Jerry White, 56, has been active in the socialist movement for nearly four decades. White was raised in a working-class family in Queens, New York. In 1979, he joined the Workers League, the predecessor of the Socialist Equality Party, while working at United Parcel Service and attending the City University of New York.
White was won to the Trotskyist movement—and its perspective of world socialism—at the age of 19. From then on he dedicated his life to the fight to resolve the crisis of revolutionary leadership in the working class.
The 1980s was a period of sharp economic decline, which prompted the ruling class to embark on a policy of class war at home and militarism abroad. After moving to Detroit, White played a leading role in the Workers League’s fight to mobilize the working class against union-busting and plant closings. This meant a struggle against the betrayals of the AFL-CIO, which worked to sabotage struggles and keep workers tied to the Democratic Party.
As a journalist for the party’s newspaper, the Bulletin, he reported on the struggles of coal miners and workers in the auto, steel, airline and other industries. In 1990, he wrote Death on the Picket Line: The Story of John McCoy, which chronicled the life of a fourth-generation coal miner murdered by scabs in West Virginia.
In the 1990s and 2000s, White represented the party in several election campaigns. He was the first presidential candidate of the newly formed Socialist Equality Party in 1996. In 2008, White opposed Barack Obama and John McCain. As the SEP candidate, he traveled throughout the US and Europe to explain the significance of the September 2008 financial crash and the need for workers to develop their own socialist response to the crisis.
In 2012, White ran against Obama and Mitt Romney in the presidential elections, announcing his campaign on the picket lines of locked-out Cooper Tire workers in Findlay, Ohio. As part of the campaign White traveled to Germany and Sri Lanka to fight for the international unity of the working class against the growing danger of war and the relentless attacks on jobs and living standards by the transnational corporations.
Over the last four years White has played a central role in the struggles of the working class, including the workers inquiry sponsored by the SEP into the Detroit bankruptcy, the 2013 strike by New York City school bus drivers, the walkout by oil refinery workers and rebellion of autoworkers against the UAW in 2015 and the 2016 Verizon strike.
Statements by Jerry White