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January 9th, 2017

Posted In: Events, Political Action

This Thursday, September 8, the 4Cs and our D.U.E. Justice –D.U.E. stands for Democracy, Unity, and Equality– partners are joining together to hear Rev. Dr. Barber of the North Carolina NAACP and founder of the Moral Monday Movement. The D.U.E. Justice is calling for collective action on 5 key issue areas needed to turn our state around, and to hold our political leaders accountable for their efforts and commitments in those areas. Those 5 issue areas are:

  • Good Jobs and Fair Wages
  • Universal Access to Quality Public Education, Preschool to Grad School,
  • A Vibrant and Fairly Funded Public Sector,
  • Racial, Gender, and Ethnic Justice,
  • Democracy in our State and in Our Work Places.

Rev. Dr. Barber is an inspiring speaker who has given speeches at some high profile labor and democratic events in the past few months. I witnessed him firsthand speaking at the SEIU Convention, heard him on television at the DNC, and saw video of his speech at the Fight for $15 Convention.

RevDrBarber

Rev., Dr. Barber speaks at the Democratic National Convention

While I’m excited to be inspired again by Rev. Dr. Barber, I’m not just going to hear him speak.

I’m attending on Thursday because of an incident that really bothered me over the summer. I was a passenger with my sister and a close friend in a taxi coming home at the beginning of the summer. An irate driver not only tried to drive our cab off the road, but when he stopped next to us at a red light, he called our taxi driver the N word and physically started punching the cab with his fist. This happened in my town, less than two miles from my house.

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It’s been several months since this incident took place but it still bothers me. It bothers me that someone who likely lives in my town used this hateful language against another human being. It bothers me that my taxi driver was able to remain calm, most likely because this was not the first time this hateful language was thrown at him and sadly because he didn’t want to risk losing his tip. But more than anything, it bothered me that I stayed silent during the exchange.

I am a white woman raised in liberal Massachusetts. I understand that racism still exists, but despite being 40 years old, this is the first time someone used the N-word in my presence.

Yes, the man who used the hateful word was bigger than me, angry, and clearly prone to violence. I did not want to escalate the situation. After the incident, we apologized to our taxi driver – embarrassed and angry that someone would use such hateful language towards him. He appreciated our kindness but simply shrugged off the incident.

I cannot shrug off the incident. Rather that trying to find peace or solace in the excuse of not wanting to escalate things, I’m going to use this incident as motivation to break my silence and use my voice. Therefore, I’m not just going to listen to Rev. Dr. Barber speak – I’m going to join with the thousand others to speak out on the issues important to us.

Whether your issue is fair wages for adjuncts and EAs, fairly funded public higher education, Black Lives Matters, women’s equality, all of the above, or other issues, I hope you consider joining me on Thursday, September 8 at Take Back CT! The event is taking place in the Welte Theatre at Central Connecticut State University (directions here; campus map here) at 6:30pm. Join us and use your voice for change!

September 6th, 2016

Posted In: Blog, D.U.E. Justice, Events, Political Action, Uncategorized

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Take Back Connecticut!

Thursday, September 8 

Central CT State University

New Britain, CT 

“We must never adjust ourselves to
economic conditions that take necessities from
the many to give luxuries to the few.”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Martin Luther King birthday weekend, a coalition of labor, civil rights, community and faith organizations came together to Celebrate Unity, Equality, and Democracy, and to pledge to work together inspired by Dr. King’s legacy and leadership. This diverse coalition is committed to working together during a time of increasing income inequality, spikes in racial, ethnic, and gender based injustice and attacks, and threats to democracy in elections and in the workplace from “dark money” interests, and the billionaire super-elite.

