Friday, December 30, 2016

Jeanette Morrison's Remarks

Remarks by Ald. Jeanette Morrison upon receiving the Connecticut People's World Amistad Award at the December 4, 2016 event held at Wexler-Grant Community School in New Haven, Connecticut. Jeanette Morrison was elected to represent Ward 22 in New Haven as part of a labor-community coalition in 2011. She led the successful movement to re-build the Dixwell Q House, a youth center in the heart of the African American community next to Wexler-Grant school. As a social worker she fights to bring families together and for opportunities for children. She is a member of AFSCME Local 2663.

Thank you to the People's World Amistad Awards committee, the youth, my mother, Bettye Morrison, father, Howard Morrison, my kids, Jaydah and Jordan, my BOA family, the Q House committee, the unions, New Haven Rising, city staff, the residents of Ward 22 and all my friends and family members and a special thank you to my friend and co-worker Mark Hayre for helping me organize my thoughts for today’s presentation!!

As I reflect on today’s ceremonial theme, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress”, I begin to reflect on the terms Coalitions and Partnerships and the struggles that can come with coalitions and partnerships!! But on a daily basis I have to remind myself of something my mother would always say to me, “if you don’t work hard for something, how do you truly appreciate the outcome” …. So with that in mind, I continuously say to myself that…COALITIONS AND PARTNERSHIPS ARE NOT A LUXUARY, BUT A NECCESITY!! 

As we are moving forward after the most recent presidential election and our Democratic sister did not prevail as we had hoped for, we all have to remember that no matter who sits at the helm of our federal government, state government and city government, as a collective body we have to work together to make our community a more perfect union through DISCUSSIONS, DEBATES AND EXCHANGES OF IDEAS!!

Through this process, we have to compromise…. We have to remember that no one person or no one special interest group can ever get everything he or she wants in a DEMOCRACY… We are a democracy, not a dictatorship!! Therefore, we have to continue to do the work we are all demonstrating through organizing, collaborations and partnerships, so that our voices and our valued opinions are heard!! 
We always have to remember, that in a democracy it isn’t just about hearing the voices and opinions of those that agree with us or we agree with…We must also listen and respect the voices of those that disagree with us too…Through this process of listening to one another, we can learn from one another…That’s a part of a representative government…

Examples of a representative government in the City of New Haven and from the perspective of the Board of Alders would include the views and opinions for example from Dixwell, East Shore, Fair Haven and Westville…These four areas are vastly different from a socio-economic perspective, but as the legislative body for the City of New Haven, we can all agree that the legislative agenda that was developed by the board and thousands of city residents during 2012 and as we collectively reexamine our agenda today, regardless of our geographic location, gender, color, sexual orientation or religion, Safety, Jobs, Youth, Fiscal Responsibility and Constituent Services are primary focuses of each Alder and our City residents alike!!! 
The fact that the Dixwell Community was awarded 15.5 million dollars by our state government to revitalize the Q House building and reinstitute its overall purpose that embodies the peoples legislative priorities, is another example of true collaborative efforts!!...Can any one person or group take the credit of getting the needed resources to bring our beloved Q house back?? NO!! The Q House is coming back because every person, every group within our Q House Steering and Building committees and all of our allies have done their individual parts and have come together and worked through collaborative efforts, partnerships or in plain english, worked as a TEAM!! As a TEAM, we always have to keep in mind, that “Together EVERYONE ACHEIVES MORE”!!

In closing, as we move forward to accomplish all the needs of our New Haven, our State and our country at large, we all have to remember to listen to one another, even if the person speaking doesn’t look like you, talk like you or even possess the same value system as you do…. People have to come together, listen to one another, put your/our differences down and take a little or a lot from one another and stay focused on the goals we have all set to best serve our people and the community as a whole…

Friday, December 23, 2016

Three Words

[Remarks by Dan Livingston upon receiving the People's World Amistad Award at the December 4, 2016 event in memory of our brother Art Perry, held at Wexler-Grant Community School in New Haven, Connecticut. Livingston is a groundbreaking labor attorney and lifelong union and progressive activist. As a member of a firm of “troublemaking lawyers” (Livingston, Adler, Pulda, Meiklejohn and Kelly), he represents many public and private sector unions. He represents, works with, and serves on the boards of many coalitions, community and progressive organizations fighting for social justice in Connecticut.]
Since 2 a.m. on November 9th, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what happened to our country.
This is one crazy time in our history.   A sociopathic con man elected president with a Tea Party Congress. Our once deeply blue General Assembly now evenly divided, and a great danger of electing a Republican governor in 2 years.   In the few moments I have, I want to stress 3 words to guide us through the insanity.

