Saturday, April 22, 2017

Connecticut leaders to march for climate, jobs and justice


People's World April 20, 2017
by Joelle Fishman
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — At a press conference overlooking the urban woodlands of Common Ground High School, labor leader Mustafa Salahuddin offered a message from his children ages 9, 13 and 14. “It is our responsibility to make the air cleaner.  Get on the bus.  March in the streets.”
The media event, hosted by Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs to support the national March for Science on April 22 and March for Climate, Jobs and Justice on April 29, brought union, environmental, faith based and youth groups together with U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy.

Salahuddin, president of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1336 in the nearby city of Bridgeport, said his 190.000-member national union has established a climate action committee and serves on the People’s Climate march steering committee.  The health of the people of Bridgeport, a city with majority Latino and African American population, has been affected by pollution from a coal power plant and fossil fuels for years he said, calling for an increase in public transportation as a way to address climate change and create jobs.
Blumenthal called for “resources, enforcement and investment” as necessary to preserve and enhance the environment.

“Trump’s 30 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency and 60 percent cut to enforcement betrays that trust,” he said, adding, “we will fight, fight, fight.”

Launched in 2012, the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs has brought together labor, religious and environmental organizations to address the urgency of climate change and the need for good paying jobs for workers in a future without fossil fuels.

“We are here today to encourage the people of Connecticut to get up and get on the move,” said John Harrity, president of the Connecticut State Council of Machinists and leader of the Roundtable.
Referring to Donald Trump’s denial that climate change is real, Harrity exclaimed, “Trump cannot change reality through fiats or edicts.  But we can change political reality by organizing, marching, holding rallies, and holding all public officials accountable for addressing this crisis.”

“The solution to climate danger rests with the people,” said Harrity.  “We have to demand change.  We have to demand scientific and technological innovation.  We have to demand economic and social restructuring commensurate with the urgency and scope of the problem.”

That innovation can create thousands of new jobs and benefit the Connecticut economy, which has had a strong industrial base, said Murphy.

“Nobody in this country wants wholesale withdrawal from clean air and water,” he said, emphasizing that when people make their voices heard it has an impact. For example, he said, “The health care repeal bill was days away from passing the House.  It went down in flames because of activism.”

Crediting the activists present, New Haven City Engineer Giovanni Zinn announced the New Haven Climate and Sustainability Framework, to be launched this summer, will double the solar megawatts for public schools. Mayor Toni Harp is part of the Compact of Mayors, a global coalition of 596 cities pledged to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions and enhance resilience to climate change.

New Haven public school student Tyra DeBoise, who participates in the United Church of Christ project Environmental Justice for All, explained that she has been raised to conserve water and recycle because “we share our planet. Environmental justice means clean air, water and atmosphere for everyone regardless of where they live and the color of their skin.”

Common Ground High School, which includes a working farm and educational gardens, is focused on urban ecology and sustainability.  Students will be among the participants in the Rock to Rock bike ride and Science March on April 22.

Eight Connecticut buses for the Climate, Jobs, Justice march on Washington on April 29, Trump’s 100th day in office, are being organized by 350CT.org,

A bus of union workers for a clean and just economy is being organized by UAW Local 6950, representing 2,200 members at the University of Connecticut/Storrs campus.

“We represent graduate teaching assistants,” said president Todd Vachon. ” The environmentalists and ecologists know that climate change is real, that it is a result of human activity, and that we are feeling the effects now. The sociologists know the impact of wealth inequality.”

As Connecticut prepares to join with thousands from around the country in the nation’s capital, Harrity emphasized, “Donald Trump is not insurmountable.  We are the people – of this great country and this beautiful world.  We will make sure climate change is addressed, and humanity has the same opportunity in the future to enjoy the gifts of earth that we have had in our lifetimes.”

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Yale graduate teachers vote union


Graduate teachers at Yale University made history this year when they voted yes to a union.

For over a quarter-century these workers, now members of Local 33 Unite Here, have been organizing for the right to union representation and a voice at work. It is one of the longest continuous organizing drives in U.S. history.

The determination to improve their circumstances and make a better University has been handed down from one generation of graduate teachers at Yale to the next. Countless marches, meetings, rallies, petitions, letter campaigns, appeals from elected officials and other allies have marked this unstoppable battle. The University insisted that these teachers who the undergraduates depend upon for their studies, were students and not workers.

