Oct 17, 2016
Working people do not have a party that speaks for us. The main choice workers have been offered in elections is no choice at all. The Republicans speak openly for the big banks and big industrialists, while the Democrats, who get some of their money from the unions, act for the big banks and the big industrialists.
This is nothing but a choice between an open enemy and a false friend – both of them defenders of the capitalist system, both of them enforcers of exploitation.
The working class needs its own party – a party based on the conviction that “the working class and the employing class have nothing in common,” in the words of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
This is not a new problem. The working class has been without its own party for nearly a century.
But something is new: the effort to put a working class party on the ballot in Michigan.
In fact, already in 2014 a slate of five candidates was on the ballot in Michigan, running together under the slogans: “For a working class fight, for a working class policy.”
Restrictive election laws forced them to run individually as “non-party” candidates, and the big media ignored them. But running as a working class slate, they got a hearing in the working class.
Based on the results in 2014, the five candidates, working with others, set up an organizing committee to put a working class party on the ballot this year. Dozens of people went through parts of the state seeking signatures on petitions.
Fifty thousand people signed their petitions, attesting to the fact that in the working class there are people who agree: the working class needs its own party.
Certainly, an election has never changed the situation for working people. It’s the struggles that working people have made that tipped the scales, every time.
And a party cannot be built just because some words are on the ballot. But the fact that Working Class Party got on the ballot is a kind of victory. A small one, yes, but nonetheless, a victory.
Now, the problem for working people is to use that ballot status to say what we want.
A vote for the Working Class Party can show that there are thousands of people who say they are fed up with Democrats and Republicans; thousands who say they are convinced the working class needs to speak for itself.
And these thousands of people can begin to change the situation.
The Working Class Party needs your help and your vote. Vote and get people around you to vote for at least one of its candidates. Get in touch to help the campaign.
The new party is focusing its efforts on running three candidates. All three are known in the areas where they are running, and all three ran last time. Gary Walkowicz is running in the 12th Congressional district, which includes parts of Wayne County and Washtenaw County. Sam Johnson is in the 13th district, which includes parts of Detroit and the rest of Wayne County. Mary Anne Hering, who is running for the State Board of Education, can be voted on by anyone in the whole state of Michigan.
Gary Walkowicz has worked for four decades at Ford, elected by his fellow workers to various union positions in his unit at the Dearborn Truck plant. He is known as someone who always stood up against auto company demands to push workers backwards, and he helped organize opposition to contracts demanding concessions from the workers, including the one in 2009 that was voted down.
He was nominated for president of the UAW International at the 2010 and 2014 UAW Conventions, running against the top officials who had pushed concessions on auto workers.
Gary explained his goal: “I didn’t have any illusions I would win at the Convention, but running was a way to give a voice to the UAW membership, to the thousands of workers who do not agree to go on paying the cost for the bosses’ crisis.”
It’s exactly the same situation in the U.S. elections, where normally the working class has no voice.
Sam Johnson was a Chrysler worker, known widely in the plants as someone who stood up against the company, not only for himself, but for other workers. He was active at Dodge Main, Lynch Road, retiring from McGraw Glass in 2000. During more than 30 years, he represented a working class policy in the plants, sometimes as an elected representative, always as a worker who joined with other workers to face the attacks from the auto companies.
Sam began his life in Alabama, under Jim Crow. He learned from his family not to accept the racism of the Klan and the cops, who were often the same.
His mother sent him to L.A. when he was 20, hoping to keep her son alive. Sam was a witness to the black rebellion in Watts, 1965, and then, after he came to Detroit, to the 1967 rebellion here.
Whether in the plants or in the community, Sam has always been a fighter, a man who sees the big picture and speaks out for his class.
Sam Johnson’s book, giving an account of his life, a militant life, was published in 2014. It’s called: A Fighter All My Life.
Mary Anne (Mardi) Hering has been a community college teacher for many years in the Detroit Metropolitan area, primarily at Henry Ford (Community) College.
Several generations of people throughout the Detroit metropolitan area have come through her classroom. She has been a long time advocate for students and their families, the custodians and secretaries and other support staff of the college, as well as part-time teachers, who make up the backbone of the teaching staff of all colleges.
A socialist militant, she has been involved in working class struggles. Known by many workers and their families, especially at Ford Rouge, she hears how the attacks on public education affect their children. She is angered knowing that this society has more than enough money to provide an adequate education to every child. As a teacher, she is outraged that many students will work hard to get an education only to discover there are no good-paying jobs available.
Mary Anne’s candidacy can give voice to workers who see their children deprived of a decent education because the state cuts money from public education. She can speak for teachers and other employees of the school systems, who are deprived of the means they need to educate children, and whose wages and benefits are reduced because of those cuts.
The information for this article came from the website: www.workingclassfight.com/party, where you can find more information about each of the candidates and about the Working Class Party.