'Join us, join with us'
Working-class, labor, socialist campaign
|Militant photos by Eric Simpson|
|James Harris and Maura DeLuca, SWP candidates for U.S. president and vice president.|
by john studer
James Harris and Maura DeLuca have begun crisscrossing the U.S., campaigning as the Socialist Workers Party candidates for president and vice president.
Harris visited Longview, Wash., June 28 to join with longshore workers from the West Coast, as well as from Japan, Denmark, New Zealand and Australia, to stand in solidarity with Robert McEllrath, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, at his trial on trumped-up charges in connection with the battle to defeat the union-busting drive by EGT Development there.
"I went to Longview in solidarity with McEllrath and the ILWU," Harris said in a phone interview. "The Socialist Workers campaign wanted to be there, to talk to workers about their fight in order to spread the word, especially because the longshore workers stood down the company's union busting."
"I got a chance to do just that a few hours later when I joined the Teamster picket line at the Davis Wire strike in Kent," Harris added. "These workers face a ferocious campaign by the bosses—speedup on the job, longer and longer work hours, trying to squeeze every ounce of labor out of them to increase profits. They told me it's common for the foremen to try to intimidate them into skipping meals and breaks."
Workers at Davis Wire have been on strike since May 21. They said they have faced more and more injuries from cranked-up line speed and forced overtime and are refusing to accept the company's demands for large increases in health insurance costs.
"One worker I talked to told me he had been pressured to work 63 straight days," Harris said. "They were very interested in how the longshore workers had been able to force EGT to back down."
Harris, 64, is a long-time SWP leader and union militant and was the party's candidate for president in 1996 and 2000.
The propertied rulers have no control over the worldwide contraction of production and trade and accompanying turmoil in banking and finance, the SWP candidates explain. They react by assaulting the wages, rights and very dignity of workers.
A fighting road forwardThe party is running a working class, labor, socialist campaign. The candidates and their supporters are helping build solidarity with workers' struggles and engaging in discussions on a fighting road forward to combat the consequences for workers and farmers of the world capitalist crisis, which has only just begun.
The Socialist Workers Party is joining the resistance with a program of struggle to defend the most immediate needs of the working class. This includes a demand for a massive, government funded public works program to put millions to work at union scale wages, building high-quality housing and safe and convenient public transportation affordable for workers, as well as schools, child care centers, recreational facilities and other infrastructure to improve the living conditions of working people.
The campaign points to the need to organize unions and use union power, transforming them through struggle into organizations that champion all the broader social and political struggles in the interests of the working class and its allies here and the world over.
The campaign will join in gatherings of small farmers, at protests against police brutality and "stop and frisk," rallies against U.S. wars and use of killer drones from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Africa and elsewhere, against attacks on immigrant workers, with students facing unpayable debt loads, and families whose homes have been foreclosed.
If we are going to advance our interests against those of the bosses, the SWP candidates explain, working people and our unions need to organize independently of the capitalist parties, the Democrats and Republicans. The socialists point to the necessity of building a mass revolutionary movement led by the working class capable of wresting political power from the propertied rulers and transforming ourselves and all of society.
DeLuca attended the June 29-July 1 convention of the National Organization for Women in Baltimore, Md., where she spoke with many of the 500 participants about how the capitalist rulers target women, seeking to reinforce their second-class status as a bludgeon against all working people.
"I'm a factory worker. I have worked in union and nonunion plants and have seen that our strength comes when we organize and come together, women and men fighting shoulder to shoulder, against speedup, cuts in wages, longer hours, whatever," DeLuca said during the discussion at a convention workshop titled, "Women Workers of the World: Unite to Fight for Our Dignity and Our Rights."
DeLuca, 33, worked as a welder at Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing in Lincoln, Neb., making rail cars and farm utility vehicles.
DeLuca also spoke in a workshop on the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, where the gains for women in the Cuban Revolution were discussed and debated. One of the three panelists for the session was scheduled to be Patricia Pego Guerra, First Secretary of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, but the U.S. government blocked her from attending.
"The reason that Cuba is an example for women and men around the world is that millions of workers, peasants and young people fought together and got rid of the profit-based system of capitalism," said DeLuca.
"As this book explains," DeLuca added, holding up Women in Cuba: The Making of a Revolution Within the Revolution, "change was in the air and women demanded to be part of it." Seven copies of the book were sold at the convention.
DeLuca also told delegates who came to the campaign table about the fight to win freedom for the Cuban 5—Fernando González, René González, Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernández, and Ramón Labañino—framed up and imprisoned in U.S. jails for monitoring counterrevolutionary Cuban-American groups with a 50-year record of deadly attacks on Cuba and supporters of the Cuban Revolution.
Many women at the convention were interested in the socialist campaign. Shirley Ann Rawls, an Air Force veteran, agreed on the need for workers to break with the Democratic and Republican parties. "The two parties are in cahoots with each other," she told DeLuca. "They don't represent working people."
Rawls was one of 15 conference participants who picked up a subscription to the Militant, the campaign newspaper. She also got a copy of Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power, and a couple of the campaign's buttons, one of which she put on.
Over the next few weeks the socialist candidates will be joining campaigners in efforts to put the ticket on the ballot in Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Louisiana, New Jersey and Washington state. The party's ticket has already been certified for the ballot in Colorado.Join us, join with us. Help the working-class, labor, socialist campaign reach the broadest layers of workers, farmers, youth and others.
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