Friday, June 23, 2017

Uprising over healthcare spills over onto Senate floor

By Joelle Fishman and Win Heimer   People's World   June 20, 2017

The message of the standing room only crowd at Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s emergency field hearing on health care at the State Capitol on Monday morning was clear: Do not repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and do not allow the Senate Republican version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) to pass and leave millions without coverage.

The packed hearing, called on one day’s notice, took place hours before Democrats took over the floor of the U.S. Senate to protest an expected vote on health care overhaul that Republican leaders have been crafting in secret with no public input or oversight.

The next two weeks are considered “code red” in the fight to stop a Republican maneuver to repeal the ACA.  The  House-passed AHCA would end coverage for 23 million people, gut Medicare, raise costs for seniors, de-fund Planned Parenthood, and re-instate the ability of insurance companies to deny coverage to those with “pre-existing conditions,” while providing huge tax cuts for the super rich.

On Monday night one senator after another took the floor to oppose the cruelty of the expected bill and to call upon the people of the country to make their voices heard.
Blumenthal passionately told of the hard facts, personal testimonies, anger and fear expressed at his emergency field hearing in Hartford that morning.

Reflecting the mood of the country, health care professionals, advocacy groups and Connecticut residents had lined up to testify in opposition to the attempt by Republicans to push a bill through that will leave millions devastated and cost lives.  Each speaker received thunderous applause, as did Blumenthal.

According to Protect Our Care Connecticut, in this state alone 220,300 people would become uninsured including children, disabled and elderly.

One woman testified that the ACA saved her hundreds of thousand of dollars when she needed extensive and complicated treatment for an autoimmune disease. “It literally saved my life,” she said.
Another woman detailed the painful debilitation of her daughter as a result of opioid addiction and urged that money targeted to fight this scourge not be eliminated from the healthcare budget as would be done in the AHCA.

Speaking of the Republicans’ plan, Blumenthal said “We will use every tool at our disposal to limit this measure…Speed and secrecy are a recipe for disaster.”

He vowed to personally read into the record all of the testimony presented at the hearing and promised to hold another hearing “as soon as we know more” Looking toward the future as he has done at other rallies, Blumenthal said to loud applause, “ultimately we will have a single payer system.”

Testimony was presented from Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, Comptroller Kevin Lembo, the state’s Healthcare Advocate, representatives of the Connecticut AIDS Coalition, New Haven Legal Services, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Protect Our Care CT, the Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans and many others who described the disastrous effects the Republican plan would have on their personal lives.

The field hearing followed protests against the Republican “no-healthcare plan” in Connecticut and across the country during the Memorial Day congressional recess. Voters made it clear they had the 2018 elections in mind.

The 100 people who gathered in the rain on the New Haven Green holding up cardboard tombstones with captions exposing the horrors of the plan, were told that they made an impact far beyond Connecticut.

“Thank you for your activism,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal told them.  “Thank you for making your voices heard.”

Two days earlier, at New Haven’s Bella Vista senior housing complex, dozens of residents and guests applauded as Sen Chris Murphy and Rep. Rosa DeLauro arrived for a forum on healthcare.

“Enough is enough,” said Murphy at Bella Vista  “We have to speak as one” against making $600 billion in cuts to health care in order to give $600 billion in tax cuts to billionaires, drug and insurance companies, and allowing 23 million people to lose all coverage.

When one audience member said she didn’t see how the bill could be stopped in the Senate, DeLauro reminded her that years earlier when it seemed impossible, Newt Gingrich’s “Contract for America” that threatened every social program was stopped by a large public outcry.

The first version of Trump’s American Health Care Act was also stopped earlier this year when the town hall meetings of Republican members of Congress were flooded with angry constituents who made it clear that they did not want to repeal the Affordable Care Act and all its benefits.

The same outrage is now being directed at the Senate by many resistance groups, unions and civil rights organizations across the country.  The National Women’s Law Center issued a call to flood the Senate phone lines and demand that the Republican attack on health care be stopped because it “threatens the health care of millions of people including women, elderly people, children, and people with disabilities.”

Voters in eight states with Republican senators up for election in 2018 are especially being urged to jam the phone lines with calls from constituents.  Those states include Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Unity and Solidarity on May Day

The King-Davis Labor Center was filled with unity and solidarity at the People's World May Day rally. Workers' fightback on all continents was highlighted in a slideshow. A certificate of appreciation was presented to newly elected State Rep. Joshua Hall who ran on the Working Families Party line.

Gwen Mills, Secretary-Treasurer of UNITE HERE, showed a video message from Yale graduate teachers Local 33 president and faster Aaron Greenberg, inspiring support for their struggle against Yale and Trump for union recognition. Kermauli Brown, AFT CT medical assistant at Community Health Services, Mustafa Salahuddin, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1336, and Ciro Gutierrez member leader of SEIU 32BJ also spoke. Excerpts from Gutierrez follow:

"This May Day has been - as never before - a day of struggle and opposition to the anti-migrant policy of the Trump Administration. Standing against this administration, immigrant workers have argued that we are not criminals, we are hard workers — many of us are union members with long history of social struggle. Trump knows that and wants to extinguish the flame of resistance against the injustice that, along with many others, we keep burning in this country.

