Cheap labor and the politics of deportation

The first story of the whitewashed building on the corner of South Rainier Avenue and South Brandon Street houses Pathfinder Books and the weekly Militant Labor Forum of Seattle's Socialist Workers Party (SWP). Pathfinder Books is a national chain of small bookstores that specifically cater to socialists. Through the Militant Labor Forum at the Pathfinder Books in Seattle, and in other Pathfinder Books across the United States, the SWP is able to dissect contemporary political issues from a socialist perspective.

Additionally, the bookstores often function as operations bases for social and political campaigns for a variety of socialist groups. Case in point, the Rainier Ave. building hosts the campaign headquarters of SWP United States Senate candidate Connie Allen.

Activists typically gather around 7 p.m. for the Friday forums. During the August 6 meeting they first settled in to a vegetarian dinner before entering into casual, and political, conversation with the Allen, the night's scheduled speaker. Allen planned a discussion concerning the threat and use of deportation as a tool to control migrant workers and unregistered aliens.

Allen's speech focused on the way deportation is used as a means to control and maintain a cheap labor force in America. She highlighted this primary point early on by referencing a sign held at a protest in Yakima two weeks ago, which read, "Stop the racist deportations."

Allen stressed that her SWP campaign to end the use of deportation as a tool of the "bosses" against "labor" would greatly benefit the economic and ethnic diversity of South Seattle.

"If there were an end to deportation and an end to the harassment of workers based on their legal status, I think the majority of people in South Seattle would rest easier knowing that they, or their neighbors, [will] not be carted off in the middle of the night," stressed Allen.

Attracting a diverse crowd

The Seattle chapter of the SWP began to take an activist stance a little more than a year ago, when Allen arrived from Kannapolis, N. C., after helping textile workers there win a 25-year fight to unionize. She also campaigned for a U.S. Senate seat while in the southern state.

While the SWP holds organized, weekly Militant Labor Forums in Seattle and nation-wide, Allen said the party is accurately labeled as revolutionary by today's political standards. The adjective militant was given to unionists in Milwaukee during the 1930s. This group of laborers was called militant because of their uncompromising fight for the right to organize unions.

According to Allen, the Militant Labor Forums present throughout the country today take their name from The Militant Newspaper, a publication created by the Milwaukee unionists in 1928, Allen said. In addition to still being published monthly by the SWP, a Spanish version of The Militant called Perspectiva Mundial (World Perspective) has been released. Allen states that the SWP seeks to recruit Spanish speakers as a result of a large percentage of them comprising the migrant laborer population seen in U.S. mining and agriculture industries.

At their forums, the SWP reaches out to Spanish speaking laborers by providing translators. Allen feels the reason SWP seeks such a diverse audience lies in the party's rhetoric.

"The socialist workers campaign views deportation as an assault on all working people, [and] defending the right to work goes right to the heart of internationalism," said Allen.

While SWP officials do not feel that elections really solve anything, Allen said that members feel it is important to exercise their right to participate, and by participating, the party is able to discuss issues with those it would otherwise not reach.

Allen and SWP party volunteers will be campaigning on the streets of South Seattle weeknights from 6 to 10 p.m. for her U.S. Senate race and in support of SWP presidential candidate Roger Calero.[[In-content Ad]]