In the final couple of weeks leading up to elections, candidates of the Socialist Workers Party are campaigning to get out news of key strikes and working-class battles worldwide and presenting the party’s program. And they are introducing working people to the Militant and books published by Pathfinder.
In Cincinnati, Jacquie Henderson, SWP candidate for U.S. Congress, spoke with rail workers at the CSX yard Oct. 13. Some workers were already familiar with the Militant and its coverage of the rail unions’ fight against boss and government attacks from an earlier visit by campaign supporters, but for most it was the first time they saw a copy of the paper or met Henderson.
The conductors, machinists, and track workers there told her and campaign supporter John Hawkins that they were from several different unions, but had all closely followed the recent vote of Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way workers rejecting the contract offered to them. Some pulled to the side of the road to explain what they faced on the job with impossible work schedules that allowed no family life or needed rest and the increased danger on the job due to cuts in the number of workers.
Two rail workers got subscriptions to the Militant, one with a copy of Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? Another worker bought The Turn to Industry: Forging a Proletarian Party.
Socialist Workers Party members from Chicago and Minneapolis traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska, Oct. 11 to campaign for Joe Swanson, a retired rail worker and SWP candidate for Congress.
Campaign supporters spoke with rail workers at the BNSF rail maintenance base in Lincoln, discussing the contracts being voted on with the large railroad carriers. In the evening they met with Lance Anton, a freight conductor and member of SMART-TD, about the right of rail workers to strike. “Our class has to organize and get stronger to respond with solidarity when needed,” Anton said. “Workers need to see their worth and value of their labor. If need be, workers in unions will have to strike and fight for a living wage and safer working conditions and work schedules.”
Naomi Craine, a rail worker from Chicago and SWP candidate for Illinois governor, pointed to the example of the coal miners who struck in the middle of World War II despite the threats of the bosses and the U.S. government. The postal workers did the same thing in 1970. “The unions can take what we are strong enough to take,” Craine said. Anton said workers need to know this history.
In Minneapolis, campaigners participated in the annual Twin Cities Book Festival Oct. 15. A feature of the eight-week campaign to get 1,350 Militant subscriptions and to sell an equal number of books is the special offer on Pathfinder titles featured in the ad. All titles are 20% off to Militant subscribers. Thirteen people at the fair signed up for Militant subscriptions and 25 Pathfinder titles were purchased.
Another key part of the fall campaign is the annual SWP Party-Building Fund, with its goal of $140,000. All the party’s work is based on contributions from workers and farmers.
In Montreal, Communist League members joined a rally of 750 in support of protests in Iran Oct. 15. A number of Kurds, dressed in traditional clothing, joined the action, including Maryam Dayani. “All nationalities are united against the regime — Kurds, Baluch, Turkmens, Gilaki, Fars and others,” she told campaign supporter Mary Ellen Marus.
“This is beyond one country, this is for humanity,” Elham, who didn’t want her last name used, told Katy LeRougetel, a League candidate for Quebec’s National Assembly in Montreal and member of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union. Elham said she thought the Canadian government should be careful in accepting people into the country.
“I agree that the fight of the Iranian people for their rights is for all working people around the world,” said LeRougetel, “but asking the Canadian government to use the anti-terrorism laws against immigration will weaken us. The government can use those laws against anyone protesting its policies. They are very sweeping.”
“There were lots of movements in Iran in the last decades, every time it got big, it was cut off. They killed, used orders, repressed using all the force they had,” Maral, who like Elham, didn’t want to use her last name for fear of reprisals against family members in Iran, told campaign supporter Rosemary Ray. “This time around we feel it’s different.”
A table set up by the League attracted interest. Four participants signed up for Militant subscriptions, four bought books and others exchanged contact information with League members.
For more information on the SWP campaigns and the effort to win new readers, contact the SWP or Communist League branch nearest you.