In a stunning show of courage, public workers from SB Local #1072 of College Park, Maryland at the University of Maryland rallied on April 13th to demand their rights and express their grievances. Alongside them were university students, aligning their interests in tandem with those of the university public workers. This is an important step in, mobilizing opposition to unfair treatment of public workers at the university, of which Brian Igho wrote at http://dailycensored.com/2011/04/05/plantation-era-material-conditions-for-public-workers-at-the-university-of-maryland/). It also represents an important step in students and staff organizing and mobilizing. They see their interests are one and the same. Both students and workers correctly see solidarity is the only way to advance in the struggle to end inequality, fight for civil rights and defend and advance human rights and the common good.
The question at issue for the public workers at the university can be seen at in a video at http://blip.tv/file/5015245 as can coverage of the rally. The issue is simple, as one worker stated. It can best be expressed as “What can we (public workers at the college) do about the gross inequality between those who make $200,000 a year in management and those union members who actually work for a living and have to labor at two and often three jobs due to the fact they make little more than $40,000 a year?” The other issue, as Igho outlined in his report for Daily Censored, is the treatment or material conditions of the university public workers and this can be seen in the form of testimonials in the video above.
The ruling elites in management at the college are quick to counter, of course, that the public workers are lucky to have a job at all in this global economic depression and they shouldn’t whine or complain but instead praise the lord, bend their backs and o their work without complaint. With so many workers out of jobs in America the ‘reserve labor army’, the amount of unemployed workers that exist, serves to drive down wages and breed fear among workers as more and more workers compete for fewer and fewer jobs. This is one way management creates the material conditions to win at the bargaining table or to break unions in general. It is also just one way capitalism as an economic system works and why full employment is impossible under the economic conditions of the system. This is why wages and benefits have to be fought for.
Capitalism has only one motive: profit for a select few and this is accomplished, at least in one way, by reducing the costs of labor and the benefits that labor accrues and controlling the working conditions of workers by use of an over-paid managerial class. All of this is can be seen on display at the University of Maryland.
Students interviewed at the rally, when asked why they were supporting the workers, spoke of rising tuition costs, an inability to air their grievances to college management without fear of reprisal and the huge disparities in management and worker salaries while labor and students shoulder the spiraling costs through low wages and horrific working conditions and in the case of students tuition hikes, rising debt through college loans and cuts in college services. (http://www.leftbusinessobserver.com/College.html, http://rt.com/usa/news/usa-education-college-debt/).
The problem, of course, for workers and students is that the current economic climate is in ruinous despair. Cities are crumbling and social safety nets are disappearing in favor of ‘dragnets’ in communities across the nation (just one example, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9801E0D8103CF935A1575BC0A9649C8B63&pagewanted=print). Housing foreclosures are steadily rising, with 3.5 million scheduled for this year alone. With unemployment skyrocketing as jobs are shipped overseas or made redundant do to changes in the means of production, or technology, capitalism has created a surplus population of people who cannot and never will find work under the current material economic conditions. There are simply no jobs being created in the private sector nor can their be and unlike the Roosevelt era when 11 million jobs were created by the federal government, we instead see cuts in essential public services to the tune of $38 billion which will serve only to create lower demand for goods and services promising an even deeper depression. Capitalism also serves to alter communities geographically and psychically as cities like Detroit and New Orleans have lost one third of their residents and buildings and homes lie vacant. America is now a land of refugees.
Workers and students at The University of Maryland see the necessity to organize and mobilize for a better economic and social system both at work and within society at large. Mobilizations and acts of solidarity like this must be achieved to build unity to organize for another economic system that is not run for profit for a few but instead for the necessity and needs of the people.