Celebrating the Life and Work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

MLK
California Labor Federation

Many chapters in the story of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. are well-known to Americans. The I Have a Dream speech. The Nobel Peace Prize. The Mountaintop speech. His Letter from a Birmingham Jail. His commitment to nonviolence. All the incredible accomplishments of a visionary.

Our series on Martin Luther King Jr., to mark the 50th anniversary of his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968, covers some of the lesser known parts of his history. Follow the links below to discover more about this civil rights icon.

1. Jay Smith, United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals’ (UNAC/UHCP’s) counsel, who shared a story his mentor, Jerome A. “Buddy” Cooper, told about King’s Birmingham campaign.

2. King is perhaps best known for his iconic 1963 I Have a Dream speech. Less is known about predecessors to that speech, like the one King gave to the AFL-CIO in 1961.

3. King began with prepared remarks, the most famous part of the speech containing the theme ‘I Have a Dream’ was created on Aug. 23, 1963, as King addressed the crowd of more than 250,000 on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

4. King accepts the Nobel Peace Prize and then joins workers on strike in Atlanta to publicize their campaign during 10 days in December 1964.

5. International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 made King an honorary longshoreman in 1967. When King was assassinated, the ILWU showed they truly regarded him as one of their own.

6. Jerry Wurf, AFSCME’s president in 1968, was a strong and consistent supporter of King, as well as the civil rights movement in general.

This post originally appeared at UNAC-UHCP.

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Me Too + Labor Unions

http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/20793/me-too-workers-women-unions-sexual-harassment-labor-movement-lessons

UFW- Please Support DACA & TPS

Join today’s national call in day to support the Dream Act,operation

Today, December 19th, is a national day of phone action to support the Dream Act and we are asking you to help flood your representative’s phone lines to demand that Congress pass a Clean Dream Act  and protect the 800,000 young lives that were left in limbo when President Trump rescind DACA. This is the only home most of these young people have ever known.
More than 11,000 young people have already lost their DACA protections and 122 young people lose their DACA status every day! We need to get Congress to pass a Dream Act before they go home in December!
The farm worker movement has stood by Dreamers time and time again in the fight for a clean Dream Act. UFW President Arturo Rodriguez got arrested supporting Dreamers in a massive demonstration earlier this month. In addition to countless delegations led by our farm worker movement, we have taken the lead in the San Joaquin Valley showing up at the doors of Congressman David Valadao’s offices in Hanford CA, Bakersfield CA  and Washington D.C. only to find his doors closed. Most recently, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the farm worker movement organized to dedicate national masses for Dreamers on the day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
We will continue to be persistent and do all we can to ensure Congress acts and passes a clean Dream Act before the year ends. 
Here’s how to join in the national day of action phone campaign:
1. Dial 1-888-778-6856 and wait for the “Welcome” message.
2. Get connected to the switchboard.
3. Enter your zip code.
4. Wait for your call to be connected to your Representative or Senator and demand a #DreamActNow!
Below please find a sample script you can use to make your call:
Hi, my name is ____________ and I live in ___________ (city in district). I’m calling to urge you Congressperson/Senator ____________ to pass a clean Dream Act before you go home for the holidays. Every day that Congress fails to act, 122 Dreamers lose their DACA status and become deportable. Not taking action on the Dream Act is a vote to deport Dreamers. Please pass a clean Dream Act this December. Thank you for your time.

If you are on Twitter, join us in participating in a Twitterstorm today at 3PM EST/ 12 PM PST. Let’s join together and raise our voices in support for a #DreamActNow!
To make it easy, here is a sample tweet to send or you can just click below at 3 pm EST/12 pm pst: 

Continue reading

#SaveTPS: A Working-Class Struggle

by Jessica F. Chilin-Hernández

dmv-sanctuary-movement-protest

Rally to Defend Dream Act and TPS on December 6, 2017 in Washington, D.C.. Image from DMV Sanctuary Network

By the time the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was announced in 2014, I had already benefited from another immigration relief program: Temporary Protected Status (TPS). In January and February 2001, my birth country of El Salvador experienced two earthquakes – a month apart from each other – that utterly devastated every aspect of life in Salvadoran Society. In order to help El Salvador reconstruct and get back on its feet, the United States extended TPS status to undocumented Salvadorans immigrants already in the U.S. I was one of them. Created by Congress in the Immigration Act of 1990, TPS was meant for people from countries going through environmental disaster and other extraordinary and temporary conditions or confronting armed conflict. Currently, the program is administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

In the past two months, TPS has come under attack from the Trump Administration. In November 2017, DHS terminated the program for Haiti, and four months later it extended that terrible decision to TPS-protected immigrants from Nicaragua and Honduras. Starting January 2019, an estimated 50,000 Haitians, 57,000 Hondurans, and 2,550 Nicaraguans with TPS status will become undocumented. They will be expected to leave the U.S. Furthermore, TPS was allowed to expire for three black-majority countries: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone earlier this year. None of them were granted a renewal period as the DHS had done in previous years.

