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On the picket line

October 26, 2001 | Page 11

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Support Ron Carey
Musicians' union

InterPark

WASHINGTON, D.C.--About 150 people picketed an InterPark garage on October 19 to protest the company's exploitation of the September 11 tragedy to crush a union organizing drive.

Citing "security risks," the company reported to police detectives that a woman had made a bomb threat at the garage. But, as a detective quickly determined, the woman never made this threat.

In fact, she is an organizer for Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 27, Parking and Service Workers' Union, and InterPark had been unable to keep her from meeting with workers.

The incident has intimidated workers there--most of whom are immigrants from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Latin America--who fear exercising their rights on the job.

Many students, community activists and representatives from other unions joined the protest, including AFSCME, American Federation of Government Employees, and Iron Workers Local 5.

"We're very concerned with any employer taking advantage of a national tragedy and using it against workers in an organizing drive," said Carl Goldman, director of AFSCME Council 26. "We've been seeing it in our union, too."

Rev. Graylan Hagler, a prominent community and antiwar activist, also came out to protest these tactics. "Post-September 11, employers have been…attempting to profile people racially and ethnically, to isolate and remove them," he told picketers. "I'm standing up for workers here and against profiling across the country."

Unfortunately, protest organizers handed out leaflets emphasizing "national unity" and urged participants to wear patriotic ribbons and sing national anthems in addition to labor and civil rights songs.

It's important to take a stand, but our movement can't adopt symbols that are being used to attack labor in the name of "national unity."

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Support Ron Carey

By Danny Katch, Teamsters Local 804

NEW YORK--When former Teamsters President Ron Carey won an acquittal in federal court, Local 804--Carey's former local--held a celebration. The verdict also gave a boost to campaigners for Tom Leedham's Rank-and-File Power slate, which is trying to continue Carey's legacy of fighting corruption and taking on employers.

Rich Barrett, an air driver at UPS for six years, said that Carey's trial was about revenge for the 1997 strike victory against UPS while Carey was president of the Teamsters. "It sent a message to unions in general that if you strike against Corporate America, they'll get back at you in some way."

The case against Carey was a joke. He was removed from office and later expelled from the union by the union's federal overseers for allegedly taking part in an illegal fundraising scheme.

Yet there was so little proof of this that a federal prosecutor could only charge Carey with perjury--on seven counts, one for each time he denied the corruption charges.

At five years per count, Carey faced up to 35 years in jail for consistently maintaining that he did not know about the illegal scheme!

Marilyn Vogt-Downey, an activist and writer who attended the entire trial, told Socialist Worker that the jury's decision was almost automatic. "All three of the government's main witnesses admitted under cross-examination that Ron Carey didn't know about the scheme…One of the jurors told me afterward, 'We knew it was a frame-up from early on.'"

Most members of Local 804 knew it was a frame-up, too. Finally, we're being vindicated.

"This was a long time coming and I never had any doubt that he was innocent of all charges," Neil O'Brien, a UPS driver who ran on the Members First slate for president of Local 804, told Socialist Worker.

Amazingly, Carey still needs to appeal the Internal Review Board ruling that expelled him from the union before he can have any contact with active Teamsters.

But for Teamster members in Local 804 and elsewhere, the next steps are clear. We should pass resolutions condemning all those like Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa Jr.--who backed the witch-hunt of Carey.

And we should make the final push to get out the vote for the Tom Leedham slate, Hoffa's opponents in the current election.

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Musicians' union

By Megan Behrent

NEW YORK--Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians is asking people to boycott the play Reefer Madness. Reefer Madness is a musical spoof of a 1930s film about the dangers of marijuana.

But union members were discriminated against in hiring musicians for the show, and the show--produced by the Nederlander family at the Variety Arts Theatre--is paying below-standard wages and benefits.

Local 802 is filing charges with the National Labor Relations Board accusing the producers of unfair labor practices.

Support the boycott of Reefer Madness and help stop the unfair treatment of union musicians.

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