Friday, April 29, 2011

Will public workers and immigrants march together on May Day?

David Bacon
One sign carried in almost every May Day march of the last few years says it all: "We are Workers, not Criminals!" Often it was held in the calloused hands of men and women who looked as though they'd just come from work in a factory, cleaning an office building, or picking grapes.
The sign stated an obvious truth. Millions of people have come to the United States to work, not to break its laws. Some have come with visas, and others without them. But they are all contributors to the society they've found here.

 This year, those marchers will be joined by the public workers we saw in the state capitol in Madison, whose message was the same: we all work, we all contribute to our communities and we all have the right to a job, a union and a decent life. Past May Day protests have responded to a wave of draconian proposals to criminalize immigration status, and work itself, for undocumented people. The defenders of these proposals have used a brutal logic: if people cannot legally work, they will leave.
But undocumented people are part of the communities they live in. They cannot simply go, nor should they. They seek the same goals of equality and opportunity that working people in the United States have historically fought to achieve.  In addition, for most immigrants, there are no jobs to return to in the countries from which they've come. The North American Free Trade Agreement alone deepened poverty in Mexico so greatly that, since it took effect, 6 million people came to the United States to work because they had no alternative. 

Instead of recognizing this reality, the U.S. government has attempted to make holding a job a criminal act. Thousands of workers have already been fired, with many more to come. We have seen workers sent to prison for inventing a Social Security number just to get a job. Yet they stole nothing and the money they've paid into Social Security funds now subsidizes every Social Security pension or disability payment. 

Undocumented workers deserve legal status because of that labor—their inherent contribution to society. Past years' marches have supported legalization for the 12 million undocumented people in the United States. In addition, immigrants, unions and community groups have called for repealing the law making work a crime, ending guest worker programs, and guaranteeing human rights in communities along the U.S./Mexico border.
The truth is that undocumented workers and public workers in Wisconsin have a lot in common. In this year's May Day marches, they could all hold the same signs. With unemployment at almost 9%, all working families need the Federal government to set up jobs programs, like those Roosevelt pushed through Congress in the 1930s. If General Electric alone paid its fair share of taxes, and if the troops came home from Iraq and Afghanistan, we could put to work every person wanting a job. Our roads, schools, hospitals and communities would all benefit.

At the same time, immigrants and public workers need strong unions that can push wages up, and guarantee pensions for seniors and healthcare for the sick and disabled. A street cleaner whose job is outsourced, and an undocumented worker fired from a fast food restaurant both need protection for their right to work and support their families.

Instead, some states like Arizona, and now Georgia, have passed measures allowing police to stop any "foreign looking" person on the street, and question their immigration status. Arizona passed a law requiring employers to fire workers whose names are flagged by Social Security. In Mississippi an undocumented worker accused of holding a job can get jail time of 1-5 years, and fines of up to $10,000.

The states and politicians that go after immigrants are the same ones calling for firing public workers and eliminating their union rights. Now a teacher educating our children has no more secure future in her job than an immigrant cleaning an office building at night. The difference between their problems is just one of degree.

 But going after workers has produced a huge popular response. We saw it in Madison in the capitol building. We saw it in the May Day marches when millions of immigrants walked peacefully through the streets. Working people are not asleep. Helped by networks like May Day United, they remember that this holiday itself was born in the fight for the 8-hour day in Chicago more than a century ago.
See post below.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

May Day Action in Sacramento

Immigrant Rights / International Workers Day

Let’s Rally!

Sunday, May 1st, 2011 @ 10 AM
CA State Captiol – North  Steps

For more information, please contact Lino Pedres, Vice President of SEIU Local 1877, USWW at (916) 275-2039 or