From a working-class perspective, terminating TPS would be catastrophic for workers and families. The Center for Migration Studies (CMS) has estimated that 81 to 88 percent of TPS-protected immigrants just from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti participate in the labor market – well above the rate for the total US population at 63 percent. Indeed, many TPS workers have been in the US for so long that they’re now homeowners and entrepreneurs, and so they are very invested in their local economies. For example, Salvadorans with TPS must have continuously resided in the U.S. since the designation date of March 9, 2001 – that’s more than a decade of working legally and paying taxes in the U.S. Furthermore, the Center for American Progress (CAP) calculates that the loss of TPS workers would cost employers $967 million in turnover and reduce America’s GDP by $164 billion over a decade. Of course, working people represent more than just economic contributions, but you’d think that reports like these would influence rational policymakers. But this administration operates with little regard to facts, policy briefs by experts, or peer-reviewed research. Instead, it responds to the worst instincts in our politics, even excusing and allying with white supremacy. This is not rational. It is shamelessly racist.

TPS is a racial and environmental justice issue. The program’s primary beneficiaries are Black, LatinX, Asian, and Middle Eastern. We come from Haiti, Syria, Nepal, Honduras, Yemen, Sierra Leone, El Salvador, Somalia, Guinea, South Sudan, Nicaragua, Liberia, and Sudan. All of these nations have historically been at the mercy of imperialist policies – by the U.S. and other countries — that pillage natural resources and do little to promote the well-being of residents, most of whom are people of color. For these countries, TPS was granted on account of either civil strife (usually the reason for Middle Eastern and African countries) and natural disasters (usually the reason for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean) thereby helping these countries rebuild what US Imperialism has destroyed. Thus, TPS is a form of humanitarian relief for civil war refugees and natural disaster victims that is also a form of reparations to formerly colonized working people of the world.

Similar to DACA, TPS beneficiaries like me receive provisional protection against deportation and permission to work in the United States for a limited period of time –no less than 6 months and no more than 18. In order to be eligible, immigrants from TPS-designated countries must be physically present in the U.S. on the date on which the program is designated for their nationality and must continue to reside in the U.S. In addition, the program does not grant permanent legal status in the United States, nor are TPS beneficiaries eligible to apply for permanent residence or for U.S. citizenship. In other words, working-class immigrants can be workers, but not residents let alone citizens.

My TPS work permit has provided me with many opportunities to pursue the American Dream by making it possible for me to join the workforce. It also allowed for me to file taxes – something that I’ve been doing since I was 17 years old. Since attaining full-time employment, I have been saving to purchase a home in Virginia for my mother. This is my greatest dream – the chance to honor my mother’s sacrifice by providing her with a home that she can call her own. Throughout my time living in the United States, I had never thought I’d be faced with the possibility of giving up this dream. Yet all of this changed on November 9, 2016. The morning after, I felt a fear unlike any I had felt before. The right side of my chest hurt, my stomach felt strange. I was hungry, but couldn’t bring myself to eat. I could just think of one thing: if Donald Trump’s DHS Secretary does not approve our renewals, then we’d potentially be forced to return El Salvador. As of today, I have 81 days left on my TPS work permit if the designation isn’t renewed by DHS.

Since the beginning of December, a number of actions have taken place in Capitol Hill to urge members of Congress to save TPS and pass a Clean Dream Act. The deadline for Congress to act is December 22 – the date Congress adjourns for the holidays. The urgency has escalated even more after Congress failed to include protections for immigrant youth in their spending bill fix. If Congress doesn’t act soon, then a number of Dreamers and TPS beneficiaries await deportation and an inhumane removal experience from US society.

