SWP campaign offers program working people can use to fight

By Brian Williams
August 21, 2023
Joanne Kuniansky, right, SWP candidate for New Jersey State Senate, joined in solidarity with striking nurses, members of USW Local 4-200, at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, Aug. 6. From left, picket captain Nancy Lipschutz and nurse Patrick Miller.
Militant/Janet PostJoanne Kuniansky, right, SWP candidate for New Jersey State Senate, joined in solidarity with striking nurses, members of USW Local 4-200, at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, Aug. 6. From left, picket captain Nancy Lipschutz and nurse Patrick Miller.

Socialist Workers Party candidates and campaign supporters are presenting a political program and demands that point a road forward to defend the interests of working people, and advancing the need for solidarity with unionists fighting attacks by the bosses — from longshoremen in Canada to locomotive builders in Erie, Pennsylvania.

They are joining strike picket lines, organizing solidarity with working-class struggles, going door to door in cities and the countryside to talk to fellow workers and introduce them to the Militant, and participating in a wide variety of protests, including actions in defense of Ukraine independence in face of Moscow’s aggression. Members of the Communist Leagues in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom are doing the same.

In Los Angeles, Socialist Workers Party members and supporters of the campaign of Laura Garza for U.S. Senate from California have been participating in a wide range of labor actions, from practice pickets at UPS before the Teamsters’ contract expired, to rallies and picket lines of hotel workers on strike. “Over three days we sold eight subscriptions and 20 books to Teamsters at UPS,” SWP leader Norton Sandler told the Militant. 

UPS workers get the ‘Militant’

Sandler and SWP member Ellie García spoke to workers Aug. 6 going into a Teamsters local union meeting for UPS workers so they could learn more about the details of the tentative contract. Sandler and García set up a table with books by leaders of the SWP and other revolutionaries and stayed around for several hours talking to workers as they came out of the meeting. At that one meeting five UPS workers bought subscriptions and 17 books.

“The key was that we had participated in four of the practice picket lines in the area the union organized ahead of a possible strike,” said Sandler. 

“When we went to the practice picket lines, we would get there early. Party members would introduce ourselves as unionists and retired unionist supporters and let them know ‘We’re with you guys,’” García added. “We’d show the Militant  and ask them about conditions they faced on the job.”

“By the time of the union contract meetings, many workers already knew us,” García said. “They saw us as part of their fight. It’s not just the books and the Militant, it’s getting to know people and building relations with them.”

“That’s how we learned about the contract discussion meetings,” Sandler said. “Two workers texted us to let us know the details.”

“We’ve sold a slew of Teamster Rebellion  especially, but also Teamster Power  and Teamster Politics, books by Farrell Dobbs,” Sandler said. Dobbs was the central leader of the Teamsters union in Minnesota and a leader of what became the Socialist Workers Party at the time. “UPS workers want to know their history,” Sandler said, so they can strengthen the union. The four volumes by Dobbs, including Teamster Bureaucracy, describe lessons of the class-struggle leadership of the strikes and organizing drives that transformed the Teamsters union in much of the Midwest in the 1930s into a fighting social movement. 

Also sold were copies of The Low Point of Labor Resistance Is Behind Us: The Socialist Workers Party Looks Forward, by SWP leaders Jack Barnes, Mary-Alice Waters and Steve Clark, and Malcolm X, Black Liberation and the Road to Workers Power, by Barnes.

“We’re doing the same things in the rotating strikes by hotel workers,” said García. They made copies of a campaign statement by Laura Garza and have been distributing them at the rallies and picket lines.

NJ nurses strike for more staffing

In New Brunswick, New Jersey, Joanne Kuniansky, SWP candidate for State Senate, and Osborne Hart, SWP candidate for Philadelphia City Council, joined picketing nurses on strike at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Aug. 6.  

“When we demanded better staffing, Barnabas, the hospital owners, told us that nurses in all their other hospitals would want that!” picket captain Nancy Lipschutz told Kuniansky. “We have been asking for better staffing ratios for years. Safe staffing saves lives.” 

Lipschutz said that Barnabas Health gives huge campaign contributions “to both sides of the aisle.” She noted that New Jersey Gov. Philip Murphy, a Democrat, “hasn’t said a word about our strike.” 

 “I am at a crossroads. I don’t know what the answer is,” Lipschutz said. “Voting for the lesser of two evils is no way to vote.” 

“And you still end up with one of the evils,” said Kuniansky. “We need a working-class party, a labor party, based on the unions. It would be supported by a lot of workers and farmers.” 

“I absolutely agree,” said Lipschutz. “Candidates should be a service to the community, not just out there raising these outrageous campaign budgets.”

It’s through today’s struggles, including strikes by nurses, writers, actors and hotel workers, that workers begin to see the power of solidarity, Hart said, and the need to organize independent of the capitalist parties.

 Lipschutz and other nurses took campaign literature and got copies of the Militant. 

Anti-working-class tax scheme

In London, some 200 people rallied in Trafalgar Square Aug. 5 to protest the city government’s expansion of its Ultra-Low Emission Zone to the outer boroughs. The anti-working-class scheme, championed by Mayor Sadiq Khan, imposes a 12.50 pound ($16) daily charge on all vehicles driving within the zone if they are deemed “noncompliant” with emission standards. 

Members of the Communist League joined the protest with a sign saying, “Stop ULEZ! For a union-led fight against green taxes on working people.”

“It would cost 15,000 pounds to replace our two vans that are noncompliant,” Dave Whittington, who works for a small printing company in Staines, told Communist League member Ögmundur Jónsson. 

“It’s through strikes and other union-led struggles, including against regressive taxes like ULEZ,” Jónsson said, “that workers can build a party of labor that fights for all working people and can lead the struggle for a workers and farmers government.”

Whittington bought a copy of the Militant  and left his number to stay in touch. “I’m glad to meet like-minded people here,” he said.

Many at the rally were interested in discussing the witch hunt in the U.S. against Donald Trump led by the Democratic Party and FBI and the dangers this poses for political freedoms working people need. Rally participants bought four books, including The Low Point of Labor Resistance Is Behind Us and Fifty Years of Covert Operations in the US: Washington’s Political Police and the American Working Class by Larry Seigle. One Militant  subscription was also sold. 

Partisans of the Militant  should take advantage of the increase in labor battles to get in touch with subscribers, invite them to bring solidarity to strike picket lines, to further discuss the working-class course presented in the paper, and to encourage them to renew.

To join in campaigning with the SWP candidates and Communist Leagues, see list of party campaign offices in the directory. 

Janet Post in Philadelphia and Ögmundur Jónsson in London contributed to this article.