Fight Back! - News and Views from the People's Struggle This newspaper exists to build the people's struggle! We provide coverage and analysis of some of the key battles facing working and low-income people. en Grand Rapids demands ‘Justice for Vanessa Guillen!’ <p>Grand Rapids, MI - Fifty local people gathered for an emotional vigil to remember Vanessa Guillen, the U.S. Army soldier murdered and disappeared by another soldier at Fort Hood, Texas. The U.S. armed forces are rife with sexual harassment and rape, both on and off military bases. The unrelenting response of Guillen’s family, demanding answers, has top military leaders on the defensive, scrambling. </p> <p>The U.S. Army was slow in its investigation, taking over ten weeks to find Vanessa Guillen’s body, despite her mother Gloria’s impassioned pleas. Officials were also dishonest about the events leading up to Guillen’s murder. </p> <p>Vanessa Guillen reported to her mother that an officer was sexually harassing her on the base, but that she was reluctant to report him. Guillen explained to her mother that the officer’s harassment of women in the past was reported, but no actions were taken to discipline him or stop him. </p> <p>At Pleasant Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan, women and girls wore yellow shirts and the crowd held candles in memory of Vanessa Guillen as they surrounded an alter. Mexican community leader and artist Reyna Garcia read a poem and spoke the words of Vanessa Guillen’s mother, interspersed with chants of “Justicia!” or “Justice!” </p> <p>In cities and towns across the U.S., people gathered, and neighbors stopped to demand justice for the young Chicana who was part of a military that dishonored her. She was beaten to death, dismembered, and burned like trash while officials covered up and lied about the circumstances.</p> People's Struggles Antiwar Movement Grand Rapids Michigan Vanessa Guillén Sat, 11 Jul 2020 21:15:52 +0000 Fight Back 8334 at Workers and community supporters protest racist practices <p>Oshkosh, WI - 30 community members came out, July 8, to protest the leadership of the Boys &amp; Girls Club of Oshkosh. Community activists, artists, teachers, parents and children gathered peacefully on a corner armed with chalk, chants and messages of anti-racism and solidarity with the pro-Black Lives Matter workers.</p> <p>When protests erupted around the country in late May over the police killings of George Floyd and countless others, the Boys &amp; Girls Club released a statement of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement on their social media accounts in early June. The workers, who have been impacted by these repeated killings, were given no external guidance on how to respond or what types of conversations would be expected of them in their classrooms. They assumed the social media posts from the Boys &amp; Girls Club were a green light for employees that wanted to show solidarity.</p> <p>On June 9, an employee developed their weekly theme around solidarity and propped up signs in the windows that read "Black dreams matter," "We stand united," and "Black voices matter." Supervisors and CEOs alike voiced their immediate concern for their reputation amongst donors and the “non-Black” children and families who would see those signs and feel "left out." During business hours and despite the employee’s refusal to take down the signs, they were removed in front of a Black staff member.</p> <p>Multiple private meetings with supervisors as well as two CEOs and the Boys &amp; Girls Club ended with the conclusion from the organization that workers were to remain neutral and that they must not put "opinions" or "personal beliefs" in the windows for the public to see. This did not sit well with employees on the front lines and led to further actions in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.</p> <p>Ten days later, the Boys &amp; Girls Club's ‘neutrality’ remained firm and tensions were still unresolved between workers and management. This tension expanded further after a Black staff member who solely worked outside for recess experienced a heat-related emergency that was disregarded as hostility. Other staff members rushed to provide basic first aid while supervisors were nowhere to be found. The staff member working outside wrote "I can't breathe" in chalk in the parking lot as another way to speak out against the Boys &amp; Girls Club of Oshkosh's awful working conditions and treatment towards Black staff. This chalk message was removed by maintenance after business hours.