A Working Class Program for the Economic Crisis

• No more bail outs for the rich. No reward for the fat cats! Nationalize the banks and insurance companies under democratic workers’ control and management. Banking decisions must be taken in the interests of the majority of society, not a minority of speculators. Compensation for nationalized banks and other companies must be paid only in cases of proven need to pension funds, 401k funds (and similar retirement funds), workers and retired workers. The nationalization of the banks is the only way to guarantee the deposits and savings of ordinary people.

 • Democratic control of the banks. The boards of directors should be composed in the following way: one third to be elected by the bank workers, one third to be elected by the trade unions to represent the interests of the working class as a whole, and one third from the government.

• An immediate end to the exorbitant bonuses, all executive pay should be limited to the wages of a skilled worker. Unnecessary managers should be reassigned to actual productive tasks needed by the enterprise. If the bankers are not prepared to serve on reasonable terms, they must be shown the door and replaced by qualified graduates, thousands of whom are looking for work and are willing to serve society.

• An immediate reduction of interest rates, which should be limited to the necessary costs of banking operations. Cheap credit must be made available for those who need it: small businesses and workers buying homes, not the bankers and capitalists.

• Quality housing for all. Rent to be fixed at no more than 10 percent of wages. An immediate end to home foreclosures, utility disconnections and rent evictions. Open empty homes to those without shelter. For a massive program of public works to create jobs and quality, affordable public housing.

• Abolish unemployment. Work or Social Security for all. For the immediate introduction of a 30-hour week without loss of pay to provide work for all. A living wage and pension for all. A sliding scale of wages, linking all increases to the increases in the cost of living.

• Down with business secrets. Open the books! Let the workers have access to information about all the speculation, tax evasion, shady deals, exorbitant profits and bonuses. Let the people see how they have been swindled and who is really responsible for the present mess.

• No to factory closures. A factory closed is a factory occupied! Nationalization under democratic workers’ control and management of idle factories and those under threat of being closed!

• For a massive program of public works: an immediate construction program of affordable public housing, schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, public transportation networks and other infrastructure to improve quality of life and create millions of jobs at union wages and benefits. Union-controlled hiring halls and apprentice programs to be immediately established in areas of highest unemployment. Against racism and discrimination: Workers’ unity is the way forward!

• For the immediate and unconditional legalization of all undocumented immigrants. Full rights and amnesty for immigrant workers and their families. End all racist immigration and asylum controls. For the right of residency and dual citizenship. For the right to speak one's own language. Access to Social Security with equal benefits for all. No to "guest worker" programs. For family reunification and an end to raids and deportations. No to militarization and repression on the border. No to scapegoating immigrant workers for the bosses' crisis. For the unity of the working class – the labor movement must be at the forefront of the struggle to improve conditions for all workers.

• The trade unions, co-operatives and consumer associations must work out the real index of the cost of living in place of the “official” COLA index, which does not reflect the real state of affairs. Set up committees of workers, homemakers, small businesses and the unemployed to control price increases.

• Abolish all indirect and regressive taxation and introduce a heavily progressive system of direct taxation on the rich. Abolish all taxation for the poor; make the rich pay for their crisis!

• For a drastic reduction of energy costs! This can only be achieved through nationalization of the energy companies, which will enable us to impose price controls on gas and electricity. No more profiteering at the public’s expense!

• The right of all workers to join a union, strike, picket and demonstrate.  The right to free speech and assembly. No to restrictions of democratic rights under the pretext of so-called anti-terrorist laws!

• Complete independence of the unions from the Big Business parties and the state. An end to compulsory arbitration, no-strike clauses, and other measures intended to restrict the scope of action of the unions. Repeal Taft-Hartley and all similar anti-union laws. Democratize the unions and place control firmly in the hands of the rank and file. Direct election of all union officials with right of recall. Against bureaucracy and careerism: No union official to receive a higher wage than a skilled worker. All expenses to be available for the inspection of the membership.

• For a militant, class struggle program to mobilize workers in defense of jobs and living standards. The workers’ organizations must reject the false idea of “national unity” with capitalist governments and parties under the pretext of the crisis. They are responsible for the crisis and want to present the bill to the working class. For trade union unity on the basis of the above demands.

• For rank and file control, including the creation of shop stewards committees and the creation of ad hoc strike committees during strikes and other conflicts as a means of ensuring the fullest participation of the widest number of workers.

• No to class collaboration! The unions must break with the Democrats. For a mass party of Labor, based on the unions, armed with a socialist program.

• Unite private and public schools into a single, fully funded public education system, to provide free, quality, lifelong education for all. The immediate abolition of tuition fees and the introduction of a living grant to all students who qualify for higher education. A guaranteed job for every graduate, at a living wage. End the domination and exploitation of education by big business. For fully equipped youth clubs, libraries, sports centers, movie theaters, swimming pools and other recreational centers for young people.

• For a socialized national health care system. Abolish private health insurance and HMOs. Massively fund research and treatment for AIDS, cancer and other curable and preventable diseases. Nationalize the pharmaceuticals giants that squeeze their profits out of the health of working people.

• Break with the anarchy of the capitalist free market. Nationalize the Fortune 500. Socialist planning would mean the end of unemployment and ensure democratic control of production, distribution and exchange, using all available information and technology. Environmental plans would be measured in generations, not fiscal quarters. The unions would play a key role in the administration and control of every workplace. Trade unionism is not an end in itself, but only a means to an end, which is the socialist transformation of society.

• For the immediate withdrawal of all the troops and military contractors from Iraq and Afghanistan. Slash the military budget and massively increase social spending. Full civil rights for soldiers, including the right to join unions and the right to strike. Hands Off Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Latin America, the Middle East and the world!

• Against racism and discrimination! Defend the rights of all oppressed and exploited people. For the unity of all workers, regardless of gender, color, ethnicity, nationality or religion.

 •  For working class internationalism. For a Socialist Federation of the Americas as part of a World Socialist Federation.
Workers of the world unite!

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