If elected, we will stop|
SWP vice presidential candidate protests
arrest of 150 workers near Los Angeles
Socialist Workers Party vice presidential candidate Alyson Kennedy (left) campaigns at shift change at the American Apparel garment factory in Los Angeles February 18.
BY NAOMI CRAINE
AND ARLENE RUBINSTEIN
LOS ANGELESIf my running mate Róger Calero and I are elected, we will enact legislation to immediately end immigration raids and deportations, Alyson Kennedy, Socialist Workers Party candidate for vice president, told workers at a February 14 protest here.
The action was a response to a February 7 raid at the Micro Solutions Enterprises printer cartridge plant in nearby Van Nuys, California. A busload of the workers from the plant, including some who were arrested during the raid, participated.
What you are doing is very important, Kennedy told them. I will be talking about your fight as I visit other cities in the coming weeks.
Micro Solutions Enterprises workers told Kennedy that the company, which is nonunion, takes advantage of immigrant workers to pay low wages. Kennedy described the fight she was part of with fellow coal miners, most of them immigrants, to organize a union at the Co-Op mine near Huntington, Utah, about three years ago.
We struck for 10 months, won our jobs back, and got a date set for a union representation election, she said. But seven days before the vote, the company fired nearly everyone saying they didnt have proper papers. Thats why the fight to legalize everyone, without conditions, is so important for the entire working class.
The next day Kennedy joined several Micro Solutions Enterprises workers who had been summoned to have their electronic monitoring bracelets checked. She was impressed by their attitude in face of the authorities.
They are not intimidated, she said. The agents kept asking them for phone numbers, but they knew they didnt have to answer the questions, and kept insisting they didnt have any numbers.
During her tour stop in Los Angeles, Kennedy also campaigned outside the American Apparel garment factory and the Farmer John slaughterhouse. She was interviewed by the Pacifica radio station KPFK.
Pedro Albarran, a meat packer who is supporting the campaign, organized a meeting with Kennedy at his home. My friend, my cousin, and my brother and their kids came over, he said. We raised money and had hours of discussion.
They want workers to believe that this is a choice, Kennedy said at the meeting in response to a question about the media coverage of the Democratic and Republican candidates. The capitalists organize their rule through a two-party system. But working people need our own party. We need to organize independently in the political arena. We need a labor party based on a fighting union movement.
This campaign is defending workers, Osmin Escobar, 22, said. He came to hear Kennedy speak at a February 16 rally at the Los Angeles campaign headquarters. It is on the side of the workers when theres a raid. The women and men who are in the U.S. are not criminals, because they are trying to maintain their families.
Escobar said he agrees with the campaign platforms demand for a halt to immigration raids and deportations, and immediate legalization for all undocumented workers. I think its very amazing to find a campaign that is saying this, he said.
The campaign rally was also the grand opening of the new Los Angeles Militant Labor Forum hall, located on a lively commercial street in a working-class neighborhood.
Also attending the rally was Milton Ortiz, a hotel worker who is active in a fight for a new union contract at his workplace. I was impressed with how the candidate spoke about different workers struggles, he said. Earlier that week, Socialist Workers campaigners accepted an invitation from Ortiz to join a rally supporting workers at another hotel where the employer slashed wages and benefits a year ago.
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