Thursday, December 31, 2009

Working Together for Justice

The 35th annual African American History Month Celebration
sponsored by the People's World in Connecticut will be held
on Saturday, Feb 27 in Hartford at 6 pm at 405 Capitol Ave,
and on Sunday, Feb 28 at 4 pm in New Haven at 37 Howe Street.

Guest speaker, Gerald Horne, is Chair of History and African
American Studies at the University of Houston. His research
has addressed issues of racism in a variety of relations
involving labor, politics, civil rights, international
relations and war. Dr. Horne received his Ph.D. in history
from Columbia University and his J.D. from University of
California, Berkeley.

The theme, "Working Together for Justice," is the
same slogan chosen for our annual high school arts and
writing competition with awards being presented on Sunday
Feb 28. The competition deadline is Feb 12. For details
e-mail: or call 203-624-8664.

Gov Rell - Fix Unemployment Clains System

State Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield has called on Gov. Rell to correct the broken system at the Department of Labor which has left unemployed workers unable to file their claims in a timely fashion on the web based reporting system or by phone. The story is covered in the New Haven Register.

In a Facebook message Gary says, "Please join us as we work to get Governor Rell to address the situation that is preventing many of CT's residents from filing unemployment claims in a timely manner. " He is asking for calls and messages to the Governor's office now.

To see more details and join his facebook group "No, Gov Rell DOL's Response is Not Sufficient click here

Part of the solution is to restore workers at the unemployment offices where the number of workers has been drastically reduced.

The basic solution to the explosion of unemployment is jobs creation with help from the federal government. A campaign has been launched nationally by a wide array of labor, civil rights and faith based organizations, Jobs for America Now.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Speak Out - Gov Rell's Veto Hurts Most Of Us

The Governor’s veto of the delay in cutting the estate tax demonstrates that she is more interested in protecting the wealthiest of Connecticut ’s citizens than helping struggling low-income and middle-class families. Below is the Senate President’s response.

Here is what you can do:

* Submit a letter to the editor of the Hartford Courant
* And/or submit a letter to the editor to your local newspaper.
* Call the Governor’s Office and denounce her decision to protect wealthy people over struggling families: 860-566-4840 or 800-406-1527
* Email the Governor:

You should also respond to the Hartford Courant on-line poll about the delay in the estate tax cut

December 28, 2009

Senate President Says Governor’s Veto Will Protect Multimillionaires and Make Deficit Worse

Senate President Donald E. Williams, Jr. (D-Brooklyn) offers statement on governor’s veto of deficit mitigation bills

“The governor’s vetoes don’t help us solve our budget deficit, don’t improve our bond rating, and don’t move the state forward. Simply put, they represent politics at its worse.

The budget cuts rejected by the governor were real —including cuts that she offered and others that were long overdue, such as reducing the number of horse farms the state operates.

It is disgraceful that in this time of economic crisis the governor is more interested in protecting multi millionaires than solving the budget deficit. She refused to approve the biennial budget unless it included a tax break for millionaires. Now the governor is at it again: She wants the budget axe to fall on Medicaid patients and middle class home owners in order to preserve her tax break for millionaire heiresses. This is not a fair or responsible solution.

The governor had the opportunity to help solve the budget deficit and stand up for fairness in our tax code—instead she played politics.”

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Health Care for America Now: Finish Reform Right

Dec 23, 2009

This is it.

One month ago, the House of Representatives passed an historic health care bill - one that would make great strides towards the guarantee of quality, affordable health care for everyone in America. It would tightly regulate insurance companies and give us the choice of a public health insurance option.1

The Senate has taken the first step towards passing its health care bill. While the Senate bill includes significant reforms, it looks small in comparison with the House.2 As Richard Kirsch, our National Campaign Director, said, progressives are "very, very angry and disappointed" with the Senate bill.3

The Senate bill cannot be the final bill sent to President Obama's desk for his signature. We have one last chance to fix it.

The Senate bill will shortly head into "conference" with the House bill, where Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama will come up with a final bill by merging the two. Conference is an opportunity to fix what's wrong with the Senate bill and stand up for what's right in the House bill. It is our last chance - we must stand up for what we believe in and demand that our leaders finish health reform right.

Click here to send a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid and President Obama, demanding they finish reform right.

The final bill coming out of conference must be passed by the Senate and House, but no changes are allowed, so conference is the last chance we have to make things better.

This last chance demands unprecedented effort, so we're pulling out all the stops. Today is just the start of an aggressive campaign to put a good bill on the President's desk.

We're asking organizations involved in health care reform, political and policy experts, and grassroots supporters to sign onto the same letter to Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid and President Obama. We must all speak with one voice and demand quality, affordable health care for all if we're going to win.

It's time to stand up - it's our last chance. Click here to read and sign the letter.

What are we asking for in conference? Two things:

Make good health care affordable:
Low and middle income families must be able to afford health insurance if they do not get it through work, and employers must be asked to provide good health coverage for their employees so health care is affordable at work. Health reform should not be paid for by taxing our health care benefits.

Hold insurance companies accountable:
If the insurance companies win, we lose. Insurance companies must be held accountable with strong regulations and consumer protections, and we must be given the choice of a national public health insurance option available on day one.

Raise your voice right now: Click here to sign and send this letter to Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid and President Obama.

We're nearing the end of this fight. Your efforts, in coordination with thousands around the country, will make this bill the historic health care reform we believe in.

We must finish reform right.

Happy holidays,

Levana Layendecker
Health Care for America Now

Send a letter

1. BREAKING: House passes health reform bill! - HCAN NOW! blog
2. The House Bill and the Senate Bill - HCAN NOW! blog
3. Labor Leaders Mull Strategies on Health Bill - New York Times

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

ARA Holiday Action Party

[Photo Above: Part of the membership at that ARA holiday party-action meeeting. Click on photo for full screen.]

The Alliance of Retired Americans, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, held a well attended meeting and holiday party at the offices of AFSCME Council 4 in New Britain on Monday, December 21.

A legislative program was adopted for 2010. An aide to Congressman Chris Murphy gave greetings and emphasized that the vote for health care reform is the most important ever. Messages were written to the Connecticut Congressional delegation, thanking members of the House and Senator Dodd and urging Sen Lieberman to respond to the will of the electorate.

[Photo above: Large poster above that was delivered to Sen. Dodd thanking him for his ongoing support for meaningful health care reform. It was signed my members of ARA. The entire Connecticut delegation recived one and a special visit was made to Sen. Lieberman's office.

During lunch, a delegation went to Sen Lieberman's Hartford office with over 4,000 letters from union members in favor of health care reform and a public option. AFSCME member Lois O'Connor, who had received a "Connecticut Hero" award from Lieberman several years ago, announced to the media she was returning the pewter award because she is so angry that he is going against the best interests of the people of the state and nation.

[Photo Above: AFSCME member Lois O'Connor with the "Connecticut Hero" pewter cup that she received from Sen. Lieberman several years ago explains why she is returing the cup to Sen Lieberman. Siting at her left is Cal Bunnell, President of the CT ARA.]