"May Day is a day when the world remembers the sacrifice of the martyrs of Chicago in their struggle to establish the fair, 8-hour work day. But it must also be a day to measure and forecast the future of working-class struggles.

Millions of Americans have taken the streets to oppose Trump's immigration policy, its attack on the environment and its support of the interests of millionaires and billionaires. This May Day community organizations, movements of faith, labor unions and legislators raised their voice to unite the people to resist to win.

"Nearly 1000 people were at the "Here to Stay" rally at the state capitol defending the rights of immigrants, celebrating their diversity and honoring a healthy climate. All the highest elected officials of the state publicly declared their allegiance to the rights of all state residents, regardless of their immigration status, and their opposition to the harsh immigration policies of the Trump Administration

"This is a united front that will not only resist the Trump administration, but eventually, replace it."

Make Your Voice Heard for Health Care


With millions of lives at stake, protests against the Republican no-healthcare plan filled streets and town hall meetings across the country during the Memorial Day congressional recess. The message was clear: voters will remember in 2018.

The 100 people who gathered in the rain on the New Haven Green holding up cardboard tombstones with captions exposing the horrors of the plan, were told that they made an impact far beyond Connecticut.

"Thank you for your activism," Sen. Richard Blumenthal told them. "Thank you for making your voices heard."

He, along with his Connecticut colleagues, has been leading the opposition in Congress against repeal of the measures in the Affordable Care Act that enabled 24 million people to get coverage, eliminated pre-existing conditions, and ended limits on coverage.

Two days earlier, at New Haven's Bella Vista senior housing complex, dozens of residents and guests applauded as Sen Chris Murphy and Rep. Rosa DeLauro arrived for a forum on healthcare.

"Enough is enough," said Murphy at Bella Vista "We have to speak as one" against making $600 billion in cuts to health care in order to give $600 billion in tax cuts to billionaires, drug and insurance companies, and allowing 23 million people to lose all coverage.

When one audience member said she didn't see how the bill could be stopped in the Senate, DeLauro reminded her that years earlier when it seemed impossible, Newt Gingrich's "Contract for America" that threatened every social program was stopped by a large public outcry.

The first version of Trump's American Health Care Act was also stopped earlier this year when the town hall meetings of Republican members of Congress were flooded with angry constituents who made it clear that they did not want to repeal the Affordable Care Act and all it's benefits.

The second version, even more draconian, did pass the House and is now before the Senate.

"The AHCA is dead on arrival in the Senate," said Blumenthal, adding that a select Republican group is re-working the bill in secret. He advocated a long term goal of Medicare for All. "Don't give up, it is not impossible," he said adding that it is a simple solution to insure healthcare as a human right.

Resistance at Yale Inspires Unity for Workers Rights

People's World May 19,  2017
by Joelle Fishman and Art Perlo

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The fast by Yale graduate teachers in Unite Here Local 33 will enter its 27th day as Yale’s Commencement processional wends its way through the New Haven Green on Monday, May 22.  An unprecedented gathering of many thousands from New Haven, across the state of Connecticut, and up and down the Eastern Seaboard, will mark that day with a powerful show of unity and solidarity to demand that Yale stop stalling and negotiate a first contract now.

“The cause for which the graduate teachers are fighting does not belong to them alone. A secure living, fair benefits, a workplace free from racism and sexual harassment, and a voice in their conditions—these are the rights of all working people,” wrote 28 national labor, faith and social justice leaders and elected officials in an international solidarity statement. “We honor their spirit of unity, a powerful contrast to the spirit of Trump and his efforts to divide,” the sign-on statement concludes.

The stand being taken against the $25 billion Yale University has become a center of resistance to the Trump attack on working people and especially on unions.

Because of Yale’s position as an elite institution, the struggle of these graduate teachers has become a focus of resistance, not only to Trump personally, but to the whole gang of billionaire vulture capitalists in his cabinet and in his corner.

The case is compelling.  The graduate teachers followed the letter of the law.  They complied with the National Labor Relations Board requirements exactly and overwhelmingly won their union representation elections in eight departments.

But Yale continues to flout the law, stalling until Trump’s new NLRB is installed and empowered to overturn the decision that the graduate teachers have the right to a union and collective bargaining.
When Rep. Keith Ellison left his home in Minnesota on Mother’s Day and flew to New Haven to visit the encampment named “33 Wall St.”, he learned firsthand, taking careful notes, of the stories that led these graduate teachers to “fast against slow.”

The fasters explained that they need a union contract and grievance procedure to address sexual harassment experienced by a shocking 54% of female graduate students; to address the fact that there are only 30 African American male graduate students out of 3400; to address the lack of mental health and wellness programs, and to address poverty wages.

