As the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) candidate for U.S. Senate from Washington state, labor militant Steve Hoffman offers a fearless program for workers, the poor, and the discriminated-against. He is running against Democrat Maria Cantwell, a free trade and fracking proponent and 17-year incumbent.
Hoffman was born in 1958 in Akron, Ohio, a city known as the Rubber Capital of the World. At 18, he left these industrial surroundings to enlist in the Navy, where he served for six years. After his discharge, he made an about-face. Fed up with U.S. imperialism, the military-industrial complex, and the mistreatment of rank-and-file troops, Hoffman joined the mobilization against U.S. intervention in Central America.
In 1991, he took a job as a maintenance technician for the electrical and ventilation systems at North Seattle College and became active in Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) Local 304. He has vigorously represented his co-unionists as a shop steward for many years and serves as the recording secretary for Local 304, which he also represents on the Martin Luther King County Labor Council.
Hoffman believes strongly in the interconnection of labor, peace, environmental, and social-justice issues, and he walks his talk.
He helped form Organized Labor Against the War to protest the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. He took resolutions from his union opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the national AFSCME convention (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, of which WFSE is a part).
FSP’s candidate also has a history of taking on the ultra-right that goes back to the 1980s. Today he is part of protests against the white supremacists who are again taking to the streets to whip up support for their bigotry. He recently sent a union resolution to fight the right wing to the statewide AFSCME Council 28 convention.
When Black custodians in his union faced discrimination, Hoffman worked with his local to support them and collaborated with the NAACP to organize a protest. He is a strong supporter of affirmative action and a member of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.
Hoffman’s call to “turn the tables on the rich” is longstanding. After the financial crash of 2007-2008, he initiated protests by his union against state budget cuts and called for taxing the wealthy and corporate profits to fund services. He also worked
closely with Sisters Organize for Survival, a project launched by Radical Women, to bring unionists into the battle to save the state health plan for low-income people.
The Senate aspirant is a longtime supporter of Radical Women, FSP’s sister organization, and has walked the line defending abortion clinics, fought for pay equity, joined efforts to end sexual harassment, and stood up for the rights of LGBTQ people on and off the job.
An advocate for global working-class solidarity, Hoffman has organized support for teachers in Mexico, and public employees in Costa Rica, as well as immigrant workers in the U.S.
Hoffman belongs to Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS), a cross-union group of Seattle-area rank-and-file activists. When Washington legislators announced a state shutdown due to lack of revenue last year, Hoffman worked with OWLS and members of his union to organize a rally calling for a progressive business tax on large companies in front of Amazon’s headquarters. A fierce opponent of anti-union “right to work” legislation, he is also front and center in the OWLS-led campaign against the right-wing Freedom Foundation, a major backer of these laws.
A member of the FSP National Committee, Hoffman is a frequent writer on labor and environmental issues for the Freedom Socialist. He hopes his campaign will gain traction for the idea that working people need their own political vehicles, whether through socialist campaigns like his, slates of anti-capitalist labor candidates, or a labor party truly independent of the two parties of the bosses. His message is: Strength through solidarity!