OBB Training at Ebenezer Church

Atlanta, GA – “Our first two weeks here at OBB have been a whirlwind – a hectic, beautiful, inspiring whirlwind. During our first week we rallied with ballpark workers at National Stadium; took a trip to Philadelphia to support the teachers and Student Safety Staff fasting to protest public school layoffs; and began to get accustomed to our different assignments. We capped off our second week with a trip to Atlanta to visit our brothers and sisters down there who are also members of Local 23. On the first day we got to hang out with other workers and organizers from Atlanta and helped them out with some organizing they have been working on.

The next day we went to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in downtown Atlanta. Walking around the Ebenezer Baptist Church, and King’s childhood home a few blocks away, we were in awe. King’s powerful presence still seemed to reverberate throughout the places he once occupied. Although I had heard the story of MLK and the Civil Rights Movement before, being in Atlanta and being aware of myself as an organizer, the story took on a new meaning. King’s resilience in the face of immense odds and death threats, in addition to his steadfast philosophy of nonviolence and his refusal to stoop to the base level of his adversaries, left me feeling inspired.

Another highlight was the “I Am Somebody” training, which focused on race and privilege. It allowed our diverse group an opportunity to share experiences about how race and racism has shaped or affected our own lives. It was very revealing to see how society, because of institutionalized racism, has placed people at different starting points and situations in life. This training was very important because race is so seldom discussed in a conscious or intentional way in our society. But as organizers, who believe in equality and justice, it is something we must be aware of. We used our discussion of race to jump into a discussion about what kind of union we want UNITE HERE to be and how we should act on our principals. I left the room feeling more aware and more connected to everyone else who I had undergone the experience with.”

– Stephen, Summer Organizer, DC Local 23

Philadelphia – Fast for Safe Schools

“In the beginning of June the School District of Philadelphia mailed over 3000 layoff notices. Out of that, 1,202 were for Student Safety Staff (members of Local 634), who are an essential part of the schools. This layoff was district-wide, and with this decision the schools would be completely unsafe for the children and the few remaining staff members.

On June 11, 2013, I was asked by the leaders of Local 634 to be a part of a drastic move to change the course of the projected plans of the school district for the upcoming school year. The move was to fast and pray for two weeks eating no food and drinking only water and resting in the basement of a church. It was not a hard decision for me to make because it was for the children and I wanted to do whatever it took to make a change.

Through the mighty action of the fast, the layoffs and current unsafe school situation went from only being a passing conversation among workers and family members perhaps, to gaining nationwide and international recognition. Most of all, the Governor changed his course of action from giving nearing nothing to fill the 330 million dollar deficit, to finding 140 million dollars and the recognition that there will be a new priority set for the Philadelphia school system in the future. The 140 million dollars is not enough to satisfy the current budget needs, however it is a start in the right direction to educate our children rather than to prepare them for failure and life of incarceration.”

– Marcia Teagle, School Cafeteria Worker, UNITE HERE Local 634 Member

New Haven Summer Organizers Sarah, Latoya, Eshe, and Mark went to Philadelphia with a delegation of local union and community leaders to join the Fast for Safe Schools. New Haven Summer Organizers Max and Gabe (not pictured) joined the fasters’ support team and stayed in Philadelphia for the duration.

 

“Spending time with the fasters in Philly further affirmed for me what organizing always seems to be teaching us: that our connections to each other, to some higher purpose, even to God—when channeled right—can be powerful enough to get even the strongest governments and companies to bend, and acknowledge that the people are a powerful force they must answer to in some way.”

– Eshe, Summer Organizer, New Haven

 

 

 

BREAKING NEWS: U.S. Marine Corps did not renew sponsorship of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)

Las Vegas, Nevada – After a nationwide public outcry, the U.S. Marine Corps did not renew its sponsorship of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the Las Vegas-based promoter of cage fighting events.

“We applaud the Marine Corps for taking this important step that respects the dignity of our men and women in uniform,” said Beatriz Topete, a U.S. Army veteran and director of the Veterans Committee of UNITE HERE, a labor union that represents more than 250,000 workers in the hospitality industry in North America. “We believe it is time for other sponsors to follow the lead of the Marine Corps and sever all ties with the UFC.”

The decision by the Marine Corps follows months of outrage and media attention. Military veterans, LGBTQ activists and survivors of sexual assault publicly called on the Marine Corps to sever its ties with the UFC over violent, homophobic, misogynistic and otherwise socially irresponsible remarks made by UFC fighters and its president, Dana White. The campaign to end the UFC-Marine Corps partnership was supported by more than two dozen state and national organizations. They included the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, Protect Our Defenders, National Institute of Military Justice, Veterans For Common Sense, Veterans For Peace, Veterans United For Truth, Women in the Military Project, and Sanctuary Project Veterans, as well as individual survivors of military sexual assault.

“This action by the Marine Corps is a step in the right direction. Military culture for too long has permitted degrading, violent and hate-filled speech and behavior towards men and women,” said Nancy Parrish, President of Protect Our Defenders, a national group that advocates for survivors of military sexual assault.

Popular UFC fighters have joked about rape on their public Twitter accounts, and made remarks that are demeaning towards women, gays and Latinos. In a disturbing video published in April on YouTube, UFC fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson pretends to sexually assault a woman in a parking garage using chloroform and zip ties. Jackson is scheduled to fight on the “UFC on FOX 6” event on Jan. 26th.

