Black Labor, Baltimore Protests link the struggles against wars at home and abroad.
An important part of the changing face of the antiwar and social justice movements is labor, which has stepped forward dramatically. At the UNAC conference this year there will be several important labor leaders including Clarence Thomas of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU). ILWU Local 10 led U.S. labor on May Day 2015 by voting to shut down all Bay Area ports and to march to Oakland City Hall to stand up against police terror. As Clarence Thomas mentioned in a statement read at the Oakland City Hall on May Day, “This mobilization today is beyond protest. It is an act of resistance. Local 10 is shutting down the movement of international cargo. By silencing the cranes at the ports, we, the working class, make our voices heard loudly around the world today. … The supreme task of labor is to challenge corporate America — head on — as part of a new peoples’ movement for all workers and the oppressed in this country.” Thomas also added, “The ILWU Local 10 is once again in the vanguard of the entire U.S. Labor movement, withholding it’s labor on May 1, International Workers Day. If we want to stop this police reign of terror and violence we have to stop commerce. We must stop the money -…”
Other labor speakers at the UNAC conference this year are: Charles Jenkins, President of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists NYC, who helpes coordinate with Teresa Gutierrez the May 1st Workers & Immigrant Rights Coalition and helped shape May Day into a march with the theme May Day for Freddie Grey. Also speaking will be Shafeah M’Balia, Black Workers for Justice, in NC, Rolandah Cleopattrah, Raise Up for $15, from Richmond VA, Larry Adams, former President of Local 300 National Postal Mail Handlers Union and vice chair of Peoples Organization for Progress in Newark NJ, Petra Guerra, a Chicana/ Mexicana activist in Mission TX and Rosa Maria de la Torre, a Mexican aimmigrant who participated in the Caravan 43 of parents of the missing Ayotzinzpz students. Other speakers include John Dennie who helped found the Postal activists coalition Postal Defenders and the Stop Staples Campaign. Chris Hutchinson of Teamsters Local 671 at UPS and the Connecticut Community Committee Fight for $15 and very importantly, Marylin Zuniga a third grade teacher in Orange NJ who addresses police brutality, the school to prison pipeline while launching the Books and Breakfast free book program. Zuniga was recently suspended from her job because she told her students about Mumia Abu-Jamal’s current medical condition, they asked if they could write him “get well” cards; Zuniga allowed this as a voluntary project only after all required coursework was completed. Mumia Abu-Jamal has been denied the medical care he needs by prison officials.
Also attending the conference will be Haitian immigrant Andre Francois, one of 4 union leaders fired for his union activism. Francois, was recently elected president of the Boston School Bus Drivers union, USW Local 8751.
These worker activists will be joined by others who have been on the frontlines in Baltimore and in Ferguson as well as other antiwar and social justice leaders. See the full, exciting list of speakers in panels and workshops coming to the UNAC Conference at