Join campaign to expand the reach of the ‘Militant’

By Kaitlin Estill
November 9, 2020
SWP candidate for president Alyson Kennedy, and Samir Hazboun, left, party’s candidate for Congress in Kentucky’s 3rd District, talk with worker at JBS packing plant in Louisville Oct. 23.
Militant/Maggie TroweSWP candidate for president Alyson Kennedy, and Samir Hazboun, left, party’s candidate for Congress in Kentucky’s 3rd District, talk with worker at JBS packing plant in Louisville Oct. 23.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Socialist Workers Party campaigners are taking advantage of the final days before the Nov. 3 election to discuss with working people what we can do together to change the conditions we face, build support for the party’s candidates, and widen interest in its campaign platform.

They’re preparing to continue to campaign with the Militant and books by SWP leaders in the months afterward, presenting a revolutionary, working-class road forward.

“No matter which capitalist candidate ends up in the White House, working people will need to keep organizing to fight for protection from the bosses’ attempts to put the crisis of capitalism on our backs,” says Socialist Workers Party candidate for president Alyson Kennedy.

“A lot of working people agree when we say the working class is the only class that can change things,” Kennedy told the Oct. 23 Militant Labor Forum here. The unfolding capitalist economic, political and moral crisis will continue to fuel interest in what the party is putting forward.

Socialist Workers Party campaigners and Communist League members in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K. will keep working to bring home the eight-week international drive — which continues through Nov. 24 — to increase the number of subscribers to the Militant and readers of books by revolutionary leaders. The SWP’s annual Party-Building Fund, this year with a goal of $120,000, is running at the same time.

They will discuss with workers, farmers and small proprietors on their doorsteps in big cities, small towns and rural areas. They will continue to build solidarity with striking workers and join protests against police brutality, for amnesty for immigrant workers, for a woman’s right to choose abortion, and in solidarity with working people fighting for political rights in Belarus, Thailand and elsewhere.

The results so far confirm the big opportunities to increase the reach of the Socialist Workers Party. At the halfway point of the drive 680 subscriptions and 573 books have been sold.

Kennedy on Oct. 22 met Susan McEnerney, a server at the Cracker Barrel restaurant for the last 13 years. McEnerney told Kennedy she can’t work all her shifts because she has to stay home with her young son and help him with his online schoolwork. The restaurant is only at half capacity, so tip income is way down and she’s no longer eligible for unemployment. Her family is three months behind on rent and when the eviction moratorium expires at the end of the year she is sure her landlord will evict them.

“The responsibility of online schooling during COVID largely falls to the mothers who have to quit their jobs or work less hours,” Kennedy said at the Oct. 23 forum. Schools must open and do so safely, she added. “There’s work to be done in improving ventilation and building more spacious schools. This would be possible with a federally funded public works program that would put the unemployed to work at union-scale wages,” a key part of the Socialist Workers Party’s campaign platform.

Solidarity with DSI strikers

Kennedy was warmly welcomed at the picket line of DSI Tunneling workers, fighting for their first contract after winning union recognition a year ago. Thirteen workers have been on strike since Aug. 4. Bryan Trafford, organizer for Teamsters Local 89, told Kennedy about the solidarity the striking workers have won. “Hundreds of people have driven past the picket line,” he said, “and stopped and asked what this is, what are we doing, because they don’t know what a picket line is.”

“A lot of my co-workers at the Walmart in Dallas where I work don’t know what a union is,” Kennedy said. “But there are many examples of Walmart workers sticking together against attacks by the bosses, to me that’s what a union is.” Trafford subscribed and bought The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record: Why Washington Fears Working People by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes.

On Oct. 21, Kennedy and campaign supporter Zachary Larrabee met Carl Jackson, a 44-year-old worker who does lawn maintenance and snow removal. “I can’t vote because I was convicted of a felony when I was a kid,” Jackson said. “I was not guilty but I couldn’t win, so I took a plea. After I finished my sentence I was told I had the right to vote again. Then the government sent me a letter saying I didn’t. But I still have to pay taxes.”

“My campaign demands restoring voting rights to people convicted of felonies,” Kennedy said. “In Florida working people voted overwhelmingly to restore voting rights. But then a court ruled you can’t vote until you pay off your fines and court-ordered debts. We oppose that restriction.”

