The continued “maturation” of late-stage capitalism saw multiple societal trends intersect violently in the 2020s. The Covid-19 pandemic intersected with real-time climate collapse and ongoing state violence against Indigenous, black, and other racialized people, which triggered spontaneous mass mobilisations against these multiple oppressions. That spontaneous display of anger towards the status quo spilled over into the labour movement as well. With decades of neoliberal austerity and outsourcing, union representation in Canada has fallen to only 30%. At the same time, the pandemic killed off and disabled a record number of workers and forced even more into early retirement. Workers now wield more economic leverage while being less organised than earlier periods of labour struggle. This combination of material factors built up to “The Great Resignation,” where individual workers eschew any company loyalty to take advantage of a labour shortage to maximise individual gains. But bubbling under the surface of this hyper-individualised approach to bargaining with the bosses is a resurgence in strike action of multiple flavours. Unions in multiple sectors struck for safer work conditions, better pay, an end to two-tiered contracts, and more. Yet many non-unionised workers, particularly front-line workers, also stood up and collectively struck in illegal job actions known as wildcat strikes. Given historic levels of worker upheaval and societal crisis combined with low levels of union representation, it is imperative to understand the wildcat strike as a tactic. By looking at important wildcat strikes in North American history, from the Pullman strike of 1894 to the 2020 wildcat of Albertan healthcare workers, we will highlight important lessons for the labour movement going forward
As neoliberal governments faced yet another wave of Covid-19 in December 2021, this time fueled by the even-more contagious Omicron variant, politicians and corporate-owned media began laying the ideological groundwork for the scrapping of all public health protections. Despite workers and oppressed people continuing to get sick, developing chronic illnesses, and dying, and the ongoing uncertainty about new variants emerging, the resumption of maximum production and consumption again stands as the only priority. As the exploited classes are primed to acquiesce to an erosion of our right to a safe workplace, media and politicians work overtime to discredit any alternative pandemic response. In this quest, the biggest obstacle remains China’s successful and dynamic Covid-zero strategy.
The Che Guevara Brigade is a unique opportunity to get to know Cuba through people-to-people solidarity and on the ground experiences. There is no better way to get to know the Cuban people than working alongside them, sharing meals and leisure time, and there is no better way to learn about the Cuban Revolution than by seeing its accomplishments first hand! The Brigade’s vibrant program also includes participating in cultural activities, meeting community organizations, visiting health and educational institutions, visiting historical sites, attending workshops and of course visiting the beach!
In this bonus episode of The Red Review, brought to you by Socialist Action, we feature an interview with Canadian Foreign Policy Institute Fellow, anti-war activist, and No New Fighter Jets organizer Tamara Lorincz.
The same day this podcast is released, No New Fighter Jets will launch a week of action to oppose Canada’s planned procurement of new fighter jets. The Red Review endorses the call — No New Fighter Jets! Demilitarize to decarbonize and decolonize! Check out the website to see a list of webinars and actions for this week and beyond.
Thursday, Oct. 21 at 7:00 p.m. EDT, watch the next live webcast, "A Class Struggle History: The Peasants' Revolt of 1381," with Gary Porter, a leading member of Socialist Action. Watch it live on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/__9jx9ueRpA