After more than two weeks of campaigning, knocking on workers’ doors and introducing the party, the SWP got word from city officials that Richter was on the ballot for the May election. Party members and campaign supporters had gathered over 1,000 signatures, more than double the requirement.
“Rents are going up and we’re getting kicked out of where we live,” Lopez, a member of Teamsters Local 396, told Richter. He said that after the elections he hoped something would be done to protect immigrants in Los Angeles.
“It is in the interests of the entire working class to defend immigrant rights and oppose deportations,” Richter said. “Attacking immigrants is one of the ways the bosses and their parties — both Democrats and Republicans — attempt to divide working people. We can’t depend on politicians like Mayor Garcetti to give us ‘safe places’ for workers without papers.”
The status of undocumented workers is a big question here. Some 1 million immigrants without papers live in Los Angeles County. Democratic Party Mayor Eric Garcetti, running for re-election against Richter, has said he and the L.A. cops will not search workers for their papers or round up and deport those who don’t have them.
These workers will have “safe spaces and safe places” in Los Angeles, Garcetti said Nov. 30.
“You can’t depend on the politicians in Los Angeles or anywhere else. We have to do what working people did in 2006,” Richter said. “I was working in a meatpacking plant in Chicago and we walked off the job and joined the nationwide one-day strike of 2 million people on May Day and killed the anti-immigrant Sensenbrenner bill.
“This is a key fight for the working class,” Richter said. “The bosses make billions off exploitation of immigrant workers.
“We need to organize all workers, those with papers and those without, into our unions,” he said, “and transform our unions to lead the fight against deportations, E-verify and all moves to scapegoat immigrant workers and divide our class.”
“That’s right,” Lopez agreed, “everyone has to come together.”
“We need to have a revolution,” Richter said. “We need to get rid of the dictatorship of capital.”
‘Build affordable, safe housing’“Housing is another big issue,” Richter said. “For the landlords and the government the only question is how to make it profitable.
“After the warehouse fire in Oakland, the city government blames those who are forced to live in such dangerous structures,” Richter said. “But the tenants aren’t responsible. It’s the owners and their agents who cut corners to make money. Like all the bosses in this dog-eat-dog system. We need to demand cheap, plentiful and safe housing be built.”
“It wasn’t safe but they’re going to blame the people,” Lopez said. “That’s the way capitalism is.”
“There is an example for workers here just 90 miles offshore in revolutionary Cuba,” Richter said.
“The press says everything is bad in Cuba but I saw the way the people turned out there,” Lopez said, referring to the massive mobilizations to honor Fidel Castro and defend the revolution there.
“Fidel said it was possible to make a revolution in the interests of workers and farmers and then he led them to do exactly that,” Richter said. “They’ve been defending it for over 55 years and advancing solidarity to workers all over the world. We have to do the same thing here.”
To join the Socialist Workers Party campaigning across Los Angeles and around the country, discussing how to build a party that can unify the working class and defend our interests, contact the party at firstname.lastname@example.org or (323) 643-4968.
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