WHAT WILL BE THE FUTURE OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS AFTER THE STRIKING DOWN OF ROE?
UFCLP Statement, 05/10/2022
Women have been demonstrating across the country due to the striking down by the Supreme Court of Roe v. Wade, under which abortion has been legal since 1973. A showdown is coming in the US, not only over Roe but over the stripping away of all of the democratic rights that have been fought for over the last seven decades. Thousands of people poured into streets and plazas all over the US to demonstrate their outrage over the decision. And while these demonstrations were a wonderful show of solidarity, it was clear that the right wing was planning on doing this for an equal amount of time and yet, the labor movement was nowhere to be found. The notion that unions should do nothing more than fight for bread and butter issues shows the limitations of the current trade unions. Not only can bread and butter issues not be separated from social issues such as the right to choose, but a strong working class movement would understand that US capitalism is moving to strip away the hard-won democratic rights of the population. Capitalism in its period of crisis is driven to tighten its grip over all aspects of society, never allowing women to express their rights as fully-formed human beings.
We have an opportunity now to fight for a just society, one which doesn’t discriminate against Blacks and LatinX and LGBTQ+ people and protects the democratic rights of all peoples. That society – socialism – can be achieved only by working people taking the initiative to organize for political power and end the profit system once and for all. But the trade union bureaucrats are standing in our way. These are people who support the status quo because, by and large, they profit from their relationship with the capitalists. Randi Weingarten, the President of the AFT, earns $500,000 dollars a year while teachers are being forced to buy their own supplies for their classrooms. Adjuncts at the City University of NY earn $5,000 a course and are forced to work all kinds of jobs wherever they can find them. The trade union bureaucracy is complicit, at least in NYC, in trying to overturn traditional Medicare. This situation is copied all across the country. The leadership puts its hopes in the Democratic Party, that they, instead of us, will deliver the goods. There are millions of workers in unions, many of whom can shut down production, but this is the one thing the bureaucrats are most frightened of and so they discourage any sort of independent action by their members. Instead of asserting our power, we are made to feel powerless.
But the fascists are slowly creeping in from the fringes and are becoming a dominant fact of life in American politics. The bourgeoisie and the capitalist system is in tremendous crisis and thus an enemy needs to be found. One such enemy is women who believe that they have the right to choose their own fate. Control over women’s bodies is the Christian right’s answer to the crisis of capitalism. Along with the smashing of Roe and all kinds of attacks on Black voters, the Democratic Party is doing nothing to stop these attacks from happening. They have a majority in both houses and the presidency and yet Biden continues Trump’s policies such as Title 42, Remain at the Border, and has been completely ineffectual in fighting climate change, stagnating wages, not canceling debt for students, or providing healthcare. The list goes on. The AFL-CIO leadership has been unwilling to fight against the threats that are clearly in the offing and continues to fight against their own members who wish to do so. David Van Deusen, the President of the Vermont AFL, presented a motion to his members that if there is a coup in the US preventing Biden from taking office, the whole of the unions in Vermont would organize a general strike. The previous president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, threatened to put the Vermont AFL in receivership. Trumka and the rest of those bureaucrats are responsible for the deteriorating conditions that workers face daily.
The trade unions should be educating and mobilizing trade union contingents joining with women and other organizations on the streets to stop the attacks on democratic rights. This pro-capitalist union bureaucracy however relies on the Democrats to defend working class and democratic rights. This must be challenged and organized against. It is part and parcel of business unionism and labor management partnerships that they have with the bosses on the job and a refusal to challenge capitalist politics.
Roe is just the beginning of the attacks on the working class that will inevitably come. People are being evicted from their apartments, they are being replaced by AI, they are made to work longer hours, often in dangerous circumstances. Capitalism’s insatiable need for profit is driving the world toward catastrophe. Roe is a symbol of the many hardships that the working class and the oppressed will face sooner rather than later. Billions have gone to this war with Russia and yet there is not enough money for healthcare or housing the unhoused. The US’s war drive means to undermine its rivals, the Russians and the Chinese. As in the past, this spells war, but unlike before, everyone has nuclear weapons.
The capitalists can no longer be allowed to rule; the stakes are too high. The working class needs its own voice and that can only be found through building a workers’ party leading toward a fair, just, equitable society ruled by the working class.
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