In an op-ed published on Tuesday, longtime labor advocate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) set a New Year’s resolution for himself and the working class: to “rise up together” and confront corporate power in 2022.
Sanders said 2021 was a historic year for the labor movement. noted in his op-ed for The Guardian. Workers John Deere, NabiscoKellogg, Kaiser Permanente and Kellogg were among the many who voted for or authorized a strike last January, making strides towards fairer working conditions. Another major victory was won in the name of Starbucks workers in Buffalo, New York, who formed the company’s first-ever union.
“While the corporate-owned media may not be actively reporting it, working people all over the country, with extraordinary courage and determination, are taking on corporate greed, and they are winning,” Sanders wrote.
Sanders described ongoing efforts in West Virginia is one example of such a place, where roughly 450 steel workers at a company owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Special Metals, have been striking since October. The company has offered “an outrageous and insulting contract” with no pay raises this year, while it quadruples health care premiums and reduces time off.
The senator also pointed to a bakery workers’ strike in California, where about 100 workers – the majority of whom are Latina women – are striking against Rich Products Corporation for forcing them to work up to 16 hours a day. Warrior Met Coal employees in Alabama, who work similar long hours, are on strike since April. Workers were forced to accept a pay cut of more than 20 percent by Wall Street investors in 2016 after they had to restructure their company.
Sanders pointed out that while these companies refuse to treat their workers fairly, they have all made enormous profits. Rich Products made $4 billion and Special Metals made $1.5 million last year. Since 2014, Warrior Met has paid $1.4 billion in dividends to shareholders.
Workers currently face ever-increasing corporate greed, a devastating pandemic and a political system that is rapidly deteriorating – and as class warfare is “intensifying,” organizing is more critical than ever. “The stakes are just too high,” Sanders wrote. “Despair is not an option. We must stand up and fight back.”
Sanders said that the labor movement can bring about change, as can transformative social movements. He also stated that corporate greed and growing Oligarchy are the enemies of these movements.
“The greatest weapon our opponents have is not just their unlimited wealth and power. It is their ability to create a culture that makes us feel weak and hopeless and diminishes the strength of human solidarity,” Sanders wrote. “And here is our new year’s resolution. We will do the exact same as the thousands of workers who fought bravely in 2021. We will not be saved by any one individual. We must rise up together.”
Since years, the lawmaker has been a strong supporter of the labor movement and has stood by workers as they fought to improve conditions and wages in 2021. He traveled to Battle Creek, Michigan in November to meet with workers. Stand with striking Kellogg workers in the 11th week of their strike; in late December, he sent a letter to Buffett asking the Berkshire CEO to intervene in his company’s contract negotiations by offering a fair agreement to workers.
Sanders died in 2021. Always pushingWorkers to stand together in solidarity “I’ve got news for the ruling class: you cannot have it all,” Twitter warned him. “The working class is fighting back.”
Sanders made the labor movement a priority during his 2020 presidential campaign. a central plank of his platform, vowing to end so-called “right to work” laws and aiming to double union membership during his first term. Union membership has been in decline for decades. at a dismal 10.8 percent in 2020. This has led to a decline – of about $3,250 – in the median workers’ annual wageSince 1979.