|Berry pickers and supporters picket Sakuma Bros. Farms in Burlington, Wash., Sept. 17 to protest company attempt to evict them during strike over wages, conditions and firing of union leader. Behind banner in middle is Edwin Fruit, SWP candidate for Seattle City Council.|
The socialist slate here includes Mary Martin for mayor; Edwin Fruit for Seattle City Council, Position 6; and John Naubert for Port Commissioner, Position 2.
In a Sept. 30 editorial, the Seattle Times declined to endorse the SWP Port Commissioner candidate, writing “factory worker John Naubert is a self-described communist more laser focused on labor issues than the Port’s broader issues.”
The farmworkers, organized as Familias Unidas por la Justicia (Families United for Justice), have been on strike five times since July. They are fighting to reverse the firing of Ramón Torres, president of the workers’ committee, and have launched a boycott of Sakuma products. They have won some wage raises and improvements in living conditions in the labor camps and stood firm in face of the company’s scare tactics, including threats to evict them from housing camps and harassment by security guards.
“These farmworkers need a contract and a raise, and they have launched a fight to win them,” said a Sept. 28 campaign statement released by the SWP candidates here. “The situation they face is not vastly different from millions of other working people in the U.S. and internationally — from fast-food workers here to garment workers in Bangladesh and Cambodia. They deserve the support of workers everywhere.”
Fruit joined the picket line of Machinists Local 79 on strike against Belshaw Adamatic in Auburn Sept. 30. Workers there have been following the berry pickers’ fight. Shop steward Cliff LaPlant spoke at the farmworkers’ march and rally Sept. 14.
“I support the farmworkers,” striker Eddie Souvannasoth told Fruit. “To go on strike without an official union shows they are really together.”
“We call for a big raise in the minimum wage,” the candidates’ statement said. “We also call for building a movement to fight for a massive federally funded jobs program to put millions to work. We call for organizing and unionizing all workers regardless of birthplace. We say no raids, no deportations, no E-Verify. No criminalization of undocumented workers!
“We call on all working people to stand together with the workers and farmers of Syria, backing their fight for political space and against the assaults of the murderous Assad regime,” the statement said. “At the same time, we stand with the entire Syrian people, even under the Assad government, against any U.S. intervention in Syria!”
“I agree with your campaign plank for a federal jobs program and a $15-an-hour minimum wage,” Susanna Rodriguez, an unemployed legal worker, told Fruit and a team of supporters campaigning in her neighborhood Sept. 28. “I am really concerned about the question of a living wage. Working people should have a right to live in Seattle, but the high rents and foreclosures are making this more and more difficult.”
She signed up for a subscription to the Militant, the campaign newspaper.
New York: ‘Workers raise jobs and
housing as pressing needs’
“The most pressing problems workers coming into the office raise are jobs and finding a place to stay,” she said. The most the staff is able to do is “distribute applications for shelters” with no follow-up.
“We campaign for a massive public works program to put millions thrown out of work back on the job, building things workers need,” Fein said. “Workers need to form their own political party and fight for power. What have we gotten from the Democrats and Republicans? With Obama zero jobs. Bloomberg zero jobs. Cuomo zero jobs.”
— Lea Sherman
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about the Cuban Five before’
Terri Cotton, a longtime dental assistant who is “between jobs,” said she likes the paper’s “coverage of working peoples’ struggles, everyday people.” It “gets to the bottom of what is really going on in the world. It doesn’t Mickey Mouse things, but tells it like it is.”
— Joel Britton
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“I’ve seen the Militant at work,” Marlo Shaw said. “When an issue comes in we can’t deliver, we keep it in the break room and discuss the articles. It keeps you informed about what’s happening to other working-class people.”
“Workers have to fight if we want to change society,” Baumann said. “In order to fight effectively, we need to organize, like the fast-food workers walking off the job.”
We also discussed the need to cut through social divisions in society. Elena Shaw agreed, saying that at her job in a Dots clothing store a lot of the workers from Latin America are afraid to speak up, fearing retaliation.
They got a copy of the campaign paper and thanked us for stopping by.
— Dean Hazlewood