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On the picket line

March 25, 2005 | Page 11

An appeal from a union reformer

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am writing this to you because I need your help. I am involved in a very important federal court case against corrupt elements of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) union. Without going into great detail, the case is a legal battle to settle the issue of big business unionism using its wealth and clout to crush union reform and accountability.

I am a union reformer being attacked personally. I have been blacklisted and denied any Teamster work. My pension is in jeopardy and there has been a loss of medical insurance for my family. Instead of facing me before a federal judge and jury to settle the issue, these IBT officials have tried a variety of legal maneuvers to drive my legal costs up and kill the case.

Believe me when I say this case is for every union member that actually believes in the labor movement, honest unions and the welfare of every working man and woman and their families. Those of you that know me personally know that I have spent most of my adult life fighting for workers' rights. I find it upsetting and ironic that the biggest fight I am facing is against corrupt elements of the union I love most. I would not be asking if I really did not need your help.

Any contribution you can send is most needed. At the Web site, you can use your credit or debit card for any amount you see fit. For my international friends, this link will also convert your country's currency to U.S. dollars. Checks may be made out and sent to: Mark Serafinn Legal Defense Fund, P.O. Box 105, Saunemin, IL 61769.

If you know other union people that might help, please forward this with a recommendation from you.
In solidarity, Mark R. Serafinn

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Kent State University
By Nik Robinson

KENT, Ohio--About 50 people from Kent State University (KSU) and surrounding areas gathered March 17 in solidarity against the racist, homophobic firing of an employee.

Jay W., a temporary worker for KSU Dining Services, was fired March 2 for supposedly "unsanitary work procedures" without any notification or warning. After being harassed for being transgendered, Jay approached his manager to discuss it--and was fired three days later.

At the meeting, activists learned that Rosie's Diner discriminates against patrons, too--closing the 24-hour diner or limiting the menu after Black United Students (BUS) meetings or functions.

Those who gathered created a list of demands that we expect the university to meet--including a public apology for firing Jay, offering him a job with equal or better pay and giving temporary workers the same benefits that other workers receive. A boycott of the diner has been in effect for three weeks--and we plan to hold our next meeting in Rosie's to organize further actions and affect the diner's business.

Jay said that he hopes this fight will help end discrimination against transgender people. "With more exposure, we will be less likely to be discriminated against," he said. "I feel as though the lack of education and awareness of transgender people has also led to the alienation many of us feel in the gay community as well. I think this [fight] needed to happen."

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