Our 2011 Texas delegation to the national Jobs with Justice conference included outstanding activism and ability. Gerardo Contreras, Jim Rivers, Brad Walker, and I made the trip to DC Aug 5-7 for the powerful education and inspiration offered. None of us was disappointed. Check out the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBjD5oj3Nb0
Just a few hours before the Communications Workers of America started their Verizon strike, we were listening to President Larry Cohen say that management was trying to rip away everything that the organized workers had ever won at Verizon. At midnight August 6, he proved that he wasn't bluffing when he said they would go on strike unless their concerns were addressed. I think that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers also went on strike. So far, we have received no direct suggestions as to how we can help, but CWA sent out an e-mail blast with Take action now! Signing their petition will make it easy for them to contact us with further requests as the need arises.
Larry Cohen also told us that JwJ was begun in early 1987 by the unions in the Industrial Union Department of the AFL-CIO. The IUD actually came from the "CIO" part of the federation, so our roots actually go back to the great CIO upsurge of the 1930s. The coalition has kicked off its 25th anniversary celebration. A lot of the activists at the conference weren't that old!
Cohen wasn't anywhere nearly the only terrific speaker. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis really blew our socks off with an enthusiastic list of the Labor Department's accomplishments with President Obama's backing and her hopes for the near future. It was great to hear the compliments that she paid to our JwJ coalitions for our role in backing up progressive change. Coming away, we felt like we could move mountains!
The big outdoor demonstration this year was at Walmart's DC headquarters. Typically, the organization raised noise at the jet-engine level. In addition to all the shouting and whistling, they brought a drummer and a brass band! The demands were
Coalition members are pretty excited about the new "Our Walmart" program to help employees organize and solve their own problems.
Some North Texans can remember when Reverend James Orange used to come here to help us with actions. He's gone now, but JwJ keeps his memory alive with a special Reverend James Orange Award. This year, they gave it to his old friend, Reverend Calvin S Morris of Chicago.
Gerardo Contreras took photos, including the one of Brad Walker above.