the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist
“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx
Jan 31, 2022
Workers’ wages are going up—or so the news programs tell us! They also say—liars that they are—that employers are being forced to raise wages just to attract workers to fill key positions.
What a laugh!
There is no labor shortage. There are plenty of workers to do the work. The problem is employers organize the work to serve their own interests. Even before the pandemic hit, employers had a policy of not filling open positions. It was a lot cheaper and more profitable for them to force their existing workforce to work longer and harder rather than hire one more worker.
Now, supposedly, there is an economic recovery, and they are doing the same thing. Working conditions are so bad, workers are forced to take early retirement or quit because they are sick, injured or burned out. Or else, they leave their jobs out of necessity to take care of someone who is sick, or to watch their kids, who are not in school or pre-school.
We repeat—there is no labor shortage. The bosses simply cut the workforce to the bone.
All those essential workers leaving their jobs caused terrible disruptions. But companies took advantage of those disruptions to raise prices. They drove up the prices of basic necessities, such as food, energy, rent and insurance. Car prices have gone up so much in the last year, don’t even think about buying a new or used car!
Those price increases went straight into these companies’ bank accounts, increasing their profits even more. Last year, after-tax corporate profits hit an all-time high as a share of the economy. That means companies increased their profits by driving down the standard of living of the working class—in the middle of a pandemic.
So, don’t tell us wages are going up—our income is going down. When you take inflation into account, the workers’ real wages went down last year. That’s according to official government statistics. It is the exact opposite of what the news is reporting.
For workers to reverse the decline in real wages and their standard of living, they are going to have to take the money from corporate profits. That is, take it from the companies that stole the money from us in the first place.
The working class has the power to do this. After all, the pandemic made crystal clear just how much society depends on “essential” workers, that is, the vast army of workers who provide essential services and produce the goods that society depends on every single day.
Being essential gives that workforce a great deal of power when they decide to fight. Last year, some workers did exactly that. Workers at a few big companies, like John Deere, Frito Lay, Nabisco, Kellogg’s, as well as at some health care companies, mining companies and industrial bakeries went on strike. They couldn’t take the “suicide” shifts, low pay, rotten benefits, and horrible working conditions anymore.
They felt they had no other choice but to fight. In fact, millions more workers are finding they have no other choice, either. It’s in such fights that workers can begin to make sure to protect their interests.