IT ISN’T often that a member of the U.S. Congress acknowledges that the source of wealth in modern society is labor. But there was Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) at a rally outside the Republic Windows & Doors factory in Chicago in December, as workers inside occupied the plant.
It will be interesting to see if any in the current Congress decide to speak the truth in session. It would be great to get the truth put in the Congressional Record for all to see. Workers deserve no less…and it might be a step toward seeing that workers get the rewards they deserve from their work.
“It seems to me that it was [the workers’] labor that put together those windows,” Gutierrez said. “It was their creativity, it was their work, their commitment to quality that made this company successful…Those windows belong to the workers until they are paid for.”
While not always true, workers (and not the bosses) are the ones doing the work, the results of which are then sold. That much is clear. Is it the owners who are actually creating the goods and services, or is it the workers? This is the basis for the continuing struggle between workers and the bosses.
Ordinarily, we’re taught to see class as based purely on a person’s income or lifestyle. But Gutierrez’s comment goes to the heart of how Marxists understand social class. Working-class people–in factories, shops and offices–collectively produce all the wealth under capitalism. This is the basis of their power to completely transform society.
Indeed, you don’t have to be a Marxist to see this. Go to any coffee shop. It’s the workers who make the coffee for you (in smaller shops, the owner may well be a worker, too, so we can’t broadbrush that).
Read the article for it’s quite informative. Capitalism is based upon the exploitation of the workers. Some times, such after WW II through the end of the post-war boom, the living standards of the worker rise. Many times, such as beginning with the post-war boom through today, the workers actually lose ground and the bosses profit mightily.
The workers have it in their hands to change the direction in which their standards of living are going. If they refuse to work, via strikes and factory shut downs, the bosses will have to change the amounts the workers are paid. Mind you, this can’t happen in a vacuum, as many who need jobs would jump at the chance to replace a striking worker due to their unemployment. The job is not just to strike, but to get all workers to understand that such actions are for the good of all workers, themselves included (even if they aren’t working). This is the economic world in which we find ourselves. It is, quite probably, the workers who will see ourselves out of this mess, and it’s time we support them.