As we have seen in recent years, more and more of our working-class brothers and sisters from the global south have had to flee civil war, genocide, economic exploitation, and the environmental effects of climate change – and that will almost certainly continue. Efforts have already begun to eliminate other venues for legal immigration, and the gradual termination of TPS is unlikely to be the end of the assault on immigrants under this Administration. If naturalized and documented allies do not step up to demand a comprehensive immigration reform that makes it easier for all workers, political asylees, climate change refugees, and persecuted people to pursue new beginnings in the United States, then we will forsake our responsibility to whose labor provided the capital to build the economies of developed nations.

Jessica F. Chilin-Hernández serves as Assistant Director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University. She is originally from San Salvador, El Salvador.

This article is reposted with permission from Working Class Perspectives. https://workingclassstudies.wordpress.com/author/workingclassstudies/

Call For AFL-CIO to Open AIFLD Files

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

For those people, in particular trade union activists who are following developments in our movement, you should be aware of the resolution passed recently by the Duluth (Minn) Labor Body AFL-CIO. The resolution calls on the AFL-CIO leadership and President Richard Trumka to allow the University of Maryland to open the AFL-CIO’s AIFLD archives.  AIFLD was an AFL-CIO department that was set up in the 1960’s in order to combat and suppress any labor organizations throughout the third world that rejected the pro-business US model. It is well documented that AIFLD, funded heavily by the US government, was infiltrated by the CIA and supported the pro-capitalist US foreign policy.

The UAW’s Victor Reuther was an outspoken critic of this referring to the AFL’s “cloak and dagger” operations and the “indiscriminate whitewashing of the obvious shortcomings in US foreign policy.”*  The CIA through AIFLD and backed by the extreme anti-communism of the cold war and AFL-CIO leadership under George Meany and then Lane Kirkland, resorted to all sorts of coercion and violence to undermine radical and democratic unionism.

Rob McKenzie, a former UAW local president and Ford worker wrote the resolution which reads as follows:

Whereas, workers in Ford Motor’s Mexico City Assembly Plant were involved in a series of labor disputes in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s resisting efforts to bring their wages and benefits down to the level of the new plants on the U.S. border and demanding democratic elections in their union.  Many were kidnapped, beaten, shot and fired.  One died from wounds received in the plant.

Whereas, the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD), a now defunct arm of the AFL-CIO was reputedly involved in these events and the AFL-CIO has sent the old records from this group to the University of Maryland, the official repository for AFL-CIO records.

Whereas, the University of Maryland has requested permission for a year to open new AIFLD records and archive them for researchers and has not received approval from the National AFL-CIO to do so.

Therefore, be it resolved, That the National AFL-CIO take the action necessary to allow archivists at the University of Maryland to open new American Institute for Free Labor Development records. Continue reading

California Becomes Sanctuary State

San Francisco Press Conference Suppporting AB 450

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – 24MARCH17 – San Francisco janitors and other workers supporting AB 450, a bill introduced by Assembly Member David Chiu, to protect workers during immigration raids and enforcement actions. David Huerta, President of United Service Workers West, SEIU. Copyright David Bacon

With today’s signing of  California SB 54 into law, one of the most important parts of the legal wall of protections is now in place. Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions will not be able to use California’s own law enforcement officials in an effort to round up and deport our fellow Californians

California labor unions and immigrants’ rights groups led the way in organizing to pass SB 54.

Last month, Sessions called California’s sanctuary state bill “unconscionable.” Other federal officials also have sounded off against SB 54, suggesting illegal immigration is tied to increases in violent crime.

Throughout his campaign and in his tenure as president, Trump has tried to make the same connection, showcasing the relatives of people killed by immigrants in the country illegally. And one of his earliest executive orders put cities and counties on alert that they would lose federal funding if law enforcement did not cooperate with immigration agents. Continue reading

Unions Organize General Strike against Spanish State Repression in Catalonia

 by Cipi Fraioli

catalonia strike
Road blockade in Catalonia
Workers in Catalonia have launched a general strike today in response to the brutal police repression following Sunday’s Catalan independence referendum.

Originally called by a group of alternative unions including the anarcho-syndicalist CNT, who represent the majority of linesman at the Port of Barcelona, the revolutionary syndicalist CGT and Catalan unions the IAC and the COS, the strike is now also being supported by the dockworkers’ Coordinadora as well as mainstream trade unions the CCOO and UGT.

They are also being joined by a wide range of student groups, social centres and Catalan nationalist organisations such as La Taula per la Democràcia, an organism created just before the referéndum, the ANC (Catalan National Assembly), FAPAC (the Federation of Catalan Neighbourhood Assemblies) and UFEC (Union of Catalan Sports Associations).

