Oct 13, 2014
There are five candidates running in Michigan as a slate calling for a working class fight based on a working class policy. They are Gary Walkowicz, for U.S. Congress Michigan district 12; Sam Johnson, for U.S. Congress Michigan district 13; Mary Anne Hering and Kenneth Jannot, Jr., candidates for Dearborn School Board (HFC); and David Roehrig, candidate for Wayne Country Community College district 2.
The following is excerpted from a speech that Gary Walkowicz gave recently in Detroit. In the next issue of the SPARK, there will be excerpts from the speech that Sam Johnson gave at the same meeting.
Sam and I are running for Congress to speak for the working class. We are running to say what many people feel – people are angry at what is happening to ordinary working people. We are running to insist that workers should not continue to pay the cost of the bosses’ crisis.
Some would say that since we are not running with the Democrats or Republicans that we can’t win. And, of course, it’s true that we don’t have what the two parties have – we don’t have millions of dollars to buy an election.
Some would say that if people vote for us, they are throwing their vote away. But I say that if you vote for either one of the two parties, then you are throwing your vote away.
Working people are facing a crisis in our lives and what kind of answers does either party have for us? Both parties pushed the Detroit bankruptcy, cutting the pay, pensions and health care of city workers, while giving away millions to Dan Gilbert and the Ilitch family. Both parties agreed to give trillions to the banks while ignoring the needs of ordinary people
Across the country, whether it was with Republicans or with Democrats in the White House and in Congress, working people have seen our standard of living go down. In every state and city, we are seeing our children’s schools get worse and the public services we depend on deteriorate. And it is happening under Democratic mayors and governors and Republican mayors and governors. Both parties have the same policies.
If we go along and vote for either of the parties, then we are saying that we agree with the attacks that the politicians are carrying out against working people. By voting for the two parties, we encourage them to go on attacking us. And that really is throwing your vote away.
Sam and I and Mary Anne and Ken and David are running to say that these attacks need to stop. We are running to say that things need to be turned in the 180-degree opposite direction. We say that the needs of working people should come first.
We are running to say that everyone should have the right to a decent life.
We say that everyone who wants to work should have a job, a full-time job. There is plenty of work that needs to be done. Hire back all the teachers and school workers who were laid off; they are needed to improve our schools. Hire back all the city and state workers who were laid off; they are needed to fix the streets and bridges and rebuild the sewer and water systems. In the factories and offices where people are working today, people are being overworked; so stop all the speed-up, divide up the work and hire more people. Put jobs back the way they used to be so that one person does the work of one person, not three or four people. This alone would create millions more jobs. And reduce the hours of work to something reasonable like 30 hours a week without losing a cent out of a 40-hour (or so) pay check.
We say that every worker should have an adequate standard of living. It is criminal that people are forced to work for 2nd-tier wages. It is an outrage that people are working for a minimum wage that today is beyond pitiful. Even double the minimum wage to $15/hour as some are calling for, would leave a family at the poverty level. Every worker needs raises that would allow their family to live decently.
We say that we should not lose out when prices go up. Our pay and pensions and Social Security and disability payments must be protected against rising prices. When companies raise their prices, our money should go up immediately and by an equal amount.
We say that every child should have the right to a good education. We say that our children are just as important as the children of the wealthy and have just as much right to good schools. Money for education must be increased everywhere, especially for those schools where our children are most in need.
We say that public services must be improved everywhere, especially in working class neighborhoods, where services have been cut the most. We pay more than enough in taxes to pay for decent services. We should not have to put up with our basements being flooded; we should not have to wait days to have our power back on after a storm. People should not have their house burn down because there aren’t enough firemen; people should not die because there aren’t enough ambulances.
The money is there to pay for all these things that working people need. We have the right to these things. The problem is that the wealth of this society is hoarded by a wealthy few. Large corporations, the big banks and capitalist class control most of the wealth. And they have been taking a bigger share for themselves for the past 35 years. Things weren’t great 35 years ago, but if we look back, we would be shocked by how much we have lost in that time.
The gap in wealth in this country between the rich and the rest of us has never been greater. Today the wealthy take everything for themselves. This wealth was not created by them. Working people created it. Our labor produced everything, we built everything, we make everything run. We can take back what we have produced, to use it so the whole population can have a decent life.
That’s what we say and that’s why we ask people to vote for us – to declare that we are fed up and that we intend to have what we need.