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For a Labor Party Based on the Trade Unions!
[Below is the text of a flyer written by Doug Mann that outlines a socialist program for the Labor Party. It was distributed to delegates and observers at the Labor Party's founding convention in Cleveland, June 1996. Doug Mann is a charter member of the Labor Party. The Labor Party does not endorse candidates for political office in Minnesota]
We live in a society where labor productivity steadily increases, the rich are getting richer, and everyone else is getting poorer. This is so because there are two employer-dominated political parties, the Democratic and Republican parties, which have a common economic agenda and a monopoly on political power.
After World War Two, a long economic boom was profitably sustained by an expansion of purchasing power on credit, and by raiding the pocket books of wage earners to make the payments. The rich got richer and the poor prospered.
However, by the late 1960's a booming world economy led to a crisis of generalized overproduction and falling profit rates. The solution has been to further expand purchasing power on credit and to transfer more and more wealth from poor to rich to make the payments.
To reverse this process, workers will have to organize a political party that is accountable to workers, that draws upon the strength of the trade unions, and that creates an environment where unions can get stronger: a labor party based on the trade unions. Its program should include the following points:
For An Above-Poverty-Level Minimum Wage!
The income of an average family with one person employed full time should exceed the poverty threshold. This would require a minimum wage of $10.00 per hour to achieve this standard in regions with high living costs.
For An Eight Hour Day And A Forty Hour Workweek!
Require all employers to pay time and a half for hours worked beyond 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week. Gains in labor productivity achieved in the last fifty years should be used to boost minimum household incomes to "middle class" levels and further reduce the workweek, to 30 hours for 40 hours pay, etc.
Open The Books, Both Sets!
Employers typically claim that they will go broke unless workers make concessions on wages and benefits, accept layoffs and workload maximization schemes, etc. Except in the case where an employer's plea of poverty is genuine and there is nothing to hide, no employer will agree to an inspection of the financial books, or negotiate "management rights."
Nationalize Banks & Major Industries Under Workers' Control!
Private ownership and control of the means of production stands in the way of any fundamental change in how the economy is run, and how the necessities of life are distributed.
Tax Profits, Not Wages!
For a heavy progressive tax on all corporate profits and personal income from investments! No taxes on wage earnings less than 4 times the official poverty threshold ($60,000 for family of 4). No taxes on income from retirement, disability, and unemployment insurance funds. Abolish consumption taxes. Eliminate property taxes on owner-occupied housing units. Rebate to renters all residential property taxes paid by landlords.
No To Slashing The Social Safety Net!
Programs such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children are being "reformed" to function exclusively to enlarge the pool of workers who are willing and able to take jobs at starvation wages. The federal government "borrows" from Social Security funds with no intent to repay, and corporations are allowed to raid their employees' pension funds.
Quality Health Care Is A Right, Not A Privilege!
In 1993, Clinton's health care "reform" package cut the budgets for medicare and medicaid by $200 billion, and promoted HMOs to cut the cost of these programs and employer-subsidized health plans. A common complaint of health care workers in clinics, hospitals and nursing homes is that their workload has been increased far beyond a point where they can do their jobs in a safe and effective manner.
Education Is A Right, Not A Privilege!
Extend the opportunity for all to pursue an education through the university level. More funding to improve facilities and to reduce the size of classrooms in public K-12 school system, and to eliminate tuition and restrictive admission policies in public colleges and vocational schools.
No To Permanent "Temporary" Employment!
Employers use temporary employment agencies and other forms of indirect employment-by-contract not only to provide them with a "just-in-time" workforce at low cost, but also as a union busting device.
Stop The Attacks On Immigrant Workers! No More Deportations!
The threat of deportation effectively denies "illegal" immigrant workers the ability to exercise any legal rights, including the right to join unions.
Affirmative Action to
End Racist & Sexist Hiring Practices!
Employers have an interest in maintaining a last hired, first fired, low-paid workforce. It serves to depress wages across-the-board.
Equal Rights for Gays and Lesbians!
No discrimination in housing and employment. Expand the definition of "family" to include unmarried domestic partners to determine eligibility for health insurance and other benefits provided by employers and the government.
Defend Reproductive Rights!
No restriction on access to reproductive health services, including abortion. Repeal the Hyde Amendment and other legislation that restricts funding for abortion! No to forced contraception and sterilization!
No To Company Unions!
The Clinton administration has promoted the formation of company dominated structures, such as safety committees and productivity enhancement committees, which the employer recognizes as a bargaining agent for workers. These committees "negotiate" conditions of employment and handle grievances for workers as an alternative to bona-fide trade unions. The National Labor Relations Act hasn't been amended to allow for company unions, its enforcement is merely being "relaxed."