An injury to one is an injury to all has long rallied workers. It's not merely a slogan but a basis for organizing and action. When workers are being denied basic human rights, solidarity is the vehicle for recovering eroded rights and winning new ones.
In 2018, the birth rate in the United States reached its lowest level in decades. This alarmed the patriarchal class that wants to control women’s bodies. Reproductive rights and access to abortion are under sustained political attack. Roe v. Wade is under threat. What role does misogyny play in gender relations? Feminist activists assert that declining birth rates represent a work slowdown, or strike, in the face of the poor conditions for those who do the work of bearing and raising children and the accompanying financial stress. The U.S. economy relies on the unpaid labor of millions of often overworked and exhausted women. What happens when they organize and say, “No More”? Unpaid work, particularly bearing and rearing children must be paid for. Jenny Brown says, “When it comes to compensating for the labor of having kids, the U.S. is truly at the bottom.” Recorded at the University of California.
Warren Buffett, the much-admired genius investor and one of the world’s richest men said, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” And who are the losers? The working class, people who work for an hourly wage or are salaried. The ruling class has driven down wages and benefits, smashed unions, and cut programs that protect the disadvantaged. All of this at a time when income and wealth inequality has reached historic extremes. Who’s to blame? In a classic example of divide and rule immigrants are demonized and scapegoated. It’s all their fault. Not the bosses and CEOs who make oodles of money. Can the working class, long taken for granted by the Democratic Party, be a force for positive progressive change? How might it overcome its own internal divisions and contradictions? Interviewed by David Barsamian. Recorded at KGNU.
Elaine Bernard is the executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School. She is past president of the New Democratic Party of British Columbia, Canada and she is the former director of the Labor Program at Simon Frazier University in Burnaby, B.C. She lectures and writes extensively on political, trade and labor issues.
Jenny Brown is a National Women’s Liberation organizer and former editor of Labor Notes. She was a leader in the grassroots campaign to make morning-after pill contraception available over the counter and was a plaintiff in the winning lawsuit. She is the author of Without Apology: The Abortion Struggle Now and Birth Strike: The Hidden Fight over Women’s Work.
Michael Yates is Editorial Director of the Monthly Review Press. He was a labor educator for more than three decades. He is the author of The Great Inequality, Why Unions Matter and Can the Working Class Change the World?