The SWP candidates
Alyson Kennedy grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Indianapolis. She was attracted to political action in high school as she watched TV coverage of workers and youth who were Black battling racist cops and KKK thugs across the South and overturning Jim Crow segregation. She moved to Kentucky, where she was part of the fight to desegregate Louisville public schools in 1975.
Kennedy works at Walmart in Chicago and is part of the movement for $15 an hour, full-time work and a union that has sprung up among fast-food, Walmart and many other workers.
A socialist and trade union fighter for more than four decades, Kennedy, 65, is a member of the Socialist Workers Party's National Committee. She was the SWP candidate for vice president in 2008 and for U.S. Senate from Illinois in 2010.
She has worked in coal mines in Alabama, Colorado, Utah and West Virginia. She joined the United Mine Workers in 1981. She became part of the Coal Employment Project, a group that championed women's fights to get hired in the mines and fight harassment on the job.
From 2003 to 2006 Kennedy was among those in the front ranks of a union-organizing battle at the Co-Op coal mine outside Huntington, Utah. The miners there, a majority immigrants from Mexico, fought for UMWA representation to win safe working conditions, an end to abuse by the bosses and improved wages, which started at $5 an hour. Their struggle won widespread solidarity and set a powerful example of how to fight.
In 2014 Kennedy went to Turkey to meet with coal miners there and help them get out the truth in the U.S. and elsewhere about their fight against deadly working conditions imposed by the owners with government complicity. A mine explosion in the town of Soma had killed more than 300 miners. She also met with a representative of the Kurdish-based People's Democratic Party (HDP) there, bringing solidarity to the Kurds' fight against national oppression across Turkey as well as in Syria, Iraq and Iran.
Kennedy has also worked in plants and mills organized by the United Steelworkers, UNITE HERE as a garment worker, and other unions.
Kennedy is active in the fight to defend a woman's right to choose abortion, has spoken widely on the fight for women's rights and has helped defend clinics from rightist attempts to shut them down.
Kennedy marched with members of the Chicago Teachers Union on strike against a bitter assault by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and city officials in 2012, walked picket lines with United Steelworkers locked out by Honeywell Corp. in Metropolis, Illinois, in 2010 and again in 2014, as well as with United Auto Workers members on strike last year against Kohler Inc. in Wisconsin. She joined protests in Kentucky, West Virginia and St. Louis by union coal miners fighting attempts by Patriot Coal bosses to use bankruptcy to tear up union contracts.
She has been active in the fight against Washington's wars, from protests against the war in Vietnam to speaking out against the bloody aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan.
She's been a stalwart in demonstrations against the cop killings of Laquan McDonald, Rekia Boyd, Quintonio LeGrier, Bettie Jones and many others, as well as actions over years demanding the release from prison of men tortured into making false confessions by former Chicago Police Lt. Jon Burge's "Midnight Crew."
Osborne Hart, whose father was a career soldier, spent his youth traveling around the world with his family.
Since getting involved with the civil rights movement in the 1960s, Hart has been a lifelong fighter for Black rights. He's joined struggles against police brutality and school segregation and the movement to bring down apartheid in South Africa and free Nelson Mandela.
He was politically active in the 1970s in the fight to end Washington's war against the peoples of Vietnam and Indochina.
Hart joined the Socialist Workers Party in the mid-1970s and for decades has been part of helping to build and strengthen the labor movement. He's lived in Atlanta, San Francisco, New York, Detroit and now Philadelphia and has worked in industry, including as a meat packer, steelworker, loading trucks in a TJX warehouse and on the railroads. He currently works at Walmart.
He joined actions in defense of United Steelworkers-organized oil refinery workers forced on strike in 2015, demanding workers control over safety to counter bosses' speed-up drives, job cuts and attacks on unions.
Hart, 63, ran for mayor of Philadelphia in 2015, gaining a wide hearing among working people. He participated in protests against cuts in Medicare, demanding free, government-funded medical care for all; against police brutality and in solidarity with workers fighting concession demands by steel giant ArcelorMittal. He explained the need for independent working-class political action, urging workers to fight for a labor party based on the unions, to challenge the Democrats, Republicans or other capitalist parties.
Over the past five years, Hart has joined in building protests in Philadelphia against the relentless drive by state and city governments to slash funds for public education, with massive layoffs and spiraling class sizes. These moves have been accompanied by assaults on teachers' and other school workers' wages, pensions, health care and their unions.
Hart is active in the fight against government attacks and discriminatory laws against undocumented workers, protests against deportations and efforts to organize the unorganized.
He's spoken out and built meetings in defense of the Cuban Revolution, demanding Washington end its 55-year-long economic embargo of the island and return the territory containing the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo to Cuba. He was part of the international movement that won freedom for the Cuban Five, revolutionaries imprisoned in the U.S. for working to defend their country's socialist revolution.
He calls for the immediate release of Oscar López, a fighter for Puerto Rican independence framed up and jailed in the U.S. — much of it in solitary confinement — for more than 34 years.