SWP Oakland campaign helps expand reach of the ‘Militant’

By Betsey Stone
May 17, 2021
Rebecca Williamson, SWP candidate for Seattle City Council, talks with construction worker Luis Montes, right, while campaigning to put Joel Britton on the ballot in California’s 18th Assembly District April 28. Montes, who worked at Tesla, said bosses “treat us like we’re stupid.”
Militant/Eric SimpsonRebecca Williamson, SWP candidate for Seattle City Council, talks with construction worker Luis Montes, right, while campaigning to put Joel Britton on the ballot in California’s 18th Assembly District April 28. Montes, who worked at Tesla, said bosses “treat us like we’re stupid.”

OAKLAND, Calif. — Some 230 people were happy to sign to put Socialist Workers Party candidate Joel Britton on the ballot during a three-day petitioning window for the Aug. 31 special election for State Assembly in the 18th District. Election officials informed Britton, a Walmart worker, May 3 that he had enough signatures to win ballot status and didn’t have to pay the filing fee of over $1,100.

Campaign supporters distributed hundreds of flyers with the party’s program and won 15 new Militant subscribers as they fanned out across the district, talking with workers at their doorsteps and in Walmart parking lots.

The course of independent working-class political action and support of labor and social struggles today advanced by Britton and the national slate of 21 SWP candidates around the U.S., as well as Communist League candidates in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, are a key feature of the nine-week international drive to sell 1,400 subscriptions to the Militant, 1,400 books on working-class politics and raise $145,000 for the Militant Fighting Fund. The drive runs from April 24 to June 29.

The response in the first week of the drive — 327 subscriptions and 294 books sold — shows the growing openings for expanding the readership of the Militant, communist books and support for the SWP campaigns among working people and youth who are thirsty to understand the roots of the capitalist crisis they face and are looking for a road forward. The Militant and books by leaders of the SWP and other revolutionaries are invaluable for learning the lessons of past working-class struggles and for joining together today to advance the interests of working people.

Britton and campaign supporter Jerry Freiwirth were warmly greeted by retired tire company worker Jerry Jordan outside his home here. Jordan told them he had heard the speech by President Joseph Biden the night before outlining his plans for spending over a trillion dollars for various government programs. “I’m hoping something good will come out of this,” he said.

“This is not the first time the capitalist politicians have made big promises to change things,” Britton said. “But the Democratic and Republican parties will never solve the fundamental problems, like unemployment that working people face.” The Democrats especially try to convince working people that the way to solve problems is to rely on the government and spend a lot of money. Much of this spending is just a transfer of wealth into the hands of the bosses.

“There used to be centers in Oakland where thousands of young people learned construction skills,” Jordan said. “Now that’s long gone.”

“Instead of relying on the capitalist politicians, workers ourselves need to get organized, to strengthen our unions, to fight for a massive government-funded public works program at union-scale wages to put people to work, building hospitals, child care centers and other things workers need,” Britton said. “We need to build a labor party that can fight to take power out of the hands of the capitalist rulers and establish a government of workers and farmers.”

Jordan signed the petition and subscribed to the Militant. “I’m glad you came by,” he said.

‘Tired of the Democrats and Republicans’

DALLAS — “While campaigning at the AFL-CIO union election day picnic May 1, I met a worker who told me, ‘I just voted for you because I’m tired of the other candidates who don’t do anything for us,’” Gerardo Sánchez, Socialist Workers Party candidate for City Council in District 1 here, told over a dozen participants at a campaign forum that evening.

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The SWP candidates don’t promise to do anything for working people. They say that working people need to fight together, to come to the aid of fellow workers on strike, to organize the unorganized, to speak out against capitalist exploitation and oppression everywhere in the world.

“Two young people told me, ‘Hey we know you. You changed our tires,’” said Sánchez, who works in Walmart’s auto department. They were among the seven people at the picnic who got Militant subscriptions. Three others bought Pathfinder books.

Sánchez and supporters took the campaign all over Dallas and the region. They joined protests against the military junta in Myanmar. “We walked the picket line with United Auto Workers on strike in Scottsville,” Sánchez said. “These workers agreed to extend a union contract for a year when the pandemic began. Now they are fighting to end a seven-days-a-week, 12-hour-a-day schedule.

“Some 650 members of the United Steelworkers at the Exxon oil refinery in Beaumont were locked out of their jobs last night,” he said. “We’re going to head there soon to learn about their fight and bring solidarity.”

Róger Calero, SWP candidate for mayor of New York City, joined weekend campaigning and spoke at the forum. “The bosses came out of the pandemic thinking workers will be desperate,” Calero said. “But they are finding out their assumption was wrong. The ATI steelworkers say, ‘This concession stand is closed.’ Workers locked out at Marathon Oil remain strong. And coal miners in Alabama rejected an insulting contract proposal and went on strike against Warrior Met coal bosses.”

Over $900 was collected to help expand the reach of the Dallas Socialist Workers Party in Texas. Participants in the meeting also pledged $1,940 for the international Militant Fighting Fund. Unlike the capitalist press, the Militant depends entirely on the contributions of working people.

Want to help expand the readership of the Militant and other communist literature? Contribute to the Militant Fighting Fund? See the directory for the distributor nearest you. Or you can log on to themilitant.com to subscribe or contribute online.