</p> <p>The Boys &amp; Girls Club sought legal counsel through their labor law attorney connections and spoke privately with donors about what could be done. Employees were left in an exhausting cycle of meetings that included repeating statements, workers being taken away from their classrooms, and threats of termination. Management demanded more time to reflect, welcomed suggestions via email, but remained firm on their position of neutrality as to not lose "critical" donations that keep programs running.</p> <p>The hostility and subtle gaslighting experienced behind the scenes led to two Black staff resigning to preserve their mental and emotional well-being. A large meeting was called by staff to meet with superiors on June 25 and it was agreed by CEO Marc Dosogne that this meeting would take place as long as it was indoors, private, and no media was in attendance.</p> <p>The meeting was only minimally effective, but employees were able to share experiences, anger, and explain how crucial it is to publicly defend the Black Lives Matter movement as an organization that serves dozens of Black youth. Workers demanded 100% solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, zero neutrality, real representation for front line staff at every board of directors meeting, shirts in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and a possible paid day to volunteer and participate in a Black Lives Matter related action.</p> <p>A week passed as if nothing had happened despite staff quitting and looking elsewhere for other positions. The staff and concerned parties reached out to grassroots organizations locally to help apply pressure and to expose this specific organizational branch's cover up of racist employer practices. The accounts of racism have sparked outrage in the community. Despite the outrage, the Boys &amp; Girls Club still maintains direct connections with many powerful institutions including the Oshkosh Police Department, whose officers murdered and slandered an unarmed Black man named Isaiah Tucker back in 2017.</p> <p>The day after the Black Lives Matter chalk-walk protest, social media accounts displayed the Boys &amp; Girls Club of Oshkosh tagged with the Oshkosh Police Department thanking children for hand delivering candy and cards. Workers and their supporters in the community intend to hold future protests for tangible change, equality and genuine solidarity.</p> People's Struggles Anti-racism Black Lives Matter BLM oshkosh Wisconsin Sat, 11 Jul 2020 17:50:15 +0000 Fight Back 8330 at LA County Sheriff's scandals and protests continue <p>Los Angeles, CA - Over the last few years, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has been in the hot seat as deputies have killed a staggering number of Black and Chicano young men. With the recent Minnesota rebellion and protests across Los Angeles, the heat continues.</p> <p><strong>Protests against the Sheriffs</strong></p> <p>On June 7, a group of young women from East Los Angeles united, organized and led a large march and protest against the East Los Angeles Sheriffs. The women were Lucia Torres from Schurr High; Valerie “Valens” Salazar, a student at California State University - LA (CSULA); Samantha Barientos, a student at Garfield High; Estrella Lopez, a student at CSULA, and Alicia Romero of LA Causa Youth Building Center. They approached the community group Centro Community Service Organization (Centro CSO) for help and guidance on their event.</p> <p>Starting at Atlantic Avenue Park in East LA, close to 500 people gathered for a kickoff rally. The women spoke about the need as Chicanos to unite with African Americans in their fight for freedom against racist terror like that experienced by George Floyd in Minnesota.</p> <p>Participants then took to the street and angrily marched to the East LA Sheriff’s station. When they arrived, the California Highway Patrol blocked the street entrance to the station. The ELA Sheriffs barricaded the entrance to the station and were armed with automatic assault rifles and shotguns. The energized marchers, by that point numbering over 1000, marched right up to the deputy line. Families whose sons, nephews, and brothers have been killed by the ELA Sheriffs spoke out and denounced the killings. Sumaya Aden, whose brother Isak Aden was killed last year in Minnesota, spoke about the horrors of being Black in the U.S. To finish the event, the protesters held another rally at Belvedere Park by the lake.</p> <p>When asked if she had any advice for youth or anyone wanting to organize their own event against police terror, Lucia Garcia said, “Despite the negative attitude people take when seeing someone speak out against racism and police brutality, they need to stay affirmed in their beliefs and it’s okay to educate older generations.”