The Spark

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

The Workers’ Strength Is in Their Organization and Unity

Apr 22, 2024

Over the last couple of months four major companies—Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket company, Amazon, Starbucks, and the Trader Joe’s grocery chain—have each started a legal process to end the existence of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), with the claim that the NLRB is “unconstitutional.”

The NLRB was created by Congress back in 1935 as the federal agency that “regulates labor relations.” It is supposed to decide whether or not to officially recognize a union that workers organize, or whether a company—or a union—is carrying out “unfair labor practices.”

Over the last couple of years, the NLRB has charged all four companies with myriad instances of “unfair labor practices.” Against SpaceX, the NLRB brought a complaint for illegally firing eight employees after they circulated a letter exposing rampant sexual harassment by management, including by Elon Musk himself. Against Starbucks, the NLRB has already brought 19 formal complaints, and is investigating more than 250 other charges that workers have brought, such as spying on workers, intimidation and closing stores in retaliation for unionizing. At Trader Joe’s, the NLRB charged the company with illegally retaliating against workers for union organizing. And, finally, the NLRB charged Amazon with illegally retaliating against workers at a massive Staten Island warehouse. These workers had successfully formed a union recognized by the NLRB two years ago and have been seeking a contract ever since from Amazon, which has been stonewalling them.

There is no reason to believe that any of these actions by the NLRB will go very far. The NLRB has little or no enforcement powers. The NLRB can’t fine companies, not even one single dollar for firing a labor organizer. It certainly can’t throw capitalists in prison for their criminal behavior.

But obviously these legal actions against the NLRB by four major companies show that they don’t want the NLRB poking its nose around, interfering in any way with how they abuse or strong-arm the workforce, a sentiment that is no doubt shared by other capitalists and government officials, as well.

The ongoing and worsening of the economic crisis, along with new attacks by the capitalist class against the working class, have provoked the beginnings of new struggles by workers, including some organizing drives and strikes. Certainly, the effort by some capitalists to dump the NLRB is a part of their attacks against the working class.

But even if these capitalists succeed at getting rid of the NLRB, it will not be a defeat for the workers. For what will count for the workers will be what has always counted: the workers’ own organization and strength. And for the workers to realize that power they will have to build their own independent organizations that unite them at every level, from their unions to their own working-class party.