Rep. Ellison promised to push hard.  As Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee he challenged Democrats to give all-out support, saying “If Democrats don’t stand up for collective bargaining, then what do they stand for?”

The majority of Unite Here members across the country are workers in hospitality and casinos. The union’s largest base is in Las Vegas, where Unite Here international president D. Taylor led a successful strike at the Frontier Hotel for six years, four months and ten days, before assuming his current position.

Taylor, who came to participate in the candle light march marking the beginning of the fourth week of the graduate teachers’ fast, said the union has put everything into this fight. “It is ground zero of the resistance for worker’s rights,” he said.

The struggle at Yale is an important national test of the ability of unions and workers to move forward in the Trump era.

This struggle has revealed that Yale, which institutionally claims to be opposed to many things Trump stands for, is in essence just another wealthy corporation that embraces Trump/Republican policies to protect its wealth and power.

The struggle is also important because it is crystallizing an alliance within the labor movement. Anchored by sister Unite Here locals 34 and 35, the university support staff, and the Yale Union Retirees Association, support has been pouring in from sheet metal workers and building trades to bus drivers and healthcare workers as well as the AFL-CIO.
 
At the same time, the struggle is forging new alliances between labor and the environmental movement and the community.  Local 33 has not limited its attention to the immediate conditions of the graduate teachers.  On their website, 33WallSt.org, they have exposed Yale’s corporate ties to the fossil fuel industry and environmentally destructive corporations, pulling the rug out from under the University’s claim to leadership on climate change. They have shed light on Yale’s ties to vulture capitalists like Trump’s Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross who have devastated communities including New Haven through plant closings and massive fraudulent home foreclosures.

Extraordinary organizing is being done by New Haven Rising, the union’s community allied organization. “Our fight is for jobs,” exclaims director Rev. Scott Marks, who leads nightly door knocking in neighborhoods with high unemployment, largely Black and Latino, making the connections to the graduate teachers struggle for a union.

The community that has emerged in solidarity with Local 33 is the hope for the future.  Each day new visitors and conversations at the 33 Wall St site open up new and often unexpected relationships.  Community groups and supporters come to hold their meetings there including the Democratic Town Committee, the Working Families Party and the Communist Party.  Muslim, Christian and Jewish services have been held there. Families have celebrated special occasions there. Graduate teachers marched from there with immigrant workers on May Day. Rep. Rosa DeLauro and New Haven Mayor Toni Harp have visited numerous times. Dozens of young people are coming into leadership there.

On the first day of the fast, Local 33 president Aaron Greenberg said that he hoped the action would inspire joy in the struggle, provide strength and bring people together.

When the diverse outpouring of support becomes evident in the demonstration outside Yale’s commencement on Monday, May 22, the statement to Yale and Trump will be clear: no institution, even a $25 billion elite university, is too big to be forced to treat workers with dignity and respect.  The graduate teachers and their many allies will call on Yale’s President Salovey to end the fast and sit down at the collective bargaining table.

Fasters Expose Yale-Trump Axis

May 9 People's World
by Art Perlo and Joelle Fishman

When Yale University refused to negotiate a first contract with graduate workers following an overwhelming NLRB election victory in eight departments, it was clear that this $25 billion institution was relying on their Trump administration connections to torpedo recognition of UNITE HERE Local 33.

Instead of giving up in despair, the determined graduate teachers launched a “fast against slow.” Eight Local 33 leaders inspired by Gandhi, César Chávez and Martin Luther King, Jr. decided they would not eat or drink anything except water until President Peter Salovey begins talks. In Beinecke Plaza adjacent to the administration building and Salovey’s office, the union erected a structure which is staffed around the clock.

The graduate workers’ courageous stand for democratic rights and union rights is inspiring widespread support as part of the national resistance against Trump’s anti-worker policies.
The ties between Yale and the Trump administration run deep. On day ten of the fast, Local 33 turned a public spotlight on the connection with Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce and the wealthiest member of Trump’s cabinet of billionaires.

Ross’ $10 million donation to Yale’s business school, the School of Organization and Management (SOM), bought naming rights to the school’s library, and a seat on SOM’s Board of Advisors.
On May 5, graduate teachers from Local 33 infiltrated SOM and hung a large banner on its front, renaming it “Trump University.” Other union members sat down in front of  the library, chanting “Trump, Ross, Salovey! Negotiate without delay!” They were charged with creating a disturbance.
Meanwhile, the eight hunger strikers sat outside in the pouring rain, while 150 supporters picketed, wearing posters of Salovey with Trump’s orange hair.

The union issued a research paper, detailing the Yale-Ross-Trump connection.

