BY MARTÍN KOPPEL
Two weeks remain to achieve the goal in the $110,000 international Militant Fund campaign. In every city the slogan must be "In full and on time." Let me mention one important reason why.
Readers will be happy to know that the Militant is purchasing a new subscription fulfillment program to replace its existing one. The program and equipment will cost about $9,500.
The new subscription processing program is a reliable, labor-saving, and versatile system. It is a big advance over the previous setup, which the Militant has used for over a decade. The old equipment was a testament to the ingenuity and hard work of volunteers who over the years patched together available computer programs to serve the Militant's needs. But it had its limitations, and today could be considered, well, a clunker. The new program is simple to use, produces accurate results, and will save hours of voluntary labor that can be redirected to other revolutionary political work.
This new system will be purchased in May, and volunteers will be needed through the month of June to re-enter and check all the subscription data. The project will be financed by the Militant Fund. But that means the fund goal must be reached by the May 10 deadline. This means collecting the goals in each city, which add up to $118,750.
Making this goal is both necessary and realizable. Last week was the best to date - $20,279 was sent in to the Militant. But it will take special steps in every city to collect and send in the remaining $50,980.
"We will go over our goal of $4,200," reports Jean Luc Duval, the Militant Fund director in the Detroit area, where Militant supporters are now on schedule in the campaign (see chart on this page). "And remember that our initial goal was $3,500, which we raised midway through the drive."
Detroit's approach is simple but it's what is needed in every city to make the goal in time: careful attention to solicit contributions from everyone they know who appreciates the socialist newspaper, organizing to get enough money pledged to reach the local goal, and systematic reminders to all of them to make payments on their pledges.
Militant supporters in Detroit have been consistent in their fund-raising efforts over the past six weeks. They recently received a $20 contribution from a co-worker of a socialist worker who was attracted to the paper's coverage on Albania. He said he "liked the paper better than the big- business papers that lie all the time." Three other co- workers have made donations as well. In addition, a letter was sent to all Militant subscribers, netting $265. This includes a former subscriber who likes the Militant's coverage on revolutionary Cuba, and who donated $200 and renewed his subscription after supporters met with him to ask for a contribution.
In New York, Militant supporters are building on the momentum of their April 25 fund-raising event, which was entitled "Company and Government Attacks Meet Growing Working-Class Resistance." Tom Alter, a meatpacker and a national leader of the Socialist Workers Party and of the Young Socialists, gave the keynote address. He described some of the unfolding experiences today of workers standing up to fight the employers, from the McDonald's strike to the militant contract fight by workers at Case Corp., as well as the percolating resistance among meatpacking workers.
Jeff Payne, a railroad conductor, spoke on the importance of the Militant for fighting workers. A reader for three years, he was introduced to the newsweekly by a socialist co-worker on the job. Many workers, he said, have not yet been exposed to socialist ideas but when they get a chance to read the Militant, it expands their horizons. "We need to try and reach them," Payne emphasized. Paraphrasing the humorist and social commentator Will Rogers, he concluded, "I don't know much except what I read in the newspapers, and I'm glad that one of them is the Militant." The collection netted $2,100 in cash and checks, and an additional $700 in pledges.
In Washington D.C., supporters continue to reach out to co-workers, an important component of their $3,800 goal. Janice Lynn reports that two fellow airport workers donated $23. Both are regular readers of the Militant and have been discussing the current contract fight by the unionists at Northwest Airlines.
Militant readers in Washington, D.C., recently organized a successful fund-raising meeting featuring speaker Rosa Garmendía, a meatpacker from Detroit who spoke on "Cuba in 1998: workers and farmers in power confront the world capitalist crisis." An airline worker who closely followed the long fight by unionists at Caterpillar sent a message stating, "All of you at the Militant fought very hard for the belief of having a strong union by fighting. This was the only way the battle with Caterpillar could have been won." Following the talk, they collected $1,340, propelling them upward in the chart.
This is the kind of work that can ensure that the international Militant Fund goal is met and exceeded. Let's step up the momentum as we drive toward the finish line!
Martín Koppel is the director of the 1998 Militant
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