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

2014 Elections:
Workers in Michigan Can Make Their Voice Heard

Oct 13, 2014

With the 2014 elections just around the corner, Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican governors like Michigan’s Rick Snyder all claim credit for an economy supposedly in “recovery.”

It’s true, there is a recovery of sorts–a bigger share of the national income is today going to profit than at any time since such records were kept.

Those profits could have been put to socially valuable use: protecting the lives and welfare of the working population.

Instead the big capitalists hoarded their profits for the benefit of their own tiny owning class. They paid them out as dividends and stock buybacks, threw them into speculation, and just plain sat on the money. As much as eight trillion dollars today sits in accounts for the biggest capitalists, contributing nothing to the production of goods and useful services.

All of that accumulated money in the hands of a tiny, greedy class was made off the backs of the working population. The share of people with jobs is the smallest it’s been in decades–because this is a “recovery” only for the capitalist class and its hangers-on. Our standard of living is lower than it was in the 1970s.Working conditions devour more of our life’s energy. The schools in working class areas waste our children, the lack of public services degrade our lives.

This is why profits grew so rapidly. The capitalist class stole from everyone else.

This is the “recovery” for which both Democrats and Republicans are claiming credit, a recovery for the capitalist class.

There will be no recovery for ordinary people until the working class puts its hands on this stolen wealth, takes it back, uses it to provide jobs for everyone, an adequate income for everyone, and schools and public services that genuinely do serve the needs of the population.

That’s why SPARK says, the working class needs to fight and to put its own demands forward.

It’s why SPARK also says, the working class needs to express itself politically, not through the two big parties, both of whom serve the capitalist class. Workers need to express themselves through candidates that speak for their own class.

This year, in Michigan, workers have a chance to do just that, at least in some districts. Five independent candidates, linked by a common program, calling for a working class fight based on a working class policy, are defying the two big parties.

This slate of candidates is led by Sam Johnson, a retired Chrysler worker, running for Congress in Michigan’s 13th district, and Gary Walkowicz, a Ford worker, running for Congress in the 12th district. Sam has been known in the city of Detroit as a fighter for working people for a very long time. Some of his history–from Alabama to Los Angeles to Detroit–has been captured in his recently released book, A Fighter All My Life.

Gary is well known as the Ford union official who led opposition to UAW auto contracts that pushed the working class backwards. In 2009, he helped organize the solid rejection of a concessions contract jointly advocated by one of the auto companies and the UAW leadership. And he dared to contest for UAW president, letting the workers’ demands be heard in both the 2010 and 2014 UAW Conventions.

The slate also includes Mary Anne Hering and Kenneth Jannot, both teachers, running together for two of the three open slots on the Dearborn School Board, which also oversees Henry Ford (Community) College; and David Roehrig, running for the Wayne County Community College board. As teachers and public employees, all three have witnessed first-hand the damage caused by the severe cutbacks to the schools and public services. They are running to say that public money should be used to pay for schools and services, rather than to line the capitalists’ already bulging pockets.

Working people will not protect themselves until they begin to fight to impose their demands. But in voting for these candidates, workers can make their voices heard even today. And those who vote for these candidates will be saying that at least part of the working class today does not accept what this capitalist society offers us.