Other sponsors or business partners of the UFC include: Anheuser-Busch InBev, Edge Shaving Gel, Electronic Arts, FOX, Harley-Davidson Inc., MetroPCS Communications, MusclePharm, SafeAuto, Toyo Tires, TapouT, and XYIENCE Energy.

Ready for the Fight for Food Justice

Working with the food service workers from DC universities in Local 23 has been a great experience! Being a student at American University, I’ve loved being able to work with the workers from my university and 4 other surrounding schools. It’s been really powerful seeing workers and students come together. One of the schools we’re working with is Gallaudet University which is a school for the deaf and hard of hearing. We’d been having a hard time building a student committee there until last week when one of the workers introduced us to a student who is interested in community gardening. We’re really excited for this student to be inolved because part of the campaign we’re working on this summer is a Real Foods, Real Jobs campaign to push for sustainable foods and jobs in our cafeterias. I can easily see her as a part of the movement we are building.

Last week we had a committee meeting to make our plans for a 100-mile meal. This event will bring together workers, students, and community members over a meal of local sustainable food to discuss our organizing plans for the fall semester. It was really great to see new leadership emerging from both students and workers at the committee meeting. Workers that I had house visited were not only organizing each other but also organizing student volunteers. This really shows how members have begun to see this as a community-wide fight. It’s been a great experience to organizing both the students and workers at these different schools. I feel more involved as an American University community member and also a member of the DC community. Being a part of this movement has helped me grow a lot as a leader and organizer. We’re on our way to build a really strong worker and student committee in Washington DC and I can’t wait to be involved in this fight in the Fall!

 

– Jas, OBB Organizer, American University

Top Left Photo: A few of the committee with students (L-R)- Dorothy Samules, Committee Howard University; Sam Foster, Committee Howard University; Tarshea, Committee Georgetown University, OBB organizer; Erika, OBB organizer; Muriel Patterson, Committee Georgetown Law; Erin, OBB organizer from Georgetown University; Delores Ratliff, Committee American University; and Dante Crestwell, Committee Georgetown University.

Top Right Photo: Dorothy Samuels, committee from Howard University, shows Erika, OBB organizer from Brown University, her home garden as they discuss access to sustainable food in the DC community.

Bottom Right Photo: DC OBB Summer Organizers are ready for the fight for food Justice(L-R) –  Gabe (Pamona College), Carolina (Notre Dame), Erin (Georgetown), Hanna(Georgetown), Matthew (Columbia), Jas (American University), Mitch(American University), Tarshea (Rank and File, Georgetown).

 

Unfit for the Corps! Campaign Presses Forward in Washington, DC

What a few weeks it has been for our campaign!

With all 30 OBB sites participating, we collected over 6,900 signatures on the petition that calls on the US Marine Corps to end its sponsorship of the UFC, and on July 12, OBBers, members, veterans and community allies delegated recruiting offices in eight cities. Our delegations were timed to impact the current debate around a proposed amendment to a defense-spending bill.  Dubbed the “UFC Amendment” in light of all of our actions nationwide, the amendment came very close to passing (216 Nays to 202 Yeas), a major achievement in the Republic-dominated House of Representatives.  We also got a lot of great press coverage (see links below).

Our largest delegation was in Washington, DC where OBB Summer Organizers and members of the Unite Here Veterans Committee delegated the US Marine Corps Barracks and the large Marine Recruitment Office. OBBers and members came in for the delegation from New Haven, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC.  The Veterans Committe(composed of members, OBBers or staff of UNITE HERE who are also veterans) were well-represented in the DC delegation, including:  UNITE HERE Local 23 members, Dale Horn and William Jones,  New England Joint Board members Albert Bolduc, Ryan Hand and Jose Pichardo, UNITE HERE Local 7 member Edna Everett, OBBer (New York) Shantel Evans, and UNITE HERE Food Service Director, Jim DuPont.  We got a great reaction, including a written response from the USMC that was drafted while we protested outside.

OBB Summer Organizers, volunteers and veterans also delegated Marine Recruiting offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, Miami, Boston, Montana, and Phoenix that same day.  See stories from OBBers in Boston, Montana, Los Angeles, Miami, and San Diego!

The fight continues!

 

PRESS LINKS:

Reuters Story, Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/sns-rt-us-lawmakers-sportsbre86f1b3-20120716,0,2378775.story

Roll Call: http://www.rollcall.com/news/union_vets_take_on_ultimate_fighting_championship_owner-216092-1.html

Marine Corps Times: http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2012/07/marine-ufc-protest-petition-union-071612

Washington Blade: https://www.washingtonblade.com/2012/07/13/marines-urged-to-stop-sponsorship-of-sports-group-that-condones-anti-gay-slurs/

Forbes Magazinehttp://www.forbes.com/sites/katiedrummond/2012/07/18/ufc-marines/

Politico: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0712/78636.html

 

Top Photo: “Outside the US Marine Corps Barracks” – Group Photo
Bottom Photo: “Our delegation addresses Capt. John Norton, USMC Public Affairs Officer” – Ethan Snow (New England Joint Board), Pat Lamborn (Unite Here/OBB), Edna (US Army veteran , UNITE HERE Local 7 member), Daniel(OBB New England Joint Board), Jose Pichardo (US Navy veteran, New England Joint Board Local 687T), Robin (OBB New York), Steven (UNITE HERE Local 7 member), Chloe (OBB Philadelphia).