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Remembering UE's Relationship with Martin Luther King

UE - Sun, 01/17/2016 - 3:52pm
17 January, 2016UE members at the August 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech.

“I am certain that all men of goodwill are eternally grateful to that section of the labor movement which is working so courageously to end discrimination on the job for all people.” Martin Luther King Jr. letter to UE Director of Organization James J. Matles, November 25, 1957

The relationship between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and UE goes back to 1956, when King first made his mark in the struggle for civil rights by leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama. Thanks to the folks at the Archives Service Center at the University of Pittsburgh, which houses the UE Archives, the union recently learned of a letter dated July 25, 1956 and signed by King, thanking UE Local 331 for its $25 donation to that campaign which started when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man. For more than a year, Montgomery’s African American residents refused to ride the buses, walking long distances to jobs and other destinations, until they won a court order integrating public transit. At the urging of local NAACP President E.D. Nixon, who was also a union member in the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the Montgomery Improvement Association asked King, then a 26-year-old Atlanta-born minister, to lead the campaign.

It’s probably safe to assume that other locals besides Local 331 contributed financial support to the campaign. UE donated to other campaigns led by Dr. King, including a 1962 push by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to register black voters in the South despite violent resistance by state governments.

The 1957 King letter quoted above was in support of UE’s campaign to end racial discrimination by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Before the company dismantled its manufacturing operations in the 1980s, Westinghouse had been, next to GE, the largest employer of UE members, with UE locals in Westinghouse plants from coast to coast.  UE was far ahead of the rest of the labor movement in fighting employment discrimination and by 1954 the union has succeeded in including “no discrimination” clauses in 87 percent of all UE contracts. But Westinghouse was one of the stubborn holdouts, and UE leader Jim Matles had sent King a report summarizing the union’s campaign to win such a clause in contract negotiations then underway. “We feel it is the special responsibility of the labor movement to make the fight for equal opportunity for the Negro workers in the shops and to end discrimination on the job,” wrote Matles to King. “The leadership that you have provided in the struggle against discrimination of the Negro people has earned the admiration of our entire union.”

Dr. King was scheduled to speak at UE’s 27th National Convention in Long Beach, California in 1962. But his arrest by authorities in Albany, Georgia prevented his appearance at the convention, and Rev. Maurice Dawkins, SCLC representative in Los Angeles, spoke in his place.

UE turned out hundreds of members for the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963, at which Dr. King delivered his memorable “I Have a Dream” speech.

STRIKE SUPPORT 

 

UE's relationshio with Dr. King was a two-way relationship of respect and solidarity. Dr. King provided important support to a 16-week strike by members of UE Local 190 at Phoenix Closures in Chicago in 1966.  The company later changed its name to Kerr Glass, and UE Western Region President Carl Rosen worked there in later years. The plant closed in 1994. Rosen knows the history of that strike and shared it:

“The plant was located in a working-class Eastern European area and the company had a history of not hiring any African-Americans but when the strike got long enough they tried to hire them as scabs.  The letter from Dr. King was key at getting them out of the plant.  The strike settled the next week.  Soon after that the union took the lead in pushing the company to hire African American employees, including helping a group of Black women go after the company through the EEOC for discriminatory hiring practices.  They eventually won both jobs and a chunk of cash, coming to be known in the shop as ‘Bonus Babies.’  Both the shop and the union leadership were well integrated when I was hired there in 1984, with some of the Bonus Babies among the local leaders.”

UE members have honored the Dr. King’s memory in many ways in the decades since his assassination in Memphis on April 4, 1968, where he was leading a campaign in support of striking city sanitation workers. Many locals fought hard, and successfully, to make Martin Luther King Day a paid holiday in their workplaces. Locals have participated in countless memorial events and marches over the years, and this year as in the past Local 150 will hold an event in memory of Dr. King and his support for labor. To UE members, honoring Martin Luther King’s legacy means continuing his struggles for equality, peace and economic justice for all.

