Socialist Workers Party members in Pennsylvania held a statewide membership meeting in Philadelphia Jan. 26 to discuss how to use the SWP campaigns of Ved Dookhun for U.S. Senate and Candace Wagner for U.S. Congress in Pittsburgh’s District 12.
Dookhun is a freight rail conductor and a member of SMART-TD Local 1373. Wagner is a hotel worker and member of UNITE HERE Local 57. Joining in the meeting was Joanne Kuniansky, SWP candidate for U.S. Senate from New Jersey, and John Studer, the party’s national campaign director and editor of the Militant.
In a political report to the meeting, Tony Lane, chairperson of the Pittsburgh SWP, said, “There is a lot of interest by workers in the 2024 elections. There will also be real interest in the working-class political course SWP candidates present. Working people and the union movement need to break with the bosses’ Democratic and Republican parties and build our own party, a labor party, to fight to take political power into our own hands.
“We explain why a socialist revolution is the only way to disarm the imperialists, to end their system of exploitation, to end Jew-hatred, the oppression of women, racist discrimination and more.”
In the discussion, Studer said, “Alongside the Militant, the party’s campaigns are the best weapon we have to point the road forward to build a leadership capable of leading tens of millions of workers in action.
“We are living through a watershed moment in politics, following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and the murderous Oct. 7 Tehran-backed pogrom against Jews in Israel. Capitalist rulers everywhere are being driven to gird for more wars to come, including the threat of nuclear annihilation. We say this is the epoch of socialist revolution, that the working class will have its chance to take power.
“In the battles that will unfold, the SWP explains defense of constitutional freedoms won by working people over centuries is crucial today,” Studer said.
“Union battles today show workers are looking for a road forward. If we use our campaign boldly,” he said, “we will recruit to the party.”
Kuniansky invited those at the meeting to join SWP campaign supporters in New Jersey to petition to put the SWP candidates — herself, Lea Sherman for U.S. Congress and the SWP’s presidential ticket — on the ballot. And campaign supporters there look forward to campaigning together in Pennsylvania and rural areas across South Jersey.
She said Democratic Party politicians and the liberal media are determined to prevent candidates other than their own from getting on the ballot, worried it will lead to the election of Donald Trump by cutting into their own votes. “We are a working-class campaign — the capitalist politicians oppose our right to be on the ballot.”
The candidates were introduced publicly later that evening at a Militant Labor Forum, chaired by Dookhun. Wagner and Kuniansky also spoke.
Studer was the featured speaker. “The vote in Iowa showed Donald Trump will win the Republican nomination,” he said, “unless something ‘outside the normal’ occurs. And that is the intention of Democrats, to step up their witch hunt assaults on Trump, including the myriad of felony charges filed against him by Democratic prosecutors.”
As an example, Studer held up the cover of the Jan. 15 New Yorker magazine with its full-page caricature of Trump as a goose-stepping Hitler-like fascist.
“The Democrats can’t run President Biden on his record. Workers know from bitter experience that the economy under so-called Bidenomics is a disaster.”
Studer said that on Jan. 1, historic Cuban revolutionary leader Raúl Castro gave a speech in Santiago de Cuba celebrating the 65th anniversary of the revolution.
“History has taught us amply where resignation and defeatism lead to,” Castro said, pointing to the challenges they face, especially from the U.S. rulers’ relentless economic war on Cuba. “We are going to get out of these difficulties, as we have always done, by fighting!”
“That is what the SWP says here in the U.S.,” Studer said. “The working class needs to fight!”
“We point to the Cuban Revolution,” he said. “It shows what working people are capable of when we have a leadership that helps to unleash our creative capacities in the class struggle, transforming ourselves and the world.”
The discussion period after the presentations went on for over an hour as participants discussed today’s political developments and the potential of the party’s 2024 campaigns.
Port workers gear up for fight
Some 45,000 International Longshoremen’s Association members on the East, Gulf and the Great Lakes ports are preparing for a possible strike this year when their contract expires Sept. 30. A central issue is job loss from automation and other boss attacks.
In Miami, Rachele Fruit, SWP candidate for U.S. Senate from Florida, and campaign supporters visited the ILA hall there Jan. 21 and 28. “The union members talked about what they face as well as the biggest issues in the class struggle,” SWP member Steve Warshell told the Militant, including the deadly Oct. 7 pogrom against Israel by Hamas. One ILA member, a former Militant subscriber, said he has family in Israel.
“In addition, union questions were discussed, including safety on the job, deaths due to the horrific schedules, and speedup on the railroads, as well as the ILA’s upcoming contract negotiations,” Warshell said. He notes the party has for years brought the Militant and Pathfinder books by SWP leaders and other revolutionaries to sell there. “Many workers had friendly handshakes and hugs for the candidate.”
Dockworkers bought 14 copies of the Militant, a subscription and four books. One gave a $5 donation. “A worker asked us to come back with the book How Far We Slaves Have Come by Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela,” Warshell reported. “Another told us he is reading and likes Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes.
For anyone interested in learning more about the SWP and the Communist Leagues, their election campaigns and activities, contact the nearest party or CL branch.