Monday, September 20, 2010

Labor pulling out the vote in key state

by Joelle Fishman
from People's World Sept 20, 2010
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Union members hit the ground running to get their co-workers out to vote this November in Connecticut, one of 21 battleground states designated by the AFL-CIO. A U.S. Senate seat, three House seats and the governorship hang in the balance. It is estimated that if Connecticut sends back all five Democratic incumbents to the House of Representatives, the Democratic majority will be maintained.

Beleaguered by continued loss of industry and jobs in both the private and public sector, workers are looking for answers on employment and economic security.

In July about 66,000 workers here were in their first six months of unemployment benefits and about 90,000 were receiving extended benefits, which expire on November 30. The outcome of the elections is critical to the wellbeing of these families.

Addressing a group of union activists gathered at the New Haven Labor Council as they set out to knock on the doors of fellow union members, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., assailed Republican right-wing opposition to every pro-worker measure. This is a pivotal election about jobs, jobs, jobs," she said, indicating that with a Republican-controlled Congress, privatization of Social Security and repeal of both health care reform and Wall Street regulation will be on the agenda.

The Labor 2010 volunteers said they turned out because they are tired of the fear and division being promoted by the corporate-funded tea party Republicans. Asked what accomplishment meant the most to them in the last year and a half, their answers came quickly. "Health care. It isn't everything we want, but it is a start and more people will be covered," said one retiree. "Even getting the extensions to unemployment was a struggle" said a laid off union member.

"The stimulus saved jobs of teachers and first responders," said a machinist in the aerospace industry. Despite Republican "no" votes, the stimulus has provided $34 million in training and services to job-seekers in Connecticut including 4,000 summer jobs for youth. At least 7,500 public workers in the state are on the job because of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funding. In addition thousands of jobs have been created in the private sector from infrastructure and other contracts.

As they knocked on the doors that morning, these workers listened to the frustrations, brought out the victories, and urged a vote for the labor-endorsed candidates.

"Just like in our union contract," explained one health care worker, "we didn't get everything we wanted the first time. But we continued to organize. This election is about continuing to move the country forward."

At another door, a union couple who both work at Yale University said they don't usually vote in mid-term elections. After discussing how important this election is, they both made the commitment to vote.

About 125 union members knocked on doors of union households in each of five Connecticut congressional districts on that Saturday kickoff. Workplace fliers, letters from local union presidents, and worker-to-worker phone calls are also part of the mobilization leading up to November 2.

At one door, a city worker who serves on her negotiating committee asked for extra fliers to bring to her union meeting, stressing the need for more aid to cities and states so workers don't have to get laid off.

Several other workers said they are already talking with their co- workers about the urgency of these elections and will continue to do so.

Every Connecticut union has endorsed Democrat Richard Blumenthal, currently the state's attorney general, for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Chris Dodd. His opponent, Linda McMahon, former CEO of World Wrestling Enterprises, won the Republican primary with tea party support. A multi-billionaire, she is funding her own campaign and flooding the airwaves and mailboxes with daily messages against government spending, claiming the stimulus is responsible for job losses.

Unions are also unanimous in support of former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, a Democrat, for governor over Republican Tom Foley who wants to outsource government jobs and undermine public education with a voucher system.

Union members made the difference in defeating Republican incumbents in Connecticut's second, fourth and fifth congressional districts in the 2006 and 2008 elections.

"Union members make up a quarter of the vote on Election Day and they are well educated in the issues. It is through grass roots activism that we will help to keep Connecticut moving forward," said Connecticut AFL-CIO President John Olsen and Secretary-Treasurer Lori Pelletier in a thank you letter to volunteers. "Your participation builds a strong and powerful labor movement."

On October 2, labor walks will be held in solidarity with the One Nation Working Together rally at the National Mall in Washington D.C. A press conference on Friday at the NAACP office highlighted support by labor, civil rights and social justice groups in Connecticut who have chartered buses and a train car to take part in the rally and help mobilize to get out the vote on November 2.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Photo above: The crowd, led by an interfaith group of clergy, sang "We Shall Overcome" today as part of the church service to support the 1199 Spectrum strikers who have been on strike since April 15, 2010. [Click on photo for full screen]

Photo above: The Rev. Stephen Camp, pastor of Faith Church in Hartford, CT led off the service to support the nearly 400 Spectrum strikers. Rev. Camp's mother was a patient at Park Place in Hartford until she passed. Park Place is one of four Spectrum facilities on strike.

Several hundred people including clergy, community supporters, elected officials and strikers attended a gathering today at Faith Church in Hartford, CT to support the fight for a fair contract for the Spectrum strikers.

Rev. Camp led the speakers and set the tone of the gathering. He noted that justice in the form of a fair contract and not greed of the owners should be the guide for future negotiations. Over 30 other nursing homes in Connecticut have settled their contracts without a strike but Spectrum decided they will try to break the union and increase profits.

