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On December 10, International Human Rights Day, North Texans assembled Wal-Mart on I-30 at the St Francis exit in East Dallas. Teamsters from mighty Local 745 constituted about half of the crowd of 150, which strung out along the freeway access road for in a line more than 3 city blocks. The United Food and Commercial Workers, also part of the new "Coalition for Change" joined in. The other half of the group consisted of AFL-CIO affiliated unionists and a handful of supporters from the peace and immigrants' rights movements. Rudy Anderson of Jobs with Justice brought signs and shrill whistles for everyone.
Media coverage was disappointing. There were two TV cameras at the scene, and the CBS affiliate had a short announcement early that morning before the event. Neither the Dallas newspaper nor any of its many newspaper, radio, and TV affiliates mentioned anything about Human Rights Day.
Organizer Sandy Rusher of the Communications Workers brought anti-Wal Mart "Christmas Carols." Three political candidates came out: Gary Fitzsimmons for County Clerk, Carter Thompson for Judge, and David Hanschen for Family Court Judge.
Lee Medley of the Steelworkers reported that Galveston County Central Labor County had a successful teach in at the College of the Mainland in Texas City. Unionists were joined by the NAACP and other community activists. The highlights of the program were speakers W.E. "Sonny" Sanders - United Steelworker's Intl. Rep., Texas AFL-CIO HR Director Paula Littles, and a surprise visit from soon to be candidate for Texas Governor, Bob Gammage.
Medley says that a screening of the new Wal-mart movie stole the day, as the shocked and angered response from the crowd clearly demonstrated. A panel of top union leaders made the day a big educational success.
Paul Hill of Houston writes that unionists there carried out Human Rights Day activities while running successful election-day efforts. The AFL-CIO backed candidate handily won a State Legislative seat. A union-backed candidate took an at-large City Council position.
About 200 people marched from the Mickey Leland Federal Bldg to the Continental Airlines building. Top political candidates, including Tom DeLay's Democratic opponent, Nick Lampson; Congressman Gene Green, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Representative Al Edwards, and County Commissioner Sylvia Garza turned out with a diverse crowd from different unions. Most of the speeches were about America's right to join a union, but Congresswoman Lee drew cheers with a call to bring the troops home from Iraq.
There were other events scheduled in Austin, Corpus Christi, and San Antonio.
National and international events are listed on www.aflcio.org/joinaunion/voiceatwork/d10.cfm
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