A golden opportunity has been spiked at UPS and the West Coast ports for labor to fight for itself and turn the tide of class struggle in its favor. Although 15-25 percent of Teamsters and ILWU members voted “no” on their recent contracts and many others did not vote at all, the trade-union tops managed to avert strikes in both industries. The UPS Teamsters leadership spouted militant talk, while the ILWU tops pledged not to strike, but both leaderships halted class battles and forced workers to surrender to contract bribes, shoring up Biden and the bosses. It’s no surprise the ILWU tops and the port bosses were honored at the White House, with Biden saying the contract is “a good deal” for workers, companies and the United States. This is the very “national unity” blackmail that the trade-union bureaucracy promotes and workers must reject to move their struggles forward.
For those workers who want to fight, the task now is to prepare for the battles to come. This means building opposition caucuses within the unions based on a program explicitly opposing the losing strategy of the bureaucracy, which is clearly committed to not causing Biden too much trouble at the expense of the working class. A WV supporter argued against the contract at an ILWU Local 10 meeting, saying:
The program needed to advance labor’s cause is laid out in the articles below: “Labor Can Turn the Country Around! UPS, ILWU: Vote No!” and “UPS Workers: How to Win!”