We must all support the courageous carpenters strike!



Friday, September 17, 2021

Dear Carpenter Brothers, Sisters and Brothers,

Workers have been pressed on all sides and our conditions have deteriorated.

Meanwhile, just since the start of the COVID crisis, American billionaires have enriched themselves by nearly two trillion dollars. And bosses have raked in trillions more over the past decade, while workers have fallen behind. Home prices in Seattle rose 93% during this period. Rents in Seattle have increased by over 25% this year alone. Carpenters increasingly cannot afford to live in the city they are helping to build.

But despite all the obstacles, grassroots carpenters say enough! My Council office and political organization Socialist Alternative stand unequivocally alongside the carpenters in their fight against AGC bosses for a fair contract: for paid parking, for fully funded services, wages to provide for the needs family and better protections against sexual harassment in the workplace. . No worker should have to run after overtime, worrying about health care, retirement or salary just to get by. We will support you.

We are stronger together, united against the bosses, and that is why it is crucial that the Martin Luther King County Labor Council, representing over 150 unions, support you in your strike action!

As some of you may know, I am a grassroots member of the teachers‘ union, AFT 1789. As a three times elected worker representative, I only earn $ 40,000 and the rest of my salary. $ 140,000 to city council after tax goes into a solidarity fund for labor movements. I believe that all elected representatives, including elected union leaders, should also retain the average workers’ salary – in order to be accountable and in touch with the needs and living conditions of those they represent. I pledge to donate $ 2,000 from this solidarity fund to your strike fund if the carpenters union creates one, and I urge labor and community organizations, and progressive elected officials to do the same.

Carpenters are rightly opposed to the idea of ​​a four-year contract separating them from most contract negotiations in the building trades. The workers have the most power when we are united in the face of the bosses’ desire to increase profits at our expense. It is a rare thing that all trades contracts come together every three years, and we stand by your side in your fight to maintain this unity.

We need this unity every day if we are to overcome the attacks on organized labor and the millions of working families that the ruling class leads.

The corporate media are now writing hit stories, siding with the AGC and attempting to slander the striking carpenters as greedy and sexist – saying you are being driven to disaster by outside agitators and Marxists. What a dishonest and insulting attack on the heroic efforts of the workers in their own struggle. The workers leading this strike have made it clear that there is no room for sexism and racism in their movement. It goes without saying that my Council office is also opposed to all misogyny and fanaticism, and has had an experience of 8 years in the fight against sexism and racism, as we have fought to uplift all workers and oppressed people. But we also oppose these blatant attempts to take the vile words of a few individuals in an attempt to smear this strike and all union members.

It should be emphasized that the very real problem of harassment is only brought to light by the mainstream media when it is used as a weapon against workers who are struggling to improve their conditions. It’s only fitting that carpenters have been picketing since yesterday on the Microsoft campus, where Bill Gates has been given a pass for years for his sexist and harassing behavior – not to mention the pass long given by senior executives. business and corporate media to Gates’ good friend, Jeffrey Epstein. . The business elite harasses women, the oppressed and the entire working class, then tries to smear union members who are fighting for their rights.

Likewise, what an insulting distortion of grassroots members organizing and fighting, to imply that they are just being guided by the nose rather than working together to consciously advance their interests. But it is a well-worn tactic of the bosses and their spokespersons. The labor movements and leaders celebrated today were also vilified in their time. The fight for the eight hour day was dismissed as being led by outside bomb throwers and agitators. From Peter J. McGuire to Eugene V. Debs and Harry Bridges, they have all been portrayed as despotic radicals with a distinct working class agenda. But as socialists their program was nothing more than to advance the interests of the workers through collective action, to chart a course against poverty and misery, against the brutal rule of the landlords, for the organization. democratic society by workers.

These gains were made through struggle, not through compromise and surrender. It is collaboration with the bosses that has led to decades of defeats and worsening conditions for workers, unionized and non-unionized. We must rebuild a combative trade union movement if we are to make a difference. This courageous strike is an important step that can serve as an example for workers across the country.

When we fight, we can win. We saw it when we made Seattle the first big city to earn a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour, when we won the Amazon Tax last year to fund union jobs by building affordable housing, and when we supported striking Teamster public school bus drivers who won health and pension demands. When workers fight and win, it inspires workers everywhere. And when unionized workers use their collective organization to wage these battles, it turns on a beacon for the tens of millions of people who are wondering how to improve their conditions, showing that the way forward is in the ranks of organized labor.

As the Teamsters fighters said in 1934: “All the workers in the unions – All the unions in the struggle!”


Kshama Sawant

Seattle City Council Member



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