Friday, April 29, 2022

Primero de Mayo

Our Blog of the Week takes you back to nationwide demonstrations for an eight-hour work week in 1886 and juxtaposes those demonstrations with what has, and hasn’t changed, for workers today.

Much has changed since the first May Day, but building worker power and combating racism and xenophobia remain just as important.

May 1 is International Workers’ Day, a day workers around the world mark as Labor Day with marches, demonstrations, and renewed calls for workers’ rights. “May Day” got its start in 1886, when U.S. workers rallied in support of ongoing campaigns for an eight-hour day, setting May 1 as a deadline to begin mass strikes if employers failed to adopt shorter hours.

In 1886 Chicago, where tens of thousands joined May Day actions and thousands went on strike, subsequent police shootings of striking workers escalated into the well-known Haymarket Tragedy. Months of state-sanctioned, anti-immigrant repression of labor organizing followed. Police raids of union halls and arrests of organizers culminated in a sham trial, eight guilty verdicts, and public hanging of four prominent immigrant, working-class movement leaders (a fifth died by suicide prior to the execution date). The trial and executions were followed closely by workers across the country and around the world. In memory of the Haymarket Martyrs, labor and socialist organizations declared May Day International Workers’ Day, now an official public holiday in many countries.

Over 100 years later, our May Day 2022 economy has much in common with that of May Day 1886—rising inequality, economic upheavals affecting those with the least financial security, xenophobia, market concentration, and an upsurge in workers taking matters into their own hands while facing intense employer resistance. U.S. factory workers and railroad workers are still campaigning for shorter hours, in some cases striking (or threatening strikes) to challenge inhumane 12-to-14-hour shifts and unpredictable forced overtime. New generations of workers, including many immigrants, are breaking through barriers of employer union-busting to organize unions in warehouseshospitals, nursing homescoffee shopsretail storesmedia outletsuniversities, and beyond.

This May Day, policymakers should follow the lead of these workers, reverse policies that constrain worker power, and avoid the mistakes of the First Gilded Age that followed May Day 1886 by enacting a pro-worker agenda at both state and federal levels.

Eight Hours for Work, Eight Hours for Rest, Eight Hours of What We Will” – chant from 1886 strike

A shortened workday was a radical concept in 1886, as six-day workweeks with 12-to-14-hour days were not uncommon. Working conditions were dismal, and the nation was in the midst of the “Long Depression,” a period of severe contraction and crisis in the banking and railroad sectors. Growing numbers of workers were taking action to demand better; the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 695 strikes took place in 1885 with just over 250,000 workers involved. Just one year later in 1886, there were over double the number of strikes and 610,000 workers involved.  


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Latino Voting

 Every 30 seconds, a Latinx person turns 18. That means that, in the five minutes that it takes you to read this article, 10 Latinx youth will turn 18, 2,880 in the next 24 hours, and over a million in the next 365 days—each one potentially becoming eligible to vote.

These demographic trends are not new, and already we are seeing the impact of our growing community. In the 2020 presidential election, 16.6 million Latinx community members cast their vote, a 30.9 percent increase compared to 2016. 

Our community has the potential to change the face of national and local elections while increasing representation in government and thus vastly improving the socioeconomic state of our community. According to Voto Latino, however, there were still 12 million Latinx people eligible to vote who did not register for the 2020 election.

While it is common to blame our community, the truth is that this is a constructed reality and the Latinx community’s lack of participation is by design. Voter apathy and lack of community engagement are founded on the lies that are continuously told within and to our community.

As a young Latina voter, I have been lied to.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Oppose H2A Exploitation


I'm reaching out as you've been there for farm workers in the past taking action to protect them from abuse and exploitation. We have a horrifying situation to share with you and need to ask you to sign our petition to the Biden Administration @ 

Operation Blooming Onion was in the news earlier this year after it resulted in at least 54 indictments that included forced labor trafficking, human smuggling and money laundering—among others—in a years-long exploitation of workers on South Georgia farms. According to the Department of Justice, the workers were "required to dig onions with their bare hands, paid 20 cents for each bucket harvested, and threatened with guns and violence to keep them in line. The workers were held in cramped, unsanitary quarters and fenced work camps with little or no food, limited plumbing and without safe water. The conspirators are accused of raping, kidnapping and threatening or attempting to kill some of the workers or their families, and in many cases sold or traded the workers to other conspirators. At least two of the workers died as a result of workplace conditions."

