‘Workers need fight for jobs,
big raise in minimum wage’
Support Syria toilers against Assad, US imperialism
|Dan Fein, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of New York City, talks with David Cunningham July 7 while campaigning door to door in Manhattan apartment complex.
BY EMMA JOHNSON
“When I am introduced to people on their doorsteps, I explain that working people face the brunt of a deep crisis in the capitalist system of production and trade,” Dan Fein, Socialist Workers Party candidate for New York mayor told the Militant. Fein, 68, is an electronics assembly worker. “The bosses and their government are taking their crisis out on the backs of the working class, our allies on the land and toilers throughout the world.”
“We must come together as a class. The Democrats and Republicans say there is a ‘we’ and a ‘they’ in the world, and it’s ‘we’ Americans vs. everybody else,” Fein said. “I explain that the only ‘we’ is the working class, and the ‘they’ is the propertied rulers.”
“We need to come together to fight for a massive public works program to give the 24 million whom their crisis has thrown out of work jobs building housing, hospitals, schools, day care centers and other things workers need,” he said.
“I also champion the fight for a big increase in the minimum wage,” Fein said, “like fast-food workers demonstrating around the country for a raise. Gains in these fights would help break down divisions in the working class and promote solidarity and class consciousness.”
“When I campaigned door to door in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn recently, I met three workers on a stoop who asked me what I thought about Bill de Blasio’s campaign platform, ‘Tale of Two Cities,’” said Fein. De Blasio is Fein’s Democratic Party opponent.
“He says it’s Manhattan against the outer boroughs,” Fein said, “as if that’s the ‘we’ and ‘they’ workers should be concerned about. But New York is divided along class lines, and de Blasio is defending capitalism like all the other candidates.
“I’m the only worker in the race,” said Fein. “The working class needs to break with the two bosses’ parties, the Democrats and Republicans, and form its own party to organize and mobilize both in the streets and at the polls.”
The stop-and-frisk program, and the fact that millions of workers and their relatives, friends and co-workers have been caught up in police harassment, plea bargains and prison, leads to many discussions, Fein said.
“And that makes workers interested when I explain the fight to free the Cuban Five, Cuban revolutionaries imprisoned in the U.S. for fighting to defend their revolution,” Fein said. “The Five are part of the fight in this country against this whole anti-working-class ‘criminal justice’ system.”
The working class is international, Fein said, whether it’s workers without papers coming to work here, garment workers in Cambodia fighting for unions and safer working conditions, or workers and farmers in Syria fighting for political space and to get the boot of the Assad dictatorship there off their back.
Fein said most workers he has met campaigning overwhelmingly oppose U.S. military attacks on Syria, arguing that “we” shouldn’t repeat the mistakes of Iraq and Afghanistan and that the resources should be spent here at home.
“I don’t start with the war in Syria, I start with the working class fighting to defend itself everywhere in the world. We are an international class,” Fein said. “I explain the world capitalist crisis and how workers need to fight for union rights, workers’ rights, political space.”
In Syria workers started their fight two-and-a-half years ago, inspired by the big mobilizations in Tunisia and Egypt that overthrew dictatorial regimes in those countries, Fein said. The government of Bashar al-Assad responded with butchery, killing 100,000 people. Workers in Syria — Sunnis, Shiites, Palestinians, Kurds, Christians and others — are fighting for the same things as workers in the U.S. — political rights, jobs, freedom from government attack. The SWP campaign supports them 100 percent.
“I explain that the U.S. government, which is attacking workers here at home, is not going to do something in Syria to help working people there,” Fein said. “The SWP opposes any military attack by Washington.
“This is a new idea to most people, that there is a working class in Syria that we have common interests with,” Fein said. “They are used to hearing about the rebels and Assad. This is what we need, to see all questions in class terms.”
Along with Fein, the New York SWP ticket includes Deborah Liatos, 54, for public advocate and John Studer, 66, for comptroller. Róger Calero, 44, Seth Galinsky, 56, and Sara Lobman, 51, are the SWP candidates for Bronx, Queens and Manhattan borough presidents respectively. The citywide candidates are on the ballot.
In Des Moines, Iowa, Socialist Workers Party candidates are also on the ballot for the Nov. 5 elections for city council: Ellen Brickley, 62, a machine operator, in Ward 1; Margaret Trowe, 65, an auto parts worker, for the at-large seat; and David Rosenfeld, 50, a bindery worker, in Ward 3.
Trowe joined others to protest Aug. 28 in support of women’s right to choose abortion at an Iowa Medical Board hearing on shutting down Planned Parenthood’s telemedicine program, which had expanded access to medical abortion in rural parts of the state. Trowe testified at the hearing as well.
“The campaign statement we’ve been distributing explains that what workers face in this country and what workers face around the world are interconnected,” Rosenfeld told the Militant. “Revolutionary-minded workers don’t fight for a class-struggle program in peacetime and then throw it aside when there is the threat of military action for some special program against war.”
“We deepen our efforts in the working class, explaining that the U.S. capitalist rulers are a deadly enemy of working people at home and abroad,” he said. “The capitalists’ crisis today drives them to step up attacks here and to fight harder to maintain and extend their control of markets and resources overseas.”
In addition to Des Moines and New York, the SWP is running candidates this year in Atlanta, Houston, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Minneapolis.