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Vol. 74/No. 29      August 2, 2010

Workers need a labor
party, says D.C. socialist
WASHINGTON—“Thanks for coming to our picket line! Thanks for supporting us. Good luck!” These were some of the comments from nurses walking an early morning informational picket line outside the Washington Hospital Center July 19, as they greeted Omari Musa, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of Washington.

Musa was there in solidarity and to discuss his party’s platform with the nurses. Among the points he stressed is the need for workers to build their own party, a labor party based on a fighting union movement.

Dozens of members of Nurses United, wearing bright purple T-shirts, picketed in front of three entrances to the sprawling hospital complex during the morning rush hour.

“The nurses at the Washington Hospital Center deserve the support of unionists and other workers throughout the D.C. area. They are setting an example,” said Musa.

Some 1,600 members of Nurses United have been fighting for a new contract since April. On June 28 they voted by 98 percent to reject the hospital’s latest contract offer, which includes cuts in wages and benefits totaling thousands of dollars a year, including elimination of weekend and shift differentials. The nurses are also demanding improvements in patient care and staffing levels.

“Lack of medical care is a growing crisis for workers in the District, as in every other part of the country,” Musa said. “Under the capitalist system, ‘health care’ is a profit-making business. Every year hospital owners and pharmaceutical companies make millions, while more and more working people can’t afford to visit a doctor or get medicine.”

“A week ago, United Medical Center—the only hospital in Washington east of the Anacostia River—threatened to close for lack of funds,” continued Musa. “This hospital serves part of the city that is predominantly Black, with the highest unemployment rate and greatest medical needs. The socialist campaign demands an end to hospital closures. No one should be denied access to preventative, chronic, or emergency care for lack of funds.”

Volunteers for the socialist campaign are gathering the signatures required to place Musa’s name on the ballot for the November election. Petitioning began July 20, with the biggest teams going out the weekends of July 24-25 and July 31-August 1. Volunteers will gather 5,000 signatures, well over the requirement of 3,000.

“The economic crisis deeply affecting working people must be answered with a fight to take political power out of the hands of the capitalist rulers, who profit off of inequality and lowering standards of living,” Musa said. “To begin that fight workers have to support battles like the nurses’, and set out on an independent road in politics, breaking from the Democrats and Republicans, the bosses’ parties, and toward building our own labor party.”

The Socialist Workers Party is also running Glova Scott for delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives and Paul Pederson for D.C. City Council Chairman.
Related articles:
N.Y. socialists’ ballot drive goes over top
‘Workers need our own political party’
SWP candidates in Iowa enter home stretch in petition drive  
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