Working families tell candidates: No more business as usual
With the Nov. 5 elections almost two weeks away, thousands of Labor 2002 volunteers came together Oct. 18 weekend at more than 100 events and election activities across the country. Their mission: to spread the word about where candidates stand on corporate accountability and other working family issues.
With precinct walks, leafleting and phone-banking, union activists set out on the AFL-CIO’s National Days of Action on corporate accountability to demand that candidates stand against corporate greed and for working families on such issues as good jobs, quality education and affordable health care and prescription drugs.
Volunteer phone bankers will make millions of calls before Election Day. “We need to elect labor people to these offices who will pay attention to working people and retirees,” said Dion Guthrie, business manager and president of Electrical Workers Local 1501. Guthrie, who is running for county council in Harford County, Md., joined precinct walkers and discussed recent corporate scandals. “Thank God I’ve got a union pension,” he said, “but the losses in my 401(k) will mean I work another five years.”
Texas’ fate is in Latino hands
Since early in the election cycle, pundits and analysts have speculated about the growing importance of Latino voters in Texas. Most recently, the polls listed in big corporate newspapers say that Tony Sanchez is lagging behind the incumbent Republican in the governor’s race, but many explain that they cannot accurately predict the Latino vote.
Gerardo Contreras, coordinator for the Labor Committee for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) in North Texas, reports that LCLAA and other organizations did a splendid job of registering new Latino voters. The San Antonio newspaper reported that one-fifth of Texas voters have Spanish surnames, 300,000 more people than had been projected earlier!
Another positive trend is the increased commitment of union people to the campaigns. Dallas AFL-CIO members made over 100,000 yard signs, for example.
In Texas, turnout is the key to winning in November. Contreras has a lot of confidence: “Everywhere, there’s going to be a big difference, because the Latino vote is coming on real strong.”
PHOENIX: Farmworkers lead voter registration drive
Arizona farmworkers have been registering thousands of new voters from Phoenix to many rural communities throughout the state. “This is the first year that we see such interest in the elections,” said Juvencio Valenzuela, United Farmworkers of America (UFW) spokesperson, who is heading the registration drive.
Cecilia Hidalgo, UFW field organizer, said, “This is a key year. We need to get the people to vote to change the state of Arizona. We need to be united.”
Voter registration will play a key factor in the upcoming gubernatorial race between Democrat Janet Napolitano and ultraconservative Matt Salmon, which pollsters say is to close to call.
Hidalgo believes that the unprecedented interest and response in registration is related to Democrat Alfredo Gutierrez’ run for governor. Gutierrez received 20 percent of the vote in the primary, campaigning against the “right-to-work (for less)” clause and the death penalty.
The farmworkers are also working for a paid state holiday to honor Cesar Chavez. In an age of increasing tension and violence between countries, Hidalgo reminds people of Cesar Chavez’ message of peaceful change and nonviolence. “With so much talk of war, what are we teaching our kids but violence? Cesar Chavez fought for the dignity of all the people, the same level for everybody, the right to go to college or a university, and the possibility of running for president.”
PHILADELPHIA: Activist runs for state rep.
Philadelphia community activist Ernst Ford is a candidate for State Representative on the Green Party ticket and many in his Kensington neighborhood believe he will win.
A racially and ethnically diverse area, Kensington is an historic neighborhood confronting problems like high rates of unemployment, poverty, abandoned houses and homelessness.
Ford is a block captain and knows the problems of his community, including the Live Stop Program to get unlicensed and uninsured motorists off the street. Thousands of cars have been confiscated by the police and auctioned off, which has an adverse effect on working people. “The city is taking away poor people’s cars because they can’t afford the high cost of insurance. We must demand cheaper car insurance and cheaper public transportation,” said Ford.
“I don’t have all the solutions, but I’m willing to work with the people in my district to bring about the results we need,” he added. Ford has led marches against drugs, police misconduct and declining living conditions. Born in Haiti, Ford has lived in Philadelphia for over 12 years.
BALTIMORE: NAACP says no ‘first-strike’ on Iraq
The NAACP Board of Directors adopted unanimously a resolution stating “the President of the United States has not made a conclusive case for the use of deadly force in the case of Iraq.” The resolution stated the “NAACP expresses its opposition to armed conflict against the country of Iraq without our exercising all options, including but not limited to United Nations arms inspections.”
