Marc Brodine, Washington State Communist Party USA leader, is looking forward to the upcoming June 28-30 national conference on building CPUSA clubs and mass grassroots movements. He said the time is right to “draw lessons from all the experiences and attempts made in building the Communist Party.”

Building the CPUSA, he said, especially in these insecure economic and political times, is “organized optimism,” which people appreciate because of Communists’ long-range, class-struggle view.

Across the country, CPUSA state organizations are experimenting and discussing how to effectively engage in coalitions and unity-building at the grassroots, as well as build the CPUSA. All are integral to strengthening the fight against the ultra-right and corporate offensive.

Tina Wheeler, Maryland’s new district organizer, said she likes the idea of this conference because “it will give us a chance to study what other clubs and states are doing.”

At first, Wheeler said, she was hesitant about the conference, thinking it would take time away from local work, but then considered the benefits. “It will help us with some long-term strategic planning instead of just going from project to project,” she said.

Based on grassroots organizing for the April 20 peace demonstration, Wheeler said, “There’s a definite connection between coalition building and grassroots Party organizing. A lot of people are on target with the issues, but what to do is different. Some are frightened to speak out.”

Ohio CPUSA District Organizer Wally Kaufman focused on two recent grassroots victories in the Ohio labor movement that helped to break through that “fear,” moving the whole movement forward. One was a strike of school workers. “The key factor in winning the strike was that the entire community became involved. They rallied behind the union workers because they saw they were the ones who cared for their children and schools,” Kaufman said.

Kaufman also highlighted the importance of this newspaper in building movements at the rank-and-file and grassroots. “We get comments like, ‘this paper tells our side of the story,’” Kaufman said.

This conference takes place as many organizations, including the CPUSA, are gearing up for the 2002 midterm elections, a key political struggle for all labor and democratic forces.

“The fall elections are a referendum on Bush’s pro-corporate policies. We have to play our part in their defeat and our clubs have to be part of the effort,” Brodine said.

The author can be reached at talbano@pww.org

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