The Labor Party
& Short Takes
ON THIS PAGE:
A Call for 100 Volunteers
In the March issue of Labor Party Press, we issued an appeal to
100 people whose yearly income would allow them to contribute $1000 to the Labor Party,
either in a lump sum or incrementally. We announced that when we have reached that
100-pledge goal, we would budget for desperately needed additional staff.
We believe we can get there. We are pleased to say that a number of Labor
Party members responded to our printed call. Were grateful, and we know that there
are more of you out there who can painlessly fulfill this pledge.
If you are one of those people, please come forward! Our party has an
ambitious agenda and we need your help to advance it.
Planning the Workers'
A Labor Party committee on Workers Rights met in May to plan a
launch for the campaign, which LP members adopted at our Pittsburgh convention.
Committee members include: LP organizer Ed Bruno; Mineworkers General
Counsel Grant Crandall and former General Counsel Bob Stropp; UE Director of Organization
Bob Kingsley; Joe Uehlein; Lance Compa of Human Rights Watch; Bill Bon, General Counsel
for the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees; and Peter Kellman of the Maine Labor
Party. Planning will continue through the spring, reports Bruno. The committee expects to
select several locations where high visibility local campaigns will be launched. More
New to the Labor Party!
Welcome! Here are some of the new additions to the Labor
Partys growing list of affiliates:
- AFSCME Local 3145
- BMWE Lodge 0705
- HERE Local 2850
- Immigrants Rights Movement
- IATSE Local 10
- UNITE Local 377
New York City
Lady Liberty (On Life Support)
Tours the Big Apple
Photo: ©Rob Spencer
Lady Liberty on Life Support toured the Big Apple on May 1. Members of the New York Metro
Chapter took the puppet, along with Just Healthcare sign-up sheets to Staten Island,
Brooklyn and the New York Hospital Center of Queens in Flushing (pictured).
State Labor Party Meets
Photos: ©Michael Kaufman
Mineworkers President Cecil Roberts and New York State Labor Party chair Arthur Cheliotes
(president of CWA Local 1180) at a meeting of the New York State Labor Party on May 15.
Inset, AFSCME Local 420 President Jim Butler made an impromptu appearance. The packed
gathering included workshops, awards, and a pitch for contributions that yielded $7000 in
cash and pledges in the space of about ten minutes.
A New Just Healthcare Referendum
Labor Party activists in Somerville, Massachusetts, plan to put Just
Healthcare on the municipal ballot. If the effort succeeds, it will be the third Labor
Party-sponsored nonbinding referendum to pass in the state. (Last November, LP activists
got Just Healthcare on the ballot in two state districts, West Roxbury and Quincy. Voters
passed the measures by a 71 percent margin.)
The Somerville Labor Party Club kicked off the effort with a public
meeting in May. A leader of Physicians for a National Health Program, a Labor Party
activist nurse, and a local hospital administrator were on hand at the meeting to talk
about why our healthcare system needs fixing and how we can do it.
"We were pretty psyched to see that some new people from the
neighborhood came to the meeting, and were hoping we can get them involved in the
referendum campaign," says LP activist Jeff Booth. Booth, a librarian, is an officer
in the Massachusetts Labor Party, co-chair of the greater Boston Labor Party, and also
active in the Somerville club.
"Were planning to meet literally every weekend from now until
September to get signatures," adds Booth. "Every Saturday, well pick a
house, meet and then go out and petition, either by tabling or door-to-door." The
group must collect signatures of at least 2400 registered voters to get the measure onto
Booth says Boston LP activists are now starting to sign people up to join
the Committee of a Million for Just Healthcare. And on June 6, local activists were
scheduled to hold a barbecue so they could enjoy themselves while listening to the Just
Healthcare radio broadcast.
Health Care Reform Rally
Supporters of healthcare reform rallied at the
Massachusetts State House in Boston April 27. Three Labor Party members spoke at the
Photo: ©Marilyn Humphries,
Finding New Allies
for Just Heathcare
The Labor Partys Salt Lake City chapter is making organizational
allies in the campaign for Just Healthcare.
In April, the chapter invited a doctor (a Labor Party member) and a leader
of Utah Issues, a low-income advocacy group, to come talk to Labor Party members about
healthcare, reports chapter activist Dayne Goodwin.