</p> <p><strong>Chicano killings continue</strong></p> <p>Despite COVID-19, the LA County Sheriffs have not stopped killing. Their most recent victim is 18-year-old Salvadoran American Andres Guardado, who was killed on June 18. Guardado was working as a security guard when he was killed. Sheriffs shot him five times, and afterwards stated Guardado had a weapon when he was killed. A recent independent autopsy ordered by Guardado’s family found all the shots were to his back, and he had no trace of drugs not alcohol in his system.</p> <p>Chicano Jorge Serrano was killed on December 19, 2019 by the same killer sheriff, Nikolis Perez, who also killed Anthony Vargas on August 12, 2018. Serrano was on his knees and had his hands in the air, surrendering, when he was shot six times, and killed.</p> <p>Not only is there controversy over the fact that the cop Perez is a two-time killer but also because there is cause to believe that Perez is part of the FBI-confirmed East LA Sheriff’s gang Los Banditos.</p> <p><strong>Budget cuts</strong></p> <p>At the end of June, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to cut the LA Sheriff’s Department budget by $145 million. LASD normally is allocated about $3.3 billion annually. Sheriff Alex Villanueva spoke against the cuts and took a hard jab at the recent rebellions and uprisings after the killing of Minnesotan George Floyd by saying, “The need to provide public safety continues to rise. Crime hasn't gone away because people don't like law enforcement."</p> <p><strong>Lawsuits</strong></p> <p>Chicano attorney Humberto Guizar is representing the family of Jorge Serrano, who are suing Sheriff Alex Villanueva for condoning the Los Banditos gang. The LA County Civilian Oversight Commission had ordered Villanueva to begin inspecting deputies for tattoos confirming their affiliation to the gang. To this day, Villanueva hasn't followed through and not a single deputy has been implicated. Additionally, Sheriff Villanueva has yet to honor subpoenas issued by the Civilian Oversight Commission.</p> <p>An important point to note is that despite the recent killing of Serrano being under investigation by the internal affairs division of the Sheriff’s Department, the two deputies involved in Serrano’s killing (including two-time killer Perez) were promoted to training officers. All of this happened under the supervision of Sheriff Villanueva.</p> <p><strong>Community control of the police and Sheriffs </strong></p> <p>Centro Community Service Organization (CSO) has been helping unite and lead the fight against the East LA Sheriffs. They have united with the families affected by police terror and will continue to organize to win justice. Moving forward, plans are to fight for and to win civilian control of the police. They invite you to join the fight! Their upcoming and public meeting will be on Wednesday, July 15 at 6 p.m. via Zoom. You may send them an email at <a href=""></a> for their link, text them for the link at their hotline number 323-943-2030, or contact them on their various social media platforms @CentroCSO.</p> People's Struggles Police Brutality Anti-racism Chican@ / Latin@ Chicano Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Stop Police Crimes Racism in the Criminal Justice System In-Justice System Oppressed Nationalities Fri, 10 Jul 2020 22:53:25 +0000 Fight Back 8329 at Coalition to March on the RNC: ‘We will march with or without a permit’ <p>Jacksonville, FL - Members of the Coalition to March on the RNC applied for permits several weeks ago from the City of Jacksonville to march against Donald Trump and the Republican National Convention on August 27. After not receiving any response about the permit application for several weeks, the Coalition still plans to march against Trump and the RNC regardless of the city’s decision to issue or deny a permit for the march.</p> <p>The Coalition to March on the RNC organized large protests against previous RNCs in 2008 (St. Paul), 2012 (Tampa), and 2016 (Cleveland). Thousands are expected to participate in the historic rally and march in Jacksonville. The event will begin with a rally including prominent speakers near the Duval County Clerk of Courts and will include a march through downtown Jacksonville. The march will pass within sight and sound of the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena and the Republicans.</p> <p>The main slogan of the event is “We Can’t Breathe – Defeat Donald Trump.” The Coalition to March on the RNC is emphasizing the Black-led struggle against police brutality. The Coalition also stands for a people’s agenda – money for living wage jobs, education, universal healthcare, rights for immigrants, peace and equality.