The first is Clarity:    This is a moment in time when the two greatest contradictions in the so-called American experiment are made absolutely clear.    The first is exemplified by the ringing words of Thomas Jefferson our founding hero:   
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”

This is the contradiction of exclusion.   The greatest call for universal democracy on its face excluding women, half the human race, and penned by a white slave owner who would shortly support the so-called great compromise which not only continued slavery, but gave southern states extra political power.  Ironically it was to preserve the despicable 3/5’s rule that the electoral college was retained for presidential elections.       

 Over our history, this contradiction of exclusion has been applied to immigrants, the lgbtq community, and many others.

The second great contradiction is that our democracy is premised on “checks and balances,” three branches of government that check each other and in turn are checked every two years by the democratic vote of the people.    Yet the most powerful force in our civil society has been elevated beyond almost all checking.  One of the earliest phrasing of this contradiction comes from a quote often attributed to Abe Lincoln:
"It has indeed been a trying hour for the Republic; but I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed." 

One can make a million arguments about exactly how we elected Donald Trump President of the United States, but all explanations must begin with the “money power of the country…”working upon the prejudices of the people” until “wealth is aggregated in a few hands.”   The opposite of our “checks and balances” system, this is the contradiction of dominance, the contradiction of unchecked corporate power.

At the height of America’s broadest prosperity there were 5 powerful checks on what has now become the multinational corporate system.     One of them was a rival system of state socialism, but the Soviet Union has fallen and sadly not towards democratic socialism but to corporate capitalism.   It’s no check on multi-national corporate power.   The other 4 checks have also been obliterated or weakened:
(1)   Restrictions on the movement of capital; (2) Restrictions on unfair international trade; (3) the trade union movement; and (4) state and national regulation of core businesses. 
The economic dislocation of ordinary people throughout our nation is the direct result of this nearly unchecked corporate power, their ability to do what they want, to whom they want, whenever they want to.  And these two fundamental contradictions work together, the contradiction of exclusion being used to divide us and weaken our ability to address the contradiction of unchecked corporate power.   
Which leads to the second word.  Peril.   The last phrase of the Lincoln quote is “and the Republic is destroyed.”  In the midst of a civil war which almost ended this nation, he saw the greater risk to American democracy being unchecked corporate power, and its appeal to popular prejudice.[1]     

In the long run, there has never been a successful democracy in the history of the world which has withstood the levels of income inequality which unchecked corporate power has produced.  Add that to the toxic mix of racism, sexism, homophobia, jingoism, not to mention the risks to our natural environment which Lincoln could not possibly have foreseen, and we are indeed in peril.  Our democracy will not last unless the checks and balances on corporate domination can be rebuilt and new ones created.  And unless and until the contradictions of exclusion are acknowledged and overcome.

Which leads to the third word that will guide me.   Solidarity. It is a word that for those in this room and those of us who grew up in the labor and civil rights movements means everything.  Ordinary people are not strongest when they stand up for themselves.   We are strongest when we stand up for each other.   
But it is in the combination of those three words that I find a guide for action over the next 4 years.    Solidarity, energized and activated by the peril we face, informed and educated by the clarity with which we understand and articulate our nation’s problems and the solutions to them.     
In the labor movement we say “the Boss is the best organizer.”     When the employer is most oppressive and disdainful of our rights, this is our greatest opportunity to bring workers together, to overcome the prejudices that divide us, and demand structural change.   With clarity, energized by our common peril, we can make Donald Trump our greatest organizer.

