Dan Cantor is Director of the New York Working Families Party.
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.
National Organizer for the Party
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.
- 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."
"Back to Basics"
16 Working Panels;
- David Glenn on labor and politics
- Steve Hart on spirituality
- David Moberg on the international labor market
- Francis Calpotura on community organizing
- Joel Rogers on citizen action and social policy
- Lisa McGowan on international finance
- Katherine Sciacchitano on welfare reform
- Robert McChesney on the media
- Chris Lehmann on class in America
- Dan Cantor on electoral strategies
- Salim Muwakkil on African-American politics
- Karen Dolan on the House Progressive Caucus
- Barbara Epstein on feminism today
- Micah Sifry on campaign finance reform
- Sonya Huber on students and politics
- Nelson Lichtenstein on the future of labor
Working Families Party
- Bob Master, who serves as party co-chair and the political director of the Communications Workers of America.
- Mike McGuire, resigned as WFP treasurer in August 2009.
- 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;
- Alex Rabb, WFP staffer.
- Dan Cantor, WFP executive director and co-chair .
WFP spokesman is Dan Levitan.
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.”
2011 YDS Winter Conference
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.
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.
Participants in PROGRESSIVE STRATEGIES IN A POPULIST MOMENT included;
- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II: “How to Build a Powerful People's Movement”
- Carlos Saavedra: “Winning the Fight for Public Opinion”
- Sarita Gupta: “How to Write a New Organizing Playbook”
- David Rolf: “What if We Treated Labor Like a Startup?”
- Dan Cantor : “How the Working Families Party Is Already Changing Electoral Politics”
- May Boeve: “Fighting, Not Drowning”
- George Goehl: “Organizing Where We Have the Most Leverage: in the Cities”
- Democratic left, Jan/Feb 1989, page 13
- Spoiling for a fight: third-party politics in America By Micah L. Sifry, page 347
- Madeline Talbott, Chicago NP report August 12, 1992
- New Party Online News: Building The People's Machine in Chicago's 35th Ward, by Jonathan Green, March 18, 1998 (accessed on Sept. 14, 2011)
- New Party presentation to AFL-CIO NP Online News, No. 9, 10 April, 1997
- [ Democratic Left • Issue # 7 / 8 1997] Democratic Left • Issue # 7 / 8 1997]
- Issue #1 1998 • Democratic Left • page 16
- [Democratic Left Issue 3 1998, page 22]
- Democratic Left • Spring 2010
- YDS website, Spring Conference, Their Crisis, Our Pain: The Democratic Socialist Response to the Great Recession, accessed Feb. 23, 2011
- Time to Stand Up and Fight for a More Perfect Union, Robert L. Borosage June 18, 2014