I joined the march and rally of hundreds of workers at Bath Iron Works (BIW) today here in Maine during their half-hour lunch break. Even though their union contract is good for another year the company (General Dynamics) boss Fred Harris is sabotaging the collective bargaining agreement and trying to force concessions that fall outside of the union contract. Things like outsourcing of jobs to non-union workers are among the several items in contention.
though I often join a peace vigil at BIW calling for the conversion of
the shipyard I still support the workers right to have a union. I was
trained as an organizer by the United Farm Workers Union so my heart has
always been with the people who do the hard work that produce the
enormous profits for the mega-corporations.
Navy has determined that its shipbuilding budget is “unsustainable.” It
can’t afford to cover the mounting costs of new aircraft carriers,
nuclear submarines, and the expensive Zumwalt destroyers being built at
BIW. The latter cost more than double what the previous Aegis destroyer
cost – price per ship has risen to more than $4 billion. The Navy’s
solution to its budget crisis? Cut jobs, outsource to non-union
workers, and, over time, likely move to get rid of the unions at
shipyards like BIW.
is the Plan B for Bath? Who ever thought the nearby Navy base in
Brunswick would close and that thousands of jobs would be lost? How can
our nation afford the expensive high-tech weapons systems that are
costing the taxpayers an arm and a leg? How can we effectively deal with
the coming ravages of climate change unless we immediately begin a
transformation of our industrial policy from endless war to building
rail systems, wind turbines, a solar society, and tidal power – all of
which would help us in some degree deal with climate change?
is our congressional delegation when we need it to advocate for a new
sustainable technology direction? Sen. Collins, Sen. King, Rep. Pingree
and Rep. Poliquin remain on bended knees begging for more Pentagon
funding because military production is the only real federal jobs
program left. They might talk a good game about environmental
sustainability, but what are they doing to lead our state and the nation
toward the kind of conversion that will be necessary if our children
and grandchildren are to have any chance of decent lives? The Native
Americans said that all decisions must be made based on how they impact
the next seven generations. Sadly, our elected officials are thinking
only about their next election!
Studies have long revealed that
our tax dollars create fewer jobs in military spending than in other
fields. Building commuter rail systems at BIW would, in fact, nearly
double the jobs. In addition, rail would get us out of our polluting
cars and offer future generations a chance of survival.
will keep vigiling for conversion of BIW (and more jobs) but will also
support the good men and women who find themselves stuck in the middle
of the US’s industrial policy which is essentially endless war making.
of the union leaders during the rally at BIW today quoted abolitionist
Frederick Douglass who said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand,
it never did and never will.” He asked the assembled workers, “What is
our demand?” I agree with that sentiment…….
Whilst in support of all workers worldwide in their push for better pay and conditions as a part of their struggle against capitalist employers SOYMB sees these actions as somewhat like a hamster on a wheel. Workers are on a treadmill forever repeating the same old demands to try and stay ahead, often unsucessfully, of the game. Our demand goes further and we urge workers worldwide to join us in that demand to demonstrate that together we are the powerful- Abolition of Capitalism and Wage Slavery.