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The working class was famously called “the gravediggers of capitalism” by Karl Marx. The all-out attack on working class living standards, whether it’s in the name of naked profit-seeking in the private sector or a “balanced” budget in the public sector, means there is always a fight going on. Initiating, participating in, and supporting struggle in the workplace is a constant element of ISO activity.

We support unions and their struggles as a basic collective defense for workers. Our members in Chicago were critical in the success of the Chicago Teacher’s Union strike in September 2012, and are building similar rank and file movements in other cities and other sectors. Here in New York, our members have mobilized to support the fight to stop the closing of post offices, the unionization of non-union workplaces like the Hot and Crust Bakery and the recent strike of fast-food workers, and the fight for fair contracts, like bus drivers who were forced to strike over job security.

Within unions, we fight for the greatest possible democracy, member involvement, and militancy. Our members in the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) are active with the Movement of Rank and File Educators which has battled school closings and is fighting for a more democratic union. And our members were active in the successful fight to transform the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) into a rank-and-file led union, which has since mobilized nurses to fight against privatization and for safer staffing, and to highlight the need for a single-payer healthcare system.

We also advocate for a politically independent worker’s movement, able to combat racism, sexism, homo- and trans-phobia at work, and in our communities. Comrades active with Occupy Wall Street were part of the Labor Outreach Committee, Rank and File Committee, Immigrant Worker Justice Committee, and May Day organizing. Our newspaper,, provides more than just coverage of the fights of the day, but in-depth analysis and room for activists to speak their own mind on their fights.

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Further Reading

Subterranean Fire
by Sharon Smith

The Labor Wars
by Sidney Lens

The Civil Wars in US Labor: Birth of a New Workers’ Movement or Death Throes of the Old?
by Steve Early

More labor titles from Haymarket Books
Socialist Worker’s labor coverage