Saturday, July 2, 2016

What is the Greater Toronto Workers' Assembly (GTWA)?

Our Vision Statement

Capitalism is a barrier to human development. It has defined our successes as obstacles to progress and has deepened the grossest inequalities here and across the globe in the name of ‘competitiveness’. Its drive for profits at any cost has threatened the survival of the planet and narrowed the meaning of democracy as well as individual and collective possibilities. Never satisfied, it demands that working people and the poor pay for the crisis that the system itself created by further cuts to our quality of life and living

As the financial system teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, and we more clearly came to see the bankruptcy of capitalism itself, something else was revealed: our own inadequacy in challenging this staggered but still powerful social and economic system. Many of us have been involved in various impressive movements and political projects but whatever successes we might have had, we were pushed to acknowledge that our capacities to resist have not matched what we are up against. The Assembly is an attempt to address that failure.

The Assembly calls on activists to join together in a democratic process to create a new politics. It is both a space for dialogue and learning within the popular left movement and an organ of common action. Seeking to move beyond coalition and network politics the Assembly is an organization that individuals belong to without giving up their membership and allegiances to community organizations, unions and left groups. We are committed to developing our understanding of what we’re up against, who our potential allies are, and to organize and act in new ways that will take us from a politics of resistance to emancipatory alternatives.

We are united by an anti-capitalist, anti-racist, feminist, queer-positive, and anti-oppression politics. We are against imperialism, including Canadian imperialism, and rooted in a variety of struggles, ranging from the movements against Israeli apartheid to the imperialist wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Latin America and the Caribbean, to solidarity work with Indigenous peoples, to the struggle for environmental sustainability, to fights to rebuild a democratic and militant labour movement.

We want to build unity and solidarity amongst the working class defined in the broadest terms, throughout Canada and internationally: among unionized and non-unionized workers; those who have lost their jobs or are unemployed; those who live and work in Canada but have been denied full status; those who do paid or unpaid housework and childcare; all those who face discrimination because of gender identity, including queer and trans people; those with disabilities; and others who are living in abject poverty at the edges of society. We stand in solidarity with communities against racial profiling, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of discrimination.

While capitalism itself has created ongoing suffering and oppression in its “normal” phases, the crisis has made things worse. But crises do not just come and go; they bring both great dangers and significant opportunities. Historically, they have represented new openings for either the consolidation of, or shifts in, social power. The question is whether we can take advantage of the new openings and threats to build a new kind of politics. The Assembly represents one answer to that challenge.

(This statement was developed and adopted at the second General Assembly on January 16, 2010. It is a work in progress.)

GTWA Basic Structure

The GTWA holds a General Assembly once every three months. The General Assembly is the highest decision making body of the GTWA. Between General Assemblies the following committees meet:
  • Coordinating Committee
  • Membership/Finance/Outreach
  • Education/Political Development
  • Labour Caucus
  • Cultural Committee
  • International Solidarity
  • Feminist Action
  • Labour Flying Squad
  • Free and Accessible Transportation
  • Solidarity/Civil Liberties.

Why do we need the Assembly?

Despite often resourceful local forms of resistance and organizing, we have yet to build an independent politics that puts real alternatives to capitalism on the agenda. Many unions are pursuing short-term strategies that fend off or minimize the impact of the crisis on their own members, but fail to address its underlying causes, challenge the inequalities it is reinforcing, and build the necessary alliances with the unemployed and the thousands of people living on various forms of social assistance. Those of us with a more radical vision of social and economic justice remain fragmented and isolated. How can we address our immediate needs and also build our collective capacities for social change?

Goals of the Assembly

To bring together activists within the broad working class movement, to explore the experiences and approaches to struggle that both unite and divide us as a starting point for overcoming divisions and building greater collaboration, exchange, strategic discussion and action amongst us.

To share our understanding of the problems created by capitalism and the current economic crisis and the need to develop alternative visions that challenge the logic and power of private corporations, and the states that back them, over our lives.

To identify and develop concrete strategies and organizational forms of struggle which defend working-class people’s immediate needs and lay the groundwork for an equitable and democratic alternative to our present economic and political system.

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