The situation has frighteningly expanded to the very officials whose job it is to protect and advocate for these H2A workers. According to an article in USA Today, two Georgia officials have ties to one of the largest U.S. human trafficking cases ever prosecuted involving H2A workers.

Something needs to be done NOW! The federal government needed to step in during the civil rights movement when state officials were complicit. Now GA's Labor Department—which should be protecting farm workers—has been linked with those charged with exploiting them. Federal officials must step up and take the lead. Sign the petition @ 

The indictments didn't explicitly detail the links to the Georgia government, but journalists combed through public records and social media to reveal them. Perhaps even more shocking than the indictments is that the very government officials tasked with protecting farm workers are accused of being connected to these horrible crimes.

Former Georgia Department of Labor employee Brett Bussey was indicted in the Operation Blooming Onion case for conspiring to engage in forced labor. State Monitor Advocate Jorge Gomez' sister and nephew have been indicted and other members of his family are being investigated. Currently Gomez remains on the job. His sister, Maria Leticia Patricio, is accused of conspiring to engage in forced labor involving foreign farm workers. His nephew, Daniel Mendoza, is accused of aiding in the kidnapping of four workers. His daughter, another sister and a niece are among those whose homes were searched or who had property confiscated in connection with the case but were not indicted.

As they were employed by a state agency tasked with preventing labor violations and inspecting H2A housing, this is clearly a conflict of interest. Sign the petition calling for greater federal oversight on the H2A program and demanding the Biden Administration immediately implement policies to stop the abuses. Go to 

Thank you for caring,

Jocelyn Sherman
UFW Digital Director

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Chicano Park


A view of murals at Chicano Park in San Diego.John Francis Peters for The New York Times

SAN DIEGO — Below crisscrossing freeway overpasses and the whooshing of speeding cars is one of the largest collections of outdoor murals in the United States.

Frida Kahlo’s distinct features are rendered huge on a concrete pylon. Majestic Aztec warriors prepare for battle. On a recent afternoon, a woman stopped to photograph Cesar Chavez and other Latino leaders painted on the side of a highway off-ramp.

This is Chicano Park, the heart of San Diego’s oldest Mexican American neighborhood, known as Barrio Logan. The park, which will mark its 52nd anniversary on Friday, remains a symbol of Latinos’ struggle for recognition and power in this border city as well as the rest of California.

“In most of our lives, this is probably the only time that we’ve ever had a voice — a say in something we wanted,” Jose Gomez, one of the leaders in the creation of the park, said in “Chicano Park,” a 1988 documentary. “You know, it’s not much of a park, but it’s our park.”

York Times

In the early 1960s, a heavily Latino neighborhood in southeastern San Diego known as Logan Heights was bifurcated by the construction of Interstate 5. Just a few years later, the newly built Coronado Bridge carved another path through the community and dislocated even more families.

Though Mexican Americans had long been accustomed to not being included in decisions made by government officials, many began to feel more empowered during the civil rights movement. So residents of the neighborhood they called Barrio Logan demanded a park to make up for what had been lost.

In 1969, officials agreed to designate green space underneath bridge pylons that now pierced the community. But in April 1970, bulldozers arrived to raze the land to construct a California Highway Patrol station, not a park.

A statue of the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata.John Francis Peters for The New York Times

This led to a takeover of the three-acre parcel, with protesters forming a human chain around the bulldozers to halt further construction. The group occupied the park for 12 days, as demonstrators flooded in from nearby homes and Chicano studies classes while other activists traveled from Los Angeles and Santa Barbara to support the movement.

Fed up with years of disregard from the city, protesters planted cactuses, flowers and trees to create a garden on their own.

“What have you given us? A social system that makes us beggars and police who make us afraid?” a demonstrator who identified himself only as a San Diego State University student told city officials on April 23, 1970, according to a history compiled by S.D.S.U. researchers. “We’ve got the land and we are going to work it. We are going to get that park. We no longer talk about asking. We have the park.”

On May 1, city leaders agreed to build a park on the land in Barrio Logan. Thus, Chicano Park was born.

Kera Lovell, a history professor at the University of Utah, told me there were at least four dozen such park takeovers in the United States in the 1960s and ’70s. The most well-known is Berkeley’s People’s Park, which was founded the year before Chicano Park.

