BROOKLYN, NY, July 16 — Shouts of “Save our patients! Save our jobs!” rang out as hundreds of workers, with red t-shirts flashing in the hot sun, picketed yet again to protest downsizing and layoffs in the Downstate inner-city hospital. Inside, state politicians, SUNY and Downstate bigwigs met. When they came out, the politicians found themselves on the hot seat about racist cuts in jobs and services. Within a week hundreds of pink slips were sent out between the Downstate and Long Island College Hospital campuses of SUNY Downstate.
Are We Winning?
Can we win this fight against powers from Albany to Wall Street? In the 1960s, mostly black women hospital workers decided they were no longer going to stand working for $40/week, below poverty-level wages. For years they organized, picketed, struck, defied courts and police (and sometimes 1199 union leaders) and went to jail, but finally won union representation, a living wage and benefits. Now it looks like the bosses want to push us — still predominantly black, Latino and women workers — back to subsistence wages.
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes you Stronger
There is another kind of victory we can win under capitalism if we have the will to engage in the kind of all-out struggle those workers did. We can become a more savvy, active and united working-class force. Getting involved in this struggle can expand our limits, get us out of our ruts. It can help us identify our enemies: the wealthy and their politicians, courts, cops, media and union hierarchies. It can help us identify our friends. At our June 28 rally, we united workers, the community and three different unions. This multi-racial unity consisted of women and men, black, white and Latino, from professional and non-professional departments.
Taking a step further, we can look beyond our own hospital to see that our fight is the same as that of workers and patients at Brookdale, or Cook County in Chicago.
Taking another step we may feel kinship with the struggle of the ConEd workers who were locked out because they refuse to accept give-backs or even the struggle in our neighborhood against the racist police murder of 23-year-old Shantel Davis mere blocks from our hospital. We could come to realize that workers in Haiti, Egypt, Nigeria or China are fighting the same struggle.
Take It To Another Level
Right now you are reading CHALLENGE, the newspaper of the revolutionary communist PLP. CHALLENGE does not waver from pointing out the enemies and friends of the working class.
We keep our eyes on the prize of finally overthrowing the wealthy ruling classes of the world to run things as the working class, for the working class. Read CHALLENGE regularly. Help distribute it to friends, family and co-workers. Write for it. Join a CHALLENGE discussion group. Contact us at PLP.org.