BY MARY ANN SCHMIDT
NEW YORK - Over the weekend of January 17-18, more than 100 socialist workers, Young Socialists, and others from Boston, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. joined in a "Red Weekend" of volunteer labor at the Pathfinder building in Manhattan, where Pathfinder books, the Militant, and Perspectiva Mundial are published and printed.
This weekend was an opportunity to do what "needs to be done" to help keep in print the lessons of working-class struggles around the world, as Olympia Newton, a Young Socialist from Washington, D.C., put it.
The volunteers were organized in teams to work on many projects that could not have been carried out during the regular operation and maintenance of the printshop and editorial departments. This included painting stairways, ceilings, and locker rooms; repairing bathrooms; and removing water damage from brick walls on the upper floors of the building. In addition, a group of volunteers worked on displays for the upcoming socialist conference in Seattle. Others were transcribing and translating for future publication interviews that Militant reporters had with three Cuban generals last October.
After the first day of work, volunteers participated in a dinner and Militant Labor Forum celebrating 100 years of the resistance against U.S. imperialism in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. That meeting raised $580 dollars for the Books for Cuba Fund, which helps make Pathfinder books available to revolutionary fighters there.
Several of those who volunteered their efforts had never been part of such a project before. On Saturday volunteers who had never been to the Pathfinder building got a tour. Miriam Mendoza, a laundry worker from New York, explained how she saw it as different from a capitalist-run business. "In most offices everyone is separated by walls, the individual is emphasized, whereas here it is the opposite," Mendoza explained. "There are no walls between the desks, everyone can see everyone, and you can see the beautiful view outside as well," she said.
A 30-year-old metal plater from Boston saw his participation as making a voluntary contribution to the working class. He said he was most impressed that this building existed, "in the center of the United States."
Ron Coleman from Philadelphia enjoyed talking with those who work full-time in the printshop and publishing offices. "There's more cooperation than a regular business," Coleman said. "Everyone is working together for a common cause. Society should model itself after how Pathfinder is run. No one looks down on anyone, everyone is equal."
Josť Aravena, who headed up organizing the weekend, commented, "Each team worked together collectively whenever they encountered problems" and made the weekend successful. This spirit made it possible to finish the projects, and for the volunteers to enjoy working hard on their weekend off.
Mary Ann Schmidt is a member of the United Auto Workers in
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