Fein and a team of socialist campaigners went door to door Feb. 5 in a large high-rise apartment building in southeast Chicago.
“The Socialist Workers Party starts with how we can advance the common interests of workers and farmers against the blows of capitalism in crisis around the world,” Fein told Kathren Wallace, a retired airline worker. “Moscow sent troops and tanks to Ukraine, where mass mobilizations last year overthrew the regime there after decades of suffering under the Russian boot. I support the Ukrainian workers’ fight to remain free from Russian domination.”
Wallace asked about the killings and beheadings by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
“Workers everywhere scored a victory against Islamic State when the Kurdish people defeated them in Kobani, Syria,” Fein said.
“Islamic State is trying to establish a brutally repressive Islamist capitalist government, but the toilers where they have taken over are resisting,” Fein said. “The Kurds, who have faced national oppression in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey, have led the fight to beat them back.”
“U.S. imperialism is just looking for more control over the resources of the region,” Fein said. “They won’t play a progressive role in the Middle East either.”
Turning to U.S. politics, Fein said, “The Democrats and Republicans are the enemy of working people, they stand against our interests from Illinois to Cuba. We think working people need to take political power.”
“I agree about the rich. They can walk about as if there are no problems,” Wallace said.
“Workers and farmers face the same enemy,” Fein told Lynn and Pat Tappendorf at the Illinois Farmers Union convention Feb. 7. “The ruling propertied families and their drive for profits are responsible for the attacks we both face.”
“Yes, there are only three or four elevators in my county, and they control the prices we get,” agreed Lynn Tappendorf, who grows corn and soybeans on 1,250 acres, with help from his wife, Pat, and his son Simon.
Fein explained how the Socialist Workers Party is urging workers, farmers and others to join in solidarity with refinery workers on strike against BP in Whiting and other refineries across the country. “This is the first national oil workers strike since 1980, and the key issue is safety on the job.”
“The SWP joined the big farm protests and tractorcades to Washington, D.C., in 1980 too,” Fein said.
“I remember that,” Lynn Tappendorf said. “I was only 15 years old. I was in high school. I didn’t go, but I remember it.”
The Tappendorfs got a subscription to the Militant and invited Fein to come down to their farm to continue the discussion.
Fein joins oil workers pickets
The following morning Fein joined members of United Steelworkers Local 7-1 on strike at the Whiting refinery. Nearly 1,100 workers there along with oil workers at 10 other plants nationwide walked out over safety and forced overtime. Strikers gave Fein a ride from the union hall to one of the 12 picket lines. The shuttle driver got out and introduced Fein as a mayoral candidate there to support the strike.
“Safety is an issue that only the workers will seriously fight for. Your strike deserves the support of all working people,” Fein said. “Yesterday I spoke with farmers in Illinois and told them they had a stake in your struggle.”
That afternoon Fein joined Randy Jasper, a grain farmer from Muscoda, Wisconsin, at a Militant Labor Forum in Chicago to speak on the need for family farmers and workers to build a fighting alliance against attacks from the propertied rulers.
Advancing the worldwide struggle for socialism necessitates closing the enormous gap between social conditions facing working people in imperialist countries and in the semicolonial world, Fein said. Fighting to expand electrification there to allow for reading, culture and collaboration after the sun goes down is a precondition for advancing working-class solidarity and common battles.
Jasper, who has visited Cuba three times in recent years, said he saw for himself how revolutionary Cuba is an example for U.S. farmers. Farming there is organized to provide food for the population, he said, not to make profits.
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