</p> <p>Wells Todd, a main organizer of the event, says “The lack of police accountability nationwide, endless war, poverty wages, attacks on women’s rights, refusing to address climate change, the destruction of our public schools and the refusal by Trump to provide life-saving assistance during this pandemic are just a few of the reasons why we need to protest the RNC.”</p> <p>On August 27, the Coalition to March on the RNC is preparing to march on the RNC at the same time as Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech. Activists are traveling from all over the country to rally and march against the Republicans and the event is expected to be successful - regardless of whether the city issues permits or not.</p> People's Struggles 2020 Republican National Convention (RNC) Coalition to March on the RNC Donald Trump We Can't Breathe U.S. Fri, 10 Jul 2020 22:41:36 +0000 Fight Back 8328 at Milwaukee: Students honor Vanessa Guillén, protest UWM Professor Schoeller and administration <p>Milwaukee, WI - On the evening of July 8, students and community members rallied at Spaights Plaza on UW-Milwaukee’s campus. They came together to honor Texas’ Vanessa Guillén and others who have lost their lives to sexual violence, and to hold Professor Betsy Schoeller accountable for her harmful comments about the situation, and the administration of UW-Milwaukee accountable for not taking action on hate speech.</p> <p>Professor Schoeller’s comment implies that she believes sexual harassment and assault is justifiable. After her comment got national attention, she responded that she meant to clarify the sexism present in the military, not to glorify it, or condemn people who try to speak against it. Regardless of her intention, UW-Milwaukee reacted quickly to protect Professor Schoeller on the grounds that they cannot do anything to address it because it would be an infringement on her freedom of speech.</p> <p>This is not new behavior for UWM, whose administration consistently chooses not to address hate speech, or actively encourages it by punishing students who seek to prevent its spread on campus. For example, in May 2019, UWM student Grae Hosmanek was arrested by campus police after taking and ripping up an anti-Semitic sign that was held by a Nazi at an event organized by a Jewish student organization. She was charged with theft, vandalism, disorderly conduct and obstructing an officer. After students at UWM and trade unionists from the Milwaukee Area Labor Council’s Young Workers Committee rallied in solidarity, her charges were dropped.</p> <p>The organizers of the July 8 event had two clear demands for UWM: to create clear steps and an accountability plan laid out publicly, including a thorough review and investigation of past complaints concerning Professor Schoeller; and that Professor Schoeller must resign or be terminated after making a public apology to Vanessa Guillén’s family and to all the people who she hurt and offended.</p> <p>“We’re here because UWM took that repulsive comment for what it was, and used the excuse of free speech like they always do,” said Margarita Garcia Rojas, one of the event organizers. “We’re here to celebrate the life of Vanessa, and the thousands of lives that have been killed by white supremacy.”</p> <p>Around 200 people turned out for the rally, which included several speakers, nine-minutes of silence, an altar to honor Guillén and others who lost their lives to sexual violence, and chalking messages and posting signs all over campus. Speakers included veterans, one of whom shared her story of surviving sexual assault in the military, a UWM staff member, and students, one of whom represented the new UW-Milwaukee chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).</p> <p>“What are you doing to make a change?” Emily Cruz, one of the event organizers, asked the crowd. “What are you doing to make sure what happened to Vanessa never happens again, and comments like Betsy Schoeller’s never go unchallenged?”</p> <p>By the end of the event, campus was covered in messages of support for survivors of sexual assault and harassment, and demanding accountability from UWM. However, less than 24 hours later, UWM power washed these chalk messages away, answering Cruz’s question, and making their stance on the issue even more obvious.</p> <p>“What did UWM do when made aware of our demands? They reflexively supported the faculty member. UWM’s immediately aggressive stance in defense of Professor Schoeller’s hate speech should leave us with one question: what are they doing for us?” said SDS member Jack Rongstad. “Either UWM listens to us and transforms, or they drop the pretensions and tell us to go to hell.”</p> <p>SDS intends to keep the pressure on UWM administrators to ensure that the demands put forward at this action are not ignored. But this is just the beginning. Their goal is to address many of the other problems on campus.