Farm Worker Heat Death: California’s Harvest of Shame

california farm worker

Peter Dreier: Last week the temperature in California’s Central Valley went above 110 degrees. Can you imagine laboring in weather like that with the searing sun beating down on you for 8-10-12 hours a day?

GOP Wages War Against Jobs

republicans hate unions

Brent Budowsky: I am a union man, and proud of it. Republicans who wage war against unions and jobs are waging war against American values and prosperity.

A People’s History of the Farmworkers Movement

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Steven Mikulan: The UFW cherishes its historical record and now has unveiled a Web site where participants from past struggles are invited to share their experiences.

Occupy Movement Enlists New Activists for Social Change Struggles

Occupy LA University

Randy Shaw: Occupy has gone beyond the usual suspects and given a new generation of activists a desperately needed vehicle for advancing progressive change.

Occupy Movement Must Resist Pressure for Specific Demands

occupy wall street matador

Randy Shaw: You know that Occupy Wall Street and its local, national and international progeny have reached a level of success when everyone is offering advice. Unfortunately, the most commonly offered view – that activists must get specific about their demands – is entirely wrong.

Labor Occupies Wall Street, But Democrats Go in Reverse

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As the grassroots campaign against Wall Street grows, Democratic politicians are moving in the opposite direction. President Obama has secured the House Republican support necessary to pass three trade bills strongly opposed by organized labor and most Democrats. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who like Obama was elected with huge labor funding and ground support, [...]

Jerry Betrays Cesar, UFW, and His Own Legacy

jerry brown and cesar chavez

Randy Shaw: Brown’s alignment with wealthy growers against indigent workers picking crops in the fields surely has Chavez turning over in his grave, and shows that the Governor views the UFW as just another group he is willing to betray.

Public Universities Join Attack on Progressive Activism

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Randy Shaw: Just as Governor Walker is making headlines by attacking a liberal institution in a traditionally liberal state (you would not likely see nationwide protests over attacks on workers in Alabama or Georgia), school administrators in progressive cities like Santa Cruz and Santa Monica are also attacking progressive student activism.

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Arizona Shootings Add to Hopelessness About “Change”

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Randy Shaw: An Obama Administration that routinely caves in to Wall Street, the military industrial complex, and other powerful interest certainly has no appetite for a battle with the NRA.

Governor Jerry Brown Will Aggressively Push Change

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Randy Shaw: Brown’s history shows that he likes to shake things up soon after taking office, and he now has the perfect opportunity. The public desperately wants a solution to California’s longstanding budget crisis, and Brown’s political capital is as high as it will ever be following an election where Democrats won every statewide race and maintained all their Congressional seats.

Cesar Chavez Shows His Papers; So Does Jan Brewer

Robert Illes: So this AB1070 is perhaps not so much a “protect Arizonans from brown aliens” scheme as it is a protect the private prisons profits scheme. And of course, a fatten up the war chests of Republican politicians scheme.

Santana Rocks 80th Birthday Tribute to Human Rights Icon Dolores Huerta: Si Se Puede

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Linda Milazzo: I echo the sentiments of Congressman Grijalva that Dolores Huerta is an integral part of America’s legacy. America and Americans are better because of her.

Arnold Ignores Kennedy Legacy in Vetoing Farmworker Overtime

robert f kennedy

Randy Shaw: While it’s no longer news that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is a fraud (which helps explains poll numbers that are lower than George W. Bush and the pre-recall Gray Davis), his veto this week of an overtime bill for California farmworkers is particularly disgraceful.

Student Anti-Sweatshop Activists Win Historic Breakthrough

USAS students celebrate with factory workers

Randy Shaw: Numerous experts argue that the global “race to the bottom” is inevitable and beyond the power of activists to change. Fortunately, student anti-sweatshop activists ignored these claims, and have now defied the conventional wisdom.

United Farm Workers Encourage Americans To ‘Take Our Jobs’

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Andrea Nill: Contrary to what the anti-immigrant right might suggest, despite a major recession, most farmers and ranchers are still struggling to find the workers they need. “Comprehensive immigration reform is needed, so that America’s farmers and ranchers can continue to produce an abundant supply of safe, healthy food, as well as renewable fuels and fiber for our nation,” writes Ron Gaskill, director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

An Older Generation Needs to Move Over

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We mustn’t forget it was a 26-year-old Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King who led the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a 20-year old Clara Lemlich who ignited some of the first marches for women’s rights in the US, an 18-year old Sieh King King who led a rally in San Francisco for equal rights for women

Cesar Chavez Day and the Forgotten Asian Americans

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his Cesar Chavez Day (March 31) reminds us how forgotten stories can perpetuate stereotypes. Charlotte, an Asian American student leader at Pomona College, asked me how do we ignite people into political action and sweep away the tired public perception of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) as passive and docile. I asked her if [...]

Will Obama’s New “Organizing for America” Succeed?

David Plouffe and Barack Obama

After Barack Obama’s presidential campaign built the organizing skills of thousands of young activists, many hoped that his organization would spawn a new entity to keep many of these folks working full time for change. The Obama campaign was the best incubator for activists since the UFW of the 1960s and 70s, and created a [...]

Why Millions Risk Lives to Enter the U.S.

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Immigration policy remains a hot button issue in the United States. Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel has described comprehensive immigration legislation as the “third rail” of American politics, and CNN provides Lou Dobbs with a daily forum for bashing undocumented immigrants. While opponents of creating a path to legalization for such immigrants recognize that [...]

Why We Need to Revitalize the Union Movement

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Sixty years ago, in the wake of Nazi genocide and World War Two’s unspeakable atrocities, Eleanor Roosevelt crafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This historic document, adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948, declared that rights adhered to all persons, no matter their place of birth, race, gender, or religion.

Why Union Organizing Often Fails

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lame for declining union membership is usually attributed to structural changes in the economy, increased globalization, and unions’ failure to devote adequate resources to organizing. But a recent union drive at a private college in South Florida tells a much different, and far too typical, story. It is an account of immigrant workers who got [...]

Largest U.S. Fast Aims to Turn Out Voters

The largest hunger strike in U.S. history will begin Oct. 15, to call attention to voter mobilization, immigrant rights organizers say. One hundred dedicated activists will encamp at the historic heart of Los Angeles — La Placita Olvera — to fast for 21 days before the Nov. 4 elections. They expect to be joined by [...]

Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles Celebrates 30 Years

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Let’s face it, anytime you get 2,000 gay men and lesbians together in one room it’s a political statement. And, Monday evening, August 25, in Disney Hall was no exception when the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (GMCLA) celebrated its 30th Anniversary. It was an inspirational evening under the Artistic Direction of GMCLA’s Bruce [...]

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