Connecticut Communist Party

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Connecticut Communist Party

1996 Happy 75th Birthday Edie Fishman

People's Weekly World on July 20th, 1996 featured congratulations for Edie Fishman's 75th birthday.[1]

Signatories were:

1998 In Solidarity and Appreciation of Lucille Dickess

The May Day Supplement of People's Weekly World Section G in 1998 featured congratulations on the retirement of Lucille Dickess, First President of Local 34. "Your contributions paved the way for many victories by the unions at Yale University and the whole labor movement...."[2]

Signatories were:

May Day

1998

The May Day Supplement, page B,in the People's Weekly World 1998, carried a dedication to Milada Marsalka giving best wishes on her recovery.

1999

The People's Weekly World, May 1 1999, carried "Greetings to the 34/35/217/GESO/1199 Organising Conference"[3]


The People's Weekly World, May 1 1999, carried "Dedication to the life of Hattie Brown 1934-1999"[4]

2000

The May Day Supplement, page H, to the People's Weekly World May 20 2000, carried a dedication to the striking "workers at Yale-New Haven Hospital"

2001, Solidarity with the Charleston 5

The May Day Supplement, page C, to the People's Weekly World May 12 2001, carried a dedication from "Connecticut labor and community activists standing in solidarity with the Charleston 5"

2001 Communist Party USA anniversary bash

It was standing room only Dec. 9 2001 at the New Haven People’s Center as an array of activists from across Connecticut came out to honor four leaders and celebrate the 82nd anniversary of the Communist Party USA.

The annual event, hosted by the People’s Weekly World in Connecticut, was a demonstration of broad support for the struggle for a “World of Economic and Social Justice, Peace and Democracy.”

A greeting book and other contributions raised $3,500 to complete the $10,000 Connecticut fund drive goal.

In her welcome remarks, Joelle Fishman, chair of the Connecticut Communist Party, cited the victory of the Charleston Five to emphasize that this is not a time for despair, but a time to stand up, speak out and collectively win new gains for peace and justice.

Remarks by the honorees reflected the issues affecting working people and the world after Sept. 11 and in the midst of the economic crisis. They included: Pearl Granat, a veteran Hartford union leader and now a vice president for Local 1199 New York; Teresa Younger, the first African-American and first woman executive director of the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union; State Representative Evelyn Mantilla, a leader for an End Child Poverty Social Investment Fund; and Dr. David Adams and Lindsay Mathews, who returned to Connecticut after a decade in Paris where David worked for UNESCO as director of the International Year for the Culture of Peace (2000).

The pro-labor, pro-people’s message of the reception was highlighted with a call to support Pratt and Whitney workers on strike at four Connecticut plants.[5]

2003 fundraiser

Labor leaders, grass roots activists, elected officials and young people crowded into the New Haven People’s Center Dec. 7 with energy and enthusiasm to “Push Bush out the door in 2004!” The occasion was a reception celebrating the 84th anniversary of the Communist Party USA, hosted by the PWW in Connecticut.

A miniature of the Amistad statue “Make Us Free” was presented to each of five leaders on the front lines of the grassroots movements to defeat George Bush and the right wing in the 2004 elections and win economic justice, equality and peace. As each recipient expressed their appreciation and solidarity, the strength of the recent strike at Yale and struggles to open jobs to Latino workers, the fight to save jobs at Pratt & Whitney, the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, and vigils for peace filled the room with hope and optimism.

Keynote speaker Denise Winebrenner Edwards, member of the Borough Council in Wilkinsburg, Pa., detailed the pain and suffering in her community and called for the defeat of the Bush administration. “The Bush administration is not just an obstacle to achieving peace, but is aggressive in waging war,” she said, calling for maximum unity to win peace, living wages, health care and senior security.

Awards were presented to Mark Wilson, Local 35 Federation of Hospital and University Employees; New Haven Alderwomen-elect Migdalia Castro and Dolores Colon; John Harrity, International Association of Machinists District 26 organizer; and Joyce Hamilton, executive director of DemocracyWorks.

Five Hartford area high school students, activists in the Young Communist League USA, inspired the audience as they were presented with Amistad posters. “What Bush is doing in Iraq is wrong,” said Corina Gouch. “We have to do something about it.”

Merrillee Milstein was also in attendance.

Over $4,000 was raised to put Connecticut over the top in its $10,000 goal for the PWW Fund Drive. [6]

CPUSA 85th anniversary

About 100 labor and progressive activists packed the New Haven People's Center Dec. 5, 2004, to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the Communist Party USA at a reception hosted by the Connecticut Bureau of the People’s Weekly World.

Several state leaders in the movement for social change were honored, including Sharon Palmer, president of the American Federation of Teachers in Connecticut, Americo Santiago, program and policy director of DemocracyWorks, and the Rev. Scott Marks, New Haven director of the Connecticut Center for a New Economy.

