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Vol. 75/No. 15      April 18, 2011

Rallies answer union-busting across U.S.

San Francisco: ‘Wisconsin workers set example!’
SAN FRANCISCO—The April 4 labor march here began with a spirited picket of hundreds of hotel workers, members of UNITE HERE Local 2, in front of the Palace Hotel where workers are fighting for a decent contract.

The hotel workers have been buoyed by the recent signing of a contract with Hilton, successfully pushing back company demands for deep concessions. Carlos Narváez, a worker at the Palace, said, “Wisconsin workers have set a great example for us!”

The Local 2 picket later joined a march through downtown San Francisco that swelled to more than 5,000, including contingents from Service Employees International Union, American Federation of Teachers, Teamsters, Sailors Union of the Pacific, and others.

Some of the larger contingents were from the construction trades, where unemployment remains high. “We’re here because of what happened in Wisconsin; we can’t let this spread,” said Shaun Reyes, a member of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 38.

“The corporations and the contractors, they don’t care about us, we’re expendable,” said 23-year-old Brandon Barnum. “That’s why we have to have brotherhood—and the sisters too. We’ll have to at some point shut down some jobs over that. It will come to that.”

The San Francisco march was one of more than two dozen labor actions that took place throughout northern California April 4, including a rally in Oakland of several thousand. International Longshore and Warehouse Union members took off work in solidarity with the demonstrations.

—Betsey Stone

Columbus, Ohio: Hundreds protest
bill attacking public workers

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Four hundred people rallied here April 5 to protest Senate Bill 5, recently signed into law by Gov. John Kasich, and sweeping budget cuts.

The bill severely restricts collective bargaining rights for state and municipal workers, outlaws public workers’ right to strike, and eliminates their right to negotiate health and pension coverage. Where there is an unresolved dispute between union members and the government body employing them, the government can simply impose its contract terms. Union dues will no longer be automatically checked off.

—John Studer

Blaine, Washington: Unionists
rally at U.S.-Canadian border

BLAINE, Washington—More than 1,500 people gathered in Peace Arch Park at the U.S.-Canadian border April 2 in a rally sponsored by the Washington State Labor Council, the Oregon State AFL-CIO, and the British Columbia Federation of Labour. A moment of silence was observed at the rally for the seven workers who perished last April in an explosion at the Tesoro Refinery in nearby Anacortes, Washington.

John Ross, who is with the Inland Boatman’s Union and a ferry worker, told the Militant, “I’m here because as soon as we agreed to the concessions, legislation was introduced at the state level which would take away our collective bargaining rights.”

Colleen Jones with the British Columbia Government Employees Union explained that there have been deep cuts in the public sector by the provincial government. “We need to work as one. Whether we are in Wisconsin or in Canada we have the same interests as workers,” she said.

—Edwin Fruit

L.A.: ‘Every gain won by labor and
discipline of ordinary people’

LOS ANGELES—More than 1,800 people filled the First A.M.E. Church here April 4. “I was one of the 161 who flew to Madison from Los Angeles to show solidarity with the fight,” Laura Brown told the crowd. “It inspired me to see thousands of workers with pride in the unions and their history.” Brown is a member of the Service Employees International Union—United Long Term Care Workers, who face big attacks in the current round of California statewide budget cuts.

“Every gain for the last 100 years has been won by the labor and discipline of ordinary people,” said veteran civil rights fighter Rev. James Lawson, to cheers and applause.

—Arlene Rubinstein

Albany, New York: Students march
against deep cuts at state university

ALBANY, New York—Hundreds of students, teachers, and unionists rallied at the capitol building here March 30, as the state assembly prepared to approve a budget that would cut millions of dollars from the State University of New York (SUNY).

“[New York governor Andrew] Cuomo thinks he can do whatever he wants, just like Scott Walker does,” said Daphne Ter, 24, a senior at SUNY Albany. “We’re here to tell him he can’t.”

“I’m enraged that Governor Cuomo is asking us to pay for his budget when none of the top 10 percent pay anything,” said Christopher Gordon, a senior at SUNY New Paltz and an organizer of Students for the Final Cut, a group opposed to cuts in public education.

—Harry D’Agostino

Rallies and demonstrations also took place April 4 in New York; Atlanta; Houston; Philadelphia; Seattle; Miami; Boston; St. Paul, Minnesota; Des Moines, Iowa; Kankakee, Illinois; Newark, New Jersey; Washington, D.C.; and many other cities.
Related articles:
Actions across U.S. stand up to union busting, back Black rights
Wisconsin: 1,000s rally for 7th week
Striking Machinists rally in Ohio
Benefits for our class vs. ‘fringes’ for a few
Miners back Wisconsin unions
Our solidarity surprises them  
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