The stakes for working people in defeating Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine are at the center of discussions Socialist Workers Party members and supporters are having as they head into the final days of the international drive to win new readers to the Militant, books by revolutionary working-class leaders and contributions to the Militant Fighting Fund.
Communist League campaigners Ned Dmytryshyn and Katy LeRougetel showed health care worker Melanie Serre a photo in the Militant of a crowd in Dnipro, Ukraine, gathered in a subway station at a “Life will win” concert, held to celebrate the defense of the country’s independence. The CL campaigners met Serre at her doorstep in East Vancouver, British Columbia, May 7.
LeRougetel pointed out that working people in Ukraine resisting Moscow’s war, like workers fighting to defend their wages, conditions and rights in Canada, face the same crisis of capitalist rule.
Serre told the CL campaigners she herself is in a fight with her employer after being let go.
“The health care system leaves a lot to be desired,” she said. “When I saw the deaths in the seniors’ homes in Quebec, I said to my husband, ‘What the heck is going on over there?’ I was flabbergasted.” Over 4,000 people died in the province’s nursing homes in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That’s why it’s workers like you who should control and organize the workplace,” LeRougetel said.
“Makes sense,” Serre replied. “We’re right there, we know what’s going on, not sitting up in some office.” She signed up for a Militant subscription.
Book festival in Berkeley
The May 7-8 Pathfinder booth, staffed by SWP members and supporters at the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, California, was a hub of discussion about what working people are doing to defend themselves.
Tim Kopra, a union theater carpenter and artist, said he appreciated a Militant article that described how nuclear workers in Ukraine warned Russian soldiers occupying the destroyed Chernobyl nuclear plant about the dangers of radiation. “I’ve seen a number of examples of solidarity during the war,” he told Joel Britton, SWP candidate for governor of California. “It’s powerful.”
“We are for the Russians getting out of Ukraine, for the U.S. military out of Europe and against the sanctions on Russia,” Britton said. “Sanctions impact Russian workers and farmers hardest, cutting across them being won to oppose the war.”
Kopra was among the 20 people who subscribed to the Militant at the book fair, where 85 Pathfinder books were sold.
The SWP and Communist Leagues in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are campaigning to go over their goals of winning 1,600 readers to the Militant, selling the same number of books and to collect $165,000 for the Militant Fighting Fund. The drive ends May 17.
Rising prices hit workers hard
“Every time bosses give you something, they’re trying to take something else away,” Benito Cohate told this reporter when I called at his apartment in the Bronx, New York, May 8.
Cohate is a vegetable market worker at the Hunts Point Produce Terminal and member of Teamsters Local 202. He first met SWP members when they joined the picket line during his union’s one-week strike for a wage hike last year. The workers won a 70-cent-an-hour raise the first year and 50 cents the second, more than the bosses initially offered.
One of the things hitting workers and our families is rising prices for food and gas, Cohate said. The government “doesn’t care that we pay more.” “What’s needed is for unions to fight for cost-of-living escalator clauses in all contracts, Social Security and other benefits,” I said. Cohate said such clauses are not currently part of the contract where he works.
“What you’re doing, going door to door and talking to workers is important,” he said. “Republicans and Democrats are all the same. People are looking for an alternative.”
The SWP raises the need for working people to form their own political party, I said, a labor party based on the unions that can advance the fight for workers to take political power away from the capitalist rulers and into our own hands.
Sara Lobman, SWP candidate for U.S. Senate from New York, who was campaigning in the neighborhood, stopped by to meet Cohate. He subscribed to the Militant and purchased two copies of Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes, one in English for his daughter and the other in Spanish for himself. He also got Are They Rich Because They’re Smart?
“It has been far too long since the working class has had a voice,” Lance Anton, a conductor on the BNSF railroad in Lincoln, Nebraska, told Socialist Workers Party members campaigning for Joe Swanson, the party’s candidate for U.S. Congress there.
Anton hosted a dinner and social for Swanson and SWP members campaigning for him from Chicago and Minneapolis May 3-4 as well as other supporters in the area. Anton had just read Labor, Nature, and the Evolution of Humanity, one of the books on special during the SWP’s propaganda drive.
“Reading this was eye-opening,” he said. “It’s written so anyone can understand the entire sweep of human history. I feel that humanity is at a tipping point, and we need to realize our potential, our worth and organize to go forward.”
Nine people subscribed to the Militant at the social and during two days of campaigning in several working-class neighborhoods. At a shift change at one of the largest rail yards in Lincoln, SWP members sold eight copies of the paper.
To help expand the reach of the Militant, contact an SWP branch listed in the directory. To contribute to the Militant Fighting Fund, make out a check to the Militant and send it to 306 W. 37th St., 13th floor, New York, NY 10018, or donate online at themilitant.com.