One other thing I think we need to be clear about as we move forward – who our enemies are. Defenders of unchecked corporate power are our enemies.   Sociopaths like Donald Trump are our enemies.   But most of Trump’s individual voters, and the voters for his fellows in Connecticut are neither billionaire defenders of corporate power nor sociopaths.   Whatever percentage of those voters were motivated by intolerance and bigotry we must reach with tolerance and love.   As Martin Luther King tells us, Darkness doesn’t drive out darkness, only light does that.  Hate doesn’t drive out hate.  Only love does that.   
As for whatever percentage of Trump voters were motivated not by bigotry but by despair in the status quo -- touched more effectively by Trump’s magical promises than by the muddled message of too many of our Democratic leaders -- we need to reach them with real organizing, and with real answers.     The contradictions of our American democracy would have existed regardless of the election results of 2016, as would the growing demand that we address them.   Indeed, our fight is neither to “make American great again,” nor to claim it is great already, but to make America great in a way it has never yet been.    

And we must be humble enough to admit the rationality of a belief that the Democrats will not address the fundamental contradictions which are disrupting people’s lives – for they won’t, unless we make them --  even if we cannot see the rationality of a belief that somehow Donald Trump will.   Lincoln was right that all of us can be fooled some of the time and Donald Trump is a masterful con man.   
In Connecticut this year, many Democrats ran on not raising taxes, defending a so-called “New Economic reality” and a record of heartless austerity.   Republicans ran on a false pledge to turn things around for working families.    The result – tremendous gains for Republicans.  
If we learned anything from the state and national elections of 2016, it’s that we can’t make change on mushy appeals to the middle.   As the great Jim Hightower tells us “Ain’t Nothing in the Middle of the Road but yellow lines and dead armadillos.”   And even if we sometimes elect dead armadillo’s to office, we rarely see them change anything.  

Another way to say that is that with lies and half truths, you may be able to stoop a movement that seeks to change the world -- but you can’t build one that way.     That’s a big advantage that the defenders of the status quo have in any election, but we just have to deal with it.   And take comfort from the fact that there clearly is a big demand for change in this country, even we have not yet found a way to capture it.   An avowed socialist came damn close to winning a major party nomination, and perhaps then the general election.   An impossible thought a decade ago.  That means something.  Not enough.  But something.  So here’s what I say we do:

We openly and proudly address the contradiction of exclusion by defending each other when we are attacked, and working with each other to move forward.     In Connecticut we are building a coalition of labor, civil rights, faith, community group called DUE Justice.  You can check out our Facebook page.  DUE Justice  All of us coming together and working towards our common interest in real change.

 We all know the famous lament written by Martin Neimoller about the man who did not speak out while the Nazi’s came for group after group because he was not in that group, and then when the Nazi’s came for him, there was no one left to speak out.  We have plenty of time to make that not a lament, but a pledge:

When they come for the Muslims, I will speak out, even if I am not a Muslim. When they come for the trade unionists, I will speak out, even if I am not a trade unionist. When they come for our lgbtq sisters and brothers I will speak out, even if I am straight. When they come to steal women’s reproductive freedoms, I will stand with women, even if I am a man. Whether they come for Jews or Gentiles or Atheists, Citizens or immigrants, communists, socialists, environmental activists, or Native Americans, I will stand with them. And when they come for me, I will not stand alone.

And let us openly and honestly address the contradiction of unchecked corporate power.  As Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz explained so clearly:
"The rules of economic globalization are likewise designed to benefit the rich: they encourage competition among countries for business, which drives down taxes on corporations, weakens health and environmental protections, and undermines what used to be viewed as the “core” labor rights, which include the right to collective bargaining. Imagine what the world might look like if the rules were designed instead to encourage competition among countries for workers. Governments would compete in providing economic security, low taxes on ordinary wage earners, good education, and a clean environment—things workers care about. But the top 1 percent don’t need to care."

With this vision in mind we need not just to defend our unions, but to build them stronger.  And we need to be in the streets and in the halls of government.   They need to be our streets.   Imagine what the 8 years of Barak Obama might have been like if the streets had belonged to us in 2009 and 2010 powered by the heady excitement of the 2008 victory, instead of by the reaction and bigotry of the Tea Partiers.   Almost certainly no Tea Party Congress elected in 2010.   Our energy, and demands pushing Obama and Congress left, just as progressives (and Eleanor) pushed Franklin Roosevelt left in the 30s.  And almost certainly no President-elect Donald Trump.   

