Canada’s so-called “Freedom” Convoy is blocking several major bridges between the US and Canada. Ford and General Motors are having to cut back production, meaning lay off workers, as a result. Meanwhile, Ottawa is tied up in knots due to the protests. With this effect, one would think it has massive support. Just the opposite is true, as shows.
Around the world, other similar reactionary mobs threaten to us this “Freedom” Convoy as a model.
In a previous article, Canadian John Clarke explained why the government has been so slow to act (although now that the profits of major auto makers are being affected, the government might finally do so). Clearly, though, it cannot be relied upon. And anyway, any action they take against these right wing, selfish protesters will be used the next time against workers.
What is needed is a working class program and strategy to put a stop to these right wingers, who include outright fascists among them.
The union leadership should have been doing something about the whole issue a long time ago. They should have been educating their members about covid and the underlying cause for the rise in new zoonotic diseases (diseases that jump from another animal species to humans). They should have been fighting for working class solidarity. Instead, by undermining it, the leadership has set the basis for the selfishness and individualism that is the basis for the anti-mask and anti-vax ideas within the working class.
The United Auto Workers and the Canadian Auto Workers are perfect examples. GM and Ford have recently announced production cut backs, meaning layoffs. Then there are the Teamsters, many of whose members are truck drivers. Yet the unions are silent on the issue, as are the Canadian and US labor federations. We shouldn’t expect anything more.
There are reform movements in both unions: The Teamsters have the Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) while the UAW has Unite All Workers for Democracy (UAWD). Both these groups won victories recently. In the Teamsters, TDU-supported Sean O’Brien was recently elected president of the International and his entire slate also won. Both O’Brien as well as TDU are silent on the issue.
In the UAW, members overwhelmingly backed a referendum to have future International officers be elected directly by the rank and file. Unfortunately, UAWD is also silent on the issue of the right wing “Freedom” Convoy – despite the fact that some UAW members will be losing their jobs due to this convoy.
Linked with an education program should be a mobilization of workers and youth to confront these covid reactionaries. That, alone, would demoralize many of them when the see just what a minority they really are. As for the rest, among other things cutting them off from their supplies would be effective.
Taking such a position might not be popular among many Teamster and UAW members. But that is the price of real leadership. No serious unionist today would say that the leaders of the mainstream unions back 100 years ago – or even 50 years ago – were right to ignore racism just because many – maybe most – of their members supported Jim Crow! And the leadership of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) proved what could be accomplished when they convinced white timber workers in Alabama to join with their black brothers into one single union local in 1913. (See “Organized Labor and the Black Worker in America“.)
These are just some general ideas from the outside. Exactly who, what forces, could organize a counter protest can only be answered by those in Canada. Also, there are issues like the threat of violence from these reactionaries, whose numbers include outright fascists. That, too, is some thing that has to be considered.
The main question is how can the working class and youth be organized to put an end to this reactionary mob. Already we are seeing similar mobs being organized around the world. If the more courageous and thoughtful elements of the working class don’t organize and take a lead, this right wing convoy threatens to morph into something a lot bigger and more dangerous. That lead must include a real struggle to transform the unions.