Defining “Direct Production Workers,”
and Why We Are Using This Term

Since 1976 we have used the term “working class” to identify anyone raised working class. Since that time at least ninety percent of the so-defined “working-class” RCers have graduated from university, taken middle-class jobs, and currently lead middle-class lives. Many have become segregated from the working class.

Currently working-class people are less than ten percent of RCers. There are fewer currently working-class people than there are owning-class people. This is contrary to what we have said we are and who we want to be as an organization. It is perhaps the most obvious evidence of the classism that we carry.

Who are the people “engaged in the production of goods and services”?

  • They are the people who directly create the wealth that the rest of us live on.
  • They are ninety percent of the world’s workers but only ten percent of RCers.
  • In the United States they are typically paid by the hour rather than receiving a salary (not true in other countries, which is why I could not use the term “hourly wage earner” and needed to coin a new and more precise term).
  • Their jobs typically do not require a university education.
  • They are factory workers, agricultural workers, clerical workers, retail clerks, bank clerks, call center representatives, cleaners, food servers, cooks, construction workers, police officers, firefighters, military rank and file, and people self-employed in such jobs.
  • They are rated and evaluated by their production: How many rooms do you clean in a day? How many deliveries do you make in a day? How many customers do you serve in a day? What is your average time on the phone with a customer? How many units per hour can you manufacture at a ninety-eight percent accuracy rate? How many patients can you care for? How fast can you type?
  • Their jobs are generally where money enters the economic system.
  • They generally get only a small fraction of the wealth they produce and bring into the system.
  • Their unions have been viciously attacked.
  • In general they have had little access to working-class ideology. Without an understanding of class, they tend to believe it when told they are “middle class” and that they must defend themselves against “the poor.” Without a class ideology they are vulnerable to racist, anti-Semitic, Gay-oppressive, and other oppressor material [distress] that the owning class manipulates for its own ends.
  • Because of the important role they play in society, they are the people who could shut everything down. They could do this for either a good cause or a harmful cause. But they have that power.

Why are we using this new terminology?

We are using this new terminology to help RCers think strategically and to see the classism in RC more clearly and precisely.

The words “direct production” put emphasis on the critical role that these workers play in the economic system and their potential power to bring about social change.

The following questions can be used for introductions at a workshop or class for direct production workers:

  • What is your name?
  • Where are you from?
  • What do you do for work?
  • How long have you done that work?
  • What is your hourly pay or salary?
  • What do you love about your job?
  • What do you hate about your job?
  • How will the RC Community be different when direct production workers are dominant in the Community?

In my Region we have in the past organized people who were raised middle and owning class and are now doing direct production work. That is a separate piece of work (it is a little like Native-raised-white work). The goal is not to escape the oppression of having been raised middle or owning class, and it is not to “be” working class. It is to organize working-class people to end classism. With more discharge, this group can unite with direct production workers.

Dan Nickerson

International Liberation Reference
 Person for Working-Class People

Freeport, Maine USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion
list for leaders of working-class people


Last modified: 2019-05-21 23:36:15+00