Party campaigners are joining union picket lines, defending government frame-up victims and discussing questions confronting working people — from whether coal should be used to provide electrification in Asia to the need for unionization and how workers can fight against unemployment and low wages.
They find serious receptivity among workers who are looking at presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, and others who don’t support any candidate. The Socialist Workers Party presents what none of the capitalist candidates do — what the working class itself is capable of and must do to fight independently of the bosses and their political representatives.
The next two weeks will be a period of concentrated campaigning for the party, leading up to a June 16-18 Active Workers Conference in Oberlin, Ohio.
The Socialist Workers Party got a good response in Murfreesboro and Smyrna, Tennessee, where Nissan’s non-union assembly plant employs more than 8,000 workers.
“All the companies say we make too much, but it’s not easy for a single mother to support four kids on $10.50 an hour,” Allyson Gainor, who works at a Nissan parts plant, told Sam Manuel, SWP candidate for U.S. Senate in Georgia, as she signed to put Kennedy and Hart on the ballot.
The number of nonunion auto plants has increased and the auto bosses have pressed concessions on workers in union-organized plants.
“The more working-class people can come together, get rid of divisions among us, the more we gain power,” Chris Daniels, an assembler at Hennessey Industries and member of United Auto Workers Local 2303, told SWP campaigner Joanne Murphy. “There’s a lot more of us than them.”
In the first two days of Tennessee campaigning 90 people signed petitions, out of the goal of 500, to put the party on the ballot, and nine subscribed to the Militant.
Party campaigners spoke with unionists and others on their doorsteps in Longview, Washington, May 28. Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers there have fought bitter battles against company lockouts and concession demands. Many homes display the unions’ signs.
Shelly Porter, a leader of Longshore Local 21’s fight against EGT Development in 2011-12, hugged Mary Martin, the SWP’s candidate for governor of Washington, when she and this correspondent arrived at her house. “These are the people that write in their Militant newspaper about the issues and questions that are important to working people,” she told a friend she was preparing to go fishing with. “It’s the only paper I trust.”
One debate in Washington is over Millennium Bulk Terminals’ plan to set up a terminal in Longview to ship coal from Wyoming and Montana to Japan, South Korea and other parts of Asia. Hearings on the proposal attracted thousands of proponents and environmentalist opponents in Longview and Spokane over the last two weeks.
John Doyle had two signs at his house, one saying “stop coal” and another backing the Longshore union. “People need jobs here and times are tough, but I’m concerned the damage to the environment would be too great to let the terminal go through,” he said as he signed the petition.
“People in Asia, Africa and elsewhere need electrification, it’s a precondition for the development of literacy, culture and politics,” Martin said. “If that means coal right now, we should support it. And we should demand that it be processed cleanly and the workers themselves — from the coal mines to the power plants — should control safety and fight for anti-pollution controls on the job.”
“Miners themselves can lead the fight to transition to safer energy production, nuclear power and other methods as they become practical, as we all fight for jobs, union-scale wages and workers’ control over production,” she said.
“Well, I agree with you that people around the world need the energy,” Doyle said.
Martin and other SWP campaigners are headed to Spokane to support members of the International Association of Machinists on strike against Triumph Composite Systems since May 11.
More than 1,280 people have signed to get the SWP on the ballot in Washington, over the 1,000 required. Party supporters are going to get more than 1,600 to show the working-class support for the party.
David Rosenfeld, SWP candidate for U.S. Congress in Minnesota, campaigning in the largely Somali Cedar-Riverside community May 29, discussed the government’s frame-up prosecution in Minneapolis charging some youth with conspiring to join Islamic State.
“The FBI paid an informer to try and entrap them and then charged them with ‘conspiracy,’ not with doing anything illegal,” Rosenfeld said. “They have used similar charges to try and attack our party and other working-class and Black rights’ organizations.”
The party has signed up close to a thousand working people as it campaigns, toward a goal of 2,400 by June 12. Scores of workers have picked up copies of the Militant, more than 30 have gotten subscriptions and a number of Pathfinder titles.
Is Donald Trump a fascist?SWP campaigners going door to door often run into Trump supporters, many of whom sign their petitions to get on the ballot and pick up a copy of the Militant, as do many Sanders supporters and workers who say they don’t like any of the candidates.
The liberal and conservative bosses’ press gives the impression that Trump and his supporters are reactionary and fascist-minded. A May 30 opinion piece in the Washington Post by columnist Richard Cohen was titled, “Trump has taught me to fear my fellow Americans.”
“Maybe the talking heads on TV would draw the line at some mild version of fascism, but would the American people do the same?” he wrote, talking about working people. “The easy yes of yesteryear has given way to awful doubt.”
The bosses don’t really fear Trump or think he’s Adolph Hitler reincarnate. He’s a businessman like them, seeking to maximize profits, while trying to sell the idea to workers that “we” have the same interests to keep us from organizing independent of their parties. On many issues, from health care to U.S. military intervention abroad he’s to the left of Hillary Clinton.
But the employing class is afraid of the many workers who have attended his meetings, a reflection of the discontent, anger and disgust working people have for “politics as usual.”
This is the same crisis and looking for answers that provides opportunities for the Socialist Workers Party unprecedented in decades.
All the bourgeois candidates present themselves as the great hope to solve the crisis. The Socialist Workers Party explains the opposite: that workers in the U.S. have common interests with working people around the world and that working people are capable, if they see their self-worth, of wresting power out of the hands of the capitalist class and organizing a society based on human solidarity.
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