Palmer, who coordinated labor’s activity in the 2nd Congressional district, spoke of being depressed at first after election results came in, then becoming angry and finally determined to continue the fight against the anti-labor, anti-people policies of the right-wing. Santiago, who initiated a successful campaign to restore voting rights to ex-felons, said grassroots activism has never been more vital than it is today. Rev. Marks delivered a powerful call to continue organizing door-to-door and developing new leaders to bring about change.

Sam Webb, national chairman of the Communist Party USA, emphasized the need for unity to continue to fight against the Bush administration’s greedy schemes to strip working people of their hard-won Social Security benefits.

Recognizing the ongoing contributions of several persons who were present with over 50 years of membership in the CPUSA, Joelle Fishman, chair of the Connecticut Communist Party, reminded the gathering of the proud history and beginnings of the organization. She said the party was formed by working men and women who “refused to accept segregation and racism, refused to accept imperialist wars of domination, refused to accept exploitation of labor, hunger and homelessness. They had a vision of a society based on equality, dignity, justice and peace.”

The spirited celebration was a reminder that “We, the People,” will not sit still and let the ultra-right roll over us and try to take our dignity and respect away. It included calls for educating, organizing, and mobilizing others to save Social Security, to win health care for all, and to end the war in Iraq.

The event included a program and greetings book that raised nearly $3,000 for the People’s Weekly World, putting Connecticut over the top for its goal in this year’s fund drive.[7]

86th anniversary of the Communist Party USA

With a call to “Rebuild America – Bring the Troops Home,” Connecticut readers of the People’s Weekly World honored leaders of the people’s movement at a Dec. 4 2005 reception. The event, marking the 86th anniversary of the Communist Party USA, drew together peace activists, unions, students, politicians and community organizations. It also raised $4,000 towards the PWW Fund Drive.

Lois O'Connor, executive vice president of Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans and former president of AFSCME Council 4, was honored for the many battles she has fought including the recent attacks on Social Security. As family members watched their mother speak, Lois paid tribute to the Communist Party for making positive changes. Her shout, “It’s time to get the hell out of Iraq,” drew applause from everyone.

Jorge Perez, president of the New Haven Board of Aldermen, was recognized because of his strong leadership and commitment to develop affordable housing. Perez said he was very happy to accept the award and vowed to continue working to stop injustices.

George Springer thanked everyone for keeping the pressures on the Bush administration. He said he is proud to be a part of the movement that is saying “enough is enough, bring the troops home now.” Springer, former president of AFT Connecticut and now AFT Northeast regional director, called on the administration to spend our money the right way: create more jobs, better education and rebuild the hurricane areas.

The program ended on a high note with guest speaker Martina Cruz from Lawrence, Mass., who was recently elected to the school committee. She campaigned under the slogan, “Education for peace, not war.”

Cruz’s decision to run was made because parents asked her to help improve the education process. She was tired of politicians who talked and talked and never did anything. She said she will continue to fight to inform students and parents of their legal rights about recruitment officers who prey on schools.

Cruz encouraged people to start teaching their children at home the problems our society is facing. “It’s a long struggle, but I will do my best. This is all about the future of our children,” she said. [8]

2006 May Day celebrations

At the 2006 People’s Weekly World annual May Day celebration, Connecticut AFL-CIO President John Olsen recalled that only two years ago Connecticut Labor Against the War was awarded the Connecticut PWW’s Newsmaker Award. This, he said, contributed to the dialogue that resulted in adoption by the state and national AFL-CIO of strong resolutions against the Iraq war.

Olsen spoke at the May 7 celebration, where he accepted the Newsmaker Award on behalf of the Connecticut AFL-CIO. “It is in rooms like this where things begin to happen,” Olsen said.

Making the presentation, Art Perry of SEIU 32BJ credited Olsen’s leadership for creating the climate where Change to Win and AFL-CIO unions in the state have continued to work together despite a national split.

Also at the event, the Winchester Citizens Ad Hoc award was accepted by Craig Gauthier and several other workers from the recently shut-down U.S. Repeating Firearms Plant . The group vowed to keep the struggle going and to keep city officials on their toes to find another manufacturing buyer, making sure that former workers have the opportunity to be hired with union representation.

Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans President Kevin M. Lynch thanked everyone for their support on last year’s tremendous struggle to beat back the Bush attacks on Social Security. Special recognition was given to Community Organized for Responsible Development for their recent community benefits agreement with the giant Yale New Haven Hospital, and Unidad Latina en Accion for organizing community support for the immigrant rights movement.

The Hartford Young Communist League’s Rap Group had everyone in the room rocking and clapping. The event raised over $2,000 for the People’s Weekly World 2006 fund drive.

This fight for justice has stirred up a powerful coalition of real grassroots organizing, Joelle Fishman, chair of the Connecticut Communist Party USA, told the PWW gathering.[9]

2007 Amistad Awards

In New Haven, Conn., the PWW’s annual Amistad Awards are named for the slave ship that came to symbolize the abolitionist movement after a group of slaves revolted, taking the ship over in 1839.

