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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 68/No. 37October 12, 2004


FLASH ANNOUNCEMENT - Wed., Oct. 6, 2004

National Public Radio (NPR) reporter Luke Burbank accompanied Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate Róger Calero during campaign stops September 28 at a New York Garment District factory and at Stony Brook University on Long Island. The reporter's coverage of the SWP campaign will be broadcast today on NPR's "All Things Considered." The exact timing of the program is at the discretion of local NPR affiliates, though we've been informed that the program will air between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. in the Eastern, Central, and Mountain time zones, and between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on the West Coast.

lead article
SWP candidate for president Róger Calero
Strengthen unions to fight bosses’ attacks
Socialist speaks at California campaign rally
Militant/John Brink
Róger Calero, Socialist Workers Party candidate for president (left), campaigns September 29 outside Tipatia store in Des Moines, Iowa. Four days earlier, the socialist candidate spoke at a campaign rally in San Francisco. He then joined Martín Koppel, SWP candidate for U.S. Senate in New York, for speaking engagements at Stony Brook University in Long Island and campaigning in Manhattan's Garment District.

SAN FRANCISCO—“At plant gates, mine portals, and in working-class districts, we often run into workers who say: ‘We need a union. How do we organize one?’” said Róger Calero, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. president, at a September 25 campaign rally here. “We find increasing interest in the central demand of our platform, which is to support workers’ right to organize unions to defend themselves from the bosses’ assaults and to strengthen the labor movement to resist the continuing offensive by the employers and the two main parties of capitalism—the Democrats and Republicans.”

At the event, held at a neighborhood YMCA near the socialist campaign hall on the edge of San Francisco’s Mission District, organizers announced that the SWP had nominated Dennis Richter, a meat packer and member of the United Food and Commercial Workers, as its candidate for U.S. Senate in California at a state nominating convention earlier that day. Richter, who chaired the meeting, introduced the rest of the socialist slate in California.

“The ruling class has a one-point program,” Calero said. “Through speed-up, lengthening the workday, and driving down real wages, the bosses are trying to increase the surplus value they are extracting from workers, to increase their profits.”

Under the lash of intensifying capitalist competition, he said, “the employers need to increase the portion of the wealth workers produce through our labor power that the bosses take from us. They go after our wages, benefits, and job and living conditions to shore up their declining profit rates. That’s the source of all differentiation in the working class, of all divisions between employed and unemployed, old and young, men and women, immigrants and native-born,” the socialist presidential candidate stated.

“Working people are reacting to these conditions. They are reacting to forced overtime, the extension of the workday, the work week, the work year, and their working life,” Calero said. “They are reacting to speed-up on the job, two-tier wages, deteriorating health coverage or no medical benefits, unsafe working conditions, and assaults by the bosses on our dignity.”

Workers face a grinding offensive both on and off the job, the socialist candidate continued. “As a result, workers are being pushed and they want to fight back. That’s why millions want to organize unions or strengthen the ones they have.”

While the labor movement continues to weaken, the struggle at the Co-Op mine in Huntington, Utah, is setting an example for workers who are struggling to defend themselves from the employers’ attacks or who simply yearn to resist, Calero said. “The union-organizing struggle by these coal miners in Utah is a concrete example of the kind of battle that can be waged today,” he stated. “This should be at the center of our campaigning in California.”

Calero said the proposals for individual retirement and health-care accounts recently promoted by the Bush administration are part of preparing the way for a stepped-up offensive by Democrats and Republicans against Social Security, Medicare, and other social conquests of working people. “The capitalists view us as a problem,” he said. “They say we are living too long. This is part of their effort to tear apart the working class, our solidarity. We can fight against this offensive only by joining workers and farmers resisting the effects of the capitalist crisis and presenting a program that has at its center active support for the struggle of the working class to organize unions, labor’s basic defense organizations.”

At the meeting, the socialists also announced they are organizing to collect the required signatures to obtain official write-in status for Richter, as well as Calero and his running mate Arrin Hawkins. Election laws across the United States are crafted by state legislatures largely to maintain a ballot monopoly for the Democrats and Republicans. The California law is among the most onerous, requiring any other party to collect 77,389 signatures from registered voters to qualify for the state ballot, unless that party polled at least two percent of the vote in the previous election.

About 40 people attended the September 25 meeting. The event was organized in conjunction with a California state SWP nominating convention, which approved Richter’s campaign for the U.S. Senate and mapped campaign activities for the next five weeks.

Richter chaired the public meeting. “We will take the campaign to college campuses, factory gates, and street corners in working-class neighborhoods in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other cities,” Richter said. “We will look for every opportunity to speak to the media.”

As part of his campaign, Richter said, he will be joining the October 2 rally in Price, Utah, to extend his solidarity and join with coal miners in celebrating the one-year anniversary of their struggle to win representation by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) at the Co-Op mine there.

Bill Estrada, a Co-Op miner, also addressed the campaign event, as did Chessie Molano, the SWP candidate for Congress in the state’s 8th District, and Connie Allen, the SWP candidate for U.S. Senate in Washington State.

“I support the Socialist Workers Party campaign because it offers a voice for working people,” said Estrada. “This is the working-class alternative I am fighting for.”

The coal miner noted that the socialist campaign’s support for workers’ right to organize unions is very important. Estrada said Calero is the only presidential candidate “who is defending the labor movement from the continuing offensive by the employers. The majority will vote for either Bush or Kerry, but the only alternative worth fighting for is the Socialist Workers ticket.”

Estrada encouraged those present to come with fellow unionists to the October 2 one-year anniversary rally in Price. He said he was glad to hear that Calero was planning to attend the event. “Calero is the only presidential candidate who has visited the Co-Op miners and given us solidarity,” said Estrada.

The Co-Op miners returned on the job after a strike that lasted almost 10 months, Estrada pointed out. The workers’ effort to win representation by the UMWA, however, is far from over, he noted. “We forced the National Labor Relation Board to rule that the Co-Op bosses illegally fired us. We got our jobs back in July, but ongoing solidarity is crucial to the next stages of the fight to win unionization. We face an everyday battle on the job.”

During the campaign meeting, Richter introduced the California SWP slate of candidates running for U.S. Congress. In addition to Molano, these include Mark Gilsdorf in the 21st C.D. in San Francisco, Seth Dellinger in the 33rd C.D., Wendy Lyons in the 34th C.D., and Naomi Craine in the 35th C.D. The latter three are districts in the Los Angeles area.

In her remarks to the meeting, Molano appealed for messages to be sent to the mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, protesting the September 11 firebombing of the Socialist Workers campaign hall there (see article on page 10).

Supporters of the socialist ticket in California raised $1,800 at the meeting toward their goal of $3,000 to finance the SWP 2004 campaign.
Related articles:
SWP campaign key to success of sub drive
SWP campaign director: ‘Let’s not lose a day till Nov. 2’
Protests pour in against attack on SWP Penn. campaign hall
Socialist Workers Party 2004 campaign schedule

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