Saturday, October 14, 2017

Union members commit to "Move Forward Together"

by Joelle Fishman

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- Solidarity and organizing were at the top of the agenda at the Connecticut AFL-CIO convention last week. Turning anger into an action plan, the delegates geared up to "move forward together," and reverse the assault on public sector unions and all workers.

"Like a diamond we are indomitable and enduring," said President Lori Pelletier of the union federation which was founded 60 years ago. Bucking the national trend, "union density in Connecticut increased from 15% to 17.5 in the past two years," she said calling for the 200,000 union members in the state to "go house to house on the issues, and use our union power in the next legislative session."

Connecticut has been a prime target for the Koch brothers and right-wing groups like the Yankee Institute who are pushing forcefully in the state legislature to limit the bargaining rights of state workers. As well, unions have been preparing for the possibility of a Supreme Court ruling that would prohibit automatic dues collection from members and create a "right-to-work" (for less) nation.

Delegates listened intently as MaryBe McMillan, president of the North Carolina AFL CIO told of the difficult conditions for unions in her "right-to-work" state. but also of the struggles being waged and victories being won by workers at Smithfield Packing and Duke University.

"Right to work can never mean right to surrender," she said. "Our movement fundamentally cries of hope." Calling for solidarity with southern organizing, she exclaimed, "If we want to get working people ahead anywhere, we have to organize the South."

Welcoming the growing solidarity she sees between Black, brown and white workers in North Carolina McMillian said "we have to rise up and show working people it's the union movement that's on their side."

Elaborating on the theme of solidarity, Fred Redmond, a national leader of United Steel Workers and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, addressed the question "where do we go from here?"

"The economic goals of labor are intertwined with our social goals. Our struggles are won by solidarity, a united front, marching hand in hand," he reiterated, quoting Pope Francis that "there is no just society without unions" which lift up the unemployed and hungry.

Redmond traveled the country as chair of the AFL-CIO Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice, which held six meetings from July, 2015 to March 2016. The Commission, on which Pelletier also served, was formed after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson. "A union brother (on the police force) killed the son of a union mother," said Redmond.

"We can't let race be used to divide and defeat us," he said quoting Martin Luther King Jr that "where there is a labor baiter, there is a race hater." He called on the delegates to support policing reform and the other recommendations in the Commission report, concluding, "United we rise. Divided we fail."

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, continued the theme of confronting racism to achieve unity. As he approached the podium the convention welcomed him with a prolonged standing ovation, in recognition of the courage of the players who have been under attack from Trump.

Having just visited 32 teams in ten weeks, Smith concluded that "the best conversations about race class, inequality and injustice are taking place in locker rooms. In their decision not to shut up the players are exercising their right, and operating because of duty." He recounted that on Sunday the players had joined arms before the National Anthem was ever announced, and yet they were booed. "This shows it's not about the Anthem," he said.

Applauding the players' courage in taking a stand, Smith asked, "If you can use players to sell shoes why can't you use players to inspire kids for liberty and justice for all?" As a union, he said, "our job is to teach and inspire. Our duty is to preach that we are all in this together."

Delegates adopted 17 resolutions, including one to "Combat White Supremacist Terrorism," which resolved to "partner with and support other groups, elected officials and individuals standing against hate groups and white supremacy."

Two resolutions addressing the immigration crisis were adopted, one in support of the Dreamers and DACA, and another in opposition to deportations and in support of comprehensive immigration reform.

The second resolution decries the "culture of fear that emboldens employers to exploit workers, regardless of status, and retaliate against any form of collective action at the worksite," and resolves to "educate our members about the damaging impact of these deportations on the workplace."

Liz Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, who was scheduled to address the convention in person, had been called to Puerto Rico as part of the emergency relief efforts including many teamsters, nurses and other professional union members. She spoke via video with a message to continue to organize, outreach and win a good budget in Connecticut.

Delegates and their affiliates participated in a convention collection for relief and rebuilding Puerto Rico.

A resolution to work to address climate change resolved to continue "taking a central role in local efforts to address climate change so that we make the planet a healthy place to live and create good paying jobs."

Speaking on behalf of the Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, John Harrity, president of the State Council of Machinists, said "this is the most crucial issue facing all of us for the rest of our lives. Labor needs to be in the forefront."

Other resolutions addressed pension security, upheld the right to organize, and rejected attacks on the Affordable Care Act while recommitting "to educate and mobilize in order to achieve health care for all through the creation of a universal, comprehensive single-payer system."

During the three day convention held at Pequot Towers, delegates attended lunch time workshops, and a breakfast celebrating organizing victories. A fundraiser for the United Labor Agency highlighted their programs to assist workers in need, provide backpacks to school children, and offer apprenticeship programs for women in the trades.

