DALLAS — “In the face of high unemployment, our unions need to lead a fight for a massive government-funded public works program to put millions to work at union-scale wages building hospitals, schools, affordable housing and more,” Gerardo Sánchez, Socialist Workers Party candidate for Dallas City Council District 1, told Rodrigo Gurrola here Feb. 1.
“I got laid off two months ago from a job in the oil fields near Midland,” Gurrola said. “I was working 12-hour days, six days a week and now I am not getting any unemployment.”
The SWP platform calls for cutting the workweek with no cut in pay to spread around the available work. And for every worker to get unemployment benefits for as long as they need it. A fight around these demands would help overcome divisions between workers in and out of work, and put working people in a better position to organize the unions we need.
Gurrola got a copy of the Militant and signed a petition to put Sánchez on the ballot for the May 1 election. Sánchez works in the tire and lube department at Walmart.
Supporters of the SWP 2021 election campaign from Dallas, Houston, Albuquerque and Los Angeles talked to hundreds of working people over the Jan. 30 weekend. So far over 170 people out of a goal of 200 have signed to put the party on the ballot.
“The way I see it the Democrats and Republicans are a two-headed snake,” Carlos Rodríquez told campaign supporter Leslie Dork after she knocked on his door. “When they get into office it is all about them. We need a different way.” Dork had explained that the SWP says working people need our own party, a labor party, based on a fighting union movement.
Rodríquez, who installs power lines for a telecommunications company, told her, “Right now my family has no health insurance. I can get it for myself through my job, but for my family it would cost over $1,400 a month. I owe a $12,000 medical bill for my newborn child.”
The Socialist Workers Party platform calls for workers and their unions to fight for universal, government-guaranteed cradle-to-grave health care for all as a social right — not insurance.
Party campaigners point to what working people accomplished in Cuba, where everyone receives the best health care available. Cuba has one of the highest number of doctors per capita of any country in the world. That’s only possible because working people carried out a revolution that overthrew the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and established a workers and farmers government.
Building a labor party in this country would open the road to working people in our millions doing the same.
Sánchez and Dennis Richter, a leader of the Socialist Workers Party in California, were the featured speakers at a Militant Labor Forum here Jan. 30.
“We aim to educate and raise working-class consciousness along a road to building a revolutionary movement that can take political power,” Richter said. SWP campaigners point to the example set by union struggles unfolding today for building workers’ confidence. “We are for revitalizing the unions and organizing new combinations of workers,” he said.
Sánchez noted that at least 18 Walmart workers have signed petitions to put his name on the ballot.
“My co-workers ask me ‘What does City Council do?’” Sánchez said. “I tell them that it passes budgets for the city of Dallas to protect the interests of the bosses and the wealthy. And a lot of the budget comes from taxes on working people.”
That’s why working people need to break from the Democratic and Republican parties and rely on their own strength.
Sánchez noted that there is no “Dallas” solution to the problems working people face. “Whatever happens in India with the mass protests of farmers, or with the fight to get a union at Amazon in Bessemer, Alabama, affects working people here,” he said. “We are part of the world.”
At the meeting, $800 was raised for the campaign.