From Deran Ludd, July 16th:
Two Seattle union locals recently endorsed Seattle city council candidate Kshama Sawant. The American Federation of Teachers local that represents community college teachers and the Communication Workers of America that represents local tech workers. It’s notable because unions around Seattle are notoriously lap dogs for the Democrats. It seems like Sawant is running a more significant campaign than was expected of her as an open socialist. I did not think she would make it through the primary (Seattle’s city council is nonpartisan, so only the top two are on the November ballot), but I think she has an actual chance to get to the November ballot. Sawant is a member of the Socialist Alternative and a community college economics instructor.
Sawant is calling for a citywide minimum wage of $15/hr, affordable housing through rent control, and a democratically elected civilian oversight committee to hold the Seattle Police accountable.
“I wholeheartedly accept these endorsements. They point to the burning need for the labor movement to end its abusive relationship with the Democratic Party and instead build an independent political movement that represents working people. When will the rest of Seattle’s labor leaders wake up to the reality that the very politicians they routinely endorse defend big business, not workers and the poor?”
Sawant is an economics professor at Seattle Central Community College and a member of AFT Local 1789. She played a leading role in bringing the Occupy Seattle encampment to her college campus, and speaking out against cuts to education and the declining living standards of teachers.
The endorsement from the AFT union board followed a unanimous recommendation for Sawant by a straw poll of the membership. “This is a wonderful moment for me, to have this vote of confidence from my union brothers and sisters. Teachers in the Seattle community colleges have not received cost of living increases in years and many struggle with part-time jobs and low pay. I will take this fight forward, against education cuts, layoffs, and for decent wages.”
Another endorsement for Sawant was made a few days afterwards:
July 17, 2013
By Kshama Sawant Campaign for Seattle City Council
This morning The Stranger (a weekly Seattle alternative newspaper – KL) announced its endorsements for the City Council Position 2, writing “In this race, the clear choice to represent Seattle is Kshama Sawant.”The Stranger was sharp in their criticism of her opponent Richard Conlin who “has claimed to be a progressive environmentalist during his 16 years on the council, when in fact he has spent those four terms helping to kill mass transit, build new highways, and seek harsh penalties for panhandlers. He’s not a progressive; he’s a green-washing liberal fraud.”
Sawant, on the other hand, is “sharp as a tack and loud as an air horn … [promoting] a $15 an hour minimum wage and new taxes on the wealthy to bolster funding for mass transit, while cutting taxes on small businesses, homeowners, and workers.”
This endorsement comes on top of growing support for the Sawant campaign. She already has the endorsement of three labor unions: the American Federation of Teachers Local 1789 representing Seattle area community college teachers; the Communication Workers of America Local 37083 representing high-tech workers; and the Washington Federation of State Employees Local 1488, an AFSCME affiliate representing 3,000 workers at the University of Washington, UW Medical Center, and Harborview Medical Center.
Karen Strickland, President of the AFT Washington, has endorsed Sawant: “I have been impressed with her intelligence and analysis of economic justice… [She promotes] policies that will improve the lives of Seattle’s working people … Dr. Sawant’s perspective, ideas and energy will help further our city’s progressive goals.”
Tim Harris, Founding Director of Real Change, and Pastor Rich Lang of the University Temple United Methodist Church are among the other community leaders who are backing Sawant. Harris said he was “supporting Kshama Sawant for City Council because Seattle needs truth-tellers who deliver more than business as usual. Sawant is a hardworking, principled, and creative leader that deserves our support.”
Thanks to regular IPR reader Deran Ludd for alerting IPR of the latest developments in the Socialist Alternative Party’s candidate’s campaign.