A proposal for a short list of demands and action goals for WAM

by Barry Weisleder
This proposal is submitted to stimulate a discussion in the new Workers’ Action Movement on how to advance the effort to achieve a democratic, cooperative, egalitarian society and a better world for all.
Demands:
Good jobs for all, at union rates of pay.  Shorten work hours without loss of pay or benefits to share the available work.
Money for quality social housing, public education, health care, and transportation, not for war.  Limit the military to a rescue and disaster relief role.  Disarm the cops.  End racial profiling.  Abolish post-secondary education fees and student debt.
Tax the rich, the banks and giant corporations.  No subsidies or tax concessions to big business.  Eliminate all regressive taxes, like the GST/HST.  Institute taxes on corporate financial transactions and speculative investments.
For public ownership of the commanding heights of the economy, and for democratic planning under workers’ and community control.  This is urgently needed to facilitate a rapid conversion to a green energy system, and to move away from carbon-based and nuclear energy.  No to any new pipelines.
A guaranteed minimum income of $30,000 a year for a single person, plus $5,000 per dependent child.
A minimum wage of $17/hour.
Affirmative action in employment for women and visible minorities.  Equal pay and equal work.  De-colonize Canada.  Honour aboriginal treaties and land claims.  Justice for indigenous peoples.  Self-determination for Quebec.  Full rights for immigrant workers.  End the temporary foreign workers’ programme.
Improve the Canada Pension Plan.  Ensure that all workers enjoy decent pensions with defined benefits, protected against inflation.
Increase the eligibility of laid off workers, including part-time workers, to Employment Insurance benefits to last up to one year after layoff, with replacement of 66% of lost wages.
Organize the unorganized.  For the unfettered right to strike for all workers.
Abolish the international trade and investment deals that undermine health and safety regulation, environmental protection, public ownership, public services and domestic purchasing policies.
Enforce boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli Apartheid.
Canada out of NATO.  Solidarity with all struggles against imperialist intervention.
Action Goals designed to help achieve our demands and change the world:
Change the direction of the union movement by building a class struggle caucus in every union to fight against austerity and concessions, and to win greater union democracy.  Challenge and replace union leaders who fail to advance the interests of the working class.
Support struggles that resist social cuts, layoffs, the erosion of public services, including the elimination of home mail delivery, and attacks on democratic rights.  Put the emphasis on organizing for direct action in the workplace, community and on the streets.
Oppose voting for the Liberal Party, Green Party, Conservative Party, Bloc Quebecois and candidates supported by any section of the capitalist class.  Give critical support to candidates of the labour-based New Democratic Party, and insist that the NDP fight for and implement a Workers’ Agenda, including the above demands.  We strive for a Workers’ Government, by any means necessary, and support the campaign for proportional representation at all levels.
Build a culture of working class pride and self-identification, incorporating the radical arts scene, popular education, the celebration of May Day and other important working class occasions, and by embracing challenges to racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia.
Good jobs for all, at union rates of pay.  Shorten work hours without loss of pay or benefits to share the available work.
Money for quality social housing, public education, health care, and transportation, not for war.  Limit the military to a rescue and disaster relief role.  Disarm the cops.  End racial profiling.  Abolish post-secondary education fees and student debt.
Tax the rich, the banks and giant corporations.  No subsidies or tax concessions to big business.  Eliminate all regressive taxes, like the GST/HST.  Institute taxes on corporate financial transactions and speculative investments.
For public ownership of the commanding heights of the economy, and for democratic planning under workers’ and community control.  This is urgently needed to facilitate a rapid conversion to a green energy system, and to move away from carbon-based and nuclear energy.  No to any new pipelines.
A guaranteed minimum income of $30,000 a year for a single person, plus $5,000 per dependent child.
A minimum wage of $17/hour.
Affirmative action in employment for women and visible minorities.  Equal pay and equal work.  De-colonize Canada.  Honour aboriginal treaties and land claims.  Justice for indigenous peoples.  Self-determination for Quebec.  Full rights for immigrant workers.  End the temporary foreign workers’ programme.
Improve the Canada Pension Plan.  Ensure that all workers enjoy decent pensions with defined benefits, protected against inflation.
Increase the eligibility of laid off workers, including part-time workers, to Employment Insurance benefits to last up to one year after layoff, with replacement of 66% of lost wages.
Organize the unorganized.  For the unfettered right to strike for all workers.
Abolish the international trade and investment deals that undermine health and safety regulation, environmental protection, public ownership, public services and domestic purchasing policies.
Enforce boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli Apartheid.
Canada out of NATO.  Solidarity with all struggles against imperialist intervention.
Action Goals designed to help achieve our demands and change the world:
Change the direction of the union movement by building a class struggle caucus in every union to fight against austerity and concessions, and to win greater union democracy.  Challenge and replace union leaders who fail to advance the interests of the working class.
Support struggles that resist social cuts, layoffs, the erosion of public services, including the elimination of home mail delivery, and attacks on democratic rights.  Put the emphasis on organizing for direct action in the workplace, community and on the streets.
Oppose voting for the Liberal Party, Green Party, Conservative Party, Bloc Quebecois and candidates supported by any section of the capitalist class.  Give critical support to candidates of the labour-based New Democratic Party, and insist that the NDP fight for and implement a Workers’ Agenda, including the above demands.  We strive for a Workers’ Government, by any means necessary, and support the campaign for proportional representation at all levels.
Build a culture of working class pride and self-identification, incorporating the radical arts scene, popular education, the celebration of May Day and other important working class occasions, and by embracing challenges to racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia.
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Introducing the Workers’ Action Movement (WAM)

