Read about Steve’s background as a young Navy enlistee turned anti-war activist and socialist, what his campaign and the Freedom Socialist Party stand for, and his personal statement about what he hopes to achieve with this campaign.
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!
An economy for working people! Public ownership of banks to ensure pro-worker economic development. Nationalize the energy industry under workers’ control to transition away from fossil fuels. Heavily tax the rich and corporations to increase Social Security and to fund universal, free healthcare, childcare and college. Cancel student debt. Expand public housing and end homelessness. Crack down on predatory landlords and real estate developers. Raise the federal minimum wage.
Support strong unions! Stop the Freedom Foundation and anti-union “right to work” laws. Stiff penalties for bosses who retaliate for union organizing. Ban permanent replacement of strikers. Government jobs programs that guarantee employment at union wages.
Equal opportunity and social justice NOW! Enact and enforce strong laws against discrimination based on race, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, and immigration status.
Stop deportations and disband ICE! Restore affirmative action. Elected community review boards to rein in police violence. End mass incarceration. Defend First Amendment rights. Honor Native American treaties.
Expand women’s rights! Prioritize meeting the needs of women of color because they face the highest barriers to equality. Access to abortion and employer paid reproductive healthcare. Vigorous enforcement of laws against sexual harassment. Equal pay for equal work. Outlaw separating immigrant parents and their children.
Bring the troops home! Close U.S. military bases around the world. Retrain soldiers for peacetime production. For a foreign policy based on solidarity among workers of all countries.
Why I Am Running
Working people have it rough these days. Our unions, our civil rights and liberties, and the public services we need are all under siege. Workers need a union militant like me in Congress who will fight for them.
Let’s face it, capitalist democracy in the U.S. means that millionaires run Congress and billionaires run them. My opponent, Maria Cantwell, is one of those millionaires, and it’s clear that her allegiance is with corporations like Boeing and Amazon. Just look at her votes for ruinous “free trade” treaties like NAFTA and CAFTA. I’m running because we working folks have to fight for ourselves and stop counting on the parties of big business to defend us.
I will be blunt about what it will take to defend workers and win a more just society. That’s why I’m proposing demands that take on the profit system — demands like public ownership of the banks and dismantling the war machine. And that’s why I’m calling for an independent labor party to represent the working class.
Senate races are important because we can’t solve intractable problems caused by the addiction to profits at the local level. Take the homelessness crisis. There are over 50,000 souls living on the streets of Los Angeles every night. We need to at least triple the amount of public housing. But where can we get the money? I point to the trillions of dollars spent on endless wars and bloated military production, which are enthusiastically supported by Republicans and Democrats alike.
And let’s look at the recent federal tax cuts for the rich and the corporate elite. The plan is to pay for the cuts at the expense of Medicare, Social Security and anything that benefits workers and the poor. I say repeal that scam! It’s time to tax those plutocrats and fund free education, healthcare, and childcare.
My campaign will travel Washington state hearing from people about their issues and offering working-class solutions. The Freedom Socialist Party which I represent fights for solutions that will unify people and actually help them, as opposed to dividing them and causing them harm as Trump does with his scapegoating and hyper-nationalism.
Endorsers to date:
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Puget Sound Chapter
Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS)
Progressive Party of Washington
Radical Women, Seattle
Washington Federation of State Employees, Local 304
Washington Federation of State Employees, Local 1221
Washington Federation of State Employees, Local 1488
Alex Bacon, Washington Federation of State Employees, Local 304
Mohammad Bazargan, Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 587*
Juan José Bocanegra
Patrick Haggerty, LGBTQ rights activist, musician
Leith Jasinowski-Kahl, waterfront worker
Tia Jones, Seattle Silence Breakers*
Denise Krownbell, President, Seattle Chapter of Professional and Technical Employees Local 17*
Howard McCay, ILWU*
Vivian McPeak, Executive Director, Seattle Hempfest*
Matt Nagle, Director, Puyallup Tribal News
Albert Penta, Veterans for Peace*
Barbara Phinney, former President, American Federation of Government Employees, Local 3197*
Gabriel Prawl, Co-chair, Million Worker March Committee*
Oscar Rosales Castañeda, May 1st Action Coalition*
Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Councilmember*
Mike Tagawa, Seattle Black Panther Party*
Sybrina Woodson, WFSE Local 304 shop steward
Roger Yockey, retired labor organizer
Ziyad Zaitoun, civil rights activist
*For identification purposes only