As California voters cast ballots this spring, the situation for working people locally, nationally, and worldwide is precarious. Rising to the challenge, thousands are engaging in struggle, taking to the streets, going on strike, and even forming new unions.
The odds can appear overwhelming. The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to strike a blow against the right of women, and all people who can get pregnant, to control their bodies and lives. While Amazon, Chevron, and Facebook reap record profits, workers’ wages fall short. Wars in Ukraine, Yemen, Burma, and Tigray enrich big business while killing and displacing millions. Governments continue to allow the pollution that is destroying the planet. Thousands continue to die daily as officials fail to confront the reality of COVID. In San Francisco, out-of-control living costs increase homelessness and drive away working-class and people of color residents. City College of San Francisco Trustees are laying off workers and cutting classes.
Against all of this, people are joining together. Courageous workers at Amazon and Starbucks have started unions. Strikes and labor actions have doubled! Protesters around the world are demanding an end to the war in Ukraine, notably among them Russian feminists and socialists. Youth continue to lead huge demonstrations against climate change. On May 3 and 13, FSP and Radical Women members with the National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice led huge rallies in San Francisco opposing the Supreme Court’s leaked anti-abortion draft. And coalitions of students, teachers, workers, and unions are fighting against education cuts at public schools and colleges on both sides of the Bay! United efforts like these, led by working people to build a mass movement, are what it will take to defeat the perpetual quest, for profits above all else, that defines capitalism.
The electoral system, skewed to the benefit of corporations and the wealthy, is not a vehicle for needed systemic change. However, elections can provide a means of making life more bearable until we have a socialist world. By voting, we can also beat back proposals and candidates that would harm the working class and its most oppressed members, among them people of color, women, LGBTQ+ folks, youth, elders, and people with disabilities.
In this spring primary election, there are contenders running for several statewide offices. For San Francisco voters, there are also eight ballot measures, most notably Proposition H, to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin. While not endorsing Boudin, FSP opposes this attempt to roll back criminal justice reform. Please see more on this and our other recommendations below.
If you would like to discuss any of our positions, or would like to work with us in the fight to defend and extend abortion and all reproductive rights as part of the National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice, please contact me (415-864-1278, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Nancy Reiko Kato
Freedom Socialist Party Bay Area Organizer
The FSP supports only those candidates who explicitly point to capitalism as the problem, and who call for its replacement. As long as capitalism prevails, with its focus on profit to the exclusion of the needs of humans and the planet, there will be environmental destruction and misery for almost everyone. This means we never recommend people from the twin parties of big business, even those Democrats who claim to be socialist. Nor do we endorse Green Party nominees, as they believe that a kinder, gentler capitalism is possible. Although the California Peace & Freedom Party (PFP) has a socialist and feminist platform, PFP does not demand that its candidates adhere to these principles.
Although two candidates for U.S. Senate, John Parker and Eleanor Garcia, clearly express the need to uproot capitalism, we cannot recommend voting for them. They each belong to political parties with positions that harm the international working class.
Parker’s political organization, the Socialist Unity Party (SUP), perpetuates Vladimir Putin’s claim that Russian attacks on Ukraine are justified to fight neo-Nazis. It overlooks the Kremlin’s own imperialist ambitions and alliances with Russia’s far right. By supporting the war on Ukraine, SUP betrays both working-class Ukrainians in the line of fire, working-class Russians who oppose the slaughter, and some Russian ground troops. SUP also uncritically backs the Cuban government’s crackdown on Black and working-class protesters who took to the streets last July to demand basic life necessities and workers democracy.
Garcia’s group, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), also supports the Cuban bureaucracy uncritically. It takes a competitive and sectarian attitude toward other left groups. The SWP goes against the struggle of the Palestinian working class by branding as anti-Semitic the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israeli aggression. Of even more concern is the party’s support for right-wing ranchers who staged an armed, military-style occupation of a public wildlife refuge in Oregon in 2016.
While it would be advantageous to register an anti-capitalist vote as an alternative to the mainstream parties, there is not a principled choice.
San Francisco Ballot Propositions
Proposition A – General Obligation Bond to Improve Muni and Street Safety – Vote NO
This bond measure would borrow $400 million to make the city’s transit system more reliable and streets safer. While we wholeheartedly support the proposed improvements, this is not the way to pay for them. The principal and interest would cost $690 million to pay back and the burden would fall on working class homeowners and renters! Existing bond debts already cost residents $570 million yearly. A far better solution is to tax the profits of corporations who rely on the transportation infrastructure to carry their workers, equipment, supplies and products.
