PITTSBURGH —“From the United Auto Workers union members on strike against General Motors, and the UAW Mack Truck workers, to the Asarco copper miners in Arizona, we see the beginnings of a new uptick in the struggles of working people,” Malcolm Jarrett, Socialist Workers Party candidate for Pittsburgh City Council, told some 80 people at an Oct. 15 League of Women Voters debate with his two capitalist party opponents here. “These workers, and all working people, are facing the economic and political crisis of capitalism.”
“The SWP campaign joins with working people everywhere on picket lines and in social protests,” he said. “That’s the only way to build a fighting labor movement where working people can begin to act independently of the Democrats and Republicans and have a political voice of our own.”
One thing debated was a recently released report saying that poverty among African American women and children here is higher than in 85% of similarly sized U.S. cities.
“Poverty everywhere is an indictment of capitalism,” Jarrett said. “Our campaign begins with the increasing ability of working people to fight — to demand jobs at union-scale wages and benefits and for a government-funded public works program to build hospitals, housing, schools and other things that better the conditions of working people.
“These fights will make us more confident, more class conscious, as we begin to discuss how the working class can take power from the capitalists and put it into our own hands.”
Jarrett was asked what kind of “yard signs” his campaign has. “The SWP doesn’t have yard signs,” he said. “What we do is go door to door to talk with fellow workers, so that they see they are not isolated, that there’s others who think like them, who are interested in the millions of workers in struggle from Puerto Rico to Hong Kong.”
The candidates were asked about their attitude toward the police. “We see what’s happening around the country, with protests against police brutality,” he said. “The cops increasingly know they can be charged, tried, convicted and put in prison, if we fight. We need a broad working-class movement against cop brutality.”
While on a recent national speaking tour with Alyson Kennedy, who was the SWP 2016 candidate for president, the two socialist campaigners joined fights for justice in the police killings of Botham Jean in Dallas and Anthony Hill in Decatur, Georgia. They attended the trials of the two cops responsible. Both were convicted.
‘Join the UAW picket line’
Helen Meyers, SWP candidate for city council in St. Paul, Minnesota, also spoke at a League of Women Voters candidates debate Oct. 15, along with the incumbent and two other candidates.
“Every action that advances the organization of the working class and the confidence that workers have in our own collective power is a step on the road to overthrowing the ruling capitalists and bringing workers and farmers to power,” Meyers told over 100 people at the forum.
“That’s why I encourage all workers, unionized and unorganized, to back the 50,000 UAW members now on strike against General Motors, and join them on the picket line in Hudson, Wisconsin, and elsewhere.
“The biggest task facing working people is to organize and act independently of the ruling capitalists and their political parties — the Democrats and the Republicans,” she said.
The candidates were asked about today’s “crisis of affordable housing.” “So long as land is privately owned, and housing is determined by the market, decent housing will remain unaffordable for millions of working-class people.”
Like Jarrett, she said that workers need to fight for a government-funded public works program to put millions to work at union-scale wages to build the housing that is needed.
“My campaign calls for nationalization of the land, to put it in the hands of the farmers who work it, as opposed to the banks and landlords,” Meyers said.
The Militant urges workers to go out and vote for SWP candidates in their area Nov. 5.
David Rosenfeld, from St. Paul, Minnesota, contributed to this article.