‘Workers need a union in every workplace and a labor party!’

By Seth Galinsky
September 7, 2020
Maggie Trowe, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate from Kentucky, visits picket line of members of Teamsters Local 89 on strike at DSI Tunneling, in Louisville Aug. 21.
Militant/Kaitlin EstillMaggie Trowe, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate from Kentucky, visits picket line of members of Teamsters Local 89 on strike at DSI Tunneling, in Louisville Aug. 21.

As the vitriol between the two main capitalist candidates for U.S. president — Donald Trump and Joseph Biden — heats up with two months until the election, the Socialist Workers Party presidential ticket of Alyson Kennedy and Malcolm Jarrett offers the only voice in defense of the interests of working people.

SWP campaigners have put  Kennedy and Jarrett on the ballot in six states. They are getting a wide hearing for the party’s platform, which urges a fight for a union movement in every workplace, for workers control of production and for our own political party, a labor party. And it presents urgently needed demands to win protection from the biggest problem working people face now — devastating high unemployment. The party calls for immediate unemployment payments to all who need them and a federally funded jobs program to put millions back to work at union-scale pay.

None of the capitalist parties have any solution to the devastation working people confront — homelessness, speedup on the job, dangerous work conditions, cop violence, drug addiction, low wages and many more problems. These conditions are exacerbated by lockdowns imposed following the outbreak of coronavirus.

Among those interested in discussing the SWP’s fighting program are working people campaigners meet on their doorsteps in cities and towns, large and small, at protest marches, as well as on strike picket lines. Some are interested in finding out more about a party whose members act as union organizers, together with co-workers, at the retail stores, rail yards and other sites where they work, all year round.

There is interest too when campaign supporters explain that only disciplined action by working people can push back the brutal assaults cops inflict on working people and why the arson and destruction after cops shot Jacob Blake Jr. in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is a serious obstacle to that.

“Given what has been learned as the capitalist economic and social crisis unfolds, we updated our 2020 platform,” national campaign director John Studer told the Militant. “The platform is printed in this issue.”

“The first paragraph now says ‘Workers need a union in every workplace.’ We need to fight growing employer attacks on jobs, wages and working conditions. Our campaign explains why workers need a labor party to speak for all those exploited and oppressed by capitalist rule.”

‘Get involved in SWP campaign!’

“Kennedy and Jarrett will be touring coast to coast heading into the homestretch of the campaign, starting this weekend in Seattle,” Studer said. “Get involved!”

“Introduce them and the party’s local candidates to your friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors. Set up house meetings where the candidates can exchange views with fellow workers and discuss the road forward. Join candidates bringing solidarity to other workers’ struggles.”

Maggie Trowe, a Walmart worker and SWP candidate for U.S. Senate in Kentucky, joined a picket line of striking DSI Tunneling workers in Louisville Aug. 21, to show solidarity with their fight for a contract. The workers voted to join Teamsters Local 89 last year and have been on strike since early August.

Striker Ted Franzman told Trowe that the company has “taken so much from us, we need to stop them from taking more.”

Trowe described the conditions that she and her co-workers face. “We’re getting crushed by speedup. Walmart tells us ‘we’re all in this together.’ Meanwhile, they’re making record profits off our backs. We need a union.”

Discussions like this, about the common challenges workers face and what can be done to change worsening conditions, provide the foundation for building the fighting working-class movement we need. Union struggles like the Teamsters’ fight in Louisville set an example for workers elsewhere.

Books on working-class struggles

An integral part of the campaign is promoting the Militant and books by leaders of the SWP and other revolutionary struggles. Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power and The Turn to Industry: Forging a Proletarian Party, both by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes, and Tribunes of the People and the Trade Unions are three of the books campaigners use a lot.

These titles draw on the long record of courageous and self-sacrificing struggles by working people and the oppressed in the U.S. and elsewhere. They document work to build proletarian parties here and around the world and point to the living example of the Cuban Revolution, where working people have shown it is possible to take power into our own hands and to successfully defend our conquests.

To join in, contact the campaign office nearest you.