Saturday, January 20, 2007

Castro's Historic Role

Yesterday in Rio Hugo Chavez paid high praise to Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Rio de Janeiro, Jan 19 (Prensa Latina) President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela highlighted the historic role played by Cuban President Fidel Castro, saying the leader of the island´s revolution "is one of those men who never die."

Speaking to the Legislature in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, on Friday, Chavez revealed he held a half hour telephone conversation with Fidel Castro a few days ago.

We all must die someday, the Venezuelan president said, but Fidel is one of those men who will never die, who will live forever.

"We want him to recuperate, and we have faith that he will recuperate fully," he said, recalling that the Cuban president said in 1953, history will absolve us (alluding to himself as well).

Chavez said that it´s been more than 50 years and "you [Fidel] have been absolved by history, I am beginning."

7th World Social Forum Underway

The 7th World Social Forum is currently underway in Nairobi, Kenya. The World Social Forum held its first meeting at Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2001. Last year the World Social Forum was held in Caracas, Venezuela at which Hugo Chavez was a key participant. This year, Atlanta is hosting the first US Social Forum June 27 - July 1.

The 7th edition of the World Social Forum brings the world to Africa as activists, social movements, networks, coalitions and other progressive forces from Asia-Pacific, Latin America, the Caribbean, North America, Europe and all corners of the African continent converge in Nairobi, Kenya for five days of cultural resistance and celebration.

IWW Organizing NYC Warehouses

IWW steps up while "big labor" languishes:
Members of the Industrial Workers of the World, organizers at New York warehouses were sacked over the festive period, in retaliation for their successful unionizing drive...

This week owners from four different warehouses illegally threatened to call immigration or terminate union workers due to their immigration status in clear retaliation for the workers' union activities. Tuesday's march and picket will target Amersino Marketing Group, 161 Gardner Ave, Brooklyn, NY.

Over the last year and half, food distribution warehouse workers in northern Brooklyn and Queens have organized a union with the IWW. The campaign has met with resounding success: workers have organized in five different warehouses, several of which have been certified in National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) elections, they have forced their bosses towards full compliance with wage and hour laws, and they have won several major wage and hour violation cases while still other complaints totaling more than $100,000 have been filed with the Department of Labor.

Thanks to the efforts of the Food Industry and Allied Workers Union, workers have witnessed an increasing number of bosses abide by minimum wage and overtime laws across the food distribution industry. As a result of their successes, workers have met escalating employer opposition. While this week's coordinated threats by warehouse owners regarding workers' immigration status may be their trump card, it represents only the latest in a series of unsavory maneuvers designed to hamper the union drive.

Last year, Amersino owner Yu Q "Henry" Wang, who has robbed workers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages, responded to workers exercising their lawful right to organize by threatening workers, deceitfully rigging an NLRB union election, and firing union leaders.

Lester Wen, owner of the restaurant wholesaler EZ-Supply, refused to bargain in good faith after workers won an NLRB union election almost a year ago. In response, the union has put pressure on EZ-Supply by targeting its customers ­ restaurants in park slope, the upper west side and the village ­ and convincing them to switch to other companies. At the end of November, the union and Mr. Wen's lawyer reached a tentative agreement on a landmark contract, with workers winning wage increases, a grievance procedure, paid time off and much more ( On December 26, 2006, in a shockingly crass maneuver, Lester "the Grinch" Wen and his lackeys reneged on the agreement reached in negotiations and illegally threatened workers regarding their immigration status. In response, workers walked off the job in a wildcat strike and only returned after the union assured them that legal action would be taken.

The IWW Food Industry and allied Workers Union calls on the owners of EZ-Supply, Amersino, Handyfat, and Top City Produce to cease its anti-union activities, reinstate fired workers, and to negotiate contract with the union in good faith. The legal institutions in NYC must act immediately to secure the rights of workers to organize and protect workers from the unlawful retaliatory activities of employers in the food industry.