Last summer, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) affirmed that graduate teachers are in fact workers with the right to form unions. The Yale graduate teachers immediately filed for election. The ruling that the elections would go forward came down just after Donald Trump took office. At that unlikely moment, the graduate teachers in eight departments voted yes for Local 33.

The battle has been remarkable in a number of ways.

The graduate teachers have had consistent support from the clerical and technical workers in Local 34 Unite Here and the service and maintenance workers in Local 35. They stood in solidarity with the graduate teachers because they knew that the new Local 33 would add to the strength of all workers on campus and in the region.

The graduate teachers have also won wide support from the New Haven community. Yale is one of the richest universities in the world in a city with high unemployment and high poverty. For the majority African American and Latino population, it is a constant struggle to get hired by Yale, one of the best job opportunities possible.

The graduate teachers came to realize that their plight was in common with that of the surrounding community. They participated in New Haven Rising's successful door to door campaign to get the University to commit to hire 1,000 workers from the neighborhoods in greatest need.

On a national scale, the graduate teachers were inspired by union organizing at other private universities, as their victory will certainly inspire their counterparts on other campuses around the nation.

Without this solidarity, it is hard to imagine that one generation of graduate student teachers after another would have had the ability to take on the Yale Corporation with all its wealth and power and create a win far beyond their members.

In an interview with People's World Local 33 Chair Aaron Greenberg offers a birds eye view into this remarkable and ongoing battle for workers' rights and social justice.

Q: The graduate teachers at Yale have been organizing for a union for over 25 years. Can you comment on the significance of this victory?

A: Ours is one of the longest running continuously organized recognition drives in U.S. history. Especially in this political moment in our country our victory meant so much to us and to so many people in New Haven and across the state and country. Young workers standing up and winning a union is just an extraordinary achievement. It is more important than ever for people doing the work at universities and other employers to stand up and fight for a voice in their workplace. For us it is inspiring to think there are not just hundreds of us here but thousands all over the country having the same conversation about the importance of a collective voice as the academy and the economy changes for young workers like us.

Q: How do you view the effect of the national election results and the role of the NLRB on your union and your members?

A: Our joint action with the unions at Yale and community organizations across New Haven following the 2016 election in November in City Hall was incredibly inspiring. We filled the atrium with everyone together imagining the world we want. We heard from all generations from the very young to those who have been in the struggle for decades. This was an incredibly inspiring event in a difficult moment for our city and our country. The most powerful thing our union and other unions can do now is continue to grow. We won our union but the next step is to start negotiating. We are focused on doing that and making sure all the issues that brought us to call for unionization will be addressed.

Q: Can you discuss the insurgence in graduate teacher organizing at Yale in the last few years?

A: What has energized our campaign is the movement of our colleagues at public and private universities across the country who have been organizing. Our first major public actions happened just six months after the graduate teachers at New York University won their recognition election in December, 2013. By May 2014 we were out in the streets with petitions to the university. Since then over a dozen campaigns for unionization have emerged at private universities all over the country. At the largest peer institutions in the Northeast, some in the Midwest, and some in the West, there is a wave of organizing of young academic workers.

Q: What issues have compelled graduate teachers to demand a voice at work?

A: Some of the issues that have brought our members over the years to call for unionization range from transparency and equity in teaching and pay, to security for the most senior teachers who receive pay cuts up to 40%, to issues around access to mental healthcare and specialized healthcare, to the accessibility of affordable childcare for those who want to start families or raise children while they are here, to issues around race and gender equity in the workplace, the need for a grievance procedure to settle disputes and insure that we can be an organized voice that pushes for more race and gender equity in the university overall. All of us see the union as a way to improve lives here and improve the quality of teaching and improve the life of the university.

Q: What is the significance of the support you received from Unite Here Locals 34 and 35?

A: The example of Locals 34 and 35 has inspired us for years and years. Their example shows it is possible to really change peoples lives through securing great contracts. Their example over the last many years shows it is possible to win great contracts that change people's lives in a collaborative way. That's what we want to do. We are inspired by their collective wisdom over generations. We all work here and we all have the same employer. Those of us teaching should have a voice the same way those who provide other essential services have rights in their workplace. Locals 34 and 35 have shown that a great university can have great unions. Unionization is compatible with a world class research and teaching institution.

Q: How did you work with New Haven Rising to get the support of the community?