[Photo Above: ARA members Mary Elia, on left, Bill Tyszka, Marilyn Tyszka and Bernie McKinnon await Sen. Lieberman's staff member to accept his poster and encourage his support for meaningful health care reform. The group asked Sen Lieberman to reconsider his position and to support a strong public option and allow people 55 and over to buy into Medicare. They also ask him to work to eliminate the proposed tax on health care insurance. Members of the ARA signed the poster.]

By Joelle Fishman

Photos by Tom Connolly

Friday, December 18, 2009

Health Care -- Keep Up the Fight!

The fight for national health care changes by the hour. Now that Senator Lieberman has protected insurance industry profits by blocking the best provisions in the Senate bill, there is a lot of debate about whether or not what is left is better than nothing.

Below is the statement by Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, which is posted on the Peoples World online edition. President Trumka lays out the provisions that the labor movement is fighting for in the health care bill.

The Peoples World is a great way to follow the health care fight -- not only in Washington, but what's happening in the labor movement and around the country. There are new articles every day at

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Health Care Bill December 17, 2009

The labor movement has been fighting for health care for nearly 100 years and we are not about to stop fighting now, when it really matters.
But for this health care bill to be worthy of the support of working men and women, substantial changes must be made. The AFL-CIO intends to fight on behalf of all working families to make those changes and win health care reform that is deserving of the name.

The absolute refusal of Republicans in the Senate to support health care reform and the hijacking of the bill by defenders of the insurance industry have brought us a Senate bill that is inadequate: It is too kind to the insurance industry.
Genuine health care reform must bring down health costs, hold insurance companies accountable, assure that Americans can get the health care they need and be financed fairly.

• That's why we are championing a public health insurance option: It is the way to break the stranglehold of the insurance industry over consumers that has led to double digit premium increases virtually every year.

• Employers must pay their fair share.

• And the benefits of hard-working Americans cannot be taxed to pay for health care reform-that's no way to rein in insurance companies and it's the wrong way to pay for health care reform.

Those are the changes for which we will be fighting in the coming days.

The Senate bill does some good things: It will provide health insurance to 30 million more Americans and provide subsidies to low income individuals and families. Benefits will have to meet minimum standards and insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions or impose lifetime or unreasonable annual limits. The bill also includes some relief for plans with early retirees as well as delivery system reforms that may lead to lower costs over the long haul. And Senate leaders have made a commitment to close the Medicare prescription drugs donut hole which is so costly to seniors.

But because it bends toward the insurance industry, the Senate bill will not check costs in the short term, and its financing asks working people and the country to pay the price, even as benefits are cut.

The House bill is the model for genuine health care reform. Working people cannot accept anything less than real reform.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


[Photo above: Part of the crowd at the rally today to oppose Gov. Rell's latest budget cuts. Click on the picture for full screen]

Hundreds rallied today at the state capitol to protest Gov. Rell's latest budget cuts and proposed budget cuts. It is past time to TAX THE RICH and to save jobs and stop cuts to vital services for working people and vulnerable groups. Some of Gov. Rell's cuts include:

* The programs were eliminated that produce 60% of all Connecticut's Licensed Practical Nurses. [LPN] Gov. Rell cut these programs despite projections that the state will need 13-16% more LPNs by 2016. The Connecticut Department of Labor cites Licensed Practical Nurse as one of the "middle-skill" jobs that the state should foster to rebuild the state workforce and meet the growing need for home health and nursing home care.

* Providers of long-term care services have determined that, at a conservative estimate, a 2% cut in Medicaid reimbursement rates for nursing homes would result in a loss of 500-600 in that heath care sector alone.

This year Gov. Rell offered huge tax incentives to Pratt and Whitney to try to keep jobs in Connecticut. In 2006, she strongly opposed Franklin Farms' decision to move 360 jobs to Pennsylvania yet her budget priorities slash Connecticut jobs in the public and private non-profit sectors. These actions will destabilize our economy at the very time we need more jobs, not fewer.

Photos of the rally follows:

[Photo above: Carmen Boudier, President of 1199, rallies the crowd]

[Photo above: The crowd circled the state capitol pausing at Gov. Rell's office window to demand she stop cutting state programs that cost jobs and hurt working people and vulnerable groups.]

[Photo above: Sal Luciano, Executive Director of AFSCME Council 4, blasts Gov. Rell's cuts to the state budget.]

[Photo above: Some of the members of the Peoples Center from New Haven and Hartford that joined the rally.]

[Photo above: Metthew Barrett, Director of the Connecticut Association of Healthcare Providers, pledges continued support to stop the cuts that harm working people and vulnerable groups.]

Other photos:

Posted by Tom Connolly

Saturday, December 12, 2009



As Wall Street recovers, and paying themselves large bonuses, Main Street continues to suffer and the Governor wants to cut deeper into state services for working people and vulnerable groups. There will be a rally at the state capitol to say "NO" TO CUTS AND "YES" TO TAX THE RICH AND LARGE CORPORTATIONS!!

***********DATE: Tuesday, December 15, 2009
***********TIME: 11:00 AM
***********PLACE: Grounds of the State Capitol

Governor Rell has ignored the legal ruling of her own Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal,who told her she has “no statutory or constitutional authority” to cut services that the Legislature agreed to fund, including High Meadows and Cedarcrest Hospital. She also vetoed the bill that would prevent privatizing state group homes.

Now, she’s going even further. On her own authority she has already already cut $16 million from the budget -- cuts that include:

• Cutting staffing levels for direct care and other services to patients, clients, and residents
• Slashing funding for Employment and Day Services for DDS clients
• Eliminating medical transportation for people on Medicaid who have limited vision
• Suspending funding for legal services for children

But it gets worse: Governor Rell is asking the legislature to cut an additional
$116 million. If approved, that would mean;

• A 2% REDUCTION in funding for Nursing Homes and for DDS private providers – meaning more layoffs, more hours cut and even-worse shortstaffing
• Cuts to our cities and towns – already hurting from job losses and business closures
• Increasing the cost of HUSKY for CT families

We can’t let our legislature be bullied into cutting deeper into services that have already been slashed to the bone. But if we want them to develop a spine, we need to have their back fighting these cuts. That’s why we need to be at the Capitol on Tuesday, December 15 to deliver the message: we can’t grow our economy by destroying our services.

Posted by Tom Connolly

Please attend:

How Would Connecticut Benefit from Federal Health Care Reform?

Labor and Public Employees and Public Health Committees and a Panel of Representatives from Clergy, Anti-Poverty and Women’s Organizations will hold an information hearing on:

DATE: Thursday, December 17
TIME: 11:00 AM
PLACE: Legislative Office Building, Room 2A, Hartford

Presenters will include:
Gerald Shea, National AFL-CIO Assistant to the President and Health Care Expert
Paul Kidwell, Legislative Director to Congressman Chris Murphy
Sustinet Co-Chair State Comptroller Nancy Wyman
Sustinet Co-Chair Health Care Advocate Kevin Lembo
John Olsen, President Connecticut AFL-CIO
Workers speaking on personal health care stories.

For more information, please contact Tom Carusello,
Connecticut AFL-CIO at or contact 860-571-6191.

