New Haven Labor History Association Annual Conference and Meeting June 25: Reviving the Labor Movement

Steve Kass, GNHLHA Executive Board, President

This year’s annual conference and meeting of the Greater New Haven Labor History Association (GNHLHA) will honor an organization and an individual with the “Pass It On” awards in addition to having a keynote address on reviving the labor movement.

The honorees are IRIS (Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services) and Frank R. Annunziato.

1) IRIS started in 1982 and continues to this day to be a vital organization that works in New Haven to resettle refugees and other immigrants from around the world since 1982. IRIS is named after the iris flower, which thrives all over the world and is a symbol of hope and faith.

The numbers and nationalities of clients have fluctuated as the world has changed in the past 34 years. Currently, IRIS addresses the critical needs of hundreds of refugees; about 420 arrived in New Haven and surrounding towns in 2016. Refugees come from a wide range of war-torn countries, including Sudan, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

IRIS recognizes that welcoming persecuted people from other countries is both an ancient and universal custom, and part of a long tradition in the United States. In today’s political climate of hatred and mistrust, organizations such as this provide an extremely important beacon of hope to us all. This award also recognizes the historical link between immigration and labor.

2) Frank R. Annunziato’s career and commitment to the labor movement spans almost 50 years. He is an academic (PhD thesis on collective bargaining in education), writer, teacher, workshop leader, activist, labor historian and organizer. He recently retired as the Executive Director of the University of Rhode Island, American Association of University Professors after 17 years. He was the founding president of the Greater New Haven Labor History Association in 1988.

As always, there will be time for refreshments and socializing with our troubadour, Frank Panzarella, serenading us with labor songs. Please join us on Sunday, June 25 from 1:30 – 4 p.m. at the Greater New Haven Central Labor Council, 267 Chapel St.

May Day/International Workers’ Day and Immigrants’ Rights Rally and March

Dozens of area organizations endorsed the day-long May Day and immigrants’ rights rally on the New Haven Green where many hundreds enjoyed entertainment, speakers and exhibits. The day ended with a march from downtown through Grand Avenue, a great example of networking and building a local coalition of resistance. In addition to the sponsors listed on the flyers, there were many more that helped build this day of action, such as Progressive Action Roundtable, People Against Injustice, May Day Celebration Committee, Food Not Bombs, the Shoreline Green Party and GNH Labor History Association.

The support and solidarity for this year’s May Day was broad. Among the speakers prior to the march was Mayor Toni Harp, who declared that New Haven will remain a city welcoming to immigrants.
RESIST Foundation, which awarded a generous grant for the event, wants more people to know about their work so potential applicants and donors will be aware of Radical Philanthropy. Contact them at 259 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144. Telephone: (617) 623-5110.

Website: resist.org.
Local TV station WTNH posted a video on its website with its news story: wtnh.com/2017/05/01/ new-haven-may-day-protests-take-on-new-urgency-under-trump/

Shops Close On “Day Without Immigrants” | New Haven Independent

At least 40 New Haven businesses kept their stores bolted all day Monday to demonstrate the contribution that immigrants make to the region’s economy.

New Haven’s cuisine was most noticeably impacted by city’s participation in a national “Day Without Immigrants” strike — with restaurants as varied as Kasbah Garden Cafe (owned by a Moroccan) on Howe Street to La Molienda Cafe (owned by a Peruvian) on Grand Avenue all vacant for the day. Less visible were the contractors, like maids and gardeners, who didn’t take any gigs.

“The only way we can really demonstrate ourselves, especially for the ones who don’t have any documents and cannot vote, is to show that we have weight in the economy of this country,” said John Lugo, a 15-year organizer Unidad Latina en Accion (ULA).

Source: Shops Close On “Day Without Immigrants” | New Haven Independent

Letter re: Adjunct Faculty Organizing at UNH

I am writing to ask for your support in the campaign for workers’ rights at the University of New Haven. Contingent faculty are attempting to form a union to improve their working conditions.

As you may know, contingent faculty make up 76% of college educators nationally and 73% of University of New Haven’s campus. Adjuncts make a fraction of the wages and benefits of tenured faculty and have little to no job security from semester to semester. The nature of this type of work means many faculty are working for close to minimum wage with no hope for full-time employment, despite their commitment to providing a quality education to their students.

A letter of support from you, especially one that asks for neutrality from the administration, would be of great benefit to their cause. Neutrality means they will not interfere with the workers’ federally-guaranteed rights to organize a union in their workplace. [….]

Letters can be sent to my email, jodie.leidecker@seiu.org. Please let me know if you have any questions or if you’d like more information regarding this campaign. Thank you for your support of workers’ rights and the improvement of higher education.

