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Vol. 73/No. 37      September 28, 2009

Labor and anti-China tariff
The steep U.S. tariffs imposed on tires made in China should be repudiated by the entire labor movement. All tariffs and other barriers on products coming into the United States should be lifted. These have devastating consequences for the workers and farmers of the semicolonial world.

The White House and some union officials have said the tire sanctions protect “American” jobs.

The working class cannot buy into the lie that there is any such thing as an “American” job. Do fellow workers in China need jobs any less than workers in the United States? Or workers in France, Mexico, Britain, or Africa?

Jobs are being cut around the world, not because China is flooding the market with unneeded goods, but because capitalism is in a deep crisis. There is competition for shrinking markets. Bosses shut down factories that make things working people need, because it is not profitable for them.

The U.S. rulers, the strongest of the imperialist powers, want to protect their factories, businesses, and profits, by imposing tariffs and other barriers at the expense of weaker competitors. These measures wreak havoc on fellow workers and farmers today and they pose a grave danger for the future. Such trade conflicts can escalate into trade wars, and from there into shooting wars.

“We’ve got into a situation now where everyone’s afraid to tick off our banker,” said United Steelworkers union president Leo Gerard, referring to China’s large holdings of U.S. treasury bonds. “If our government had the guts to retaliate, [China] is going to be on the losing end.”

This reactionary nationalist rhetoric has no place in the trade union movement. It can only divert attention away from the real enemy—the capitalist system and the bosses who profit from it. No wonder that among those hailing the anti-China tariff is ultrarightist Patrick Buchanan.

What the labor movement should be doing is building unions that fight for the entire working class, that organize the unorganized; unions that put forward a struggle for jobs for all, for immediate unconditional legalization of all undocumented workers, and against all imperialist wars. Such a fighting labor movement would extend the hand of solidarity to workers and farmers around the world.
Related articles:
U.S. gov’t imposes anti-China tariffs  
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