John Francis Peters for The New York Times

These acts of protest most likely became popular as Americans grappled with the issues of land rights and imperialism during the Vietnam War and an era of urban renewal.

“It just calls into question who owns the space and what is power,” Lovell told me. “I don’t know if they were ever meant to last.”

But Chicano Park has.

Four years after the park takeover in 1970, Latino artists began to cover the concrete surfaces in the park with paintings that told the stories of their people. Today more than 80 murals are splashed along several blocks, depicting an array of images, including lowrider culture and deaths at the border.

In 2017, Chicano Park was named a National Historic Landmark. It’s currently being considered for designation by the National Park Service.

“The pillars are pretty awful. They’re gray and stark — but they see them as these canvases that they’re going to paint about their life in this world in which they’re being displaced,” Lovell told me. “In my work, I say Chicano Park is a success as far as not just survival, but thriving.”

For more:


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

More Than A Wall/ Mas Que un Muro




- a book of photographs by David Bacon and oral histories created during 30 years of covering the people and social movements of the Mexico/U.S. border
- a complex, richly textured documentation of a world in newspaper headlines daily, but whose reality, as it's lived by border residents, is virtually invisible.
- 440 pages
- 354 duotone black-and-white photographs
- a dozen oral histories
-  incisive journalism and analysis by David Bacon, Don Bartletti, Luis Escala, Guillermo Alonso and Alberto del Castillo.
- completely bilingual in English and Spanish
- published by El Colegio de la Frontera Norte with support from the UCLA Institute for Labor Research and Education and the Center for Mexican Studies, the Werner Kohlstamm Family Fund, and the Green Library at Stanford University

Publication date - May 1, 2022 (May Day, of course)

Price:  $35 plus postage and handling
Pre-publication discount for orders before May 1, use coupon "prepublication"
To order, click here:

Signing events coming in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Joaquin Valley and elsewhere.

"The "border" is just a line. It's the people who matter - their relationships with or without or across that line. The book helps us feel the impact of the border on people living there, and helps us figure out how we talk to each other about it. The germ of the discussion are these wonderful and eye-opening pictures, and the voices that help us understand what these pictures mean." - JoAnn Intili, director, The Werner-Kohnstamm Family Fund 



Border Communities and their Social Justice Movements
Photographs by David Bacon

Sit down and read. Prepare yourself for the coming battle.  Mother Jones.  1837- 1930,.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Mexican Unions and Trade


SNITIS and Rethink Trade Announce Filing of New USMCA ‘Rapid Response Mechanism’ Labor Case to Fight for Mexican Workers at Reynosa Panasonic Plants Denied Legitimate Union Representation


Panasonic, Local Authorities and a Corrupt Union Are Colluding to Impose an Illegal Collective Bargaining Agreement on Workers in Violation of USMCA Labor Rules 


Washington, D.C. – The Sindicato Nacional Independiente de Trabajadores de Industrias y de Servicios Movimiento 20/32 (SNITIS) and Rethink Trade today filed a United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) labor complaint targeting Panasonic Automotive Systems de Mexico S.A. de C.V. Tensions have escalated at Panasonic’s auto parts factory in Reynosa over the past several weeks leading to an April 21-22 union election, as the corporation fired workers who support independent union SNITIS and tried to impose an unapproved collective bargaining agreement (CBA) made with a contested union. Mexican workers denied their fundamental right to organize and bargain for better wages and working conditions have won recent RRM cases against General Motors and Tridonex.


In October 2021, workers rejected an existing labor contract at Panasonic’s Reynosa facilities during the USMCA-required relegitimization process. Tensions have escalated since the firm began colluding with a Confederación de Trabajadores de México (CTM) union and local authorities to try force a new CBA on workers that they have not approved, which was negotiated by the CTM union that does not lawfully represent them. CTM is a national labor federation associated with a conservative political party that is notorious for protecting the interests of employers rather than workers.


“This complaint raises serious allegations about the actions of the employer, the CTM union, and the local labor authority that should be investigated immediately,” said Ben Davis, United Steelworkers’ Director of International Affairs.


