Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

How I broke with the Democrats

As a hotel worker in Stamford, CT, I oppose Bernie Sanders and his party. I take this position because I watched the Democrats betray hotel workers in Providence.

Ioan Georg

March 7, 2019
Facebook Twitter Share
Credits: RIFuture.org

As a hotel worker in Stamford, CT, I oppose Bernie Sanders and his party. I take this position because I watched the Democrats betray hotel workers in Providence and because I know that Sanders’ role is to usher would-be socialists back into the Democratic Party.

Left Voice is full of more in-depth arguments outlining the history of the Democratic Party and the part it plays in American capitalism, but given the difficulty of would-be communists to break with the party, I outline here just the start of my turn toward class independence.

A few years ago, there was a union fight to raise the minimum wage for hotel workers to $15. Day in, day out, hotel workers do backbreaking work—cleaning over two dozen rooms a day for poverty wages in unsafe, often unsanitary conditions. For example, many workers at the Hilton complained about the unidentified green sludge dripping down the staff elevator. It was a small thing but a constant offense to the predominantly immigrant women workers; it was further evidence that the company would not fix even minor things, even though they were repeatedly asked.

That Hilton racked up $25,000 in fines for labor violations, while the nearby Renaissance hotel was inadequately penalized $8,000 by OSHA for causing chemical burns on the hands and arms of housekeepers because of poor equipment and volatile chemicals. The Renaissance also disgracefully fired a pregnant woman who continued to clean the same number of rooms until her water broke in a guest room.

At the same time, one particular hotel-owning family, but other owners too, were making huge profits. The Procaccianti Group, a real estate investment and management company that owns some of the biggest hotels in the city, received tax breaks for the privilege of exploiting more and more of the Rhode Island working class.

Under these circumstances, workers walked up and down Providence every day with a petition to put a $15 minimum wage referendum on the ballot for the upcoming elections. They would work shifts and then go out canvassing, or they would work their two or more jobs during the week and canvass into the night on their one day off. They knew what they were fighting for.

Of course, the bosses did too, and so they went to the Democratic Party to ask for help. The Democrats passed a law in their General Assembly to forbid municipalities like Providence from changing their wage rates. This was only a few hours before City Council passed a resolution in support of putting the vote on the ballot. It’s true that City Council was made up of Democrats who voted for the resolution, but at that point the law had already been passed, so what did it matter if individual politicians voted for or against higher wages? They used this opportunity to look good while still acting in the interests of capitalists, as the Democratic Party has done time and again.

In response, several housekeepers went on hunger strike to demand that the Democratic governor veto the Democratic Party’s law and let Providencers vote for a higher wage. Each day it was a Democrat who walked by the hunger strikers, and each day it was a Democrat who refused their modest demand to let Providence vote. The governor signed the law, and the workers were denied the most modest wage increase. The current Rhode Island minimum wage is $10.50. Democrats are now proposing to raise it to $15 an hour, but only by 2023.

In the grand scheme of things, this is only a small betrayal by the Democrats, who have historically done so much worse, but it was enough for me. I wouldn’t forgive them then, and will not now.

Communists have an analysis of how the world works and how it could be changed, and as a result they have only two tasks: to find angry workers and to tell the truth, even if it is unpopular. The number of strikes last year—the highest in 30 years—is proof enough that capitalism produces plenty of angry workers.

As for the second part of this project, now is not the time to be the opportunist who refuses to explain the lessons of the past. That most important of lessons is that the liberation of the working class is the task of the working class alone. We will get what we deserve only if workers come together as an independent political power, trained through shop-floor militancy and organized democratically.

And we deserve the Earth.

Facebook Twitter Share

Ioan Georg

Ioan is a factory worker at an optical lens plant in Queens, NY and a shop steward in IUE-CWA Local 463.

Ideas & Debates

Protesters after the murder of Tyre Nichols.

‘We Shall Not be Moved’: Maintaining and Uplifting Black Struggle during Black History Month

This Black History Month, let's raise the banner of Black liberation and the need for a revolutionary socialist strategy that, among other things, shows the inextricable link between class exploitation and racial oppression.

Tristan Taylor

February 6, 2023
All That's Left, the podcast from Left Voice.

#AllThatsLeftPod: A History of the U.S. Revolutionary Left and Trotskyism

In this episode of the podcast, we're joined by historian Bryan Palmer to discuss the origins of the U.S. revolutionary left and Trotskyism, James P. Cannon, and socialists' role in class struggle in the 1920s and 30s.

Left Voice

February 6, 2023

No to NATO Tanks in Ukraine, Let’s Fight the Escalation!

Left Voice and our comrades in Germany issue a joint statement against NATO sending tanks to Ukraine. We call on the working class to organize against this reactionary war which continues to escalate.

Left Voice

January 31, 2023
Detroit socialist activist Tristan Taylor at a protest during 2020.

First We Mourn, Then We Organize: A Letter to Weary Black Organizers Who Have Had Enough

Tyre Nichols, and all victims of police brutality, must be mourned. But we can't stop fighting or give in to despair — we have to build an independent political party that clashes with the capitalists physically, politically, and ideologically.

Tristan Taylor

January 29, 2023

MOST RECENT

High-angle view of protests in France on January 31 against President Macron's pension reforms.

Historic Protests in France: Where to for the French Working Class?

After two of the largest days of protest in over a decade, with unprecedented union support and student turnout, the workers and youth of France must push unions to take up a militant strategy to defeat not only this latest pension reform but also Macron and his government.

Antoine Ramboz

February 6, 2023
Polish soldiers, a zoom-in on a Polish flag on their uniform.

Poland Plans to Become the Most Powerful Military Power in Europe

The war in Ukraine has become a powerful driver of the militarization and rearmament of NATO member countries. Poland now plans to double its military spending with the goal of building the largest land army in Europe.

Otto Fors

February 6, 2023
A horizontal testing scantron with almost all of the bubbles filled in

The Changes to AP African American Studies Are “Absolutely Political”: A Former College Board Worker Speaks Out

A former College Board worker explains how the company's "apolitical" pedagogical approaches privilege right wing ideas, even as the right wing accuses them of spreading "wokeism."

Jess DuBois

February 4, 2023

The Strike Is Our Most Powerful Weapon, We Need to Use It against the Police!

Workers have the opportunity and ability to shut down the system. This is why Democrats, Republicans, and even the Squad broke the strike of the railroad workers. If we use our workplaces as organizing tools against racism and police murder, we can build the power to take control and shut them down! 

Julia Wallace

February 3, 2023