Thursday, November 30, 2017

SAT DEC 9: People's World Amistad Awards

"RESISTING Together So We Can Move FORWARD. 

2017 Awardees: PEGGY BUCHANAN, CT AFT-CIO campaign manager. REP. ROBYN PORTER, 94th District. CAMILA and CAROLINA BORTOLLETO, co-founders CT Students For a Dream. 

Sat Dec 9 at 4 pm, First and Summerfield United Methodist Church, 425 College St New Haven. The event will pay tribute to Marco Reyes, all those in sanctuary and ULA; and to Unite Here Local 33. 

Performance by Mikata and Ice the Beef Youth. 

Doors open 3:30. Reception to follow.  Donations of school supplies and backpacks for Puerto Rico accepted.

Presented by CT People's World Committee on the 98th anniversary of the CPUSA.. 

For ticket information: or leave a message at 203-624-8664.

Sign up to attend on Facebook at:

March Demands A Clean Dream Act This Year

Students, union members, immigrant rights activists and residents from across Connecticut rallied and marched in New Haven last week demanding a "clean dream act and protection of all immigrants."

The rally was part of a national day of action for the protection and dignity of all immigrant communities, two months after the Trump administration canceled the DACA program,  a temporary program that gave some undocumented immigrant youth a work permit and safety from deportation. The administration is now trying to add anti-immigrant policies including a border wall to legislation before Congress that would restore DACA.

Initiated by Connecticut Students for a Dream, the rally brought people together to demand that Congress enact a clean dream act that does not criminalize or hurt immigrant communities.

The rally began at the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church where Marco Reyes has been in sanctuary since July, and stood in solidarity with Reyes and Sujitno Sajuti currently in sanctuary in Meriden at the Unitarian Universalist Church.

"Today, immigrant youth and allies are reclaiming our dignity. This is our home and we are HereToStay!" was the message of the day.

Passing cars honked in support as the rally turned into a march, stopping at the courthouse and then marching to City Hall where more speeches were given to emphasize that the immigrant community is not alone and that New Haven will not be moved or bullied from being a sanctuary city.

Social media was used to tell the leaders of the House and Senate that a clean dream act must be passed before the end of this year.

Camila and Carolina Bortolleto, founders of Connecticut Students for a Dream, will receive a People's World Amistad Award for their leadership on Saturday, December 9 at 4 pm at the same church, 425 College Street, Resisting Together so we can Move Forward. Recognition will be given to the Reyes family and also to Local 33 Unite Here graduate teachers at Yale.

Also receiving Amistad Awards will be State Rep. Robyn Porter and labor leader Peggy Buchanan, campaign manager for CT AFL CIO. Tickets are $10. For information e-mail or visit the event site on Facebook.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Union members commit to "Move Forward Together"

by Joelle Fishman

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- Solidarity and organizing were at the top of the agenda at the Connecticut AFL-CIO convention last week. Turning anger into an action plan, the delegates geared up to "move forward together," and reverse the assault on public sector unions and all workers.

"Like a diamond we are indomitable and enduring," said President Lori Pelletier of the union federation which was founded 60 years ago. Bucking the national trend, "union density in Connecticut increased from 15% to 17.5 in the past two years," she said calling for the 200,000 union members in the state to "go house to house on the issues, and use our union power in the next legislative session."

Connecticut has been a prime target for the Koch brothers and right-wing groups like the Yankee Institute who are pushing forcefully in the state legislature to limit the bargaining rights of state workers. As well, unions have been preparing for the possibility of a Supreme Court ruling that would prohibit automatic dues collection from members and create a "right-to-work" (for less) nation.

Delegates listened intently as MaryBe McMillan, president of the North Carolina AFL CIO told of the difficult conditions for unions in her "right-to-work" state. but also of the struggles being waged and victories being won by workers at Smithfield Packing and Duke University.

"Right to work can never mean right to surrender," she said. "Our movement fundamentally cries of hope." Calling for solidarity with southern organizing, she exclaimed, "If we want to get working people ahead anywhere, we have to organize the South."

Welcoming the growing solidarity she sees between Black, brown and white workers in North Carolina McMillian said "we have to rise up and show working people it's the union movement that's on their side."

Elaborating on the theme of solidarity, Fred Redmond, a national leader of United Steel Workers and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, addressed the question "where do we go from here?"

"The economic goals of labor are intertwined with our social goals. Our struggles are won by solidarity, a united front, marching hand in hand," he reiterated, quoting Pope Francis that "there is no just society without unions" which lift up the unemployed and hungry.

Redmond traveled the country as chair of the AFL-CIO Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice, which held six meetings from July, 2015 to March 2016. The Commission, on which Pelletier also served, was formed after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson. "A union brother (on the police force) killed the son of a union mother," said Redmond.

