CHICAGO — Members and supporters of the Socialist Workers Party have stepped up campaigning for the party’s candidate for mayor, Ilona Gersh. They’re taking the campaign to fellow workers on their doorsteps, at factory gates and at protests called to defend working-class interests.
Gersh and supporters campaigned in Woodlawn, a working-class neighborhood on the city’s South Side Feb. 19. The area has been in the news since city officials opened a long-shuttered public school as a temporary shelter for immigrants from Venezuela. The media has played up opposition by some residents to the housing of some 250 immigrants, among more than 5,000 recently bused here from Texas, in the predominantly Black neighborhood.
One of those Gersh spoke to was Sean Streeter, a counselor at a local high school and member of the Chicago Teachers Union. “I support amnesty for undocumented workers in this country,” Gersh said. “The unions should champion this demand. It’s the only way for the working class to unite and cut across the divisions that the ruling class foists on us. What do you think?”
“I don’t see a problem with the Venezuelans coming here and staying at the school,” he replied. “But I have a friend who sees things differently. He says we have limited resources and shouldn’t be spending them on immigrants.”
“Our unions need to fight for a federally funded jobs program,” Gersh said, “that can put millions of people to work at union-scale wages building things like housing that workers need. The problem isn’t a lack of resources, but the fact that the capitalists and their government only do what will be profitable for the bosses.”
“What made you decide to run for mayor?” asked Streeter.
“To explain that working people need to build a party of our own, a labor party based on the unions, and break with the Democrats, Republicans and other capitalist candidates,” replied Gersh.
“There are more opportunities today for working people to organize solidarity with union strikes and struggles, like the fight of railroad workers for safety on the job.”
Streeter signed up for a Militant subscription to learn more about these questions.
Gersh took part in a rally by a few dozen people in Milwaukee Feb. 18, calling for the repeal of Wisconsin’s abortion ban, which forces women seeking an abortion to travel to neighboring states, and to protest against the prosecution of people who violate the law. She was asked by a TV reporter there why she had come from Illinois to join the rally. “We support the fight to decriminalize abortion,” Gersh said, “as part of the fight for conditions that make it possible for workers to support families and not be torn apart — for jobs, child care, health care and other necessities.”
Over the week leading up to the Feb. 28 election, Socialist Workers Party supporters plan to campaign outside the Ford assembly plant and the Alpha Bakery, where Gersh works. They will go to a farming area south of the city, and join in a rally in defense of Ukraine’s sovereignty on the anniversary of Moscow’s invasion.