CHICAGO: Windy City rallies to defeat Bush

“The emperor has no clothes,” thundered Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), referring to George W. Bush. “Iraq will go down as one of the worst blunders in our nation’s history.” The people who believe in democracy, equality, clean air and water and public education are mobilizing like never before, she said, and “we will overwhelm them with our power.”

Speaking to a rally of over 1,000 demonstrators — representing 60 religious, peace and community groups — at the Federal Plaza, Aug. 29, Schakowsky shared the platform with Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D); the Rev. Calvin Morris of the Community Renewal Society; Lynn Talbott, vice president of UNITE HERE; and representatives from Military Families Speak Out, among others.

Chicago was one of over 50 cities where residents rallied in conjunction with New York marchers on the Republican National Convention. Over 200 protested in Atlanta at the office of conservative Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.).

WASHINGTON: Workers door knock as Bush gets GOP nod

As Bush walked to the podium to accept the Republican nomination for president, Sept. 2, 10,000 steelworkers, cooks, nurses, teachers, office workers and other workers fanned out across the country to talk on the front porch or stoop or apartment entranceway with their fellow workers. It was the largest campaign single-day mobilization in the history of the AFL-CIO, according to union federation President John Sweeney.

In 16 states, from Maine to Washington State, workers rang doorbells to talk face-to-face about jobs, health care, secure retirement and trade and the candidate’s positions on those issues.

“Despite the rosy rhetoric of the Republicans,” said Sweeney, “the prolonged jobs crisis tears at the fabric of America’s working class. Never before have working people been so energized about an election. We’ve been overwhelmed by the number of volunteers who want to be out in their neighborhoods, talking to fellow union members.”

AUSTIN, Texas: Religious leaders defend workers

On Labor Day, the pulpits of churches across this state capital will hear new voices. Austin will join 100 other cities across the country when union organizers, members and immigrant workers rise before their congregations for social justice and a “fair shake on the job.”

The Religion and Labor Network of Austin came together in May to raise “awareness about the difficulties low wage workers face in Austin,” said network coordinator Karla Johnston-Krause. “There’s a long tradition of faith and labor,” she added. “Really, we’re just trying to rekindle that relationship and renew it.”

Some immigrant workers will speak from their churches to draw attention to the abuses they face and their fight to build a decent life for their families.

The Equal Justice Center tracks the lives of immigrant workers in Austin and offers assistance. The center’s director, Bill Beardall, said that on many temporary jobs or day labor jobs, once workers complete the work, the boss refuses to pay them.

Louis Malabo, president of the Austin Labor Council, pointed to unity between immigrant workers and union members where both “are looking for a fair shake on the job.”

MONTGOMERY, Ala.: Victory against environmental racism

Before 150 residents, the majority white and conservative Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) approved two measures aimed at protecting the air, soil and water of African American residents, Aug. 24. The two changes — creation of a seat on the commission for an ombudsman for environmental justice and a requirement that permits for construction include demographic information such as race and the level of poverty of the people affected — passed amid cheers and no little shock at the ADEM vote.

In testimony before ADEM, Rep. Arturo Davis said, “Many of my people just want jobs in their communities, no questions asked. But it is time to consider whether industries are disproportionately polluting some neighborhoods or hurting certain people.”

Tanisa Foxworth of the Alabama African American Environmental Justice Action Network and the ADEM Reform Coalition advocated using the building permit process to safeguard public health.

The Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation produced U.S. census data showing that garbage landfills are more likely to be located near predominately African American communities in Alabama and gave the chilling numbers documenting the rise of chronic disease and cancers.

HARRISBURG, Pa.: Nader ruled off ballot

The fight for Pennsylvania’s 21 electoral votes, the fifth largest bloc in the country, is neck-and-neck and a ruling by Commonwealth Court, Aug. 30, is expected to boost the bid by Democrat John Kerry to take the Keystone State.

The three judges held that Ralph Nader violated state law when he accepted the nomination for president from the national Reform Party and then filed in Pennsylvania as an independent.

“It’s a huge victory for the Kerry camp in Pennsylvania,” said Mike Manzo, spokesman for Pennsylvania House Minority Leader H. William DeWeese (D). “I think Nader should just gracefully step aside and let us move forward from here.”

Nader attorney and spokesman Samuel Stretton said he plans to appeal to the State Supreme Court “unless they (the Nader campaign) tells me not to.”

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner
Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com). John Bachtell and Julia Lutsky contributed to this week’s clips.

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