Hand in hand with the subscription drive, Socialist Workers Party members, readers of the paper, workers involved in union struggles and other working people are discussing organizing a conference this summer. Such a gathering would provide an opportunity for those thinking about how to effectively confront the capitalist crisis and the assaults by the bosses and their government to come together, exchange experiences and discuss the next steps forward in building a fighting working-class movement.
A number of miners and other workers at the St. Louis rally said they were interested in being part of a fighting workers conference.
Kevin Cantwell, a mail handler from Florissant, Mo., who took time during his vacation to march with the miners, was interested in having more discussion on such a conference. “I’ll see if I can get time off work to be part of this,” he said.
P.C. Long, a retired miner from Bevier, Mo., said he wanted to get together soon to discuss plans for such a gathering. He worked at a Peabody mine for more than 10 years before it closed. “We fought Peabody the day we got hired. We fought them all the time we were working. And now we’re retired and still fighting them,” he said.
Estela Galarza, a meat packer from Louisville, Ky., who came to support the miners, signed up for a Militant subscription as she returned to her bus. She said it was a good idea to have a gathering of workers interested in organizing and strengthening unions and fighting for immigrant rights. “You can call me to talk more about it.”
In the course of two days of activity related to the miners’ rally — which included sales at a mine portal, door to door in working-class neighborhoods, in hotels and at the action itself —Militant supporters sold 56 subscriptions, 80 single copies and 10 books, including three copies of The Changing Face of U.S. Politics: Working-Class Politics and the Trade Unions and one copy of Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power. The two are among nine books offered at reduced prices with a subscription. (See ad below.)
Six subscriptions were sold on a bus going to the rally from southern Illinois, including one to a longtime reader who renewed his subscription. Militant supporters sold seven subscriptions going door to door and at a restaurant in nearby Marissa, Ill., a coal-mining town of some 2,000 people.
Two Militant supporters from Atlanta sold 20 copies of the paper at the Oak Grove mine portal near Birmingham, Ala., on their way to the protest.
Carol Strate, a friend of a miner’s widow from Illinois, who bought a subscription before the rally started, was struck by the article about former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher contained in the May 6 issue sold at the action, especially Thatcher’s description of the British miners as “the enemy within” during their 1984-85 strike.
After reading an article in the same issue on the fight led by 1,300 sugar workers against a 20-month lockout by American Crystal Sugar in North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa, she commented, “These kind of things have to stop.”
The conference’s content and format — the presentations, discussions, workshops, classes, and other activities — will be determined by participants themselves, by the struggles they have been part of, their concerns and interests, and by their active input into planning and building it. Reservations have been made for July 18-20 in Oberlin, Ohio.
As part of the subscription drive, Militant supporters are raising the need for a conference like this with fighters at union struggles, protests in defense of immigrant rights, against police brutality, in defense of a woman’s right to choose abortion, and at actions demanding freedom for the Cuban Five.
Socialist Workers Party candidates across the U.S. are strengthening this effort, inviting workers to join them as they participate in union battles, take part in candidates’ debates and speak out on the big political questions facing working people in the U.S. and worldwide.
If you are interested in joining these efforts, call Militant distributors in your region. (See directory.)
If you want to help circulate the socialist newsweekly, you can contact the Militant at (212) 244-4899 or email@example.com.
Maggie Trowe from Des Moines, Iowa; Frank Forrestal from Minneapolis; and Alyson Kennedy from Chicago contributed to this article.
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