"We can't let race be used to divide and defeat us," he said quoting Martin Luther King Jr that "where there is a labor baiter, there is a race hater." He called on the delegates to support policing reform and the other recommendations in the Commission report, concluding, "United we rise. Divided we fail."

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, continued the theme of confronting racism to achieve unity. As he approached the podium the convention welcomed him with a prolonged standing ovation, in recognition of the courage of the players who have been under attack from Trump.

Having just visited 32 teams in ten weeks, Smith concluded that "the best conversations about race class, inequality and injustice are taking place in locker rooms. In their decision not to shut up the players are exercising their right, and operating because of duty." He recounted that on Sunday the players had joined arms before the National Anthem was ever announced, and yet they were booed. "This shows it's not about the Anthem," he said.

Applauding the players' courage in taking a stand, Smith asked, "If you can use players to sell shoes why can't you use players to inspire kids for liberty and justice for all?" As a union, he said, "our job is to teach and inspire. Our duty is to preach that we are all in this together."

Delegates adopted 17 resolutions, including one to "Combat White Supremacist Terrorism," which resolved to "partner with and support other groups, elected officials and individuals standing against hate groups and white supremacy."

Two resolutions addressing the immigration crisis were adopted, one in support of the Dreamers and DACA, and another in opposition to deportations and in support of comprehensive immigration reform.

The second resolution decries the "culture of fear that emboldens employers to exploit workers, regardless of status, and retaliate against any form of collective action at the worksite," and resolves to "educate our members about the damaging impact of these deportations on the workplace."

Liz Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, who was scheduled to address the convention in person, had been called to Puerto Rico as part of the emergency relief efforts including many teamsters, nurses and other professional union members. She spoke via video with a message to continue to organize, outreach and win a good budget in Connecticut.

Delegates and their affiliates participated in a convention collection for relief and rebuilding Puerto Rico.

A resolution to work to address climate change resolved to continue "taking a central role in local efforts to address climate change so that we make the planet a healthy place to live and create good paying jobs."

Speaking on behalf of the Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, John Harrity, president of the State Council of Machinists, said "this is the most crucial issue facing all of us for the rest of our lives. Labor needs to be in the forefront."

Other resolutions addressed pension security, upheld the right to organize, and rejected attacks on the Affordable Care Act while recommitting "to educate and mobilize in order to achieve health care for all through the creation of a universal, comprehensive single-payer system."

During the three day convention held at Pequot Towers, delegates attended lunch time workshops, and a breakfast celebrating organizing victories. A fundraiser for the United Labor Agency highlighted their programs to assist workers in need, provide backpacks to school children, and offer apprenticeship programs for women in the trades.

Tim Wheeler, former editor of People's World, came to the convention as part of his book tour and signed copies of "News from Rain Shadow Country."

People's World Amistad Awards 2017 RESISTING Together So We Can Move FORWARD

This year's People's World Amistad Awards are dedicated to "Resisting Together So We Can Move Forward". The event will take place on Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 4:00 pm at the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church, 425 College St, New Haven.
We are excited to announce this year's awardees Peggy Buchanan, Rep. Robyn Porter, and Camila and Carolina Bortolleto. All are on the front lines of resisting the policies of white supremacy, hate, division and fear that threaten democracy and our future. All are fierce warriors in the forefront of demanding priorities for workers' rights, peace and equality that put people and planet before profits.
The Awards will take place on Saturday, December 9 at 4 pm at the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church at 425 College Street, New Haven. Marco Reyes took sanctuary there in July to resist deportation and separation from his family. The event will pay tribute to the Reyes family and Unidad Latina en Accion. The Unions at Yale have their offices at the church. The event will pay tribute to the ongoing struggle of Unite Here Local 33 for union recognition and a contract.
We invite you to place an ad in the greeting book and take a bloc of tickets to honor the awardees and the occasion. The ad deadline is November 17, 2017. Greeting book and ticket information is on the back of this letter.
Peggy Buchanan is Connecticut AFL CIO campaign manager and former president, Greater Hartford Labor Council who has dedicated her life to solidarity and organizing workers on the job, in the community and to run for public office.
Rep. Robyn Porter represents the 94th District and co-chairs the Labor Committee in the Connecticut General Assembly where she leads for social justice, equality and workers' rights as an elected official and at the grass roots
Camila and Carolina Bortolleto are courageous twins who co-founded CT Students For a Dream which has become a statewide voice and organization of youth "undocumented and unafraid" and organizes for the rights of all immigrants.
The annual Awards are presented to allies by the Connecticut People's World Committee on the occasion of the 98th anniversary of the Communist Party USA. We come together in hope and unity as increased economic and racial inequalities, climate change and war give rise to new organizing by youth, low-wage workers and the 99% toward a society that puts people and planet before corporate profits.
In Solidarity,

People's World Amistad Awards Committee

People's World Amistad Awards Committee 203-624-4254
37 Howe Street, New Haven Connecticut 06511

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Standing in Solidarity with Puerto Rico

Connecticut Communist Party USA
October 1, 2017

On September 5, 2017 Hurricane Irma struck the island of Puerto Rico, killing three people. Less than two weeks later, Puerto Rico was once again ravaged by Hurricane Maria on September 20.