 

 

 

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

UE Leaflet Compares Sanders and Clinton on Major Issues

UE - Thu, 01/14/2016 - 2:48pm
14 January, 2016

UE has issued a leaflet comparing the two leading candidates in the Democratic primaries, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, on major issues of concern to union members.

Delegates to UE’s 74th International Convention in August adopted a resolution titled “Independent Rank-and-File Political Action.” It briefly describes the political attacks on labor and how workers have been fighting back. It says this about candidates:

“We have no choice except to fight even harder to push candidates from all parties to address working-class issues. Fortunately, the presidential campaign of longtime UE ally Bernie Sanders may offer some opportunities to amplify our issues during the current election season.”

Sanders has been a reliable friend of UE, as mayor of Burlington, congressman starting in 1991, and U.S. senator from Vermont since 2003. The leaflet linked below compares Bernie Sanders and his leading Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton on the issues of trade and jobs, workers' rights, war, higher education, Wall Street and banks, corporate money in politics, and climate change. We included none of the Republican candidates in the comparison because all of them are much too far from UE's positions on workers' rights and other key issues. 

Click on one of the links below to open the two-sided leaflet in either color or black and white. You are welcome to print the leaflet to share with friends or co-workers.

 

 

Bernie-Hillary Comparison COLOR.pdf Bernie-Hillary Comparison B&W.pdf
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to Stop the TPP

UE - Wed, 01/13/2016 - 11:17am
13 January, 2016Pittsburgh

There were some good ideas in President Obama’s final State of the Union address, but the idea that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will help our economy wasn’t one of them. TPP would send more jobs overseas to low wage countries, and allow multinational corporations to overturn our environmental and safety laws.

Please click on this link, then enter your zip code to send a message to your member of Congress and your U.S. Senators, telling them to VOTE NO on TPP.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Rejecting racism and uniting for our human rights

VWC - Tue, 01/12/2016 - 5:09pm

(This OpEd by VWC Vice President Avery Book was published in the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus and Rutland Herald)

I’m a working class Vermonter who grew up in Worcester. I was at the demonstrations last week in Burlington when Donald Trump came to town, and have some reflections on what this all means for us here in the Green Mountain State.

Racism, sexism, and xenophobia was on full display last Thursday. However, Mr. Trump himself is not the biggest challenge before us. The challenge is a trend of growing fear-mongering, divide and conquer tactics, and what some are calling 21st century fascism on the rise across this country and around the world.

The challenge is that the rhetoric of right-wing populists has struck a deep chord with many of our neighbors who are scared and hurting from a system that divides our communities and fails to meet our fundamental needs. Many of Mr. Trump's supporters are white working class people across the country and in Vermont who have lost their jobs, are in debt, and struggle to pay the rent and keep the heat on.

I think of my own family’s experience. My dad was a merchant marine for twelve years until his ship was "reflagged" from an American company to a Japanese company. He then spent several years working for Bombardier, a manufacturing company that builds trains, until he and thousands of his co-workers were laid off when they shut down plants in Barre and in upstate New York. He's now spent over a decade working for the postal service, a once secure public sector job now constantly under attack.

These ideologies exploit the fears and insecurity of the thousands of people in Vermont like those who lost their jobs at that Bombardier plant. My stepdad was a dairy farmer for 20 years, and while he certainly is no supporter of Trump, the ideologies Trump promotes resonate with many in an industry where more and more small farms go under in the face of corporate giants like Dean Foods and Agri-Mark. Many of these people are fed up and looking for someone to blame for their predicament, and right-wing populists have a ready answer: Immigrants. Muslims. Women. People of color.

But it’s not immigrants who bailed out Wall Street to the tune of billions of dollars. And it’s not Muslims who are responsible for the stagnation of wages or the dismantling of our social safety net, casting millions into homelessness and poverty. At the end of the day, immigrants, refugees and communities of color are often hit even harder by the same issues dealt with by folks like my dad and his coworkers-- in addition to the insidious impacts of racism and xenophobia.  