A: It means so much to know the community in New Haven, from elected allies to community allies and faith leaders are behind us. They realize in this moment when workers want to organize and have a voice they should be allowed to. The university is one of the largest employers in the region. The decisions they make really matter. This is something people have come to realize. The solidarity we feel all over the city is very sustaining.

Q: What has your own experience been in organizing for Local 33?

A: I started organizing in the fall of 2012 when I moved to New Haven to begin graduate studies in the political science department at Yale. I have been organizing ever since. I grew up in a family where my mom was a public school teacher and my family benefited directly from the benefits and security of the union contract she had. Our healthcare was taken care of. So much about the ways we lived would have been different without the union. I had a sense of what it means to be in a union. When I arrived I thought it made sense that those who are teaching should have a voice in their work, in the context of the academy becoming more corporate and less driven by research and teaching priorities which is the reason we come to graduate school to be scholars. I thought from the very beginning that a collective voice in our workplace would be vital to make the academy more democratic and realize the values this university and all universities should have.

Q: How does your service on the New Haven Board of Alders relate to your union organizing?

A: So many things I learn from organizing colleagues in the workplace are invaluable to me as I work with neighbors and colleagues in the city to make sure we all get our collective voice heard too. The things that inspired me to run for office are the same that inspired me to run in the union. In New Haven my employer is the largest employer in one of most unequal cities in the most unequal state in the country. There are many ways to respond to inequality in New Haven. One has to be giving people more of a voice in the community or workplace. It is such an inspiration to work with my colleagues to tackle major issues in our city from unemployment and underemployment to violence and crime and public safety to access of services for young people. .

Q: You spoke of the rally after election day where people could voice their dreams. What are your dreams?

A: I think my dream would be for academic workers to be able to do the work they love. People come to study, to get a PhD, teach, do research because they love it. Since college the academy has felt like my home -- an institution that values imagination and creativity and curiosity. I dream that those of use doing this work can continue to do it, to have resources to do it, to continue to train students, and students should have access to that kind of environment -- where they can ask difficult questions and understand a little more about the way the world works -- no matter where they come from. That's a small part of my dream I think we in Local 33 and as well academic workers organizing across the country are trying to fulfill every day.

Friday, February 3, 2017

43rd Annual People's World African American History Month Celebration

People’s World 43rd Annual African American History Month Celebration
Revisiting Frederick Douglass Two Centuries Later:
WE WON'T GO BACK!

HARTFORD Saturday, February 25 @ 6:30 PM King-Davis Center 77 Huyshope Ave
NEW HAVEN Sunday, February 26 @ 4:00 PM Troup School 259 Edgewood Ave

The 43nd Annual African American History Month Celebrations, "Revisiting Frederick Douglass Two Centuries Later: WE WON'T GO BACK!" features James M. Bradford who will address the resistance movement in our country to stop destruction of civil rights, voting rights and human rights.

Famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass addressed 1,200 free Black men gathered at Grapevine Point (now Criscuolo Park) in New Haven in 1864 to join the 29th Regiment of the Union Army in the Civil War. Douglass' extraordinary leadership guides us in today's stormy political climate: "If there is no struggle, there can be no progress....Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will....The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."

Bradford grew up near Philadelphia, PA. He is active in the anti-prison movement, Working America, and chairs the Communist Party of Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware.

A donation of $5 or what you can afford is requested.

HARTFORD:
The celebration will take place on Saturday evening, February 25 at 6:30 pm at the King-Davis Labor Center, 77 Huyshope Ave. with remarks by James M. Bradford and a home made buffet dinner.

NEW HAVEN:
The event will be held on Sunday February 26 at 4:00 pm at Troup School, 259 Edgewood Ave. The program includes remarks by James M. Bradford, drumming by Brian Jarawa Gray and dramatic performance by Ice the Beef Youth including Frederick Douglass' speech in New Haven. Children's drawings from Martin Luther King Day at Peabody Museum: “How can we best unite against hate?” will be on exhibit.

Presentation of prizes in the Arts and Writing Competition Grades 8 to 12 will open the event. Students were asked: "How can we best unite against bigotry and injustice?" Submissions must be received at 37 Howe Street by 5 pm on Thursday February 16. Details are available at: ctpeoplebeforeprofits.blogspot.com or e-mail ct-pww@pobox.com.

