LCLAA spells solidarity

SAN ANTONIO — If anybody thought the working class is splintering under the American right wing’s battering ram, they could take heart from the convention of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), which concluded here Aug. 5.

The bonds of solidarity barred every conceivable division: between men vs. women, Latinos vs. other nationalities, unionized vs. unorganized, public workers vs. private, AFL-CIO vs. Change to Win, citizens vs. immigrants, craft unions vs. industrial unions, old vs. young, and gay vs. straight.

Milton Rosado, the group’s president, said Latinos comprise about 13 percent of the U.S. workforce, and that percentage is increasing. He cited a growing list of worker grievances, with stagnant wages at the top of the list.

“We cannot afford to be blind to attacks on the civil rights of workers,” Rosado said. “LCLAA is the most effective defense that the workers have.” He stressed the need for immediate coordinated action: “Mañana is too late!”

With 1.7 million members, this union-led civil rights organization is one of the country’s largest Latino organizations. Speakers and panelists came from all aspects of union and civil rights struggles.

Rosa Rosales, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, pledged to work side by side with LCLAA.

Both of America’s labor federations were strongly represented among the delegates and on the podium. Dolores Huerta, a co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, played a prominent role in the proceedings.

Virtually all of the speeches explicitly rejected the current efforts by Congress and the Bush administration to degrade and criminalize immigrants. A special “Town Hall meeting” was devoted to standing in solidarity with non-citizens working in this country.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston denounced Republicans for unethical maneuvers on the immigration issue. She said that, instead of honest parliamentary procedure, “the Republicans called for the biggest road show of false truths that you can imagine.” She said the current hearings being held around the country are “encouraging Americans to come out and show the worst of their sides.” She branded them “hearings that are contracted and contrived.”

Steve Saldana of Catholic Charities stated flatly that he and other religious leaders would go to jail if HR 4437, the Sensenbrenner bill that passed the House last December, becomes the law of the land. The bill would criminalize the undocumented as well as anybody who helps them.

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson explained the reason behind the right-wing assault: “Immigrant workers are the ones that we need to be organizing, because they are the most growing segment of the workforce in America. The reason behind Sensenbrenner and the Senate proposals is to keep us from organizing!”

The convention passed 41 resolutions that extended solidarity, from local organizing drives to international questions such as opposing military aid to Colombia and calling for a recount in the Mexican elections.

LCLAA delegates studied America’s problems of education, organizing and how to win the upcoming elections. A special emphasis on action was underlined by a militant picket line with San Antonio’s postal workers. Four regional immigrant rights demonstrations were announced for early September.