SWP campaigns to build support for labor battles, win new readers

By Vivian Sahner
October 3, 2022
BSNF rail worker Gary Cockerham, right, told SWP member Dennis Richter, center, in Ft. Worth Sept. 20 about how crew cuts and increasingly longer trains make rail work more dangerous.
Militant/Josefina OteroBSNF rail worker Gary Cockerham, right, told SWP member Dennis Richter, center, in Ft. Worth Sept. 20 about how crew cuts and increasingly longer trains make rail work more dangerous.

Members of the Socialist Workers Party — and Communist Leagues in Australia, Canada and the U.K. — are going out to workers’ doorsteps, union picket lines, labor movement events and protest actions to discuss conditions confronting workers and farmers today, what we can do to defend ourselves, and to offer solidarity to working-class struggles.

They are presenting the party’s program on the big questions in U.S. and world politics, part of an eight-week campaign to sell 1,350 Militant subscriptions, the same number of books by SWP leaders and other revolutionaries, and raise $140,000 for the annual SWP Party-Building Fund.

The Militant has unique coverage of labor struggles and the crucial place of building solidarity, which makes it an invaluable tool in building the union movement.

At several rail yards this week, workers stopped to speak with party members about proposed rail contracts, as well as the increasingly dangerous working conditions they face.

“One car could wipe out half of Houston,” Gary Cockerham, an engineer with BNSF in Haslet, Texas, told Dennis Richter and Josefina Otero Sept. 20, explaining he sometimes hauls 20 cars of hazardous material. He said he’s in favor of shorter trains and a crew of at least two workers.

Like many other rail workers, he said that another of the issues being fought over in the proposed contract is work schedules. “I can’t even go to my son’s graduation,” he said, and time with his wife is only “in passing and on vacations.” Cockerham and another engineer bought the Militant and took SWP election campaign literature.

The SWP and CL are running campaigns that champion and build support for strikes and other struggles by working people and our unions.

“Rail workers battle bosses over deadly job conditions,” the main headline in the Sept. 26 issue of the Militant, caught the attention of Amtrak workers in Oakland, California, at their shift change Sept. 15. Joel Britton, SWP candidate for governor, and campaign supporter Carole Lesnick showed the newsweekly to mechanics and others as they drove by. One bought an introductory subscription, 12 others stopped to pick up single issues of the paper and contributed $5 toward the Party-Building Fund.

Interest in SWP at Texas book fair

“For me a Militant subscription will be a way to get the truth about what is happening in the world,” Laurent Shumbusha told Gerardo Sánchez, SWP candidate for Congress in Texas, at the Pathfinder booth during the first ever Trinity River Book Festival in Fort Worth Sept. 17.

Shumbusha, a student at Texas Christian University, said he was concerned how his family members would provide for themselves if they were thrown out of work. Sánchez told him the SWP campaigns for a union-led fight for a federally funded public works program to put millions to work at union-scale pay, to build the houses, hospitals and many other things working people need.

“You don’t get this from social media,” Shumbusha said about the Militant, “and you can’t trust what you see on the news because it’s a business.” Sánchez said the SWP explains why workers need to organize independently of the bosses and their Democratic and Republican parties. Shumbusha got Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes, one of the books on special offer during the fall campaign, along with a subscription.

The Pathfinder booth, staffed by Sánchez and other SWP members, was well received. Fairgoers bought five subscriptions to the Militant and 16 books. Alyson Kennedy, SWP candidate for Texas governor, was invited by the organizers to speak on a panel about the Pathfinder titles, which offer a class-struggle approach to all political questions and a revolutionary road forward.

In Seattle, SWP members and other unionists are building support for 1,200 members of the International Association of Machinists, who went on strike Sept. 12 against Weyerhaeuser in Longview, Washington. The sawmill workers, equipment operators and log truck drivers had been working under an expired contract since May 31. They say the company’s offer of a small wage increase, while cutting vacation time and raising health care costs, is unacceptable.

During a visit to their picket line SWP member Jacob Perasso joined discussions on how broader solidarity could be built in the unions. One striker got a copy of the Militant, telling Perasso that he agreed with the need to defend constitutional freedoms under assault today. “Ultimately the attack is aimed at the working class and our unions as we begin to fight like you have done,” Perasso said.

Eleven books are on special offer when purchased with a Militant subscription. In addition, all other titles published by Pathfinder are available at a 20% discount.

A key part of the campaign is raising contributions for the SWP’s Party-Building Fund drive. Party members are unionists in the thick of today’s struggles, and the party is entirely financed from contributions by working people.

Join in! Contact the SWP or Communist League branch nearest you, listed on page 8.