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Vol. 80/No. 26      July 18, 2016

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SWP candidate: ‘Workers can organize all of society’

PRICE, Utah — Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate Alyson Kennedy joined campaigners for the party going door to door across Utah in this coal-rich region July 3-5. She talked with workers deeply affected by mine closures and layoffs. Official unemployment here in Carbon County is 6.3 percent, well above the state average of 3.8 percent.

Kennedy knows the area well. She lived here from 2002 to 2006 and worked as a coal miner. In 2003 workers at the Co-Op mine in Huntington went on strike to demand representation by the United Mine Workers and to protest the firing of a worker active in their organizing drive. Kennedy helped lead the strike. On this trip she got together with several strike veterans and their families.

“We gained confidence and made the bosses a little afraid of us,” Gonzalo Salazar, a leader of the Co-Op strike, told Kennedy. They met in Huntington, a mining town of 2,000 south of here July 4 and discussed what was gained by this labor battle that won broad solidarity and set an example for struggle.

Salazar now works in a nearby mine. There are only seven active coal mines in Utah today, down from 14 in 2003. Last year PacifiCorp Energy closed Deer Creek, the last union-organized mine in the state. PacifiCorp President and CEO Micheal Dunn blamed “rapidly escalating pension liabilities for the mine’s represented workforce” in a press release announcing the closure.

“When coal mines close, it affects people in towns across the area,” said Kurtis Henderson as he thumbed through Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? Class, Privilege and Learning Under Capitalism. He and his wife Shella invited Kennedy to talk in their living room in Huntington. Henderson, 38, has been a coal miner since he graduated from high school.

“The Socialist Workers Party says working people need to demand a massive federal jobs program to put millions to work at union scale across the country building up the infrastructure,” Kennedy replied.

“Come back next week and we’ll buy that book,” Shella Henderson said.

Tatia Drage works at an agency that provides assistance to people who can’t pay their heating bills. “It hurts me when someone has to freeze all winter because they earn $100 more than the maximum annual income to qualify for home heating aid,” she said.

“My party thinks working people can organize a powerful movement to displace the dictatorship of capital and organize society on values of human solidarity and dignity,” Kennedy told Drage. “The rulers say they’re rich because they’re smart, but the truth is they’re rich because they exploit us. The working class produces all the wealth, and we can become confident and strong enough to run all of society.” Drage got a copy of Are They Rich Because They’re Smart?

Ranchers push back state harassment

Socialist Workers Party campaigners spent July 2 in Morgan, a small town east of Ogden where ranchers in the Pentz family have had a dispute with the Utah Department of Transportation. “Our family has been running cattle and sheep for 50 years,” Tammy Pentz told the Militant when campaigners knocked on her door. Getting the 90 cattle to summer pastures means herding them along the Interstate for eight miles. But this year, Pentz said, authorities put up barricades to block the cattle.

After a 90-minute standoff June 30, the state relented and the Pentzes mounted their horses and all-terrain vehicles to move the cattle.

Going door to door in Morgan, Socialist Workers Party members found many people had been encouraged that the state was pushed back. “Everyone supports our efforts,” Pentz said. After a discussion she bought Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? and a subscription to the Militant and signed to get the SWP candidates on the ballot in Utah.

SWP campaigners in Utah have sold 76 copies of Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? and more than 72 Militant subscriptions and 144 single copies. They have collected 675 signatures to put the Socialist Workers Party on the ballot. Martin Sunter, 21, a flooring installer, joined door to door campaigning July 3 after meeting with Socialist Workers Party members, renewing his Militant subscription and getting a copy of the new book.

Bernie Senter and Anthony Dutrow in Morgan, Utah, contributed to this article.
Related articles:
‘We are worth so much more than a paycheck’
100s get books, meet Socialist Workers Party
SWP wins victory, is on ballot in Washington
Minnesota SWP: ‘Headquarters break-in won’t stop our efforts’
Osborne Hart to join Baton Rouge protests
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