SB 1070- Arizona Immigrants networks are stronger

One Year After SB 1070, Arizona's Immigrant Networks Are Stronger
By Valeria Fernandez
 New America Media
It’s a warm afternoon at a trailer park in Central Phoenix as Isidro Carreras sets up chairs on his lawn. Neighbors start arriving gradually, until a group of about 30 people has gathered in a circle.
The session of the Comité de Defensa del Barrio (Neighborhood Defense Committee) is about to begin. The group is one of many that was formed with the help of the pro-immigrant organization PUENTE as a support network for immigrant families in the wake of the passage of Arizona's tough immigration law, SB 1070.
One year after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill into law, making it a state crime to be an undocumented immigrant in Arizona, immigrant networks have grown stronger. Two years ago, there were no Neighborhood Defense Committees here. Now there are about 20 of these immigrant groups in different parts of Phoenix alone.
“SB 1070 really hurt us, but also united us as one,” says Carreras, a 57-year-old undocumented immigrant from Veracruz, Mexico.
Last summer, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton blocked five provisions of SB 1070 from taking effect, a decision that was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last week. But the rest of the law has been implemented, including a provision that bans so-called “sanctuary cities”—cities that limit police involvement in immigration enforcement.

Monday, April 25, 2011

How Do We Respond to Obama?

By Bill Fletcher, Jr.
April 21, 2011

Rather than dwell on the question of whether we can
bring Obama home, whether he ever was home, etc., I
want to refocus on this question of how to respond to
him, particularly as we start to think about 2012.

First, what do we now say about 2008? Contrary to those
who have thrown up their hands and feel betrayed by
what the Obama administration has not done, I start in
a different place. I continue to assert that Obama was
knowable in 2008. He was a charismatic, smart candidate
who made the right call on the Iraq War and stepped out
on the issue when it was necessary. He was also, as I
said at the time, someone who could appear to be
different things to different people. The problem was
that too many of his supporters saw what they wanted to
see rather than what existed.

What existed? Well, from the beginning he was a
corporate candidate. We knew that. The question was not
whether he was one but the extent to which his views
could be shifted in order to take progressive, non-
corporate stands. Second, he was a candidate who was
going to avoid race as you or I would avoid a plague
ship. He went out of his way to prove that he was not
an `angry black man' and that race was not going to be
an issue that he would harp on. Third, he was clear
that he wanted to change the image of the USA around
the world, but it was not clear to what extent he
wanted to change the substance of the relationship of
the USA to the rest of the world.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Oprah promotes Arizona, progressives boycott Arizona

Oprah Winfrey from time to time makes media exposure contributions to civil rights efforts.  She has also made extensive contributions to the fake “school reform” crowd of Bill Gates, Michele Rhee and others.
Today she had her Best Friends show.  All the members of the audience received a trip to an Arizona spa.
Apparently she does not know that many in the labor and Latino community are boycotting Arizona in protest of the anti immigrant, anti Latino legislation passed there.  That is unfortunate.  Perhaps you should send her an e mail and tell her of her contributions to the anti Latino campaigns.
Solidarity works when we work together.
Boycott Arizona  http://www.boy

Groups that announced travel boycotts of Arizona:
                                Service Employees International Union
                                United Food and Commercial Workers International Union
                                National Council of La Raza
                                Asian American Justice Center
                                Center for Community Change
                                League of United Latin American Citizens
                                National Puerto Rican Coalition
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
You can leave comments to the Oprah show  here:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Obama on Immigration reform - Facebook


   So Cesar Fernandez (ph) and Elisa Rectanas (ph) are participating in one of those roundtables, and they wanted to ask you this:  “Mr. President, in your deficit reduction speech last week you spoke of the need to not only reduce government spending but to also increase federal revenue.  In light of our nation’s budget challenges, will your administration consider revisiting policies such as the DREAM Act, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will reduce the deficit by $1.4 billion and increase the government revenue by $2.3 billion over the next 10 years?”  (Applause.)
     THE PRESIDENT:  Let me talk about not only the DREAM Act but about immigration policy generally.  And I want to thank -- Sheryl Sandberg actually participated in a discussion that we had yesterday, bringing together business leaders and government officials and faith leaders, a broad cross-section of Americans together to talk about how do we finally fix an immigration system that's fundamentally broken.
     For those of you who aren’t familiar, the DREAM Act is -- deals with a particular portion of the population, kids who were brought here when they were young by their parents; their parents might have come here illegally -- the kids didn't do anything.  They were just doing what kids do, which is follow their parents. They’ve grown up as Americans.  They went to school with us or with our kids.  They think of themselves as Americans, but many of them still don't have a legal status.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thousands protest fee hikes in California

