Working Families Party

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Working Families Party is a New York based, leftist political party.

History

The New York based Working Families Party won a ballot line in 1998 after garnering just over 50,000 votes for governor.

In the 2002 race for governor, the WFP nominated state comptroller Carl McCall – the first African-American to seek that office – who easily won the Democratic Party primary after rival Andrew Cuomo virtually withdrew.

This time the party got 90,500 votes in the general election.

While WFP officials adhere to the technicalities of election law in placing candidates on the ballot, substantive decisions are determined by weighted votes of a coalition[1] consisting of twenty unions, ACORN, Citizen Action, Democratic Socialists of America, the Long Island Progressive Coalition, and local WFP clubs. This organization screens candidates and makes recommendations based on the candidates’ positions on living wages, health care for all, fair taxation, and similar issues. The WFP has provided the margin of victory in Assembly, state Senate, and congressional elections.

Early backers

In 1998, the WFP was backed by ACORN, the United Auto Workers, Communication Workers of America, United Steelworkers, Amalgamated Transit Union, Teamster's locals 111, 202, 808, 819, 840, Greater New York PAC Laborers District Council, Transport Workers Union, Local 110, UNITE Amalgamated NE Joint Board, Citizen Action.[2]

Early endorsements

In 1998 Carl McCall (for City Comptroller), Peter Vallone (City Council speaker and candidate for Governor) and Sandra Frankel (Lieutenant Governor, all ran on the Working Families Party ballot line.[3]

1998 co-chairs

Working Families Party co-chairs in 1998 were former New York mayor David Dinkins, Brooklyn Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez, former New York City Councilmember Sal Albanese, UAW Region 9 Director Tom Fricano and UNITE leader Ernesto Jofre.[4]

Jofre was named as a founder of the Working Families Party in the People's Weekly World of October 7, 2000, page 2.

2000 Convention

The New York Working Families Party 2000 Convention was held at the Desmond Hotel, March 26.

Attendees included;

There were sizable delegations from ACORN and Citizen Action.[5]

Communist Party support

During the 2004 election cycle, the Communist Party USA was very supportive of the Working Families Party and their endorsed Congressional candidate Frank Barbaro.

The newly emerging Working Families Party and its fusion strategy, which negates the issue of spoiler, deserves special attention. The Working Families Party in New York is building a beautiful working class multi-racial base. In New York their local campaigns are being carried out in the context of defeating Bush, and also electing a long-time progressive, Frank Barbaro to Congress in a district that has been represented by a Republican. The efforts of the Working Families Party to expand into more states deserve full support.

Communist Party election conference

In February 2004, the Communist Party USA convened a conference in New York to focus on the 2004 elections. Guests at "build unity, take back our country in 2004 - defeat Bush and the ultra-right" included NAACP NE regional youth coordinator Diallo Shabazz, New York City NOW president Rita Haley, United for Peace & Justice rep. Hany Khalil, New York Working Families Party co-chair Bertha Lewis and Massachusetts political aspirant Martina Cruz. poetry was read by two young women Naima Penniman and Alixa Garcia.[6]

DSA involvement

Democratic Socialists of America is heavily involved in the Working Families Party.[7]

New York DSA continues to play a key role in the labor-backed Working Families Party...

In 2000, a DSA delegation, with members from across the state, attended the first annual Convention of the Working Families Party.[8]

According to DSA's Democratic Left Summer 2001[9];

Veterans of the left will remember that the 1968 Peace and Freedom Party and the 1980 Citizens Party arose at moments of greater left-wing strength and did not significantly alter the national electoral landscape. Nor has, unfortunately, the New Party, which many DSAers work with in states where “fusion” of third party and major party votes is possible (such as the DSA co-sponsored Working Families Party in N.Y. State).

Many DSA members[10]have registered in the Working Families Party, including former Ithaca Mayor Ben Nichols, who chairs the WFP in the 125th Assembly District.

Many more New York DSAers are active in WFP leadership and club organizations.

The DSA youth wing, Young Democratic Socialists' 2004 "Life After Bush" Conference included[11];

A series of well-attended workshops detailed the nuts-and-bolts of electoral activism, lead by veteran campaigners from trade unions and the NY DSA-affiliated fusion Working Families Party.

Officers

Working Families Party officers include[12];

In 2009 Non-voting assistant secretaries were;

WFP spokesman is Dan Levitan.

Kevin Finnegan, is a Local 1199 political director who is also the lawyer who set up Data and Field Services, the WFP affiliated private company.

Local contacts

As of April 2011;[13]

Manhattan Chapter

Chinatown Club

Downtown Club

East Side Club

Harlem-East Harlem Club

Washington Heights Club

Bronx Co-op City Club

Staten Island Region

North Brooklyn Club

South Brooklyn Club Organizer: Gregory Walker

Queens Region

Nassau Chapter

Rockland County Chapter

Suffolk Chapter

Westchester-Putnam Chapter Contact: Pat Welsh

Southern Tier East Region (Counties of Otsego, Chenango, Tioga, and Broome)

Southern Tier West Region (Counties of Steuben, Yates, Schuyler, Chemung, Tompkins, and Cortland)

Capital District Chapter (Counties of Albany, Columbia, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady)

Central New York Chapter (Counties of Cayuga, Onondaga, and Oswego)

Fingerlakes Chapter (Counties of Monroe, Wayne, Livingston, Seneca, and Ontario)

Herkimer-Oneida Region

Mid-Hudson Valley Region (Counties of Ulster, Dutchess, Delaware, Orange, and Sullivan)

Western New York Chapter (Counties of Cattaraugas, Chautauqua, Allegany, Wyoming, Genesee, Orleans, Erie and Niagara)

North Country Region East (Counties of Hamilton, Franklin, Essex, Clinton)

North Country Region West (Counties of Lewis, Jefferson, and St. Lawrence)

Alleged Corruption

On July 12, 2010, Brooklyn resident Patrick Crooks, a former employee of the Working Families Party stated that he was so disturbed by the organization’s practices that he walked out after only one week on the job (June 28 - July 5). He stated that the following incidents took place:[14]

  • He was encouraged by superiors to falsify signatures and addresses on petitions supporting the left-wing party’s push to repeal a state law that took rent regulation out of the city’s hands and gave it to the state
  • Being misled about the type of work he was hired to perform — fund-raising and canvassing instead of policy work;
  • Getting a paycheck from the party’s former political arm, Data and Field Services, although the job posting he responded to was for the WFP, and
  • Receiving instruction to collect money and signatures in buildings that had “no trespassing” signs and only leave if forced out by police.

Mike Boland, executive director of DFS stated that Crooks had been strictly prohibited from entering residences uninvited or faking any documents. He said that Crooks had been dismissed because he was not qualified for the job. A WFP source stated that some canvassers had in fact put their own names down first to give the appearance of more support.

At the time of the alleged incidents, both DFS and WFP were under federal and city Campaign Finance Board investigations.

References