No Cuts - No Layoffs - Tax the Rich

Following is the Testimony submitted to the Appropriations Committee public hearing on December 9, 2009 by Joelle Fishman, Chair of the Connecticut Communist Party USA:

Senator Harp, Representative Geragosian and members of the Appropriations Committee:
My name is Joelle Fishman. I live in New Haven, and have worked in various capacities with those who are struggling to make ends meet for many years. My testimony today is on behalf of the Connecticut Communist Party.
The Governor's proposals before you today challenge basic human decency. Connecticut, like all states, is in economic turmoil as the country suffers its worst prolonged downturn in decades. In such times, it is incumbent upon all of us to find fair, just and creative responses that are geared to helping one another.
The Governor's proposals go in the opposite direction. They are aimed exactly at the most vulnerable people of Connecticut. Children and youth, seniors, those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, cities, towns and rural areas would all be devastated by one or another of the proposed cuts, which would also result in more layoffs of state and municipal employees.
We are fortunate to have a leadership of this committee that has made constant efforts to meet these needs over many years. As a state we now face a new challenge. The Governor's proposals do not cut fat, they cut deep into the bone.
Testimony from service providers and recipients in all the specific areas of basic human needs including food security, housing, health care, education will quickly demonstrate the moral impossibility of implementing the proposed cuts.
Even on the revenue side of the budget, the Governor's proposal to increase the sales tax is aimed at moderate and low income working people.
The immediate crisis should be met by those who have contributed the least and can most afford to pay. The millionaire's tax passed in the last session was a modest step in the right direction -- it imposed a small additional burden on the top two percent, less than or comparable to surrounding states. The richest families still pay far less than middle and low income families as a proportion of their income.
To meet the current emergency, the income tax should be progressively increased on the top five percent of families in Connecticut. In addition, corporate taxes, which have almost disappeared as a source of state funding, should be restored.
I am sure that the Committee leadership has brought the devastating budget situation to the attention of our Congressional Delegation. But the need for a second round of federal funding to close the gap that all states are facing cannot be emphasized or dramatized enough.
I urge you to reject cuts on basic human needs and services. Together with those who share their stories and those who are impacted, many for the first time in their lives, you as our elected leadership can bring the message to Congress and the President most effectively for new aid to states and cities that will preserve and expand services and save and create jobs.
There is no responsible choice but to decline to carry out the Governor's proposed program. Instead, working with the entire body, pass a progressive tax on the wealthy, restore taxes on corporations, and call upon Congress and the President for aid to states and cities to provide services and create jobs.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Above Photo: Part of the audiance that packed the New Haven People's Center for the Amistad Awards celebration. [Click on photo for full screen]

The diverse and inspired overflow crowd stayed to the end of the remarkable celebration of People's World Amistad Award honorees Anna Montalvo, Gwen Mills and Art Perry on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party USA, with the theme "Keep the Ball win jobs with union rights, health care, peace and equality!"

Bill Collins of the Rabble Rousers got everyone going with his new song "Health Care is Our Right," followed by a film, "Building on 90 Years of Struggle" which highlighted Connecticut struggles and activists and the role of the Communist Party for People before Profits policies. Everyone enjoyed all the photos.

Guitarist Beto Castillo performed two Mexican songs to the delight of all. And then it was time for the Award presentations.

Photo Above: Honoree Anna Montalovo receiving the Amistad Award from Sal Luciano, AFSCME Council 4 Executive Director.

Event chair Paul Neal presented Anna Montalvo, president of AFSCME Local 1522 in Bridgeport, with citations from the New Haven Board of Aldermen and the Connecticut General Assembly. As he presented the large framed Amistad Award, AFSCME Council 4 Executive Director Sal Luciano brought out how strong Anna has been in leading a large local with many different worksites including public works where the guys had to learn to take leadership from a woman.

Anna's acceptance speech was personal, moving and complete starting from her life as a child who had to learn English to be the interpreter for her parents to her election as the first woman and first Latina to her union local presidency. Many of her sister and brother members, as well as her family, were present in support.

.............[Above Photo: Gwen Mills, Amistad Award Honoree]

New Haven Aldermen Jackie James and Allan Brison presented the citations to Gwen Mills, political field director of Unite-Here unions for Connecticut and Rhode Island. Shirley Lawrence, lead organizer for Connecticut Center for a New Economy, recalled their ten years of working together and praised Gwen's decision to be a part of the labor movement as she presented the Amistad Award. Gwen spoke of her family and her union in accepting, and recalled many efforts with the Peoples Center over the years.

................[Photo Above: Art Perry, Amistad Award Honoree]

Working Families director Jon Green and State Rep Gary Holder-Winfield presented the citations to Art Perry, Connecticut political director of SEIU 32 BJ Justice for Janitors. Joelle Fishman, chair of the Connecticut Communist Party USA, presented the Amistad Award, remembering when they first met over 30 years ago while Art was working at Southbury Training School and the successful struggles to keep the facility open. She emphasized Art's deep commitment to the power of working people, and as political director has never lost that connection to the members he serves. In accepting, Art had many thanks to family, friends and co-workers and said that no matter what comes, this award will always be his highest honor.

The Awardees were celebrated with a poem by Ras Mo Moses, "Working Class People" along with Baub Bidon and backed up with Jeff Fuller on bass and Richard Hill on percussion. Ras Mo invited artists to join the group in a year long cultural project to culminate in a concert for next year's anniversary celebration.

Everyone was thrilled by Aishah Jenkins and Kendra Strester two high school students who performed "Stand by Me" with piano and bass accompaniment.

Joelle Fishman presented the afternoon's call to action for organizing the unorganized, building even bigger grass roots mobilization on the issues including health care, no troops to Afghanistan, public works job creation and the employee free choice act. She presented certificates of appreciation to Dorothy Johnson and Brian Steinberg for their tireless work over many years delivering the People's Weekly World to workers' homes and getting them involved in the struggle.

Applause greeted the announcement that the People's World now daily on-line will have a mini Connecticut print edition as of January, when the national print edition ends.

Finally, led by Bill Collins, all the musicians led the audience in singing Solidarity Forever as people rose to their feet and joined hands in the air.

The delicious home made supper and holiday gift table rounded out an inspiring and forward looking afternoon enjoyed by all.

A 54 page greeting book raised necessary funds to keep the paper going, and offered a handsome and exciting keepsake of the labor and people's movement in Connecticut.

Those in attendance left uplifted and determined to keep the ball rolling.

We did the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party proud!!!

Other Photos below: ..............Photo Above: Paul Neal, Chairperson for the Amistad Awards Celebration.

Photo Above: Gwen Mills, at the mic, speaking to the audiance after receiving her award.

Photo Above: Art Perry, an honoree, prepares to get his award from Joelle Fishman, Chairperson of the Connecticut Communist Party.

Photo Above: Joelle Fishman, Chairperson of the Connecticut Communist Party, at the mic, prepares to give citificates of appreciation to Dorothy Johnson and Brian Steinberg for thier tireless work over many years delivering the People's Weekly World to workers' homes and getting them invoved in the struggle.