</p> People's Struggles Antiwar Movement Milwaukee SDS Professor Betsy Schoeller Vanessa Guillén Women's Movement Oppressed Nationalities Student Movement Fri, 10 Jul 2020 22:36:59 +0000 Fight Back 8327 at Total number of people getting unemployment benefits continues to climb <p>San José, CA - On Thursday, July 9, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that the broadest measure of people on unemployment continued to climb. In the week ending June 20, the total number was 32.9 million, up by 1.4 million from a week earlier. This number includes those who are receiving the regular state unemployment insurance benefits, the growing number getting the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA, the Federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or PEUC, and other smaller programs.</p> <p>The latest report on new applications for state unemployment benefits for the week ending July 4 did fall slightly to 1.31 million, down 99,000 from the week before. However new claims for the federal PUA rose by 42,000 to 1.04 million from a week earlier. Looking at only the slow decline in the state UI applications can be misleading as people on UI are barely more than half (52%) of all individuals getting aid. Further, even as new layoffs may be slowing, fewer people are getting hired back, boosting the total number getting aid.</p> <p>Even this grim picture of more than 30 million people relying on direct government aid is looking worse. Yesterday the United States reported another record high in COVID-19 infections, with almost 60,000 new cases in a single day. Even worse, hotspots across the South and Southwest - Florida, Texas and Arizona - are seeing their hospitals in crisis, with intensive care units full and shortages of personal protective equipment, ventilators and medical supplies. </p> <p>Back in April we saw the United States emerge as the world’s hotspot for COVID-19, rising above the outbreak in Europe. But while Europe has been able to dramatically reduce the number of new infections, the United States is still the world’s leader in infections and deaths. Three southern and southwestern states: Arizona, Florida and South Carolina, have more new infections, adjusted for population, than any country in the world. This increase in infections, hospitalizations, and now deaths are leading to more people pulling back from restaurants and shopping, and to businesses cutting back on operations.</p> <p>Food pantries across the country facing historic demands and hunger is on the rise. There is a growing threat of mass evictions as state and local eviction moratoriums expire. In July more than a third (36%) of renters have missed some or all of their rent and these numbers will rise in August with the end of the expanded $600 a week unemployment benefits to end on or before July 31. Companies large and small are announcing more layoffs, or mass job cuts when their government aid runs out. Harley Davidson, Walgreens and Wells Fargo all announced plans for more layoffs. Most dramatically, United Airlines said that they would cut one half of their U.S. workers when federal aid ends at the end of September.</p> <p>With the continuing economic crisis in mind, the Democrat-controlled House passed their HEROES Act, which would extend and expand the provisions of the earlier CARES act through the end of the year. In addition to extended the expanded unemployment, it includes a second round of payments that would include adult dependents and taxpaying undocumented immigrants left out of the CARES act, as well as more for state and local governments, and a small amount for renters.</p> <p>In contrast, all the Republicans have been able to do is to declare the HEROES Act “Dead on arrival” and that they don’t want to extend the $600 a week benefits. But neither the Republican-controlled Senate nor the Trump administration has a concrete proposal. To add insult to injury, the Senate is taking a two-and-a-half-week recess and holiday that started on July 3. They won’t come back until Monday, July 20, leaving just days for them to agree on a plan and then negotiate with House on a bill. The fact of the matter is that many Republicans want the aid to expire, seeing it as a barrier to get workers to go back to work at dangerous jobs.</p> People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy COVID-19 Donald Trump Healthcare stock market crash Unemployment Poor People's Movements U.S. Fri, 10 Jul 2020 22:28:15 +0000 Fight Back 8325 at Chicago protest against Duterte’s terror law <p>Chicago, IL – More than 80 progressive Filipinos and supporters gathered in front of the Philippine Consulate, July 8, to protest the repressive ‘anti-terrorism’ measure recently signed into law by President Duterte. The law criminalizes trade union, student, environmental and other activists who are working for social and national liberation. The protest was one of many held across the U.S.