The following article was written by members of Socialist Alternative, the sister organisation of the Socialist Party in the US. We have been to the forefront in the struggle for the fight $15 an hour and in November 2013 SA member Kshama Sawant was elected as council member in Seattle receiving 95,000 votes.
1. We are helping lead the fight back against the 1%
Socialist Alternative is the organization that launched the campaign that got Kshama Sawant elected to the city council in Seattle. We used the victory to build a movement for a $15/hour minimum wage. Alongside the fast food workers who lead the way, unions and others, we helped win the highest minimum wage in the country, legitimizing the demand for a $15/hour minimum wage and showing that when we organize around fighting demands, we can win. In Minneapolis, Philadelphia and more than 20 other cities we are helping bring together workers, unions, young people, and others to spread the fight for $15 in all 50 states.
2. We are building a political movement that’s completely independent of corporate influence
The political system is dysfunctional and awash in corporate cash. But, our campaign for Kshama Sawant won 95,000 votes without taking a dime from business. Unlike most politicians, Kshama kept her campaign pledge to fight for a $15 minimum wage, not by making backroom deals but by using her office as a platform to build a grassroots movement. She takes only the average wage of a worker in Seattle, keeping only $40,000 of the exorbitant $120,000 a year salary from the city council and donating the rest to a solidarity fund to assist grassroots struggles. Our victories demonstrates what’s possible if we break from the two parties and rely on our own independent power. We call on the left, unions, and other progressives to come together and run independent pro-worker candidates like Kshama Sawant in every city as a step toward building a new party for the millions, not the millionaires.
3. We have confidence that working people, people of color, women, youth and all oppressed people will fight back and change society
Capitalism faces a historic crisis. 95% of all the gains of the so-called recovery have gone to the 1%. While the 1% sees record profits and stock prices, we see record levels of poverty and inequality. Women and people of color are affected disproportionately, while climate change is made worse by capitalism’s addiction to fossil fuels. Already, we have seen the beginnings of a fightback with the uprising in Wisconsin, Occupy Wall Street, fast food and Walmart strikes, #BlackLivesMatter, and big protests against the Keystone XL pipeline. We believe this is just the beginning. Massive struggles of workers, youth, people of color, women, immigrants, and others are on the horizon. These movements will challenge this rotten system, and building a strong socialist movement now will be vital to winning more historic victories.
4. A socialist world is possible
More and more people are beginning to draw the conclusion that an alternative to the dysfunctional capitalist system is needed. A Pew Poll at the end of 2011 found that half of young people aged 18-29 who answered viewed socialism more positively than capitalism. We call for building a mass movement around the day to day issues, and linking those struggles to the need to go beyond capitalism. We call for breaking the power of big business by taking the top 500 corporations in public ownership and running them democratically under workers control and management. This would serve as the basis for a radical transformation of society where we could plan the economy to meet the needs of people and the environment, not profit. We are in solidarity with the Committee for a Workers International fighting for a socialist world in more than 40 countries on every continent.
5. There has never been a better time to join than right now
There is a historic opportunity to rebuild a fighting socialist movement. In Seattle, Kshama Sawant is up for re-election this year. It is by no means guaranteed that she will win, and we need your help to build an unprecedented grassroots campaign to defend her city council seat for working people. In other cities across the country, we will be fighting campaigns to raise the minimum wage to $15, while also campaigning to win support for a socialist transformation of society. Sign up to become a member of Socialist Alternative today!