          Thousands in Sacramento Rally on April 13
Over 1,500  students walked out of their classes at Sacramento State  University on  April 13,  in protest against the  state budget cuts and the rising tuition in the California State University  System – part of the largest university system in the world.  Student protesters expect that already passed budget cuts will lead to larger classes, fewer classes, eliminated programs,  and an increased time to graduate.  Student fees in the CSU system have increased 224 % since 1998, under both Republican and Democratic Administrations.
 History Professor Joe Palermo spoke to the crowd gathered in the Sac State Quad arguing,
 “What we've been witnessing in recent years is nothing short of the wholesale auctioning off, often to the lowest bidder of the public commons right under the feet of the majority of California's citizens who never signed on to this long-term project of destruction…
 He argued that California's economy has little chance of recovering from the Great Recession if it  remains mired in a politically generated fiscal crisis that prevents us from investing in our future. Unwise public policy today has a tendency to come back and haunt us later. The decision to de-fund higher education amidst prolonged high unemployment and underemployment and record home foreclosures will go down in the state's history as one of the stupidest public policy choices ever taken.”
A series of student organizers from Students for Quality Education spoke of the costs of cuts to their lives.  Amanda Moores described the irresponsibility of the University Administration in producing a 66% increase in Executive Salaries paid for in part by   a 224 % increase in student fees.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Martin Luther King in Memphis

April 4 marks the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, murdered in 1968 while fighting for the rights of striking Memphis sanitation workers. This event is brilliantly chronicled in the acclaimed documentary, At the River I Stand. This year's anniversary will be marked by protests and events nationwide in support of unions and workers' rights. Join in the events by visiting

"The struggle and triumph of dignity over injustice is the luminous tapestry of all great social movements. At the River I Stand is an inspiring visual testament and a call to witness to every viewer." 
--Gerald McEntee, President, AFSCME
See the video.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Students Arrested in Georgia- Dream Act

Atlanta (CNN) -- Seven students were arrested Tuesday after staging a sit-in at an Atlanta intersection, blocking traffic in a symbolic effort to raise awareness about a controversial immigration issue.
Georgina Perez, Viridiana Martinez, Jose Rico, Dayanna Rebolledo, Andrea Rosales, David Ramirez and Maria Marroquin were arrested nearGeorgia State University. [IRN Note: Check their website for live streaming: ]
"We want to show the people that we are undocumented and we're not afraid," Marroquin said.
All are [SIC] illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as young children, they said, and were protesting the lack of support for the Dream Act in Congress.
The bill -- which was defeated in December 2010 -- would have given children who have grown up in the United States an opportunity to earn citizenship despite their family's immigration status.
Georgia's public colleges have adopted policies that officials say will prevent [SIC] illegal immigrants from attending five high-demand schools and from being admitted ahead of legally and academically qualified residents at the rest of the state's public institutions of higher learning.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A tribute to Manning Marable

The Great Wells of Manning Marable 

Melissa Harris-Perry

April 3, 2011

We have suffered a great loss in the passing of
Professor Manning Marable. As my Nation colleague John
 wrote yesterday [1], the coming weeks will be
filled with tributes to Manning's life and work. He
was, as John says, "one of America's truest public

Manning was an unflinching and breathtakingly prolific
scholar whose commitments to racial, economic, gender,
and international justice were unparalleled. In decades
of weekly columns, hundreds of academic journal
 and a dozen books, Manning has already written
his own legacy. But despite the fact that we all have
"Manning Marable shelves" in our personal libraries,
there are two generations of African-American scholars
who will remember him as much for the mentor he was to
us as for the research legacy he leaves.

It is still a surprisingly lonely endeavor to be an
African-American academic pursuing research on black
life. Despite the outward appearance of successful
careers, many black social scientists, historians and
humanists wage a daily battle for relevance and respect
in our departments and on our campuses. The fight
begins in graduate school and does not seem to abate
even after we have published articles, written books,
achieved tenure or garnered professional praise.

