is ‘we are not Trump.’ Critically, with implications for many years to come, some Democrat Senators are considering jumping ship to support Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh.
The CWG wrote in “Free, Quality Public Education for All!”:
“This school year marks the eighth anniversary of the generalized crisis of the capitalist system. This is what the kept bourgeois press calls the “Great Recession of 2008-2009.” But we notice that the cuts go on and the recovery does not include rehiring what are now long-term unemployed. The mushrooming growth of the precariat who exist at a subsistence or lower rate of pay is counted as a reduced unemployment statistic. College students graduate with overwhelming debt and few job prospects. The full-time working population has seen their wage package stagnate while their benefits and hours have been under continuous attack. Thus adjunct faculty finds they have greater workloads for less pay and many suddenly find themselves unemployed. This is the future in store for many university workers in Harreld’s promised program of changes.”
The response of the trade union bureaucracy to the recent cuts in Iowa has been to narrowly focus on the closing of the Labor Center, abandoning the fight to save all the jobs and defend all public education programs. The pro-capitalist labor misleaderships have fallen back on the toothless methods of phone calls, petitions, press conferences and public hearings (i.e. the bankrupt liberal idealist methods of “speaking truth to power”) in order to try to save the Labor Center.
The labor bureaucracy’s response to the gutting of Iowa’s public sector collective bargaining law (Chapter 20) was a few rallies at the state capitol, dead-end lawsuits through the capitalist courts and their primary arena of non-struggle: the elections and the Democratic Party. What was needed was a general strike by public and private sector unions.? Nearly 40 years after Reagan broke the PATCO air-traffic controllers strike, a signature event in the decline of labor, the craven, class collaborationist union misleaders are no more ready or willing to lead struggle than they were then. They are like the captain of a ship being battered on a reef in a storm, paralyzed from any action except to mouth protest and call on those (the Democratic Party) to save them, who will not and cannot save them.
The CWG wrote in 2015 in “Free, Quality Public Education for All!”:
“Early American socialist Daniel De Leon’s characterized the labor bureaucracy as the “labor lieutenants of the capitalist class”. This parasitic, privileged, pro-capitalist layer within the workers movement identifies its interests more with the class enemy than with the vast mass of unorganized, highly exploited workers as they push “labor-management” class collaboration and tie the labor movement to the Democratic Party (and sometimes the Republican) of the bosses.”
As the CWG wrote in Class War in 2013 about the Chicago Teachers’ strike:
“This is the bankrupt political methodology of the parasitic, pro-capitalist union bureaucracy that has dragged the labor movement to defeat after defeat. In virtually every labor struggle, the first thing these labor-fakers postulate are “talk shop” rallies with some kind of electoral strategy, which translates into “we don’t need working class struggle, let’s elect ‘labor-friendly’ politicians (mostly Democrats).” This was clearly the case in the Wisconsin Recall diversion, as well as in the Michigan battle over “right to scab (work)”, where the AFL-CIO and Change to Win labor federation tops caved in.”
The CWG has absolutely no faith that University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld, College of Law Dean Kevin Washburn, or the Iowa Board of Regents will reverse the decision to impose the cuts absent mass pressure. The CWG also places no faith in the legal system, the courts, the elections, the Democratic/Republican parties or politicians; or in the good-faith or reasonableness of the bosses, the University and state administrators making these decisions. We place all faith in the University workers, private sector workers, the students and faculty to stop these attacks by mobilizing the power of the organized working class for struggle. We appeal to militant workers, students and faculty to come together in solidarity to save the Labor Center and oppose all these attacks. The power of the working class lies in our organization, solidarity, militancy and leadership.
We call for the three unions at the U of I (AFSCME Local 12, UE-COGS Local 896, SEIU Local 199) to initiate a democratic Inter-Union Action Committee with an elected and recallable leadership. The Inter-Union Action Committee should draw in other local unions, students, faculty, and private sector workers to lead the struggle and to build the fight to stop these cuts and all future cuts, as well as to fight student tuition increases. Rank-and-file trade union militants need to build action/struggle committees at every worksite! We call for making contact with Iowa State and University of Northern Iowa unions, workers and students to urge them to do the same in the interests of coordinated mass struggle. We call for trade union militants to fight to transform the Iowa City Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO Central Labor Council) from a Democratic Party sandbox into an organization of struggle.? The CWG calls on the labor movement to use this as an opportunity to defend our unions and to organize all the University workers: student, merit, P&S, adjunct faculty and temp; with full union rights, wages and benefits. And expand this organizing to the low-wage private sector for a mass campaign to unionize workers “wall to wall!”
