“We are All Workers” is a zine produced by Democracy Insurgent as part of our campaign to fight the impacts of budget cuts and privatization at the University of Washington, Seattle. We are a group animated by principles of anti-racism, anti-imperialism, third world feminism, queer liberation and workers power. Our members are workers, students and unemployed workers. The push toward privatization has resulted in speed up, extra work and sweatshop conditions for workers on campus, hefty tuition hikes for current students, and reduced accessibility to the university for working class students and students of color. All these drastic attacks have been rationalized under the banner of “economic crisis” and inevitable budget cuts. However, it is a mystery why the University president continues to live in a UW student-sponsored mansion and makes about 1 million a year. It is clear that these budget cuts are an attempt to restructure the university and privatize education — this was already in the works for a long time, and the economic crisis provided the best legitimation for it.
This zine is the product of many ideas bubbling in the group over the summer. Some of us in DI were inspired by the Johnson Forrest Tendency, JFT, which produced the piece, “The American Worker.” “The American Worker,” a collaboration between Phil Singer and Grace Lee Boggs under the pen names of Paul Romano and Ria Stone, succeeds in “recognizing and recording” the workplace dynamics that Romano experienced as an auto worker in Detroit during the late 1940s. What is unique about the pamphlet, is that it captures both the rage and frustration that workers feel on the job, as well as the creative solutions that they come up with, that show glimpses of how a workplace free from managerial harassment and control, could function. These vignettes of everyday resistance and creation are best captured by a rank and file worker observing and participating in the informal workgroups and cultures inside the workplace. The pamphlet also highlights how work conditions, even more so than wages, is the key issue that brings workers together. Speed up, extra work, are working conditions that hit the nail on the head: Who controls your working environment and conditions? Who can push you to work faster, harder? Who do you need to fight to work better? In “American Worker,” Romano gives a vibrant and exciting portrayal of how these questions are fundamental to the workers, and how it is eventually workers self activity and power on the shop floor that can change these conditions. Continue reading “We Are All Workers” — stories of struggle at the University of Washington