Sincerely, Jodie Leidecker, Organizer-in-training, SEIU Faculty Forward in partnership with The 4 C’s (Congress of CT Community Colleges)

Celebrate May Day May 1 with International Workers’ Day Rally and General Strike

Call for General Strike on May 1!

For full video coverage of the May Day festivities, visit http://www.thestruggle.org/Mayday%202017%20in%20New%20Haven.htm.

The rally begins with speakers and performers on the New Haven Green from noon to 5 p.m. on Monday, May 1, and will be followed by a Solidarity March starting at 5 p.m.

New Haven joins a call for a nationwide strike to demonstrate our economic power by not going to work, not going to school and stopping business as usual. We aim to highlight the economic power of workers: immigrants, women, Muslims, LGBTQ folks, Native Americans and African Americans and every other marginalized group that is currently under attack by the Trump administration.

We are asking you to join us and show solidarity: close your business on May 1; don’t go to work; don’t go to school.

Join the rally on the New Haven Green from 12 to 5 p.m. Speakers, live music, children’s activities, and a May pole! Join local justice, peace, equality, and labor groups as well as social service organizations, educators, students, healthcare workers, artists and ALL people on the Green.

Join the international workers’ march from the Green through Fair Haven at 5 p.m.

Funded in part by a grant from RESIST, Somerville, MA; web: http://resist.org; phone: (617) 623-5110.

Changes at the Labor History Association

by Joan Cavanagh, Archivist/Director, GNH Labor History Assoc.

2016 is a year of transition for the Greater New Haven Labor History Association. As of Dec. 31, I will be leaving my position as Archivist/ Director because there is no further funding available to maintain it. LHA will return to its roots as an all-volunteer organization, guided by the efforts of its Executive Board and membership.

To prepare for this change, I am spending this fall organizing our archival holdings (including the historical records of LHA) for transfer to Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at UConn in Storrs. They are establishing a Greater New Haven Labor History Association Collection. The materials we have already gathered will thus be preserved in a climate controlled facility and made available to researchers by UConn’s archivists. We encourage individuals, union locals and other relevant organizations to donate their papers, memorabilia and historical documents to the Collection. Contact Laura Katz Smith at laura.katz.smith@uconn.edu or (860) 486-2516 for information about it.

On a personal note: it has been my privilege and joy to work with the Board and the members of the Labor History Association for the past 16 years. We brought LHA into the 21st century along with its mission to collect, preserve, share and celebrate the history, culture and traditions of working people and their unions in our community and beyond.

Moving forward, LHA will help to ensure that current and future generations understand the heritage and struggles of workers through the creation of a labor history curriculum for Connecticut’s public schools as well as by carrying out other projects spearheaded by the Board and our membership. Please, get involved. If you haven’t yet become a member, please do. If you’re already a member, please consider joining the Board or a project committee. And, if you have a special project you’ve always wanted to see the organization undertake, now’s the time! Remember: We Are All Workers! (P.S. Check out the LHA exhibit on Winchester workers, now showing at Hagaman Memorial Library, East Haven until Nov. 15, and on line at http://exhibits.winchesterworkers.gnhlha.org.)

For a picture of Joan Cavanagh, director of the Greater New Haven Labor History Association, with Craig Gauthier, former president of Local 609 of the International Association of Machinists, visit the link below. They are holding one of the panels of an exhibit on Olin-Winchester labor history, outside Wells Fargo Bank in New Haven visit the link below

: Randall Beach: Winchester exhibit evokes New Haven era of union, community solidarity

Al Marder to be Recognized Aug. 6 at New Haven Peoples Center Reception

A reception and fundraiser highlighting the history of the New Haven Peoples Center will recognize the leadership of it’s president, Alfred L. Marder over a span of 80 years for peace, equality and justice. The event will take place at Coogan Pavilion in Edgewood Park near Whalley Ave and West Rock Ave. from 4 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6, also marking Hiroshima Day.

Al Marder poses with New Haven peace activist and Peace Council member Mary Compton at the Peace Day celebration at the Amistad Memorial statue outside New Haven City Hall Sept. 21, 2015.  The statue was built thanks to his guidance and supervision. Marder is chairman of the Amistad Committee.  (photo: cjzurcher)

Al Marder poses with New Haven peace activist and Peace Council member Mary Compton at the Peace Day celebration at the Amistad Memorial statue outside New Haven City Hall Sept. 21, 2015. The statue was built thanks to his guidance and supervision. Marder is chairman of the Amistad Committee.
(photo: cjzurcher)

As founder of the Amistad Committee who served as chair of the City of New Haven Peace Commission for many years as well as the United Nations International Association of Peace Messenger Cities and the U.S. Peace Council, Marder has been called a “hero for peace.”

