Texas Trade unionists ready to join Season of Struggle
By Jeremy Ryan

AUSTIN: -- About 50 Texas trade unionists, fed up with pay cuts, give backs, and concessions, came to a Jobs with Justice workshop at the recently concluded state AFL-CIO convention to hear about and make plans for the upcoming Season of Struggle.

The Season of Struggle is comprised of three mass mobilizations that will take place this fall: the Immigrants Rights Freedom Rides, the demonstrations in Miami during the Free Trade of the Americas Agreements meeting, and the December 10 Human Rights Day actions aimed at exposing the failures of the business dominated National Labor Relations Board.
These actions are being called because as Mary Beth Maxwell, a national leader of Job with Justice, told the audience, "the law doesn't serve us. What we need is a huge outcry from the community."

The Immigrants Rights Freedom Ride, which begins in late September, is being called because U.S. law discriminates against immigrant workers. They are denied basic civil and human rights. Because they lack legal protection, they often must work for low wages with no benefits. This pool of low-wage workers drives down pay and working conditions for the rest of us.
The freedom rides will demand that immigrant workers be given the right to become US citizens. Doing so will protect their civil rights, especially the right to join union, to some degree and make them eligible to vote, which will swell the pool of potentially progressive voters.

Paul Vasquez, national representative in Texas of the AFL-CIO, compared these freedom rides, which will begin in different cities across the country and end up together in Washington D.C. and New York, to the Freedom Rides of the 1960 when African-Americans and their supporters rode through the South challenging its Jim Crow laws. "We have the opportunity to be part of another historic event," Vasquez said.

A Freedom Ride bus will leave Houston on September 26. Another one originating in Los Angeles will make stops in El Paso, San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas. Support rallies will be held in all these cities. Workers at the workshop signed pledge cards and began making plans to build local rallies.

In November, finance ministers from all over the Western Hemisphere will meet in Miami to discuss Free Trade of the Americas. FTAA would extend the protocols of NAFTA throughout the hemisphere, except, of course, for Cuba. As one participant put it, FTAA is NAFTA on steroids.
Jobs with Justice and the AFL-CIO will be in Miami to tell the ministers and the world, "No to FTAA" because FTAA will spread the job losses and community devastation caused by NAFTA throughout Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

Jobs with Justice and the AFL-CIO will hold mass demonstration in Miami. There will be support demonstrations in cities throughout the US. At the workshop, those attending completed ballots voting no on FTAA, which along with hundreds of thousands of others will be presented to the ministers in Miami.

The last event of the Season of Struggle will be held on Human Rights Day on December 10 when workers across the country will confront the National Labor Relations Board, which has become so pro-business and anti-worker that it should be renamed the National Anti-Labor Union Board.

The message at these actions will be that the government has become the biggest obstacle to workers joining unions and winning collective bargaining rights. The AFL-CIO and Jobs with Justice will organize large, militant, and non-violent actions to confront the NLRB and its corporate masters.

Layoffs, pay cuts, and the bosses' never ending demand for more concessions have made the Season of Struggle necessary. "The labor movement is under attack," said Rudy Anderson, the Texas organizer for Jobs with Justice at the workshop. For us not to realize that, we have to be sleeping."
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