Rev., Dr. Barber Speaks at the Democratic National Convention

The DUE Justice Coalition rejects calls that ignore Dr. King’s words, saying that we must “adjust ourselves” to the “new economic reality”, a reality where virtually all economic growth goes into the pockets of the 1 % and the middle class slowly fades away. What could be a clearer example of an economy that “takes necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few?” We will not “adjust ourselves.” Instead we pledge to work together both in the short term and in the long term on 5 key issue areas needed to turn our state around, and to hold our political leaders accountable for their efforts and commitments in those areas. Those 5 issue areas are:

  • Good Jobs and Fair Wages
  • Universal Access to Quality Public Education, Preschool to Grad School,
  • A Vibrant and Fairly Funded Public Sector,
  • Racial, Gender, and Ethnic Justice,
  • Democracy in our State and in Our Work Places.

At the center of the DUE Justice Coalition vision is the creation of a unified, shared collective movement dedicated to Democracy, Unity & Equality. It is our belief that the way forward to achieve this goal is through building relationships and creating a common strategy and campaign to effectively advance our shared goals.

To advance this goal, Rev. Dr. William Barber, North Carolina NAACP President and inspirational leader and founder of the Moral Monday Movement will be speaking to leaders and organizations from across the state, challenging us to build a powerful movement for justice in our communities, and in our state.

August 19th, 2016

Posted In: Events

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A diverse group of community, faith, civic and labor organizations on the weekend before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2016 came together to reclaim the great civil rights leader’s vision. Over 300 people gathered at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Bloomfield for a forum design to promote greater democracy and end racial and economic inequality.

Attendees pledged to work together and hold elected and civic leaders accountable in five key policy areas. They include:
* good jobs and fair wages;
* universal access to quality public education;
* a vibrant and fairly funded public sector;
* racial, gender, and ethnic justice; and
* real democracy in our state and in our workplaces.

Follow Unity, Equality and Democracy Connecticut on Facebook to learn more and be part of the movement: https://www.facebook.com/UnityEqualit…

Music: Scotticesa Marks, https://www.youtube.com/user/sdmwassup

Videographer: Neal Thomassen, https://www.facebook.com/unionneal

January 27th, 2016

Posted In: Events, SEBAC, Unions

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Join the 4Cs and Connecticut Citizen Action Group for:

Justice Works Convening

JUSTICE WORKSGRAPH

Saturday, January 30, 9AM

Middlesex Community College, Chapman Hall 808 A&B

Lunch Included

Speakers & Panelists include:

  • Les Leapold, The Labor & Public Health Institute
  • Libero Della Piana, Alliance for a Just Society
  • Bishop John Selders Jr., CLS, D.D. Pastor, Amistad UCC
  • Subira Gordon, African American Affairs Commission
  • Frances Padilla, President, Universal Health Foundation CT

January 20th, 2016

Posted In: Events, Unions

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SAVE THE DATE for this SEBAC-organized event! 

In Connecticut, where the middle class is shrinking, where huge corporations make billions in profits while paying workers less than $10 an hour, and Koch Brothers-funded front groups attack workers for having unions, where critical public services are repeatedly cut and the richest among us pay the lowest tax rates, and where unemployment for Black and Latino people is two to three times higher than for white people, there is a path forward.

More than 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. articulated a powerful vision for Unity, Equality & Democracy – a vision that challenged us to fight for genuine equality – for racial justice and economic equality – and to strengthen our democracy. We want to ignite this call for justice within the hearts and minds of families and communities across our state. Join us on the Saturday of Martin Luther King weekend, January 16th, at 10am as we celebrate that vision and talk about concrete ways to move it closer to reality. Labor and Civil Rights — one movement for a better tomorrow (location: Bethel AME Church, 1154 Blue Hills Ave., Bloomfield).

 

December 21st, 2015

Posted In: Events, SEBAC

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For publicity related to the upcoming Campus Equity Week, we’re looking for adjuncts or former adjuncts who have had difficulty making ends meet though adjuncting, have found adjunct working conditions difficult (no office, etc) and are willing to talk about it with radio talk show hosts and newspaper reporters. Our goal is to find three adjuncts from each community college who are willing to do this. The ultimate goal of the publicity efforts is to get adjuncts’ pay raised. If you’re willing to discuss your situation, please call Anson Smith at 860-593-8090 or send him your contact info (office, cell, home numbers) as a Facebook message or as an e-mail at ansonsmith@att.net.as soon as possible. If you know someone else who is willing to discuss their experiences, please ask them to contact Anson.
Thank you, in solidarity!

October 7th, 2015

Posted In: Adjuncts, Campus Equity Week, Events

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From http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_labor_day_2015

OP-ED | Labor Day 2015

by Leo Canty | Sep 4, 2015 1:24pm
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Posted to: AnalysisCivil LibertiesCorporate WatchThe EconomyElection 2016EqualityLaborOpinion

LEO CANTY

Labor Day is a creation of the labor movement, dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers and the contributions they have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country, says a paraphrased Labor Department web post.

So how are we doing in 2015? Union membership strength has dropped to 11.1 percent, a level not seen since the 1940s and with most of the losses happening since 1988. Our wealth disparity has achieved historic separation as the middle class and the American dream evaporates. Collective well being, as recent polls note, is coming up short as 66 percent or more of Americans think our country is on the wrong track. Not Good.

It sounds familiar, though? Economic and social cycles have peaks and valleys. Everyone gets to go along for the ride. While the situations may not repeat, Mark Twain suggested, they often rhyme. No question we’re sliding on another down cycle, with a cadence of eras past and posing many questions about our nation’s progression from the great recession and the impact on unions and the subsequent dispossession of the middle class.

Many of the social and economic achievements boosting the American workforce of the past were the product of hard fought gains won by union efforts. The strength and prosperity that has seen better days grew tremendously from of a stable, well paid and secure workforce. None of that happened by accident or the kindness or generosity of capitalism. It took pain and hardship, street fights and political fights, riots and a revolution of sorts to raise the bar for so many to enjoy. People died, were beaten, and thrown in jail. Families were shattered by losing loved ones or by hardships from consequences of strikes, riots, or unjust action by corrupt politics. It was hard. It was ugly. It took forever. But it improved the national prosperity and well being and pushed middle class momentum on the up-cycle.

Workplace and economic oppression, along with social distress, are not new. Discontent has often fueled big changes and organized labor has often led the charge. The social and economic achievements celebrated on Labor Day came from struggles and aggression against the inherent evils of the forces that want more than their fair share, and capitalism breeds that.

We are in a cycle that grew from discontent that spawned a revolution in the early 1900s. It was sparked by obnoxious wealth that totally screwed the workforce for their own gains. The bad behaviors of many employers, abusing workers — adults and children — cheating on paychecks, forcing deadly work-until-you die conditions, and stemming discontent with violent force, made for a good reason to fight back. And that generation did.

The outcome of the fight forced changes in labor laws and pushed economic advances that created and expanded the middle class and changed America’s social fabric. It was revolutionary in that world. And all the time the revolution leaders could see, feel, harness, guide, and direct a lot of the heat and energy generated by the pain of discontent, the desire of many to fight for better lives for future generations. It was only that struggle, the way they knew how back then, that bred progress. Leaders like Frederick Douglas knew how that worked, and it did.

The pains of the depression and awful workplace environments fueled the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a student of Keynesian economics who pushed rapid job creation and programs to lift the country out of depression mode. Workers got rights, unions grew, workplaces became better, social distresses were eased, taxes on wealth rose to 90+ percent as wealth shared the cost of rebuilding the nation ravaged by their greed. Unions pushed harder for raising wages, shortening the work week, health care, building more infrastructure, supporting unionization, and securing retirement options.

Prosperity and well being were enhanced for everyone as the up-cycle grew. FDR’s program was working, for all but the richest few. The naysayers loaded their guns and fired away — verbally. They trashed his programs and called him a socialist and blocked everything they could. The capitalists relentlessly vented their objections to sharing wealth and growing the nation’s prosperity for everyone in any way they could. But unions, voters, middle class families, and most everyone knew labels didn’t matter. Outcomes did. FDR got a three-peat.

From the 1940’s to the 1970’s the economy, union membership, and shared prosperity soared and then leveled.

Reagan’s trickle-down voodoo economics and the fall of the Air Traffic Controllers union in 1988 fired the shot that started the race to the bottom. The strength of labor laws sagged. Big money spent more to take back shared prosperity any way they could, especially with big investments in politics. Labor never recovered. Momentum was crushed. That revolution ceased to spin. Union membership sank from its 30+ percent high and the economy slowly ebbed for all but the wealthiest.

Funny thing. The rhymes of history seem to have predictable stanzas based on a cycle repeating every four generations, at least according to William Strauss and Neil Howe and their book, Fourth Turning. It’s a 20-year-old prophesy that seems tuned in to this and many other historical cycles and predictable similar sounding outcomes.

Today’s generation is in dire need of a new foundation for tomorrow’s prosperity and well being — we need to build it and own it. Current concessions on jobs, wages, benefits, and quality of life won’t support a dream. It’s creating a nightmare of discontent, social and economic unrest, and uncertainty.

The ravages of unjust and disproportionate wealth is taking its toll — just like last time — and breeding new momentum for a revolution that may sound like the last one, only different. Power still will not concede without a struggle and better lives for the 99 percent won’t come by accident or from the kindness or generosity of the 1 percent who own the most. Surprisingly, if you can believe Strauss and Howe, it’s an inevitable process — genetically wired in history, so to speak.

Momentum for change is palpable, revealing itself in polls, platforms, and discourse. People are reacting to the pinch, there is social and economic tension festering, politics have gone crazy. This has moved growing numbers to get re-organized and re-mobilized. There is vibrant kinetic energy just waiting to be harnessed and channeled in the right direction. Change will happen and a new revolution seems to be knocking on America’s door.

Unions, as they have always been, are a great catalyst for action, fomenting the momentum needed for a sea change. People don’t want status quo, or a neap tide-like movement, and surely no one longs for a continuation of a receding tide. More middle-of-the-road approaches just won’t do. But it’s what seems to continue to be the only menu proffered by most politicians.

While we may be on the cusp of a new revolution sounding like the previous one, the action to get there may lose a piece of its rhyme. Pitchforks, torches, fisticuffs, guns, knives, bats, tire irons, and all other street fighting tools may have seen their day. We have smart phones and tablets that help create a new, different, and very strong voice. Violence and ugly weapon toting human interaction may be replaced with the power of like minds socially networked and activated to impact good outcomes. The smartphone may well be on its way to becoming mightier than the sword in the next revolution.

It’s surprising — with the need for change making itself heard everywhere and with a long, successful history of leading struggles for progress over many generational turns — that unions, to this point, have not yet embraced the power of a revolution builder like Bernie Sanders. He gets it. He hears the call. He has a plan of action. His revolutionary vision and campaign message rhymes with past successful middle class supporting approaches and traditional union values.

But, his methods and approach sound different as he’s hard at work building energized, peaceful human meet-ups and e-uprisings. The guns, knives, and bats are out. Masses of high-octane volunteers armed with smartphones and touchscreens are in.

Maybe labor has had a temporary hearing loss. Maybe the revolution skills are a bit rusty, it’s been a about four generations since the last cycle started. Maybe this generation needs to get more tablets booted up at the labor temples. A lot has changed and more change is coming. But Nov. 8, 2016, could easily be the start of a new verse that rhymes with Nov. 8, 1932, when FDR was elected and the revolution that brought us the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country took off and made Labor Day a perfect occasion for this generation and future ones to cheer the accomplishments of America’s workers.

Leo Canty is a retired vice president of AFT Connecticut. He is volunteering with the Bernie Sanders CT campaign.

DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.

September 7th, 2015

Posted In: Events

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