We need to take the streets from Donald Trump just as the Tea Party took the streets from Barak Obama.   If the new born Tea Party could own the streets after Obama beat McCain by nearly 10 million votes, certainly we can own them after Trump lost to Clinton by over 2 million.
 It is going to be an ugly, ugly 4 years.  While our greatest challenges existed long before the election of 2016 and would have continued no matter who won this year, they are magnified when our enemies control so much of our government’s power.  There will be moments when it seems there is no way to go but back, nothing to do but suffer.   
Indeed, in the short term, we will be dragged into many defensive battles, and we will lose some of those.   We can’t control that.   But what we can control is our response, our energy, our commitment, the organization and solidarity that we build, and the clarity with which we speak truth to power.  
All of our brothers and sisters who came before us, whether they built the labor movement, or won the right to vote, or most recently the freedom to marry, all of them knew such moments.   And found a way to move forward.  
 In the 30s they created unemployed counsels so that workers who had been victims of the Great Depression became instead warriors for the New Deal.  Dr. King and the civil rights leaders of the 60s turned the segregationist fire hoses and police dogs from tools of oppression into rallying and recruitment devices for a growing non-violent movement.     They built something bigger and stronger using what Dr. King called the “fierce urgency of the now” to rally from short-term defeat to longer term progress. 
Sisters and Brothers, it will not be easy.  But with clarity of vision, with recognition of the peril we face, and with true solidarity, we will come out stronger together.

[1] I learned recently that there is substantial controversy about whether this quote, around at least since the 1890’s, is in fact authentic; it could have been an effort to use the spirit of Lincoln’s definition of democracy -- government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” – to call out what was by the 1890’s already becoming a dangerous accumulation of power in corporate hands.      Either way, it well expresses the peril of unchecked corporate power which we experience today.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Amistad Awards attendees pledge resistance and solidarity

A large, diverse and enthusiastic turnout of labor and community activists from around Connecticut pledged at the People's World Amistad Awards to resist and stand in solidarity against all Trump administration attacks on people's needs and the planet.

During the call to action, nearly every one in the auditorium raised their hand to signify they had participated in at least one of the rallies, marches and protests since election day.

Held at Wexler-Grant Community School in New Haven around the theme "If there is no struggle, there can be no progress," the annual Awards were dedicated to continue the legacy of labor leader Art Perry who had helped develop the Awards and was a recipient in 2009. Art's son Joshua Perry expressed appreciation on behalf of the family.

Awardees included Alder Jeanette Morrison who co-led the successful effort for funding to rebuild the Dixwell Community House youth center located next to Wexler-Grant School; Juan Brito school social worker in Hartford and Chilean author and musician, and labor attorney and activist Dan Livington.

Hosted by Connecticut People's World Committee on the occasion of the 97th anniversary of the Communist Party, the event featured performances by Ice the Beef Youth Choir and the Neighborhood Music School Premiere Jazz Quintet, which performed a special selection in honor of each awardee.

Morrison was visibly moved when youth from New Elm City Dream / YCL thanked her for her leadership and for including them as decisions were made about the new youth center.

Brito, who had opposed the Pinochet dictatorship in his home country of Chile in 1973, spoke of the need to move and educate those who voted for Trump, saying that "liars can't play with the poor".

Livingston offered a direction forward and concluded , "It will not be easy.  But with clarity of vision, with recognition of the peril we face, and with true solidarity, we will come out stronger together."

Attendees filled out postcards calling on Connecticut elected officials to act against the heightened bigotry and bullying since the election, and also to support raising the minimum wage in Connecticut to $15 an hour, a campaign Art Perry had helped lead.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Write your elected officials

To: Connecticut Elected Officials

In the wake of the elections, we urge you to stand firm
against hate and division, and protect the rights, living
standards and security of all Connecticut residents
regardless of immigration status, and provide channels to
report and combat hate and bullying, especially in schools.

We also urge you to act on the Connecticut Low-Wage
Board report and raise the minimum wage to $15/hour.

