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Workfare = Slave Labor U.S. Style

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19 January 2024 378 hits

Workfare - Slave Labor U.S. Style

A Progressive Labor Party Pamphlet

  1. Workfare - Slave Labor U.S. Style
  2. Why slave labor workfare now?
  3. Bosses welfare cuts drive down all workers wages
  4. Workfare slave labor is here now
  5. Union leaders -- wardens of slave labor workfare.
  6. Racism and sexism distract workers from dangers of workfare
  7. Capitalism: Millions starve in midst of plenty
  8. Capitalism: work or starve Communism: work from commitment
  9. Smash slave labor workfare with communist revolution
  10. Nazis invented workfare

Clinton's workfare program would put a smile on Adolph Hitler's face. They tell us workfare will "give people jobs," that "Work Makes You Free." That was the slogan the Nazis posted at the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp. "Free" all right; free labor for the bosses to make maximum profits. Twenty thousand slave laborers were at the heart of Hitler's rocket program.

But Hitler, representing Germany's big bosses, didn't enforce fascism solely with storm troopers. They also passed laws which mandated death through euthanasia and slave labor, among other murderous acts.

Fascism, U.S. style, has Clinton acting for bosses with a combination of 100,000 new cops nationally; racist attacks on immigrants and black and latin youth; and strike-breaking with workfare and immigration laws.

Why slave labor workfare now?

The US bosses along with the rest of the capitalist world are in a desperate crisis. Economic competition is intensifying worldwide forcing the bosses to cut costs and produce more. The result is a falling rate of profit. They are in a desperate battle with Chinese, Japanese, French, German, Russian, and other bosses for control of resources and markets. Ultimately this fierce worldwide capitalist competition can only be settled as imperialist rivalry has been decided in the past -- by war. The U.S. ruling class must institute fascism as a way to discipline the working class. They will set us up to march off as cannon fodder and fight other workers so that one or another set of bosses can come out on top. Workfare slave labor is one more fascist weapon in the bosses' arsenal to prepare us for a war to save their profit system.

To succeed in this worldwide competition, the US bosses must squeeze the working class to the wall. To secure maximum profits and beat off all competitors, the bosses must inevitably drag down the workers' standard of living, depressing wages and eliminating benefits any way they can. That's why Clinton has said that we must "reconcile ourselves ... to having a higher percentage of people at lower wage levels." (Rolling Stone Magazine, September 1992).

Under capitalism, all workers are wage slaves. We are all just a paycheck or two away from being homeless. Capitalism is based on wage slavery. We workers create all value but the bosses steal most of it in the form of profits. The only way we can abolish this wage slavery is by abolishing the wage system itself -- which means destroying capitalism and all bosses. Only communism can accomplish that. Only communism -- workers in control -- can improve workers' lives.

Bosses welfare cuts drive down
all workers wages

The bosses are creating an army of unemployed starving workers who will be desperate to work at any wage. The boss can then lower wages for employed workers by saying, "Either you accept these cuts or you're out on the street. There are hundreds who would work for me at that wage."

The bosses are creating four new divisions in their army of unemployed to use as a club to drive down the wages for the whole working class.

Division 1: Workers cut off welfare completely. Millions of workers will be cut from welfare roles when the new Clinton welfare law goes into effect. This law tells states they must kick 25% of families off welfare next year, 35% by 1999, and 50% by the year 2002 in order to receive welfare grants. In addition there will be no public assistance for families without a minor child, and no assistance at all after being on welfare for five years, whether or not you have a job.

Division 2: Documented ("legal") and undocumented immigrants. The new Clinton immigration and welfare laws will cut Social Security, SSI disability benefits, and food stamps for documented and undocumented immigrants. These workers will also be subjected to arbitrary deportation. In California alone, 410,000 legal immigrants will lose food stamps and 230,000 blind, elderly and disabled will lose SSI, their sole income. All immigrants (except those with refugee status or those already working for 10 years) will be cut off from public assistance as of January 1, 1997. These desperate immigrant workers can then be used as another club to threaten employed workers and force them to accept still lower wages.

Division 3: Prison Labor. The bosses' criminal injustice system has created over one million potential prison laborers. They can be used as contract labor at wages as low as twenty cents an hour. Thirty-six states are now using prison slave labor, producing anything from Annie Sez clothing in Oregon to acting as TWA telephone agents in Arizona.

Division 4: Workfare. The bosses are forcing the over two million workers who remain on welfare into slave labor jobs, making them work off their welfare checks and food stamps at anywhere from 79 cents an hour in Mississippi to $3.12 an hour in New York City; all well below even the puny federal minimum wage. These workfare workers replace union-scale jobs at one-fifth the pay! If they refuse, they starve outright.

Workfare slave labor is here now

Workfare fascism is not a future program. It's well under way. Over 40,000 are already in these slave labor jobs in New York City alone, with 100,000 more slated by 1997. They are cleaning parks, streets, offices and hospitals, and processing paper work. That's 100,000 jobs that used to be paid at a rate three to five times the amount received by workfare workers.