Carrie Saxon Perry, former mayor of Hartford and leader of that city’s NAACP, on hand to accept an award, urged the crowd to continue to fight against the ultra-right. She noted that while she was mayor, “they went after us when we took up the issue of health care,” but in that election cycle, all three Republican members of the City Council were ousted.

While Republicans later retook seats, the progressive movement has re-surged in Hartford, as the Working Families Party has built a base around the People for Change Party that had ousted the Republicans before.

Larry Deutsch and Luis Cotto, two WFP candidates who won Hartford City Council seats November, told Saxon Perry at the event, “You were our inspiration.”

Also honored were Kica Matos, New Haven’s community services director, who was instrumental in establishing the first municipal ID available to all residents regardless of immigration status, and Mary Johnson, vice president of the New Haven Federation of Teachers Retirees and founder of Coalition for People. [10]

2008 Amistad Awards

Dec. 7, 2008 Al Marder was one of three honorees to receive the Amistad Award from the People’s Weekly World at a reception at 4:00 pm at the New Haven People's Center, 37 Howe Street. Other recipients are Kathy Jackson, chairwoman of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists in Connecticut and Juan Hernandez, Assistant District Leader of SEIU 32 BJ Justice for Janitors. [11]

2008 newsmaker Awards

Newly organized union members, activists and community leaders gathered in New Haven on Sunday May 4 to celebrate the annual presentation of Peoples Weekly World Newsmaker Awards for International Workers Day. Two thousand dealers at Foxwoods Casino who won union representation with UAW Region 9A and workers at New England Linen who won representation with UNITE HERE received the awards and a pledge that the community will continue to stand by them.

The workers were warmly applauded as they came forward to tell their stories and express appreciation for the solidarity. Both groups of workers faced legal challenges, highlighting the importance of the Employee Free Choice Act as an issue in the 2008 elections.

John Olsen, president of the Connecticut AFL CIO, said all of labor stands by these two groups of courageous workers, and called for support of the one million signature campaign for changing labor laws with the Employee Free Choice Act.

Greeting the rise of activism throughout the country, reflected at the event, Olsen urged those present to continue to make their message heard. Calling for an end to divisions and labeling he emphasized the need to join together to make a change in the country.

Shirl Wilkins, of New Growth Praise Center, spoke of her trip to Philadelphia to get out the vote for Barack Obama with the Change to Win unions. Her mother participated in door knocking for the first time, and said it is a turning point in her life. “I’m new at this, and I have a lot to learn,” Wilkins said, “but what I do know is that we must continue to come together and be united.”

In a call to action, Connecticut Communist Party chair Joelle Fishman emphasized that workers right to organize is key because collectively working people can change the politics of our country.

“This is a time of awakening, a time of great promise,” she said. “The corporate media is doing all it can to spread division and poison and bust things up....As a people we have to keep our eyes on the prize, and not give in to provocations, especially racism, which is used as a cover for right-wing, anti-worker policies that hurt us all.”

While putting dollars and checks into the collection buckets for the Peoples Weekly World fund drive totaling $3,000, everyone joined in chants adapted from the May 1st immigrant workers unity march in New Haven. “Who’s got the power? – we’ve got the power! What kind of power? Workers’ power” and Si Se Puede, Yes We Can.

The event opened with a slide show presentation “May Day Around the World” and closed out with a piano jazz selection by a worker from New England Linen. It was a great day for celebration.[12]

90th anniversary of the Communist Party USA/People’s World Amistad award

The diverse and inspired overflow crowd stayed to the end of the remarkable celebration of People's World Amistad Award honorees Anna Montalvo, Gwen Mills and Art Perry on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party USA, Dec. 2009. The theme of the event was "Keep the Ball Rolling....to win jobs with union rights, health care, peace and equality!" Unity and struggle were the messages of the day.

Bill Collins of the Rabble Rousers got everyone going with his new song "Health Care is Our Right," followed by a film, "Building on 90 Years of Struggle," which highlighted Connecticut struggles and activists and the role of the Communist Party for People before Profits policies. Everyone enjoyed all the photos.

Beto Castillo performed two Mexican songs to the delight of all. And then it was time for the award presentations.

Event chair Paul Neal presented Anna Montalvo, president of AFSCME Local 1522 in Bridgeport with citations from the New Haven Board of Aldermen and the Connecticut General Assembly. As he presented the large framed Amistad Award, AFSCME Council 4 Executive Director Sal Luciano brought out how strong Anna has been in leading a large local with many different worksites including public works where the guys had to learn to take leadership from a woman.

