The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 68/No. 26           July 20, 2004  
Socialist Workers launch New York campaign
(front page)
Militant/Argiris Malapanis
Left, SWP slate in 2004 elections in New York at campaign center in Manhattan's Garment District June 30. From right, Martín Koppel for U.S. Senate, Dorothy Kolis for U.S. Congress in 16th C.D., Willie Cotton in 15th C.D., Millie Sánchez in 8th C.D., and presidential candidate Róger Calero. Vice-presidential candidate Arrin Hawkins, right, was campaigning at entrance to Point Blank garment factory in Florida that day.

NEW YORK—The Socialist Workers Party has launched its statewide ticket in New York, and campaigners are reaching out to working people here with the socialist alternative in the 2004 elections. Soapboxing teams have begun hitting the streets in Manhattan’s Garment District, where the campaign center is located. They are leafleting, shaking hands, and exchanging political views with some of the tens of thousands of garment workers and others who stream through this industrial center each day.

“We are presenting something from a different direction from all the other candidates in the elections,” said Martín Koppel, the SWP candidate for U.S. Senate in New York. “We offer a fighting, working-class alternative to the Democrats and Republicans, which are the twin parties of the bosses—the parties of imperialist war, depression, and exploitation.”

In addition to the nationwide slate of Róger Calero for president and Arrin Hawkins for vice president, Koppel is joined on the socialist ticket in New York by three congressional candidates. Millie Sánchez, 29, is running for U.S. Congress in the 8th District, which includes Manhattan’s Garment District, a seat currently held by Democrat Jerrold Nadler. Willie Cotton, 26, is running in the 15th C.D. in Upper Manhattan and Harlem, a position held by Democrat Charles Rangel. Dorothy Kolis, 53, is running in the 16th C.D. in the Bronx, a seat held by Democrat José Serrano.

“Our campaign stands with workers who are fighting to defend their unions or to bring the union in where they work,” Koppel told those who were listening as he soapboxed on a busy Garment District street corner on a Thursday afternoon. “We join with the workers at Garden Manor Farms, who have won a victory to organize the plant and are now on strike to win a contract.” The Garden Manor plant is located at the Hunts Point meat market in the Bronx (see article in this issue).

Volunteers put up a new “Socialist Workers 2004 Campaign” sign in the display window of the socialist campaign center. Unlike the candidates who defend the capitalist status quo, the socialists are using their election campaign to get books and pamphlets in the hands of workers and farmers that explain how capitalism works and what lessons working people can draw from the history of 150 years of struggle of the working-class movement. The campaign center offers a wealth of such literature.

“Two billion people worldwide, especially in rural areas in semicolonial nations, have no access to electricity today,” said Cotton. “This is the result of imperialist oppression and exploitation. Bringing this third of humanity out of darkness is essential for closing the gap between city and countryside. It’s essential for defeating hunger and disease and raising the cultural level, especially in the rural areas.

“There is no way to build a movement that can lead workers and farmers to take political power and join the struggle for socialism without a program to bring electrification and development to nations oppressed by imperialism,” Cotton said.

“That’s why a central axis of the Socialist Workers campaign is to oppose the offensive by the imperialist powers to prevent semicolonial countries from developing various forms of energy, including nuclear power—an offensive finance capital is waging under the banner of ‘non proliferation.’”

Socialists attended a June 22 public forum in Harlem on the unemployment crisis. Cotton joined in the discussion and explained some of the proposals of the socialist campaign. Unemployment needs to be addressed not simply as a New York issue but as an international working-class question, he said. The most effective way to unite working people in a struggle that has the power to win, he said, is through a fight by the labor movement to create jobs for all by cutting the workweek to 30 hours without a cut in pay. He also called for creating jobs by launching a massive public works program, and canceling the foreign debt of Third World countries.

On June 25, Socialist Workers vice presidential candidate Arrin Hawkins joined several thousand construction workers at a Midtown Manhattan rally where the unionists had a large inflatable rat to draw attention to their fight against “rat” employers.

Cotton spoke on June 26 at a peace rally in Burlington, Vermont. He was there to back the party’s effort to gather signatures to put Calero and Hawkins on the state ballot.
Related articles:
SWP presidential candidate tours Iowa
Socialists file for ballot status in Utah, Vermont  
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