Labor Party (United States, 1996)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Labor Party
Founded1996; 28 years ago (1996)
Political positionCenter-left to left-wing

The Labor Party is an American social democratic political party advocating workers' interests[1] and active in the state of South Carolina.[2]

The party was formed in 1996 by the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers International Union, United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, United Mine Workers, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, American Federation of Government Employees, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes, California Nurses Association, Farm Labor Organizing Committee and hundreds of other local labor unions. Delegates to the founding convention adopted a 16-point program called "A Call for Economic Justice."

From the beginning a dispute over the Party's running of candidates arose with many of the official unions totally opposed to running candidates that might cause the defeat of their normal Democratic allies. Smaller locals and left union activists on the other had pushed for a clean break with the Democratic Party. This issue was debated internally for years until 1999 when the Party's leadership agreed to some endorsements of Labor Party members running. In 2001 the Labor Party endorsed labor sponsored independent candidates in San Francisco and Ohio local elections. After the 2000 elections even symbolic support dripped away. The future of the party remains uncertain, particularly after the 2002 death of Tony Mazzocchi, the founding national organizer. In 2023 members of the SC branch called a convention in which their name was changed to the South Carolina Workers Party, new officers were elected, and their affiliation with the now-defunct Labor Party formed in 1996 ended.

In December 2005, the South Carolina Labor Party announced that it would seek ballot status in South Carolina and run a candidate in the 2006 legislative elections. Labor Party News quoted Leonard Riley, President of the Charleston International Longshoremen's Association Local 1422 as saying, "Given the results of the past few elections, I think the workers of South Carolina would jump at the opportunity to consider a Labor Party which would guarantee an uncompromising voice for working people on their issues."[1] Although South Carolina law permitted electoral fusion, the Labor Party pledged not to endorse candidates of any other party.

Party officials acknowledged that the choice of South Carolina may have seemed unusual due to the fact that the state had the second lowest concentration of union workers in the United States. However, party officials said that the relatively high unemployment rate, the decline in the textile industry, and the indifference of the state Democratic and Republican parties to the interests of working people, African-Americans and women created a political space for the Labor Party.[3] The party submitted 16,500 signatures on July 11, 2006. If 10,000 of the signatures were valid, the party would be qualified for the 2007 and 2008 elections.[4] This effort was apparently unrelated to the concurrent attempt of the Working Families Party to gain ballot access in South Carolina, a state that allows electoral fusion.[5] In July 2007 Ballot Access News reported that the SCLP was attempting to recruit candidates.[6]

The party suspended active operations in 2007 but a group said to be affiliated with the party nominated one candidate for the South Carolina State House for 2010. The candidate, Brett Bursey, received 442 votes, or 3.06%.[7]

In December 2012, Mark Dudzic wrote an article in which he confirmed that the party had suspended operations in 2007. While some have taken this to mean that he said that the time was currently not right for the Labor Party to exist, others have seen this as a start of a discussion about the future of the Labor Party.[8]

In the 2020 South Carolina House of Representatives election, Labor Party candidate Willie Legette ran for District 95. Legette won 12.1% of the vote, coming in second place to incumbent Democrat Jerry Govan Jr.'s 86.6% of the vote.

In 2022 the SCDP filed a suit against the SC Labor Party to get Governor candidate Gary Votour off the ballot. DNC lawyers alleged they had missed the deadline to file for candidacy despite the SCDP primary having taken place after the March 30 deadline.[9][10][11]

This suit caused a rupture between those who supported the national Labor Party's position that the proposed candidates had not followed internal Party procedures and those who desired to break from the party and run the candidates. On March 26, 2023, the ballot line was taken over and the name changed to the South Carolina Workers Party, which broke away from any national Labor Party affiliation.[12]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Certified Political Parties of South Carolina | SCVotes". Retrieved 2021-12-16.
  2. ^ "Certified Political Parties of South Carolina | SCVotes".
  3. ^ Labor Party Archived 2006-09-06 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Labor Party launches petition drive to gain ballot access, South Carolina Times and Democrat, Orangeburg, S.C.
  5. ^ Ballot Access News » Blog Archive » South Carolina Working Families Party Will Sue to Get on 2006 Ballot
  6. ^ "South Carolina Labor Party Recruiting Candidates"
  7. ^[bare URL PDF]
  8. ^ "Labor Party Time? Not yet"
  9. ^ Adcox, Seanna (2022-08-18). "SC judge rules Labor Party candidates can't be on November ballots". Post and Courier. Retrieved 2023-05-16.
  10. ^ "2022 Primary Archives". South Carolina Democratic Party. Retrieved 2023-05-16.
  11. ^ cnadmin (2022-03-09). "Partisan Candidate Filing Period Opens March 16". SC Votes - South Carolina Election Commission. Retrieved 2023-05-16.
  12. ^ scworkersparty (2023-05-06). "South Carolina Workers Party". South Carolina Workers Party. Retrieved 2023-05-16.