Monday, October 7, 2019

Workers Resurgence Celebrated at Labor Convention

Union members from across the state celebrated the resurgence of worker power at the Connecticut AFL-CIO convention last week. Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers got a standing ovation for the strike victory at Stop & Shop this year, won with the support of communities in every town who refused to cross the picket line.

Liz Shuler, Secretary Treasurer of the AFL-CIO noted there have been more workers on strike in the last two years than for many decades including teachers, government workers, transit workers and now 50,000 General Motors workers.

Connecticut AFL CIO president Sal Luciano brought delegates to their feet, calling upon them to organize and mobilize to bend the moral arc of history toward justice.

The convention paid tribute to union sisters Rep Robyn Porter and Sen Julie Kushner who co-chair the labor committee and pushed through the $15 minimum wage and paid family leave.

Delegates were addressed by new, emerging leaders in workshops and plenary sessions. The Area Labor Federations announced labor walks to support union sisters and brothers running for local office in November, including in Danbury, East Haven, Stratford, Derby and East Hartford.

Western Connecticut Central Labor Coalition president Ed Hawthorne said they have endorsed more union candidates than ever before, as a result of the Path to Power program.

"We must support these candidates who support what we hold dear: Well Paying Union Jobs! Pensions for All! And high quality affordable Health Care!" he said. "We must all do our part to ensure union voices are heard loudly at all levels of government."

Convention resolutions included one on climate change, noting the coalition of "labor unions and environmental allies who teamed up this year to win legislation that requires Connecticut to solicit 2000 MW of offshore wind (30% of the state’s total electricity demand) becoming the first state offshore wind legislation to require prevailing wage and project labor agreements for all projects."

The convention resolved to "take inspiration from the uprisings of student activists and workers and work with urgency to create a greener, safe and more just world where we can live and prosper for generations to come."

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Labor Day Message: Want Power? Join a Union!

"It's time to organize!" exclaimed Sal Luciano, president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO to several hundred union members at the sixth annual Labor Day Breakfast at Operating Engineers Local 478 in Hamden. Noting the 125th anniversary of Labor Day, Luciano emphasized the signs around the room, "Want Power? Join a Union." He paid tribute to the hundreds of thousands of workers who sacrificed and organized for strong wages, safer working conditions, healthcare and retirement benefits, won through collective bargaining.

Juan Hernandez, leader of SEIU 32 BJ, described a rally with highway service plaza workers in Darien the day before. After an attempt to block the rally was denied by a Superior Court judge, union supporters demanded union representation for Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s workers at Connecticut service plazas so they can get the wages and benefits they are due.

"Alone your employer can and has treated you as if you’re invisible. That time, sisters and brothers, is past. Now is the time to be seen, now is the time to be heard. Now is the time to organize." Luciano. told the fast food workers.

Sen. Julie Kushner and Rep. Robyn Porter, co-chairs of the state legislature's Labor Committee, were recognized for leading the successful fight that won an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour and paid family leave in this session.

Three union members, running for their town councils after participating in the Pathways to Power program of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, told their stories, including Kim Glassman, director of Foundation for Fair Contracting, of East Haven; Katlyn Shake a nurse, of Stratford, and Bill Garrity of Plainville, president of University Health Professionals Local 3837.

"I am honored and humbled to receive the endorsement of Western CT Area Labor Federation AFL-CIO," said Shake. "We are always stronger when we come together and organize. Unions built the middle class and Stratford is home to thousands of CT union workers!"
Attorney General William Tong denounced the anti-worker and anti-immigrant policies of the White House and vowed to continue resisting with court challenges, along with Attorneys General of other states.

Information was distributed in support of the Connecticut Climate Strike on September 20 at noon on the Capitol steps in Hartford demanding action to address the climate crisis.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Executive Orfder Paves Way for Sanctuary City Ordinance

Even before the New Haven Board of Alders completes deliberations and passes an ordinance codifying into law protections for immigrants, Mayor Toni Harp has issued an executive order expanding the city's 2006 prohibition on police from asking residents their status or cooperating with ICE to include all city employees and departments.

The announcement was made at a powerful unity rally on the steps of New Haven City Hall, called by Unidad Latina en Accion (ULA) following two years of grass roots organizing.

