Sunday, June 22, 2014

Unions Unite for Connecticut Elections

CT People's World June 20 edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 19, 2014

BOOK TALK with Dr. Gerald Horne

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 9, 2014

Civil rights lawsuit wins landmark immigrantion law victory

by Joelle Fishman  People's World  June 9 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 6, 2014

High Stakes in 2014 - Get Out the Vote!

So far, Connecticut has said NO to the anti-worker "tea party." Union and community coalitions have successfully put their resources into door to door organizing for jobs and healthcare and to get out the vote for worker-friendly candidates.

Linda McMahon was defeated twice. Republican Tom Foley who promised to make Connecticut another Wisconsin was defeated for Governor. In New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport union members and allies won local elections.

That's why ALEC and the Koch Brothers have their sights set on Connecticut this year, and are already investing huge sums of money to get control of the Governor's seat and Congress.

What's at stake?

In the last three years Connecticut expanded voting rights. 4,300 home child care workers and 7,000 home health care workers won the right to organize, and won their first contracts. Connecticut was the first state to win paid sick days, and the $10.10 minimum wage benefiting 227,000 low wage workers.

The Department of Labor made history by recovering unpaid wages for a record number of workers including immigrant workers. Connecticut became the first state to enact a Futures Commission to study transitioning from an economy based on military production to an economy based on socially useful production like alternative energy with secure jobs.

It takes organizing and one-on-one discussions of the issues to get out the vote. It takes staying organized year round to be powerful enough to challenge policies that go against the interests of working people and social justice and win new gains.

There is still a long way to go to turn Connecticut around from being the most unequal state into being number one to end economic inequality. But Connecticut will only become more unequal if anti-worker extremists are elected to run state government.

Those who would destroy collective bargaining for public workers and take back rights of all workers are counting on a low voter turnout on November 4. Voting, and bringing friends, family and co-workers along is the best way to show solidarity and stand up for workers rights between now and November 4.