NEW YORK – The Communist Party’s national conference on “Building the Party clubs and grassroots organizing,” will bring together nearly 200 delegates, representing local Party organizations from coast to coast. The conference will be held here June 28-30.

Grassroots mobilizing for the November elections will be one of the main topics discussed. The mid-term Congressional and state elections are a key focus for many organizations in the movement to defeat the ultra-right Bush agenda.

“The conference will strengthen the ability of our clubs to sink deeper roots into their communities and add working class strength to the efforts to register voters and deliver a landslide rejection of the right wing in November,” said Joelle Fishman, Connecticut Communist Party district organizer. Fishman stressed the importance of sharing organizing strategies with others from around the country.

“Here in Illinois,” said John Bachtell, who heads up that state’s organization, “we are figuring out how, at the local level, to make the connection between the state and local budget crises and the military budget, and finding ways to bring the labor movement into alliance with community forces.

“Grassroots work is the key to reaching and moving people to stop the policies of the Bush administration,” Bachtell said. “Our clubs can make a contribution to building grass roots unity. We are coming to learn.”

New York has key races at stake, including the governorship and several congressional seats. Bill Davis, New York State chair said the conference will be a success “if it helps us figure out ways to make the issues that matter to people part of the election, for example, the under-funded public schools, or the growing unemployment in the city.” These will only become issues for the candidates, Davis said, if there is grassroots, rank-and-file pressure.

“We’ve had some successes, but we know we could learn a lot from hearing the experiences of those from other parts of the country,” Davis said.

Conference organizers are planning a mixture of practical brainstorming on the tactics of grassroots organizing, along with more in-depth discussion on the political role that Communist Party clubs should play in the life of their communities. A special presentation will be made by Scott Marshall, chair of the CPUSA Labor Commission, on connecting the work of the clubs with the initiatives of the labor movement, and building community-labor ties.

The author can be reached at emora@cpusa.org

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