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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 68/No. 42November 16, 2004

lead article
Socialist Workers 2004 campaign:
on to next 365 days!
Militant/John Naubert
Róger Calero, SWP candidate for president (fourth from left, with bullhorn), campaigns October 24 at picket line of cannery workers at Yakima, Washington state. Workers struck Snokist to demand livable wages and benefits (see article in this issue).

In the week leading up to the November 2 U.S. elections, Róger Calero, SWP candidate for president campaigned in Seattle, Yakima, Salt Lake City, Houston, Chicago, and New York. His last stop was in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, where he spoke at the newly reopened SWP campaign hall that had been firebombed in September.

At the same time, Calero’s running mate Arrin Hawkins, after returning from a visit to Iceland, campaigned in Denver and Craig, Colorado, the Twin Cities, Minnesota, and New York.

Both took part in an October 31 public meeting in New York titled “Before the Vote: The Real Results of the U.S. Election Campaign,” which featured SWP national secretary Jack Barnes (see article on page 6).

Calero and Hawkins are now on their way to Canada and other countries to campaign for the revolutionary working-class perspective outlined in the SWP campaign platform. They plan to return to the United States and continue doing the same 365 days a year. The other 42 SWP candidates and their supporters are following suit (see editorial in this issue).

We publish below one of a number of articles we received on the Socialist Workers Party’s wind-up election efforts. It’s on Calero’s visit to the picket line of cannery workers in Yakima, Washington state.


YAKIMA, Washington—Joining a picket line of 50 striking cannery workers in Yakima October 24 was the highlight of a visit to this state by Róger Calero. He came here at the end of his U.S. campaign tour. Three carloads of campaign supporters joined Calero on the Snokist picket line. Workers here are members of the Western Council of Industrial Workers (WCIW). They have been on strike since September 23 (see article in this issue).

After Calero presented the SWP campaign platform, a number of workers asked questions. “Do you have a party in Yakima? Where is the party strongest?” asked one worker.

“The closest branch of the party is in Seattle,” Calero said in response. “The Socialist Workers Party is strongest where we are part of resistance to the bosses’ assaults. In the Midwest, for example, where meatpacking workers are organizing, we are on the ballot and campaigning in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska. We are on the ballot in every region of the country.”

“You are talking about a revolution, but what kind? Do you mean a guerilla fight?” asked one of the strikers.

Calero said that a social revolution is needed. “It will be a revolution of millions of workers to take power out of the hands of the capitalists,” he said. “Today this fight starts with strengthening our unions through struggles like yours, and organizing unions where they don’t exist, like the Co-Op miners in Utah.”

Discussing how to reach out to the community and convince others not to be used as strike breakers, Calero explained how the Utah miners have reached out to the entire labor movement and community groups and the churches to ask for time to explain their struggle. “The bosses use unemployment to divide us,” he said. “We have lost so much on how to effectively organize a strike. If we don’t resist, fight back, they tear us apart.”

One worker told Calero that the bosses had cut wages so much it wasn’t worth it to work for them, and that when they threatened to shut down many workers responded, “Go ahead.”

Calero said he agreed with this kind of response. “Any company that claims they can’t pay decent wages and benefits doesn’t deserve to be in business,” he said. “And if they move some other place, we should tell them, ‘You can run but you can’t hide.’ We need to collaborate with workers where they move and organize any place they go, here or in any other country.”

Jennifer Smith, a high school student who had heard Calero and three strikers the night before at a campaign rally in Seattle, joined the caravan from Seattle to Yakima. Three strikers traveled to Seattle the previous night to a Socialist Workers campaign rally of 45. Otilio Herrera from the WCIW brought greetings from strikers and encouraged everyone to join them on the picket line in Yakima and to help reach out to others in the labor movement for support.

Smith said she appreciated the opportunity to talk to workers “who have exhausted the possibility of living with the bosses’ attacks and are now fighting back. This is real.” As a high school student, Smith said, “My experience is the history we are taught. We are told that questions like the right to a union has been solved, laws have been passed. To talk to these workers about companies like Snokist keeping workers as temporaries shows us the companies are always looking for ways to break the unions.”

While in Yakima, Calero was interviewed by two local TV stations and El Sol, a Spanish-language newspaper in the area.
Related articles:
N.Y. meeting: The real results of the U.S. election campaign before the vote took place
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