Wilbur Ross is best known as the “king of bankruptcy.” He acquired his billions by buying up bankrupt companies like LTV and Bethlehem Steel, stripping their assets, devastating their communities and leaving their workers without jobs and with little or no pensions.
During the bankruptcy proceedings of the Atlantic City Trump Taj Majal, Ross struck a deal favorable to Trump that led Bloomberg Businessweek to call Ross the President’s “former savior.”
Ross was also connected with the mortgage company AHMSI, later sold to Ocwen Financial. These companies participated in the wave of millions of foreclosures nationwide, often accompanied by bad faith and outright fraud.

In New Haven, the struggling city whose center is occupied by Yale, many working class families have been foreclosed and evicted, some caused by the Ross-connected companies.

Yale’s endowment has investments in these mortgage companies. While graduate teachers protested at Yale’s SOM, eight retirees from Locals 34 and 35, representing the university’s support staff, sat in at Yale’s investment office. They demanded to meet with the chief investment officer, outraged that their pension funds are invested in predatory companies associated with the Trump administration.
At the same time, UNITE-HERE union members in Palm Beach, Florida picketed in front of Ross’ home, and a spirited group protested in Washington, DC at the Department of Commerce which Ross heads.

The union has established a special website 33wallstreet.org to expose other aspects of Yale’s ties to Trump and its unsavory investment strategy.

Yale’s graduate teachers explain that they want a union because they have poverty wages and need a grievance procedure to resolve the racism and sexual abuse they experience on campus.

In February, the graduate teachers, who do much of the undergraduate teaching and grading at the University, won union elections in eight departments. The elections had been ordered by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after twenty five years of stalling by the University, which has consistently denied the teachers’ right to a union.

Instead of accepting the elections, certified by the NLRB, Yale has refused to negotiate with the union, and has appealed the NLRB ruling.

The union submitted petitions with the names of 12,000  Yale students and workers, New Haven and Connecticut residents, and city and state elected officials. But Yale would not negotiate.

So on April 25, eight graduate workers began the “fast against slow.” They are checked by medical professionals daily, and when one has to drop out another graduate worker takes their place.
The union accused Yale of deliberate stalling — dragging out appeals until Trump appoints new members to the NLRB who will likely support Yale’s contention that the graduate workers are not really workers and declare the election results invalid.

Whatever its liberal image, in reality Yale University profits from its relationships with the Trump Administration.

In addition to Ross, Trump appointed two other Yale alumni to his cabinet: Wall St. financier Steven Mnuchin is Secretary of the Treasury, and retired neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson is Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Trump also appointed Yale alumnus Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder of the Blackstone Group, as adviser on economic policy.
The struggle has attracted national media attention. Daily marches, rallies and other actions in solidarity with the fasters, have inspired Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Mayor Toni Harp, dozens of clergy and community organizations, fifty campus faculty and 1,000 undergraduate students to stand together against this Yale-Trump axis.

Singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge, in New Haven for a performance, came to the site with bottles of water saying the fast will “carry to the very heart of America.”

The battle for workers’ rights that Local 33 graduate teachers have taken head-on is ground zero of the battle for all workers’ rights in our country today.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Connecticut leaders to march for climate, jobs and justice


People's World April 20, 2017
by Joelle Fishman
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — At a press conference overlooking the urban woodlands of Common Ground High School, labor leader Mustafa Salahuddin offered a message from his children ages 9, 13 and 14. “It is our responsibility to make the air cleaner.  Get on the bus.  March in the streets.”
The media event, hosted by Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs to support the national March for Science on April 22 and March for Climate, Jobs and Justice on April 29, brought union, environmental, faith based and youth groups together with U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy.

Salahuddin, president of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1336 in the nearby city of Bridgeport, said his 190.000-member national union has established a climate action committee and serves on the People’s Climate march steering committee.  The health of the people of Bridgeport, a city with majority Latino and African American population, has been affected by pollution from a coal power plant and fossil fuels for years he said, calling for an increase in public transportation as a way to address climate change and create jobs.
Blumenthal called for “resources, enforcement and investment” as necessary to preserve and enhance the environment.

“Trump’s 30 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency and 60 percent cut to enforcement betrays that trust,” he said, adding, “we will fight, fight, fight.”

Launched in 2012, the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs has brought together labor, religious and environmental organizations to address the urgency of climate change and the need for good paying jobs for workers in a future without fossil fuels.

“We are here today to encourage the people of Connecticut to get up and get on the move,” said John Harrity, president of the Connecticut State Council of Machinists and leader of the Roundtable.
Referring to Donald Trump’s denial that climate change is real, Harrity exclaimed, “Trump cannot change reality through fiats or edicts.  But we can change political reality by organizing, marching, holding rallies, and holding all public officials accountable for addressing this crisis.”

“The solution to climate danger rests with the people,” said Harrity.  “We have to demand change.  We have to demand scientific and technological innovation.  We have to demand economic and social restructuring commensurate with the urgency and scope of the problem.”

That innovation can create thousands of new jobs and benefit the Connecticut economy, which has had a strong industrial base, said Murphy.

“Nobody in this country wants wholesale withdrawal from clean air and water,” he said, emphasizing that when people make their voices heard it has an impact. For example, he said, “The health care repeal bill was days away from passing the House.  It went down in flames because of activism.”