We need to have the hard conversations with our neighbors who are suffering but have been led astray with a vision that blames members of our own community instead of the true creators of inequality, the 1%.

As a member of the Vermont Workers’ Center, we’re trying to have those conversations. Just this past Saturday, I joined other members as we went door-to-door in Burlington’s New North End with an inequality survey, hearing first-hand about the ongoing crises of access to healthcare, low wages, and ever-rising cost of living. This winter and spring we’ll continue to have these conversations all over the state. We’re also joining with our Vermont Human Rights Council partners to host a People’s Convention and Just Transition Assembly on April 30th - May 1st, bringing together hundreds of Vermonters to build a shared vision of an economy that works for people and the planet.

Ultimately, we must reject the divide and conquer rhetoric, and come together all across Vermont to fight against the billionaire class for a Vermont and world where every person’s human rights are met and we all can thrive.

Avery Book is Vice President of the Vermont Workers’ Center and a resident of Burlington.

 

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Rejecting racism and uniting for our human rights

VWC - Tue, 01/12/2016 - 5:09pm

I’m a working class Vermonter who grew up in Worcester. I was at the demonstrations last week in Burlington when Donald Trump came to town, and have some reflections on what this all means for us here in the Green Mountain State.

Racism, sexism, and xenophobia was on full display last Thursday. However, Mr. Trump himself is not the biggest challenge before us. The challenge is a trend of growing fear-mongering, divide and conquer tactics, and what some are calling 21st century fascism on the rise across this country and around the world.

The challenge is that the rhetoric of right-wing populists has struck a deep chord with many of our neighbors who are scared and hurting from a system that divides our communities and fails to meet our fundamental needs. Many of Mr. Trump's supporters are white working class people across the country and in Vermont who have lost their jobs, are in debt, and struggle to pay the rent and keep the heat on.

I think of my own family’s experience. My dad was a merchant marine for twelve years until his ship was "reflagged" from an American company to a Japanese company. He then spent several years working for Bombardier, a manufacturing company that builds trains, until he and thousands of his co-workers were laid off when they shut down plants in Barre and in upstate New York. He's now spent over a decade working for the postal service, a once secure public sector job now constantly under attack.

These ideologies exploit the fears and insecurity of the thousands of people in Vermont like those who lost their jobs at that Bombardier plant. They resonate with folks with life experiences like my step-dad, who spent twenty years as a dairy farmer in an economy where more and more small farms go under in the face of corporate giants like Dean Foods and Agri-Mark. Many of these people are fed up and looking for someone to blame for their predicament, and right-wing populists have a ready answer: Immigrants. Muslims. Women. People of color.

But it’s not immigrants who bailed out Wall Street to the tune of billions of dollars. And it’s not Muslims who are responsible for the stagnation of wages or the dismantling of our social safety net, casting millions into homelessness and poverty. At the end of the day, immigrants, refugees and communities of color are often hit even harder by the same issues dealt with by folks like my dad and his coworkers-- in addition to the insidious impacts of racism and xenophobia.  

We need to have the hard conversations with our neighbors who are suffering but have been led astray with a vision that blames members of our own community instead of the true creators of inequality, the 1%.

As a member of the Vermont Workers’ Center, we’re trying to have those conversations. Just this past Saturday, I joined other members as we went door-to-door in Burlington’s New North End with an inequality survey, hearing first-hand about the ongoing crises of access to healthcare, low wages, and ever-rising cost of living. This winter and spring we’ll continue to have these conversations all over the state. We’re also joining with our Vermont Human Rights Council partners to host a People’s Convention and Just Transition Assembly on April 30th - May 1st, bringing together hundreds of Vermonters to build a shared vision of an economy that works for people and the planet.

