DALLAS: Latinos have a big stake in Social Security and are willing to fight for it — this was the theme at the Hispanic Federation’s Town Hall meeting held here on April 28. The League of United Latin American Citizens and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement have been touring towns to organize the fight to defend Social Security.

Retired Latinos depend heavily on Social Security because they are much less likely to have personal savings and company pensions than other workers, said event emcee Dr. Gabriela Lemus, LULAC’s director of policy and legislation.

Texas AFL-CIO Legislative Director Walter Hinojosa said Latinos are 40 percent more likely to need Social Security disability payments because of the dangerous work they do.

Other speakers included Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), who called for African American and Latino unity. Student and AARP representatives spoke, too.

Margarita Alvarez, president of Voices for Immigrants, took the floor and said in Spanish that right-wingers blame everything on immigrants, yet undocumented workers pay into the Social Security trust fund but draw nothing out.

She said immigrants stand in solidarity with the rest of the American working class in demanding fair treatment and the preservation of Social Security. “We aren’t looking for democracy in words, but in action!” she said. The audience roared.

— Jim Lane

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.: Over 100 union and community activists demonstrated April 26 in front of Rep. Heather Wilson’s (R-N.M.) office here to oppose Social Security privatization.

The “New Mexicans United to Protect Social Security” coalition is a broad cross-section of retirees, labor and grassroots community organizations.

The congresswoman’s office imposed visitation restrictions so the demonstrators broke into groups of seven, thereby guaranteeing everyone the opportunity to relate their concerns to Wilson’s secretary.

— Emil Shaw

CLEVELAND: Chants of “Hands off Social Security” echoed off the walls of Republican Sen. Mike DeWine’s office here as hundreds of angry retirees, union members and friends held a militant rally on April 26 against Bush’s privatization scheme.

Resolutions against privatizing Social Security have also been pouring in from city councils in Cleveland, Lorain, Elyria, Oberlin and Canton, as well as from Lorain County commissioners and Amherst Township trustees.

Ohio’s Republicans are taking notice of this maturing movement led by the AFL-CIO and including retiree organizations, women’s and civil rights groups, students, small business owners and even dissatisfied Republicans.

A recent Cleveland Plain Dealer headline stated, “GOP leaders not sold on Social Security plan.” Republican Sen. George Voinovich said he was “not real excited” about private accounts, citing the high cost of setting them up. DeWine was also “not sold on it,” and said he would “have to see how you are going to pay for it.” Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) said, “Off the top of my head, it doesn’t appeal to me,” noting his district was “very divided” on it. DeWine and LaTourette both face tough re-election bids next year.

In the Canton area, a coalition led by the Steelworkers union and its militant retirees’ organization is targeting Republican Congressman Ralph Regula, who has yet to state a position on Bush’s plan, but is believed to be vulnerable to public pressure.

— Bruce Bostick