After workers voted down the preexisting CBA last fall, Mexican independent union SNITIS filed for a certificate to represent the Panasonic employees and negotiate a new contract. More than 600 Panasonic workers signed in support of SNITIS. The CTM union, Sindicato Industrial Autónomo de Operarios en General de Maquiladoras de la República Mexicana (SIAMARM), also petitioned to represent the workers. With two unions disputing the right of representation, Mexican federal authorities called for a union election to be held on April 21 and 22, 2022.


“Fighting against the CTM means facing a titan, but there is no small adversary and independent Mexican unions grow stronger day-by-day due to workers’ rejection of corrupt unions because of their betrayal, embezzlements, robbery and exploitation,” said Susana Prieto Terrazas, labor leader and member of the Mexican Congress. “Neither SNITIS nor other minority unions will rest until justice is achieved. The government of Tamaulipas cannot keep unlawfully undermining freedom of association and union democracy and we commend the U.S. government for helping us to keep in check corporations that benefit from labor rights violations in Mexico.”


In violation of its obligations under Mexico’s 2019-reformed Federal Labor Law, Panasonic has allowed SIAMARM’s staff to go into the plants and impose its delegates who have tried to bribe workers in exchange of their votes. Panasonic also started to withhold union dues for SIAMARM from its employees’ paychecks. It also circulated a new CBA signed with the CTM union, filing it with the local Conciliation and Arbitration Board and colluding with the CTM union to demand that workers sign a document endorsing this illegitimate contract.


“Bold action from the U.S. government using the Rapid Response Mechanism led to two independent unions winning elections at GM Silao and Tridonex. We are confident that the Biden administration will act accordingly in this case and work with the Mexican government to address this troubling state of affairs at Panasonic,” said Daniel Rangel, an attorney with Rethink Trade. “Since November 2021, the authority to register collective contracts lies exclusively with Mexican federal institutions. The fact that the Tamaulipas government acceded to register this fraudulent contract shows the lengths local elites are willing to go to obstruct workers’ ability to unionize independently and demand better wages and working conditions.”  


Rethink Trade is a program of the American Economic Liberties Project.



Arthur Stamoulis                             Bob Cash
Citizens Trade Campaign               Texas Fair Trade Coalition
(202) 494-8826                                (512) 912-6630


Thursday, April 07, 2022

Monday, April 04, 2022


The Reality Check: HONORING DOLORES HUERTA'S LEGACY: HONORING DOLORES HUERTA'S LEGACY Photoessay by David Bacon The Nation, April 2, 2022

Excellent photo essay.  Look at the photos.

Last fall I walked from Poplar to Delano, Calif., in honor of Larry Itliong, who started the 1965 grape strike and boycott there, with Dolores Huerta, cofounder of the United Farm Workers (UFW). She was 91 then, and I had a hard time keeping up. She sent me a note afterward that ended, "Sí Se Puede con El Rojo Tocino." It was a beautiful joke.

"Sí Se Puede" are three words we all use now, but she invented this confident way of saying "Yes We Can!" "Tocino" was the nickname the union gave me in the years I worked as an organizer-it means "bacon," my last name. And calling me "El Rojo," or "The Red," in this way honored my politics.

When I came back from a solidarity work brigade in Cuba in the 1970s, I landed in New York City with no place to sleep. I called Dolores's daughter, Lori, a friend from California. Not only did I get space on the floor of the NYC boycott's headquarters, but Dolores and her partner, Richard, César Chávez's brother, took us out to eat. Over pizza I enthused about the island. I had stars in my eyes, for both Cuba and Dolores, and still do. I went to work for the UFW as an organizer a few months later.

There was often tension in the union about radical politics, and being called a red was sometimes the route out the door. But for Dolores and Eliseo Medina, being a good organizer was the bottom line-doing what the workers needed.

Over the years, long after I had left the UFW and worked for other unions and then as a photojournalist, I would see Dolores again and again. Going to Watsonville to cover the organizing drives of strawberry workers or to Salinas for the strikes in the vegetable fields, I knew she'd be there. It was a profound experience to watch her in union contract negotiations-this diminutive woman facing off against the beefy growers across the table-and see the sense of power it gave workers.

Returning from Iraq, where I photographed workers after the 2003 US invasion, I took her picture in the front line of marchers against the war. When we were in Sacramento trying to stop the anti-immigrant, anti-affirmative-action, anti-bilingual initiatives, she was the first to speak out.

So when she called me El Rojo Tocino, I thought, "What a compliment!" I hope I live up to it.