Photo Above: Aishah Jenkins, left, and Kendra Steater are two high school students that performed "Stand by Me."

Photo Above: Mexican guitarist Beto Castillo performed two songs to the delight of all.

Photo Above: The Awardees were celebrated with a poem by Ras Mo Moses, "Working Class People." Jeff Fuller is on Bass.

View more photos


Governor Rell has proposed a Deficit Mitigation Plan that disproportionately hurts low-income children, parents, seniors and vulnerable people. Cuts totaling $116 million require legislative approval. The Governor has called the Legislature into Special Session December 15 to consider her proposal. The Legislature can act on her proposal, offer an alternative proposal, or gavel in and out of session of session taking no action.

As Wall Street recovers from the economic crisis that they created, Main Street continues to suffer. It is time to TAX THE RICH, SUPER RICH AND BIG CORPORATIONS and stop passing the pain of this economic crisis onto Main Street.

The deficit mitigation public hearing will be held on:

DATE: Wednesday, December 9, 2009
TIME: 2 p.m.
PLACE: Room 2C of the Legislative Office Building.
There will be an information forum before the public hearing lead by OPM Secretary Robert Genuario at 11 a.m. in Room 2C.

The cuts proposed by the Governor are deep, will hurt people, and are very real. It is critical that people take action by turning out to testify, and if this is not possible, to submit testimony in writing. IT IS TIME TO TAX THE RICH, CLOSE COPORATE LOOPHOLDS AND PROTECT MAIN STEET!

It is also important for people to make phone calls to the Governor’s Office, Leadership, and your legislators:

Office of the Governor:
(860) 566-4840, 1-800-406-1527

Senate Present Donald Williams, (860) 240-8634, 1-800-842-1420 or
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, (860) 240-8805, or 1-800-842-1421 or
House Speaker Chris Donovan, (860) 240-8489, 1-800-842-8267 or
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, (860) 240-8700 or 1-800-842-1423 or

You can reach your legislators:
House Democrats: (860) 240-8500 or (800) 842-8267
House Republicans: (860) 240-8700 or (800) 842-1423
Senate Democrats: (860) 240-8600 or (800) 842-1420
Senate Republicans: (860) 240-8800 or (800) 842-1421

Posted by Tom Connolly

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sunday Dec 6 at 4 pm! Keep the Ball Rolling...

Keep the Ball Rolling....People's World Amistad Awards to Art Perry, Anna Montalvo and Gwen Mills promises to be an inspiring event!

Program starts at 4 pm at the Peoples Center, 37 Howe St, New Haven, Sunday Dec 6.

Good music, Film presentation "Building on 90 years of struggle" celebrating 90th anniversary of the CPUSA, good food, holiday gift table. Spanish language translation available.

If you need a ride call 203-624-8664.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Three Connecticut labor leaders, Art Perry, Anna Montalvo and Gwen Mills, will be honored on Sunday, December 6 with the annual Amistad Award presented by the People's Weekly World. The reception, "Keep the Ball win jobs with union rights, health care, peace and equality!" will be held at 4:00 p.m. at the New Haven Peoples Center, 37 Howe Street, New Haven.

The three are being recognized for their contributions in mobilizing in the workplace and community and building coalitions for social change. Also featured on the program will be music and spoken word, a holiday gift table and home made buffet.

Art Perry has been an organizer, community and political activist since working at Southbury Training School as a member of New England Health Care Employees Union / District 1199 in the 1970's. His grassroots political organizing with working families has elected many progressives to local, state and federal office. He served with 1199 for 17 years, and is now Connecticut Political Director of SEIU 32BJ Justice for Janitors where he furthers his beliefs in justice, equality and community organization.

Anna Montalvo is the first woman and the first Latina to serve as President of the 1500 member AFSCME Local 1522 in Bridgeport. As a child she experience discrimination in the schools of New York which gave her the drive to pursue her education, and help ensure that all parents and students are treated with respect and dignity. She is a vice-president of AFSCME Council 4 and active in many community and labor organizations, and is recipient of numerous awards.

Gwen Mills was raised in new Haven. In the 1980's she participated with CISPES (The Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador), and later spent a year in Mozambique working with local groups to re-establish activist organizations at the close of the civil war. In 2000 Gwen returned to New Haven where she has served as a lead organizer with the CT Center for a New Economy (CCNE). In 2007 she became Political Field Director of Unite-Here unions for Connecticut and Rhode Island.

The event, held on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party USA, will kick off a 90th year cultural project with artists for social change. Performers include labor singer Bill Collins of the Rabble Rousers, Mexican guitarist Beto Castillo, spoken word and jazz by Ras Mo Moses, Baub Bidon, Jeff Fuller and Richard Hill, and others. In addition, a video celebrating 90 years of struggle and moving forward will be presented. Joelle Fishman will offer a call to action.Donation is $10 or what you can afford. For tickets and information call 203-624-8664.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Health Care of All and Food Drive

There will be a Prayer Vigil in Bushnell Park.
  • Date: Tuesday Dec. 8th
  • Time: 6:30p.m.
  • Place: Bushnell Park, Hartford, CT
The message: Access to affordable, quality health care. People should not have to choose between health care and food. is hosting the prayer vigil and food drive. Bring a candle, make a sign, and bring non-perishable foods. Let’s make a difference. Sign up and details @

The time for affordable, quality health care with a srtong public option is NOW! The debate in the Senate has started. Contact your Senators and let know what you think!

Contact Sen. Joe Lieberman

One Constitution Plaza - 7th FloorHartford, CT 06103
(860) 549-8463 Voice
(800) 225-5605 In CT

Contact Sen. Christopher Dodd

Hartford Office:
30 Lewis Street, Suite 101Hartford, Connecticut 06103
Phone: (860) 258-6940
Fax: (860) 258-6958

Thousands Call for Shutting the School of the Americas Down

by Clark Peters [Chark participated in the rally]

On November 21 and 22 at Fort Benning, Georgia, more than ten thousand people rallied and participated in a moving vigil demanding that the School of the Americas (SOA), operated by the U.S. Department of Defense, be shut down.

The school, renamed in 2001 the “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation”, has trained more than 60,000 Latin American soldiers. Graduates of the SOA have long been associated with political murders and “disappearances”, torture, and the military suppression of popular movements.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the initial impetus to the protesters' annual call to close the school - the execution by a Salvadoran army patrol of six Jesuit priests as they lay face down on the ground, as well as their housekeeper and her teenage daughter. A United Nations Truth Commission on El Salvador report (1993) identified 26 military officers involved in that massacre; 18 of them were trained at the School of the Americas. Here are a few other selections from that UN report:

· Archbishop Oscar Romero assassination: 2 of 3 officers cited were SOA graduates.
· Murder of three US nuns and a lay missionary: 3 of 5 officers cited were graduates.
· Union leader murders: all 3 officers cited were SOA graduates.
· El Mazote massacre (a village where close to one thousand men, women, and children were killed): 10 of 12 officers cited were SOA graduates.