Welcome to the Workers’ Action Movement — a new, positive force for change, inside and outside the ranks of organized labour – one that is determined to break the hold of capitalist austerity and to end the downward spiral of concessions bargaining.

What are we all about? Here is our Basis of Unity:

We are working to establish a cross-union, class struggle caucus that is anti-capitalist, anti-austerity, anti-concessions, and pro-union democracy.

We believe our movement must strive for change based on policies, not on personalities; to replace misleaders on political grounds; to affirm union democratic principles from the bottom up; and to build an independent, class struggle movement from below that is inclusive, transparent and accountable. We want our own unions to work the same way.

That means we seek to change the overall direction of our unions, and to support union activists who battle concessions and anti-democratic practices in unions. We aim to work with those who engage with social justice movements, and we welcome all workers and activists from those movements.

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People’s Social Forum critical mass rally in Ottawa, August 2014.

The campaign to save home mail delivery is one of our current priorities. Why?

For a number of reasons. The attack on public services is at the forefront of the corporate agenda. The plan to eliminate home mail delivery would eliminate over 8,000 good jobs and weaken one of Canada’s most democratic unions. At the same time, the postal service cuts are deeply unpopular, and could be the Achilles heel of the Harper Conservative government.

But mass action is needed to win. Unfortunately, the leadership required is not forthcoming.

The Workers’ Action Movement is trying to make a difference, although we recognize that we cannot substitute for the mass organizations. Our ideas are strong, but our resources are meager. That is why we are trying to change the leadership and overall direction of unions. Potentially, militant and democratic unions are the key to unlocking the power of the working class to create a better world for all.

Where did we come from?

WAM emerged from the Take Back the CLC campaign that sought to elect Hassan Husseini to the position of President of the Canadian Labour Congress in 2014. Although Husseini did not win, the cross-country organizing effort contributed significantly to the defeat of Ken Georgetti – the first time a sitting incumbent lost. Take Back campaigners decided to convene a grassroots labour assembly at the People’s Social Forum in Ottawa in August 2014. Over 150 activists attended, and agreed to form an anti-capitalist, pro-democracy body in the unions, and to include civil society organizations and individuals in that effort. Over twenty people volunteered to serve on a temporary steering committee. Via telephone conferences and e-mail, we formulated a Basis of Unity and set WAM in motion.

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