SEP vice presidential candidate Phyllis Scherrer and members of the Socialist Equality Party campaigned in Pittsburgh over the weekend and won a strong response from workers and students. The team promoted Tuesday’s meeting at the University of Pittsburgh, "The 2012 elections and the failure of capitalism" with Scherrer as the main speaker.
Many workers stopped to talk with Scherrer and find out more about the SEP and what it stands for. Edward, a security guard at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) said that he began reading about our election campaign on the web site about 5 weeks ago and that he felt that "this is the best political party out there."
"The Democrats and Republicans only care for the rich," Edward said. "Jobs are hard to come by and when you do get work, it doesn't pay anything. UPMC made hundreds of millions each of the last few years but the workers get paid nothing."
Edward explained that he works for a contractor for the hospital, which means he doesn't get benefits and can be fired any time. With over 50,000 employees, UPMC is the largest employer in the Pittsburgh region which used to be dominated by the steel and coal industries.
For over four years now, unemployment in the Pittsburgh area has been near or above 8 percent. Tens of thousands of workers have given up looking for work or are working in dead-end jobs because they can't find anything better.
Brando, a senior at Pitt said that he planned to attend the meeting. He was very upset about the continuous wars that have been going on and how another war is being planned against Iran. "I don't want another war and I certainly don't want to be drafted. These politicians don't represent me."
Brando also pointed out that the Republican Governor of Pennsylvania cut $1 billion from public education and hundreds of millions from higher education. "I am one of the lucky ones because my father helped me a lot with college. Most of my friends are leaving school with a mountain of debts."
Another student said that he would attend the meeting to hear Scherrer's talk, but felt that Obama would follow through on more of his promises during a second term. “You have to remember that it was not only him, but the Senate too which blocked many of his programs.”
Scherrer explained that it was a myth that the Democrats were for working people. “The democrats controlled all of Congress during his first two years and the Obama administration continued and expanded the Bush administrations wars, attacks on democratic rights and cuts in education and other social programs.”
Mage Wegner is a junior at Pitt studying Linguistics and sign language. She is originally from Los Angeles. She was eager to talk about the inequality. In particular, how it has expressed itself with the immigrant population in LA. “The poverty in the immigrant community is one of those things that really bothers me and is very complicated. You know there is this narrative that if you work hard enough, or just want it hard enough that you can achieve anything, but there are so many inequalities in so many systems. It is a lot more about luck than hard work than people want to admit. It is a lot more about privilege than people want to admit.”
A University of Pittsburgh faculty member and research scientist expressed her support for Scherrer, pointing out the waste that has been created by the years of war. “We have had one war after another for the past 20 years,” she said. “Think what that could have been achieved if that money had been spent on biomedical research instead or education to get students ready to do that kind of research.”