Labor’s Next Giant Step Is a Workers Party

The clearest lesson learned from the current election cycle is that Americans, especially young Americans, are out of patience with both halves of our electoral system.

ara-bernieWorking people have long dreamed of having a political party that consistently represents their interests. I’ve heard radicals blast union leaders because they haven’t stepped out alone to start a workers party. I’ve heard people so desperate for a workers party that they formed a pretend one.

Once, I was actually in a group that said it was a workers party. The American Workers Party was started by Tony¬†Mazzochi of the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers 20+ years ago. The United Electricians were involved. I was on the Executive Board. They had a wonderful membership card with a great quote from Eugene Victor Debs on it: “As long as there is a working class, I am in it. As long as their is a criminal class, I am of it. And as long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free!”

What they didn’t have is a snowball’s chance of actually making any difference in America. Part of the deal that brought them some funding, Mazzochi admitted at the 3rd meeting I attended, was that they would not run candidates! As soon as I heard that, I quit. Never went back. It was a pipe dream.

What Would a Workers Party Look Like?

A real workers party would have significant support from organized labor. It would have a mass base. It would have a clear program. Unlike both of the bosses’ parties today, candidates would be under discipline to carry out¬†that worker-friendly program! It might not be revolutionary in and of itself, but it would be a step on a revolutionary path.

Do We Already Have A Workers Party in America? Maybe!

As I wrote on June 5, I expect great things from the Bernie Sanders movement. I’m not sure what Bernie intends, but I think that a significant part of his young followers will stay together. I think they will endorse and work for down-ballot candidates in 2016. I think that, by 2017, they will be picking some of their own candidates in local races. By 2020, they may well be ready to run their own presidential candidate. Americans will be more than ready for them.

I don’t know what they might call it and I don’t much care. If it keeps the program it’s fighting for today, and if it continues to add supporters as it has up to now, and if the Communications Workers, Postal Employees and other progressive unions stick to their guns, — all of which seem likely — we are going to have a workers party in America!

–Gene Lantz


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