SWP uses the ‘Militant’ to get support for labor battles

By Dan Fein
May 7, 2018

“I support the teachers,” Alfonso Delgado Jr., a landscaper, told Joel Britton and Betsey Stone when they knocked on his door in Superior, Arizona, April 21. “The government has cut a lot in the schools, including shop courses and auto repair.”

He said his support was strong, “because you’re talking about how children will develop as people.” Delgado’s mother is a teacher’s aide, his father was a copper worker in the mines nearby. Copper workers in southeastern Arizona have been through years of pitched battles with the mine owners, and seen conditions in the area worsen. Britton and Stone were there as part of teams the Socialist Workers Party is organizing to join teachers’ battles and bring the party, its paper and books to workers in Arizona, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado and West Virginia.

“I didn’t vote for either Trump or Clinton for president,” Delgado said. “I don’t buy into their BS. But a number of my friends voted for Trump, because he says he backs the Second Amendment and because they thought he talked straight.”

Delgado said he enjoys talking politics, which he credited to having been a member of MEChA, a Chicano activist group in schools in the 1990s. He bought a subscription to the Militant and a copy of The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record: Why Washington Fears Working People by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes.

A number of other workers were interested in the paper and books by SWP leaders as party members knocked on doors in copper mining towns here just a few days before teachers planned to go on strike across the state. They’re fighting for higher pay for all school workers and more state money for the schools. This “copper corridor” is peopled by many Chicano, Caucasian and Native American workers.

Valentina Kenton, an Apache, in Globe, Arizona, another mining town north of Tucson, said she wasn’t sure about the strike. She was worried about the way it would affect young people. Britton and Stone explained that the teachers’ group that was spearheading the fight, the Arizona Educators United, and their union, the Arizona Education Association, were organizing members and volunteers to make sure anyone in need would have a place to go and food to eat.

Kenton wanted to learn more about the SWP and its program, and got a copy of Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power, also by Barnes, with her subscription.

‘These strikes are great’

“I support what you are doing,” Vinita Meadows told SWP campaigner Jacob Perasso in Albany, New York. “These strikes are great! Teachers aren’t paid enough. I’m getting the Militant newspaper subscription because I’m curious about what else you are covering.” Perasso was going door to door there when he met Meadows, a retired New York state government tax worker. Meadows also picked up a copy of the Workers Power book.

SWP members and supporters, and members of the Communist Leagues in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K., are at the halfway point in their spring eight-week campaign to win 1,400 workers and youth to subscribe to the Militant, buy an equal number of books by SWP leaders and other revolutionaries on special offer, and to raise $112,000 for the Militant Fighting Fund. The fund helps cover the Militant’s operating expenses.

“In the evening, Baskaran Appu and I were invited to join a gathering of workers and their families who are originally from India,” Communist League member Felicity Coggan wrote from Auckland, New Zealand, April 21. “After nearly two hours of discussion and debate, spanning topics from conditions for workers in India compared to New Zealand, the example of the Cuban Revolution, the counterrevolutionary role of Stalinism, and the activities of the Communist League, several in the group pooled their money to buy three introductory subscriptions to the Militant, and a copy of each of the five books offered at half price with a subscription.” (See ad below.)

As we were leaving, Sukhdev Badhan, a 52-year-old greenhouse worker, said, “I thought we would only be discussing the problems of the caste system in India, but we ended up discussing capitalism and the whole world!”

George Chalmers joined around 60 others marching to City Hall in Philadelphia April 19 to protest the arrest of two Black men at a downtown Starbucks coffee shop. “Two of the marchers bought subscriptions to the Militant,” Chalmers writes. “One is a union organizer for UNITE HERE. The other is a student from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, who told me, ‘I’m excited to get more involved in working-class issues.’”

SWP campaigners from Los Angeles visited Barstow, California, where Diante Yarber was shot and killed by four cops in a Walmart parking lot. (See article on front page.) “We met a number of workers going door to door near the Walmart who were outraged over the killing and glad to meet us,” Laura Garza wrote. “Two of them subscribed to the Militant and three made donations to the Militant Fighting Fund.”

If you’re interested in helping to expand the readership of the Militant and books on the party’s program and perspectives, and to raise funds for the paper, contact the SWP branch nearest you.