Three tiny steps to curb corruption:
Proposition B – Charter Amendment to Change the Appointment Process and Composition of the Building Inspection Commission – Vote YES
Proposition E –Prohibitions on Behested Payment Requests by Officials – Vote YES
Proposition F – Adds Ratepayer Representative to Refuse Collection Rate Board – Vote YES
These three propositions come in the wake of corruption scandals in the city’s Building Inspections Department and Public Utilities Commission that led to FBI investigations, resignations and arrests of officials, and criminal charges. The level of misconduct is outrageous, with managers getting rich as most city workers struggle to even make ends meet and face blatant racism and sexism on the job. A thorough overhaul of city management is needed, with rank-and-file workers taking charge of their departments. These measures don’t do nearly enough, and none of them addresses the general problem of privatization and contracting out of services that takes away the jobs of public employees. However, since they move things slightly in the right direction, we support these propositions critically. We join the San Francisco Labor Council in recommending YES votes on all three.
Proposition B aims to appoint more members of the public to the Building Inspection Commission. Currently, Commissioners come from the very businesses who apply for contracts. Proposition E addresses donations solicited by officials to benefit a public agency or private organization. The measure prohibits Board of Supervisors members from requesting such contributions from businesses under contract. Proposition F adds a ratepayer to serve along with the city administrators who currently comprise the trash/recycling collection Rate Board. The measure also implements audits and public hearings for any proposed rate increase. Procedures like these could have prevented Recology from overcharging San Franciscans by $200 million!
Proposition C – Restrictions on Recall Elections – Vote NO
Stung by the recent recall of three School Board members, some City Supervisors put this measure on the ballot to make the process more difficult. Prop C would narrow the period when recalls are allowed. After an official is recalled, this measure would prohibit the replacement appointee from running in the next election. Although corporate and right-wing interests may misuse recalls, working-class voters need this basic democratic right without restrictions. We strongly disagree with the SF Labor Council and progressive Democrats who support this antidemocratic proposition. Our main objection to San Francisco’s recall process is that the mayor appoints someone to fill the vacancy created. Instead, it should be the voters who decide.
Proposition D – Office of Crime Victim and Witness Rights & Pilot Program for Domestic Violence Survivors – Vote YES
Right now, services for crime victims and witnesses are scattered among many departments and agencies. As a result, many victims and witnesses, disproportionately poor, queer, and/or people of color, don’t get the help they need. Prop D establishes an office to coordinate assistance. The new office also sets up a pilot program to provide free legal representation to survivors of domestic violence. As feminists, we say such legal services are needed now – there is no need for a pilot program!
Proposition G – Employer-Paid Public Health Emergency Leave for Some – Vote YES
This proposal requires San Francisco employers with more than 100 workers worldwide to provide up to two weeks’ paid leave to their employees in the city during a public health emergency, including Spare the Air Alerts. The need for this is obvious but it should apply to all workers for more than just two weeks per year. Taxes on corporations and the vast private wealth in San Francisco could readily pay to cover everyone!
Proposition H – Recall of District Attorney Chesa Boudin – Vote NO
This recall is about halting criminal justice reform and reversing heightened scrutiny of the SFPD. It is funded by investment bankers, venture capitalists and hedge fund managers as part of a nationwide effort that uses the recall process to squelch reform and re-fund cops. What’s really needed is systemic change to eliminate the poverty, racism, heterosexism, and social ills that produce most crime. Because Boudin has not called for such basic change, we do not endorse him. However, his office has implemented measures that protect the rights of people accused of crime and address abuses of the city police, like ending cash bail and establishing an innocence commission. Boudin’s workers protection unit has attacked wage theft, a prevalent crime that law-and-order recall supporters aren’t addressing. These positive steps will be reversed if the recall succeeds and Mayor Breed appoints a tough-on-crime, arrest-the-unhoused replacement. Along with several labor unions (SEIU locals 87, 1021, 2015; AFT 2121; CNA; UESF; NUHW; UNITE-HERE 2; and ILWU), we urge you to vote no!
Summary of Freedom Socialist Party Positions
Statewide Candidates for Office
Leave your ballot blank or write in your favorite socialist
San Francisco Ballot Propositions
Proposition A – General Obligation Bond to Improve Muni and Street Safety: Vote NO
Proposition B – Charter Amendment to Change Composition of the Building Inspection Commission: Vote YES
Proposition C – Restrictions on Recall Elections: Vote NO
Proposition D – Office of Crime Victim and Witness Rights & Pilot Program for Domestic Violence Survivors: Vote YES
Proposition E – Increases Prohibitions on Behested Payment Requests by Officials: Vote YES
Proposition F – Adds Ratepayer Representative to Refuse Collection Rate Board: Vote YES
Proposition G – Employer-Paid Public Health Emergency Leave for Some: Vote YES
Proposition H – Recall of District Attorney Chesa Boudin: Vote NO