ST. LOUIS — Barack Obama, in a telephone hook-up May 22, welcomed the 37th annual gathering of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists here by declaring, “We need to reward labor and hard work with a few basic guarantees — health care, education and the right to form a union.”
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Jobs with Justice continues as a tremendous asset for organized labor, but new and exciting trends were also evident at its national conference here May 2-4. The organization that was founded by five industrial unions in 1987 has continued to grow and fulfill its original purpose of reaching outside labor’s ranks to assist the union movement. Now, it is also organizing the broader working class in the United States and abroad.
We thought the push to privatize Social Security was dead. Failing to privatize Social Security, the administration has slashed the agency’s budget. These tactics ensure that the next time we have to fight to save Social Security, the public’s view of the Social Security Administration (SSA) might not be so favorable.
Reflecting the holiday’s origins, when immigrant workers played a big part in the fight for the eight-hour day, this year’s observances melded workers’ struggles for decent wages and conditions with the struggles of largely working-class immigrant communities for human and civil rights. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants were joined by many union contingents as they marched in cities throughout the country.
PHILADELPHIA — Unity was the watchword at last week’s Pennsylvania state AFL-CIO biennial convention, as the 721 delegates cheered calls for a united effort to put a Democrat in the White House and to defeat John McCain in November.
Imagine a world where everyone who chooses to can go to college. Picture a world where workers on school campuses and in communities have a voice about their working conditions and where the fruits and vegetables that people eat are picked by workers who earn a living wage. Imagine a time when students and others can proudly wear university apparel, knowing the workers who made the clothing were paid fairly with basic rights including breaks, safe working conditions and an eight-hour workday. And finally, think about what it will be like when jobs not only support workers but also protect the environment.
Shawn Boone did not die instantly five years ago at the Hayes Lemmerz plant in Huntington, Ind. He was lying on the floor, his body smoldering, as the aluminum dust burned through his flesh and then his muscles. With every breath he took, more of his internal organs burned. Still conscious and blinded from the initial blast, he begged for help as they loaded him into the ambulance.
New York — Parents, students, teachers and administrators rallied at City Hall March 20 to protest state and city budget cuts to schools. Despite a driving rain, over 10,000 people turned out for the rally called by the Keep the Promises Coalition, made up of 60 community, parent and education groups, along with their allies in the labor movement.
HOUSTON — About 1,000 medical students and their supporters rallied here at city hall March 14 to demand healthcare for all. The event was organized by the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) as part of its annual convention and supported by the local SEIU and Justice for Janitors movement.
CLEVELAND — Labor and its progressive allies scored a major victory in the Democratic primary here March 4 when Congressman Dennis Kucinich beat back a heavily financed effort to take his seat.