Revolutionary Desire

An Open Letter to Revolutionary Transit Worker on the Cut to Student Metrocards

Posted in Action by deterritorialization on January 29, 2010

Dear Comrades of Revolutionary Transit Worker,

Despite having a sense of the limitations faced by your organization, I am curious as to your lack of participation in the struggle to retain student Metrocards. As you know, the MTA is threatening to discontinue free and reduced cost Metrocards to around 500,000 public school students. This is a racist, classist attack on students and their families, coinciding dangerously with the approved closure of 19 NYC public schools. Many working-class students and students of color will have no schools to attend and no means to get there.

Because this attack is in part being perpetrated by the MTA, I believe RTW has a responsibility to step up and join with students against the attacks. You are the only organized revolutionary tendency inside TWU Local 100. The struggle could become a decisive one, particularly with the movement toward a March 4th day of action to defend education. With 100,000 students reportedly walking out in December against the MTA’s attack, a real force could be unleashed which could challenge the capitalist status quo and begin to unify all those facing the fallout of the economic crisis.

RTW often points out that TWU Local 100 does not have to wait for its elections to begin to struggle. This was a point RTW made against Take Back Our Union members who substituted their election campaign for real action, putting it off to an unknown future which of course meant throwing action out altogether. Despite RTW‘s limitations, you do have means at your disposal to join with students and teachers against the MTA’s attacks (as well as the PEP’s school closures). RTW should use its website to spread information about the struggle, expose misleadership, and build transit worker unity with students. Yet RTW‘s website has not been updated since October. What gives? Because many of us involved in this struggle are not transit workers and do not have contact with RTW or others in TWU Local 100, it would be very helpful if RTW could update us on their involvement in this battle.

Students often do not yet differentiate between transit workers and their bosses. This is being perpetrated by those like Cate Contino of the Straphangers Campaign, who argues in favor of cuts to transit workers instead of cuts to students. The result of this treacherous position is that students at demonstrations jeer at passing MTA buses — some of which actually honk in support! While misleaders like Contino bear much of the responsibility, a share falls on the TWU leadership as well as the transit workers who, blinded by privilege, do not see the necessity of struggling against attacks on the rest of the working class. Students, for their part, may not see the need to struggle against ALL transit cuts until transit workers join them in their fight and set a leading example.

Given the extremely volatile and dangerous situation, transit workers must join with students in order to build a broad united front against the cuts to education and transit. We cannot let the MTA divide students against transit workers, because our long-term interests are the same. To this end, RTW should immediately begin using its website to post up-to-date information about the struggle, as well as begin building support among transit workers. Plan and build public organizing meetings over the heads of your union bureaucrats, even while you continue to pressure them to step up to the task as well. Do not substitute your long-term aims of winning leadership posts for the immediate interests of the working-class. Please, aid us in the fight against cuts to student Metrocards!

How will RTW step up to the plate?

Sincerely,

A concerned revolutionary

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