The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

What is Really Democratic

Mar 16, 2020

How does the working class get rid of the corruption that permeates this society? How do workers rebuild their unions?

Some activists within the UAW have started pushing for a change in union rules, summarized by the phrase, “One member, one vote.” Interestingly, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the federal prosecutor has also been promoting “One member, one vote.”

Under current rules, top UAW officers are selected by elected delegates at a convention. Changing to one member, one vote—while described as direct democracy—is only a show of democracy, similar to how workers currently vote “directly” for the President of the United States.

The Teamsters Union now has direct elections. As a Teamster organizer pointed out, this system favors incumbents with greater staff to raise campaign funds.

Powerful rank and file control of the union by frontline workers is what will clean up the union. Worker’s democracy starts at the rank and file level, in each workplace. It is a powerful democracy, where ordinary workers discuss together and decide together what is most important. It is where workers organize and decide who they trust to represent them—and through them—who will lead. It is the most important form of democracy. It is power based on the ability of workers consciously to stand together to solve workplace problems.

If there is a simple solution, it is for union activists to go back to the basics. Go back to the rank and file organizing that built unions in the first place. Start with the people we know in each workplace. It is important work that not only has the potential to throw out the few corrupt people in the union, but it can allow the working class to start to take on the corruption of this whole society!