In 2013, it was the Black University of Missouri football players who initiated a labor strike to protest racism on campus. Recently, West Virginia and other teachers across the U.S. have provided a glimpse of what is possible not through the negotiating table or elections, but through workers struggle.? Collective bargaining in Iowa for public sector workers occurred at the time because of “illegal” public sector workers strikes, particularly teachers. Collective bargaining was a double-edged sword designed to suppress strikes and channel workers struggle into safe, legal waters, while granting (defensible) formal legal worker rights as a compromise.
The labor movement was built through class struggle and can only be defended through class struggle methods. The unions were forged through mass picket lines that meant ‘don’t cross’; through sit-down, general and solidarity strikes; through secondary boycotts (“hot-cargoing”), flying picket squads and workers defense guards; through defiance of the cops, the courts, and the strike-breaking injunctions.
The 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters strike is an example of what is needed today. It was a signature event and one of the catalysts for building the modern labor movement in the U.S. and we encourage all workers and students to study this history.? American Trotskyist James Cannon wrote of the 1934 Teamsters strike:
“Our people didn’t believe in anybody or anything but the policy of the class struggle and the ability of the workers to prevail by their mass strength and solidarity. Consequently, they expected from the start that the union would have to fight for its right to exist; that the bosses would not yield any recognition to the union, would not yield any increase of wages or reduction of the scandalous hours without some pressure being brought to bear. Therefore they prepared everything from the point of view of class war. They knew that power, not diplomacy, would decide the issue. Bluffs don’t work in fundamental things, only in incidental ones. In such things as the conflict of class interests one must be prepared to fight.
Proceeding from these general concepts, the Minneapolis Trotskyists, in the course of organizing the workers, planned a battle strategy. Something unique was seen in Minneapolis for the first time. That is, a strike that was thoroughly organized beforehand, a strike prepared with the meticulous detail which they used to attribute to the German army—down to the last button sewn on the uniform of the last individual soldier. When the hour of the deadline came, and the bosses thought they could still maneuver and bluff, our people were setting up a fortress for action….”
It is through organization, solidarity, discipline, militancy and leadership that workers and youth can win. As the British miners once said, “the only illegal strike is the one that loses!”
The CWG fights to win the multiracial and multiethnic working class and youth to a class struggle political program for quality education and public services as part of the fight for a rational socialist society and world:
For free, quality public education for all with open admissions and a student stipend! Abolish all student debt!
Make the capitalists pay! Nationalize the private schools and charter schools under workers control without compensation! Seize their endowments! For worker, student, faculty and community control of public education!
Cops and campus security out of schools and the unions! No to racist Stop and Frisk! Organize labor, black and brown workers self-defense guards via the Inter-Union Action Committee against racist cop, fascist and vigilante terror!
Abolish the ROTC! NSA, CIA, FBI plants and military off campus! For academic and internet freedom! Expose all COINTELPRO-type programs! Hands off all whistleblowers!
Unite the struggle with the broader working class! None of these demands can be won without a united multi-racial working class struggle to defend all social gains, such as education, and extend them via jobs for all! For a 30 hour workweek at 40 hours pay to spread the work around! For a living wage at the prevailing union rate, including guaranteed pensions that can’t be taken away!
Free quality healthcare for all! For socialized medicine to include free abortion on demand and full reproductive services! Equal pay for equal work! Free quality 24-hour childcare! For fully paid maternity leave!
Defend immigrant rights! For mass labor, black and brown mobilizations to stop ICE and Border Patrol raids and deportations! For immediate full citizenship rights for all immigrants! No to English-only bigotry! Same work, same contract across borders! For joint Canadian, American, Mexican and Central American labor struggle!
Organize workers’ struggle to defeat Governor Reynolds and all attacks on public services! We need democratic rank and file action and union strike committees to coordinate daily struggle activity in pursuit of the program! Organize the University of Iowa Student, Temp, Faculty and Professional & Scientific workers!
Build for the indefinite general strike to implement these demands! The only illegal strike is the one that loses! Smash all anti-labor laws through struggle! Spread the struggle to Iowa State, UNI and nationwide!
Build a class struggle leadership of our unions! No political blocs with the Democratic Party! Break with all the capitalist parties: Democrats, Republicans and Greens! Build a fighting workers/labor party to fight for a workers government based on workers councils and a workers militia!? For a rational, centrally-planned socialist economy based on human needs!?
For species survival, build a new revolutionary workers international that unites all workers against the imperialist powers! For world socialism!