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Vol. 76/No. 29      August 6, 2012

Unions, SWP target of
Socialist Equality Party slanders
DES MOINES, Iowa—As the effort to put James Harris, Socialist Workers Party candidate for president, on the ballot in Iowa got rolling, the Des Moines Register ran an article July 8 reporting on the positive response the campaign was getting. One reader posted a comment in the paper’s online edition that threatened and slandered the party.

In the comments section linked to the article “Socialist Presidential Candidate Attends Iowa Rally,” Jim Johnson wrote, “The Socialist Workers Party exists solely to discredit real socialism…. The SWP is a cult of provacatuers [sic] who’s socialist attitudes are just window dressing for a darker purpose.”

To back up his slander, Johnson pointed to The Mark Curtis Hoax, a book published two decades ago by an antilabor outfit called the Workers League backing a cop frame-up and smear operation here. Adherents of that current now identify themselves as the Socialist Equality Party or the World Socialist Web Site. In his post, Johnson personally threatens Curtis with bodily harm.

“This attack is part of a broader campaign by antilabor forces to demoralize workers involved in resisting the bosses’ attacks, turn them against the union movement and drive a wedge between them and organizations involved in the developing working-class resistance,” David Rosenfeld, Socialist Workers Party candidate for Congress in Iowa’s 3rd District, told the Militant. “They are a danger to the labor movement and their antilabor propaganda and threats must be answered.”

Rosenfeld, who was the SWP candidate for governor of Iowa in 2010, continued, “SWP candidates and our supporters in the Midwest and beyond have been active in supporting workers resisting the bosses’ attacks. We joined the picket lines of members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers union locked out by Roquette America in Keokuk, Iowa, in September 2010.” Members of the SWP in the Midwest have joined 1,300 sugar workers on their picket line in the Red River Valley in North Dakota and Minnesota. They were locked out in 2011 by American Crystal Sugar.

“We did the same for the Cooper Tire workers,” Rosenfeld said, referring to members of United Steelworkers Local 207L locked out by the Cooper Tire bosses last December. During the three-month lockout, the unionists picketed the plant, held rallies and joined American Crystal Sugar workers in a “Journey for Justice” solidarity caravan.

Those active in the Socialist Equality Party and the World Socialist Web Site don’t build solidarity or participate in working-class resistance. Instead, Rosenfeld said, they intervene in an effort to turn workers against their union, often targeting those frustrated in the course of the struggle.

“You can see this in how they argued for Cooper Tire workers to break from their union,” the socialist candidate said. The WSWS wrote, “The unions, tied as they are to the profit system and economic nationalism, are worse than useless in this struggle. They stand on the other side.” Another WSWS article stated, “At every point during the struggle, the workers confronted the USW not as an ally, but as an agent of management that sought to isolate, demoralize and defeat them.”

Rosenfeld pointed out that the tire bosses eagerly used the anti-union material in the WSWS to bolster their position against the union. In January, the editor of the tire industry publication Tire Review quoted extensively from the WSWS in an attack on the union. “Some of those who are locked out are lashing out at their union,” wrote the editor, Jim Smith, backing up his assertion with several paragraphs lifted directly from the WSWS. He also misidentified it as the “Socialist Workers Web Site,” or “SWWS,” sowing confusion on the source of the anti-union propaganda.

The attack by Johnson and the campaign against the Steelworkers at Cooper Tire are just two of the recent anti-labor provocations the WSWS has carried out, noted Rosenfeld. It has also intervened against the union in the battles of strikers confronting Caterpillar in Joliet, Ill., the fight of Con Edison workers locked out in New York, sugar workers in the Red River Valley and others. These are all recent examples of the functioning of a political current that has been on this course since the 1970s.

These disruption efforts pick up wherever workers are on the move, as they are today.

“In the late 1980s, the Workers League devoted substantial resources to support the government’s frame-up of Mark Curtis, a packinghouse worker here in Des Moines who also was a member of the SWP,” Rosenfeld pointed out.

“As struggles of meat workers, including immigrants fighting deportation raids, spread in the Midwest, Curtis was one of the young workers who got involved in the resistance. At Swift, the packinghouse where he worked, workers walked off the line to attend a meeting called to protest an immigration raid and the arrest of 17 coworkers,” said Rosenfeld.

A few hours later, after he attended the meeting, the cops arrested Curtis on false charges of rape and burglary, beat him severely in the city jail, and the Des Moines prosecutors built a frame-up case against him. As a result Curtis was convicted and sent to jail for eight years.

“The Workers League made support for the prosecutors’ frame-up their central campaign for years,” Rosenfeld continued, “targeting through Curtis the broader vanguard of workers in the Midwest who had begun to fight back against the attacks of the bosses and their government. And they targeted the SWP, which was deeply involved in the fightback.”

“As the bosses’ attacks continue and more workers decide to fight today, it is important for those involved in labor battles to understand and be prepared for anti-union disruption efforts by the Socialist Equality Party and the World Socialist Web Site,” Rosenfeld concluded.  
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