These events open the 2017 People's World fund drive in Connecticut. Your contribution toward the $2,500 goal for February is much needed and appreciated to sustain this working class voice against racism and for equality. Read peoplesworld.org daily on-line and sign up to get the CT print edition.
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Checks to: CT People's World Committee, 37 Howe Street, New Haven, CT 06511 ct-pww@pobox.com

Saturday, January 28, 2017

African American History Month 2017 Arts and Writing Competition

African American History Month 2017
Arts and Writing Competition for Grades 8 to 12
Sponsored annually by the Connecticut People's World Committee to remember the
lives and work of Dalzenia Henry and Virginia Henry who devoted themselves to the
young people of New Haven and to making a better future.

How Can We Best Unite Against Bigotry and Injustice?

"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will....The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."

-- Excerpt of speech in 1857 by Frederick Douglass (Feb 7, 1817-Feb. 20, 1895)

Express in artwork, poetry, essay or song:

On the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Douglass, leading abolitionist, orator and writer who fought against slavery and for women's rights, how can we unite against hate, bigotry and injustice to continue his legacy in today's world?

Requirements + Art work – Two dimensional (Drawings, paintings, collage, prints, photographs) Paper size not larger than 18” x 24”
+ Essay, poem or song – Not longer than 2 pages

Deadline Entries must be received by 5 pm on Thursday, February 16, 2017
Name, address, phone, e-mail, age, school, teacher's name (where applicable) must be included

Submission Electronic: ct-pww@pobox.com
Mail: CT People's World, 37 Howe Street, New Haven. CT 06511

Prizes Gift certificates ($100 first place, $50 second place, $25 third place) and books

Presentation Prizes and recognition for all entries will be presented on Sunday, February 26,
2017 at 4:00 pm at Troup School, 259 Edgewood Avenue, New Haven
during the 43rd Annual African American History Month Celebration sponsored by
the Connecticut People's World Committee.

Information e-mail to: ct-pww@pobox.com


Foremost abolitionist Frederick Douglass (1817-1895) came to Connecticut in January, 1864 to speak in Hartford and New Haven. He told more than 1,200 free Black men who had gathered at Grapevine Point (now Criscuolo Park) in New Haven to become soldiers in the 29th Regiment of the Union Army and fight in the Civil War for freedom: "Not for yourselves alone are you marshaled—you are pioneers—on you depends the destiny of four millions of the colored race in this country. If you rise and flourish, we shall rise and flourish. If you win freedom and citizenship, we shall share your freedom and citizenship." The descendants of the 29th Regiment commissioned a statue which has been placed at the site in commemoration.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

MLK Events and Women's March Resist Trump/Republican Agenda

As the Women's March with its powerful message and agenda "Women's Rights are Human Rights" fills Washington DC, Hartford and state capitols across the country, it is clear that many are determined to make their voices heard and defend democracy under a Trump administration.

Events during Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend set the pace, from marches to community gatherings and rallies.

Unions and health care advocates turned out 1,000 strong at the Connecticut State Capitol for one of many national MLK weekend rallies called by Sen Bernie Sanders and Democratic members of Congress for "Our First Stand - Save Health Care." US Senators Chris Murphy & Richard Blumenthal, and US Reps Joe Courtney, Elizabeth Esty, and Rosa DeLauro spoke out to protect affordable healthcare and stop repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy came to the MLK rally and dinner held by New Haven Rising to update on victories for good jobs and union rights in New Haven including new contracts won by the workers at Yale.

Both Senators emphasized the urgency of engaging thousands of people to uphold their rights and preserve democracy in our country, saying that they need this help and support.

"We are not going to bury the Statue of Liberty and immigrant rights. We are not going to bury the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts," Blumenthal told the crowd of over 500 union and community leaders. "Keep organizing. The strength and courage you embody cannot be defeated. New Haven is rising. America is rising."

Calling this a moment of testing for democracy, Murphy asked, "are we willing to put in the work to preserve the journey for justice and equality?" He told those assembled at St. Michael's Church, "Your legacy is in the best traditions of Dr. Martin Luther King."

The day after the Women's March, rallies for environmental justice were held across Connecticut and the nation. Within the first 100 hours of the inauguration vigils for our environment, for good jobs in a clean energy economy, and for protection for vulnerable communities are being held to "stand together, be watchful, for protection for everything and everyone we love. Vigils were called for Salisabury, Fairfield, New Haven and Bloomfield.