Rosemarie Rieger took a step toward making history when she convened the monthly North Texas Jobs with Justice meeting on October 23. Twenty people attended, and they represented a good number of progressive organizations, old and new to our area, and very broad in their scope. The main speaker was Mark York, the new principal officer of the Dallas AFL-CIO. Civil rights leaders, church leaders, union leaders, retiree leaders, and worker justice activists made up the participants. It was exactly the kind of coalition that Jobs with Justice builds, and exactly the kind of coalition, on a much larger national scale, that the national AFL-CIO called for in its last convention.
The diversity, action orientation, and progressive nature of the group was most evident when Rieger called for a public action on December 10, International Human Rights Day. In the past, our area has had events, but they were single-minded and usually focused only on a particular nationality or ethnic group. Rieger wanted one encompassing human rights at home as well as abroad, opposing all kinds of ugly discrimination, and putting forth a solution rather than just calling attention to a problem. The solution she proposed, tacitly agreed to by all, is organizing.
Lots of ideas followed Rieger's proposal. We talked about having one core event with speakers from different human rights points of view. We also discussed making it a series of events over several days. Another idea was to make it a "festival" on a large tract of land. I made it an "event" on my Facebook page to see if other people had ideas and proposals.
Earlier in the discussion, Rosemarie Rieger reported on some of the things she learned on her recent tour talking to workers and farmers in Brazil. "International solidarity really exists," she told everyone. She'll enlarge on this and other topics on KNON at 9 AM Saturday, October 26. Catch it live at 89.3 FM or podcast and videocast on knon.org.
Mark York reported on new developments at national and local AFL-CIO. He listed a number of progressive coalitions that he has already spoken with as the labor movement transforms itself into a broad progressive coaltion and an independent political organization. He was planning a trip to Washington to speak with top leaders of www.workingamerica.org. Everyone who works for a living should join it.
Considerable discussion resulted when Rieger began announcing upcoming events to help Walmart workers. Colby Harris announced that he is one of 21 employees fired by Walmart for standing up for fair treatment. Another brother said that the Walmart fight was inspiring workers all over the world. Billy Myers, OUR WALMART organizer, said, "If we change that company we are going to change the world."
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