Graduates of the SOA are similarly associated with the assassinations of thousands of political activists and opponents of government policies in Guatemala in the 1970s and 1980s, and with thousands of citizens "disappeared" by the military junta in Argentina. In Honduras, many of the highest ranking officers of the infamous Death Squads were SOA trained. In Peru, the most senior officers convicted of the February 1994 murder of nine university students and a professor were graduates of the SOA.

Luis Posada Carriles, mastermind of the 1976 bombing of Cubana airline flight 455 - which killed 73 people, including the national fencing team of Cuba - trained at the school in 1961. Posada currently resides in Florida, where the United States refuses his extradition to Venezuela to face criminal charges.

There were two areas of particular note to this year's protest:
First, the crisis in Honduras, where SOA trained personnel, including the general who heads up the Joint Chiefs of Staff as well as the general who leads the Honduran Air Force, were key participants in the June 28 military coup that overthrew President Manuel Zelaya. Elections are now being held in an attempt to paint a democratic face on the Honduran military's seizure of power.

Secondly, Colombia - a country with a military heavily populated by SOA graduates and long associated with paramilitary groups known for assassinations and political “disappearances”. The United States now seeks to create not one but seven U.S. military bases, a prelude to possible US military actions in the region.

At the vigil on Sunday morning, thousands solemnly held crosses, each with the name of an individual murdered or disappeared. The names were read off for nearly three hours, as the crowd marched slowly towards Fort Benning. The crosses were placed one by one on the chain link fence separating the protesters from the base. As the vigil wound down, there was no longer any room on the fence for the crosses of those who had been killed.

Other photos from the rally:

Photo above: Crosses on the fence

Tuesday, November 24, 2009



On one side is the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, FPN [Fox Propaganda News], the tea baggers, and the far right that have spread lies and spent millions of dollars for lobbing and media ads to defend the status quo and profits of large corporations.

On the other side are the religions leaders - Labor, civil rights groups and community organizations - A majority of Connecticut and people in the U.S. - the AARP and the American Medical Association. They are fighting for working people and the disenfranchised in American for the basic human right of health care for all.

So it is decision time Joe, WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? You did the right thing by voting to allow debate to go forward on health care reform. We hope your heart, conscience and commitment are with working people and the disenfranchised. Vote YES on health care reform with a strong public option.

[The Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care prepares to deliver hundreds of prayers to Sen. Lieberman asking for his support for the public option at his office in Hartford, CT.]

On Tuesday, November 24, religious leaders representing multiple faiths delivered hundreds of personal prayers from constituents of Senator Joe Lieberman calling upon him to support healthcare reform with a strong public option.

[Photo above: Chaplain Bilal Ansari of the Muhammad Islamic Center of Greater Hartford is holding the prayer cards to be delivered to Sen. Lieberman. Only a delegation of five from the Interfaith Fellowship was allowed to go into the lower lobby of the office building to deliver the cards to a Lieberman staff member. The media and participants had to remain outside.]

Chaplin Bilal Ansari said, "We will not give up on those who are desperate for affordable health care. We will keep praying for Senator Joe Lieberman because we believe that a man of conscience will see that the public option is essential to achieving a health care system that works for those in need."


On Sunday, November 15, over five hundred people from across Connecticut gathered outside the senator's Stamford home for a candlelight vigil organized by clergy and congregants from Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Unitarian Universalist congregations. During the interfaith service, hundreds of people wrote personal prayers to the Senator urging his support for a public health care option.

However, when rabbis, priests, and imams attempted to deliver the completed cards, they were turned away on order of building security that had been directed not to accept any offerings. And when a neighbor residing in Senator Lieberman's building who attended the vigil tried to deliver the prayer cards, she was turned away as well. So the Interfaith Fellowship went to Sen. Lieberman's office on Nov. 24 to deliver those prayers. [For details of the vigil outside of Sen. Lieberman's home see blog entry below - Nov. 16th "Health Care Vigil..."]

Other photo's of the Nov. 24 event in front of Sen. Lieberman's office follow: [Click on photo for full screen]

Posted by Tom Connolly

Chris Murphy Briefs State Legislators on Health Care Reform

[Photo Above: Congressman Chris Murphy, center, briefs state legislators on health care reform. House Speaker Christopher Donovan is setting to his right.]

Congressman Chris Murphy (CT-5), at the invitation of House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan (D-Meriden), briefed state legislators and health care advocates on the progress of health care reform legislation in Washington on Monday.

As a current member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over health care, and the former Chairman of the Connecticut legislature’s Public Health Committee, Murphy has become one of Congress’ leading voices for health care reform.

Murphy spoke about the H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, which:

  • reforms insurance law to stop discrimination based on pre-existing conditions;
  • ends the practice of patients losing their insurance if they get too sick;
  • provides tax credits for businesses that provide health insurance coverage to their employees;
  • strengthens Medicare by beginning to close the prescription drug donut hole immediately, cutting co-payments for preventive services, and slashing waste, fraud, and abuse in the Medicare system;
  • and reduces the deficit while covering 96% of Americans.

The US Chamber of Commerce recently ran a series of vicious adds intentionally misrepresented H.R. 3962 and attacking congressman Murphy for voting for the bill. The US Chamber and the Republican Party has targeted congressman Murphy for defeat in the 2010 election.

Posted by Tom Connolly

Saturday, November 21, 2009

NAACP to Lieberman -- Support Health Care Reform



(HARTFORD, CT) A Connecticut delegation of civil rights groups met with Senator Joseph Lieberman’s staff yesterday to urge the Senator to support comprehensive health care reform and to discuss his intentions for Connecticut residents. Specifically, the delegation asked the Senator to support key provisions in H.R. 3950, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was introduced late yesterday afternoon.

Included in the delegation lead by the Connecticut NAACP State Conference, were Scot X Esdaile, President of the CT NAACP State Conference and NAACP National Board Member, Valerie Shultz Wilson, President of the Urban League of Southern Connecticut. The delegation was staffed and Hilary Shelton the Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and the Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy.

“Senator Lieberman’s staff heard our concerns, but were unable to assure us that the Senator would support the full Senate moving to an ‘up-or-down’ vote once the debate on health care reform ended,” stated Scot X. Esdaile, President of the Connecticut NAACP State Conference. “The Senator informed us that he is still considering his options, and is unsure of whether he will support or join a filibuster of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act this Saturday.” “What Senator Lieberman doesn’t seem to realize is the longer he delays this debate the more people living in Connecticut, and throughout our Nation will find themselves going bankrupt from exorbitant health care costs, or worse, unnecessarily dying from a lack of adequate health care,” added Esdaile. The vote on whether or not to enact cloture on the bill or filibuster it is currently scheduled to take place this Saturday, November 21.

