Dan Cantor

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Dan Cantor

Template:TOCnestleft Dan Cantor is Director of the New York Working Families Party. Previously he was a union organizer in New Orleans and Detroit; a community organizer in Arkansas, Texas, and Missouri; and Labor Coordinator for Rev. Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign.[1]

DSA collaboration

In 1987, Dan Cantor and Juliet Schor, a member of Democratic Socialists of America, co-wrote "Tunnel Vision:Labor and the World Economy, and Central America (South End Press). [2]

New Party founders

The first strategic meetings to plan the New Party were held in Joel Rogers' home in Madison Wisconsin in the very early 1990s. Present were Rogers' wife Sarah Siskind, Dan Cantor, ACORN leaders , Wade Rathke ,Zach Polett , Steve Kest and Jon Kest , Steve Cobble from the Institute for Policy Studies (in an advisory role), Sandy Morales Pope (for the first 18 months), Harriet Barlow and Barbara Dudley.

The very first meeting included Gerry Hudson from Democratic Socialists of America and SEIU and Gary Delgado, plus labor activists Sam Pizzigati and Tony Mazzocchi. Anthony Thigpenn of Los Angeles was also approached, but though supportive did not wish to play a leadership role.[3]

Chicago connection

In May 1992 Dan Cantor held a New Party fund raising meeting in the Chicago home of Quentin Young, "with half a dozen good people present".[4]

National Organizer for the Party

As at April 16, 1998, Dan Cantor worked as National Organizer for the New Party.[5]

AFL-CIO connection

There were about 40 political directors and staff around the table, and another 60 or so people around the edges (State Federation presidents, communications staff, etc.). Bruce Colburn from Progressive Milwaukee/NP was introduced by COPE Director Steve Rosenthal, and then Bruce moderated the session. NP Chair Joel Rogers and Dan Cantor presented some overheads on fusion, offered general comments about the political moment and why labor should seriously think about independent political formations, and then took a lot of questions and comments.

Two clear positions emerged over the next 90 minutes. Several unions held the view that an independent, labor-friendly formation could tremendously increase union leverage vis-a-vis the Democrats. Interestingly, some folks also felt that it would allow them to reach members who are alienated from the Democrats but who retain economic populist views. Speaking against experimentation with independent structures were those who feel that "it's already hard enough to get our members out to vote, let alone vote on a new line." The overall reaction of those who spoke leaned slightly to the positive side, but only slightly.

Wrote Cantor;[6]

Finally, I should say a word about the guy in the back of the room who looked incredibly unhappy the entire time. He turned out to be Congressman Martin Frost of Texas, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He had to listen for almost 2 hours while the political directors of nearly every major union in America calmly discussed the New Party, fusion, and their dismay with the Democratic Party. Something tells me the DNC heard about this one.

DSA 1997 National Conference

Columbus, Ohio was the location for DSA's 1997 National Convention.

Dan Cantor of the New Party, Lynn Chancer of DSA and Columbia University, Amy Isaacs of Americans for Democratic Action, Joseph Schwartz of DSA's National Political Committee and Temple University, and Cornel West, DSA Honorary Chair and Professor of Afro-American Studies at Harvard University; gathered at the convention's keynote plenary devoted to discussion of "The Challenges Facing the Broad Left."[7]

"Back to Basics"


Speakers at the October 1998 Back to Basics Conference in Chicago included;

Public Plenary Session, Sen. Paul Wellstone, Rep. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, Quentin Young, Barbara Dudley, Master of Ceremonies: Jim Hightower

16 Working Panels;

Working Families Party

Working Families Party officers in 2009 included[10];

  • Jon Kest, who runs day-to-day operations for ACORN is the WFP secretary.
  • Bertha Lewis, a WFP co-chair and the executive director of ACORN’s New York offices.
  • Dorothy Siegel, replacement Treasurer. Siegel is the chair of the Working Families Party South Brooklyn Club and is already the treasurer of the Working Families Organization, one of the many additional affiliates of the WFP. Siegel is employed at the Institute for Education and Social Policy at New York University.

In 2009 Non-voting assistant secretaries were;

WFP spokesman is Dan Levitan.

YDS conference

On the weekend of March 5-7, 2010 over a hundred young radicals from around the country Manhattan for the Young Democratic Socialists’ 2010 national conference, Democratic Socialism: REAL Change for a Change.

Dan Cantor spoke about the Working Families Party of New York as a “unique and powerful way to make non-violent change.” Cantor stated that if one “really wants power one has to scare, not influence, the influentials.” He also emphasised that there are “no shortcuts to doing the work that we do.”[11]

2011 YDS Winter Conference

TheirCrisisFLYER Color Final6.jpg

On the weekend of March 18th-20th, 2011, the Young Democratic Socialists held their annual Winter outreach conference "Their Crisis, Our Pain: The Democratic Socialist Response to the Great Recession". Cornel West "will be the featured speaker on Saturday the 19th, and we will also host John Nichols, Bertha Lewis, Mark Engler, and Dan Cantor from the Working Families Party.

Other listed speakers included Komozi Woodard, Corey Walker, Fabricio Rodriguez, Christian Parenti, Stephanie Fairyington, Christine Kelly, Sheila Collins, Billy Wharton, Liz Shuler, Martin Weinstein, Michelle O'Brien, Skip Roberts, Joseph Schwartz.

Panels on race, the environment, organizing, and other topics will allow participants to learn from and communicate with fellow activists on some of the most important domestic and international issues. The event is perfect for both newcomers to Democratic Socialism/YDS, as well as activist veterans.

Add your name to the list here and you'll be notified when online registration goes live. Invite all your friends!

Location, Bayard Rustin High School 351 W 18th St New York, NY 10011.[12]

National Leading From the Inside Out Alum

Dan Cantor, Executive Director Working Families Party, was a 2008 Rockwood Leadership Institute National Leading From the Inside Out Alum.[13]

"The 99% Spring"

Individuals and organizations supporting The 99% Spring, as of April 20, 2012, included Dan Cantor -Working Families Party .[14]

The Nation Forum

Circa June 2014, The Nation invited leading activists from across the progressive movement to talk about how we can build power to effect real change, not simply fend off reactionary assaults.


  • David Rolf: “What if We Treated Labor Like a Startup?”
  • Dan Cantor : “How the Working Families Party Is Already Changing Electoral Politics”
  • George Goehl: “Organizing Where We Have the Most Leverage: in the Cities”