Friday, April 01, 2011

In Memoriam - Manning Marable

Manning Marable, African-American Studies Scholar, Has Died at 60

Manning Marable, the author of a long-awaited new biography of Malcolm X to be published Monday and director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University, died Friday at the age of 60, his wife, Leith Mullings, has confirmed.
He had been hospitalized with pneumonia last month, and last summer had a double lung transplant meant to relieve him of sarcoidosis, a lung disease from which he had suffered for a quarter century.
Manning Marable and the efforts of this blog.
See an obituary here.

        Dr. Manning Marable played a significant role in the merger of DSOC and NAM, bringing several NAM strengths into the new organization. The points of unity between NAM and DSOC were carefully drafted to reflect the strengths of each organization.   In the summer of 1983 Manning  organized a conference of Third World Socialists at Fisk University, bringing together a diverse group of  left academics and activists. The list of participants was impressive.
            New Commissions for DSA, a Latino Commission, an African American Commission and an Anti Racism Commission were developed at this conference. These commissions came together in publishing Our Struggle/Nuestra Lucha, the newsletter of these commissions from 1983 until 2004.
            Dr. Marable was both a Vice Chair and a member of the National Executive  Committee ( later the NPC)  where he provided a strong voice for the  work of bringing a significantly multiracial membership to the organization.   In the Vol.1, N.1, of Our Struggle we report that the new NEC Unanimously voted to establish quotas for representatives of each ethnic/cultural group on the NEC an idea that was developed at the Fisk conference.
            One of Manning’s major contributions  within DSA was to develop a new journal, Third World Socialist, a journal for the diverse left movements of the time.  TWS was published  by the National and Racial Minorities Coordinating Committee of DSA, chaired by Manning and supported by Michael Harrington  and Leo Casey and Gerry Hudson (among others) .  The first issue had an  essay by Manning – Run Jesse Run, and the second issue an essay by Manning, The Jackson Campaign ( of 1983-1984) A Critical Assessment.  These essays would later appear in his popular weekly columns in African American newspapers around the nation.  A young scholar Cornel West was at the Fisk meeting and  has an essay in this journal on The Black Church and Socialists Politics. There were two issues of this journal.   For decades Manning wrote columns in the African American press with the by- line Along the Color Line and he spoke at hundreds of college campuses.   He used this popularly written column to promote a democratic socialist perspective.
Dr. Marable was also a major voice in the African American struggle for justice.  Local friends  Faye Kennedy and Carl Pinkston described his role as:

In the 1990,s Manning Marable was one of the five leading African-American activist to host a series of national discussions on organizing a movement of the Black Left. Out of the discussions emerged the National Black Radical Congress (BRC), founded on June 19, 1998.  Manning played a critical role in the formation and implementation of the Black Radical Congress (BRC), providing vision and leadership throughout the process. Manning wrote the draft Freedom Agenda for the Black Radical Congress modeled after the Black Panther Party ten-point platform.
Manning used writings and lectures to address racism, sexism and classism in US; and specific in the Black community.  Manning’s powerful voice was heard clearly in such noted publications and books as: How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America (1983), Black Liberation in Conservative America (1997) and The Great Wells of Democracy (2003), and in a political column, "Along the Color Line," which was syndicated in more than 100 newspapers. In every major Black newspapers, Manning political column “Along the Color Line” serve as a political beacon during the 80’s and 90’s. Manning life long scholarship and activism challenged the Left to address anti-racism work. Most importantly, Manning challenge the Black community to understand the roles of class and sexism; and how its impact communities. Lastly, Manning stood on the side of the Black working class. 

To read some of the essays, see- Race, Reform and Rebellion; The Second Reconstruction and Beyond in Black America, 1945-2006.   First published in 1984.  Third Edition, 2007.
And, Black American Politics: From the Washington Marches to Jesse Jackson,  (1985)
And, Historical Studies in Race, Class Consciousness and Revolution.  (1981)
Joe, in his tribute, mentions one of the major works, How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America.  1983.

More recently, he edited. Let Nobody Turn Us Around; Voices of Resistance, Reform and Renewal.  2000.
Manning co-authored a chapter on race in the first edition of my work,
Choosing Democracy: a practical guide to multicultural education. (1994)

Manning was the co-author of a chapter in the first edition  in my book, Choosing Democracy, a practical guide to multicultural education.
Duane Campbell