|Campaigning for Socialist Workers Party candidates in New York City, July 11. Volunteers are collecting signatures to put Róger Calero, SWP candidate for U.S. Congress, on ballot.|
When we put forward demands to protect working people in the face of high unemployment, speedup on the job, and cuts in social services, when we raise the need to take political power out of the hands of the capitalist class, which is responsible for the devastation facing workers and farmers, we get a good response, he noted.
Fein was speaking to participants in the Militant Labor Forum here July 10. Many of those at the meeting had spent a good part of the day collecting signatures to get Róger Calero, SWP candidate for U.S. Congress in the 15th District, on the ballot for the November election. Twenty-two volunteers had hit the streets that day, including some who were petitioning for the first time.
The socialist campaigners plan to collect 7,000 signatures by July 18, double the legal requirement, from residents of the 15th District, which includes Harlem and much of Upper Manhattan, to get Calero on the ballot. The SWP is also running Willie Cotton and Sarah Ruth Robinett for the two U.S. Senate seats. They and Fein are running as write-in candidates.
Fein reported that some 1,600 people signed the petitions in the first two days. A Black worker in Harlem who signed said, If your candidates are for real, youll get a tremendous reception in this neighborhood. Volunteers had no problem meeting the goal of 15 signatures an hour while also introducing those most interested in the campaign to the Militant and the book Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power by Jack Barnes.
The so-called economic recovery in the United States is losing steam, Calero told the meeting. The fiscal crisis in Greece and the assault on the standard of living of workers there is threatening to spread.
In the United States there are five unemployed workers for every available job, he added. Pouring more and more money into the banks, cash for clunkers, and mortgage modification programs will not resolve the problem. They will mostly just put working people deeper into debt.
Thats why we need to put forward demands that can unify the working class, Calero explained, such as cutting the workweek with no cut in pay and unemployment benefits for as long as a worker is jobless.
The Democrats and Republicans put forward the opposite perspective, Calero said. He noted that the governor of California is trying to impose the minimum wage on government workers until he gets the budget he wants passed.
There are no guarantees for workers under the dictatorship of capital, the Socialist Workers candidate said. All the proposals by the Democrats and Republicans are aimed at defending their economic system, running their system better.
Calero pointed out that the teachers unions played a prominent role in campaigning for Barack Obama during his presidential bid and for other Democratic Party candidates. But soon after taking office he kicked the union in the head, launching programs aimed at getting rid of seniority rights, weakening the union, and undermining public education.
Workers need their own party
Working people need to organize independently of the bosses and break with their parties, the Democrats and Republicans, Calero said. We need our own labor party based on a union movement that fights for solidarity in face of the bosses assault.
Cotton focused his remarks on opposition to the imperialist wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.
In spite of all the hype about Washingtons counterinsurgency strategy, which seeks to win support from Afghan working people, there has not been a lessening of civilian casualties there, Cotton said. Washington has increased the use of Special Forces in Afghanistan and pilotless drone attacks in Pakistan.
The Socialist Workers campaign demands not one person, not one penny for imperialist war and calls for the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. troops, Cotton said.
Campaign supporters are inviting coworkers and others to help circulate petitions to meet the signature requirement.
Supporters of the Socialist Workers campaign will be gathering 6,000 signatures in Washington, D.C., starting July 24 to win ballot status for SWP mayoral candidate Omari Musa.
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