DENVER — “I’m interested in a fighting labor movement. These books and your newspaper look like they point the way,” Eddie Asher told Socialist Workers Party member Jacquie Henderson at the thousands-strong rally of teachers, school workers, bus drivers and their supporters here April 27. Asher subscribed to the Militant for a year and got Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? and The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record, both by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes.
Barbara Stein, a retired teacher, also came by the literature table we set up at the rally. “I don’t think we live in a democracy, the rich run the government. I’m more for a socialist democracy,” she said.
“We look to the Cuban Revolution as an example for workers to follow,” Henderson said. Stein picked up an introductory subscription.
We joined in the rallies at the state Capitol April 26 and 27, and traveled to nearby cities and towns to knock on workers’ doors and talk about the teachers’ battles across the country and introduce the party, the Militant and the books the party is campaigning with. Twenty-three subscriptions were sold at the rallies along with 16 books. In addition, over 65 single copies of the Militant were sold and $62 donated to the Militant Fighting Fund.
The SWP and supporters of the Militant are going into the sixth week of an eight-week spring drive to sell 1,400 subscriptions to the Militant and 1,400 books by party leaders by May 22. And the Militant is simultaneously working to raise $112,000 toward its annual operating expenses.
In Wheat Ridge, a working-class suburb, carpet layer Edward Gonzales told Henderson and Edwin Fruit that he had strong opinions about how the U.S. rulers treat veterans of their wars abroad. “It’s us and our kids that fight all those wars,” Gonzales said. “When we come home, they say ‘thanks,’ but they have no use for us — no jobs, no programs.” He got a subscription and Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? and The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record. All five books on special are listed in the ad below.
Christina Ortega and her husband Isidro got into a serious discussion with Horace Kerr, Henderson and myself on their doorstep in Pueblo. They live near the giant steel mill now named EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel, which today employs only a few dozen production workers. Christina has been a school bus driver for 22 years. Isidro is a welder and a member of the Boilermakers union. Their daughter just quit her job at Walmart to go to school in Greeley, where she got a job at the meatpacking plant there.
The mill used to be part of a Rockefeller family-run conglomerate named Colorado Fuel and Iron Corp., which had the government in its back pocket for decades as it fought workers. It was responsible for the Ludlow Massacre in 1914, where dozens of miners and their families were mowed down by the National Guard armed with machine guns and rifles, who then burned down their camp.
Christina Ortega told us about one time she forgot to pay her utility bill. “Black Hills Energy cut off my electricity and then charged me $700 to turn on the lights again!” she said.
“I really appreciate what your party is doing,” Isidro Ortega said. They got a subscription for Christina’s mother, who’s a retired schoolteacher, and a copy of Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? for themselves.
Joe Swanson from Lincoln, Nebraska, writes, “Three working rail workers subscribed to the Militant last week and a rail worker contributed $10 to the Militant Fighting Fund.” Supporters there have raised their Militant subscription quota by 25 percent.
Arizona school workers walk out
A number of other SWP units have raised their goals, especially in places where members have been participating in teachers’ battles — West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and now Colorado and Arizona.
Teachers began a walkout in Arizona April 26. Socialist campaigners joined statewide rallies in Phoenix that day and the next, and also went door to door in working-class neighborhoods in the “copper corridor” of mines and smelters in southeast Arizona.
“We knocked on workers’ doors in Sahuarita, April 28, near two copper mines,” Maggie Trowe told the Militant. “It gave us a real feel for the social movement the teachers’ struggle is, how many teachers are stepping into political activity for the first time in their lives and finding it both exhilarating and frightening. And how there is a rolling discussion on the fight going on among workers everywhere.
“Workers support the teachers in their fight for a raise,” she said, “but also for championing school funding and their efforts to organize meals for the children of working parents.”
“I hope the teachers will stay out on strike until they win their demands, not compromise or go back for some promises of the perspective of getting a raise from some ballot measure months from now,” Veronica Vironet, a former teacher, now a school counselor and mother of three in Tucson, Arizona, said. “It was a slap in the face that the legislature went home in the middle of Friday’s rally.” She subscribed to the Militant.
The teachers’ rebellion continued April 30 with thousands mobilized in Phoenix and others staffing schools and additional places to provide food and shelter for students of working parents.
“I didn’t even know there was a teachers union until this started happening,” Heather Covitz, an English teacher from Chandler, Arizona, told Bev Bernardo at the rally outside the Capitol. “I joined last week.” And now she found out about the Socialist Workers Party, getting a subscription, Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? and Is Socialist Revolution in the US Possible?
So far, the team of socialist campaigners has sold 77 subscriptions and 55 of the books by SWP leaders.
To join SWP members and supporters in expanding the reach of the party, the Militant and the books, contact the SWP branch nearest you.