Ultimately, we must reject the divide and conquer rhetoric, and come together all across Vermont to fight against the billionaire class for a Vermont and world where every person’s human rights are met and we all can thrive.

Avery Book is Vice President of the Vermont Workers’ Center and a resident of Burlington.

 

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

146 House Democrats Call for Suspension of Immigration Raids

NNIRR - Tue, 01/12/2016 - 3:00am
Story Type:  Press Release Story Author:  Peter Whippy Story Publisher:  Office of Rep. Zoe Lofgren

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Today, U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) and Luis V.

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Categories: Grassroots Newswire

In Letter to Congress, UE and 1,500 Organizations Oppose TPP

UE - Fri, 01/08/2016 - 4:21pm
08 January, 2016

UE is one of 1,525 organizations who have signed a letter urging Congress to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).   Click here to read the letter. Click here to read coverage in the Washington Post.   

The letter describes many ways the TPP would give more power to corporations, export good-paying jobs, and undermine the environment, public health, food safety, and democracy.

On Thursday, January 7 the letter was just sent up to all U.S. Representatives and Senators on the Hill. Activists in constituent organizations of the Citizens Trade Campaign (CTC), which organized the letter, will also be hand-delivering the letter to many local district offices of members of Congress during the upcoming Congressional recess (January 14 - 24).  

CTC also encourages you to email the letter to your members of Congress, with a heads-up that your group is among the many asking them to publicly oppose the TPP.   

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

The 2016 presidential election

NNIRR - Thu, 01/07/2016 - 3:15pm
Subtitle:  Challenges and opportunities for immigrant rights Link Path:  http://www.nnirr.org/drupal/immigration-2016-elections Sort Order:  1
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Court blocks deportations of several Central American families

NNIRR - Wed, 01/06/2016 - 5:18pm
Story Type:  Article Story Author:  Franco Ordonez Story Publisher:  McClatchy DC

WASHINGTON 

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Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Solidarity statement regarding Trump visit

VWC - Mon, 01/04/2016 - 10:51am

As an organization fighting for the human rights of all people, the VWC stands opposed to hate groups and those who would divide our communities through racism, sexism, and xenophobia. For these reasons we’ve participated in recent demonstrations against the KKK, in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, and in support of Syrian refugees. However, hate speech is more complicated, and after hearing a variety of feedback, the VWC has withdrawn a petition related to Donald Trump’s upcoming visit to Burlington. We are encouraged by the tremendous outpouring of solidarity in response to his visit -- see you in the streets!

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Families are taken into custody as push to deport immigrants denied refuge begins

NNIRR - Sun, 01/03/2016 - 5:30pm
Story Type:  Article Story Author:  Nigel Duara and Molly Hennessy-Fiske Story Publisher:  Los Angeles Times

The detentions of at least 11 families across the country marked the first day of an effort by the government to find and deport Central American migrants who sought refuge in the U.S. and stayed illegally, immigrant advocates said Saturday.

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Categories: Grassroots Newswire

On Perilous Migrant Trail, Women Often Become Prey to Sexual Abuse

NNIRR - Sat, 01/02/2016 - 5:21pm
Story Type:  Article Story Author:  Katrin Bennhold Story Publisher:  New York Times

BERLIN — One Syrian woman who joined the stream of migrants to Germany was forced to pay down her husband’s debt to smugglers by making herself available for sex along the way. Another was beaten unconscious by a Hungarian prison guard after refusing his advances.

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Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Storms, Roots, And Seeds: Beyond COP21!

It Takes Roots - Wed, 12/30/2015 - 4:02am

“What other than injustice could be the reason that the displaced citizens of New Orleans cannot be accommodated by the richest nation in the world?”

