Green Party Congressional candidate Joseph Diaferia (NY-16)
has unveiled an ambitious labor platform which includes a call for a radical
overhaul of the nation’s policies governing workers’ rights.
Citing decades of suffocating control over economic and political life by the private sector, Diaferia is calling for federal laws that would, in part, force a shift in political and economic power from the business class to the working class.
Said Diaferia, “The business class—let’s call them the One Percent for the benefit of clarity and brevity—needs to understand that they would not exist if not for the labor of others; and we, the 99 Percent, need to put our collective foot down and make it abundantly clear that we have our rules too.” Diaferia continued, “There is only one thing that the One Percent is fully committed to and that is the maximization of profit; and there is only one thing that they have ever wanted and that is everything. Thus, they have no interest whatsoever in addressing the needs of working people. Working people must take matters into their own hands“.
Diaferia also suggested that the weakening of the US labor force over the past several decades is the result of the discredit heaped upon labor unions by the corporate media: “So often it has been said that unions have been the scourge of the American way of life—whatever that means. Inasmuch as only a very small component of the American working class is unionized, I have found that to be a ludicrous suggestion. Moreover, the characterization of labor as a special interest group has always fascinated me”.
Diaferia’s proposals include: the right of interested workers in a workplace to form a union without the threat of reprisal from the employers; the right of public sector employees to strike; the right of all workers to engage in collective action regardless of union status; democratic governance of all unions by their membership without employer interference; the right to united action including hot cargo agreements, boycotts, factory committees, secondary strikes, sit-downs and slow-downs, general strikes, and the expropriation of workplaces; the right of workers to elect their immediate supervisors; repeal of the Hatch Act and the Taft-Hartley Act, and all union busting "right-to-work" laws; increased health and safety regulation in workplaces, and increased size and scope of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); the same benefits for part-time workers as for full-time workers; and, a 30 hour work week at no loss of pay, with six weeks annual paid vacation.
Asked of the feasibility and likelihood of enactment of such policies at the national level, Diaferia responded, “At present, my objective is to alert workers to the fact that they have rights, and yes, they have rules that they can and should impose. They do not have to accept or tolerate what ownership or management dispenses. Whether or not they realize it, workers have the right and the means to tell the bosses what is going to be; they need to know this”.
Asked if such policies would be fair to businesses, Diaferia replied, “Let me be frank; my only concern is for the working class, and that workers be allowed to live and work with dignity, security, and freedom from economic want. Those bent on exploitation—in other words, living off of the surplus value created by others—and speculation, are simply not my concern. I might ask the One Percent what they have contributed to our society other than the usual rhapsodic nostrums that theirs is the best of all possible economic systems”.
Diaferia, a political science and history professor, says he also supports the creation of a New Deal-like federal jobs program which he will outline in his forthcoming economic platform.
This is Joseph Diaferia’s second run for public office. In 1987, he ran as a Democrat for a seat on Westchester County’s Board of Legislators.