New Haven Aldermen Jackie James and Allan Brison presented the citations to Gwen Mills, political field director of Unite-Here unions for Connecticut and Rhode Island. Shirley Lawrence, lead organizer for Connecticut Center for a New Economy, recalled their ten years of working together and praised Gwen's decision to be a part of the labor movement as she presented the Amistad Award. Gwen spoke of her family and her union in accepting, and recalled many efforts with the Peoples Center over the years.

Working Families Party director Jon Green and State Rep Gary Holder-Winfield presented the citations to Art Perry, Connecticut political director of SEIU 32BJ Justice for Janitors . Joelle Fishman, chair of the Connecticut Communist Party, presented the Amistad Award, remembering when they first met over 30 years ago while Art was working at Southbury Training School and the successful struggles to keep the facility open. She emphasized Art's deep commitment to the power of working people, and as political director has never lost that connection to the members he serves. In accepting, Art had many thanks to family, friends and co-workers and said that no matter what comes, this award will always be his highest honor.

The awardees were celebrated with a poem by Ras Mo Moses, "Working Class People" along with Baub Bidon and backed up with Jeff Fuller on bass and Richard Hill on percussion.

Everyone was thrilled by Aishah Jenkins and Kendra Streater two high school students who performed "Stand by Me" with piano and bass accompaniment.

Joelle Fishman presented the afternoon's call to action for organizing the unorganized, building even bigger grass roots mobilization on the issues including health care, no troops to Afghanistan, public works job creation and the employee free choice act. She presented certificates of appreciation to Dorothy Johnson and Brian Steinberg for their tireless work over many years delivering the People's Weekly World to workers' homes and getting them involved in the struggle.

Applause greeted the announcement that the People's World now daily on-line will have a mini Connecticut print edition as of January, when the national print edition ends.

Finally, led by Bill Collins, all the musicians led the audience in singing Solidarity Forever as people rose to their feet and joined hands in the air.

The delicious home made supper and holiday gift table rounded out an inspiring and forward looking afternoon enjoyed by all.

A 54 page greeting book raised necessary funds to keep the paper going, and offered a handsome and exciting keepsake of the labor and people's movement in Connecticut.

The 90th anniversary of the Communist Party proud was done proud![13]

May Day 2011

On May Day 2011, in New Haven, a rally and march of several hundred was initiated by immigrant workers who had just won a long fight with Goodfella's Restaurant for $23,000 in unpaid wages. Representatives from local unions, student and community groups joined in. The march through downtown ended at the New Haven Green for the annual May Day celebration, including information tables, a giant peace sign project, performances and speeches.

At the end of the afternoon, an overflow crowd from around the state turned out for the presentation of People's World Newsmaker Awards to Spectrum nursing home workers locked out on strike for one year, Communications Workers Local 1298, and SEBAC, the bargaining coalition of all state worker's unions representing 40,000 workers.

Organized around the theme "We are One - Workers Rights are Human Rights," the event honored Connecticut's public workers, their unions and the services they provide. It offered an opportunity for youth leaders, strikers, community activists and state labor leaders to discuss how to build a more powerful political force of working people that can change the debate from deficits to taxing the rich and big corporations, and achieve a change of priorities in our country.

Exemplifying the kind of courage required, Carmen Boudier, president of New England Local 1199, said the 400 Spectrum workers had rejected a company attempt to rehire only some workers and not others. "We will all stay out until we can all go back," she declared to cheers and applause.

Bill Henderson, whose local negotiated with AT&T a year longer than the rest of the country to win a contract without concessions, decried corporate outsourcing of jobs to other countries, and called for a change in policy to build up good jobs in the United States.

Dan Livingston, chief negotiator for SEBAC, emphasized that the corporate attack on workers has accelerated globally in the last 20 years. He urged the youth present to help develop new ways of communicating the importance of the labor movement to their generation.

The audience was inspired by youth participation in the program, including The Union rap group, poetry and remarks from high school students. A performance by singer and social justice activist Fernandito Ferrer, visiting from Puerto Rico, highlighted the common struggles of workers in all countries.

John Olsen, president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, addressed all three events. "There is a class war going on - they're trying to exterminate us," he said. Warning against balancing the budget on the backs of state workers, he said that if the Bush tax cuts extended by Congress in December were collected from Connecticut residents making over $250,000, there would be no deficit.

The May Day events culminated a hectic week of marches, rallies and press conferences on an array of demands, including a fair state budget, SustiNet health care, paid sick days, Social Security, a state Dream Act and Workers Memorial Day ceremonies commemorating those who died on the jobs and advocating for worker safety and the right to organize.[14]

On the 125th anniversary of the birth of May Day as an international day of worker's struggle and solidarity, the need for unity is greater than ever, speakers at all the events emphasized. The celebrations inspired and gave new strength for the giant battles ahead.

2012 People's World Amistad Awards

Art Perry presents Peoples World Amistad Award to Sen. Toni Harp, as co-recipients Fatima Rojas of Unite HERE and Kurt Wesby of Local 32 BJ look on

"Solidarity, determination, and celebration were the watchwords at this year's post-election People's World Amistad Awards held at Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School in New Haven", December 2012. Three grassroots leaders for progressive social change, Sen. Toni Harp, Kurt Westby, and Fatima Rojas, were honored around the theme, "Connecticut Rising - We are all the 47 percent!"