</p> People's Struggles Anti-fascism chicago Duterte Philippines Philippines Fri, 10 Jul 2020 15:58:29 +0000 Fight Back 8324 at Pitt grad student organizers condemn changes to ICE Student Exchange and Visitor Program rules <p>Pittsburgh, PA - Members of the Graduate Student Organizing Committee at the University of Pittsburgh (GSOC-USW) issued a statement, July 8, expressing solidarity with international students and denouncing the Trump administration’s recent modifications of existing ICE Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP) rules.</p> <p>Under the rule change, students in the United States on F-1 visas must take at least one in-person class or face deportation. This comes at a time when many universities, including the University of Pittsburgh, are still weighing their options for online instruction in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.</p> <p>“This is yet another targeted attack on immigrants disguised as a premature return to ‘business as usual,’” the statement reads. “The modified policy not only forces international students to choose between our safety and academic careers, but also makes it especially dangerous for us to join the call to cancel in-person teaching.”</p> <p>The group commended the Pitt administration’s call to reverse the decision but stated university leaders needed to do more.</p> <p>“We ask that Pitt immediately halt its expensive legal campaigns designed to deny us our right to form a union, and instead divert those millions of dollars to take legal action, which must include retaining immigration attorneys to serve students and faculty,” the statement reads.</p> <p>“As a union, we are committed to fighting for the rights of all people to study, teach and conduct research without having to compromise their health, safety or visa status. We will not sit idly by while more workers become collateral damage due to the U.S. government’s abdication of its duties. Similarly, we will continue to hold the Pitt administration accountable to make sure it protects the safety and wellbeing of our community when making decisions about the upcoming academic year,” according to the statement.</p> <p>Graduate students at the University of Pittsburgh filed for an election to join the USW in 2017. Last fall, a Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board hearing examiner found that the university administration committed “coercive acts” that undermined the integrity of that election, held in April 2019, and ordered a new one. The Pitt administration appealed the decision, and this process is still underway.</p> People's Struggles ICE Immigrants Student Student Rights Visitor Programs Immigrant Rights Student Movement Fri, 10 Jul 2020 15:50:23 +0000 Fight Back 8322 at On UTA administration’s inaction to ICE and the international student deportation <p>Arlington, TX - As an international student, I am frankly disillusioned at the silence of the University of Texas Arlington (UTA) administration as they failed to address the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) plan for the deportation of international students if they enroll in an online classes in the upcoming fall semester. As of yet no email has arrived from the acting provost's office to either calm international students or provide them with any sort of protections to assure their safety against these federal mandates.</p> <p>There are 4887 international students at UTA presently out of a total of 46,497 students, which accounts for nearly 10.5% in its entirety, a significant percentage but which has dropped progressively from 2016 (4988), a statistic that shouldn't baffle anyone and points directly towards the xenophobia of the Trump administration. International students and international faculty form significant percentages in every department at UTA, conducting valuable research that not only earns UTA millions and millions monetarily but also brings UTA immense reputation value, not only in the USA but across the world as well. </p> <p>I am a Masters of Aerospace Engineering student at UTA. Imagine if the astronaut and engineer Kalpana Chawla was my classmate, and because of ICE's plans, we were forced to leave UTA and be deported back to our home countries. We would not be able achieve our respective dreams and careers. UTA prides itself on Kalpana Chawla being a graduate from this institution and has rightly dedicated a residence hall and memorial in her name. Kalpana Chawla, an international student, an inspiration to many like me who died not only as an American hero but as international one as well. This is the value that international students have, and we deserve better from UTA.