The Connecticut civil rights leaders urged Senator Lieberman to quickly pass a bill that is at least as comprehensive as the House bill, complete with a public option provision that provides ample health care coverage to as many Americans as possible; ensures that all Americans can afford health insurance and that pre-existing conditions are covered; and takes aggressive steps to end racial and ethnic health care disparities. Specifically, the group asked that Senator Lieberman support provisions which:

  • Expands health insurance options, by allowing individuals and families to stay with the insurer they currently have, choose a different private insurer, or to go with a newly created government run public option;
  • Offers subsidies to help low- and moderate-income households to purchase health insurance;
  • Protects and expands Medicaid to provide free health care to all Americans with incomes below 150% of the federal poverty level;
  • Bans the health care insurance industry from implementing bans on lifetime limits, charging people more due to health status or gender, or denying coverage for preexisting conditions;
  • Provides for the cost of prevention and wellness services to be covered by health insurance; and
  • Includes cultural competency and linguistic appropriateness provisions, empowerment zones, workforce diversity, Office of Minority Health, Office on Women’s Health, Indian Health Services, data collection and reporting.

“The Connecticut State Conference of the NAACP is calling on Senator Lieberman to support cloture of H.R. 3950, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act before Thanksgiving and to personally meet with communities of color throughout the state during his Thanksgiving home work period. This is among the most important pieces of legislation for residents of Connecticut and the country to come before him in recent years. Senator Lieberman needs to hear from his constituents living in communities hardest hit by our nations broken Healthcare system. There are many families across Connecticut that won’t be giving thanks next week, they’ll be worrying about how to pay for medical bills or how to just stay healthy” concluded Esdaile.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Photo Above: Two leaders from the The Interfaith Alliance for Universal Health Care , Rabbi Stephen Fuchs and Pastor Abraham Hernandez, tried to deliver the written prayers to Sen. Lieberman but where stopped by police.

Join the Interfaith Alliance and ask Sen. Lieberman to accept the prayers on:


TIME: 11:30 AM

PLACE: Joe Lieberman’s office - 1 Constitution Plaza, Hartford, CT 06103 where the Interfaith Alliance will once again try to deliver the cards of prayers and wishes for health care reform. Please make every effort to attend and let Lieberman know that he needs to stop his opposition to the public option.


The Interfaith Alliance for Universal Health Care conducted a prayer vigil and candlelight procession for Joe Lieberman on Sunday night in Stamford with over 500 people in attendance.

They began at Stamford High School Auditorium where they had people write down their prayers and wishes for health care reform, and proceeded by candlelight to Lieberman’s residence. There, a dozen faith leaders prayed for Lieberman to end his opposition to health care reform and a public option.

Two leaders, Rabbi Stephen Fuchs and Pastor Abraham Hernandez tried to deliver the written prayers and wishes to Lieberman, but were rebuffed by police and building management.

Shirley Binin, a resident of the same building Lieberman lives in and a participant in the vigil and procession, agreed to deliver the cards to her neighbor. She was informed by the condo association President that was not permissible under their rules.

So join us on Tuesday, November 24, 11:30 AM at Joe Lieberman’s office 1 Constitution Plaza, Hartford, CT 06103 and witness the prayers being delivered to Sen. Lieberman.

Monday, November 16, 2009


[Click of photo for full screen]

Over 500 Connecticut supporters of health care with a strong public option gathered in front of Sen. Joseph Lieberman's home for an interfaith prayer vigil Sunday, in response to his statement that his conscience would not allow him to support such a bill. Participants traveled from all parts to Connecticut to join the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care in a candle light march from Stamford High School, Lieberman's alma mater, to his home across the street.

The march reflected anger and frustration throughout the state at Lieberman's refusal to respond to public opinion, despite thousands of letters, phone calls, e-mails and rallies outside his Hartford office. The clergy, of all denominations, made it clear that the time for health care reform and health care for all is now.

By the end of 2009 over 300,000 Connecticut residents and millions of Americans will be without health care, while the insurance industry collects billions of dollars in profits. A Quinnipiac Poll issued Thursday showed 56% of Connecticut voters in support of a public option with 37% opposed.

Rabbi Ron Fish noted that the American Medical Association and the largest senior organization in the United States, AARP, have endorsed health care reform. He said the clergy were adding their voice as a matter of conscience. Recently Sen. Lieberman said he would filibuster any health care reform with a public option. Last week told Chris Wallace on Fox News, "If the public option plan is in there, as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote."

Rabbi Fish stated, "The moral imperative for our time is clear. Anyone whose guide in public policy is conscience, anyone who argues that faith and religious traditions should direct our actions, such a person must stand for universal health care in America."


A police officer in front of Lieberman's home stopped Rabbi Fuchs and Pastor Abraham Hernandez from delivering prayer cards that were written by the hundreds of people who attended the candle vigil. The police explained that the doorman could not accept the prayer cards and is just doing what he was told. The crowd started shouting, "Take our prayers - Take our prayers." But the police refused.


Shirley Binin is a neighbor of Sen. Lieberman and was participating in the vigil. She volunteered to deliver the prayer cards to Sen. Lieberman's condo.

[Photo Above: Shirley Binin, is holding the candle and the prayer cards]

[Photo Above: Ms. Binin passing the police officer on her way to dilivering the prayer cards to Sen. Leiberman.]

The event received coverage in a few mainstream media outlets, breaking through the barrier of media silence. Mainstream news outlets have ignored previous actions calling upon Lieberman to support health care with a public option. Connecticut's only statewide papaer, the Hartford Courant, did not cover the event.


[Photo above: Rabbi Ron Fish]

[Photo Above: Pastor Mark Scott]

[Photo above: Rev. O'Rourke]

[Photo Above: Chaplain Bilal Ansari]

[Photos Below are pictures of some of participants in the pray vigil.] Click of photos for full screen.

By Tom Connolly

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Court Rules for Blumenthal in Pratt & Whitney Jobs Fight

Thu. November 12, 2009-- GOIAM newsletter

The battle to save more than 1,000 jobs at two Pratt & Whitney plants in Connecticut took a favorable turn this week when a federal judge ruled state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal can join an IAM effort to block the company from moving about 1,000 Connecticut jobs out of state and overseas.

In making her ruling, Judge Janet C. Hall swept aside objections by Pratt & Whitney officials that the attorney general was too aligned with the union and granted permission for him to file a friend-of-the-court brief in support of an IAM lawsuit seeking to block the massive job transfer.

“This federal court decision promises a fairer fight and recognizes Connecticut's serious stake in protecting jobs and workers and our local economy,” said Blumenthal, who also claims that Pratt & Whitney failed to seriously consider a $100 million state incentive package and other options to avoid the layoffs.

“Pratt cannot conscionably defend its disregard of the state's offers and its job destruction,” said Blumenthal.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Take to the streets for health care rally!
Come to a rally Thursday in Hartford
Sponsored by MoveOn

DATE: Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009

TIME: 4:30 PM

PLACE: 1 Constitution Plaza, Hartford, CT (in Hartford)

The House just passed health care reform—and now comes the major challenge: getting real reform passed through the Senate. At this rally, we'll kick off a massive organizing drive to push the Senate to pass health care this year with a strong public option.

Pray for Sen. Lieberman at His Home

You Are Invited to Join With The Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care at an Interfaith Prayer Vigil for Senator Joe Lieberman.

WHEN: Sunday, November 15 at 6:00 p.m.

