Sunday, September 14, 2014

Labor, religious leaders say "get on board the CT Climate Train"

Labor and religious leaders were joined by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy at Union Station to urge residents to get on board the Climate Train for the People's Climate March in New York City on Sunday, September 21.

Action on climate change is a "moral and scientific and political imperative" said Blumenthal, who hopes the rally will make "an indisputable statement that the people of America, people of faith, working men and women know jobs and the environment are not in contradiction.”

"It is not often with one legislative issue that millions of jobs are created and millions of lives are saved," said Murphy. Using fuel cell production in Connecticut as an example he said, "If we create the demand for renewable energy, we will create jobs."

Lori Pelletier, executive secretary treasurer of CT AFL CIO said the 200,000 member organization is proud to be part of this historic event to raise awareness for safety, health, job security and environmental security.

Initiated by the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, the press conference highlighted mobilization by 13 labor organizations and several religious organizations. They are part of a large state-wide coalition of environmental, peace and community groups marching to insist the United Nations take immediate action on climate change.

Melodie Peters, president of AFT Connecticut said her members are going with the safety and future of the children they teach in mind. She thanked Governor Dannel Malloy and the senators for "advocacy and tenacity" with Metro North which won additional seats and discount fares for tickets purchased at

The Roundtable was launched two years ago by CT AFL CIO and the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network to "address urgent concerns about climate change while creating good paying jobs in the state."

Rev. Dr. Ian Douglas, Bishop Diocesan, Episcopal Diocese of CT, Rabbi Joshua Hammerman of Stamford and Fatma Antar of the Islamic Association of Greater Hartford/Berlin Mosque also spoke at the press conference.

Other union endorsers include CT Education Association, SEIU State Council, State Council of Machinists, CSEA/SEIU Local 2100, CT Alliance for Retired Americans, Council 4 AFCME, CWA Local 1298, Unite Here CT, UAW Region 9A, UE Local 243 and 32 BJ SEIU.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Activists Call for Connecticut to Welcome Migrant Children

In an unprecedented effort to find locations in Connecticut to house unaccompanied migrant children from Latin America, immigrant rights groups have called on the Governor and all elected officials for urgent action.

Mayors in the state's three major cities and some suburbs are collaborating to insure that Connecticut retains it's welcome to all residents regardless of immigration states during the current humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied children seeking refugee status.

Criticism was sharp against Governor Dannel Malloy for not finding other alternatives to the Southbury Training Center which was deemed uninhabitable after federal officials requested the children be housed there. The Governor's office has engaged the Department of Children and Families to locate and reunite any of the children with relatives in Connecticut.

Republican candidates for Governor hypocritically joined in the criticism against Malloy, despite the fact that the Republican Party is responsible for blocking federal immigration reform and opposed progressive state bills which were signed by Malloy extending drivers' licenses and in-state tuition rates irregardless of immigration status.

A rally in front of the former Gateway Community College highlighted the fact that this and similar facilities should be considered by the Governor to house the children on an emergency basis.

The courage and desperation of the children was shown during the rally as several youth from Guatemala told about the violence and poverty that caused them to migrate here in search of peace. With the aid of Unidad Latina en Accion they were reunited with their families in New Haven. One mother says she lives in terror of being deported back to those dangerous conditions.

Saying that U.S. trade and foreign policies are responsible for the devastating conditions in Latin America which are forcing the children to leave their homelands, Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance spokesman Alok Bhatt argued this adds to the responsibility to embrace the children.

In an earlier press conference CIRA also called on the Governor to intervene regarding "the continued practice of detaining contributing members of our communities, despite the policies that have been recently enacted (regarding Secure Communities). There is a crisis in the immigrant community affecting many residents in Connecticut and we urge that he act now on both fronts."

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Unions Unite for Connecticut Elections

CT People's World June 20 edition

"We are not letting anybody divide the unions of the Connecticut AFL-CIO!" exclaimed Randi Weingarten to a standing ovation and loud applause as she addressed the organization's 10th biennial political convention.

Weingarten, national president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and Lee Saunders, national president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) both traveled to New Haven to warn delegates of the danger of the billionaire Koch brothers attempt to defeat Democratic governors and legislatures in order to destroy collective bargaining for public sector workers and all workers, as was done in Wisconsin two years ago.

"We need to be at the center of the community, to guarantee economic security for all," said Weingarten. "That is who we are, that is what we know!"

The convention voted unanimously to endorse Malloy for re-election this year. In his speech Malloy listed accomplishments to "build the middle class and protect our families," including the Earned Income Tax Credit, raising the minimum wage, paid sick leave, creating over 50,000 private sector jobs, investing in public education and universal access to pre-K, investing in manufacturing and our infrastructure, getting building trades back to work."

