MIAMI — “Our party alone puts forward a program to address what working people are going through,” Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate Alyson Kennedy told a Sept. 25 Militant Labor Forum here, pointing to the deepening capitalist economic and social crisis working people face today.
“We call on workers and our unions to fight for a government-financed public works program putting people to work at union-scale pay — building or repairing hospitals, child care centers, schools that are safe for children and teachers, and public transportation. And for unemployment benefits for everyone who is out of work until they can find a job,” she said.
Kennedy and running mate Malcolm Jarrett spent six days campaigning in Florida, talking to workers and farmers here and in small towns and rural areas.
A lively discussion followed the candidates’ presentations. One participant noted that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo forced nursing homes to accept patients infected with COVID-19, rapidly infecting other residents.
“Over 40% of the deaths from the coronavirus across the country have come from poorly maintained and understaffed nursing homes,” said Kennedy. “This shows how the ruling class views those of us who they can no longer exploit as wage workers. We have no value to them.
“The bosses could care less whether we live or die. In Cuba, where workers and farmers took power in 1959, life is valued for workers at any age,” she said.
Another participant asked Jarrett what he thought about reopening schools. “What’s called online education isn’t education at all when there’s no live back-and-forth,” he replied. Jarrett pointed to Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? by Jack Barnes. The book explains, “The purpose of education in class society is not to educate. It is to give ‘the educated’ a stake in thinking they are going to be different than — better than — other people who work all their lives.”
“Unless teachers and their unions lead a fight to make schools safe,” Jarrett said, “there will be no way to guarantee the safety of children and teachers.”
The day before the forum, Kennedy and Jarrett spoke with Walmart worker Cynthia Landy. Kennedy told Landy, a Militant subscriber, that she had heard about the fight cashiers waged for over two years at the store for floor mats.
“‘They’re on order’ the bosses would say,” Landy reported, “but they never came.” Workers persisted and the mats arrived at the end of last year. “Fights like these give workers more confidence to fight,” Kennedy said. “It opens the door to organize a union.”
The key thing, Landy said, is workers “have to be able to trust each other.”
While campaigning in Lake Worth, Jarrett spoke with Tarris Iverson. “The police want to be right all the time, but they aren’t,” Iverson said. Iverson, a disabled laborer, pointed to the case of Corey Jones, a local musician killed in 2015 by a plainclothes cop while Jones was waiting for a tow truck. The cop was convicted of manslaughter in 2019.
“People setting fires, breaking windows, and looting give the police an excuse to use violence against protesters,” Iverson said, referring to actions by antifa, Black Lives Matter leaders and others. “The demonstrations would be larger without that because people don’t want to be shot by the police with rubber bullets or anything else.”
Jarrett agreed. “To put an end to police brutality will take a gigantic struggle,” the vice presidential candidate said, “one that will not only take on police violence but the system that it originates from. Our campaign points to this as the road for working people — the road to a government of workers and farmers.”
Amanda Ulman contributed to this article.
Communist League candidates reach out to prisoners
BY MIKE TUCKER
AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Annalucia Vermunt, Communist League candidate for parliament for Manurewa, a working-class district in South Auckland, is taking advantage of a recent election law change to reach prisoners.
Inmates serving sentences of less than three years have the right to vote again. There are four prisons in the electorate, which is two-thirds Maori, Pacific Islander or Asian. The CL is also running Patrick Brown, in Panmure-Otahuhu.
Vermunt asked to visit and speak to inmates about her campaign. Officials at one prison told her she could not speak, but they would distribute campaign literature. The campaign sent them 100 copies of the election platform, which includes an ad for a half-price offer for prisoners to a subscription for the Militant and for Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power.
Going door to door in Manurewa, Vermunt told Eileen Heremaia that the Communist League says workers need to build unions out of their struggles. “We needed a union where I was working,” said Heremaia, who was laid off during the coronavirus lockdown.
“My campaign calls for the workweek to be reduced without any loss in pay, to counter layoffs,” Vermunt said.
Heremaia subscribed to the Militant. “My partner will like this,” she said. He works at a steel mill where the company is talking of laying off 200 workers.