SWP expands reach of ‘Militant,’ supports today’s union struggles

By Janet Post
January 1, 2024
John Hawkins, left, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate from Ohio, brings solidarity, the Militant to picket line of striking DHL workers in Hebron, Kentucky, Dec. 8.
Militant/Betsy Farley John Hawkins, left, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate from Ohio, brings solidarity, the Militant to picket line of striking DHL workers in Hebron, Kentucky, Dec. 8.

Members of the Socialist Workers Party in the U.S. and the Communist Leagues in Australia, Canada and the U.K. are discussing the fight against Jew-hatred, building support for today’s union struggles and presenting a revolutionary working-class program to workers on their doorsteps, at plant gates and strike picket lines, and to students on campus.

SWP members Candace Wagner, Dave Ferguson and Tony Lane campaigned outside the Wabtec locomotive engine plant near Erie, Pennsylvania, Dec. 12. Last summer the 1,400 members of the Electrical Workers union there had gone on strike to fight for better pay and health care, and the right to strike over grievances. SWP members joined their picket line in solidarity.  

“We’re campaigning against Jew-hatred and explaining the importance of unions joining this fight,” party members told workers who stopped to talk. 

“Why didn’t the union tell us you were coming?” one worker asked Lane. “I’ll go now to the ATM and get some cash.” He soon returned, bought a copy of the Militant  and the book, 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. He donated the balance of his $20 bill before going into the plant.

Most workers appreciated hearing a working-class perspective on Israel’s right to exist as a refuge for Jews. But one worker told Wagner he is against the U.S. government getting involved anywhere in the world. 

“The U.S. military defends the interests of the U.S. rulers worldwide, not those of the working class,” Wagner replied. “What we’re explaining is the right of Israel to defend itself and the need to defeat Hamas.” 

The worker did not agree. “Israel is Zionist and doesn’t deserve support,” he said.

All told, two workers subscribed to the Militant  and five bought single copies. 

Jew-hatred is a union question

On Dec. 14 supporters of Naomi Craine, SWP candidate for Congress, campaigned outside the Ford assembly plant in Chicago where 4,600 members of UAW Local 551 had struck this fall along with thousands of fellow autoworkers across the country.  

“What Hamas did on Oct. 7 was horrible,” one worker told party member Dean Hazlewood. “Coming in on paragliders, taking hostages, killing children. What kind of group does that?”

Hazlewood pointed to the determination of Hamas to kill Jews in Israel and its overall reactionary character. 

Around the world “Jews are scapegoated for the deepening economic crisis,” he said. “Charting an independent working-class course to take political power is the only road to end Jew-hatred.”

The worker told Hazlewood he wanted to learn more about the SWP. Along with four others he got a copy of the Militant.  

Since the Oct. 7 pogrom, SWP members in Minneapolis have set up a campaign table four times at the University of Minnesota with signs saying, “Defend Israel’s right to exist as a refuge for Jews” and “Defend Ukraine’s right to sovereignty.” 

“We noticed quite a few ‘thumbs up,’ and of course, some negative responses as well,” party member Edwin Fruit told the Militant.

One student told Fruit she was angry at women’s rights organizations that refused to speak out against the sexual assaults against women by Hamas during its Oct. 7 massacre. Fruit showed her a chart in the Militant  portraying the plunge in the Jewish populations of several European countries from 1933 to today, as a result of the Nazis’ Holocaust. She said she hadn’t seen this before, got a copy of the paper and said she’d consider subscribing. 

In Philadelphia, SWP members joined more than 1,000 people at a rally against Jew-hatred at the Rodeph Shalom synagogue Dec. 10. In attendance was Michael Solomonov, owner of the Goldie falafel shop there. Pro-Hamas demonstrators menaced his shop and call for a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses.  

“As people waited to get into the synagogue, they saw our sign saying, “Condemn Jew-hating pogrom! Defend Israel’s right to exist!” SWP member John Staggs told the Militant. 

“One person looked at the paper and said, ‘You need to get this out. I hope this helps.’ He reached into his pocket and gave me all the $1 bills he had.” A total of 27 Militants were sold and another $20 was donated. 

To join in campaigning with the SWP or the Communist Leagues, contact the nearest branch listed in the directory.