The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 72/No. 6      February 11, 2008

Socialist candidate Kennedy
brings campaign to longshore,
other workers in Miami area
MIAMI, January 28—“Among the capitalist candidates for president there is a lot of talk about change, but it’s all within the capitalist system, trying to make it work,” said Alyson Kennedy, the Socialist Workers Party candidate for vice president.

Kennedy was campaigning in South Florida with two other Socialist Workers candidates, Omari Musa for mayor of Miami-Dade County, and Margaret Trowe for U.S. representative in the 17th Congressional District. Kennedy’s presidential running mate is Róger Calero.

“As the election continues and the economic recession unfolds, the Democratic and Republican politicians are putting forward tax rebates, tax cuts, and interest-rate reductions to try to ‘jump-start’ the economy,” Kennedy said.

“But none of these mechanisms changes the fact that huge debt bubbles continue to grow. It’s not a new crisis. It’s been building up for decades,” she noted. As a result of decline in the rate of profit built into the world capitalist system, businessmen have found it more lucrative to invest in derivatives or home mortgage loans than in industrial plants and equipment.

Kennedy opened her remarks at a January 27 campaign meeting by saluting the victory of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 789 in soundly rejecting a company-backed effort to decertify the union at the Dakota Premium Foods meatpacking plant in South St. Paul, Minnesota.

Recounting her experiences as an underground coal miner who took part in a union-organizing battle at the Co-Op mine in Utah, Kennedy underlined the importance of organizing drives and strikes where the workers themselves take leadership of their struggles.

One of the lessons of such actions, Kennedy said, is the limits workers face when they lack a political party of their own, while the employer class has two parties, the Democrats and Republicans. “Strikes and demonstrations by themselves are not enough,” she said. “We also have to fight in the political arena. We need a labor party,” a working-class party based on a militant union movement.

Discussing the sharp rise in the prices of food, fuel, and other necessities, Kennedy pointed to Labor Department figures showing that last year consumer prices increased by the highest percentage in 17 years.

“But the consumer price index, which determines increases in Social Security and other benefits, has been rigged so it doesn’t reflect the real price changes,” she said. Social Security benefits recently increased by a paltry $24 a month—“and $3 of that goes to increased Medicare deductions.”

Kennedy began her tour with a 5:30 a.m. visit to the hiring hall of the International Longshoremen’s Association, where dozens of stevedores come to take work assignments at Miami’s large port. Musa, Trowe, and their supporters have been campaigning among workers at the ILA hall nearly every weekend.

Several longshoremen who regularly read the Militant and had been alerted of Kennedy’s visit came by to talk, and six workers bought the latest issue. They were interested in Kennedy’s description of the example set by the coal miners in Utah who waged a three-year battle to organize the nonunion Co-Op mine.

Later in the day, Kennedy campaigned with supporters at two post offices, one in the Little Haiti district and the other in Liberty City, a large Black neighborhood.

After Kennedy talked about the SWP platform and its call for a labor party, Bruna Bustin told her, “I think this is a good idea. We have to raise our voice. We have to fight.”

“We’re talking about the need to shorten the workweek with no cut in pay to spread the work for all, and a sliding scale of wages, with cost-of-living increases so we can keep up with rising prices,” Kennedy told a woman who tutors elementary school students. She responded, “Exactly!”

A federal government worker who bought the Militant and took a flyer for the campaign told Trowe she has been called a militant for her pro-union stance. She said she would probably vote for one of the Democratic candidates, but hadn’t decided yet. “I’ll let them fight it out,” she said, referring to the sharp exchanges between candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Kennedy was invited to speak at the weekly meeting of the Miami chapter of the Bolivarian Circles, a network of people who oppose Washington’s threats against the Venezuelan government led by president Hugo Chávez.

Thanking the 20 people there for the opportunity to have an exchange with them, she noted that the capitalist financial crisis is international in scope, and said the Socialist Workers Party program begins with the common interests of working people worldwide.

Kennedy said the socialist campaign opposes imperialism’s unfolding multi-theater war, from Iraq and Afghanistan to the Philippines. The purpose of the U.S. troops in Colombia, she added, is to defend imperialist interests against the struggles of working people in Venezuela and elsewhere in South America.

Kennedy also participated in a vigil at the Israeli consulate protesting the siege of Gaza and talked with activists there.

On January 28, students at Florida International University got a chance to meet Kennedy at the University Park campus in western Miami-Dade County. The socialists were not the only campaigners. Supporters of two Republican presidential candidates, Texas congressman Ron Paul and former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, were there was well.

One student, the son of Latin American immigrants, told Kennedy he was concerned with media coverage he had seen on police harassment of immigrants at the Texas-Mexico border.

“All of the Democratic and Republican candidates have anti-immigrant positions,” Kennedy responded.

“Our campaign calls for the immediate, unconditional legalization of all immigrants,” she said. “We celebrate the strengthening of the working class through the millions from other countries who have become part of our class here. We saw that strength at the massive May Day mobilizations of immigrant workers and their allies the past two years.”
Related articles:
Socialist candidate: union victory at Dakota is example
Calero joins with meat packers in Twin Cities
SWP candidates join Houston immigrant rights event  
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