It also expressed concern at the disproportionate rates at which “African-American and other minority youth and young adults are enrolled into military” service.
The youth board members sponsored the resolution. NAACP college chapters will host town hall meetings on campuses “to gauge and express student sentiment regarding armed conflict with the country of Iraq.”
BOSTON: Demands for peace continue
Over 600 marched, October 20, opposing the Bush administration’s pending attack on Iraq. Organized by Boston Mobilization, the “Walk for Peace” called for a multilateral approach and negotiations to resolve the crisis with Iraq.
The United Methodist Church issued a scathing attack on Bush’s war plans. The attack on Iraq, according to the church report, is “without any justification according to the teachings of Christ.” Bush is a member of the United Methodist Church.
SANTA CRUZ, Calif.: Campus rallies against Iraq war
Over 700 students and faculty gathered on UC Santa Cruz campus earlier this month to protest Bush’s threats of a new war in Iraq.
The “budding” student group Standing United for Peace (SUP) organized the rally.
Six-hundred students signed letters against the war. The stack was delivered to the University Chancellor’s mailbox. Many students signed the “Not in Our Name” pledge, a pledge of resistance prepared by leading artists and intellectuals. Over 400 students signed up to get more information from or help out with SUP.
Layla Razavi, a 19-year-old politics major, said “I’m really impressed that the movement has gathered so much support, not just in Santa Cruz, but across the country. But we must build our power quickly in order to, not just protest the war, but prevent it.”
TUCSON: 1,500 rally against Bush’s war
The sea of signs called for “No War on Iraq” as more than 1,500 people took to the streets, Oct. 19, in what was the largest peace demonstration here since Viet Nam.
Signs, speakers, marchers, singers, dancers, artists all reflected the twin themes of stopping war in Iraq and using our resources, instead, to meet needs here at home.
Racism has increased with the Bush administration’s war drive, as evidenced by increased vigilante activity on the U.S.-Mexico border, coupled with the increased militarization there.
The march and rally was sponsored by 27 different community, religious, peace, student, civil rights and labor groups.
The unity of the people was quite evident; from the speakers to the crowd, it was a reflection of the rich cultural and ethnic diversity that makes up our region.
Four more peace actions are planned including an American Friends Service Committee-sponsored truckload of food delivery to Congressional offices with the demand, “Feed, don’t bomb Iraq!”
WASHINGTON, D.C.: High Court supports juvenile death penalty
The Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision refused to hear an appeal challenging executions of people who were younger than 18 when they committed their crimes. Writing for the four dissenting judges, (Justices Souter, Bader-Ginsburg, Breyer and himself) Justice Stevens said, “The practice of executing such offenders is a relic of the past and is inconsistent with evolving standards of decency in a civilized society. We should put an end to this shameful practice.”
HOUSTON: Immigrant workers demand justice
Hundreds of workers marched Oct. 20, demanding an end to harassment and intimidation under the guise of “fighting terrorism.” At the rally, workers hoisted flags from Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala. Their signs, in Spanish, read “Immigration and terrorism are not the same thing.”
“We want (President) Bush and Congress to recognize that immigrants are a benefit to this country,” Bernardo Fallas, spokesman for the Central American Response Center (CRECEN), said.
In September, 143 workers were indicted and 64 arrested at Bush Intercontinental Airport for allegedly using false identification. “We understand the need for national security,” Fallas continued, “but those food servers are not a threat to national security.”
ATLANTA: Delta announces more lay-offs
Delta announced 7,000 – 8,000 workers will lose their jobs over the next 6 months. In 2001, the airline slashed 10,000 jobs, which sent the local economy into a tailspin. Delta employs 68,000 workers across the country, 30,000 in Greater Atlanta. The announcement follows one by American Airlines where 7,000 workers will lose their jobs.
National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards. If you have a story for national clips send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Contributors to this week’s clips are Terrie Albano, Joe Bernick, Rosita Johnson, James Jordan, Jim Lane, Ron Roeders and Anukene Warda.