The NYC Dept. of Social Services lost 5,000 full-time jobs and added over 2,000 slave laborers. Certain titles are no longer filled. The bosses just hire workfare workers. Sanitation lost at least 1,500 jobs since 1993 while adding 4,000 part-time slave laborers. The Parks department dropped 760 full-time jobs but uses about 5,400 part-time slave laborers.

Beyond New York, in the shadow of the White House, more than 20,000 Washington women on welfare are being forced into workfare, while that city loses 10,000 regular jobs annually. In Michigan, one-third of the work-force in Wayne County Social Service offices are unemployed workers working for their welfare checks. In San Francisco, workers on welfare have been cleaning buses for years.

Workfare slave labor jobs will become the future jobs for our youth, whether imprisoned in the regular jails or in the workplace concentration camp of workfare. It all adds up to Auschwitz, USA.

Union leaders -- wardens of
slave labor workfare.

Union leaders have endorsed the bosses' slave labor workfare. These traitors, lieutenants of the capitalist class, are trying to deliver the working class into the arms of fascism in the name of saving jobs. Supporting workfare will not provide job security. There can be no job security under capitalism. Economic crisis, mass unemployment and racism are built into the bosses' profit system. The bosses proclaim that a healthy economy, that is healthy for them, requires at least 6% unemployment. In the U.S. that's eight million out of work; and the actual figure is more than twice that.

These union traitors turn job security into its opposite. They use it to depress wages to the lowest possible level, which in turn is used as a threat to all those earning above that level to bring them down also. They disarm workers from rebelling, from turning to revolutionary communism. Thus, in the world according to Clinton, the AFL-CIO and their Wall Street masters, fascism -- job security via workfare -- is good.

For example, the New York City Local of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) recently signed a union contract with the Transit Authority (TA) allowing the TA bosses to use thousands of workfare workers to clean subways and buses to work off their welfare checks and food stamps. The TWU agreed to let the next 586 cleaning jobs go by attrition, in exchange for a no layoff clause -- but no layoffs only for the life of this contract. Even then, a letter dated September 18 from the union to the TA implies that in the event of a "financial emergency," all bets are off. Layoffs could come even during this contract. On top of all that, Point 9 of the agreement says: "The aggregate number of WEP [Work Experience Program] participants that may be utilized is not subject to limitation." The TA bosses boast that this fascist contract will save them $100 million.

An individual welfare recipient cleaning these NY subways receives in welfare what works out to $81.25 per week. Forced to work off that amount for 26 hours a week, his or her hourly wage is $3.12. The union rate for those 586 jobs is $16.62 an hour, more than five times the slave labor wage! And that doesn't include the cost of benefits a TWU cleaner receives. Workfare workers get NO benefits. It's not hard to figure out that the bosses will be reaping huge profits by saving tens of billions in wages and benefits across the country, while millions of workers will be pushed into the lower depths of poverty. Hitler would have been proud of this reform.

Racism and sexism distract
workers from dangers of workfare

The bosses must convince large numbers of workers that welfare cuts and workfare won't hurt them. "We are only cutting benefits from those who don't deserve it any way," they smile with a crocodile's grin. They push the lie that only minority workers benefit from these programs.

The bosses invented racism in slavery times to divide the working class and enforce their rule. First racist job discrimination, last hired, first fired, makes millions of non-white workers unemployed and drives them onto welfare. Racist police terror and CIA-produced crack-cocaine floods the ghettoes and frames hundreds of thousands of black and Latin youth and young adults into prisons, to be used as contract slave labor. Then racist stereotypes are used to justify welfare cuts and workfare, as well as attacks on undocumented and documented immigrant workers. This racism is the cutting edge of fascism and is used to drag down conditions for the entire working class.

Sexism is also used to push these attacks. The bosses push another big lie, that mothers, who are the majority of adults on welfare, do no work. Yet, even the bosses admit that these mothers would need daycare to work outside the home, in other words, taking care of children is work. Welfare cuts are clearly a sexist attack on women who will be forced to work for their tiny welfare checks or starve.

Capitalism: Millions starve in midst of plenty

Under capitalism huge amounts of wealth are concentrated among a tiny number of bosses. At the same time that their system of mass production has the capacity to produce more than enough for everyone. Yet there is scarcity -- a lack of the necessities of life for billions -- amidst this potential for plenty because distribution under capitalism is based on profit for a few (the bosses), not the needs of the many (the working class).

Under communism, even if some natural disaster were to temporarily reduce production leading to a level of scarcity, the scarcity would be shared according to need until such time as the working class collectively raised production back to a level of abundance. Both scarcity and abundance would be shared. But the collective power of a communist-led working class would reduce the chances of scarcity to an absolute minimum.