While campaigning outside of the JBS meatpacking plant Oct. 23, Kennedy and Samir Hazboun, SWP candidate for Congress in the 3rd District, met Dominique McQueen, a worker at the plant.

Referring to killings by the cops, McQueen, who is Black, told SWP campaigners, “It’s not really a color thing. They kill lots of white people too. The police target all of us.”

“That’s very true,” Kennedy said. “Black workers are disproportionately targeted, but it really is a class question. The purpose of the police is to defend the ruling class by keeping the working class in check. The only way to combat this is by using our power to bring mass pressure to charge these cops, and in the long run build a working-class movement powerful enough to replace the dictatorship of capital with a workers and farmers government.”

In Cincinnati, Kennedy met local DJ James Wilson at his doorstep. “Have you heard about these protests in Nigeria against the brutal police force there called the Special Anti-Robbery Squad?” he asked.

“Workers all over the world face the same thing,” Wilson said. “Here in Cincinnati every Sunday we have 200 to 300 people come to a nearby church to protest against things like the police killings and what the government is doing to us.”

Socialist Workers Party and Communist League campaigners have joined local protests denouncing the police and government brutality in Nigeria. At the action in London five participants bought subscriptions to the Militant and a number of books.

In Philadelphia Janet Post joined a rally of some 30 Nigerians. “The protests are mostly in the cities, but are supported by people in the countryside,” Folake Oniyade told Post. On top of cop brutality, “it’s hard to find a job there — you have to know someone to be hired,” Oniyade said. “The health care is very bad. You have to pay before being seen by a doctor.” Oniyade was one of two protesters who subscribed to the Militant at the action.

Cut the workweek with no cut in pay to fight layoffs

by Jacob Perasso

BRIDPORT, Vt. — “I started working off the farm about four years ago when the milk prices dropped,” dairy farmer Becky Plouffe told Malcolm Jarrett, SWP candidate for vice president; Abby Tilsner, SWP candidate for Congress in New York’s 20th District; and Jacob Perasso, the party’s candidate in the 21st District, Oct. 23.

Plouffe, her husband Paul and their family operate a small dairy farm here. She works two or three jobs in addition to milking cows. Her daughter, a nurses assistant, lost her job this year and hasn’t found a new one yet.

“Our campaign calls for cutting the workweek with no cut in pay to stop layoffs. Thirty hours work for 40 hours pay,” said Jarrett. Plouffe said that for her a 12-hour day would be a relief.

“This year farm losses in the U.S. are $12 billion — mostly from small working farmers,” said Jarrett. “When family farms are lost it impacts other working people and small shop owners in the community.”

“Big farms get a lot of breaks on fees that we don’t get,” said Plouffe.

“Our campaign calls for a price guarantee that would provide sufficient income for farm families to live on,” said Perasso. The party demands a halt to foreclosures and calls for nationalizing the land so that no farmer can be evicted. Plouffe renewed her family’s subscription to the Militant and picked up a copy of In Defense of the US Working Class by SWP leader Mary-Alice Waters.

“The working class has the moral high ground and produces all the wealth in society,” Chris Walters told campaign supporters when they met with him. “It would be a better place when workers play an active role in the way society is run.” Waters, a worker at the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream factory in Waterbury, signed up to endorse the campaign.

New contributors to the SWP Party-Building Fund

By Maggie Trowe

The Louisville branch has raised its SWP Party-Building Fund quota. “We have won seven new contributors, including from a cashier at the Walmart where I work who has been fighting for timely breaks,” Ned Measel, fund organizer here, told the Militant. “The response to our appeal and to the party’s politics has been so strong that we are raising our quota from $5,000 to $5,400.”

In New York, Tamar Rosenfeld reports that workers who SWP campaigners have met on their doorsteps have contributed more than $90 in the last few weeks. Every contribution, no matter how small or large, is key to financing a working-class party like the SWP. Taking the time to sit down with those who have subscribed to the Militant or begun reading the books campaigners are distributing can lead to many deciding to kick in even more.

We have received $40,743 for the Party-Building Fund. Keep the contributions coming. They are being put to good use as the party receives them.

Send in reports directly to the Militant on discussions, debates and exchanges of views you have while introducing the Militant and books to others, or while soliciting contributions to the Party-Building Fund.

Tell your family, friends and co-workers about the paper, the special offers on books by SWP leaders and the fund. To join in the effort, see the directory for the SWP or Communist League branch nearest you.