Friday, September 22, 2017

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

by Emile Schepers   People's World

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!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Veto the Anti-Worker Republican Budget!

In the late night hours of Friday September 15, Senate and House Republicans were joined by nine Democrats to pass a cruel and corrupt budget for Connecticut that hurts everyone except millionaires and corporations.

As soon as word got out, unions, community groups, clergy, disability groups, educators and many others began mobilizing to tell Governor Malloy to veto this devastating Republican budget.

A "Stop the Madness" rally on Thursday afternoon at the Capitol included many hospital workers, building cleaners and construction workers who told their stories. A rally on Friday was to feature clergy and others exposing the budget as immoral.

The budget makes devastating cuts to the needs of working families and also creates structural changes that end or weaken collective bargaining rights for public sector workers.

The budget decimates higher education, eliminates public financing of elections, eradicates tax credits for the poor, slashes Medicaid for 60,000 Connecticut residents, and imposes a high tax on teacher pensions.

In addition, the proposed budget ends collective bargaining for state employee pensions, imposes changes in their pensions after 2027 (when the current labor agreement expires), and starts counting those savings in the proposed biennial budget.

Referring to $75 million in cuts to the earned income tax credit for the working poor, Connecticut AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier said, "Instead of helping workers, this budget actually forces them to pay more in taxes."

At the same time, the budget lowers the estate and gift taxes that benefit the wealthy.

“The insistence of Senate Republicans and a handful of Democrats on protecting corporations and the ultra-wealthy is an insult to public workers who have sacrificed billions in wages and benefits to help Connecticut dig out of a hole created by austerity budgeting," said Sal Luciano Director of AFSCME Council 4.

"The Republican budget is a gift to the rich and a body blow to the working class. It must be rejected out of hand,” he concluded.

The Democrats who turned their backs on working people to pass this budget are: Senators Paul Doyle, Joan Hartley and Gayle Slossberg; and Representatives Pat Boyd, John Hampton, Cristin McCarthy-Vahey, Lonnie Reed, Kim Rose and Daniel Rovero.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Congress: Pass the Dream Act Now

"I am staying in this church with a heavy heart," said Marco Reyes, in sanctuary for five weeks in order to be with his family as his lawyers argue his case. "My family is being torn apart. Millions of others face a similar situation. I am asking you for support," he concluded to a standing ovation.
Reyes spoke at an emergency field hearing on immigration called by Sen. Richard Blumenthal days after Trump did away with DACA, the temporary protection for immigrant children enacted by President Obama.

Blumenthal said he is holding the field hearings because there is no opportunity to do so in Washington DC. The testimonies will be transcribed and entered into the Congressional Record.
Carolina Bortoletto, co-founder of Connecticut Students for a Dream, came from Brazil 19 years ago at age 9. "Being undocumented you can dream, but you can't plan for the future...With DACA my life changed," she said. "I got a job, a drivers' license, a car. Now that is at risk because of the decision to take away DACA."

Her organization is holding clinics across the state and raising funds to inform and assist those in DACA of their rights if Congress does not act by March.

Speaking for the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance, Jesus Morales Sanchez said "the undocumented live in constant fear... not only those with DACA, but other youth and their families." Rejecting attempts to link a Dream Act to the border wall and more enforcement he said "We need real change that won't be used against our families."

Joelle Fishman of the Peoples Center paid tribute to those resisting the terror of deportation and called for "a Senate investigation into the connection between anti-immigrant and white supremacist hate groups and their influence inside government."

"Racial targeting is unconstitutional," she said. "If the constitutional rights of those in DACA can be denied then the constitutional rights of every group and all of us is in danger."

Blumenthal recognized the courage of those who told their stories and said "we're going to win on this issue just as we did on healthcare because the people of America are on our side and we are on the right side of history."

Solve the Budget Crisis - Tax the Rich!

As the state budget fight continues, 60 union, community, clergy and disability organizations representing thousands of Connecticut residents signed a letter to members of the General Assembly calling for an increase in taxes on the wealthiest residents in order to stop cuts to vital services. 

Several wealthy Connecticut residents have also issued a call for increased taxes on themselves.
The letter, delivered by All Hands on Deck, DUE Justice Coalition and the Cross Disability Life Span Coalition emphasized, "Connecticut's wealthy individuals have more favorable taxation here than in neighboring states. Many well-off Connecticut residents now recognize that a fair budget, which preserves essential services, means taxing them a little more." 
The letter concludes, "We urge you to take these recommendations to heart, and ensure that vital human services and  Connecticut's vibrant educational and social services infrastructure are sustained." 

Following is a letter to the editor by Tom Connolly as published in the Hartford Courant:

"The Connecticut Republican party is trying to lay the entire blame for our serious budget crisis at the feet of the Democrats. Whatever they do, their major mantra is “protect the rich.” If it happens to be at the expense of the middle class and the poor, so be it.

"Republicans now hold a tie in the Senate — 18 Republicans and 18 Democrats — and share the responsibility for coming up with a fair budget. Keep a close eye on what they do when revenue options are proposed, especially those taxing the rich or large corporations.
"The options to resolve the budget are clear, if you do not want to hurt the middle class and the poor. Here are several:

"Increase the income tax rate on the portion of incomes over $250,000 per year.

"Review and end outdated corporate subsidies and tax exemptions.

"Enact a low-wage employers fee, so that big companies like Walmart that pay less than $15 and hour would reimburse the state for the cost of providing services to their workers.

"Let’s make Connecticut great again and tax the few who can afford it to benefit the many who cannot."

Friday, September 8, 2017

Solidarity Movie Nights

Solidarity Movie Nights Three Fridays: Sept 8 Salt of the Earth; Sept 15 PRIDE; Sept 22 10,000 Black Men Named George.  All at 6 pm at 37 Howe Street, New Haven.