Name_______________________ email_______________

Addr_______________________ Town________________

Report Hate Crimes, Bullying, Harassment

If you or someone you know experiences hate crimes, bullying or harassment here are places you can report them to:

  • School principal
  • Local police
  • Local elected official
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
Issued by CT People's World Committee 37 Howe St, New Haven CT 06511

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Immigration Myths vs Facts -- Inmigracion Mitos y Realidades

Immigration Myths vs Facts: New pamphlet published for 2016 election Inmigración: Mitos y Realidades. Se publica un panfleto nuevo para las elecciones de 2106

Download in English: "Immigration Myth vs. Fact"

Descargar al español: "La Inmigración Mitos y Realidades"
The issue of immigration has become central to the 2016 presidential election. Republican candidate Donald Trump has chosen to focus on the supposed threat of immigrants to the American way of life as a major campaign theme. From his first campaign speech, he took aim at immigrants Mexico is supposedly "sending" to the United States, whom he characterized as killers, drug dealers, and rapists. He also has singled out Muslims as posing a terrorist threat. When called on these claims, Trump has not backed down, but has instead repeated them again and again.

Trump also proposes "solutions" to the supposed immigrant and Muslim threat to the United States. He has called for the mass deportation of the approximately 10 to 11 million undocumented immigrants now living in the United States. He proposes to build a wall along the 1,900 mile U.S.-Mexican border, and says he will "make Mexico pay for it." How? He proposes to seize the money that undocumented immigrants earn working in the United States and send back to their impoverished families and communities in Mexico. He will also, so he says, end birthright citizenship, even though it is written into the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and thus cannot be changed by a presidential decree or even a vote in Congress.  He has said he would bar Muslims from visiting this country.

Various Republican politicians running for office down ticket also have adopted these bigoted and extremist positions, many of which have found their way into the Republican Party Platform for 2016.   Efforts to pass legislation in favor of a more rational and humane immigration policy have been blocked by Congress, mostly by Republican representatives and senators. With the help of Republican appointees to the Supreme Court, twenty-six GOP attorneys-general have blocked President Obama's efforts to provide relief for undocumented immigrants via executive orders.
These political misleaders legitimize bigoted speech and actions among the public, with the danger that this will lead to a rise in hate crimes against immigrants, Latinos, and Muslims. This has happened many times before in the history of this country.

Trump has flooded the country with a veritable tsunami of misinformation about the relationship of immigration to crime, terrorism, poverty, and unemployment. Most of his false information seems to come from a network of far-right nativist organizations founded by John Tanton and funded by right-wing businesses and foundations.

These include: Numbers USA, which likes to claim that the environment is threatened by immigration; the Center for Immigration Studies, which puts out massive amounts of dubious "research," all with an anti-immigrant slant; and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which calls for a reduction of both undocumented and documented immigration. Credence is lent to these dubious organizations by the corporate-controlled press, which often quotes them uncritically without mentioning that many people knowledgeable about the immigration situation regard some of them as hate groups.   This misinformation in the media programs voters to be receptive to Trump's anti-immigrant message.

In 2008, the pamphlet "Immigration: Myths and Facts" was issued to counter these lies. A second edition was published in 2013. Given the level of anti-immigrant propaganda that is coming out of the Trump campaign, we have updated this important information source.

You can download it here and distribute it to all your workmates, friends, relatives, and neighbors.  You can also contact if you are interested in obtaining printed copies to distribute.

Download in English: "Immigration Myth vs. Fact"