Crediting the activists present, New Haven City Engineer Giovanni Zinn announced the New Haven Climate and Sustainability Framework, to be launched this summer, will double the solar megawatts for public schools. Mayor Toni Harp is part of the Compact of Mayors, a global coalition of 596 cities pledged to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions and enhance resilience to climate change.

New Haven public school student Tyra DeBoise, who participates in the United Church of Christ project Environmental Justice for All, explained that she has been raised to conserve water and recycle because “we share our planet. Environmental justice means clean air, water and atmosphere for everyone regardless of where they live and the color of their skin.”

Common Ground High School, which includes a working farm and educational gardens, is focused on urban ecology and sustainability.  Students will be among the participants in the Rock to Rock bike ride and Science March on April 22.

Eight Connecticut buses for the Climate, Jobs, Justice march on Washington on April 29, Trump’s 100th day in office, are being organized by 350CT.org,

A bus of union workers for a clean and just economy is being organized by UAW Local 6950, representing 2,200 members at the University of Connecticut/Storrs campus.

“We represent graduate teaching assistants,” said president Todd Vachon. ” The environmentalists and ecologists know that climate change is real, that it is a result of human activity, and that we are feeling the effects now. The sociologists know the impact of wealth inequality.”

As Connecticut prepares to join with thousands from around the country in the nation’s capital, Harrity emphasized, “Donald Trump is not insurmountable.  We are the people – of this great country and this beautiful world.  We will make sure climate change is addressed, and humanity has the same opportunity in the future to enjoy the gifts of earth that we have had in our lifetimes.”

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Yale graduate teachers vote union


Graduate teachers at Yale University made history this year when they voted yes to a union.

For over a quarter-century these workers, now members of Local 33 Unite Here, have been organizing for the right to union representation and a voice at work. It is one of the longest continuous organizing drives in U.S. history.

The determination to improve their circumstances and make a better University has been handed down from one generation of graduate teachers at Yale to the next. Countless marches, meetings, rallies, petitions, letter campaigns, appeals from elected officials and other allies have marked this unstoppable battle. The University insisted that these teachers who the undergraduates depend upon for their studies, were students and not workers.

Last summer, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) affirmed that graduate teachers are in fact workers with the right to form unions. The Yale graduate teachers immediately filed for election. The ruling that the elections would go forward came down just after Donald Trump took office. At that unlikely moment, the graduate teachers in eight departments voted yes for Local 33.

The battle has been remarkable in a number of ways.

The graduate teachers have had consistent support from the clerical and technical workers in Local 34 Unite Here and the service and maintenance workers in Local 35. They stood in solidarity with the graduate teachers because they knew that the new Local 33 would add to the strength of all workers on campus and in the region.

The graduate teachers have also won wide support from the New Haven community. Yale is one of the richest universities in the world in a city with high unemployment and high poverty. For the majority African American and Latino population, it is a constant struggle to get hired by Yale, one of the best job opportunities possible.

The graduate teachers came to realize that their plight was in common with that of the surrounding community. They participated in New Haven Rising's successful door to door campaign to get the University to commit to hire 1,000 workers from the neighborhoods in greatest need.

On a national scale, the graduate teachers were inspired by union organizing at other private universities, as their victory will certainly inspire their counterparts on other campuses around the nation.

Without this solidarity, it is hard to imagine that one generation of graduate student teachers after another would have had the ability to take on the Yale Corporation with all its wealth and power and create a win far beyond their members.

In an interview with People's World Local 33 Chair Aaron Greenberg offers a birds eye view into this remarkable and ongoing battle for workers' rights and social justice.

Q: The graduate teachers at Yale have been organizing for a union for over 25 years. Can you comment on the significance of this victory?

A: Ours is one of the longest running continuously organized recognition drives in U.S. history. Especially in this political moment in our country our victory meant so much to us and to so many people in New Haven and across the state and country. Young workers standing up and winning a union is just an extraordinary achievement. It is more important than ever for people doing the work at universities and other employers to stand up and fight for a voice in their workplace. For us it is inspiring to think there are not just hundreds of us here but thousands all over the country having the same conversation about the importance of a collective voice as the academy and the economy changes for young workers like us.

Q: How do you view the effect of the national election results and the role of the NLRB on your union and your members?

A: Our joint action with the unions at Yale and community organizations across New Haven following the 2016 election in November in City Hall was incredibly inspiring. We filled the atrium with everyone together imagining the world we want. We heard from all generations from the very young to those who have been in the struggle for decades. This was an incredibly inspiring event in a difficult moment for our city and our country. The most powerful thing our union and other unions can do now is continue to grow. We won our union but the next step is to start negotiating. We are focused on doing that and making sure all the issues that brought us to call for unionization will be addressed.

Q: Can you discuss the insurgence in graduate teacher organizing at Yale in the last few years?

