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'We Say Fight Back!' national conference to be held in Chicago

By Chapin Gray

In the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, leaders and organizers across the country are gearing up for the “They Say Cut Back, We Say Fight Back!” national conference planned for Oct. 3 in Chicago, Illinois. From California to New York, people who for the past years have been fighting back against cuts to programs that serve our communities, against home foreclosures and evictions and against plant closures will come together to share experiences and make plans to work together in the coming years.

“Massive cuts are taking place to the programs that benefit poor and working people, while the government tries to balance budgets on our backs,” said the organizers. “Inequality is growing and oppressed people – African-Americans, Chicanos and Latinos – are the last hired and the first to lose their jobs.” Over the last decades, the banks and the billionaires have accumulated enormous profits by exploiting people’s labor and through speculation. Now, with an economic crisis underway they are trying to shift the burden onto the backs of poor and working people. In response, there are growing fight backs in communities and workplaces around the country.

This past year has seen sharp struggles, such as the one waged by Republic Windows and Doors workers last December. Armando Robles, a lead organizer in that now internationally-known plant occupation, is one of many who will be speaking at the Oct. 3 conference. Robles said, “I think it is important for workers to attend this conference to share experiences and learn from each other to become better fighters.”

Over 30 individuals and organizations involved in the labor movement, the student movement, housing and anti-cutback activism, community organizing and other progressive movements have already endorsed the conference.

“I'll be at the Oct. 3 conference and help out everybody like we are getting helped out here,” said David Biedrzycki, a worker at SK Hand Tools and union steward with Teamsters 743 in Chicago. “Some are losing their homes. We lost our health insurance, so we understand how we need to fight together. We are on strike fighting for health insurance and also for justice.”

Carlos Montes, a veteran Chicano activist who was a founding member of the Brown Berets and now is an organizer in the Los Angeles immigrants rights movement, will also be attending. “Activists nationwide need to come together and unite around common goals and plans to fight off the attacks and cuts to our schools, jobs, health care and housing,” said Montes. “The attacks against Latino immigrants brought on by the economic crisis are worsening and need to be stopped.”

Rosemary Williams, a housing rights activist in Minneapolis, Minnesota and who opened her home to community activists to defend it against foreclosure, also plans on attending. As this goes to press, Williams is still in the midst of battling for her home. “I am going to the conference so I can share what I’ve learned from fighting my foreclosure. I want to help others to fight back and win all across the country.”

If you or your organization would be interested in endorsing and attending the “We Say Fight Back!” conference, visit

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