A resident of Westville, Marder has been active in New Haven since the age of 14 when he was a student at James Hillhouse High School. He expanded his vision through participation in events at the New Haven Peoples Center. The Peoples Center was founded in 1937 to provides social, cultural and educational opportunities for the community. With Al Marder’s participation, it was the site of the first inter-racial theater group in the city called Unity Players. This was one of many efforts that broke down racial segregation at that time.

Today the Peoples Center hosts the youth group New Elm City Dream, and is home to the immigrant rights group Unidad Latina en Accion as well as the SEIU 32 BJ janitors union and Greater New Haven Peace Council. The space is utilized by many social justice organizations.

The event will include an exhibition of Peoples Center memorabilia, remarks by Marder and refreshments. Donations will be accepted toward the restoration fund for the building which was erected in 1851. The Peoples Center, a site on the Connecticut Freedom Trail, is currently raising $10,000 as part of a grant to restore the windows, roof and entry door.

In his early years, Marder served as Executive Director of the Connecticut CIO Youth and Sports Organization and was President of the New Haven Youth Conference. During World War II and the fight against fascism, Al served in the U.S. Infantry from 1942-1946 in the European Theatre and received a Bronze Star. During the McCarthy period, as one who was persecuted for his ideas, he stood firm for civil liberties. He has supported every civil rights and workers rights struggle of his times.

Marder is known for bringing to light the story of the Amistad captives and its lessons of Black-white unity to achieve freedom. Through all the decades, Marder continues organizing, educating and creating positive change. His depth of knowledge, commitment to equality, powers of persuasion and indomitable spirit inspire generations in New Haven and throughout the world.

Requested donation at the door is $25 or what you can afford, no one will be turned away. Tax deductible contributions to the restoration fund can be sent to PERA / New Haven Peoples Center, 37 Howe St., New Haven CT o6511.

###

100+ Attend May 1 International Worker’s Day March in New Haven

by Melinda Tuhus

may-day-2016-iiMore than a hundred people marched through downtown New Haven Sunday May 1, in the annual immigrants’ rights action. An enthusiastic crowd led by Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA) braved cold May showers on May Day this year.

The march included mostly young activists, children and college students. There were many signs and banners and robust chanting. No more deportations!

The marchers were accompanied by a lively group of very humorous and energetic “Radical Cheerleaders.” As the group walked down Chapel Street, the chants called for free education and free health care for all, as well as immigrants’ labor rights. Yale senior Sebi Medina-Tayac, a member of the Piscataway Nation as well as ULA, said the group wanted to bring attention especially to immigrant labor in New Haven, which is concentrated in construction and food service.

ULA works to create a vision for workers’ rights and freedom for all people based not only on lefty labor movements, but also to show the labor movement as something that’s diverse, changing, global and inclusive of people from all backgrounds regardless of citizen status or the color of their skin.

may-day-2016-iMarchers stopped to chant in front of restaurants that they say have mistreated their workers. They said Atticus restaurant fired a long-time worker who spoke out against a pay cut and hired a union-busting firm to thwart the mostly immigrant workers’ attempt to unionize. The owner was not available and a manager said their policy was not to comment on the charges.

The march also stopped at Calhoun College to protest the college named after an avowed racist.

Thank you to New Haven Workers Association – Unidad Latina en Acción for continuing to fight for the dignity of all our communities! Together they seek to build unity for racial, gender and economic justice, including defending the freedom and dignity of and respect for all people and the planet.

Demand for Union Recognition at Zane’s Cycles

(edited from press release – ed.)

On May 21 workers and community members gathered at Zane’s Cycles (330 East Main St., Branford) to protest what they claim to be owner Chris Zane’s exploitative practices.

zanes-storeIn September 2015, workers at Zane’s Cycles facility voted overwhelmingly under federal labor law to bargain collectively for a workplace contract. The workers elected UFCW Local 919 to represent them in contract negotiations. Since then, Chris Zane has agreed to meet eight times to negotiate a contract with the workers. That’s eight negotiating sessions in 8 months.

Among the issues workers want to address, which Zane has refused to reasonably discuss, are:

  • Having a clean, sanitary break room (currently workers eat their lunch in the dirty, greasy work area where they assemble thousands of bikes for Zane)
  • Adequately heated and cooled working area (workers tell us it is often too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer… many have to wear coats while they work in the winter)
  • Paid sick days (workers lose money when they or a family member is sick)
  • Paid vacation days (after building thousands of bikes for Zane, workers can’t even count on a paid vacation after so much hard work)
  • Paid time off to mourn the death of a family member (Zane won’t even agree to pay a worker who has to go to a funeral for a family member!!)

Workers say they feel exploited. Because of the owner’s behavior, Zane’s Cycles has been charged with violating federal labor law. The charges are currently before the National Labor Relations Board. Workers and community members gathered to protest Chris Zane’s bad faith bargaining and his unfair labor practices.

zane-protester

Press Contact: Jorge Cabrera (203) 499-8694.

