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Labor Notes panel educates and agitates to fight against political repression

By staff

Speakers call for stepped up efforts to support Carlos Montes

Carl Rosen of the United Electrical (UE) union

Chicago, IL – On May 6 over 100 people attended a panel at the Labor Notes conference called Solidarity Forever: The Labor Movement, Political Repression and the Fight for Civil Liberties. The panel focused on the repression against Carlos Montes and the Anti-War 23 and explained why it’s important for the labor movement to take a stand against political repression.

The panel was facilitated by Richard Berg, a long-time rank and file Teamster and labor movement leader in Chicago.

Carl Rosen of the United Electrical (UE) union spoke about his union’s history of being attacked viciously during the political repression in the 1940s and 50s, and their commitment to standing up for civil liberties because of that history. UE is one of only two of eleven left-led unions that survived the McCarthy era, when the union’s leaders faced subpoenas to “Un-American Activities” – hearings, jailings, firings, blacklisting, union decertification and all manner of repression. Because of this history, Rosen said that the UE now passes a resolution at all of their national meetings, rededicating themselves to the struggle to defend civil liberties.

Hatem Abudayyeh spoke about the FBI raid on his home on Sept. 24, 2010 and the subpoenaing of 23 people to a grand jury witch hunt due to their international solidarity work, particularly support for Palestinian self-determination. None of the Anti-War 23 have cooperated with the grand jury, at risk of being jailed for contempt for their refusal to participate in the grand jury.

Long-time labor activist Paul Krehbiel from Los Angeles spoke about the repression against Carlos Montes, who is being targeted because of his decades of activism. Montes faces trial May 15 on four bogus felony charges, after his home was raided and ransacked by Los Angeles Sheriffs and the FBI last May. Krehbiel has attended most of Montes’ pre-trial hearings and protests, so he detailed many of the outrages so far. Krehbiel also spoke of Montes’ long history of union organizing and participation in labor struggles, in addition to his more well-known activism in the Chicano movement and anti-war movement.

Cherrene Horazuk of AFSCME 3800 spoke about why labor activists must defend their right to travel to other countries to be able to hear firsthand about the impacts of U.S. foreign policy and corporate-sponsored repression against trade unionists and others. She also talked about the historic role labor has played in defending and winning struggles for freedom of speech and association and how labor must take a stand when these rights are under attack.

Tom Burke of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR) ended the panel by emphasizing the urgency to support Carlos Montes as his trial approaches on May 15. CSFR is asking people to call Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley at 213-974-3512 with the message, “Drop the charges against Carlos Montes,” and also to sign the online petition that sends your message to Cooley and several others.

Labor Notes is a biennial conference for rank-and-file union activists to form analysis and make plans for building stronger working class fight backs and to fight to transform unions that are corrupt or don’t organize workers to fight back. This year’s Labor Notes conference took place May 4-6 in Chicago and was attended by over 1500 people, with dozens of workshops and panels.

Paul Krehbiel speaks on political repression vs Carlos Montes

Hatem Abudayyeh speaks

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