The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 78/No. 42      November 24, 2014

(front page)
Socialist campaign for Ill. governor
calls for break with bosses’ parties
Militant/Alyson Kennedy
Dan Fein, left, trade unionist and Socialist Workers candidate for governor of Illinois, talks with Nabil Karim, Algerian-born unemployed taxi driver, on campaign trail in Chicago Oct. 30.

CHICAGO — “Don’t waste your vote on the Democrats or Republicans, the bosses’ parties,” Dan Fein, Socialist Workers Party candidate for governor of Illinois, told Raphael Powell, who sells cellphones. Fein and supporters of the socialist ticket here were campaigning Oct. 30 at the 95th and State Street transit hub on Chicago’s South Side as part of a week of daily campaigning at labor picket lines, protest actions, political meetings and workers’ doorsteps.

“So you are independent?” asked Powell.

“No, I’m a candidate of the Socialist Workers Party,” explained Fein, who showed Powell the party’s campaign brochure.

“We must rely on workers’ collective power, solidarity and strength,” the SWP brochure says. It points to the need of working people to organize independently of the Democrats and Republicans and for the labor movement to build “its own political party, a labor party, to champion the interests of working people” as a step along the road of class struggle “towards the conquest of political power.”

Fein talked about some of the SWP’s political activity. “We demand the arrest and prosecution of officer Darren Wilson, who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson,” said Fein, who has traveled to Ferguson, Missouri, five times to join in solidarity actions there.

Powell agreed, saying he didn’t trust the investigation process. “How can the police investigate the police?” he said.

Fein, 69, a factory worker and long-time trade unionist, was running against incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn, Republican Bruce Rauner, Libertarian Chad Grimm and Green Party candidate Scott Summers.

“Are you for a labor party like in England?” Nabil Karim, an unemployed taxi cab driver originally from Algeria, asked Fein.

“No, I’m for a labor party that mobilizes the working class to fight,” Fein said. “Change doesn’t come through elections, but in the course of class battles against the bosses and their government, through which we can transform our unions, ourselves and society.”

The day before, Fein joined a teachers’ strike picket in Waukegan, where 1,200 members of Illinois Federation of Teachers Lake County Local 504 went on strike Oct. 2 over wages and health care costs.

“How can we win this strike?” Willie Green, a sixth-grade social studies teacher, asked Fein.

“We’ve got to strengthen our unions and build solidarity,” Fein said. “Look at how the Chicago Teachers Union mobilized and won widespread working-class support for their strike in 2012. This can be repeated.”

“Maybe if we called them up, the CTU would send a busload here to our picket line,” Green said. “That would make us stronger.”

The next day the teachers voted overwhelmingly to approve a new three-year contract after the school board backed off concession demands.

That evening Fein attended a Protest and Counterculture in Contemporary Russia symposium at the University of Illinois here where Winter Go Away! a documentary film against the polices of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was shown. Fein spoke, saying he supports the fight of workers in Ukraine to defend their national sovereignty against Moscow’s military intervention backing separatist forces there.

On Oct. 31 Fein joined Teamsters Local 705’s strike picket in Skokie, where workers at Golan Moving and Storage have been on strike for more than three months, fighting for their first union contract.

“I supported Obama, but that has changed,” striker Deontay Davis, 24, told Fein. “Less police brutality? More jobs? Higher pay? Nothing has changed for the better for workers. I support what you are doing.”

The next day, Fein joined auto mechanics picketing at Al Piemonte Chevrolet in East Dundee, where nine members of Machinists Local 701 have been on strike since July 9 fighting for their first union contract. Brian Kreger, a striker who subscribes to the Militant, told Fein he likes reading about other strikes in the paper. They discussed the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and how socialist Cuba can lead the fight to counter the virus because workers and farmers made a revolution and look at the world differently. “You got my vote,” said Kreger.

On Nov. 2, Fein joined campaign supporters knocking on doors in Chicago’s Beverley neighborhood. Laura Foley told Fein she sometimes votes for socialists or the Green Party, but this time she was considering voting for Quinn because the Republican Rauner seemed so bad.

“Lesser-evil politics is a trap for working people,” Fein said. “We need to organize against the capitalist Democratic, Republican and Green parties. A fighting Labor Party is needed.” Foley got a subscription to the Militant to follow the party’s activities.

Fein campaigned on the North Side of Chicago Nov. 3, where many workers originally from Africa live. He spoke about the recent mobilizations in Burkina Faso that chased out hated President Blaise Compaoré and the revolutionary example of Thomas Sankara, the country’s president from 1983 to 1987 who was assassinated in a coup that brought Compaoré to power.

On election day Fein returned to join the Teamsters picket line in Skokie.  
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