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