Will Unions Lament the Attacks or Lead a Fightback?

We are living one of those historic moments that cry out for rallying the working-class to build new capacities, new solidarities, and concrete hope. The crucial question is not how far the attacks on the public sector will go. The real question is how far we will let them go? How will working-class activists inside and outside the unions respond? Do we have a counter-plan? Are we preparing one? Can we act as decisively as those attacking us?

What's at stake is not just a new round of concessions. The aftermath of the deepest capitalist crisis since the Great Depression has provided political and economic elites with an opportunity to lock-in two longer-term changes: a reduction and privatization in public services on a scale not seen before; and – with private sector unions devastated by job loss and unable to significantly expand unionization – weakening the remaining stronghold of unionism – public sector workers.

The attack on public services is commonly posed in terms of ‘cutbacks,’ but it is crucial to also link it to privatization. For some time now corporations have been chomping at the bit to profit from what are now public services. Governments have been moving to accommodate this by restructuring how these services are organized and delivered so that they can – piecemeal if necessary – be privatized. The crisis in government finances is being used to accelerate this trend. The end result will be losing services that aren't privately profitable and sacrificing quality and access while paying more for the health care, garbage collection, utilities, mail, and all the other services that are left and that we will then need to buy (or still finance through taxes).  this means re- bout our own union structures, se