The United States government has engaged in the longest wars in history against the interest of the working class, while many U.S. poor and working people go without adequate healthcare, water, schools, retirements, and good jobs in the richest country in the world. The relationship between endless racialized, military campaigns abroad and racialized, military-style state violence at home is one struggle for our labor movement.
Militarism abroad means militarism at home. Military weapons and equipment, from grenade launchers and M-16s to large armored vehicles, are found in police departments across the country. As of 2017, at least 22 school districts obtained surplus military equipment through the Department of Defense’s 1033 Program. These weapons and this equipment end up being used most of all against the most vulnerable segments of the poor and working class. While the Pentagon grabs the lion’s share, poor and working people end up paying in suffering and loss. Peaceful protestors – workers, students, people of color, immigrants, Native Americans – are often targeted by militarized police yet these issues are rarely talked about as an expansion of the military-industrial complex.
Military-style operations in response to the murder of George Floyd, at Standing Rock and Ferguson were done with the support of federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, under a both a Republican and Democratic administration. Wars in Korea and Vietnam, bombing campaigns in Iraq and Libya, and the 2014 earmarking of one trillion dollars for “modernization” of the US nuclear arsenal are only a few of the many items of evidence that wars for the wealthy are a bipartisan effort in this country.
Anti-worker, pro-war politicians from both sides of the aisle and their billionaire defense contractors are profiting off of arm sales while perpetrating the “divide-and-conquer” class inequity. In 2016, CEOs of the top five military contractors earned on average $19.2 million each. The expanded $750 billion per year military budget defends big business war interests while claiming worker lives abroad and robbing U.S. workers of basic resources. It is always working people who suffer from the billionaires’ wars. This is not true security.
Where the wealthy militarize working people, attack our right to collective bargain and strike, US Labor Against the War is organizing our labor movement toward building international solidarity across borders. True security means winning collective bargaining agreements that protect and advance our members’ pay, benefits, job protection, and other terms and conditions of employment. Educating our children, living free from the effects of racism, militarization, and ecological devastation are what all working people want and deserve.
Rev. Dr. King ended his 1967 “Beyond Vietnam” speech with the following message: “Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.”
At U.S. Labor Against the War, we are building a worker-led labor movement that can fight back over the long haul. We know only an economy based on international worker solidarity can prioritize the working class and keep us safe. As the richest country in the world–wealth created off the backs of working people–we don’t lack the resources. The problem is billionaire executives who invest our resources in priorities that fail to meet the needs of millions of working people and our unions. As the labor movement, our vision must to set on fixing the for-profit society that leaves our most vulnerable workers behind.