LGBTQ and Labor Unite in Las Vegas, Phoenix

On July 8th, Cleve Jones came to Local 226 in Las Vegas to talk about how the LGBTQ movement and the labor movement are, in essence, the same movement. “He taught us to stand up for what’s right,” Summer Organizer Wynn said. “I admire his ability to bring together different kinds of people from different kinds of backgrounds. It’s really hard to get people see that we all have a stake in this fight,” Rachel, another Summer Organizer, added. Summer Organizer Ielina shared a personal thought: “When Cleve was talking about how he thought he was the least smart and talented person in his group of friends, who all died of AIDS, it really got me to think about how much I doubt myself and how I shouldn’t give up.”

Summer Organizer Johnny relates his experience on the LGBTQ panel with Cleve Jones in Phoenix:

“The experience of having been able to participate in a training session on LGBTQ and how it all ties in with labor was a great opportunity. It demonstrated to me that this union does not centralize on just one or two people, it is a union of inclusion, a union truly working to ensure equality for and for better working conditions for all of its members and for the community. It really gets to the heart of the idea of “Organizing Beyond Barriers.”

“To be able to also have a man like Cleve Jones at our training, and for me to be able to meet him and to sit on a panel with him, and to be able to listen to the stories of the fighting he’s seen in his life was surreal. He is such an inspiring man, and such a lifelong fighter.

“The whole training was very inspirational and helped me to be able to shed light on how issues in the LGBTQ community tie into labor. It helped me to be able to reflect on the progress that has been made in the past. Learning about different communities of people working together for fair treatment, wages, and respect was a very moving part of the training. I am thankful to have been able to go through this training and to hear and learn about gay rights in the past, now, and plans for the future with UNITE HERE!

“I look forward to continuing to work with the union to educate the community and to bring unity to all of us out here.”

Summer Organizers Kick Off Program With Historic Action

Last month, Lakayana and Nathan, two student leaders from Madison, Wisconsin, drove over 2,000 miles to Las Vegas, Nevada, to help out with an action at Stations Casino. When they arrived in Las Vegas they teamed up with Fatima and Jonathan, two Loyola Marymount students from Los Angeles who were fresh off their organizing victory with the food service workers on their campus.

Their work culminated in an exciting action when, on June 2nd, 150 people were arrested outside of a Stations Casino, and over 1,000 people came to support them. “Getting arrested was a very personal decision for many of the workers. For many, it was their first time being arrested, and they fought their fear to make sure they made a stance against injustice. It was quite powerful to witness so much courage,” Fatima said.

Nathan compared his time in Vegas to his experience fighting the anti-union onslaught by his Governor in Wisconsin. “My time in Las Vegas has taught me how to turn people out before all of their rights are gone. It takes going to the casinos and having real conversations with the workers. It takes pushing leaders to achieve further than they thought they could. It takes tireless grinding every week. It takes open ears, perseverance, clear vision, and sheer force of will,” he said.

Jonathan walked away from the action by saying he learned “that in order to keep your rights, young people will have to start showing their support. They are the future leaders of the union and soon they will have to fight for their rights, too. Whether it’s at work or in school, the older people have to be the leaders and teachers of the young folk.”

After the rally, Lakayana said “I liken my journey to Las Vegas, to riding a wave. I have ridden this wave from Wisconsin all the way down to Las Vegas, not knowing what I was going to find, but knowing it felt right. The rally this past Thursday has reaffirmed that I am still riding this wave, continuing to see and be a part of amazing events. It has strengthened my belief in the power of the people and our ability to overcome all odds. Si Se Puede!