The Militant (logo) 
Vol.63/No.37       October 25, 1999 
 
 
Young Socialists take step forward in 'Red Weekend'  
 
 
BY GREG MCCARTAN AND JASON ALESSIO 
SAN FRANCISCO "This weekend was possible because we carried out a successful series of political campaigns as a national organization over the past four months," said Young Socialists leader Samantha Kern. "The strengthening of the YS that came out of our work this summer helped us recognize the importance of having a national office that we are proud of, and one that our central leadership committee can function out of. All of this puts us in a good position to plan for a YS convention early next year."

Over the October 810 weekend members of the Young Socialists, the San Francisco branch of the Socialists Workers Party, supporters of the communist movement, and several members of the party's Trade Union Committee participated in a "Red Weekend" to organize the YS leadership files, spruce up the organization's national office, and clean up the Pathfinder bookstore and offices of the Socialist Workers Party, which share the same premises. More than 25 people participated.

Kern pointed to many things over the past few months that have strengthened the YS and the organization's proletarian norms: YS members' participation and leadership in organizing the socialist summer schools in several cities this past summer; joining regional teams to sell the Militant and Capitalism's World Disorder: Working-Class Politics at the Millennium; completing a "Red Week" to repaint several floors of the Pathfinder Building in New York; building and participating in the Active Workers Conference in Ohio in August; initiating regional socialist educational conferences across the United States; and participating in international political events in Cuba and Puerto Rico.

A functioning national office is key to moving forward on the national campaigns the Young Socialists is carrying out, from winning new youth to join its ranks, to jointly leading the campaign to place Capitalism World's Disorder and other books published by Pathfinder in outlets where working people buy books, to strengthening relations with other political organizations.

Over two days several thousand electronic and paper documents were sorted, culled, organized, and put into new filing systems that reflect the work of YS chapters, national campaigns, policies, work with international organizations, finances, and work with the Socialist Workers Party throughout the last five years of the organization's existence. Files with the minutes and records of national leadership meetings and conventions were established. Working files contain materials for the daily use in the national office, and material of longer-term use is now in archives. The weekend also included classes on how to use different computer programs that are needed.

A second crew organized the work space in the office, including painting a furnace and filing cabinets; setting up the desks, computer, two phones, bookshelves, and fax machine; and decorating the walls and office. With help from experienced party members, YS members rewired their office's phone and electrical outlets, fixed their fax machine and printer, and got other equipment in running order.

YS members from San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Seattle led the effort. "We learned a lot about political filing, how to use computer programs, how to get our office organized, and even how to do wiring and other skills," said Jason Alessio at the end of the project. "If we aren't organized on a national level we can't be too effective," he said.

"Our work over the past months has strengthened the proletarian functioning of the YS," Kern said. "This was the goal of the Red Weekend as well."

During the weekend Kern and YS leader Cecilia Ortega received several phone calls from YS chapters around the United States about events held that weekend as part of the campaign to reach half the $8,000 goal set for the YS national fund drive (see article on facing page). YS members in San Francisco held a social event, a raffle, and helped organize meals to raise funds for the local goal of $800. After working with the YS leaders for two days, the party's Trade Union Committee is organizing to ensure closer collaboration between the party and YS in carrying out joint campaigns to sell Capitalism's World Disorder and place it in bookstores, libraries, and other outlets, as well as party branches working with the YS members in their area to ensure a successful fund drive.

In addition to two days of hard work, the weekend was infused with reports and discussion on developments in the class struggle, as well as making plans to continue the participation of communists in regional teams to get out to these struggles.

The Friday evening Militant Labor Forum featured reports from three speakers on labor rallies and efforts to reach out to coal miners with the Militant and Capitalism's World Disorder: Working-Class Politics at the Millennium. Jim Gotesky, a member of the United Steelworkers of America (USWA), had joined 1,000 locked-out USWA members and their supporters at the October 2 rally at the gates of Kaiser Aluminum in Spokane, Washington. Gotesky said he was impressed by the staying-power of their yearlong fight, and the determination of the locked-out workers.

Jason Alessio, a YS member at the University of Santa Cruz, explained the gains made by socialists reaching out to coal miners in Colorado. Alessio, who participated in a team six months ago to the coal-mining region, had just returned from five days on the road with other socialists. "We met with workers who subscribed to the paper. They referred us to other miners who would be interested."

Ellen Berman, a member of the International Association of Machinists, joined a rally of 500 USWA members on strike against Rocky Mountain Steel Mills in Pueblo, Colorado. The October 2 "Jam for Justice" marked two years of the fight.

Saturday afternoon the brigade took a break to participate in a class given by party leader Norton Sandler on a working-class explanation and response to fascist-minded Patrick Buchanan and Bonapartist forces such as Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura.

Jack Willey, a member of the party's Trade Union Committee, reported on developments in the coal fields. Willey came to San Francisco from the October 7-9 Black Lung Conference held in Chicago, sponsored by the Black Lung Association and the UMWA. He described the beginnings of a fight to defend lifetime health coverage and pensions that the miners have won over decades, which are now under attack by the government and coal bosses.

Willey also reported that a team of socialists volunteered for a one-week team in the western coal fields to continue the work of reaching out with the Militant and Capitalism's World Disorder. Participants in the weekend discussed ways to build that team and another planned for Alabama and Georgia leading up to a regional education conference in Atlanta at the end of the month.

Ortega reported on plans for a socialist education weekend at the University of Santa Cruz on the origins of women's oppression and the fight for women's liberation. YS members there are hosting the weekend to deepen their understanding of this central aspect of the class struggle and its place in building revolutionary organizations today.

Over the course of the weekend, teams were deployed to set up socialist literature tables to build an event at Barnes and Noble Booksellers in Berkeley where New International editor Mary-Alice Waters, who has written or edited several books on the Cuban revolution, was to speak October 11. Socialists also participated in a demonstration demanding the U.S. government pull its naval forces out of Vieques, where it uses the Puerto Rican island for live target practice and simulated Marine invasions. The protests targeted "Fleet Week," a series of patriotic events in support of the U.S. Navy.

"With the collaboration of the party we made this Red Weekend a real success," Kern said late Sunday evening.

"This will help deepen our collaboration with the party on our common campaigns, from selling Capitalism's World Disorder to the YS fund drive. We took a step forward in YS leaders in San Francisco and Santa Cruz working together as part of the YS national leadership and the possibilities for having the strongest YS national office possible."

Greg McCartan is a member of the Union of Needletrade, Industrial and Textile Employees and the SWP's Trade Union Committee. Jason Alessio is a member of the YS in Santa Cruz.  
 
 
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