— Wynton Marsalis, Jazz musician

The storm hurtled across the land, bringing the sea and everything with it. Trees snapped, houses washed away, vehicles became projectiles into second story windows, coconuts became cannon balls smashing bone and wood beams. My great grandmother’s cashew farm splintered in the salt and the wind. This particular storm was called Typhoon Haiyan and it hit the Philippines in November 2013 – the largest storm on Earth ever to make landfall at that time. The Philippines has still not recovered from the impact of Haiyan —or rather its government and the corporations it is beholden to are trying to militarize and privatize it.

This year I was at work and another storm hit me right in the chest. The LA area Exxonmobil refinery a block away from where I grew up had an explosion that registered 1.7 on the Richter scale. A faulty fluid catalytic converter caused the blast and threw an 80,000 pound piece of equipment a hundred feet. Windows blew out and the sky filled with “ash”. I got on the phone and breathed again when I heard my mom’s uninjured voice, my dad was busy outside with a mask, watering the house down so nothing caught on fire—their vegetable garden ruined as sludge gray water loaded with heavy metals oozed over the front yard.

As it stands, the COP21 agreement is brewing another kind of storm for communities on the frontline. World leaders converged to talk about greenhouse gas emissions in the parts per million, keeping up endless growth through a force of green consumers, and making sure polluters and their false promises can come along for the ride without losing any profits. Without long-term vision, accountability, and concrete steps to de-carbonizing all economies, we’re headed towards destruction that neither we nor this planet deserve.

At the end of these talks much is being heralded about the US actually signing on to an agreement despite internal right wing pressure and climate deniers in Congress. There is a lot of talk about state-by-state innovations—including California Governor Jerry Brown pushing offsets agreements with regional partners. These steps are at best helping climate change become a daily conversation. At worst they are pushing for increased privatization, confiscation of Indigenous People’s lands, loss of cultural and biological diversity, and human rights violations. What we need now post-COP is bold action to keep fossil fuels in the ground, reject the fundamentalist ideology of globalization, a commitment to the well being of people over the profiteering of a few, and infrastructure and resource support for locally owned and controlled renewable energy solutions.

Earlier this month, I traveled to Paris as part of the It Takes Roots delegation to build towards just that: a community rooted deeply in place, connected globally through solidarity, and that has the strength and know-how to weather all the storms that are yet to come. We know our communities have been on the cutting edge of true climate resiliency work for generations. We have always been the ones hit first and worst—and we’re still here and will continue to lead the transformative path towards a regenerative economy and a living planet.

Community by community, we’re linking up to show our own solutions. At the  Asian and Pacific Environmental Network, (APEN) we build leadership and power in the Asian American & Pacific Islander communities for bold action. Our members stand up to the largest stationary polluter in the state of California, educate legislators and neighbors on climate policy in six languages, and are working on building a living model of a just transition through community-owned solar power.

APEN and the groups who are part of the It Takes Roots delegation are just some of the many grassroots organizations in the US doing the work necessary to change the system, build people power, and save our climate. Amazing solutions are happening all over the world too. In the Philippines—a country of over 7,000 islands and 175 languages in a portion of the Pacific known as “Typhoon Alley”—solutions are sorely needed. Salugpongan International is one network that speaks to the core of climate justice: supporting Indigenous People’s local initiatives to protect rights to the land and culture, of knowledge of place, and of education by the people for the people. A global movement—against war, against warming, for community rooted power—is growing.

The indigenous people of the world deserve to thrive. The people of Richmond, California, deserve to thrive. Your community deserves to thrive. The COP21 process closed without real, durable and lasting commitments that bring us any closer to a cleaner, greener world—much less a more just one. But life goes on after the COP and so does grassroots organizing. So let’s feel our roots, keep an eye on where we can sprout and build the world we do deserve.

But there is unspeakable love:
we use our ten thousand tongues
let the tides loose and truths
be storm surge
in this surrender
to our humanity

Of Storms and Tears, Aimee Suzara

 

Shina Robinson is a part of the It Takes Roots Delegation and works with the Asian and Pacific Environmental Network.

The post Storms, Roots, And Seeds: Beyond COP21! appeared first on It Takes Roots.

