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Vol. 75/No. 4      January 31, 2011

(front page)
‘No capitalist party is talking
about working-class issues’
Militant/Betsy Farley
John Hawkins, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of Chicago, campaigns among workers January 8 outside Saint-Gobain Containers glass factory in Dolton, south of Chicago.

CHICAGO—“How can we fight for jobs, defend our unions, and win legalization for immigrant workers who don’t have papers? How can we stop the murderous U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan? These are the real questions facing working people in Chicago, and throughout the world,” said John Hawkins, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor. “Not a single one of my capitalist opponents in this race is taking up these issues.”

Twenty candidates initially filed for ballot status in the Chicago mayoral election. Only six remain, all Democrats. Hawkins is forced to run a write-in campaign because of exclusionary petitioning requirements to get on the ballot.

The race to determine who will replace Mayor Richard Daley has attracted international attention since Daley announced he would not seek a seventh term as mayor. Rahm Emanuel, former White House chief of staff, and Carolyn Moseley Braun, a former member of the U.S. Senate, lead the polls.

Illinois state senator James Meeks and U.S. Congressman Daniel Davis, also Democrats, recently withdrew from the mayoral race at the urging of Jesse Jackson, director of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, in order to have a “unified Black candidate.” Both support Braun.

In addition to Braun there are three other candidates in the race for mayor who are Black: Patricia Van Pelt Watkins, William Walls, and Hawkins. The socialist campaign is the only one that speaks for the interests of Black working people and the working class as a whole.

“The Socialist Workers Party has no intention of withdrawing my candidacy in this election,” declared Hawkins, who is a factory worker. “We will use our campaign to help working people organize and fight to defend our class interests, to strengthen our class unity through fighting race and sex discrimination, and to protect our class from the consequences of the capitalist economic crisis.”

Campaigning in workers districts and at plant gates, the socialist candidate has discussed with other workers the worsening conditions they face.

Unemployment in Chicago stood at 10.1 percent in November. Unemployment for African Americans of all ages stood officially at 17.1 percent statewide at the end of 2009.

The Chicago metropolitan area ranks fifth in the country in terms of housing segregation for African Americans. The high school dropout rate for Blacks is above 50 percent.  
Federal public works program
“To end unemployment we must fight for a shorter workweek with no cut in pay and a massive, federally funded, public works program to employ millions at union-scale wages, building affordable housing, hospitals, schools, and infrastructure,” Hawkins said.

“What’s needed is a fight against race discrimination. Segregation guarantees that African Americans constitute a disproportionate part of the reserve army of labor—the last hired and first fired.

“And instead of cuts in funds for schools and hikes in college tuition, we need a government that will make education, from cradle to grave, truly free, universal, and a right for all.

“Workers need our own party—a labor party—to fight to take political power out of the hands of the billionaire factory owners and bankers and put the working class in power,” Hawkins explained. “Every gain for workers has come as a result of our struggle, not by relying on Democratic or Republican politicians. The twin parties of capitalism are in the forefront of the assault on working people.”

The Democratic Party-dominated Illinois state legislature has just passed a 67 percent increase in state income taxes. Democratic governor Patrick Quinn immediately signed it into law.

“Working people can expect more attacks on our standard of living in order to pay off the bondholders,” Hawkins stated, “including cuts in state workers’ wages, pensions, and benefits, along with cuts in services that working people statewide need. All the six Democrats running for mayor offer the same ‘solution’ for Chicago’s ‘budget crisis.’”  
Rehire laid-off teachers
The SWP campaign calls for a steeply graduated income tax on the wealthy and corporations, with no taxes for workers or exploited farmers. It demands the return to city workers of the furlough days they have been forced to agree to, the rehiring of laid-off teachers with back pay, an end to cuts in education and city services, and an immediate end to interest and principal payments to the wealthy bondholders.

“Quinn’s rush to sign the tax hike bill stands in stark contrast to his foot- dragging on another bill recently approved by the state legislature to end the death penalty. This bill is a victory for all those who have fought without compromise for decades to expose the anti-working-class and racist brutality of this state’s criminal ‘justice’ system,” said Hawkins.

“We demand the immediate signing of the bill abolishing Illinois’ death penalty into law. We will continue and step up the fight for release of all the wrongfully convicted, including the 23 men imprisoned as a result of confessions extracted through police torture at the hands of former Chicago Police Department lieutenant Jon Burge,” the socialist candidate said.
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