Filling the auditorium were striking 1199 members from Healthbridge nursing homes nearing a full year on the picket lines; a large delegation of custodial workers, members of Local 32 BJ who came to help honor their director Kurt Westby, and many Unite Here union members including several who serve on the New Haven Board of Aldermen.

Fatima Rojas, accepting the award on behalf of immigrants and all workers explained how she came to be a union organizer. She decried the lack of union representation for low wage and immigrant workers and issued a call for union rights for all workers in this country.

Kurt Westby, Connecticut Director of SEIU 32 BJ, popularly known as the "Justice for Janitors" union, called for increased organizing for workers needs and rights following on this year's election victory. Appreciating the award, he said it inspires him to go forward.

Former Amistad Award recipient Art Perry who worked with Westby told how he grew the property management union from 1,000 to 4,400 members in 15 years transforming an invisible low-wage industry into a respected political force demanding economic justice and immigrant rights.

In opening the program, Joelle Fishman, chair of the Connecticut Communist Party USA, recognized the diversity and unity of those present as the winning ingredients. "The lesson of this election is that if we continue to organize and join together with pride and determination we can raise up everyone with us. Connecticut is rising. We are all the 47 percent," she said.

Sen. Toni Harp who represents the 10th District in New Haven and West Haven and serves as chair of the appropriations committee, moved the audience when she said that she was dedicating the award to Al Marder with whom she works on the Connecticut Freedom Trail, and to her late husband Wendell Harp who first encouraged her to run for office.

"This election shows that the 47 percent are the most important part of the electorate," she exclaimed.

Harp was repeatedly applauded for refusing to back down in her support of the New Haven Peoples Center when the "Right Wing used red baiting to pressure Governor Dannel Malloy to withdraw bonding funds requested by Harp to re-point the 150 year old brick structure."

The program, held on the 93rd anniversary of the Communist Party USA, was opened by the YCL and New Elm City Dream. The youth danced, held signs, and shouted messages of congratulations to the candidates and the honorees. Later, Bill Collins and The Testifiers got everyone singing his 2012 song about Linda McMahon, "Pushing Back Against Linda's Lies."

After performing a salsa number, Mikata had the audience dancing in the aisles to "Stand by Me." Band director Richard Hill said they chose the song because the election victory opens the possibility for a large scale people's movement, as in the 1930's, if everyone sticks together and keeps organizing.

Participants signed post cards to the Connecticut Congressional delegation calling on them not to make any "Grand Bargain" on the backs of working people. A candlelight vigil will be held at the old State House in Hartford on December 10, initiated by the AFL-CIO and other groups on the national day of action.[15]

2013 awards

The 2013 Amistad Awards were presented by the People’s World on Sunday, December 1 at 4 p.m. at a special ”MARCHING ON for Jobs, Freedom & Peace” anniversary rally in New Haven at Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School, 177 College St.

We celebrate the contributions and example of Laurie Kennington, Edwin Gomes and Rep. Edwin Vargas, three wonderful leaders and role models who challenge economic inequality and are in the forefront of organizing for jobs, health care, union rights and the needs of youth.

Laurie Kennington is president of Local 34 UNITE HERE which won a contract advancing current workers and opening jobs at Yale for New Haven residents. She is in the forefront of the community/labor alliance that helped elect union members to the Board of Alders.

Edwin Gomes was inspired at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom to dedicate his life to working people and the fight for equality as International Representative of United Steelworkers of America, and State Senator from Bridgeport where he is still organizing.

State Rep. Edwin Vargas, Jr., past president of Hartford Federation of Teachers, is on every picket line for civil rights, workers’ rights and peace. In the Commerce Committee he helped win passage of a Future Commission to study alternatives to military production for jobs.

The annual awards are presented to allies by the People’s World on the occasion of the 94th anniversary of the Communist Party USA.[16]

In his closing remarks Rev. Scott Marks brought the crowd to its feet as he called for door-to-door organizing that will "move forward" the fight for jobs and other needs. "I will not go back!" he exclaimed passionately.

Marks and all the awardees praised the vision and work of the Communist Party in their communities. The event was held on the occasion of the CPUSA's 94th anniversary.

"They're trying to turn the working class into the working poor and the only ones who will stop it are people like you in this room," said Gomes, recalling his years working at Carpenter Steel in Local 2216 United Steel Workers in Bridgeport. It was enjoyable to serve in the Senate, he said, but his best experience was union organizing. He urged everyone to keep the pressure on elected officials to meet people's needs.

Stationed at Walter Reed Hospital at the time of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Gomes went to the rally. The experience changed his life. Gomes was among those featured in a video produced by AFT Connecticut shown as the audience arrived.