In June of 2010 the union workers won a significant victory. The Department of Labor ruled that the Spectrum strikers where eligible for unemployment benefits. Their ruling stated in part that the workers "...had been permanently replaced, and that their unemployment was no longer due to the existence of a labor dispute." State law prohibits strikers who have not been locked out by their employer from receiving unemployment benefits, but there are exceptions. Spectrum Healthcare had hired permanent replacements for the striking workers, and told the union workers that they would not automatically be given their jobs back if they returned, but would be placed on a "recall list."

Spectrum continues not to negotiate in good faith and has cause hardships to the courageous 1199 striking workers who are determined to win justice for their patients' and themselves.

Photo Above: Dori Harrington, LPN, striker at Park Place in Hartford speaks to the crowd with her two sons by her side.

Ms. Harrington spoke emotional about the difficulty of being a single parent of two boys and being on strike. She said that she became very close to her co-workers during the strike and deeply appreciates the support of the clergy and those who are supporting the stickers. She said that through sticking together "we will win this strike." [See other photos below]


JOIN THE PICKET LINES ANYTIME BETWEEN 6 AM AND 12 MIDNIGHT at the following strike locations:

Birmingham Health Center, 210 Chatfield Street, DerbyCT
Hilltop Health Center, 126 Ford Street, Ansonia
Laurel Hill Healthcare, 106 East Lake Street, Winsted
Park Place Health Center, 5 Greenwood Street, Hartford


Send a donation to: The 1199 Strike and Defense Fund. Checks should be sent to: District 1199, 77 Huyshope Avenue , Hartford , CT 06106. The union has been on strike since April 15, 2010

Photo above: Striker Danyale Nesmith from Hilltop Healthcare in Ansonia, Ct

Photo above: Striker Taycha Trinidad, with her daughter after speaking to the crowd.

Photo above: Some to the clergy speakers [from left to right] - Rev. Bryan Hooper, Unithed Methodist Church of Hartford -- Rev. Josh Pawelek, UUC -- Iman Kashif Abdul-Karim, Muhammad Islamic Center of Greater Hartford and Rev. Stehen Camp, Faith Church.

Photo above: Rev. Sonia Gutierrez, from House of Restoration Church. Rev. Gutierrez was one of the key organizers for the strike support worship.

Photo above: Faith Church soloist Pateicla Gray

Photo above: Carmen Boudier, president of New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199

Posted and photos by Tom Connolly

Thursday, September 9, 2010

CT Sending Buses to One Nation March Oct 2

Participation from Connecticut is building up for the historic One Nation Working Together march in Washington DC on October 2 Unions, civil rights organizations, youth and students, and many others seeking to realize the American dream of opportunity and justice for all have come together for this march to keep our country moving forward, and not go backward based on hate and fear.
Among organizations working to fill buses are the Communication Workers of America, Service Employees International Union, NAACP, Peoples Center, and Greater New Haven Peace Council.
On the Labor Day weekend, AFL CIO president Richard Trumka emphasized the November elections will be decisive for the future direction of our country. The October 2 rally, emphasizing the need for large scale job creation, support for public education, and equality for all, is expected to build up momentum to turn out a strong progressive vote in November.
MSNBC, progressive talk show host Ed Shultz called on Americans to put aside differences and come together. for more jobs so that every person in America who wants to work can get a job and be able to support his or her family now and into the future. Schultz announced he is joining the One Nation Working Together movement and will be a featured speaker.
He proclaimed: “This is about now and this is about jobs. Labor has been under attack for the last thirty years. It is my motivation to motivate the audience of this television show to get on this platform; to be a part of this march on Washington on October 2nd.”
October 2 organziers emphasized, "Too many of our sisters and brothers are hungry, homeless and hopeless in this country. And instead of indulging in the politics of fear and isolation that seem to dominate, we are coming together to work as one toward concrete goals that bring justice to our communities."
Bus seats are avaliable on a first-come, first-served basis. To reserve a seat call the Peoples Center and leave a message at 203-624-8664.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Photo Above: One of the 1199 support demonstrations. [click on photo for full screen]


DATE: Saturday, September 11, 2010

TIME: 10:00 AM

PLACE: Faith Congregational Church, 2030 Main Street, Hartford CT

Rev. Stephen W. Camp, Senior Pastor

On strike since April 15, almost 400 nursing, dietary, housekeeping and laundry workers are standing strong against Spectrum Health Care, a local company that is trying to bust their union with permanent replacements and unfair labor practices. The workers demand a fair contract – like 36 other CT homes have agreed to, safe workplaces and quality care for residents.

For more information contact District 1199 at 860-549-1199.

Posted and Photo by Tom Connolly


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