“As we organize to resist these worsening conditions, we can gain the experience, self-confidence, and solidarity that will be needed to overturn the dictatorship of capital we live under and chart a course toward working people taking political power,” she said.
Craine is one of a number of Socialist Workers Party candidates for governor across the country — including Eleanor García in California, John Studer in New York, Frank Forrestal in Minnesota, Ilona Gersh in Illinois, David Rosenfeld in Iowa and John Benson in Georgia.
They are joining in efforts by workers and farmers to defend their jobs, wages, working conditions and political rights; calling for solidarity with workers in Ukraine fighting to defend their national sovereignty; participating in activities in defense of the Cuban Five and the Cuban Revolution; and raising demands, such as a government-funded public works program to create jobs, that can advance the unity and fighting spirit of the working class.
Craine, a 43-year-old factory worker, joined supporters of the socialist campaign and Militant April 26-27, talking with workers outside the International Longshoremen’s Association hiring hall in Fort Lauderdale and knocking on doors in Miami.
Theresa Collymore, who works in the office of a car wash, described how workers there receive just $4.91 per hour, because the bosses claim tips bring their pay over the state minimum wage of $7.93. But frequently, they don’t. “It’s wrong that they work 10 or 12 hours a day and end up with a check of less than $200 at the end of the week,” Collymore said.
“We need to organize and fight for a big raise in the minimum wage, for everyone,” Craine said. “A couple weeks ago I was at a rally with workers from the Fort Lauderdale airport who have been trying to organize a union and win higher wages, including skycaps who face the same thing — they’re supposed to rely on tips, which they often don’t get.”
Collymore signed up for a subscription to the Militant and said she would try to bring some co-workers to the Florida campaign’s first public meeting May 3.
“A restaurant worker from Honduras told me she doesn’t watch the news much because it’s depressing and there’s nothing you can do about it,” Craine told the Militant after the day’s campaigning. “I said it’s true, none of us can change the situation alone, but in our millions we can.
“We discussed what’s been happening in Ukraine, where working people have taken action to kick out the Viktor Yanukovych government, defend themselves against the threats from Moscow and fight the bosses,” Craine said. “I also pointed to the record of struggle by workers in the U.S. She ended up getting a subscription to the Militant and a copy of the Spanish-language edition of Malcolm X, Black Liberation and the Road to Workers Power.”
García, SWP candidate for governor of California, joined a team of volunteers April 19 going door to door in Long Beach, near Los Angeles.
At one home she met two truck drivers at the port there where workers have been fighting for the right to a union, higher wages, health benefits and other protections. The trucking bosses claim the drivers are “independent contractors” — who have to bear the cost of operating the trucks themselves — and therefore ineligible to join the Teamsters union.
According to the Teamsters some 49,000 of the 75,000 port truckers in the U.S. are “misclassified” as independent contractors. They make less than $29,000 a year, while working an average of 59 hours a week. Truckers in Long Beach, Los Angeles and Savannah, Georgia, held a 48-hour strike starting April 28.
“I’ve decided not to sign up for Obamacare health insurance,” one of the drivers, who asked that his name not be used, told García. “I’m better off paying the fine to the government than over $300 for insurance.”
“Our campaign calls for government-funded universal health care from cradle to grave for all,” García said. “Obamacare is a boon for big insurance firms and other profit-gouging health-related businesses. But workers face tougher economic conditions and more cutbacks to basic services.”
“While I’m worried about health care, what we really need are jobs,” the other driver said.
García also met with Jose Salinas, a longshoreman who recently renewed his subscription to the Militant. He bought several books on working-class history and politics and said he was glad that the Socialist Workers were running.
“My campaign is not about what I will do for you, but what we can do to fight together, to build a movement of working people,” García said.
Later that evening García spoke about the campaign at a weekly music and spoken word Open Mic event at Coffee & Crepes cultural center in East Los Angeles. “I’m a factory worker. I work in a plant that builds fuselages for commercial airplanes,” García told the crowd, mostly young artists.
We all face the same enemy, the capitalist class, that is seeking to make us pay for the crisis of capitalism, she said. “We need to learn how to defend ourselves, against their attacks and against their political parties. We are calling for independent working-class political action.”
Paul Pederson contributed to this article from Los Angeles.