</p> <p>UTA must not cooperate with ICE and must avoid diplomatic answers with regards to cooperation with ICE According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) guidelines, without proper warrants signed off by judges, agents cannot get information regarding students. UTA at this present moment must provide adequate protections and not provide personal details to ICE agents or allow them on campus. Additionally, UTA must increase the number of hybrid classes to ensure not a single student is deported.</p> <p>The Trump administration's failure of illegally repealing DACA has caused this morally bankrupt and racist government to turn its eyes to the legal non-immigrant international students in the U.S. to deport them back home. UTA as an institution must stand firm against this xenophobia.</p> People's Struggles Anti-racism Donald Trump ICE international students University of Texas - Arlington Immigrant Rights Oppressed Nationalities Student Movement U.S. Thu, 09 Jul 2020 21:04:26 +0000 Fight Back 8320 at A new Michigan rally for ‘HEROES Act now’ set for July 15 <p>Grand Rapids, MI - After a lively rally on June 24 with nearly 100 workers, the stagehands union IATSE is calling a new rally on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol for July 15. The stagehands and other gig workers are demanding the passage of the HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) Act by the U.S. Senate. July 25 is looming as the $600 per week unemployment boost that keeps people paying their bills is set to run out. Tensions are rising not just in Michigan, but also for stagehands from New York City to Hollywood, across the whole country. </p> <p>“The U.S. House of Representatives gave us hope by passing the HEROES Act,” said Josh Roskamp of IATSE Union Local 26. “Unfortunately, the Republican-dominated U.S. Senate, leader Mitch McConnell in particular, is stalling on giving us what we need. They say $600 is too much. They claim we don’t want to work, but they know full well that we cannot work!” </p> <p>Roskamp continues, “We all saw the disaster of opening bars and restaurants in June. Now people are suffering and dying from COVID-19 at high rates. The events and entertainment industry is shut down until the COVID-19 pandemic is treated as a serious public health crisis. Most touring concerts and theater shows are not going back on the road until after March 2021. Millions of us are unemployed. We need to pay our bills and feed our families. This is our fight to live!” </p> <p>Lindsey Katerberg of Local 26 said, “We are speaking out for non-union workers too. We are in this fight together. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits those in our industry who cannot claim unemployment. It will continue to remain vital past the current expiration of July 31. We need to raise base benefits at the state level in Michigan, to extend state unemployment, and set minimum wage for essential workers at $13 per hour.”</p> <p>Joe Miller of Local 38 in Detroit said, “Most of us have never filed for unemployment, never had to. You are looking at people that would rather be working. We don’t want to sit home. Now due to mishandling of the crisis, we do not see a particularly good way forward until next March 2021.”</p> <p>The IATSE Local 26 statement says, “Union or non-union, performers, musicians, ushers, ticket takers, security, concessions workers, stagehands, gig workers, hospitality, and travel. We are reaching out to everyone to join forces with us as we recognize the need for extending the $600 FPUC as well as unemployment benefits and raising the maximum base payment of $362 per week at the state level.”</p> <p>The stagehands are planning to mobilize their members to call both Michigan and U.S. representatives and senators to demand backing for the HEROES Act. It will clarify which politicians support stagehands and gig workers in the events and entertainment industry, and which do not. At their rally on June 24, the crowd chanted, “Extend to the end!” and “They say cut back! We say fight back!” </p> <p>The rally begins at 10 a.m. on July 15 and brings together IATSE Local 26 of West Michigan, IATSE Local 38 of Detroit Metro, IATSE Local 274 in Lansing, the Michigan AFL-CIO and other union locals throughout Michigan.</p> People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy AFL-CIO Donald Trump HEROES Act IATSE Unemployment Labor Poor People's Movements U.S. Wed, 08 Jul 2020 21:46:39 +0000 Fight Back 8318 at