The following is a statement released May 1 by Róger Calero, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Congress in the 13th District in New York.
Life and limb of working people is at stake as the deepening crisis of capitalist trade and production worldwide drives the bosses to speed up work, lengthen hours, slash wages and boost profits at all costs—on construction sites and oil rigs and in coal mines, fields, and factories.
According to official U.S. government statistics, more than 4,500 workers were killed on the job in 2010. More than 3 million were reportedly injured or made sick. And, as any industrial worker can attest, this figure is grossly understated by the bosses and the functionaries of their government.
James Lomma, the owner of New York Crane and Equipment Corp., taunted the victims’ families after the Manhattan Supreme Court threw out all charges against him in the deaths of two construction workers. This brazen performance is but a reflection of the deep-seated contempt the propertied rulers have for working people worldwide.
The same disdain for workers is behind the violence and killings by the rulers’ cops acting as judge, jury and executioner in working-class neighborhoods across the country today.
The rapid and deep contraction in the construction industry is among the consequences of the capitalist crisis and drives the bosses’ anti-union assault and “productivity” cost-cutting measures deeper.
More than 1,000 construction workers in the U.S. have been killed on the job yearly over the last decade. In New York alone two construction workers, Santos Garcia and Michael Simermeyer, were killed and six others injured in April, following the death of Juan Ruiz in a building collapse in March.
U.S. construction bosses have increasingly hired immigrant workers, who come from countries where the value of labor power is lower, in an effort to divide the workforce, drive down wages and toss aside safety concerns.
“Workers were more likely to die on construction jobs if they were foreign-born, Hispanic, spoke a language other than English, or worked for a nonunion crew,” the Boston Globe reported, citing Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
There is one and only one answer: working-class solidarity and union power. This underscores the life-and-death need for the labor movement to champion the rights of workers who are foreign-born, with or without “proper papers.” May Day, a day of action to advance international working-class solidarity around the world, has been reclaimed in recent years by immigrant workers who have proved a combative section of our class and whose breadth of experiences in the international class struggle strengthen our ranks.
The Socialist Workers Party says: No construction worker has to die! Work can be done safely. But only workers have an interest in making it so. This means organizing unions and using union power to enforce safety by fighting for as much control over working conditions as we’re strong enough to impose.
These are also political questions. Working people need to break from the Democrats and Republicans, who from City Hall to Washington speak for the employing class.
Workers are beginning to resist the bosses’ deepening assaults on us—from strike battles like that at Caterpillar in Joliet, Ill., to defense of immigrant rights and fights against cop violence from Sanford, Fla., to Pasadena, Calif. Working people face a common enemy—the capitalist class. The road forward is the fight to wrest power from their hands, opening the door to a world based not on maximizing profits of a few but on the needs of toiling humanity.
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Iowa aluminum workers end 11-week walkout
‘The miners have proven that it takes a fight to win’
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