Labor Film Festival, Worker Support Key WSU Student Labor Week of Action

by Stuart Elliott

Wichita YDS President Axel Chacon at an Renegotiate NAFTA rally.

Wichita YDS President Axel Chacon

The Young Democratic Socialists chapter at Wichita State University is planning an array of exciting events for the 2009 Student Labor Week of Action. In 2008, WSU students participated in the national campaign organized by Jobs with Justice for the first time.  This year, Campus Progress and other campus groups are joining the YDS in a greatly expanded week  of action.

Students will be asked to sign a “support workers rights,” banner, to take the “tomato challenge” to learn what Florida farm workers encounter, and experience the “Student Debt Machine.” Wichita/Hutchinson Labor Federation Director Jake Lowen will be the featured speaker at a forum on April 2.

New this year is a labor film festival. From Monday, March 30 through Friday April 3, the WSU Student Labor Action Week will feature documentaries about the labor movement. A different labor-themed film will be shown at noon each day in the Rhatigan Student Center.

Monday March 30: Viva La Causa
Tuesday March 31: Mother Jones
Wednesday April 1: At the River I Stand
Thursday April 2 Sacco and Vanzeti
Friday April  3: Film- Mardi Gras: Made in China

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Chris Hicks

The Student Labor Week of Action will began on Friday March27 with a “Support workers rights” banner with paint or markers Chris Hicks , a WSU political science major said,”We are making a large banner that reads Support Workers’ Rights and which will feature current state and national issues, like increasing the Kansas minimum wage and the Employee Free Choice Act. We also decided that we would put hand prints on the banner to symbolize the of workers using their hands. We will have students sign this outside the student union, and also ask students to sign postcards supporting the Employee Free Choice Act.”

On Sunday March 29:, the students will be part of the Cesar Chavez Celebration at Evergreen City Hall 3-5 pm. The celebration will feature Wichita Premiere of the Documentary Film Viva La Causa: The Story of Cesar Chavez and a Great Movement for Social Justice plus music and refreshments.

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WSU Tomato Carry Challenge 2008

On Tuesday March 31 , the focus will be on supporting farm workers. This date is targeted by is the Student Farmworker Alliance, which is an active partner of the Student Labor Action Project.  Axel Chacon, President of the WSU Young Democratic Socialists, said “We had a great response to this last year and because we have so many new members we decided to do it one more time so they could be part of it. . We will have two buckets filled with red water balloons that weigh 32 pounds, and students will have to run the 150 feet and back holding the bucket and then we will pay them the average 45 cents for doing this. We have also set up a meeting with SODEXO, WSU’s food-service provider that the Coalition of Immokalee Workers is now targeting.”

jackie_sewell_feb09_woJackie Sewell, Wichita Young Democratic Socialists Vice President, said “We are starting Thursday off by renting two cash cube money machines (the glass boxes you stand in while money blows around and you have to grab as much as you can in a minute) and instead of filling it with money, we are printing our own Student Debt that looks like money and have students grab as much as they can. To make sure there is incentive for them to do it, we will throw in a few random slips that say Collect 1 dollar . We will then have students sign a petition in support of the current proposed tuition freeze proposed by our Board of Regents and if they’d like to co-sign a letter to the President of our University we will let them.”

On Thursday evening  Jake Lowen, Political Director of the Wichita/Hutchinson Labor Federation, will give a union workshop that focuses around the Employee Free Choice Act and answers the question of why unions matter.

Stuart Elliott is webmaster for Kansas Workbeat, the website of the Wichita/Hutchinson Labor Federation.

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