CARROLLTON, Ga. —“I’m 100% for that,” Dylan Tapia told Rachele Fruit, the Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate, when she said working people need to break from the Democrats and Republicans and build their own party, a labor party. Fruit was campaigning at the Walmart parking lot here Dec. 5, ahead of the upcoming Jan. 5 special election.
Fruit’s campaign is part of the SWP’s ongoing effort to bring the Militant and the party’s fighting action program to workers and farmers across the country.
“I’ve been talking to people where I work about the need for a union, but many are afraid,” said Tapia, who works for a medical information technology company.
Fruit showed Tapia Tribunes of the People and the Trade Unions, which includes articles by revolutionary leaders Karl Marx, V.I. Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Farrell Dobbs and SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes. “A tribune of the people,” the back cover says, “uses every manifestation of capitalist oppression to explain why it’s workers and our allies who can and will — in the course of struggles by the unions and beyond — lay the foundations for a world based not on violence and competition, but on solidarity among working people worldwide.” Tapia got the book and subscribed to the Militant.
“A campaign outside of the Democrats and Republicans would be nice for a change,” Kywaun Lewis, 21, told Fruit just after finishing his job giving out samples at the Walmart. His work hours had been drastically cut. “With my unemployment benefits I bought this car so I could take a second job making deliveries for DoorDash,” he said.
“The key question today is the fight for jobs,” Fruit said. “We need to fight for a shorter workweek to spread around the available work, with no cut in pay.”
“They try to get us to think we can’t do anything to change our conditions,” Fruit said. “But as workers go through struggles, we will gain the confidence that we can unite to win.”
Lewis subscribed to the Militant and purchased Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power by Barnes.
Pandemic used as pretext to go after working people
BY NAOMI CRAINE
MAYWOOD, Ill. — “These companies use the pandemic as an excuse” to go after workers’ rights and conditions, truck driver Shishonie Perry told Socialist Workers Party member Leroy Watson and this worker-correspondent when we knocked on his door in this Chicago suburb Dec. 6. Perry owns his rig and works for a company that delivers containers for a major grocery chain.
In June the company tried to cut the pay rates for both independent truckers and those it hires directly.
At the beginning of one shift, he said, 45 truckers, both independent and company-hired drivers, told bosses they were quitting immediately over the pay cut. With hundreds of thousands of dollars in goods waiting to be delivered, the bosses backed down and left the old rates alone. It’s out of struggles like these that the union movement will be rebuilt and extended, we told him.
The federal government has raised the cap on how many hours truckers can drive, Perry reported. “Some people said they’d work the extra hours. But it took a fight to get that limit. It’s not safe to drive even longer.”
It’s similar on the railroads, where the government gave the bosses waivers on key safety regulations because of alleged “manpower shortages,” while thousands of workers, including myself, were on furlough. It’s the bosses’ government not ours, I told him. The SWP’s action program says we need to fight for workers control of all aspects of production, including all aspects of safety.
Perry’s mother had worked in a nursing home and he had followed the just-ended strike by workers in 11 homes in the Chicago area. “They might have gotten a dollar raise,” Perry said, “but they haven’t really won because the company will be back for more.”
They increased their unity and self-confidence by standing up and fighting, we told him. All gains workers make through our struggles are temporary as long as the exploiting class holds power. But through our struggles, we explained, we open the road to building a movement that can lead millions to replace the dictatorship of capital we live under with a government of workers and farmers. Perry subscribed to the Militant.
Working people need our own party
BY ALYSON KENNEDY
ENNIS, Texas — “The problems we face are caused by the capitalist system that puts profits first,” Socialist Workers Party member George Chalmers told former Walmart worker Kay Honza, when we came to her doorstep in this small town south of Dallas Dec. 2.
“I agree,” Honza said. “We are footing the bill so that the rich can stuff their faces. I get only $562 in Social Security after working all my life.” Her son lost his job earlier this year.
“I get very angry about what is happening to us in this country,” Honza said. “We need a march on Washington to say we want our money.”
“And we need to be at work to fight together to defend the interests of working people,” I told her. “We need to demand that the government provide immediate relief for workers without a job for as long as they need it. The only thing that will change our conditions is when we fight for our interests.” Honza got a copy of the Militant and said she would get a subscription the next time we visit.
Joshua Liska, a 22-year-old apprentice electrician, is still working, “but my wife got laid off from a small store with the first lockdown,” he said.
“The bosses pay those of us still working less wages,” I said, “they cut hours and force us to work in unsafe conditions.”
“Everything is this country is about money,” Liska said. “We have to change things.”
“Working people need our own party, a labor party based on fighting unions, that is not about getting votes, but organizing working people to fight,” Chalmers said. Liska subscribed to the Militant and purchased the book Red Zone: Cuba and the Battle Against Ebola in West Africa.