Labor History: Looking Back, Moving Forward – Annual Conference June 5

by Joan Cavanagh, GNHLHA director/archivist

Members and friends of the Greater New Haven Labor History Association are invited to its annual conference and meeting on Sunday, June 5, from 1:30-4:30 p.m. at 267 Chapel St., New Haven. The conference, “Labor History: Looking Back, Moving Forward,” will honor the organization’s late President, Nicholas Aiello, showcase its 28-year history and discuss plans for the future.

Author Anthony Riccio, who interviewed Nick for his books, The Italian American Experience in New Haven and Farms, Factories and Families will present “Sisters and Sweatshops: The Life of Nick Aiello,” and will give this year’s Augusta Lewis Troup Award to Louise Fortin, Nick’s sister and a retired garment worker.

Frank Annunziato, outgoing Executive Director of the American Association of University Professors, University of Rhode Island Chapter, who co-founded LHA with Aiello in 1988, will discuss the organization’s mission and its early years, inviting contributions from others who were among its first members. The Director, Joan Cavanagh, and current Executive Board members, including Bill Berndtson, President, and Steve Kass, Vice President, will talk about LHA’s accomplishments during the first 16 years of the 21st century, including its work to produce a labor history curriculum for Connecticut’s public schools.

As always, there will be time for refreshments and socializing. The organization’s troubadour, noted musician Frank Panzarella, will provide labor songs.

If you want to learn more about LHA’s history, have ideas about how to move forward in the 21st century, and/or simply want to learn more about LHA, please join us on June 5th to look back at what has been accomplished and to imagine and plan the future. For more information, please call (203) 668-9082 or contact joan@labor.history.org.

International Workers’ Day: Fighting for Our Future, May 1

by Joelle Fishman, CT People’s World

The People’s World in Connecticut is hosting its annual celebration of International Workers’ Day on Sunday, May 1 at 4 p.m. at the King-Davis Labor Center, 77 Huyshope Ave., Hartford. The lives of workers and the 99% are on the line here and around the world and people are in motion. On May Day 2016 we are “Fighting for Our Future.”

We are honored to welcome keynote speaker John Wojcik, editor of People’s World and vice president of the International Labor Communications Association who lives in Chicago.

A panel including representatives of state workers and immigrants and those struggling for jobs in Connecticut will highlight key demands of the moment.

The program includes a presentation of May Day Around the World, music and home made buffet. Donation is $5 or what you can afford. A fund appeal for the annual People’s World will be made. For more information, call (203) 624-4254.

Unidad Latina en Acción and Rosa DeLauro Push to Stop Wage Theft

Brothers Axel and Henry Tubac worked for a company installing kitchens. For the first two years they were paid without fail. Then, for six and seven weeks, respectively, their employer stopped paying them.

When they met with U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro at New Haven Legal Assistance headquarters Tuesday afternoon, the brothers still hadn’t been paid.  They have filed suit against their former employer for wage theft.

“It was just a nightmare what happened to me,” Axel Tubac recalled. “I did not have food. I talked to my boss many, many times. He just seemed like he don’t care. He owes me about $4,000; $500 in overtime that he did not pay.”

….

Lugo was arrested on Nov. 22 for disturbing the peace during a protest outside of Goodfellas. He argued that the police are more interested in harassing him for protesting rather than going after restaurant owners that are allegedly committing the far more serious crime of stealing from their employees and thumbing their noses at the law.

To read the entire article with all the photos, visit: DeLauro Targets Wage Theft | New Haven Independent

 

Labor History Association Annual Conference and Meeting, June 5: Looking Back, Going Forward

by Joan Cavanagh, GNHLHA Archivist/ Director

This year’s annual conference and meeting of the Greater New Haven Labor History Association will honor the organization’s late President, Nicholas Aiello, showcase its 28 year history and give our members and friends an opportunity to brainstorm about the future.

Frank Annunziato, who co-founded LHA with Nick in 1988, will give a presentation about the organization’s mission and its early years, inviting contributions from others who were among its first members. The Director and current Executive Board members, including Bill Berndtson, President, and Steve Kass, Vice President, will talk about LHA’s work during the first 16 years of the 21st century.

Author Anthony Riccio, who interviewed Nick for his books, The Italian American Experience in New Haven and  Farms, Factories and Families will present “Sisters and Sweatshops: The Life of Nick Aiello” and will give this year’s Augusta Lewis Troup Award to Louise Fortin, Nick’s sister and a retired garment worker.

As always, there will be time for refreshments and socializing and our troubadour, Frank Panzarella, will serenade us with labor songs.

If you have memories to share about Nick or the organization’s history, ideas about how we should move forward in this new century, and/or simply want to learn more about LHA, please join us on June 5th to look back at what has been accomplished and to imagine and plan the future of our mission to document and celebrate working class history.

1 2