June

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Black History reprint: Working-class roots of Bill Withers

You might be a Bill Withers fan without realizing it. If you ever grooved to Will Smith’s “Just the Two of Us,” sang along with “Lean On Me” or thought to yourself, “Ain’t No Sunshine” when she’s gone, you know Withers’ timeless musical touch.

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This 4th of July, which side are you on?

Florence Reece, wife of a rank-and-file organizer for the old National Miners Union in Harlan County, Kentucky, was at home one day in 1931 when High Sheriff J. H. Blair and his gun-toting “deputies” invaded her home looking for Mrs. Reece’s husband. They poked their rifles into closets, under beds, even into piles of laundry before they left.

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Bakers rise up: Working at Fiesta Mart in Houston is no party

HOUSTON — Bakery commissary workers at the Fiesta Mart grocery store on Wirt Road in Houston will vote June 30 on whether to join the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) Local 130. Concurrently, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Locals 408 and 455 have started an organizing drive among the grocery workers at Fiesta Mart stores.

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New York teacher exposes results of Republican takeover of public education

What has changed in our schools? Well the toilet paper dispensers at the special education headquarters in Brooklyn, have changed — three times in one school year — while the city closed down 800 seats for the most needy in public education. Go figure!

Congress rejects minimum wage hike

WASHINGTON — The House and Senate refusal to approve a small increase in the minimum wage proves that the Republican majority is “morally bankrupt” and should be removed from office next Nov. 7.

Banner day for Washington health care activists

United for National Health Care and Whatcom County (Wash.) Jobs with Justice held a successful Health Care Day of Action in Whatcom and Skagit counties June 7. During evening rush hour, 70 people participated at 15 overpasses on Interstate 5 with banners proclaiming: Health Care for All — Now!

CLUW fights for family leave

Big business tried to keep the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) from becoming law in 1993. Now the business lobby is trying to dismantle one of this era’s most family-friendly reforms, says the Coalition of Labor Union Women.

New Haven demands justice for janitors

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Over 1,000 janitors and their supporters gathered here June 15 to say the time has come for janitors in New Haven to become union members. “You cannot live on the wages you earn and your kids cannot afford a good education,” Hector Figueroa, SEIU Local 32 BJ secretary treasurer, told them. “We have won many struggles before, and this is one more that we are going to win.”

Detroit janitors fight for union wages, benefits

DETROIT — On June 15, national Justice for Janitors day, several hundred Detroit area janitors, members of Service Employees International Union Local 3, marched to the new downtown PricewaterhouseCoopers building to send notice to New Image, the nonunion cleaning contractor servicing the building, that they will not allow nonunion businesses to take root in the city. On their way back, the marchers were warmly greeted by many fans leaving the stadium of baseball’s first-place Detroit Tigers.

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For green jobs: Time for an oil change in America

WASHINGTON — When Exxon Mobil reported 2006 first quarter profits of $8.4 billion, it put the energy giant on track to outstrip its record $36 billion profits in 2005. Last week’s “Take Back America” conference here noted that while Exxon Mobil is a big winner, millions of Americans are the losers in an economy based on fossil fuels and denial of the human and environmental damage it causes.

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