Militant/Dan Fein Maura DeLuca (left), Socialist Workers candidate for vice president, talks with working people in Newark, N.J., July 7. More than 1,800 signed petitions July 7-8 to put party on ballot in state.
Socialist Workers: join us, join fights, build solidarity
Workers' response to campaign best in years
BY JOHN STUDER
Supporters of the Socialist Workers Party campaign received an enthusiastic response over the July 7-8 weekend from working people in New Jersey, reflecting interest in a fighting working-class perspective in response to the deepening crisis of capitalism.
In working-class neighborhoods from Newark and Camden to Jersey City and Trenton, some 1,840 people signed petitions to put James Harris and Maura DeLuca, SWP candidates for U.S. president and vice president, on the ballot in that state, well over the goal and in less time than projected. The state requires 800 signatures.
The SWP has already been confirmed for the ballot in Colorado.
"I am really glad that you are out here," John Rodrigues told DeLuca as he signed a petition in downtown Newark to put the working-class, labor, socialist ticket on the ballot in New Jersey. Telling DeLuca that he had been reading the Militant newspaper for years, he said "the Militant should be everywhere."
Jane Jordan, formerly a machine operator at a plastics company in Piscataway, N.J., was laid off in 2008 when the company moved production to Canada. "Because I haven't been able to find a job, I was thrown off unemployment last year," she said as she signed the petition.
"I am really concerned about what will happen to thousands of others when extensions of unemployment run out July 7 in New Jersey," she told DeLuca. Across the country, extended federal unemployment payments are scheduled to end by the end of the year.
The socialist campaign calls 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.
When DeLuca approached K.A. Kareem, she wouldn't sign. "This is America, no to socialism, no to communism," she said.
DeLuca explained how the campaign was joining in solidarity with workers resisting growing attacks from the bosses and their government, and campaigning for a real jobs program to lessen competition among working people and put us in a stronger position to effectively fight for our class interests.
"You may promise jobs now," Kareem said, "but they all say that and after they get elected, they don't do anything."
"This campaign is about fighting together, what we can do, not what someone else will do for you," DeLuca said. Pointing to the coverage in the Militant of Con Edison workers fighting a lockout in New York, DeLuca added, "they need your solidarity, they are standing up and fighting. It's about uniting working people. We need to get rid of this profit-driven system through revolutionary struggle like they did in Cuba."
"Where do I sign?" Kareem asked, taking the pen.
Saturday evening, DeLuca was joined by Róger Calero, SWP candidate for U.S. Congress in Harlem's 13th Congressional District, and Dan Fein, SWP candidate for U.S. Senate in New York, at a meeting in midtown Manhattan.
"My first stop on the campaign trail was the National Organization for Women's national conference," DeLuca said. "One of the biggest discussions there was on the so-called Affordable Health Care Act, which has nothing to do with health care but is rather a boon for the insurance companies and a regressive tax on workers. One women who came by the campaign table put it well. She said, replace the 1,900-plus page document with three words: 'health care for all.'
"Many of the workers we talked to today are wondering what is the root cause of the deep economic crisis we are facing, and what is the way out of it," the socialist candidate told the meeting. "These discussions, combined with struggles against the bosses, are the starting point for building a fighting vanguard movement that can advance the interests of working people and move toward the conquest of political power by the working class.
"As workers join in struggles and extend solidarity, we break down competition with each other. We can build a labor movement that champions social struggles, from the fight to defend a woman's right to choose abortion, equal rights for immigrant workers, against police brutality," she said. "This is the road to building a self-conscious and self-confident working class, that knows its own interests."
Harris campaigns in Iowa
More than 1,000 workers and others from around the state signed petitions over the July 7-8 weekend to put the presidential ticket on the ballot there. The ballot drive plans to gather 2,400 signatures by July 15.
Nearly 400 signed to place David Rosenfeld, the party's candidate for U.S. Congress in Iowa's 3rd District, on the ballot as well.
Eighty signatures were gathered in Keokuk, in eastern Iowa where 240 members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Local 48G fought a 10-month lockout by Roquette America that ended last July.
"As we were petitioning in Keokuk, we led with the campaign's support to all workers resisting the attacks of the bosses," Helen Meyers told the Militant. "Many signed immediately and a number said they would like to meet Harris when he comes back to campaign and speak in Keokuk next Saturday."
The Des Moines Register, the largest circulation paper in the state, printed an interview with Harris in its Sunday July 8 edition.
"Elections become less important than the experiences that workers begin to go through to organize themselves to learn about politics and discuss politics," Harris was quoted as saying in the Register. "And we're finding much more receptiv[ity] to that idea than we've had in years."
Harris spoke at a barbecue held after the first day of petitioning, along with Rosenfeld and Callie Miaoulis, 20, the SWP's candidate for the Nebraska State Legislature in Lincoln.
Miaoulis described some of her experiences as a new, young worker in a factory there. "A coworker spent extra time teaching me how to do the job not only right but safely after the boss yelled at me," she said. "He was especially happy to do it after he heard that I was running as a candidate for the SWP, the same party that Maura DeLuca is in, who had sold him a subscription to the Militant while going door to door in his neighborhood a few weeks earlier.
"If workers are capable of reaching out to each other in this way to stand up for someone new on the job, then imagine the type of safety and production we would be capable of without capitalism," said Miaoulis.
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