Give for migrant rights and justice in 2016

NNIRR - Tue, 12/29/2015 - 3:21pm
Story Type:  Blog Story Publisher:  NNIRR

1986...2016...how time flies! Next year NNIRR will celebrate its 30th anniversary--30 years in the fight for rights and justice for ALL immigrants and refugees! 

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Categories: Grassroots Newswire

U.S. plans raids to deport families who surged across border

NNIRR - Thu, 12/24/2015 - 1:51am
Story Type:  Article Story Author:  Jerry Markon and David Nakamura Story Publisher:  Washington Post

The Department of Homeland Security has begun preparing for a series of raids that would target for deportation hundreds of families who have flocked to the United States since the start of last year, according to people familiar with the operation.

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Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Moving Forward for Rights & Justice in 2016

NNIRR - Wed, 12/23/2015 - 12:00pm
Story Type:  Blog Story Publisher:  NNIRR

We want to thank you for your solidarity and support for human rights, justice and dignity for all migrants and refugees. NNIRR is inspired and encouraged by members, friends, partners and volunteers who have stood with us and helped to build, expand and sustain our work over the past three decades. 

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Categories: Grassroots Newswire

#USASLove: support the next generation of organizers

USAS - Wed, 12/23/2015 - 10:00am

I know you’ve heard a lot about #USASLove by now. You’ve heard about how we fight for a global workers’ movement, and you’ve heard about how we bring that struggle to our own backyards, too. I could talk about USAS’s work all day — how it felt to be out on the picket lines with fast food and Walmart workers, how much I enjoy building friendships with the workers on my campus, and how proud I am to be part of an organization that respects the teaching profession and supports public education justice. But today, I’m writing to tell you about what USAS has done for me.

USAS is building the next generation of progressive organizers. Can you help us reach our goal of $10,000 before the end of this year?

When I first came to UT Austin, I knew I wanted to fight for justice, but I didn’t know how. As a working-class woman of color, I knew that I didn’t always feel supported by my school, or the wider world. I saw my tuition skyrocketing, families being torn apart through deportation, black bodies being brutalized by state violence, women workers on my campus making poverty wages, and all while the top 1% saw bigger bonuses than ever. I knew I was angry. But without USAS teaching me how to move from hopelessness and isolation toward hope and collective action, I don’t know where I’d be today.

At its core, USAS believes in collective liberation. That means nobody is free until we’re all free. It also means that we recognize the urgent need to support the leadership development of students with marginalized identities, like myself. USAS has given me tools to facilitate meetings, plan campaigns, and have organizing conversations with other students. Since USAS is truly student-run, I’ve also had the opportunity to lead a national organization as a member of the Coordinating Committee.

Your support goes towards winning campaigns. But it also goes towards developing the leadership of thousands of students like me, every year. Can you show us some love?

Now, after graduating this December, I’m excited to be working for the Texas AFL-CIO. Through USAS, I’ve already made deep connections with this site of struggle in my community, and I know I want to organize for life. Other friends of mine will be working for unions, immigrant rights groups, racial justice organizations, and more. And we’ll all be bringing a deep understanding of what it means to fight for a world that is build cooperatively, rather than competitively.

If you can, please support youth leadership today.

Solidarity,

Sarahi Soto-Talavera

Coordinating Committee At-Large Representative

University of Texas – Austin, USAS Local 18

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Obama Plans Summit on Migrant Crisis

NNIRR - Tue, 12/22/2015 - 1:54am
Story Type:  Article Story Author:  JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS Story Publisher:  New York Times

HONOLULU — President Obama plans to host a 

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Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Will the City’s Rezoning Plan for East Harlem Heed Community’s Vision?

CVH - Tue, 12/22/2015 - 12:00am

By 

Over 500 surveys. Seven public meetings each with 100 to 200 participants. 12 subtopics—from open space and small businesses to zoning and housing preservation.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

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