Hurricane Maria has been classified as the tenth most intense Atlantic hurricane, leaving 16 people dead, 95% of the people without electricity, 11% of cell phone towers operating, schools badly damaged and unable to open, 8,800 people in 139 shelters, 51 of 69 hospitals open, and only 11 regional staging areas open for food and water distribution.

Puerto Rican families need our help IMMEDIATELY to RELIEVE and REUILD their beautiful island. While millions suffer needlessly from lack of urgency on the behalf of the Trump Administration, Donald J. Trump wastes valuable time arguing over athletes and their form of peaceful protest. When hurricanes of lesser magnitudes struck the United States’ mainland, there was an immediate and adequate response.

Despite the sentiments of the Trump Administration, the residents of Puerto Rico are working hard to do what they can to restore their homes and island and need the IMMEDIATE assistance of the federal government.

Join us to DEMAND that federal authorities give Puerto Rico what it needs. The devastating damage that Hurricane Maria brought to Puerto Rico has come on top of the storm caused by the public debt crisis and the recession that has made Puerto Rican families suffer for decades. It’s immoral to insist that before Puerto Rican families can rebuild their homes, schools, roads, and hospitals, they must pay back the banks. It’s time to eliminate Puerto Rico’s public debt altogether.

Join us, the Communist Party of Connecticut to DEMAND that the federal government send much needed assistance to the United States’ territory of Puerto Rico. We stand in solidarity with our fellow citizens of Puerto Rico in making these demands.

Join us on Wednesday, October 4, 2017 from 12:00 P.M. to 1:00 P.M. at 115 Asylum Street in Hartford and on Friday, October 6, 2017 from 5:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. at the Greek Olive at 402 Sargent Drive in New Haven as we stand with our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico. Bring monetary donations as well as supplies such as batteries and toiletries. You can also donate online through:

Friday, September 29, 2017

Newhallville Marches for Jobs and Peace

Over 150 people gathered in New Haven's Newhallville on September 23 to march for Jobs for Youth/Jobs for All - End the Violence. After marching, passionate speeches outside the former CT Department of Social Services (DSS) building at 194 Basset St, vacant since June 2013, called for it to be opened for youth and job services.

The march, organized by New Elm City Dream/YCL, New Haven Rising and Ice the Beef Youth came out of a summer neighborhood youth survey. When 14-year old Tyriek B. Keyes a leader of Ice the Beef Youth was killed, the survey was dedicated to him.

Organizer Jahmal Henderson said, "Saturday’s rally was a direct response to that young man’s death, and to what we had been hearing all summer from youth in the neighborhood"

At the 10 am. kickoff behind Lincoln-Bassett School, New Haveners young and old took their posts carrying banners with slogans for equality, justice, hope, jobs, and peace.

Ice The Beef's own"Heartbreakers" quartet sang a beautiful rendition of "Its So Hard To Say Goodbye", followed by remarks from Alderwoman Delphine Clyburn. Several Alders came to show support. State Rep Robyn Porter and State Sen. Gary Winfield spoke at the ending rally.

A diverse coalition of Newhallville residents, labor organizers, student activists, and local politicians marched through the streets, chanting and cheering in support of jobs and safety for the neighborhood’s youth.

The march paused at Newhall and Bassett Sts. for a prayer in memory of Tyriek, led by The Rev. Charles Brewer and Elder Ron Hurt. Keye’s mother, Demethra Telford, assured the crowd that she would fight not just for the memory of her son, but for the protection of all Newhallville children.

“Even when I get justice for my child,” she said. “I’m going to continue to push for stopping the violence. My son’s legacy does live on."

The Newhall/Winchester Communist Party updated the 2011 New Elm City Dream/ YCL Youth Survey which had been launched when there were a record number of homicides in New Haven. Recognizing that lack of jobs and economic security leads to violence, they organized for "Jobs For Youth, Jobs For All". The Board Of Alders adopted good jobs, safe communities, and youth needs as their priorities.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Washington and California state AFL-CIOs call for end of Cuba Blockade

by Emile Schepers   

At its July 18-20 Convention, the Washington State Labor Council of the AFl-CIO passed a strongly worded resolution calling for an end to the U.S. economic blockade and travel restrictions on Cuba.
Here is the full text of the resolution, one of many such progressive resolutions passed at this important convention. 

WHEREAS, the U.S. blockade of Cuba has had devastating impacts on Cuba’s workers, union members, and citizens, restricts U.S. citizens’ freedom to travel to Cuba, and, if lifted, would create jobs for U.S. workers; and
WHEREAS, a number of labor and community leaders from Washington State have traveled to Cuba on study tours and have learned valuable lessons regarding universal health care and providing for those most in need; and
WHEREAS, following the Obama administration’s partial moves to normalize U.S.-Cuban relations, now the Trump administration has expressed its intention to reverse this trend and tighten the blockade of Cuba once again; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO goes on record supporting an end to the travel restrictions and the trade and financial embargo against Cuba, and oppose efforts by the Trump administration to tighten the blockade; and be it finally
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO shall send this resolution to its affiliates, area Labor Councils, and to the AFL-CIO, urging the AFL-CIO to pass a similar resolution at their 2017 convention.
This is remarkable news in many ways.
First if all, it appears to have been the second instance of a state AFL-CIO passing a resolution calling for an end to the blockade and travel restrictions. Last year, the California state AFL-CIO passed a similarly strong resolution on the subject, also with the instruction that the issue be taken up at the level of the national AFL-CIO. Individual labor union leaders and smaller labor bodies have done so before, as have a large number of unions and union federations in other countries, but these two actions are a breakthrough at this level of labor organization in the United States.
Secondly, the wording is very straightforward and uncompromising—no weasel words here!
The resolution uses the world “blockade” instead of embargo. The Cubans use the word “blockade” because for the past half century and then some, the U.S. government has not only prohibited its own corporations and citizens from trading with Cuba, but has also tried to block other countries to do so, even resorting to threats and sanctions against close U.S. allies and trading partners in the process. It also calls out Trump for threatening to reverse the modest advances in U.S. Cuba relations achieved during the Obama administration. Most importantly of all, it calls on other state labor councils and the national AFL-CIO to get on board the effort to end the U.S. blockade and travel restrictions, specifically mentioning the upcoming AFL-CIO convention to be held in St. Louis, Missouri, October 22 to 25.
Our sisters and brothers in California and Washington State have staked out a courageous position on Cuba; it now behooves all to do whatever we can to bring all of U.S. labor, including the national AFL-CIO on board!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Veto the Anti-Worker Republican Budget!

In the late night hours of Friday September 15, Senate and House Republicans were joined by nine Democrats to pass a cruel and corrupt budget for Connecticut that hurts everyone except millionaires and corporations.

As soon as word got out, unions, community groups, clergy, disability groups, educators and many others began mobilizing to tell Governor Malloy to veto this devastating Republican budget.

A "Stop the Madness" rally on Thursday afternoon at the Capitol included many hospital workers, building cleaners and construction workers who told their stories. A rally on Friday was to feature clergy and others exposing the budget as immoral.

The budget makes devastating cuts to the needs of working families and also creates structural changes that end or weaken collective bargaining rights for public sector workers.

The budget decimates higher education, eliminates public financing of elections, eradicates tax credits for the poor, slashes Medicaid for 60,000 Connecticut residents, and imposes a high tax on teacher pensions.

In addition, the proposed budget ends collective bargaining for state employee pensions, imposes changes in their pensions after 2027 (when the current labor agreement expires), and starts counting those savings in the proposed biennial budget.

Referring to $75 million in cuts to the earned income tax credit for the working poor, Connecticut AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier said, "Instead of helping workers, this budget actually forces them to pay more in taxes."

At the same time, the budget lowers the estate and gift taxes that benefit the wealthy.

“The insistence of Senate Republicans and a handful of Democrats on protecting corporations and the ultra-wealthy is an insult to public workers who have sacrificed billions in wages and benefits to help Connecticut dig out of a hole created by austerity budgeting," said Sal Luciano Director of AFSCME Council 4.

"The Republican budget is a gift to the rich and a body blow to the working class. It must be rejected out of hand,” he concluded.

The Democrats who turned their backs on working people to pass this budget are: Senators Paul Doyle, Joan Hartley and Gayle Slossberg; and Representatives Pat Boyd, John Hampton, Cristin McCarthy-Vahey, Lonnie Reed, Kim Rose and Daniel Rovero.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Congress: Pass the Dream Act Now

"I am staying in this church with a heavy heart," said Marco Reyes, in sanctuary for five weeks in order to be with his family as his lawyers argue his case. "My family is being torn apart. Millions of others face a similar situation. I am asking you for support," he concluded to a standing ovation.
Reyes spoke at an emergency field hearing on immigration called by Sen. Richard Blumenthal days after Trump did away with DACA, the temporary protection for immigrant children enacted by President Obama.

Blumenthal said he is holding the field hearings because there is no opportunity to do so in Washington DC. The testimonies will be transcribed and entered into the Congressional Record.
Carolina Bortoletto, co-founder of Connecticut Students for a Dream, came from Brazil 19 years ago at age 9. "Being undocumented you can dream, but you can't plan for the future...With DACA my life changed," she said. "I got a job, a drivers' license, a car. Now that is at risk because of the decision to take away DACA."

Her organization is holding clinics across the state and raising funds to inform and assist those in DACA of their rights if Congress does not act by March.

Speaking for the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance, Jesus Morales Sanchez said "the undocumented live in constant fear... not only those with DACA, but other youth and their families." Rejecting attempts to link a Dream Act to the border wall and more enforcement he said "We need real change that won't be used against our families."

Joelle Fishman of the Peoples Center paid tribute to those resisting the terror of deportation and called for "a Senate investigation into the connection between anti-immigrant and white supremacist hate groups and their influence inside government."

"Racial targeting is unconstitutional," she said. "If the constitutional rights of those in DACA can be denied then the constitutional rights of every group and all of us is in danger."

Blumenthal recognized the courage of those who told their stories and said "we're going to win on this issue just as we did on healthcare because the people of America are on our side and we are on the right side of history."

Solve the Budget Crisis - Tax the Rich!

As the state budget fight continues, 60 union, community, clergy and disability organizations representing thousands of Connecticut residents signed a letter to members of the General Assembly calling for an increase in taxes on the wealthiest residents in order to stop cuts to vital services. 

Several wealthy Connecticut residents have also issued a call for increased taxes on themselves.
The letter, delivered by All Hands on Deck, DUE Justice Coalition and the Cross Disability Life Span Coalition emphasized, "Connecticut's wealthy individuals have more favorable taxation here than in neighboring states. Many well-off Connecticut residents now recognize that a fair budget, which preserves essential services, means taxing them a little more." 
The letter concludes, "We urge you to take these recommendations to heart, and ensure that vital human services and  Connecticut's vibrant educational and social services infrastructure are sustained." 

Following is a letter to the editor by Tom Connolly as published in the Hartford Courant:

"The Connecticut Republican party is trying to lay the entire blame for our serious budget crisis at the feet of the Democrats. Whatever they do, their major mantra is “protect the rich.” If it happens to be at the expense of the middle class and the poor, so be it.

"Republicans now hold a tie in the Senate — 18 Republicans and 18 Democrats — and share the responsibility for coming up with a fair budget. Keep a close eye on what they do when revenue options are proposed, especially those taxing the rich or large corporations.
"The options to resolve the budget are clear, if you do not want to hurt the middle class and the poor. Here are several:

"Increase the income tax rate on the portion of incomes over $250,000 per year.

"Review and end outdated corporate subsidies and tax exemptions.

"Enact a low-wage employers fee, so that big companies like Walmart that pay less than $15 and hour would reimburse the state for the cost of providing services to their workers.

"Let’s make Connecticut great again and tax the few who can afford it to benefit the many who cannot."

Friday, September 8, 2017

Solidarity Movie Nights

Solidarity Movie Nights Three Fridays: Sept 8 Salt of the Earth; Sept 15 PRIDE; Sept 22 10,000 Black Men Named George.  All at 6 pm at 37 Howe Street, New Haven.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Labor Day Inspires Fightback for Union Rights

"Connecticut Needs Unions" was the slogan of the day on Labor Day in Hartford as a large march of union and community members walked in solidarity with low wage workers and the Fight for $15 and a union.

The march began on Albany Ave. at a McDonald's where fast food workers joined a national strike action taking place at hundreds of locations across the country. When the march reached Community Health Services, members of AFT Connecticut who won their union election asked for support in the fight to win $15 an hour in their contract.

As the march crossed the bridge into downtown, the devastating impact of wealth inequality was stark. As Pastor A J Johnson said at the closing rally, in the impoverished African American community the march passed many fast food restaurants owned by billionaire CEOs who pay low wages that don't cover the rent, while the downtown is filled with huge profitable corporate headquarters. Everyone deserves a living wage he and other speakers declared.

In Hamden, the Connecticut AFL-CIO annual labor day breakfast was addressed by Sen. Chris Murphy, Congresswoman Elisabeth Esty and State Rep. Robyn Porter among others. They urged the union members to stay engaged and stop dangerous attempts to destroy unions and democratic rights. Afterward, the first graduating class of women in the building trades received certificates in an inspiring ceremony.

On Labor Day in New Haven a community dinner was held in solidarity with Marco Reyes and his family at the First and Summerfield United Church. Reyes has been in sanctuary for a month as lawyers challenge his deportation order which would separate him from his wife and children.

The labor day theme continues in a series of Solidarity Movie Nights at 6 pm on Fridays at the Peoples Center 37 Howe Street, New Haven. The movies highlight past labor struggles with lessons for today: Salt of the Earth on September 8, PRIDE on September 15, and 10,000 Black Men Named George on September 22. The showings are free. Hosted by the CT People's World Committee, discussion will follow. Find the event pages on Facebook for more information.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Newhall to March for Jobs and to End Violence

A neighborhood march on Saturday, September 23 will highlight the need to end gun violence and create opportunities and jobs for youth in Newhallville.

The march reflects the results of a youth survey this summer led by Jahmal Henderson and the Winchester-Newhall Club in their Newhall neighborhood which has high unemployment and violence.

The youth survey was originally formed by New Elm City Dream/YCL six years ago when there were a record number of homicides in New Haven. Recognizing that lack of jobs and economic security leads to violence, the group launched a campaign for "Jobs For Youth, Jobs For All" and organized several large marches.

The newly elected Board of Alders adopted these priorities: good jobs, safe communities, and youth needs. As a result of pressure from the public and the unions at Yale, the University committed to hire 500 people from New Haven's neighborhoods with highest unemployment.

This summer's youth survey was done realizing that it is necessary to hold Yale accountable for that commitment. Knocking on doors for seven weeks on Saturdays along the year-round People's World route brought a number of young people to fill out surveys and sign up to get involved.

When 14-year old Tyrick B. Keyes a leader of Ice the Beef Youth who performed at People's World events was killed, the survey campaign was dedicated to him.

In August, youth from the neighborhood, New Elm City Dream / YCL and Ice The Beef gathered at a meetup. The forum was held during the annual Newhall/Division St block party. Seventeen people turned out including Tyrick B. Keyes' mother and Sen. Robyn Porter for a passionate discussion on the key subjects of youth violence and the need of more job opportunities in their communities.

Planning began for the September 23 grass roots march/rally through the streets of Newhallville to the now vacant former state welfare building. The rally will support efforts to open the building for youth needs and job placements, working with local and state elected officials, community and clergy representing the neighborhood.

Youth leaders are being identified and future actions will be planned.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Health Care Cuts Threaten Connecticut's Economy

The millions of people who spoke out, rallied and took part in civil disobedience stopped U.S. Senate Republicans from repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The fight for the ACA and for the right to health care continues. Below is testimony of William P. Morico to Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy at New Haven City Hall on June 23, 2017:

I worked for 50 years in health-care related fields. Others will speak about the devastating effects on health care services of attempts to “repeal & replace” the ACA. As I don't believe the majority of Republicans in Congress care about our health care, I will address the financial impact of such cuts.

Federal health care spending from Medicare and Medicaid (2014-15) in CT was over $8 billion, including $4.7 billion from Medicare, and $3.6 billion from Medicaid. The various proposals from Congress cut between 10% -30% from Medicaid, translating to over $1 billion in cuts to the CT economy each year. The elimination of increased Medicare taxes will weaken Medicare and lead to further calls for benefit cuts. This has been their agenda since Medicare was enacted in 1965.

Cuts of this magnitude will directly impact not only the State budget, but all health care provider organizations, especially primary care providers like community health centers, and hospitals, required to care for all regardless of ability to pay.

These amounts do not include proposed federal budget cuts to public health programs, basic medical research, medical education, medical education loan forgiveness, etc.

CT state legislators need to be keenly aware of the effects on the CT economy of the proposed federal tax-cut legislation masquerading as repeal of the ACA. We will hold our Republican state legislators responsible if their federal colleagues pass this anti-people legislation.

We have outlived the health care financing system based on insurance, whether employer-provided, private, or public. Anthem, Aetna and Cigna will re-invent themselves, and take care of their shareholders. We need a Medicare for all Universal Health Care system such as proposed in H.B 676, which would do away with all insurance, and create a single system of health care, governed and administered locally, with care provided by private and public entities, and financed nationally by general taxation.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Support mounts for mother of four in sanctuary in New Haven church

Support and solidarity has been overwhelming for Nury Chavarria, who took sanctuary at the Iglesia de Dios Pentacostal church on July 20 rather than be deported and separated from her four dependent children, all U.S. citizens, one with cerebral palsy.

Her courage in refusing to allow her family to be broken apart has sparked state and national response. Donations of food and other necessities and assistance for her children on a go-fund-me page have been pouring in.

Just 36 hours after Chavarria began sanctuary, a diverse crowd of over 250 from across the street and across the state, clergy and elected officials filled the empty lot next to the church in the Fair Haven neighborhood for a vigil and rally. Every speaker emphasized to the Chavarria family that they are not alone.

A common theme, reflecting the spirited and powerful gathering, was that this is just the beginning of a new level of unity and solidarity to end deportations and win a fair and just immigration policy.

"I want you to know, Nury, that New Haven is with you," said Mayor Toni Harp, who was elected this year as president of the national African American Mayor's Association. Calling the treatment of Chavarria and her children "cruel and inhumane," Harp said she is "standing in protest to work together for solutions, for justice for Nury."

"It is a foreign concept to me that a woman who has lived in Connecticut 24 years, worked in Connecticut, raised a family in Connecticut, must now leave Connecticut — her home, her job and her children — to satisfy discrimination and baseless fear in the hearts of some Americans,”  said Harp.

Mayor Harry Rilling of Norwalk, where Chavarria and her children live, assured everyone that his city is providing the necessary services to ensure that the children can stay in their home, have food on the table and continue their education. "I too, am ashamed of what our immigration laws are doing to this wonderful woman," he said.

At one point Chavarria briefly came out to the fence surrounding the church to express her appreciation to everyone. "Si Se Puede," was the chant in response.

Chavarria left Guatemala 24 years ago at age 19 seeking asylum in the U.S. She did not receive asylum but stayed, working as a housekeeper and raising her children. She has no criminal record, and has consistently complied with required annual visits to the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

When Chavarria went to ICE for her annual check-in this year, things were different. She was denied the usual stay of deportation and asked for further documentation. She provided that along with communications of support from all three members of Congress.

But the stay was not granted. Instead, she was fitted with an ankle monitor and ordered to return to Guatemala in two days where she would not be eligible to apply for a visit to her children for ten years. Lawyers' appeals got no response.

For months churches and immigrant organizations in New Haven have been preparing for the eventuality of unjust deportation cases. Chavarria decided not to leave her children. Instead she sought sanctuary at the church.

As the news broke, Governor Dannel Malloy left the capitol to visit Chavarria. Speaking to national media in front of the church he warned, "This case stands in stark contrast to what everyone has been told, that ICE is only going after the 'bad guys'....The greater wrong is when the American people are lied to about what the government is doing. Then each and every one of our rights is damaged."

Standing next to Malloy, Chavarria's nine year old daughter Hayley made a direct plea to President Trump on behalf of her mother. "She’s not a criminal. She has a positive attitude about everything. I want her to stay because I love her so much. My message to President Trump is don’t separate my family.”

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy along with Rep. Rosa DeLauro also came to the church to decry ICE's decision as unjust and to pledge to continue to seek a stay of deportation on humanitarian grounds.

At the vigil and rally Pastor Hector Luis Otero welcomed the crowd on behalf of his congregation. "To feel the spirit of unity is a great honor," he said. "All we want is for Nury to be able to continue caring for her children."

Local clergy who formed the New Sanctuary Movement this year in the wake of Trump's immigration policies helped prepare the rally.

Rabbi Herb Brockman of Temple Mishkan Israel called Chavarria a hero. “Nury is not just a victim. Her courage to stand up for justice should inspire us, for it is our justice as well as it is hers that is at stake....It is the conscience of our nation as well as hers that is under threat," he said
Asking everyone to look around, he concluded, "Her example has brought our community together. Her example has demonstrated remarkable strength and length…. She may even get to change our laws."
Before the vigil Hayley Chavarria and other children put the finishing touches on a giant banner provided by Performers led everyone in song including Las Cafeteras who were in New Haven on tour from Los Angeles.
Around the country, threats and fear of mass deportations are rising. The movement around Chavarria takes on added significance in this context. It is a product of the resistance to Trump along with years of consistent grass roots organizing for immigrant and workers rights by the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance (CIRA), Unidad Latina en Accion (ULA) and other local groups.
Kica Matos, national director of immigrant rights and racial justice at the Center for Community Change, lives down the street from the church and has been a leader with Chavarria's case.

Indicating that there are 13 other immigrants who have taken sanctuary at churches around the country, she told local media that the case of Nury Chavarria and her four children has received national attention because it has shocked the conscience of most Americans.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Overcoming White Supremacy in Today's Times

by Jahmal Henderson and Joelle Fishman
Winchester-Newhall Club, Communist Party USA

A few members of the Proud Boys, a white supremacist, nationalist, misogynist hate group traveled to New Haven last Saturday to recruit members on the theme "Resist Socialism." A chaotic counter-protest resulted in the Proud Boys leaving, and four arrests that made the news.

Across the country white supremacist hate groups, emboldened by Donald Trump and the extremist right-wing are seeking out progressive cities to provoke confrontations that will make the news and create confusion in order to justify a climate of repression.

History shows that provocations can be overcome with large-scale tactics that bring people together in unity across race, gender and religious lines.

Racism, white supremacy and bigotry hurts everyone. They are not simply personal attitudes. They are systemic, built into our nation's capitalist structure, from slavery onward.

These poisons have been used to rationalize slavery, segregation, terror, voter suppression, mass incarceration, deportation and war. They have been the central tool for dividing working class people and weakening their ability to win racial and economic equality, workers' rights, social justice and peace.

Racism, white supremacy and bigotry are a barrier to all progress in our communities and our country. Sharing, respecting and learning each others cultures, traditions, languages and perspectives makes us all stronger. Nurturing a culture of diversity depends on rooting out racism, bigotry, hate and division.

In New Haven, a powerful movement to force Yale and other major employers to open good jobs to Black and Latino residents facing high unemployment has brought people together across neighborhood, religious, race and gender lines.

This labor-community movement is at the forefront of resisting Trump's extremist billionaire agenda. New Haven is a target because this movement is organizing and educating people and bringing them into action against racism and hate and for equality.

Hate groups use fear of dreaming big to keep people from searching for basic solutions. The theme "resist socialism" is a fear tactic to stop people from imagining how our country could be organized for the benefit of everyone, not just the billionaires.

Martin Luther King warned of the "urgency of now." Today's urgency is to resist the Trump extremist agenda, to dream big and build an expansive and inclusive movement beyond capitalism, racism and exploitation to achieve basic human needs for all.

Monday, July 10, 2017


Summer jobs for teenagers have been canceled, state college and university charges keep rising, and every area of public life is affected by the state's budget crisis -- all in the second wealthiest state in the country.

Connecticut's budget shortfall is projected at about $2 billion per year. Yet, the wealthiest residents pay a lower tax rate than the rest of us, and more is lost through corporate loopholes, special exemptions, and tax evasion. If the wealthiest paid at the same rate as the rest of us, more than $2 billion per year would be raised, erasing the deficit!

Despite this, we are told that asking big corporations, millionaires and billionaires to pay their share is off the table. That leaves only one alternative: cut, cut, cut.

What should we cut? Children with disabilities. Kick kids off HUSKY? Summer jobs? Close state parks and beeches? Raise tuition for higher ed (even more)? Cut Care4Kids so moms lose their jobs when they can't afford child care? Cut support for cities and towns? End the already-reduced property tax credit?

If taxing the rich is off the table, everyone else is left to fight over the crumbs. This pits towns against cities, workers against retirees, and kids' education against housing.

Particularly damaging is the attack on public workers and their bargaining rights, led by Republicans and following the Koch brothers' playbook. Instead of asking state workers to cut back retirement and health benefits they were promised, why not ask the banks and other bondholders to give up some of the payments they were promised?

There is enough wealth in this state to maintain and even expand the work being done, while keeping promises made to state workers and filling vacancies to allow them to perform their jobs.

Increase the tax rate on the portion of incomes over $250,000 per year. Close the "carried interest" loophole. Extend the sales tax to yacht storage, legal fees, and other services mainly used by the wealthy and big business. Review and end outdated corporate subsidies and tax exemptions. Enact the low-wage employers fee, so that big companies like Walmart that pay less than $15/hr would reimburse the state for the cost of providing services to their workers.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Testimonies cry out for healthcare

New Haven's Aldermanic chambers in city hall was packed for an emergency field hearing held by Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Sen. Chris Murphy as Senate Republicans speed their attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and give tax cuts to the rich.

The replacement, drafted in secret, guts medicaid, covers millions less people, imposes higher costs on seniors, de-funds Planned Parenthood and ends patient protections including maternity care, emergency services and mental health treatment. Instead of improving healthcare, the Republican bill gives giant tax cuts to millionaires, billionaires, insurance companies and drug companies.

The two Senators held emergency field hearings in Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport. They promised to take the people's voices and testimonies to Washington D.C. and argue on behalf of their constituents for healthcare for all and not a tax cut for the richest one percent.

The crowd clapped loudly as Sen.Blumental said "ultimately we will have a single payer system," giving the floor to Sen.Murphy, who declared "healthcare is not a privilege, it should be our birthright".

They proceeded to call the passionate speakers up to the podium to give their personal stories and impactful testimonies. Speakers ranged from everyday people to pediatricians, union leaders, elected officials and women's rights advocates.

One mother told of her daughter's very rare disease and said if it was not for Obamacare she would not have qualified for the "Katie Beckett Waiver" that covered over $30,000 in co-pays.

Advocates spoke about the importance of medicaid for special needs children, low-income opioid patients, seniors, and women.

Lynne Ide of Protect Our Care CT collected dozens of photos to show the faces of people who will be hurt by repeal of ACA. The photos were mounted onto a cape, which Ide gave to the Senate "super heroes" to help them continue fighting hard. Blumenthal gracefully accepted the cape and pledged to wear it onto the Senate floor.

These powerful eloquent stories helped Connecticut's two Senate "super heroes" make the people's voices heard, forcing Republican Senate leaders to postpone the vote. Call 1-202-224-3121 to thank Sens Murphy and Blumenthal. Ask friends who live in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Mevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia to tell their Republican Senators: vote NO.:

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,, 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 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.