Rep. Edwin Vargas, Jr., who taught in the Hartford public schools for 35 years, serving as union president for part of that time, and in many national, state and local positions in union and Puerto Rican community organizations said that while he has received many awards, this one has special meaning because "this is an award from people who are the hard core of the movement."

Quoting Che Guevara that "the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love," Vargas elaborated on the fact that justice cannot be achieved without peace.

The afternoon was punctuated by a youth rendition of Live Every Voice and Sing directed by Jill Marks, Puerto Rican music by Sonia Castro, Chilean songs by Juan Brito and Rebecca Brito, and a rousing finale by Michael Mills Rhythms of the Heart drumming which involved the entire audience.[17]

MCs were Kit Salazar-Smith and Lisa Bergmann.

Other speakers included Fatima Rojas, John Olsen, and Rev. Scott Marks.

2014 Awards

The People's World Amistad Awards were held on Sunday, December 7 2014, to celebrate the Connecticut election victory and look forward. Awardees included Meg Riccio, chief steward of Local 35 service and maintenance workers at Yale; Alberto Bernardez, area director SEIU 32 BJ union of janitors; Daniel Durant, community organizer for AFT Connecticut.[18]

Enthusiasm was high as emcees Kit Salazar-Smith and Lisa Bergmann guided the program from the New Orleans-style sounds of Kings of Harmony and song led by Jill Marks to the finale of traditional music and dance by the Bodoma Garifuna Cultural Band.

Opening the event, held on the occasion of the 95th anniversary of the Communist Party USA, Connecticut chair Joelle Fishman's call to action evoked the chants of recent protests.

"When courageous $15 and a Union fast food strikers stand in solidarity with Hands Up Don't Shoot protests they are saying this is one struggle for dignity, for basic democratic rights, human rights and fairness. As Martin Luther King, Jr., challenged us to take on the triple evils of poverty, racism and war," she said, "we know it will take big change for our country to truly be of, by and for the people. To that we recommit today, inspired by the awardees and the people in the streets fighting for justice."[19]

Craig Gauthier day

When New Haven Mayor Toni Harp declared Feb. 23, 2014 as "Craig Gauthier day in the City of New Haven," the overflow crowd at the Peoples Center burst into cheers.

Mayor Toni Harp and Craig Gauthier before the annual Peoples World African American History Month event honoring Gauthier

This 40th annual African American History Month event, also held in Hartford the night before, made history.

After leading a youth march to end violence and for jobs with Gauthier, the Mayor read her proclamation to this "courageous union and community leader in our State," noting his journey from Louisiana to New Haven, leading his union and in "the Communist Party USA, where he has campaigned for peace, to end police brutality, meet the needs of youth, to create living wag jobs in the community and for union rights."

Culminating two and a half years of youth organizing, the New Elm City Dream and the Young Communist League led the march with police escort. Over one hundred youth and elected officials, union and community leaders marched from Elm and Kensington streets where Tyrell Trimble was shot to death in July, 2012, to the Peoples Center to hear Gauthier's story.

Thanking the youth for marching and accepting the petitions for jobs they presented to her, Harp exclaimed, "If the demand is not placed there will be no action." The youth carried large banners created with local artists including likenesses of historical African American leaders, New Haven youth who lost their lives, and Gauthier.

Chanting "Jobs for Youth - Jobs for All," the marchers filed into the Peoples Center to the sounds of drumming by Brian Jarawa Gray and joined the crowd already assembled. As the room filled to capacity, people gathered outside the front and back doors, straining to hear the program.

Prize winners of the high school arts and writing competition presented their poems, essays and artwork on the theme, "If you were mayor of New Haven how would you work with young people to plan for the future of the city? As a high school student, what would you say to Mayor Toni Harp?"

Harp, the city's first woman and second African American mayor, promised to place the book with all the submissions into the New Haven Public Library "for posterity."

Before presenting his life story, Gauthier received additional citations from Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, elected two days later to fill the state senate seat vacated by Harp; Ald. Dolores Colon, chair of the Black and Hispanic Caucus of the Board of Alders, John Harrity, president of District 26, State Council of Machinists, Jarvis Tyner, executive vice chair of the Communist Party USA, and a poem by Baub Bidon.

The room was silent as Gauthier took the podium after giving his cousin in the audience a hug. He described racist incidents in segregationist Louisiana, in the military in the Dominican Republic, and in New Haven that had shaped his life. His mother's teaching and example led him to decide to turn his anger into organizing to bring about change, he said.

He described his years working at the Winchester sporting arms factory where he was a leader of a six- month strike in 1979 and then elected president of the International Association of Machinists, Victory Lodge 609. He also spoke of his earlier participation in the union organizing drive at Yale New Haven Hospital, acknowledging his co-workers from those experiences in the audience.

