Labor and the Strikes to Come

This event has been rescheduled for Monday April 1st. Our statement on its original postponement due to the East Flatbush rebellion is here. More information to come.

Monday, April 1st 2013 – 7:30PM
Brecht Forum
451 West Street, New York, NY 10014

All across the country, the bosses are burning our contracts. Documents that once offered a guarantee of steady if modest raises and some measure of protection against arbitrary employment policies today find better use as kindling. Only one question remains: Will we choke on the ashes or dance on the flames?

As capitalism’s economic crisis continues we see increased confrontations with the police, more and more arrested and imprisoned. Increasingly, city, state, and federal governments, locally and internationally, use labor contracts as further forms of state repression. As the economic crisis continues to ripple through the public sector, Illinois and California have torched covenants with teachers and imposed unpaid furloughs. Wisconsin and Indiana singed key contract provisions like automatic dues check-off and agency fees. This crisis becomes more and more one of governance and management, as the political economy of the bourgeoisie is not just something experienced but rather enforced.

Public sector workers all over the world, typically the most unionized forms of employment, and those who operate many core infrastructural and institutional jobs in society, are often the first to come under attack with austerity. As a result, their labor disputes often seem to have the most at stake, as they represent direct confrontations between workers and governments, with labor stoppages in any sector or workplace potentially shutting down the normal function of an entire city or even country. In New York City, two major unions recently resume work under concessionary contracts after protracted strikes. Meanwhile, nearly 300,000 teachers, firefighters, transit, sanitation and other municipal workers continue to labor under expired contracts. Newly added to this total are school bus drivers, who returned from a month-long strike empty-handed, disaffected, and contractless.

Our present moment demands a question: “What can we do to resist the intimidation of this repressive system, to coordinate and mobilize within our existing networks, and to build new forms of solidarity strong enough to continue the struggle?” All of these conflicts lead us to a similar analysis and strategy: get organized, build a force, and develop a form of communism as the life we start to live as we resist and attack capitalism.

–Jocelyn Cohn of Unity and Struggle,
–James Frey,
–John Garvey of Insurgent Notes,
–Ursula Levelt, Labor and Employment Committee of the National Lawyers Guild,

Suggested Readings:
-“Our Friends with Benefits: On The Union Question” – Jocelyn Cohn & James Frey, 2013:
-“The 1% of the 99%” – Anonymous, 2011: