Report on the Labor Notes Conference

by Guy Miller

“The beating heart of the labor movement.” That’s how the moderator of the Friday evening April 6th plenary session of the 2018 Labor Notes (LN) Conference introduced six West Virginia school teachers. The teachers were fresh from a historic victory in their unauthorized – and unexpected – strike. The same could be said about the conference itself: it represented the beating heart of American labor. The record 3,200 activists who attended the three-day Chicago conference were living, fighting proof of that.

https://rdln.wordpress.com/2018/04/15/the-beating-heart-of-the-labor-movement-report-on-the-2018-labor-notes-conference/

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Dolores Huerta – Labor, Feminist activist

Dolores
Join Dolores Delgado Campbell, Sacramento DSA, to discuss the film Dolores.  Here’s how PBS’s Independent Lens describes it: “With intimate and unpresented access, Peter Bratt’s Dolores tells the story of Dolores Huerta. . . . Co-founder of the first farmworkers union with Cesar Chavez, she tirelessly let the fight for racial and labor justice, becoming one of the most defiant feminists of the 20th century.” Delgado Campbell is a Chicana, feminist, labor union activist of 40 years, former co-chair of DSA’s Latino Commission (1983- 2004) and professor emeritus of Women’s History and Chicano History. She worked with Huerta as organizers with the United Farm Workers of America in the 1970s. The film will be shown on PBS TV channels March 27.  Check your local station’s schedule, or watch it online here after March 27. Here’s a review. 

What Now for Unions?

By Harold Meyerson, from The American Prospect

Excerpt:

For conservatives, the much-anticipated Supreme Court decision in the Janus v. AFSCME case may be coming eight years too late. If, as expected, the five Republican justices on the Court rule for the plaintiff, which would end public employee unions’ ability to collect dues from all the workers they represent, they will significantly weaken the nation’s largest unions, among them the two teachers unions, as well as AFSCME and SEIU. These are also among the most significant organizations in Democrats’ voter-mobilization programs and, more generally, in supporting progressive groups and causes. Even more fundamentally, the right plainly hopes such a ruling will also drive the final nail into the coffin of the American labor movement.

While a pro-Janus ruling could strengthen the Republicans electorally, when it comes to killing unions, the right is simply too late. The current configurations of the union movement may well shift, but the growing public support for labor suggests that in one form or another, worker organizations are not going away.

http://prospect.org/article/what-now-unions

Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, the UFW, and Strategic Racism

(Reposted from 2016)

cesar-and-duane-1

Cesar Chavez & Duane Campbell, 1972.

Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed.  You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read.  You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.  Cesar Chávez., November 9, 1984.

by Duane Campbell

On March 31, 2018,  eleven states  and numerous cities will hold holidays celebrating  labor and Latino Leader Cesar Chavez. Conferences, marches and celebrations will occur in numerous cities this weekend and particularly in rural farm areas  of the nation.  A recent film Cesar Chavez: An American Hero, starring Michael Peña  as Cesar Chavez and Rosario Dawson as Dolores Huerta presents important parts of this story.

Meanwhile,  in March of 2015  hundreds of farmworkers have walked off their jobs in Baja California, Mexico, from the agricultural fields just a few miles from the U.S. border, fields developed to provide a harvest to the U.S. markets.  Farm labor strikes and violence against strikers remains a volatile issue.  Farm workers deserve dignity, respect, and fair wages.  Achieving these goals will require a union.

The current UFW leadership, as well as former UFW leaders and former DSA Honorary Chairs Eliseo Medina and Dolores Huerta  are recognized leaders in the ongoing efforts to achieve comprehensive immigration reform in the nation.

On immigration, UFW President Arturo Rodriquez says, “We urge Republicans to abandon their political games that hurt millions of hard-working, taxpaying immigrants and their families, and help us finish the job by passing legislation such as the comprehensive reform bill that was approved by the Senate on a bipartisan vote in June 2013,” Rodriguez said.  Similar compromise proposals, negotiated by the UFW and the nation’s major agricultural employer associations, have passed the U.S. Senate multiple times over the last decade. The same proposal has won majority support in the House of Representatives, even though House GOP leaders have refused to permit a vote on the measure. “The UFW will not rest until the President’s deferred relief is enacted and a permanent immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants, is signed into law.”  http://www.UFW.org

What Chavez and Huerta did accomplish along with Philip Vera Cruz,  Marshall Ganz, LeRoy Chatfield, Gil Padilla, Eliseo Medina and  hundreds of others was to  organize in California the first successful farm worker union against overwhelming odds. Continue reading

Dolores: The Film

Dolores
Join Dolores Delgado Campbell, Sacramento DSA, to discuss the film Dolores.  Here’s how PBS’s Independent Lens describes it: “With intimate and unpresented access, Peter Bratt’s Dolores tells the story of Dolores Huerta. . . . Co-founder of the first farmworkers union with Cesar Chavez, she tirelessly let the fight for racial and labor justice, becoming one of the most defiant feminists of the 20th century.” Delgado Campbell is a Chicana, feminist, labor union activist of 40 years, former co-chair of DSA’s Latino Commission (1983- 2004) and professor emeritus of Women’s History and Chicano History. She worked with Huerta as organizers with the United Farm Workers of America in the 1970s. The film will be shown on PBS TV channels March 27.  Check your local station’s schedule, or watch it online here after March 27. Here’s a review. 

Statement from the DSA Labor Commission Steering Committee on West Virginia Teachers Strike

DSAMarch 8, 2018

This Tuesday, through collective action and solidarity, West Virginia’s public school teachers and support staff won a 5% pay raise for themselves and all state workers, a freeze in health insurance premiums, and the end of a punitive “wellness” program. Together, these rank and file educators also stopped a charter school bill, and beat back a bogus anti-union “paycheck protection” act.

By going on strike, and holding fast when state leaders failed to take real action on these demands, they defended a minimum standard of life not just for themselves but all West Virginians. They have also been an inspiration to state employees, and the public they serve, facing similar austerity budgets across the country.

Read the entire statement
http://www.dsausa.org/dslc_wv_teachers?akid=2702.27982.yY2DaX&rd=1&t=2

Working People’s Day of Action

Have you heard about the Working People’s Day of Action this Saturday, 2/24?

Join DSA’s Democratic Socialist Labor Commission to affirm the right to strong worker organizations and to protect the voices of workers on the job. You can find actions near you here. And there will be more on Monday, February 26.

So why am I asking you this now? On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Janus v. AFSCME case. Our public sector workers’ rights to run their unions and bargain with employers are at risk. So we need to fight back together!

This case is part of an on-going attack on collective worker power through the expansion of so-called “right to work” laws. Since their implementation in the mid twentieth century, these laws have been used to pit workers against each other. You can read more about the racist history of these laws here.

As socialists, we must stand united against efforts to divide the working class. At our convention this summer, DSA members voted to affirm the importance of “a militant and powerful labor movement” to a successful socialist movement. That’s why West Virginia DSA chapters are standing together with striking public school teachers in their state.

Continue reading