Descargar al español: "La Inmigración Mitos y Realidades"
La nueva edición de nuestro panfleto:  “La Inmigración:  Mitos y Realidades” está lista para repartirse y utilizarse en la lucha.
El tema de la inmigración se ha convertido en un punto céntrico en las elecciones presidenciales de 2016. El candidato del Partido Republicano, Donald Trump, enfoca su campaña en la amenaza que los inmigrantes supuestamente representan para la vida diaria de los habitantes de los Estados Unidos. Desde su primer discurso en la campaña, utilizó como su blanco los inmigrantes que, según él, México “envía” a  los Estados Unidos, a quienes tacha como asesinos, narcotraficantes y violadores. También ha lanzado un ataque general a los musulmanes que, según él, representan una amenaza terrorista.  Cuando otros desmientan estas calumnias, las repita en lugar de retirarlas.
Trump también propone “soluciones” a la supuesta amenaza que los inmigrantes y musulmanes, según él, representan para los Estados Unidos.   Propone construir una muralla a lo largo de la frontera entre los Estados Unidos y México (una distancia de 3,058 kilometras), y dice que obligará a México pagar el costo de este proyecto.  ¿Y cómo piensa lograrlo?  Pues, según dice, se apoderará a las remesas que los inmigrantes indocumentados aquí ganan trabajando con salarios bajísimos y envían a sus familias aún más pobres en México.  También dice que va a acabar con la práctica de considerar a quienquiera nazca en suelo estadounidense como ciudadano de este país, a pesar de que ese derecho está inscrito en la decimocuarta enmienda de la constitución, y por lo tanto no puede modificarse por decreto presidencial ni por una ley aprobada en el Congreso.  Amenaza con prevenir que los musulmanes visiten a este país.
Varios candidatos republicanos que se han postulado para elección a puestos más allá de la presidencia han adoptado estas actitudes extremistas e intolerantes también.   Todos los intentos de aprobar políticas migratorias más razonables y humanistas en los  últimos años han fracasado en el Congreso, en gran medida por la actitud obstruccionista de los congresistas republicanos.  Una demanda sometida por 26 fiscales estatales, todos republicanos, a las cortes federales ha bloqueado un intento de parte del presidente Obama de aliviar la situación de los indocumentados mediante una orden ejecutiva; al nivel de la Corte Suprema, fueron los jueces nombradas por presidentes republicanos quienes más daño causaron.
Estos falsos líderes políticos prestan legitimidad a las declaraciones y acciones racistas entre el público en general, lo que conlleva el peligro de aumentar el nivel de “crímenes de odio” en contra de los inmigrantes, latinoamericanos y musulmanes.  Semejantes cosas han sucedido muchas veces en la historia de este país.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Immigrants, Muslims and Youth Unite against Hate

Immediately after election day, young people have stepped forward against the hate and bigotry that was the foundation of Trump's election campaign, and are standing in solidarity with immigrants, Muslims and all those who have been targeted.

Unidad Latina en Accion courageously rallied immigrant families and community supporters outside New Haven Federal Courthouse to say"We Refuse to be Afraid." The City-Wide Youth Coalition organized high school and Yale students to rally on the New Haven Green and march down Chapel St. chanting "Love Trumps Hate," and "We Reject the President-Elect."

Mass deportations and incarceration of immigrants, threatened by Donald Trump, will not be tolerated in cities like New Haven which has always been welcoming of all people to the community. Mayor Toni Harp declared the City will not change these policies despite threats of retaliation.

On the campus of Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) in the food court at Adanti Sudent Center, the Muslim Student Association held another kind of action. Bahar Musa, sitting behind a table with multi-colored hijabs was inviting women of all faiths to wear one for a few hours and then reflect about how they felt.

"This is National Hijab Day, we do this in solidarity with other women from all backgrounds so they can see what it's like in a Western country to be accepted as a Muslim, and to understand our religion, and not the negative myths that are tied to our religion," she said.

Carla Monzella, a Catholic and a junior at SCSU, proudly put on her pink hijab, helped by Bahar, explaining "I'm wearing one today because of the Trump nomination for president, and his evil message against women, and to stand in solidarity with my Muslim students and community on campus."

Student Alicia Jackson stated "People focus on the negative aspect of Islam, and we're here to show togetherness during this time of divide, and to show our Muslim sisterhood that we too stand side by side with you."

African-American, white, Chinese young and old women can be seen wearing hijabs of all colors all around the campus on this Monday morning. After several hours participants are invited to discuss their experience and hear why Muslim women wear the hijab.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

People's World Amistad Awards 2016: If there is no struggle, there can be no progress"

