SWP campaign expands reach, builds solidarity in Ill. coalfields

By Roy Landersen
June 28, 2021
Dennis Richter, SWP candidate for California governor, talks to unemployed home care worker Liliana Garcia in San Ysidro June 11 about amnesty for undocumented workers living in U.S.
Militant/Deborah LiatosDennis Richter, SWP candidate for California governor, talks to unemployed home care worker Liliana Garcia in San Ysidro June 11 about amnesty for undocumented workers living in U.S.

Everywhere Socialist Workers Party campaigners are finding interest in discussing what workers and farmers face and how we can stand up together against the bosses’ assaults.

Campaigners are in the final weeks of a nine-week drive to sell 1,400 Militant subscriptions, 1,400 books by SWP and other revolutionary leaders and to raise $145,000 for the Militant Fighting Fund.

John Hawkins, a former miner, led a team with other SWP campaigners to introduce the party on workers’ doorsteps and at mine portals in the southern Illinois coalfields, June 4-5.

Hawkins and Kaitlin Estill described the strike by coal miners against Warrior Met in Alabama to a person at one door in Sparta. Inside the house Shyana Cole overheard the conversation and came out to ask the SWP campaigners if they “were for or against the union.”

“Once we explained we supported the unions and their fights,” Hawkins said, “she told us she was raised on the UMWA picket line” and that they needed to meet her father.

So the team visited Earl Cole, a union miner for more than 40 years, in Coulterville. He was pleased to hear reports about the strike at Warrior Met and other union battles taking place today. “I know what these guys are going through, when we were on strike in the ’90s, it was rough. But sometimes it’s the only way to win.”

Hawkins described concessions forced on the miners at Warrior Met when the company declared bankruptcy in 2016. Cole said it was the same at companies he had worked for where retirees faced the loss of health care provisions and then their pensions.

“It’s going to take a mass movement of workers and farmers to take power to run things in our class interests,” Hawkins said. Cole was interested in reading more about how to make that possible and got a Militant subscription.

At the shift change at the M-Class #1 Mine, a woman dropping her husband off at work got a subscription, eight miners got single copies of the Militant and one got the pamphlet, The 1985-86 Hormel Meat-Packers Strike in Austin, Minnesota.


SAN YSIDRO, Calif. — “We are for fighting for amnesty for undocumented workers in the U.S. so these workers can be in a better position to fight for their rights,” Dennis Richter, Socialist Workers Party candidate for governor, told Liliana Garcia, an unemployed in-home care worker, at her doorstep here June 11. “It would lessen the ability of the bosses to divide workers in their effort to drive all our wages and working conditions down.”

“It should be equal for everyone at work,” Garcia said. “I’m for amnesty but not for letting in delinquents,” a view expressed by some of the working people Richter and SWP campaigners spoke to during a three-day team to expand the party’s reach near the Mexico border.

“We’re for working people in the U.S. giving solidarity to the struggles by those in Mexico and other countries who face the same things we do — lower wages and higher prices,” Richter responded. “In Guatemala, where Vice President Kamala Harris just went, workers need jobs too, jobs that pay enough to live on. We are for cost-of-living increases to offset every rise in prices.”

“Prices are increasing in Tijuana, too,” Garcia said. Many workers reside in Tijuana because it is cheaper to live on the Mexican side of the border but work in the U.S. where wages are relatively higher. People from both countries also go back and forth to shop, making it the busiest borderland crossing in the Western Hemisphere.

Several people SWP campaigners spoke to pointed out that U.S. authorities have drastically restricted border crossings. Now “there is only one walk-in entrance to and from Mexico,” which can take up to six hours, Garcia said.

Richter met a transit worker in San Ysidro who told him that having a union meant he and his co-workers had a way to stand up to bosses when they try to increase workloads or press workers to work in unsafe conditions.

“Workers need to fight for control of conditions on the job,” Richter said. The transit worker got a copy of In Defense of the US Working Class by SWP leader Mary-Alice Waters.

The team to the San Diego area sold nine subscriptions and seven books by SWP leaders and other revolutionaries. These publications explain why the rule of the capitalist class is the root of the problem workers face and what we can do to build a movement to bring a workers and farmers government to power.

Cuban Revolution

Rebecca Williamson, SWP candidate for City Council in Seattle, reports that one of her Walmart co-workers, Hadya Ahmade, bought a subscription to the Militant. Originally from Afghanistan, Ahmade also picked up The Long View of History by George Novack, Women’s Liberation and the African Freedom Struggle by Thomas Sankara, and Making History: Interviews with Four Generals of Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces, all in Farsi. “It’s amazing seeing books here in Persian. I like strong books for women and history,” she said, adding that she also wanted “to learn about the revolution in Cuba.”

Mary Martin from Twin Cities reports that June 11-13 efforts boosted the campaign to get Doug Nelson, SWP candidate for mayor of Minneapolis, on the ballot. Campaigners now have 427 signatures toward their goal of 700 and signed up six new Militant subscribers.

To join campaigning with SWP candidates, subscribe to the Militant and get books on revolutionary working-class politics, or to contribute to the Militant Fighting Fund, see the directory. Or visit themilitant.com to purchase a subscription and contribute online.