"As Communists we strive for a better life for workers and their families, those who produce the wealth of this great nation," said Gauthier. "I urge the youth today to step out of the crowd and become community leaders, become leaders on the job. Don't let other people who know us define us. Learn your family history. Learn the real history of our nation. You cannot change anything unless your first find out how it works and what role you can play to make this democracy in these United States work for all people."

Ben McManus, chair of the People's World committee that planned the event, thanked Gauthier and recalled his own first introduction to the Communist Party newspaper as a child in Newark, New Jersey. Before enjoying a home made meal, those present reached into their wallets to make a contribution to the fund drive.[20]

2014 State convention

Messages from labor and community leaders, participation by young people, and adoption of a Connecticut Economic Bill of Rights highlighted the lively and powerful convention of the Connecticut district of the Communist Party on May Day weekend.

"It's time to turn up the heat," said Rev. Scott Marks, recognizing the Young Communist League and New Elm City Dream youth group who have been marching to end violence with the theme "Jobs for Youth - Jobs for All." The demands that the youth have brought forward have been adopted as top priorities by the New Haven Board of Alders on which union members and their allies hold a super majority.

Jennifer Graham and Jackie Marks, high school students representing New Elm City Dream on the mayor's planning committee to rebuild the Q House youth center, got loud applause when they explained, "We wanted to bring the violence down. We marched and campaigned for the Q House."

Local 34 Unite Here president Laurie Kennington, Alderwoman Evette Hamilton and Hartford City Council Minority Leader (Working Families Party) Larry Deutsch also appreciated the Communist Party for always being there for working people.

The multi-racial and multi-generational gathering took stock of the last four years and discussed how to win living wage jobs and other gains to improve the lives of working people, unemployed and youth.

"People are talking everywhere about how the system is broken. They're looking for answers," said Joelle Fishman, who chairs the Communist Party in Connecticut. "They see in the Communist Party an organization that is part of the working class, part of them. It's a big responsibility."

She said Connecticut has bucked national trends in elections because of labor's grassroots organizing on issues and fielding union members as candidates. This has resulted in the ability to expand the right of workers to organize, take major steps towards protecting the rights and safety of immigrants, and increased protections on the job. It has also made the state a target of extreme right-wing organizations that are spending huge sums to try and recapture the governor's seat and Congress in November's elections.

Delegates old and new embraced a culture of organizing has led to steady growth of the Communist Party and YCL. After hearing presentations from the North Main club in Hartford which is known for holding the civilian review board accountable for police conduct, and the Newhall club in New Haven which is organizing door-to-door on the issue of jobs, the convention broke down into small groups to discuss how the work of their clubs makes a difference in their communities and why the Communist Party is needed to give people a voice and a vision.

"We wake up the neighborhood to act when there's a problem," said one group emphasizing use of the People's World in the community to get out the news from a working-class point of view.

"You are active in your community, which is what you should be doing," said national vice chair Libero Della Piana, who added that the national convention will provide a venue to share experiences from around the country and to hear from international guests. Placing the struggles in a bigger perspective, he warned of the dangers of extreme right-wing voter suppression and big spending to try and gain control of Congress and state offices in 2014.

The convention adopted a Connecticut Economic Bill of Rights that proclaims a living wage job with the right to a union, housing, health care, education and a peaceful, sustainable environment are basic human rights. While stating "fully ending inequality needs socialism," the document details immediate local and national demands to tax the rich and move money from military spending to infrastructure repair and people's needs.

The convention also adopted a resolution encouraging voter education and participation in voter registration and voter turnout efforts for November's election. A delegation of 25 was elected to represent the state at the 30th national convention in Chicago next month.

"The Connecticut YCL youth are incredible," said Lisa Bergmann who co-chaired the convention and is an organizer for the YCL nationally. They march, they chair meetings and recruit new youth to join them. They are making a qualitative difference in the lives of youth in Connecticut and inspiring the whole movement."

Following the convention, a People's World May Day tribute to Pete Seeger and Amiri Baraka was held upstairs in the sanctuary of the First and Summerfield Methodist Church, site of countless union rallies and mobilizations.[21].

Hartford Service Workers Club

According to club chair Tom Connolly, Hartford Service Workers Club, was formed four years ago (2010)with a few comrades. Our constituency is workers in service industries in the Hartford area. We are primarily organizers, members and leaders of SEIU affiliated unions. Our club also assists the neighborhood clubs in the area, for example by providing transportation to city or state People's World and Communist Party events.

The club has recruited several leaders and retirees and we have made progress in establishing a party presence with union activists. Our goal is to expand our ranks through our contacts with activists and the rank and file.

These are some of the activities we are doing that we hope will enable us to organize more workers into the party:

The Connecticut Party has been established for years in several neighborhoods in Hartford. People's World newspaper routes have been ongoing. The children and grandchildren of those who joined many years ago are now members. This grassroots organizing has shaped the Communist Party and was the inspiration for some members of our Service Workers Club to join the party originally.[22]

"May Day 2016 -- Fighting for Our Future"

Big changes require big struggles, and "May Day 2016 -- Fighting for Our Future" set a powerful and inspiring framework for the labor battles and elections this year.