Tim Wheeler, former editor of People's World, came to the convention as part of his book tour and signed copies of "News from Rain Shadow Country."

People's World Amistad Awards 2017 RESISTING Together So We Can Move FORWARD

This year's People's World Amistad Awards are dedicated to "Resisting Together So We Can Move Forward". The event will take place on Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 4:00 pm at the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church, 425 College St, New Haven.
We are excited to announce this year's awardees Peggy Buchanan, Rep. Robyn Porter, and Camila and Carolina Bortolleto. All are on the front lines of resisting the policies of white supremacy, hate, division and fear that threaten democracy and our future. All are fierce warriors in the forefront of demanding priorities for workers' rights, peace and equality that put people and planet before profits.
The Awards will take place on Saturday, December 9 at 4 pm at the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church at 425 College Street, New Haven. Marco Reyes took sanctuary there in July to resist deportation and separation from his family. The event will pay tribute to the Reyes family and Unidad Latina en Accion. The Unions at Yale have their offices at the church. The event will pay tribute to the ongoing struggle of Unite Here Local 33 for union recognition and a contract.
We invite you to place an ad in the greeting book and take a bloc of tickets to honor the awardees and the occasion. The ad deadline is November 17, 2017. Greeting book and ticket information is on the back of this letter.
Peggy Buchanan is Connecticut AFL CIO campaign manager and former president, Greater Hartford Labor Council who has dedicated her life to solidarity and organizing workers on the job, in the community and to run for public office.
Rep. Robyn Porter represents the 94th District and co-chairs the Labor Committee in the Connecticut General Assembly where she leads for social justice, equality and workers' rights as an elected official and at the grass roots
Camila and Carolina Bortolleto are courageous twins who co-founded CT Students For a Dream which has become a statewide voice and organization of youth "undocumented and unafraid" and organizes for the rights of all immigrants.
The annual Awards are presented to allies by the Connecticut People's World Committee on the occasion of the 98th anniversary of the Communist Party USA. We come together in hope and unity as increased economic and racial inequalities, climate change and war give rise to new organizing by youth, low-wage workers and the 99% toward a society that puts people and planet before corporate profits.
In Solidarity,

People's World Amistad Awards Committee

People's World Amistad Awards Committee 203-624-4254
37 Howe Street, New Haven Connecticut 06511

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Standing in Solidarity with Puerto Rico

Connecticut Communist Party USA
October 1, 2017

On September 5, 2017 Hurricane Irma struck the island of Puerto Rico, killing three people. Less than two weeks later, Puerto Rico was once again ravaged by Hurricane Maria on September 20.

Hurricane Maria has been classified as the tenth most intense Atlantic hurricane, leaving 16 people dead, 95% of the people without electricity, 11% of cell phone towers operating, schools badly damaged and unable to open, 8,800 people in 139 shelters, 51 of 69 hospitals open, and only 11 regional staging areas open for food and water distribution.

Puerto Rican families need our help IMMEDIATELY to RELIEVE and REUILD their beautiful island. While millions suffer needlessly from lack of urgency on the behalf of the Trump Administration, Donald J. Trump wastes valuable time arguing over athletes and their form of peaceful protest. When hurricanes of lesser magnitudes struck the United States’ mainland, there was an immediate and adequate response.

Despite the sentiments of the Trump Administration, the residents of Puerto Rico are working hard to do what they can to restore their homes and island and need the IMMEDIATE assistance of the federal government.

Join us to DEMAND that federal authorities give Puerto Rico what it needs. The devastating damage that Hurricane Maria brought to Puerto Rico has come on top of the storm caused by the public debt crisis and the recession that has made Puerto Rican families suffer for decades. It’s immoral to insist that before Puerto Rican families can rebuild their homes, schools, roads, and hospitals, they must pay back the banks. It’s time to eliminate Puerto Rico’s public debt altogether.

Join us, the Communist Party of Connecticut to DEMAND that the federal government send much needed assistance to the United States’ territory of Puerto Rico. We stand in solidarity with our fellow citizens of Puerto Rico in making these demands.

Join us on Wednesday, October 4, 2017 from 12:00 P.M. to 1:00 P.M. at 115 Asylum Street in Hartford and on Friday, October 6, 2017 from 5:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. at the Greek Olive at 402 Sargent Drive in New Haven as we stand with our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico. Bring monetary donations as well as supplies such as batteries and toiletries. You can also donate online through:

Friday, September 29, 2017

Newhallville Marches for Jobs and Peace

Over 150 people gathered in New Haven's Newhallville on September 23 to march for Jobs for Youth/Jobs for All - End the Violence. After marching, passionate speeches outside the former CT Department of Social Services (DSS) building at 194 Basset St, vacant since June 2013, called for it to be opened for youth and job services.