Capitalism: work or starve
Communism: work from commitment

The bosses and their politician servants assume that people must be forced to work under threat of starvation. Sure, that's the basis of capitalist exploitation. Without bosses and profits, and with the working class in control, communism will struggle to motivate people to work for the common good. There is plenty of real work that needs to be done to feed, house, and clothe the working class and expand our culture. This can never be accomplished under capitalism. This system only creates jobs when and if it is profitable. Then the bosses squeeze maximum profits out of the workers who do them resulting in the lowest possible level of wage slavery. Workfare is just the latest wrinkle. Under communism, the workers' communist party will organize and lead billions of workers to create what is necessary for our class. Maximum profits will never get in the way; that motivation will have been abolished.

In a communist society there will be no welfare because all the ravages of capitalism that lead to welfare and workfare slave labor will have been destroyed.

Capitalism -- a system based on the anarchy of production -- wastes the talents and labor of the working class, and then turns around to label workers "lazy." Communism takes the responsibility to help everyone serve the working class to his or her fullest potential.

The capitalists justify workfare by saying "Work is good for you," but then offers drudgery and built-in mass unemployment as a way of life. Communism has the goal of eliminating the division between mental and manual labor -- both are essential; everyone will do both -- destroying drudgery in the process.

Communism will organize everyone to work, according to their commitment. Imagine what we can accomplish with the labor of billions of workers who are now either unemployed or underemployed. On top of that are the tens of millions employed in labor only useful to parasitic capitalism -- banking and finance, advertising and welfare itself.

Smash slave labor workfare with
communist revolution

Workfare slave labor is a product of capitalism in crisis, another way the bosses hope to lay the burden of their insoluble crisis on the backs of the working class. As we fight to win millions of workers to the understanding of how only communism can solve this crisis -- by destroying capitalism -- we also fight like hell against the racist attack of fascist workfare. That's why Progressive Labor Party is engaged in a militant campaign against workfare, to lay bare its capitalist source and use that exposure to win tens of thousands of workers to communist revolution, to join the Party that's organizing for it.

We are organizing mass demonstrations at workfare centers; spreading these ideas through the mass sale of our newspaper Challenge. We are raising the issue within shops and unions to organize and unite as many workers as possible across all industrial, color and gender lines. This will require unbreakable unity between employed workers and those workers on welfare and in workfare. The historic slogan calling for Unity of the Employed and Unemployed goes double in this situation; not only are welfare recipients really unemployed workers but they are now being forced into slave labor wages via workfare as well. This drags down the wages of the entire working class. The racism used to split workers along these lines enables the bosses to laugh all the way to the bank.

In this smoldering fire of class struggle against slave labor, the working classes' biggest victory will be the building of a revolutionary movement and party that will destroy workfare's cause -- capitalism -- with the only society that can create a decent life for all workers -- communism.


Nazis invented workfare

The features of fascism that marked Nazi Germany in the 1930's are appearing in U.S.-style fascism 60 years later:

The Nazis restricted the movement of both workers and farmers to serve the needs of the German ruling class. From 1934 to 1936, as rearmament got under way, a series of laws and decrees barred industrial workers from moving out of lower paying jobs into higher paying jobs without government permission. When Hitler's hordes captured Eastern Europe and needed agricultural workers to till the land, they simply packed agricultural and industrial workers into trains and shipped them from Germany and the captured countries of Western Europe to Eastern Europe.

Here in the U.S., workers forced into unemployment and onto welfare now face similar Nazi-like restrictions; they can't collect welfare unless they take slave labor jobs at the rate of their welfare "benefits." Under Clinton's new welfare repeal, the government will throw them off welfare whether or not they can find a job. Amid unemployment officially at 8-9 million (actually 15-20 million), how would it be possible for millions deprived of welfare to find jobs, unless by replacing other millions who, in turn, become unemployed?

Racism makes it especially hard on black and latin workers, subjecting them to double unemployment rates, last-hired-first-fired policies, a higher percentage in lower-paying jobs and higher rates in poverty and in prison.

In Nazi Germany, from 1932 -- the depth of the Great Depression -- to 1937 (after four years of Hitler fascism), wage rates declined 13% while business activity was rapidly increased: the first time this had ever happened under capitalism. Real wages fell even lower due to workers having to pay for Nazi programs that didn't exist before Hitler.

Unions and strikes were banned. Workers were forced to work longer hours and with more intensity (speed-up). Forced impoverishment of the working class was a principal feature of German fascism.

(Information and statistics on German fascism from Labor Conditions in Germany, 1933-1937, by J. Kuczynski.)

Here, too, in the U.S., there has been increasing business activity, -- five years of prosperity, says Clinton -- yet workers' real wages have continued to decline since 1973. More and more workers are compelled to work longer hours and two jobs just to keep their heads above water and out of poverty. Millions of higher-paid workers in production industries have been forced into low-wage jobs in service industries. Many workers now must pay for items that were formerly paid for by the boss.