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Vol. 80/No. 17      May 2, 2016

(front page)

Socialist Workers Party joins labor struggles, goes
for ballot

Militant/Ved Dookhun
SWP presidential candidate Alyson Kennedy joins discussions at April 18 Teamsters protest in Washington against threatened slashing of 400,000 workers’ pensions.
The Socialist Workers Party’s program to build a revolutionary working-class movement that can put an end to the rule of the capitalist class and replace it with a workers and farmers government was taken out widely last week by party members and supporters. They joined marches for $15 an hour and a union around the country, walked the picket lines with unionists on strike against Verizon from Massachusetts to Virginia, and knocked on doors in rural and urban New Jersey to introduce the SWP and put the party’s presidential ticket of Alyson Kennedy and Osborne Hart on the ballot.

Kennedy and other members of the Socialist Workers Party joined an April 14 rally in Washington, D.C., by several thousand Teamsters protesting pension cuts, and a demonstration four days later at the Supreme Court defending immigrant workers. Kennedy and a team of socialists knocked on doors in coal-mining communities around Waynesburg, Pennsylvania.

The SWP has begun collecting 1,500 signatures, almost twice the required 800, to get Kennedy and Hart on the ballot in New Jersey. Among the state’s 9 million residents are 238,000 manufacturing workers, 152,000 construction workers, nearly 70,000 truck drivers and thousands of farmworkers.

Party members joined an April 18 Justice Monday protest against police killings in Newark, New Jersey, got support from Walmart workers and Verizon strikers, and visited farming communities around Glassboro in the southern part of the state.

Among the SWP’s 14 presidential electors in New Jersey are refinery, pharmaceutical, rail, postal and retail workers active in union and social struggles. In the first three days of campaigning more than 400 people signed petitions, 21 subscribed to the Militant and several dozen bought single copies of the paper.

Kennedy and other SWP campaigners in Riverside, New Jersey, knocked on the door of retired pharmaceutical worker Henry Stellwag. “I don’t know what the answer is,” he said, “but everything is getting worse and it goes on and on. What can we do? I don’t like any of the presidential candidates. I used to like Trump, because he says what everyone else is afraid to say. But I’m afraid if he gets in, we’ll end up in a war.”

“The elections won’t change what we face,” Kennedy told Stellwag. “It’s going to take a movement by workers, a revolutionary struggle to put working people in power, to begin to transform this society into one organized by and serving the interests of the overwhelming majority.”

“Now I have a candidate to vote for,” Stellwag said. “I’ll sign your petition.”

Eleanor García, SWP candidate for U.S. Senate in California, is already on the ballot there. The party is organizing to put Kennedy and Hart on the ballot in Louisiana, Tennessee, Minnesota, Washington state and Colorado, as well as New Jersey, and is discussing further ballot efforts.

SWP members are encouraging workers and youth they meet to visit and join Verizon picket lines. John Staggs, SWP candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, walked the picket line in Philadelphia April 13. Striker Tom Devine told Staggs no one had crossed the line there. When managers couldn’t get through the downtown picketers, Bob Koptcho said, they went looking for smaller Verizon workplaces to enter.

After Staggs, a cashier at Walmart, told striker Susan Smith he is part of the fight for $15 and a union, she said, “When Bernie gets elected, you’ll get your union at Walmart.”

“Capitalist politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, including Sanders, have been an obstacle to wage increases and the struggle to organize and strengthen unions,” Staggs replied. “It is only because working people are in the streets and fighting for our rights that any of the capitalist candidates address this now.”

Communist League members in Canada helped publicize the recent cross-country tour of Gerardo Hernández, one of the Cuban Five. The Five were framed up and jailed for 16 years in the United States for defending the Cuban Revolution by gathering information on paramilitary groups with a history of violent attacks on Cuba. At Hernández’s meeting in Vancouver six participants subscribed to the Militant and eight picked up copies of The Cuban Five Talk About Their Lives Within the US Working Class: “It’s the Poor Who Face the Savagery of the US ‘Justice’ System,” one of seven Pathfinder books on special for subscribers.

SWP members are inviting youth and working people who have begun to read the Militant or Pathfinder books to attend the Socialist Workers Party conference in Oberlin, Ohio, June 16-18. Participants in the fight against police brutality, activists opposing deportations of immigrant workers, unionists who have been through strike battles and lockouts, and working farmers who see the need to ally with the labor movement will be coming to the conference from around North America and the world. They will have a chance to exchange experiences on how to stand up more effectively to the bosses’ campaign to make working people pay for the crisis of capitalism. The conference will include classes and workshops on key questions for working people today and lessons from the history of the Marxist movement.

The international campaign to win readers and financial supporters of the Militant, a key part of all these efforts, is going well. Last week 248 subscriptions were sold, bringing the total after two weeks to 576 toward the quota of 1,550 for the six-week drive, slightly ahead of schedule. More than $8,600 arrived for the Militant Fighting Fund for a total to date of $13,429. Oakland leads the effort, with more than a third of their $14,500 quota sent in. The money is being put to good use as it arrives!

To join with the Socialist Workers Party in its spring political campaigns, contact a party branch listed on page 11.
Related articles:
‘Workers need our own party, a labor party’
Reporter’s notebook: SWP candidates on campaign trail
Spring subscription drive, April 2-May 17 (week 2) (chart)
Militant Fighting Fund, April 2-May 17 (week 2) (chart)
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