Detroit Workers: Spoil Your Ballot!
The following was distributed as a leaflet throughout May and June to mass meetings and protests of Detroit city workers by members and supporters of the Detroit Unit of the Workers Party in America.
Brothers and sisters! If you haven’t by now, you will soon receive the ballot sent to you by officials from the “emergency” dictatorship now running this city. This den of thieves and financial thugs will be asking you to vote to cut your own throat in exchange for empty promises and emptier wallets, courtesy of the bosses, bankers and political barbarians of the Republican and Democratic parties.
The deal proposed — the so-called “Grand Bargain” — is only a bargain for the exploiting and oppressing classes (the business owners, their managers and the so-called “professionals”). The massive cuts in pensions and wages, the elimination of health care for retirees, privatization of the city’s main assets (DWSD, Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, etc.), and state control of all union contracts for the next 13 years is little more than an attempt to make workers voluntarily pay for the current crisis. And if you won’t willingly put the gun to your head and pull the trigger, dictator Kevyn Orr and his paymasters will pull it for you.
Put another way, it doesn’t matter whether you vote for or against this “Grand Theft;” either way, the ruling classes plan to make poor and working people foot the bill for Detroit’s forced bankruptcy while the bosses and banks plunder the city for millions of dollars. This is why the Workers Party appeals to you, our brothers and sisters, to tell these barbarians where they can stick their sham of a “bargain.” We call on all Detroit city workers to spoil your ballots, and tell Orr, Governor Rick Snyder, Mayor Mike Duggan and the rest of the vultures to go to hell!
But it’s not just the dictators in public office directing this assault on your living standards. Aiding in this massive attack are the pro-capitalist “leaders” and officials of the corporatist business unions. Both AFSCME and the UAW have been aiding the ruling classes in the dismantling of workers’ wages, benefits and pensions, while making mealy-mouthed criticisms of the “process” and claiming that “there’s nothing we can do.” This plea only exposes the utter bankruptcy (pun intended) of these weasels. A general strike by all city workers, joined by other AFSCME and UAW locals (including the auto plants), by the public school unions, by the large Teamsters and SEIU memberships, and so on, would have the power to shut down Detroit until the exploiting and oppressing classes understand that we as workers are done with bailing them out!
But these officials stand on the side of the bosses and managers, not ours! Like their masters in the Democratic Party, who have supported and participated in the “emergency” dictatorship from the beginning, these union officials are there to manage you and keep you voting for the very people who are waging this battle against your livelihoods. And it’s not just the local politicians and officials, either! Obama’s White House and the Brookings Institute (a Democratic Party “think tank”) have backed the takeover of Detroit and the selling off of the city’s remaining assets. And, of course, behind them are the Wall Street banks and hedge fund managers who stand to make millions off our misery.
If the exploiters and oppressors are able to succeed with their robbery of city workers’ hard-won gains, it will serve as a model for every other American city whose officials are looking for their own “grand bargain.” Detroit has always been a kind of “proving ground” for attacks on working people; what happens here first, happens everywhere else next.
Contrary to the “liberal” Democrats and their “radical left” satellites, the only way to fight against these and other attacks is by rejecting this ballot charade and beginning to organize a mass, united workers’ response. In our workplaces and neighborhoods, we need to begin to organize meetings to discuss how best to fight these attacks on our rights and living standards. These workplace and neighborhood committees would be able to bring into this struggle our brothers and sisters working in auto plants, hospitals, offices, schools and mass transit, to better plan and coordinate strike and other labor action. Working together through an elected council of workers’ representatives from these committees, we would be able to say in one voice that we will not give another inch!
As we said, though, this is not just a local struggle, and real, meaningful victory could only come about through the defeat of the exploiting and oppressing classes on a national (and international) scale. This is why we work to build a mass workers’ political organization and a revolutionary industrial union movement to unite all working people into a single movement that can prepare our class to rule, can overthrow the supremacy of the ruling classes and can take political (state) power.