We welcome this leaflet addressed to the striking nurses in Philadelphia, in order to help organize and extend the struggle that the unions wanted to sabotage. We want to salute wholeheartedly these kind of initiatives.
What is REAL Solidarity?
The Nurses' Strike Rally today is not the first time that various unions throughout the city have called on their members to attend the rallies of other workers in struggle. When city workers' contracts expired last July, workers represented by TWU, AFSCME, and the SEIU had a joint rally downtown in Love Park as they all had either been without a contract, or were having a contract expire-and they were all facing similar attacks. The bosses and the politicians want to push the effects of the crisis onto working people, to make them pay for the system's failure by giving up things they, their parents, and their grandparents had been fighting for decades to win. Today again, various unions throughout the city representing a variety of workers have called on their members to come to the Temple Nurses' & Health Professionals rally to support them.
Yet this is as far as the unions' call for solidarity goes. Despite the fact that city workers and the Temple nurses were without a contract during the SEPTA strike, we were not encouraged to help that struggle, we weren't attending demonstration, pickets, or mass meetings, and the SEPTA workers were basically "on their own" (even the suburban train workers continued to work because they are under a different contract!) Now that the Temple nurses are on strike, workers in other sectors and workplaces are called to attend a short rally in support of the nurses. Yet there is no talk of what other workers are going to do about the fact that they are facing the same attacks Nurses are: our bosses want us to pay more for benefits, accept raises that don't keep up with inflation, and happily work in worse and worse conditions. City workers still don't have a contract and are facing massive attacks from the mayor, and there's no talk of trying to get solidarity from other workers at Temple (both in the hospitals and the Universities). Why do workers attend each others' rallies, yet struggle and strike at different times throughout the year all alone except for the extra head counts at the rallies?
Despite what we all may hope, one group of workers against a rich and powerful employer has the deck stacked against them. Real solidarity means struggling together, not just as this or that sector of workers, but as the working class, fighting together against the attacks to our living standards that we all face. Real solidarity means uniting our struggles, it means taking decisions together about how to push the struggle forward, it means mass meetings open to every worker to discuss and decide how to struggle together, it means sending delegations to other workplaces to convince others to join the struggle for their own demands and our own! The unions can't do this-as the legally recognized negotiators of the price of our labor, they have to conduct "respectful" struggles and be on good terms with the bosses-yet what would scare our employers into backing off from their attacks more than a movement that spread? Workers need to meet together and discuss for ourselves how we can struggle together; we can't just wait for the union to do the struggling for us or to tell us how to struggle. And we need to struggle together-to reach out to other workers to join our struggle. Maybe some workers cannot go on strike with us, maybe they can do a sick-out, or take a long lunch to meet together, demonstrate, or some other action. The point is we need to struggle together to win. We need to do this ourselves, deciding what to do together-we can't let the unions do this for us, or we will keep having the same kind of half-hearted solidarity and support. We need real solidarity!
If you're are interested in discussing how we can fight back together as workers, talk to your co-workers, other workers in struggle you know, and if you want, feel free to email: