Tuesday, August 28, 2007

UPDATED - Insurgent Oaxaca: La Lucha Continúa

The struggle of the Teacher's Union and APPO (Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca) to oust the corrupt governor of Oaxaca State, and to construct a new, more justice social order, continues, despite serious repression.

In the summer of 2006, members of Section 22 of the Teacher's Union, other members of the working class, students, indigenous people, peasants and others, took control of much of Ciudad Oaxaca, and other parts of Oaxaca State, in an effort to oust the corrupt and brutal governor - Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. What had started as a teacher’s strike for better wages and improved funding for schools turned into a community wide rebellion and lead to the formation of APPO. As the working class of Oaxaca, in the face of government neglect and incompetence, took power into their own hands, a new future for the people of this long improvised part of Mexico seemed a real possibility. But by the fall of 2006, backed a federal government under the control of a illegitimate president, Ruiz and his thugs resumed control of the state by killing dozens and jailing many more. This past summer, the teacher’s and members of APPO returned to the streets to remind the governor they have not gone away.

During my visit in July, APPO was calling for a boycott of the "official Guelaguetza”. The Guelaguetza, a ancient tradition of the indigenous communities of Oaxaca, has been turned into a commercial, tourist orientated celebration by the state government – a celebration that few indigenous people can actually afford to attend. Last year, when the city was in the hands of the popular movement, a free peoples Guelaguetza was organized. This July, APPO organized the second peoples Guelaguetza, and called for a boycott of the commercial, government sponsored version.

During my visit, I interviewed documentary filmmaker and community radio activist, Jill Friedberg – producer of Granito de Arena, a film about the teacher’s movement in Oaxaca - about the current state of the popular struggle. You can listen to that interview here…

The photos you see here are mostly related to the Guelaguetza boycott campaign, including two marches and the political graffiti that covered almost every wall of central Ciudad Oaxaca...

Photobucket Album

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cygnus Strikers WIN on Chicago’s far South Side…


After a two week strike, the immigrant workers at the Cygnus soap factory in the Chicago suburb of Riverdale, have convinced the management not to fire workers because of Social Security “no match” letters. Cygnus management had threatened workers who had asked for a wage increase, with dismissal, using Social Security “no match” letters as an excuse. As a result, the vast majority of the factory’s over 120 workers walked off the job on July 30th, demanding that all employees keep their jobs. The Cygnus workers were not union, but strong organizing by worker leaders in the plant ensured few crossed the picket line. They have since joined the IAM (International Association of Machinists).

Today it was announced that management had conceded to the workers demands and the workers agreed to return to work next Monday. Proving what immigrant workers can accomplish when the fight back.

For more tune into this Sunday’s Labor Express Radio program – 7:00 P.M. on 88.7 FM – WLUW.

NABET 41 Takes On Disney/ABC

After working without a contract since April 1, 2007, NABET Local 41 newsgathering crews, editors and some producers held a protest in front of ABC Channel 7 studios in Chicago on August 15. Disney, which owns ABC, is trying to freeze the pension plan, dismantle the seniority system, offer wages less than COL, and other anti-worker measures.
View the Labor Beat video on the protest here...
Video produced by Labor Beat. Labor Beat is affiliated with IBEW 1220.Views are those of the producer, not necessarily of IBEW. Labor Beat is a CAN TV Community Partner. For info: mail@laborbeat.org, http://www.laborbeat.org/. 312-226-3330. For more videos, go to Google Video or YouTube, search "Labor Beat".

Friday, August 10, 2007

FLOC - Making Cross Border Solidarity Real:

-- FLOC Organizer - Cástulo Benavides Rodríguez - Outside FLOC's Monterrey Office, recently renamed the Santiago Rafael Cruz Justice Center (top) and Santiago Rafael Cruz (bottom) FLOC organizer who was murdered last April.

In this era of increased globalization and growing migrant labor, most unions are talking about organizing internationally. But making cross border organizing something real and concrete is a whole other story. FLOC (Farm Labor Organizing Committee) is putting rhetoric into practice. FLOC has setup an office in Monterrey Mexico, from which they can organize, educate and reach out to farm workers in their hometowns in Mexico. Their efforts to protect guest workers from exploitative labor recruitment agencies, has earned them the respect of many Mexican migrant laborers, and the ire of those that prey on migrants. FLOC organizers believe labor recruiters were behind the brutal murder of FLOC organizer Santiago Rafael Cruz in their Monterrey office last April.

I visited with FLOC organizers in Monterrey this past July. On upcoming epidodes of the Labor Express Radio program, you will be able to hear interviews I conducted while there. I will also be publishing some print stories based on my visit in coming weeks.

For now, feel free to browse through these photos from my trip...

Free Mansour Osanloo and Mahmoud Salehi

The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), and labor activists around the world are demanding the release Mansour Osanloo, President of the Tehran Bus Workers’ Union, and Mahmoud Salehi, a founding member of the Saqez Bakery Workers’ Association and of the Coordinating Committee to Form Workers’ Organisations. Salehi was arrested last April and Osanloo in July in a major effort by the Iranian government to squelch the labor movement in Iran. Reports indicate that both men are in ill health.

On Thursday August 9th, trade union activists in Algeria, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Iran, Finland, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Trinidad, the USA (including Chicago) and Yemen, held rally's demanding the release of Osanloo & Salehi. The response of the Iranian government so far has been to arrest 5 more members of the Executive Board of the bus drivers’ union.

You can find out more about there case and how to support the campaign for their release at the following websites...