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An enthusiastic and diverse crowd at the King Davis Labor Center in Hartford on May 1 gave a standing ovation to People's World editor John Wojcik whose eloquent and hard-hitting speech quoted extensively from Albert Parsons' last statement made in 1886 before being hanged on a frame-up charge.

The annual People's World celebration included a panel discussion which called upon the Connecticut state legislature to reject an austerity budget with layoffs and cuts in public services and instead increase taxes on the top 1 percent. A large scroll petition signed by all present was delivered to the Speaker of the House the next day.

Tom Connolly, vice president of CSEA Retirees and a member of Better Choices for Connecticut, listed specific choices that could bring in revenue and create savings as an alternative to a budget "that hurts working people and poor people."

Ciro Gutierrez, a building cleaner and member-leader of SEIU 32 BJ who came to the United States from Peru for a better life, exemplified the international struggle for workers' rights, citing the struggle for the eight-hour work day which was won in Peru in 1918. Speaking of the hardships of income inequality on workers today, he upheld the Fight for $15 minimum wage victory in New York state and called for making this an issue in the 2016 presidential election as part of the effort to defeat Donald Trump.

Panelist Alexandra Marks, a New Haven high school student, received a standing ovation after presenting the work of the Young Communist League and New Elm City Dream in the Jobs for Youth - Jobs for All campaign.

Also highlighted were the low-wage workers' April 14 demonstrations for decent pay and work schedules, taking place in dozens of countries and in 320 cities in the US including Hartford.

In his remarks opening the panel, SEIU 32 BJ leader Alberto Bernardez captured the essence of May Day when he paid tribute to low wage workers forced to work multiple jobs today...

Prior to the event, Wojcik spent several days touring Connecticut where he attended Workers' Memorial Day and met with union and community leaders and elected officials including a round table discussion with five members of the New Haven Board of Alders who are also union members and leaders in their unions.[23]

Also in attendance was Kit Salazar-Smith.

References

  1. People's Weekly World, July 20, Page 19
  2. People's World Weekly, May Day Supplement, Section 6, 1998
  3. People's Weekly World, May 1, 1999, Page 2
  4. People's Weekly World, May 1, 1999, Page 2
  5. , PW Connecticut over the top in fund drive, by: Evelina Alarcon & John Pappademos December 14 2001
  6. PW Raising spirits and funds from coast to coast, December 19 2003
  7. PW, Weve just begun to fight, by: Dorothy Johnson, December 17 2004
  8. Fundraisers spread peace, joy and thanks Print Email to a Friend by: DOROTHY JOHNSON december 16 2005
  9. PW, Connecticut PWW honors state AFL-CIO, Dorothy Johnson, May 26 2006
  10. http://www.peoplesworld.org/saluting-the-people-s-struggle-and-the-pww/ PW, Saluting the peoples struggle and the PWW by: Dan Margolis December 21 2007]
  11. PW, Connecticut conference highlights Declaration of Human Rights anniversary by: JOELLE FISHMAN december 2 2008
  12. PW, Connecticut PWW Friends honor workers with Newsmaker Awardsby: Special to the World May 14 2008
  13. http://www.peoplesworld.org/new-haven-people-s-world-amistad-award-celebration-big-success/, PW, New Haven People’s World Amistad award celebration big success, December 8 2009]
  14. [http://peoplesworld.org/force-of-unity-defends-working-people-s-rights/ PW "Force of unity" defends working people's rights by: Joelle Fishman May 6 2011
  15. Peoples World, People's World Amistad Awards inspire action, by: Special to PeoplesWorld.org, December 6 2012
  16. Par-Newhaven.org, MARCHING ON for Jobs, Freedom & Peace — The People’s World Amistad Awards 4 p.m. Dec. 1, New Haven- Joelle Fishman, CT People’s World, October 29, 2013
  17. PW. Amistad Awards inspire unity and struggle, December 6 2013
  18. Labor 2014 celebrates Connecticut election victory by: Joelle Fishman November 26 2014
  19. Amistad Awards show what solidarity looks like, December 11 2014
  20. http://peoplesworld.org/youth-march-and-celebration-inspires-struggle-for-equality/ Youth march and celebration inspires struggle for equality, by: JOELLE FISHMAN]
  21. [http://peoplesworld.org/connecticut-communist-party-adopts-economic-bill-of-rights/ PW, Connecticut Communist Party adopts Economic Bill of Rights by: Special to PeoplesWorld.org May 16 2014]
  22. CPUSA Ways by: Tom Connolly March 20 2014 tags: 30th National Convention, CPUSA, Convention Discussion
  23. Hartford's "Fighting for Our Future" rally inspires struggleby: JOELLE FISHMAN may 23 2016