After this long election year, a wonderful opportunity to come together and be inspired is the People's World Amistad Awards honoring Ald. Jeanette Morrison, Dan Livingston and Juan Brito.
The event will take place Sunday, December 4, 2016 at 4:00 pm at Wexler Grant Community School, 55 Foote Street, New Haven on the theme "If there is no struggle, there can be no progress -- We march united for Racial Justice, Jobs & Peace."
This year's Awards are dedicated to carrying on the legacy of Arthur L. Perry who received the Amistad Award in 2009. He was a member of 1199 at Southbury Training Center, became a union organizer, and served in the Connecticut Department of Labor.
Performances will include the Premiere Jazz Ensemble
Ald. Jeanette Morrison was elected to represent Ward 22 in New Haven as part of a labor-community coalition. She led the successful movement to re-build the Dixwell Q House, a youth center in the heart of the African American community next to Wexler-Grant school. As a social worker she fights to bring families together and for opportunities for children. She is a member of AFSCME.
Dan Livingston is a groundbreaking labor attorney and lifelong union and progressive activist. As a member of a firm of “troublemaking lawyers” (Livingston, Adler, Pulda, Meiklejohn and Kelly), he represents many public and private sector unions. He represents, works with, and serves on the boards of many coalitions, community and progressive organizations fighting for social justice in our state.
Juan Brito is a School Social Worker at Burns Latino Academy in Hartford, and a member of the Hartford Federation of Teachers. He is a writer for La Voz Hispana de Connecticut and a musician who has been performing with his wife Rebecca Delgado since 1977.  He has published two books of poetry about his country and experiences before, during and after the coup d'etat that affected Chile in 1973.   
The awards are presented to allies by the People's World on the occasion of the 97th anniversary of the Communist Party USA.
Tickets are $10. Adbook deadline is November 18, 2016. Information:

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Vote and organize to "fix America's heart problem"

By Joelle Fishman  People's World  October 31, 2016

 “Do we have the courage to build a democracy that has a heart and cares for everyone?” asks Rev. Dr. William Barber, founder of the national Moral Monday movement.  His question is a profound challenge to every voter.
As part of his 22-state tour across the country, Rev. Barber came to Connecticut where he delivered a passionate call to action to a thousand union and community leaders from across the state.
Quoting Martin Luther King’s 1967 Riverside Church speech, “Time to Break the Silence,” Barber called for a “radical revolution of values,” saying “I am worried about a country that puts more money to weapons of war than to the war against poverty.”

Repeating the refrain “America has a heart problem,” Barber decried tax cuts and bailouts for the rich, police killings of black youth, and championed the need for universal healthcare, gender equality and much more.

In a scathing indictment of Donald Trump, Barber called out the Republican presidential candidate for using “dog whistle politics,” fanning the flames of racism. Barber declared, “working poor black and white people ought to be on the same side.”

White supremacists and corporate interests are pouring millions into this election to create divisions and disrupt the process. Their goal is to capture control by discouraging people who would vote Democrat from casting their ballots.

At the same time courageous anti-racist, pro-worker and women’s rights movements are emerging in our country. They are deep in the trenches to elect Hillary Clinton and progressive candidates to Congress and down ballot.  Their goal is to create a political climate where it is possible to carry on the fight and win a transformation of priorities for economic, racial, social and environmental justice.
This election is about pulling out a record vote to repudiate the Trump-Republican agenda and raise up these new democratic movements for social change.

The Moral Monday movement is laying the foundations in North Carolina and all across the South challenging unjust election laws and undemocratic policies.

The Fight for $15 has expanded far beyond fast food workers and has joined with Black Lives Matter, gender equality and youth organizations to win a living wage and the right to a union that will benefit all workers.

The AFL CIO and Working America are going door to door to speak with their sisters and brothers about how Donald Trump says the minimum wage is too high, opposes unions, and is against their interests.

Women’s organizations are working hard to make sure the Supreme Court will not be stacked by the next president to overturn Roe v. Wade, and to move forward for such basic issues as equal pay for equal work and paid family and medical leave.

Latino youth are registering to vote in record numbers and changing the political climate from Arizona to Iowa and across the country demanding comprehensive immigration reform.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is putting their lives on the line to protect their sacred ground and the water in the face of militarized police.

Our Revolution, formed by supporters of Bernie Sanders, is continuing the fight for an economy that benefits everyone, not just the 1%.  They are door knocking and raising funds to elect progressives to Congress like Pramila Jayapal and Zephyr Teachout

Young people flocked to Bernie Sanders in the primary because they want to be able to start their lives unencumbered by huge student debt, racial profiling, an endangered planet and lack of living wage jobs. They know that it will take a progressive political transformation in our country to change priorities and fix America’s heart problem.

“We need a movement with power,” Rev. Barber concluded  to cheers and a standing ovation in Connecticut.  “We need a movement with courage. We need a movement with understanding of love and justice that cares for the soul and heart of this democracy….Clear away the racism and hatred. Bring our heart back to life.”