The LP members learned that members of Utah Issues and Physicians for a
National Health Program had been meeting regularly for some time to talk about how to
organize for a single-payer healthcare plan. LP chapter members subsequently met with this
working group to see what they were up to. What emerged was a plan to form a coalition in
Salt Lake City.
Goodwin, a member of AFSCME Local 1004 who works night shift as a janitor,
says the Salt Lake City chapter has been "reenergized" since the Pittsburgh
convention. The chapter has a new president, Mark Nelson, a pipefitter. "Its
exciting to have someone from the building trades to be leading the chapter," says
Goodwin. He adds that locals of PACE (Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy
Workers International Union, the new union created when OCAW and the Paperworkers merged)
continue to provide a solid base of support for the chapter.
Mural Dedicated to Bob Kasen
New Organizer, New
Committees, New Coalitions
Illinois now has a Labor Party organizer on staff, thanks to support from
UE and UNITEs Midwest Region. Sam Smucker, a former UE organizer, works more than
half-time organizing labor and community support for the Labor Party in Chicago and
"We have two Labor Party entities organizing in Chicago,"
reports Smucker, "the Chicago Chapter and the Illinois State Labor Party. Many unions
are focusing their organizing on the statewide group. The chapter, meanwhile, has set up
working committees on Social Security, Just Healthcare and Fair Trade." Everyone came
together on May 1, when Chicago had its second annual May Day Dinner, drawing over 200
people and raising funds to support LP organizing.
Much of the Chicago organizing to date has focused on linking up with
other organizations and activists healthcare groups, Social Security activists, and
Reports Smucker: "Were going to neighborhood groups in areas of
the city where were strong and saying, Affiliate with the Labor Party!
And then that combined group can become a kind of organizing committee. What the
neighborhood group gets out of it besides the incredible prestige of being
affiliated with the Labor Party! is that we can then send all of our people from
the neighborhood into that organization to help bring it to life."
In a city that is "saturated with community groups," explains
Smucker, it makes sense to combine forces rather than duplicate them.
The Healthcare Committee, meanwhile, has reached out to a statewide
network called the Campaign for Better Healthcare. In fact, says Smucker, that group is
sending a mailer out to all their members encouraging them to organize around the June 6
He adds that several Chicago Labor Party members are ministers and are
helping the chapter find allies in the religious community.
Benefit Performance I
Labor Party members in New Mexico arranged for a special May 1 benefit
performance of the Adobe Theaters production of "Working," a musical based
on Studs Terkels famous book of interviews with working people. The performance at
the Albuquerque theater was sold out, reports LP activist Charles Powell.
On June 6, the Albuquerque Chapter was scheduled to host a "listening
brunch" so people could nosh while listening to the Just Healthcare radio broadcast.
Benefit Performance II
A benefit May 17 for the NY Metro
Chapter and Musicians Union Local 1000 drew an audience of 470 to hear (and sing along
with), from left, John OConnor, Tom Chapin, Tao Rodriguez, Pete Seeger, Michael
Mark, Christine Lavin, Alix Olson, Guy Davis and others. Photo: ©Michael Kaufman
Folksingers Pete Seeger, Christine Lavin, Tom Chapin, John OConnor,
and Tao Rodriguez; blues performer Guy Davis; Michael Moore; Village Voice columnist
Michael Musto; poet Alix Olson and others put on a rollicking two-and-a-half hour
hootenanny for some 470 people at New York Citys Symphony Space on May 17,
benefitting the New York Metro Chapters Just Healthcare Campaign and Musicians Local
1000. Local 1000 represents travelling musicians.
The joint benefit, which netted the chapters Just Healthcare
campaign several thousand dollars, was coordinated by LP activist Gregory Langdon.
A Just Healthcare Afternoon,
With Original Music
The Los Angeles Chapter and Labor Party affiliate Rock-A-Mole presented a
Just Healthcare Afternoon on May 23. Philadelphian Cheri Honkala, director of the
Kensington Welfare Rights Union and member of the Labor Partys Interim National
Council, was there to talk about her members experiences with our healthcare system
and their efforts to change it. Lee Ballinger of Rock & Rap Confidential played a CD
of a new Just Healthcare theme song, "Just Health," performed by Atlantic
Records recording artist Ernie Perez of the Boxing Gandhis.