WHERE: Stamford High School (in Lieberman’s neighborhood), 55 Strawberry Hill Avenue, Stamford, CT [Google Map Directions]

WHY: Pray for Senator Lieberman: Call on him to stand up for national health care reform that includes a strong public option

Please join people from across Connecticut – representing all walks of life and all faith traditions. Remind Senator Lieberman that we are united in our call for quality, affordable health care we can count on!

“Our various faith traditions and our various experiences as pastors, rabbis, priests, imams and people of faith from all walks of life have taught us that no one should be left behind in receiving care that heals the body and quiets the mind.”
– Efrain Agosto, Academic Dean, Hartford Seminary

RSVP online at the healthcare4every1 site or on Facebook.

For more information, contact or call (203) 639-0550

Youth to Seniors Fight for Health Care Reform -- Four in Hartford Arrested at Lieberman Protest

By Clark Peters, Tom Connolly

(Hartford, CT) Several dozen demonstrators gathered in front of Senator Joseph Lieberman's Hartford office at Constitution Plaza yesterday to question the Connecticut Senator's position on universal health care and the public option. Senator Lieberman has vowed to filibuster any health care bill that includes such a provision. The action was organized by "Mobilization for Health Care for All", a committee which includes students from Wesleyan University and the University of Connecticut.

The Constitution Plaza demonstration eventually resulted in four arrests.

The demonstrators arrived at Lieberman's office shortly after 10 am. A picket line was set up after the group was refused entry into the building. Several phone calls to the Senator's office were put on hold and then disconnected. A spokeswoman finally came outside to tell the group that “ all views would be considered...” When asked if she would get Senator Lieberman on the phone to discuss their concerns with him, the staffperson refused.

Two demonstrators noted that a 25 year old friend has had to resort to fundraisers to raise money for her cancer treatment, referring to her as “a victim of the private health insurance industry”. The Lieberman spokeswoman offered no response (nor any constituent assistance).

Shortly afterwards, four demonstrators were arrested by Hartford police for staging a sit down at the building's entrance and refusing to leave until they heard from Lieberman.

A spokeswoman for the demonstrators said that they had been trying repeatedly without success to get Senator Lieberman to have a discussion, hold a meeting, or schedule a public forum on the health care issue. Among the protestors was one of nine persons arrested at a sit-in at Senator Lieberman's Washington, DC office last week.

Yesterday's demonstration followed several other health care protests held around Hartford in the last few months, as various organizations continue to mobilize in support of health care reform.

In 2009 about 28,000 Connecticut residents will lose their health insurance, bringing the total uninsured to over 300,000 by the end of this year. Roughly two thirds of the state's residents now support a “public option”.

Seniors are also taking more aggressive steps to support health care reform and the public option. The Alliance for Retired Americans, affiliated with the AFL-CIO, and AARP have endorsed health care reform with the public option. The serior groups, in coalition with labor and others, have recently produced a video explaining the lies told by Fox [Propaganda] News and the “tea-bagger” types regarding health care reform and the public option. Go to: or to see the videos that are being show thoughtout Connecticut and the country.

Friday, October 30, 2009

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Avery Workers' Rights in 10 Year Battle

by Joelle Fishman

Reprinted from People's World daily on-line

Hartford, CT -- After a ten year battle, including a two and a half year strike, current and former nursing home workers at Avery Heights won a US Supreme Court ruling this week upholding the responsibility of the corporation to pay nearly $3.5 million in lost wages, interest and pensions. The ruling is being hailed by labor lawyers as precedent setting.

“We’ve waited a long time for justice,said Herman Davies, Jr., who has worked in the Avery Heights housekeeping department since 1991. Of course the money is important to us after all these years, but it’s even more important to see right win out over might.”

According to the NLRB’s estimate, Herman Davies’ share of that justice now comes to more than $75,000 in back pay and interest.

In November 1999, more than 180 members of District 1199 health care workers union went on strike against Church Homes, Inc., owner of Avery Heights, a 154-bed nursing home and affiliated assisted living facility with 500 residents.

During the strike, Church Homes secretly and illegally hired permanent replacement workers, deliberately concealing their intentions during contract negotiations. In response to charges filed by the union, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that Church Homes had “an independent unlawful motive in hiring” the permanent replacements and ordered that strikers be rehired with back pay.

Church Homes refused to comply, and the strike and picket lines continued for two and a half years. This was the longest strike in District 1199’s history. The labor action disrupted traffic at the busy intersection of New Britain and Newington Avenues, and drew national attention.

This week the sidewalks were filled again, as current and former Avery Heights workers gathered to announce their final legal victory. On October 13, 2009 the U. S. Supreme Court declined to overturn the NLRB decision that had twice been upheld in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Church Homes has already paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to three Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) who were found to be illegally fired during the strike. On April 27, 2007 the NLRB ordered the corporation to pay a total of $286,411 in back wages and interest, and to make $45,459 in pension contributions on their behalf. Checks were issued to the workers and to the union’s Pension Fund on June 15, 2007.

“We knew that if we persisted, we’d prevail,” said Carmen Boudier, president of New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199. “Justice is finally being done here but it took ten years to arrive – this country’s system of labor law is truly broken.”

The ruling underscores the significance of the labor movement's campaign to win labor law reform including the Employee Free Choice Act, which would protext workers' right to organize.

Labor law scholar Michael Wishnie, a professor at the Yale Law School, said “This decision has broad implications for national labor law. For years, employers have used their power to hire permanent replacements as an excuse to try to destroy unions. This decision means that when permanent replacements are hired as a pretext for union busting, they must be displaced by returning strikers, and that employers abuse this law at their real financial peril.”

Monday, October 26, 2009

Reaffirming School Integration

A national conference entitled "Reaffirming the Role of School Integration in K-12 Education Policy" will take place at Howard University School of Law in Washington, DC on November 13th, 2009.

The conference will bring together a wide range of government officials to converse with educators, parents, civil rights advocates and scholars who support racially and economically integrated K-12 public schools.

The conference participates will discuss:

* Current legal guidelines governing school integration

* The federal education budget and policies to promote K-12 school integration

* Using "Interdistrict" strategies to achieve integrated schools

* Programs linking housing opportunity to integrated schools

The cost of the conference is $ 50 General and $ 25 Students. Some scholarships are available for Hartford parents that include transportation and housing. Go to for more information. For general information about the conference see

Some of the sponsors include: NACCP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., The ACLU Racial Justice Program, Poverty & Race Research Action Council and Howard University School of Law Education Rights Center.

By Tom Connolly

Friday, October 23, 2009

Healthcare Advocates Turn Out for Obama and Dodd

Stamford, CT Oct 23, 2009 -- Healthcare, union and religious activists came together outside the Stamford Place Hilton Friday to welcome President Obama to Connecticut and rally in favor of a strong public option with no taxation of healthcare benefits. Obama was in Connecticut for a fundraiser for Senator Chris Dodd.

Across the street, Dump Dodd "teabaggers" carried signs demonizing President Obama and Senator Dodd, government healthcare and environmental protection.

In the traffic came many honks of support for healthcare reform, but the biggest cheers came from school buses with children pressed against the windows shouting, "Obama, Obama!"