Rev. Barber’s seven month national tour will conclude on Sunday, November 6 at Riverside Church in New York.  Themed  “The Moral Revival: Time for a Revolution of Values” the events featured testimonies of people impacted by racism, xenophobia, homophobia, the lack of health care, the suppression of voting rights, poverty, low wages, immigrant discrimination, detention and deportation, predatory lending, and police brutality and mass incarceration.

Tens of thousands of people have signed on to the “Higher Ground Moral Declaration,”  The final revival, “a national call to prayer, healing, action and to vote!” will be live-streamed at

This election is about being in position to continue building that transformation from the grass roots up. A resounding defeat for Trump and the Republicans and the hate, division and bigotry they personify will create that climate.

This election is about the right to organize, the right to vote, the right to build a democracy that has a heart and cares for everyone. This election must be the start, not the end, of involvement in the struggle. Don’t miss out!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Harvard strike solidarity inspires Connecticut workers

Just two days after a huge march and rally in support of 750 striking Unite Here Local 26 Harvard dining hall workers, the University agreed to the contract demands for wage increases to $35,000 a year and to maintain current healthcare benefits.

This significant victory for the lowest paid workers at the wealthiest university in the world was won with solidarity from students and faculty on campus, and union workers across New England. It was the first strike at Harvard in 33 years.

Connecticut Unite Here food service and university workers came by bus and car to take part in the march and rally. The experience made them even more committed to winning their own current contract negotiations for a living wage and affordable health care benefits.

Food service workers from Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) were among those to take the trip up to Boston, some with their children and families, to march and rally alongside hundreds of their food service brothers and sisters at Cambridge's Commons Park. They could relate to the strike demands since they are in contract negotiations with one of the wealthiest food service companies, Compass Group U.S.A,

"We're facing the same issues our people up in Boston are facing," said SCSU union member Rodney Cox, during the drive to Harvard. "They're trying to take food from all of our families' mouths. We are mostly minority, we work for these rich universities and corporations, and we are trying to provide for our children in these times," he said. "These are greedy rich people who want to take everything we fought for away from us, and before we allow that to happen we will go on strike if we have to like our family in Harvard!" 

SCSU dining hall shop steward George Sanchez brought his second oldest son with him, "to show him the power of people coming together peacefully to rally and march for change and worker's rights. We all want better pay and benefits," he said.

Local 217 members have been rallying. marching and holding job actions at SCSU, Wesleyan University, Fairfield University and the University of Hartford as part of Unite-Here's October Month Of Action, a three-week solidarity with dining hall employees in contract negotiations.

"Every Saturday we have been fighting, and it's all gonna pay off, we have a voice and we are making our voices known along side our Harvard family, who truly need our support right now," said Sanchez angrily said as he glanced out the window on the rainy day. "We're fighters, It's in are blood," he said as he cracked a smile. "No Contract, No Peace! No Contract, No Peace!."

Members of Unite Here Locals 34 and 35 at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut also took a break from their own contract negotiations with wealthy Yale University to travel to Harvard and support their sisters and brothers on strike. They were joined by Local 33, the graduate teacher union that has filed a complaint with the NLRB to gain recognition from Yale, and their community affiliate New Haven Rising,

The cost of health care premiums and co-pays, one of the main issue of Harvard's strike, is also a big issue for Connecticut's Local 217 members. Increased health care premiums and higher co-pays will be devastating for all dining hall employees and are a matter of life and death.

The arguments Harvard made, that worker's wages are higher than most food service workers and that health costs have risen steeply, are the same arguments major food service companies and universities are using everywhere to avoid paying livable wages and benefits.

For the food service workers this raised a class question: how can workers survive a capitalism that will not pay them wages and benefits they or their families need to live on comfortably?

"This march opens our eyes to the fact that we're all under attack!" John DeCarbo a University of Hartford employee said.

"We're here to support our brothers and sisters from Boston to let them know we're here in the fight with them. We're rallying and marching for the same thing in Connecticut. Our food service company Compass Group U.S.A. has the money to give us fair wages and benefits, just as Harvard can do the same for it's employees" Sanchez exclaimed.