This Local election will likely sweep out the corrupt old guard, now split between the “New James Team” and Ed Melendez’s “Rebuild the Pride” slate, supported by International Pres. Sonny Hall. New Directions will probably win a big majority on the Executive Board and in most Divisions. Although ND is not putting forward a militant campaign based on mass action to fight the bosses, the most militant transit workers will be voting for them. They feel that throwing the old guard out will get a big weight off our backs, and that ND is more honest and will put up more of a fight against the bosses’ and politicians.
I agree that throwing out the old guard will be a big step forward. But I don’t think that ND is a real alternative. When the old guard frantically accuses ND of being fire-breathing communists, it is necessary to defend them and others against red-baiting and anti-communism. But ND are far from being genuine revolutionary fighters. Rather, they are a not very militant group of reformists who in reality accept the limits of capitalism, are fearful of mass workers’ struggles, and embrace a bureaucratic approach that has led the union movement to disaster.
Thus, while rank-and-file transit workers pushed for a strike last year in the face of the James Gang’s sell-out and Giuliani’s threats, ND refused to come out even timidly for a strike until the last moment. Then, when transit workers voted unanimously to strike at the second mass meeting, ND refused to lead the struggle forward. ND are so scared of mass struggle that they don’t even want to talk about the strike movement now in their election campaign.
Instead, ND’s favorite tactic is filing lawsuits, mostly against the union and its current leadership. This is criminal! Though the old guard deserves the workers’ vengeance, the courts and government at all levels only represent the capitalists against the workers. In the guise of “democracy,” government intervention in the unions weakens workers’ organization and sets us up for the eventual smashing of unions.
Given all this, why am I calling for a vote for New Directions in the elections? Despite ND’s betrayal of last year’s strike movement, despite their failure to fight for militant mass action to defeat the bosses’ attacks, most transit workers still view ND as the militant alternative to the current leadership. This is largely because they appear militant compared to the James/Hall gang of sellouts.
For years now ND has whined that they can’t do what they want because they lack a majority in the whole Local. ND has gotten away with talking tough while doing little but telling workers to wait until they get elected. ND has thus become an obstacle to the development of a real mass fightback against the bosses. Many workers accept ND’s notion that we have to first put ND into office and only then mobilize the ranks for mass action.
I don’t believe that if they’re elected, ND will lead a mass fightback unless they’re forced to by pressure from the ranks. Even then, I don’t think ND can be expected to lead our struggles to victory. However, because workers see the obstacle to struggle as only James/Hall and not ND, it is necessary to vote for ND. All transit workers can then go through the experience of an ND administration together. I believe that this will expose ND’s fake militancy. A vote for ND will send a message to them: Put up or shut up!
If we give ND a majority they’ll no longer be able to blame James for their failure to mobilize a fightback. They’ll have no-one but themselves to blame for what happens.
But don’t just vote for them and leave them alone: demand that they immediately start mobilizing us to fight the bosses’ attacks, for example by organizing mass refusals of unsafe work. I predict that ND in the end will cave in to the bosses rather than consistently mobilize against them. But if we build our own struggle and train up a new leadership from the ranks, we’ll be able to replace ND and continue to struggle forward.
Workers should not trust ND. I am calling on workers to vote for me in order to elect a fighter who will do everything possible to prevent ND from betraying its promises to the ranks.
My program is the only mass action alternative to ND, not to mention the old guard. In the contest for Track Vice-Chair, I am asking that you Vote for Eric Josephson for Vice-Chair, “Independent” line on the right-hand side of the ballot. There are three New Directions candidates for Track Vice-Chair: to cast a valid vote for me, vote for only two (2) or fewer of the ND candidates for Vice-Chair.
I’m a long-time militant and shop-steward, and a supporter of revolutionary socialist group the League for the Revolutionary Party. The action program below is something I’ve backed for years, not just at election time. I raised the strike motion which passed unanimously at the December 14 evening mass meeting last year. As Track Vice-Chair I’ll be able to articulate and fight for the members’ demands with more authority.
I’ll aggressively work for mass mobilization against the MTA’s attacks and pressure all leaders to organize mass, militant actions. Together we can pressure ND and any other leaders to fight the bosses and expose and cast them aside if they don’t. That’s how we can build a fighting TWU leadership worthy of the name.
Organize large squads of trackworkers to police job safety! Workers who want to fight will be glad to make the sacrifice in time, effort or money for safety. A large, militant delegation descending on an unsafe job-site could face down the bosses and force improvements.
Demand Weekend RDO’s, More Restricted Duty Jobs, Single-Location Jobs and Regularly-Scheduled, Time-Limited Picks (such as a year). If management won’t meet these demands, Shut The Pick With Continual Mass, Militant Picket Lines! Infrastructures did this a few years ago, and beat back some of management’s takebacks.
To ensure overtime allocation by strict seniority rotation, the Track Division leadership should organize overtime refusal where necessary.
The Track Division leadership should join, build and/or initiate demonstrations or other actions against attacks on any workers, such as broad-banding in Car Maintenance. Organize a massive refusal of unsafe asbestos work. Bring out all members to support co-workers facing discipline for refusing unsafe work.
We must demand an end to workfare, and that all workfare workers now working for NYCT be given union jobs at full pay. Same Job – Same Pay and Protection! End Workfare! Indeed Local 100 should mobilize against all other anti-working class attacks, in particular police-brutality and racism in general.
The program above that I’m running on stands for mass struggle in defense of our working and living conditions. Every militant worker should be able to agree with it. Its points are some elements of a program which can beat back attacks and win gains for all workers. But the fight against the attacks by the transit bosses can only succeed as part of a struggle against all the bosses’ attacks. I favor uniting the entire working class in struggle through a general strike! And such a struggle means a political fight against the capitalist state and the bosses’ two parties, the Democrats and Republicans.
However the improvements we can win through such struggles cannot last more than temporarily because the capitalist system relies on intensifying exploitation and oppression to save itself from inevitable crises. I believe the working class will have to overthrow capitalism and build socialism if it is to avoid not just gradually worse exploitation, but the horrors of depression and war.
Most workers who will vote for me will do so because they respect me as a militant and support my program of mass struggle even though they don’t necessarily agree with my socialist views. Good – we can unite around the action program above today, and I hope to use the experience of the struggle to convince more workers of my socialist perspective and the need to build a political party to fight for them.