Working-class fighters speak on, help raise money for, the 'Militant'BY LEA SHERMANSuccessful Militant Fighting Fund meetings last weekend boosted the campaign to raise $120,000 for the working-class newsweekly. Twin Cities sent in $4,479 from their fund meeting and raised their local quota from $6,500 to $7,200. More than $5,300 was collected at a meeting of 60 in Seattle. Meetings were also held in New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.On the speakers panel in Seattle May 12 were James Harris, Socialist Workers candidate for U.S. Senate in California; and Dan Coffman, president of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 in Longview, Wash.; and Ralph Rider, an executive board member of Local 21. Mary Martin, SWP candidate for governor of Washington, chaired the meeting.
Coffman talked about his union's two-year struggle against EGT Development's attempt to shut the ILWU out of its grain terminal at the Port of Longview. Union members are now working in the terminal from where their fight continues.
"Thanks to the Militant people for coming to Longview every Saturday and not only telling the truth in the paper but participating in the picket lines and canvassing neighborhoods in the community," Coffman said.
Harris talked about the worldwide capitalist economic crisis and the importance of workers' struggles today, from the ILWU's fight in Longview to port truck drivers in Los Angeles who recently won a union. "This increases the confidence of workers, which is necessary along the road toward workers wresting power from the capitalist class. Workers need our own revolutionary party to help lead our class and its allies in this direction."
A lively discussion ensued on questions ranging from the energy policy of the proletariat and nuclear power to the Occupy movement.
"This meeting and the Militant help further my knowledge of struggles of the working class," said Nathan Clifton, a warehouse worker who bought a subscription at a May Day action.
Sharing the platform at the May 11 fund event in the Twin Cities were John Hawkins, Socialist Workers candidate in the 1st Congressional District in Illinois, and Becki Jacobson and Scott Ripplinger, two workers fighting the ongoing lockout by American Crystal Sugar.
"We are always much better off fighting," said Hawkins who described several struggles, including the recent walkout by Caterpillar workers in Joliet, Ill.; the fight of uranium workers at Honeywell in Metropolis, Ill.; and the fight by 1,300 sugar workers locked out by American Crystal in Minnesota and North Dakota since Aug. 1. "The rulers are determined to drive us down. By putting up a fight, we come out stronger and more ready for the next struggle."
"The Militant is an awesome paper," Jacobson said. "It doesn't depress us like the Fargo Forum, which paints us as no good, lazy union workers."
Ripplinger described the impact of the struggle on the locked-out workers as a social awakening. "Many of us are different people," he said.
"I have subscribed to the Militant for many months now," added Ripplinger. "It is a good paper that lifts our spirits because it puts our fight in the forefront. It makes us feel less alone by connecting us to other struggles." Ripplinger said he often brings the paper to the picket lines for others to read.
Socialist workers have been getting contributions to the fund while distributing the paper. For example, during door-to-door sales last week in Atlanta, a nurse contributed $23 after purchasing Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power with an introductory subscription, reported Jacob Perasso.
At the fund event in Houston, factory worker Antonio Jimenez made a first-time pledge to the fund of $50. "I looked at the chart on the wall with the goal of $4,000 and I wanted to do something to keep the Militant coming out. I wanted to help raise this money because the Militant keeps me informed."
Buddy Howard, a leader of the 10-month fight against a lockout last year by Roquette America in Keokuk, Iowa, recently sent in $50 to the fund on behalf of himself and two other Roquette workers. Unable to attend, he sent a message to the fundraising meeting in Des Moines:
"As you know, we have accepted a lousy contract with a few gains from an earlier lousier contract to continue our fight inside. We have ex-scabs joining the union as they find out we were actually holding out to better their wages and benefits. Many of them have found out what kind of company they work for and what being in a union means.
"Our struggle opened many of my comrades' eyes so that we can see other struggles that were/are going on. We now keep in contact with groups like Northern Illinois Jobs with Justice, the USW 7-669 workers, the BCTGM workers locked out by Crystal Sugar, the Teamsters in Henry, Ill., the UFCW workers in Muscatine, Iowa, going on four years of being locked out by GPC.
"I talked to AFSCME Red Cross workers who became AFSCME five years ago and are still waiting for their first contract. This should tell people that we need our own workers party.
"Thanks to the Militant and the SWP for all the support you give workers. I'll never forget all you did for us in our struggle. In SOLIDARITY. And now we continue the fight, don't we."
To contribute, contact distributors listed on page 8, or send a check made out to the Militant to: The Militant, 306 W. 37th St., 10th floor, New York, NY 10018.
Edwin Fruit in Seattle and Frank Forrestal in Minneapolis contributed to this article.