The Chris Hedges Report Podcast with Kshama Sawant on why the only hope we have left is the building of a militant labor movement that will use strikes to destroy the corporate state.
Kshama Sawant, a socialist who served for over a decade on the Seattle City Council, has announced she will not seek reelection. Instead, she will launch a national coalition called Workers Strike Back this March in cities around the country. This coalition will organize for a $ 25 an hour minimum wage, build grassroots labor unions in corporations such as Amazon and advocate for a shorter work week without a cut in benefits and pay. It will also employ strikes when its demands are not met. It will work to build a massive green jobs program that can employ millions of workers in clean energy and prevent climate catastrophe, along with public ownership of the big energy corporations. Only the bosses profit from divisions among the working class, she notes. Workers Strike Back will be a united, multi-racial, multi-gendered movement of working people. It will battle anti-trans legislation and against all right-wing attacks on LGBTQ+ people. It will organize to win legal, safe, free abortions for all who need them. It will campaign to end racist policing, putting police under the control of democratically elected community boards with full power over department policy, hiring and firing. Her new labor organization calls for rent control with no rent increases above inflation, as well as a massive expansion of publicly owned, high-quality affordable housing by taxing the rich. We’re dying from unaffordable healthcare, she notes, as the pharma bosses and for-profit health insurance industry make money off of our sickness. She and Workers Strike Back will call for free, state-of-the-art, Medicare for All—owned and democratically run by working people. The Democrats and Republicans both answer to the billionaires, that’s why working people keep getting screwed, she says. Even so-called progressives in Congress, she notes, have completely failed to fight against the establishment, and offer no solutions. The elected leadership of Workers Strike Back will accept only the average workers’ wage, as did Sawant when she was a member of the city council. Sawant in her decade as a member of the Seattle city council has an impressive track record. She helped win a $15 minimum wage for Seattle workers, pushed the council to tax Amazon, and championed renter protection as the Chair of the Renters’ and Sustainability Committee. She joined the Socialist Alternative party in 2006 and since then has helped organize demonstrations for marriage equality, participated in the movement to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Occupy Movement. She is an active member in the American Federation of Teachers Local 1789, fighting against budget cuts and tuition hikes. Joining me to discuss the launch of Workers Strike Back is Kshama Sawant.