A: What has energized our campaign is the movement of our colleagues at public and private universities across the country who have been organizing. Our first major public actions happened just six months after the graduate teachers at New York University won their recognition election in December, 2013. By May 2014 we were out in the streets with petitions to the university. Since then over a dozen campaigns for unionization have emerged at private universities all over the country. At the largest peer institutions in the Northeast, some in the Midwest, and some in the West, there is a wave of organizing of young academic workers.

Q: What issues have compelled graduate teachers to demand a voice at work?

A: Some of the issues that have brought our members over the years to call for unionization range from transparency and equity in teaching and pay, to security for the most senior teachers who receive pay cuts up to 40%, to issues around access to mental healthcare and specialized healthcare, to the accessibility of affordable childcare for those who want to start families or raise children while they are here, to issues around race and gender equity in the workplace, the need for a grievance procedure to settle disputes and insure that we can be an organized voice that pushes for more race and gender equity in the university overall. All of us see the union as a way to improve lives here and improve the quality of teaching and improve the life of the university.

Q: What is the significance of the support you received from Unite Here Locals 34 and 35?

A: The example of Locals 34 and 35 has inspired us for years and years. Their example shows it is possible to really change peoples lives through securing great contracts. Their example over the last many years shows it is possible to win great contracts that change people's lives in a collaborative way. That's what we want to do. We are inspired by their collective wisdom over generations. We all work here and we all have the same employer. Those of us teaching should have a voice the same way those who provide other essential services have rights in their workplace. Locals 34 and 35 have shown that a great university can have great unions. Unionization is compatible with a world class research and teaching institution.

Q: How did you work with New Haven Rising to get the support of the community?

A: It means so much to know the community in New Haven, from elected allies to community allies and faith leaders are behind us. They realize in this moment when workers want to organize and have a voice they should be allowed to. The university is one of the largest employers in the region. The decisions they make really matter. This is something people have come to realize. The solidarity we feel all over the city is very sustaining.

Q: What has your own experience been in organizing for Local 33?

A: I started organizing in the fall of 2012 when I moved to New Haven to begin graduate studies in the political science department at Yale. I have been organizing ever since. I grew up in a family where my mom was a public school teacher and my family benefited directly from the benefits and security of the union contract she had. Our healthcare was taken care of. So much about the ways we lived would have been different without the union. I had a sense of what it means to be in a union. When I arrived I thought it made sense that those who are teaching should have a voice in their work, in the context of the academy becoming more corporate and less driven by research and teaching priorities which is the reason we come to graduate school to be scholars. I thought from the very beginning that a collective voice in our workplace would be vital to make the academy more democratic and realize the values this university and all universities should have.

Q: How does your service on the New Haven Board of Alders relate to your union organizing?

A: So many things I learn from organizing colleagues in the workplace are invaluable to me as I work with neighbors and colleagues in the city to make sure we all get our collective voice heard too. The things that inspired me to run for office are the same that inspired me to run in the union. In New Haven my employer is the largest employer in one of most unequal cities in the most unequal state in the country. There are many ways to respond to inequality in New Haven. One has to be giving people more of a voice in the community or workplace. It is such an inspiration to work with my colleagues to tackle major issues in our city from unemployment and underemployment to violence and crime and public safety to access of services for young people. .

Q: You spoke of the rally after election day where people could voice their dreams. What are your dreams?

A: I think my dream would be for academic workers to be able to do the work they love. People come to study, to get a PhD, teach, do research because they love it. Since college the academy has felt like my home -- an institution that values imagination and creativity and curiosity. I dream that those of use doing this work can continue to do it, to have resources to do it, to continue to train students, and students should have access to that kind of environment -- where they can ask difficult questions and understand a little more about the way the world works -- no matter where they come from. That's a small part of my dream I think we in Local 33 and as well academic workers organizing across the country are trying to fulfill every day.

Friday, February 3, 2017

43rd Annual People's World African American History Month Celebration

People’s World 43rd Annual African American History Month Celebration
Revisiting Frederick Douglass Two Centuries Later:
WE WON'T GO BACK!

HARTFORD Saturday, February 25 @ 6:30 PM King-Davis Center 77 Huyshope Ave
NEW HAVEN Sunday, February 26 @ 4:00 PM Troup School 259 Edgewood Ave

The 43nd Annual African American History Month Celebrations, "Revisiting Frederick Douglass Two Centuries Later: WE WON'T GO BACK!" features James M. Bradford who will address the resistance movement in our country to stop destruction of civil rights, voting rights and human rights.

Famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass addressed 1,200 free Black men gathered at Grapevine Point (now Criscuolo Park) in New Haven in 1864 to join the 29th Regiment of the Union Army in the Civil War. Douglass' extraordinary leadership guides us in today's stormy political climate: "If there is no struggle, there can be no progress....Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will....The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."

Bradford grew up near Philadelphia, PA. He is active in the anti-prison movement, Working America, and chairs the Communist Party of Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware.

