Affirmative action is a plus not just for African Americans, Latinos or women but for all workers. Portrayal of it as something that takes rights away from white workers and gives them to African American workers is totally false.
This line of attack against affirmative action means to obscure the basic conflict between employers and employees and substitute that with a dead end struggle between black and white workers.
What affirmative action achieves on the job is a transfer of some of the power bosses now have to the workforce as a group. This happens because the equality it creates unifies the workers as a whole, putting that unity up as a big barrier against a boss who wants to run roughshod over everyone.
Affirmative action also ends the ability of the boss to use the extra low wages he could otherwise pay to minority workers as a lever to hold down the wages of white workers.
Opponents of affirmative action are too often successful in their attempts to give even the term itself, a sinister connotation, making it synonymous with doing something bad or instituting some type of manipulative scheme.
Affirmative action, in reality, is nothing more than fixing something that is wrong or broken.
When you patch the roof in your house, put in new insulation or tighten loose and leaky pipes you are taking affirmative action regarding the condition of your home.
A white worker earning less than he or she really should, must also take action to see that what is broken at his or her workplace is fixed. To fix what’s broken on the job, so he or she can reap the benefits of working class unity, means taking steps to repair and improve equality, fairness and solidarity. It means taking away discrimination – the bosses’ tool to divide the work force.
In a workplace where there is discrimination and disunity the boss is almost always free to do whatever he wants to everyone, white workers included. A boss getting away with discrimination is also going get away with providing no health benefits, paying miserable wages and making work a living hell for everyone.