“Workers are the only class capable of leading the fight to change the conditions we face and to confront the capitalist economic and social crisis,” Joanne Kuniansky told working people she met in Paterson, New Jersey, Jan. 10, her first day campaigning as Socialist Workers Party candidate for governor in the 2021 election.
Kuniansky, who works at Walmart, and Candace Wagner, her running mate for lieutenant governor, are among the first candidates announced by the SWP this year. Wagner is a freight rail conductor and a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.
The party will have a national slate of candidates for local offices in nearly a dozen cities around the country. Campaign supporters are mapping out plans to collect the signatures needed to get the party on the ballot.
In Washington state, the SWP has nominated rail worker Henry Dennison for Seattle mayor and retail worker Rebecca Williamson for City Council.
Candidates and campaign supporters are reaching out to working people on their doorsteps, in cities and towns, on farms, at plant gates, taxi lines and truck stops. They will bring solidarity to workers on strike for better wages and working conditions, and join protests against police brutality and the U.S. economic war against Cuba. Dennison and Williamson and their campaign supporters have joined protests in solidarity with farmers in India fighting for their livelihoods.
“Workers and farmers in India and the U.S. face the same challenges and the same crisis of capitalism,” Dennison told the Militant.
Campaign supporters are meeting workers who are looking for ways to defend their interests.
“How can young people get their independence and a place of their own when rents are out of control and jobs pay so little?” retiree Beverly Scott told SWP campaigner Terry Evans after inviting him into her kitchen in Paterson. “The middle class has got more to fall back on, but it’s impossible for the rest of us to save,” said Scott, who had worked with disabled children.
Build a labor party
When she saw the Militant headline “Workers Need to Build Our Own Party, a Labor Party” she said, “That’s what I’m for — labor.”
“A labor party based on our common struggles would give workers a voice in politics,” Evans said, “and unite us to fight for what we need, not what the bosses say is possible. That’s what the SWP campaigns for.”
Scott described going with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, her union, to a Martin Luther King Day march in Washington, D.C., some years ago. “When you see all of us together, you realize we have power,” she said.
Evans introduced Scott to Kuniansky, who was campaigning nearby. She was pleased to meet the SWP candidate. “I want to march. I want to do anything that can bring us progress,” Scott said, and subscribed to the Militant.
Many of those who campaigners meet will want to join them at protest actions or picket lines, help campaign, or set up house meetings for the candidates and introduce the SWP and its action program to friends and co-workers.
The SWP campaign puts forward demands that workers and our unions can fight for today. It explains that workers need to wrest control of production from the bosses to have charge over safety and all aspects of what is made. The bosses organize production to maximize their profits with no regard for the health and safety of workers nor that of people living near their factories and other workplaces.
As workers step up struggles for better wages and conditions they will see the need to join together to fight for and establish unions. Every union contract should have an escalator clause that ensures when prices go up, wages also rise by the same amount so workers do not bear the brunt of the crisis.
“It’s important to fight for protection from the impact of today’s crisis,” Kuniansky told workers she met. “As we do so we gain confidence and become conscious of our power as a class. As we advance our struggles more working people can be won to recognizing the need to replace capitalist rule with our own government.”
SWP campaigns in 2021 will set an example that working people can break with the lesser evil shell game of choosing between the capitalist Democratic and Republican parties.
‘Militant’ renewal drive
The campaigns will also give a boost to the drive to get readers of the Militant to renew their subscriptions over the next two months and to read books by SWP leaders and other revolutionaries.
The renewal drive got off to a good start in New York over the Jan. 9 weekend. Three readers renewed their subscriptions and two purchased books.
In Aurora, Illinois, Socialist Workers Party member Dan Fein spoke with Christine York on her doorstep Jan. 9. “I take care of my elderly sick mother. The state pays me only for 15 hours a week, but I put in many more hours than that,” she said.
“I don’t trust the Democrats or Republicans. They say they are going to help us, but they don’t,” said York. “I am an independent.”
“The Socialist Workers Party is a working-class party,” Fein said. “The Democrats and Republicans are capitalist class parties of the rich. We call for workers and our unions to form a labor party based on a fighting union movement.”
York subscribed to the Militant and purchased two books: Tribunes of the People and the Trade Unions along with Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? Class, Privilege, and Learning Under Capitalism by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes.
York introduced Fein to her neighbor, Juan Delatorre, who she thought would also be interested in the Militant. He was home recovering from a shoulder operation after getting injured on the job. Delatorre got a Militant subscription and In Defense of the US Working Class by SWP leader Mary-Alice Waters.
Craig Honts in Union City, New Jersey, contributed to this article.