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Vol. 80/No. 24       June 20, 2016

(lead article)

SWP: Capitalism wastes human ability, potential

Tenn. worker: ‘We sure need something different!’

Militant/Maggie Trowe
John Benson, left, talks with Robin Long while campaigning for Socialist Workers Party in Memphis, Tennessee, June 4.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Campaigners for the Socialist Workers Party talked with unionists at the 7 a.m. shift change at the Kellogg’s plant here June 6, where members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union fought a nine-month lockout in 2013-14. Some remembered that SWP members walked the picket lines and covered the fight in the Militant.

“We’re a little more unionized and a little stronger,” said Steve Boswell when he pulled his car over to talk. “But we’re still fighting for our back pay and benefits.”

“Kellogg’s thought we’d be forced to accept concessions,” said maintenance worker Todd Parnell. “The workforce here is half Caucasian and half African American, and the bosses thought we wouldn’t be able to unify. But we came together. Things are different than they used to be.”

Parnell subscribed to the Militant, seven workers bought single copies of the paper and two made contributions totaling $12.

This response is common, as the Socialist Workers Party campaigns across the country, from here and Minnesota to Washington state, discussing and debating the way forward for working people with workers on their doorsteps, as well as at picket lines and at factory gates.

Teams campaigned here and in Nashville, Chattanooga, Jackson, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Lebanon, Knoxville, Alcoa and Johnson City May 29-June 6.

“We sure need something different, because it’s going the wrong way,” Joey Yopp, a retired gas company worker from a union family, said June 4 at his door in Memphis. Yopp has been favorable to Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. He and many others signed to put the Socialist Workers Party presidential ticket of Alyson Kennedy and Osborne Hart on the state ballot.

The same day John Benson talked with Robin Long on her porch. Long has a chronic illness and is on disability, but would like to find work she could handle. “Just because you’re disabled doesn’t mean you can’t do anything useful,” she told Benson.

“Under capitalism there’s a tremendous waste of human potential and creativity,” he agreed. Long signed to put the SWP ticket on the ballot. “This means I could have someone to vote for,” she said.

In Nashville June 2 John Miller called his wife, Pascale Killian, to the door to talk about the SWP’s political perspective. Killian, a nurse, subscribed to the Militant and got a copy of Is Socialist Revolution in the U.S. Possible? “It’s getting closer than it was a few years ago,” she said, referring to the book’s title. Miller signed to be an SWP elector.

During nine days of door-to-door campaigning, Socialist Workers Party supporters collected 456 signatures and secured 11 electors, sold 38 Militant subscriptions and nearly 100 single copies and more than a dozen books.

SEATTLE — SWP presidential candidate Alyson Kennedy visited Spokane, Washington, June 4-7 to join the picket line of International Association of Machinists Local 86 members at Triumph Composite Systems and to discuss the party’s revolutionary working-class program with area workers on their doorsteps. She was joined by Mary Martin, SWP candidate for governor of Washington; Eleanor García, SWP candidate for U.S. Senate from California, who works for a nonunion Triumph plant in Los Angeles; and supporters.

The Triumph workers have been on the picket line since May 11, fighting company demands to keep a divisive two-tier wage scheme, deny pensions to new workers and raise health care costs (see article on front page).

The visit came as SWP supporters were wrapping up a three-week effort to introduce the party across the state, win new readers to the Militant, familiarize workers with books from Pathfinder Press on working-class history and the SWP’s program and gather signatures to put Kennedy and Hart on the ballot. In Spokane, 10 of the 111 workers who signed got subscriptions. Statewide more than 1,650 — well over the 1,000 requirement — signed to get the party on the ballot.

“Where I work, a lot of workers have been quitting because we haven’t got a union and get just $12.50 to $18 an hour,” Stephan Teah, an assembler at Exotic Metals, which like Triumph makes parts for Boeing, told Kennedy. “When I found out that workers at Triumph were fighting for better conditions, I said ‘Yes!’ I drive by the picket line every day and wave.”

Oppose assault on Trump supporters

Socialist Workers Party campaigners talked about a variety of political questions in the news as well as how the working class needs to organize independently of the bosses and fight to defend the interests of all the oppressed.

“The physical assaults on Trump supporters are an attack on the working class,” Kennedy told many workers she met in Spokane, referring to the June 2 attack on people leaving a rally in San Jose, California. “Workers were sucker-punched coming out of the meeting, and had eggs and other objects thrown at them,” she said. “The liberal press and left-wing groups that claim Trump is a fascist actually see those who back him as the real danger and view them as stupid, reactionary ‘trash.’

“These growing attacks on our class show we need to organize to fight for workers power,” Kennedy said. “And they are making some look to the Socialist Workers Party.”

One man who answered his door said he was backing Donald Trump because he has something different to offer. Kennedy responded that workers need to organize and prepare to fight for political power themselves. His wife came over. “I don’t like any of the other candidates,” she said. “I like what you say and the fact that you’re a worker.”

Three others in the house joined in, all saying they were attracted to Bernie Sanders. All five signed the petition, and they got a subscription.

Kennedy and Martin were interviewed by Spokane radio station KYRS.

MINNEAPOLIS —“Hi, my name is Candace,” I say. “If you have a moment I’d like to tell you about my organization, the Socialist Workers Party. We think that organizing working people ourselves is the answer to the crisis we face.” The door swings open. “Come in. Sit down.”

In the past two weeks, hundreds of doorstep and living room discussions about the crisis of capitalism and the revolutionary perspective put forward by the SWP have taken place in over 25 towns and cities across Minnesota. As a result, over 100 people have signed up for subscriptions to the party’s newspaper, 25 purchased books and many made financial contributions. Some 1,500 have signed petitions so far toward the 2,400 goal to put the SWP ticket on the ballot.

“We need to do in this country what the Cuban workers and farmers did in 1959 and take political power,” said Lisa Rottach, talking with retired Marine Ron Dalrymple at his door. “I was stationed in Guantánamo,” he responded, referring to the military base Washington imposed on Cuban territory. After further discussion, he purchased a subscription to the Militant to learn more.

Pam White described her many years work as a nursing assistant. “They don’t care about the patients. It’s hurry them in and hurry them out,” she said. “I prefer non-union, but from the changes I’ve seen, now I think we need unions.”

SWP campaigners are meeting workers with struggle experience. An older worker in Austin remembered the party from the 1980s strike of packinghouse workers there against the Hormel Corporation. A woman in Osseo described the successful organizing drive of her workplace into the Teamsters union. A union healthcare aide said that she will be walking the picket line with the Allina nurses if they vote to strike against concession demands.
Related articles:
US socialist candidate joins with striking workers in Quebec visit
Communist League in Australia: Workers need to organize independent of bosses
The political war on the working class
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