The multi-racial healthcare reform supporters were a stark contrast to the all-white Dump Dodd crowd. Several families from Stamford who had never participated in a demonstration before came out to support the public option, joining with long time activists who had taken part in the national call-in day to Congress on October 20.

The Dump Dodd group has attempted to create hysteria in Connecticut by scapegoating Dodd for the Wall Street financial scandals. Seizing on this opportunity, the national Republican Party has named Dodd their number one target in 2010 in their attempt to re-take the Senate majority.

Dodd, with a lifetime pro-worker voting record over 90% has the strong support of organized labor. Picking up from where Sen. Kennedy left off, Dodd has the lead in committee negotiations on healthcare, and has pledged to stand firm for inclusion of a public option.

-- Joelle Fishman

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Parents protest to improve Spanish Language Translation in Schools

by Claudia Bosch and Megan Fountain

New Haven, Wednesday October 14 – The grassroots parent organization Teach Our Children (TOC) rallied at the Board of Education yesterday to protest the lack of translators at mandatory parent orientations. The New Haven Superintendent Dr. Reginald Mayo promised TOC in a meeting on August 5, 2009, that he would provide Spanish translators at parent orientations in every school, beginning in the 2009-2010 school year. The promise was not kept. At least nine schools had no translator at the orientation, according to a preliminary survey conducted by TOC.

Twenty parents, members of TOC, rallied outside the Board of Education with their children and community supporters, chanting “Tear down the wall, Translate for all!” and “Dr. Mayo don’t wait, Educate, Translate!” In order to demonstrate that parents were being left out, TOC entered the Board of Education public meeting with tape over their mouths.

Alberto Nieves, a TOC parent who was at the meeting with Dr. Mayo, testified to the Board of Education about his experience attending the parent orientation at his daughter’s school. “I was disappointed,” said Nieves. “Dr. Mayo had promised a translator, but there was none. The principal passed out a manual with basic information about school policies. It was in English only.” At Bishop Woods 17.3 % of students come from Spanish-speaking households.

Lack of translators should concern all parents, according to Claudia Bosch, a parent leader of TOC. “26% of New Haven students come from Spanish-speaking households,” said Bosch. “Thousands of children are missing out on educational opportunities, because their parents are not in communication with the school. How can New Haven become the best urban district in the nation if a quarter of the parents are being excluded by not providing necessary translation?”

“It’s unfortunate that we have to protest to make our voices heard, but we have tried all other channels,” says TOC parent Nilda Aponte, an organizer of the protest. In August the group was promised translation of the NHPS web page, which has been fulfilled, and translators at the orientations, which has not. Just before the demonstration the Superintendent scheduled another meeting with the group on October 19.

Eduquemos a Nuestros Hijos, una organización de base popular de padres de New Haven, Connecticut, se manifiesta al superintendente Reginald Mayo que mejore los servicios de traducción para padres hispanohablantes.

por Claudia Bosch and Megan Fountain

Jueves 14 de Octubre de 2009. New Haven. Eduquemos a Nuestros Hijos (TOC, por sus siglas en inglés) se presentó ayer ante la Junta de Educación para protestar por la falta de traductores en las reuniones orientativas obligatorias para padres. El Dr. Reginald Mayo, superintendente de New Haven, prometió a TOC en una reunión el 5 de agosto de 2009 que proveería traductores de español para las orientaciones de padres en cada escuela, empezando el curso 2009-2010. Esa promesa no se cumplió. Al menos nueve escuelas no tuvieron traductores en la orientación, según una encuesta preliminar realizada por TOC.

34 padres miembros de TOC y sus hijos se presentaron en la Junta, y 12 aliados de la comunidad les acompañaron. Para poner de manifiesto de modo visual el problema de la falta de comunicación, TOC entró a la Junta de Educación con la boca tapada.

Alberto Nieves, un padre líder de TOC que estuvo en la reunión con el Dr. Mayo, asistió a la orientación sin traducción de la escuela Bishop Woods. “Me siento defraudado”, dice Nieves, “El Dr. Mayo prometió un traductor, pero no hubo ninguno. El director de la escuela distribuyó un manual con información básica sobre la normativa de la escuela. Era sólo en inglés”. En la escuela Bishop Woods, el 17,3% de los estudiantes proviene de hogares hispanohablantes.

La falta de traductores debería preocupar a todos los padres, según Claudia Bosch, una madre líder de TOC. “El 26,2% de los estudiantes de New Haven proviene de hogares hispanohablantes”, dijo Bosch. “Miles de niños están perdiendo oportunidades educativas, porque sus padres no pueden comunicarse con la escuela. ¿Cómo va a convertirse New Haven en el mejor distrito urbano de la nación, si una cuarta parte de los padres está siendo excluida por no proporcionar la traducción necesaria?

Nieves, que también es hispanohablante y asiste a todos las reuniones de padres, está de acuerdo. “Cuando contemplo la diferencia de logros académicos que existe entre los estudiantes hispanos y no hispanos de New Haven, me enojo, porque nuestras escuelas pueden hacerlo mejor”, dice Nieves. “Hay muchos padres como yo, que quieren participar, que quieren informarse por sí mismos, y que quieren la mejor educación para sus hijos. Si hubiera traductores, todo el mundo saldría beneficiado”

“Es desafortunado que tengamos que protestar para hacer que se oigan nuestras voces, pero ya intentamos todas las otras vías”, dice Nilda Aponte, Líder de TOC. Los padres de TOC hablaron con varios administradores sobre la falta de traductores.

En Octubre de 2008, TOC convocó una reunión con 44 miembros de la comunicad, incluyendo a padres, curas y concejales, quienes urgieron al Dr. Carlos Torre, presidente actual de la Junta de Educación, a que se ocupara de la falta de servicios de traducción. “Todos nos dijeron que debíamos hablar con el superintendente”, dice Aponte, “de modo que, después de llamar su atención sobre el tema por casi un año, por fin obtuvimos una reunión con el superintendente en agosto de 2009. Le propusimos seis modos de mejorar el acceso a los padres hispanohablantes. Él nos prometió dos cosas: la traducción al español de la página web del NHPS, que sí se cumplió, y la presencia de traductores en las orientaciones, que no se llevó a cabo.”

La lista de propuestas mejoras también incluye la traducción al español de todos los documentos y boletines escolares, especialmente los que requieren la firma del padre; la traducción al español en las reuniones públicas de la Junta de Educación; la disponabilidad de interpretes en el sistema escolares y en cada escuela; y una guía telefónica de los interpretes que trabajen para el sistema escolar para que los padres puedan hacer citas con ellos.

TOC tiene la intención de continuar el diálogo con el Superintendente. Aponte explica, “Durante nuestra reunión el 5 de agosto, Dr. Mayo se prometió considerar las demás propuestas nuestras, desarollar un plan detallado, y reunirse otra vez con nosotros. Ayer nos dejó saber por correo electrónico que estaba disponible para reunirse con nosotros el lunes 19 de octubre. Estamos ansiosos por la implementación de nuestras propuestas. Continuaremos insistiendo en estos cambios hasta que todos los niños tengan igualdad de oportunidades en New Haven.”