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

Damned if You Voted YES, Damned if You Voted NO

Nov 12, 2012

Referendums usually give you a choice between two bad choices, neither one of which you really want.

The referendum in Illinois concerning pensions for public sector workers is the perfect example. It would have required the governing bodies of the state, cities, counties, townships or school districts to approve any increase in employee pensions by a three-fifths majority.

The referendum lost. And union leaders, who had called for a no-vote, claimed victory. They said it would have made it harder to raise pensions if the referendum passed.

That’s nonsense. Before the referendum, workers’ pensions weren’t going up. And that didn’t depend on voting rules for the state legislature or city governments or school boards. That depended on the lack of worker militancy. And part of the reason for workers’ lack of militancy is the policy of most of those same union leaders, who don’t call for a fight.

This referendum was a sham, a trap, a damned-if-you-vote-yes- damned-if-you-vote-no trap.

No matter how you voted, “Yes” or “No,” you agreed that workers couldn’t have better pensions if the legislature, or the city council or the school board voted against it–whether by 60% or 50%.

When workers decide to fight, it won’t matter what the formal rules say about how a legislature makes its decisions. What will count is how determined and organized the workers are.

That referendum, like so many, was nothing but a trap. So a special congratulations to all those workers who saw through it, and didn’t bother to vote on it either way.

The only victory workers will get is the one they fight for!