The march, organized by New Elm City Dream/YCL, New Haven Rising and Ice the Beef Youth came out of a summer neighborhood youth survey. When 14-year old Tyriek B. Keyes a leader of Ice the Beef Youth was killed, the survey was dedicated to him.

Organizer Jahmal Henderson said, "Saturday’s rally was a direct response to that young man’s death, and to what we had been hearing all summer from youth in the neighborhood"

At the 10 am. kickoff behind Lincoln-Bassett School, New Haveners young and old took their posts carrying banners with slogans for equality, justice, hope, jobs, and peace.

Ice The Beef's own"Heartbreakers" quartet sang a beautiful rendition of "Its So Hard To Say Goodbye", followed by remarks from Alderwoman Delphine Clyburn. Several Alders came to show support. State Rep Robyn Porter and State Sen. Gary Winfield spoke at the ending rally.

A diverse coalition of Newhallville residents, labor organizers, student activists, and local politicians marched through the streets, chanting and cheering in support of jobs and safety for the neighborhood’s youth.

The march paused at Newhall and Bassett Sts. for a prayer in memory of Tyriek, led by The Rev. Charles Brewer and Elder Ron Hurt. Keye’s mother, Demethra Telford, assured the crowd that she would fight not just for the memory of her son, but for the protection of all Newhallville children.

“Even when I get justice for my child,” she said. “I’m going to continue to push for stopping the violence. My son’s legacy does live on."

The Newhall/Winchester Communist Party updated the 2011 New Elm City Dream/ YCL Youth Survey which had been launched when there were a record number of homicides in New Haven. Recognizing that lack of jobs and economic security leads to violence, they organized for "Jobs For Youth, Jobs For All". The Board Of Alders adopted good jobs, safe communities, and youth needs as their priorities.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Washington and California state AFL-CIOs call for end of Cuba Blockade

by Emile Schepers   

At its July 18-20 Convention, the Washington State Labor Council of the AFl-CIO passed a strongly worded resolution calling for an end to the U.S. economic blockade and travel restrictions on Cuba.
Here is the full text of the resolution, one of many such progressive resolutions passed at this important convention. 

WHEREAS, the U.S. blockade of Cuba has had devastating impacts on Cuba’s workers, union members, and citizens, restricts U.S. citizens’ freedom to travel to Cuba, and, if lifted, would create jobs for U.S. workers; and
WHEREAS, a number of labor and community leaders from Washington State have traveled to Cuba on study tours and have learned valuable lessons regarding universal health care and providing for those most in need; and
WHEREAS, following the Obama administration’s partial moves to normalize U.S.-Cuban relations, now the Trump administration has expressed its intention to reverse this trend and tighten the blockade of Cuba once again; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO goes on record supporting an end to the travel restrictions and the trade and financial embargo against Cuba, and oppose efforts by the Trump administration to tighten the blockade; and be it finally
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO shall send this resolution to its affiliates, area Labor Councils, and to the AFL-CIO, urging the AFL-CIO to pass a similar resolution at their 2017 convention.
This is remarkable news in many ways.
First if all, it appears to have been the second instance of a state AFL-CIO passing a resolution calling for an end to the blockade and travel restrictions. Last year, the California state AFL-CIO passed a similarly strong resolution on the subject, also with the instruction that the issue be taken up at the level of the national AFL-CIO. Individual labor union leaders and smaller labor bodies have done so before, as have a large number of unions and union federations in other countries, but these two actions are a breakthrough at this level of labor organization in the United States.
Secondly, the wording is very straightforward and uncompromising—no weasel words here!
The resolution uses the world “blockade” instead of embargo. The Cubans use the word “blockade” because for the past half century and then some, the U.S. government has not only prohibited its own corporations and citizens from trading with Cuba, but has also tried to block other countries to do so, even resorting to threats and sanctions against close U.S. allies and trading partners in the process. It also calls out Trump for threatening to reverse the modest advances in U.S. Cuba relations achieved during the Obama administration. Most importantly of all, it calls on other state labor councils and the national AFL-CIO to get on board the effort to end the U.S. blockade and travel restrictions, specifically mentioning the upcoming AFL-CIO convention to be held in St. Louis, Missouri, October 22 to 25.
Our sisters and brothers in California and Washington State have staked out a courageous position on Cuba; it now behooves all to do whatever we can to bring all of U.S. labor, including the national AFL-CIO on board!