The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 68/No. 41           November 9, 2004  
SWP candidates in New York campaign among
meat packers at Hunts Point Meat Market in Bronx
NEW YORK—Martín Koppel, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate in New York, campaigned among workers at the Hunts Point Meat Market October 12 at two different coffee shops frequented by meat packers on their lunch breaks. Dorothy Kolis and Willie Cotton, SWP candidates for Congress in New York’s 16th and 15th congressional districts, respectively, accompanied Koppel.

Kolis and Cotton introduced Koppel to a dozen workers from Schuster Meat Corp., where the two used to work until recently. The meat packers shook hands and took information about the SWP campaign and an upcoming Militant Labor Forum, “Organize Unions! Use Union Power! Solidarity—All with One, One with All.” Upon seeing the title of the forum, one worker said, “That’s what I’m talking about. What’s the union if you don’t use the power?”

Koppel told workers that he was going on a campaign trip to Puerto Rico and that he would return to give a report back. “Let me tell you one thing,” said a Puerto Rican worker, hurrying to grab a bite to eat. “I’m for independence.” After hearing that Koppel would be meeting Puerto Rican independence fighter Rafael Cancel Miranda, the worker left his phone number and asked for a report from the trip.

While campaigning there, a butcher from Schuster’s who had just been fired joined the team, asking socialist campaigners how the union can be made stronger.

Koppel pointed to struggles such as the union-organizing fight by Co-Op coal miners in Utah and a similar one by meat packers that won the union at Dakota Premium Foods in Minnesota two years ago as examples from which workers can learn lessons on how to make their unions more effective.

Only by organizing unions and strengthening those we have can we resist the attacks by the bosses on our wages and working conditions, Koppel noted. He also said that out of such struggles a labor party based on the unions that fights in the interests of workers and farmers worldwide needs to be formed, “so that we can fight on the political level, independent of the capitalist class and its parties, not only for economic demands.” A part of that, he said, is not being afraid when bosses threaten to shut down and move to Mexico, or elsewhere, but try to organize any place the bosses go. And we need to support the struggle for sovereignty and economic development in the semicolonial countries, he said, where imperialist domination forces working people to emigrate.

Koppel also met with workers from Garden Manor Farms who recently won a strike and representation by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and a contract earlier this year. A leader in that fight and a current shop steward, Papo, ate lunch with Koppel and the other socialist candidates. Papo said that Garden Manor workers are in a better position now to press for their interests than before the walkout. Using union power, he said, they recently won a lunchroom inside the plant.

Papo pointed to several workers in the pizza shop and said, “I am proud of these guys. Through many difficulties, they went out on strike, where others didn’t.” Papo renewed his subscription to the Militant and said he looked forward to staying in touch.

Another worker from Garden Manor, John, took down the information on how to send a message of solidarity from his union to the Co-Op miners in Utah and a letter to the National Labor Relations Board asking that the NLRB set a date for a union election in that mine. John and another worker later bought copies of Teamster Rebellion by Farrell Dobbs (see ad in this issue). “I like books like this,” John said.

Workers from other shops got SWP campaign brochures as well. A shop steward from another packing plant bought a subscription to the Militant and took Militant Labor Forum flyers to distribute.
Related articles:
SWP presidential candidate in L.A., on last stretch of U.S. campaign tour
SWP candidates: ‘Free locked-up Vieques protesters’
SWP candidates get good response at N.Y. college
Stumping for socialism from Reykjavík to Seattle
Calero meets farmers in Tchula, Mississippi
SWP candidate speaks to striking Iceland teachers
SWP campaign in Florida: ‘Vote No on parental notification act, Yes to increase in minimum wage’
Firebombed SWP campaign hall in Pennsylvania reopened
SWP candidate for Senate campaigns among cannery workers in Washington  
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