The united front of immigrant rights activists, union members, lawyers, elected officials and faith leaders strongly condemned Trump administration attacks on the immigrant community and affirmed New Haven as a city where all are welcome to make their home.

"In the face of so much disrespect we must stay together, stay strong to our convictions. Hate has no home in New Haven," said Harp who was introduced by Fatima Rojas one of the sanctuary ordinance organizers.

Over 2000 signatures of support were collected. The harsh realities faced every day for those living without documents were shared during individual meetings with Alders and the Mayor.

"We are indigenous people who have been traveling this continent for centuries," said John Jairo Lugo of ULA. "Some people say we don't belong here. We have been fighting for our rights and winning changes since 2002."

In that year New Haven was the first city in the country to create a municipal ID card. Immediately ICE raided 32 homes in the middle of the night leaving children without parents. The city came together, raised bail and brought those imprisoned home. A lawsuit against ICE won $350,000.

Rev. Scott Marks of New Haven Rising, decried the brutal practice of ripping African American families apart during slavery. "We were captured and kidnapped and built this country," he said. "When immigrants come and families are separated we have to all stand together. Enough is enough."

Pastor Vicki Flippin of the First & Summerfield Methodist sanctuary church exclaimed that U.S. policies, from genocide of Native Americans to the Dred Scott decision to the Chinese Exclusion Act to the Muslim ban "have always been about white supremacy...Our business must be nothing less than resisting white supremacy."

-- Reprinted from CT People's World

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Victory Wins New Haven Hiring Practices at Yale

A large union-community movement and a five year campaign led by New Haven Rising to solve New Haven's jobs crisis celebrated a major victory.

The Unite Here unions at Yale announced they have negotiated new, permanent pathways to jobs at Yale for New Haven residents in low-income neighborhoods. The 300 jobs by 2021, in addition to the 300 workers hired into jobs since the last agreement four years ago, will bring $40 million into "neighborhoods of need."

An amazing celebration of the victory brought together union and community groups with elected leaders who participated and helped realize the achievement.

The establishment and success of New Haven Works, one of the first victories along the way, has made it possible to go further. Several New Haven residents now working in full time Yale jobs told how their lives have changed with a full time unionized job that meets their family needs instead of working many jobs with no benefits.

The agreement is a major achievement because it begins to change not only who is hired, but how people are hired at Yale, New Haven's largest employer. It is also a model for other large employers.
Unite Here Local 35 President Bob Proto emphasized that the new pathways to jobs are ongoing. While giving credit to Yale for agreeing to these hiring practices, Proto joined other speakers in emphasizing that it took a strong movement to win them, and only a strong movement can guarantee their implementation.

“New Haven is an extraordinary city, and this movement is an exceptional part of it. I am proud to be part of this movement”said Mayor Toni Harp, adding that in collaboration with New Haven Works, the City has increased its own hiring of New Haven residents.

Rev. Scott Marks, leader of New Haven Rising, recognized those who led the organizing. “The contract is only as good as the paper it’s written on if you’re not willing to work and enforce it,” he said urging everyone present to sign up for election door knocking.

The agreement includes collaboration with Eli Whitney technical high school, building trades apprenticeship programs and Gateway Community College.

-- Reprinted from CT People's World

Friday, August 2, 2019

New Haven Election 2019: Working People's Needs

The movement for jobs and hiring at Yale from low-income neighborhoods needs a Mayor and Board of Alders who will listen, respond and act.

The movements for affordable housing, youth needs, responsible policing, climate justice, immigrant rights and peace all need a Mayor and Board of Alders who listen, respond and act.

The movement to reject hate, racism and greed coming from the White House needs a Mayor and Board of Alders who continue to unite New Haven's many cultures and constituencies.

Mayor Toni Harp has strong working relations with the Board of Alders. Together they:
-- Supported New Haven Works to create a jobs pipeline for New Haven residents
-- Supported workers at Yale for good union contracts and union rights for all workers
-- Stood with residents at Florence Virtue to preserve affordable housing for 135 families.
-- Expanded community policing to relate with residents in every neighborhood
-- Stood up for immigrant rights against attacks by the Trump administration and ICE
-- Expanded youth programs across the City and won state funds to rebuild the Q House

Reprinted from: Connecticut People's World