Neighbourhood defense committees which have been developing alongside the repression of the referendum vote met last night in squares around Catalonia to prepare for the strike. Many neighbourhoods held protests outside hotels at Calella, Pineda de Mar and Figueres to protest the hospitality given to National Police and Civil Guard, successfully forcing the hotels to end their stay.

Demonstrations involving tens of thousands have broken out in the streets this morning. Central Barcelona has an ongoing march of thousands led by the ‘bomberos’ firefighters who were brutally attacked by police last week when they tried to protect demonstrators. Around Barcelona different groups have blocked roads and motorways both with throngs of people and barricades of tires. Tractors have driven into town from local villages to block roundabouts.

Strikes are taking place on Barcelona public transport, and ports at Barcelona and Tarragona are completely shut down. The University of Barcelona has been in occupation since September 22nd with most schools closed for the day. Flying pickets along demonstration routes have been calling on shops to strike for the day.

In a statement, the CNT said: “the unity of Spain has always been a rallying flag for the far right here. Therefore, any calls for self-determination from any part of it, as is the case now in Catalonia, spark a vicious response. We are already seeing an increase in the presence of fascist groups in many towns across Spain and the conservative government is taking an increasingly authoritarian stance, trampling on many fundamental freedoms. These are ominous signs of what might lie ahead for us. Repression is only likely to worsen on many fronts, maybe even involving the military.

“Make no mistake, while we firmly oppose repression from an increasingly authoritarian state and their fascist allies, we are in no way supportive of the nationalist agenda.”

The statement also explained that CNT activists have “been busy making things uncomfortable for the nationalists, bringing economic and social issues to the fore, reminding people that the Catalan government was very keen to introduce social cuts only a few years ago.

“This should not be a fight between nations, but between classes. Between an oppressive regime and its fascist allies (as much a part of the “people” as anyone else) and those of us who stand for freedom and rebellious dignity.

We expect repression to increase during the following weeks and days and we will use our weapon of choice, the general strike, to make it difficult for police to move around, get supplies and do their work in general.

The statement concludes: “As revolutionaries, we don’t believe we can just remain idle, while the police attack the people in the streets and fascist gangs roam our towns freely.”

On Sunday, what should have been a peaceful referendum turned into a carnage. Ten thousand police officers from the Guardia Civil, sent by the central government in Madrid, surged against the peaceful voters, trying to thwart the referendum, by shutting down polling stations and seizing ballot boxes.

Violence erupted quickly, and the Sunday turned bloody. More than 800 hundred people were hurt. Everyone from young children to pensioners were victims of an unnecessary display of police brutality. Female protestors have also complained of police sexually assaulting them during arrests.

All in all, police actions in Catalonia have felt to many like a revival of the ghost of Franco still alive in the Spanish right. At least 884 people were injured, after the police savagely attacked the people who were trying to cast their votes. Police officers resorted to rubber bullets (forbidden in Catalonia since 2013), truncheons and even tossed people away from polling booths. The gruesome images of police officers dragging by the hair several women, using tear gas on voters and brutally clashing their batons on even elder people, are available in the internet for everyone to see the strength that fascism has nowadays in Europe.

President Mariano Rajoy, of the right-wing Partido Popular, refuses to recognise the referendum, even declaring that “there has been no independence referendum”, before paying tribute to the Spanish Police, that responded with “firmness and serenity”.

The referendum bill was turned into law by Catalan President Carles Puigdemont on September 6, after being voted in the Catalan Parliament, with 72 votes in favour and 11 abstentions, in the 135-seat chamber in Barcelona. This law stated that 48 hours after the referendum, a yes vote would be followed by the declaration of independence, but was quickly suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court the day after, with the Spanish government claiming the vote illegal and unconstitutional.

The Catalan government declared that the referendum had been approved by 90% of the 2.3 million people who voted out of a total voter pool of 5,343,358. This means that the turnout was of 42%, with 58% abstaining.

The EU still remains largely silent, and hasn’t condemned the police violence in Spain. This represents the tension in the EU as a whole, where national independence campaigns in Scotland, Flanders, Veneto and elsewhere in other EU member states as well as the Basque Country in Spain. Catalonia is a major player in the Spanish economy and growth, accounting for around 19 percent of its GDP.

Reposted from libcom.org