Socialist Worker

New mood of opposition sweeps United States

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2500

Verizon strikers

Bernie Sanders has supported the Verizon strikers (Pic: Tim Dubnau)


The United States is changing, and there were three examples of this in recent days. There has been a big strike, a civil disobedience movement and huge turnouts at rallies for Bernie Sanders.

It was unclear if Sanders would win the New York primary vote to choose the Democratic Party candidate for president on Tuesday. But the insurgent mood has transformed his challenge to establishment candidate Hillary Clinton.

Sanders, who says he is a socialist, trailed Clinton by 48 percentage points in New York according to a poll in March. Polls on the eve of voting showed them neck and neck.

Sanders brought 27,000 to one New York rally last week and 28,000 a few days later.

Martha Wilkinson-Jennings went to the first rally. She told Socialist Worker, “It was amazing—all that energy, all that positive feeling. We can’t go on with a society where only a few have so much and the rest have so little. It has got to change. I love what Bernie is saying because it’s so rare to stand up and tell it like it is.

“Before this campaign I didn’t think about myself as a socialist. But now I do. I want to find out more.”

Meanwhile 40,000 workers at the Verizon telecom company have been on strike for a week against outsourcing, job losses, pension and healthcare cuts, and wage reductions.

The company also wants workers to accept assignments away from their homes for up to two months at a time, and for Sunday to be an ordinary working day.The strikers are repair workers, installers, customer service workers and technicians.

Their CWA union says Verizon made £26 billion profit over the past three years, along with over £1 billion in profit each month for the first three months of 2016.

Atmosphere 

In one example of the bitter atmosphere, theCWA reported that two striking union members in Maryland “were hit by a Verizon management attorney driving his Porsche.” One was taken to hospital. The company denied this.

And the Democracy Spring movement held protests throughout last week, leading to around 1,000 arrests. Some 12 protesters broke away from a tour group inside the Capitol in Washington, where Congress meets, on Friday of last week. They bound themselves to scaffolding with zip ties.

Outside the Capitol, protesters said in unison, "We the people demand a democracy free from the corrupting influence of big money and voter suppression. We demand a democracy where every vote is counted and every voice is heard. Democracy Spring!”

Some had marched for ten days along a 160-mile route from Philadelphia to Washington.

Their placards had messages such as, "Sweep Big Money out of Politics" and, "Corporations are not people." They also protested against the high cost of student loans, economic inequality and fracking.

Democracy Spring has brought together people raising a broad range of issues. It has something of the feel of the Occupy movement and attracts people who are excited by Bernie Sanders.

But despite its defiant commitment it seems cut off from crucial developments such as the Verizon strike.


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