Weingarten was escorted to the platform by the presidents of three locals at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital whose members sustained a four month strike earlier this year.

The two day convention opened with remarks by Stephanie Bloomingdale, secretary treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL CIO. "The Koch brothers came for us in Wisconsin and they are coming for you," she said. "We are fighting for the vision of American that treats all people equally, where democracy is not for sale. We cannot let that light be extinguished."

Executive Secretary Treasurer Lori Pelletier concluded the convention with a strong appeal to the union leaders to take the information and the message back to their members and get them involved. Summer labor picnics, a Labor Day Breakfast will all build up toward full scale mobilization for labor walks, phone banks and workplace discussions.

The Connecticut AFL-CIO represents over 200,000 union workers from more than 900 union affiliates statewide.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

BOOK TALK with Dr. Gerald Horne

Race to Revolution: The U.S. and Cuba during Slavery and Jim Crow

Friday, July 25 at 7 pm 
New Haven Peoples Center 37 Howe Street

The histories of Cuba and the United States are tightly intertwined and have been for at least two centuries. In Race to Revolution, historian Gerald Horne examines a critical relationship between the two countries by tracing out the interconnections among slavery, Jim Crow, and revolution. Slavery was central to the economic and political trajectories of Cuba and the United States, both in terms of each nation’s internal political and economic development and in the interactions between the small Caribbean island and the Colossus of the North.

Horne draws a direct link between the black experiences in two very different countries and follows that connection through changing periods of resistance and revolutionary upheaval. Black Cubans were crucial to Cuba’s initial independence, and the relative freedom they achieved helped bring down Jim Crow in the United States, reinforcing radical politics within the black communities of both nations. This in turn helped to create the conditions that gave rise to the Cuban Revolution which, in 1959, shook the United States to its core.

Presented as a project of People's World Friday Night Film & Discussion Series Information:

Monday, June 9, 2014

Civil rights lawsuit wins landmark immigrantion law victory

by Joelle Fishman  People's World  June 9 2014

After years of organizing against racist profiling by the East Haven Police Department, including several large immigrant rights marches and intervention by the U.S. Department of Justice, a landmark legal victory has been won.

Civil rights plaintiffs in Chacón v. East Haven Police Department today announced a groundbreaking settlement with the town of East Haven. The town will pay plaintiffs $450,000 and has agreed to adopt a new wide-ranging policy, Policy 428.2, which limits the police department's involvement in enforcement of civil immigration laws. It makes East Haven the first jurisdiction in Connecticut to decline to enforce any immigration detainers.

"With this settlement, East Haven has now adopted some of the strictest constraints on immigration enforcement of any city or town in the nation," said law professor Michael Wishnie of the Worker & Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School, co-counsel in the case.

The town's police department, he said, "has agreed to limit questioning of persons about immigration status, enforcement of immigration detainers, making arrests based solely on violations of civil immigration law, and communicating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)."

When four members of the East Haven police force were arrested in 2012 as part of a federal probe into abuse of immigrant residents and shopkeepers, public outcry forced Police Chief Leonard Gallo to resign.
In pursuit of dignity, justice and respect the organization Community of Immigrants in East Haven was formed and organized a large, peaceful march to end the violence against Latinos that had resulted in the probe.
Settlement discussions began in the fall of 2013 after the criminal prosecutions of the four former East Haven police officers had concluded. Today's settlement agreement is the culmination of a civil rights lawsuit filed in 2010 in response to repeated abuses committed by East Haven police officers against Latino East Haven residents, including false arrest, assault, battery, discrimination, illegal search and seizure, and obstruction of justice, among other harms.

"We are very happy to be finished with this long struggle for the recognition of our rights, and look forward to moving on with our lives," said Marcía Chacón, an East Haven business owner and a plaintiff in the case. "My husband and I run a law-abiding small business and will continue to do so. We strongly believe that this settlement will be good for the town and other business owners like us."

"The plaintiffs in this case are ordinary people with extraordinary courage, and it was their good fortune, and mine, to work with a group of extraordinary law students from Yale who assisted in the settlement," said David Rosen, lead counsel for plaintiffs. "The agreement that was reached today will be a model for cities and towns across America.

"This settlement is a testament to the courage and patience of the plaintiffs, who committed themselves to seeking justice not just for themselves, but for the community," said James Bhandary-Alexander, an attorney at New Haven Legal Assistance and co-counsel for plaintiffs.