A donation of $5 or what you can afford is requested.

HARTFORD:
The celebration will take place on Saturday evening, February 25 at 6:30 pm at the King-Davis Labor Center, 77 Huyshope Ave. with remarks by James M. Bradford and a home made buffet dinner.

NEW HAVEN:
The event will be held on Sunday February 26 at 4:00 pm at Troup School, 259 Edgewood Ave. The program includes remarks by James M. Bradford, drumming by Brian Jarawa Gray and dramatic performance by Ice the Beef Youth including Frederick Douglass' speech in New Haven. Children's drawings from Martin Luther King Day at Peabody Museum: “How can we best unite against hate?” will be on exhibit.

Presentation of prizes in the Arts and Writing Competition Grades 8 to 12 will open the event. Students were asked: "How can we best unite against bigotry and injustice?" Submissions must be received at 37 Howe Street by 5 pm on Thursday February 16. Details are available at: ctpeoplebeforeprofits.blogspot.com or e-mail ct-pww@pobox.com.

These events open the 2017 People's World fund drive in Connecticut. Your contribution toward the $2,500 goal for February is much needed and appreciated to sustain this working class voice against racism and for equality. Read peoplesworld.org daily on-line and sign up to get the CT print edition.
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Checks to: CT People's World Committee, 37 Howe Street, New Haven, CT 06511 ct-pww@pobox.com

Saturday, January 28, 2017

African American History Month 2017 Arts and Writing Competition

African American History Month 2017
Arts and Writing Competition for Grades 8 to 12
Sponsored annually by the Connecticut People's World Committee to remember the
lives and work of Dalzenia Henry and Virginia Henry who devoted themselves to the
young people of New Haven and to making a better future.

How Can We Best Unite Against Bigotry and Injustice?

"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will....The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."

-- Excerpt of speech in 1857 by Frederick Douglass (Feb 7, 1817-Feb. 20, 1895)

Express in artwork, poetry, essay or song:

On the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Douglass, leading abolitionist, orator and writer who fought against slavery and for women's rights, how can we unite against hate, bigotry and injustice to continue his legacy in today's world?

Requirements + Art work – Two dimensional (Drawings, paintings, collage, prints, photographs) Paper size not larger than 18” x 24”
+ Essay, poem or song – Not longer than 2 pages

Deadline Entries must be received by 5 pm on Thursday, February 16, 2017
Name, address, phone, e-mail, age, school, teacher's name (where applicable) must be included

Submission Electronic: ct-pww@pobox.com
Mail: CT People's World, 37 Howe Street, New Haven. CT 06511

Prizes Gift certificates ($100 first place, $50 second place, $25 third place) and books

Presentation Prizes and recognition for all entries will be presented on Sunday, February 26,
2017 at 4:00 pm at Troup School, 259 Edgewood Avenue, New Haven
during the 43rd Annual African American History Month Celebration sponsored by
the Connecticut People's World Committee.

Information e-mail to: ct-pww@pobox.com


Foremost abolitionist Frederick Douglass (1817-1895) came to Connecticut in January, 1864 to speak in Hartford and New Haven. He told more than 1,200 free Black men who had gathered at Grapevine Point (now Criscuolo Park) in New Haven to become soldiers in the 29th Regiment of the Union Army and fight in the Civil War for freedom: "Not for yourselves alone are you marshaled—you are pioneers—on you depends the destiny of four millions of the colored race in this country. If you rise and flourish, we shall rise and flourish. If you win freedom and citizenship, we shall share your freedom and citizenship." The descendants of the 29th Regiment commissioned a statue which has been placed at the site in commemoration.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

MLK Events and Women's March Resist Trump/Republican Agenda

As the Women's March with its powerful message and agenda "Women's Rights are Human Rights" fills Washington DC, Hartford and state capitols across the country, it is clear that many are determined to make their voices heard and defend democracy under a Trump administration.

Events during Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend set the pace, from marches to community gatherings and rallies.

Unions and health care advocates turned out 1,000 strong at the Connecticut State Capitol for one of many national MLK weekend rallies called by Sen Bernie Sanders and Democratic members of Congress for "Our First Stand - Save Health Care." US Senators Chris Murphy & Richard Blumenthal, and US Reps Joe Courtney, Elizabeth Esty, and Rosa DeLauro spoke out to protect affordable healthcare and stop repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy came to the MLK rally and dinner held by New Haven Rising to update on victories for good jobs and union rights in New Haven including new contracts won by the workers at Yale.

Both Senators emphasized the urgency of engaging thousands of people to uphold their rights and preserve democracy in our country, saying that they need this help and support.

"We are not going to bury the Statue of Liberty and immigrant rights. We are not going to bury the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts," Blumenthal told the crowd of over 500 union and community leaders. "Keep organizing. The strength and courage you embody cannot be defeated. New Haven is rising. America is rising."

Calling this a moment of testing for democracy, Murphy asked, "are we willing to put in the work to preserve the journey for justice and equality?" He told those assembled at St. Michael's Church, "Your legacy is in the best traditions of Dr. Martin Luther King."

The day after the Women's March, rallies for environmental justice were held across Connecticut and the nation. Within the first 100 hours of the inauguration vigils for our environment, for good jobs in a clean energy economy, and for protection for vulnerable communities are being held to "stand together, be watchful, for protection for everything and everyone we love. Vigils were called for Salisabury, Fairfield, New Haven and Bloomfield.

Thousands in Connecticut to raise their voices at Women's March

 Liz McCarthy and Tyree Ford are two seniors from Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) joining thousands from around the nation and Connecticut on January,21 for the Women's March On Washington.

"Trump's rhetoric is insulting, demonizing, and threatening to many women, immigrants, diverse religious faiths, native, Black and brown people, LGBTQ, and people with disabilities, and we must all come together in unity and solidarity to stop it!" said Ford, "The Women's March In Washington is going to be the first of many organized rallies  and marches that's going to change things," she added.

At a Women's March kickoff press conference in New Haven City Hall, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) said this large scale demonstration will be a "powerful message to Trump and the Republican conference that women's rights are human rights...We are making ourselves heard, and opening the way for all Americans to get heard."

DeLauro, a leader in the Democratic House caucus emphasized that institutions respond to external pressure and declared that "this march symbolizes the first day of organizing and prolonged battles for America's agenda."

She singled out four pieces of legislation key to the health and welfare of women, girls and families that she along with allies in Congress will fight for including saving health care and the Affordable Care Act, paid family and medical leave, pay equity, childcare assistance and the Violence Against Women Act.

In Connecticut, 80 buses are headed to the nation's capital with buses also going to smaller sister marches in New York, Hartford, and Stamford Connecticut on Saturday.

"We're expecting up to 200,000 people, and that's just in D.C. alone, not to mention the sister rallies all throughout the country and all throughout the world. The numbers are going to be tremendous", said McCarthy.

The Women's March idea began when Donald Trump was elected president. Rebecca Shook, a 60 year old retired attorney and grandmother from Hawaii went on Facebook and posted "Let's March!" The post quickly went viral, a voice for many people who felt the election results were rigged.

Soon after,  assisted by her friends, Shook created an event page for the march, which was shared on the popular Facebook group Pantsuit Nation. Within less than 24 hours, 10,000 people had confirmed their attendance.

Now, over 200,000 people will join Shook to march on Washington the day after the inauguration, including McCarthy and Ford. They will travel with several other SCSU students who are taking the drive down.

"A lot of people are scared and nervous about what's to come in the next four years, and they want to get involved and engaged like myself, not just sitting around doing nothing" said Ford.

"It's one way to come together as women and men against the way Muslim women, and all  women were treated unfairly by Trump in this election. We're not backing down or going anywhere, we're going to fight hard to get the rights we deserve and need" McCarthy said.

There will be more than 600 Sister Marches taking place across the U.S. and internationally on Saturday. A Sister March will be taking place in Hartford at 1 pm. on the North steps of the Capitol. Several thousand are expected to turn out, including buses from New Haven organized by the unions at Yale and the Peoples Center.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Women's March January 21, 2017

To sign up for a ride, or if you can offer a ride, from New Haven to the Women's March in Hartford e-mail ct-pww@pobox.com

Connecticut will be well represented at the Women's March in Washington DC on Saturday, January 21, the day after inauguration. Connecticut residents will also participate in three sister rallies in Connecticut, and rallies in New York and Boston.

The groundswell for the Women's March is an expression of outrage at threats to women's rights and democratic rights from the Republican Congress and incoming Trump Administration. "The rise of the woman = The rise of the nation.... Women's rights are human rights," says the national website.

Immediate concerns are Trump's nominations of billionaires and generals for cabinet appointments, the threats to repeal the Affordable Care Act, end funding for Planned Parenthood and mass deportations of immigrant residents. The Women's March is dedicated to winning a program of equality and justice for all in our country.

Over 60 buses are sold out for the trip to Washington, DC, leaving from 35 towns across the state. Sister rallies will be held in Hartford, Stamford and the Lower Connecticut River Valley. Nationally 269 sister marches are expected to draw 500,000 participants.

The rally in Hartford will be held at 1 pm on the North Steps of the state capitol on January 21. The rally is called in solidarity with the 200,000 plus expected in Washington DC.

"Like many cities and states around the world, we will join in calling for honoring EVERY voice that upholds dignity, justice, unity, and equality for all. Share your views and show support for the ideals and principles behind the Women's March," says the call to the event emphasizing that all are welcome.

The rally in Lower CT River Valley will be held at 374 Town St in East Haddam.

In downtown Stamford at the UCONN Stamford Auditorium 1 University Place, people will gather at noon to hear speakers and then march up Washington Boulevard to Trump Parc at Tresser Boulevard and Washington Boulevard.

"We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families -- recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country," say the organizers.