NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Three Connecticut labor leaders, Art Perry, Anna Montalvo and Gwen Mills, will be honored on Sunday, Dec. 6, with the annual Amistad Award presented by the People's World, on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party USA. The reception, "Keep the Ball Rolling ... to win jobs with union rights, health care, peace and equality!" will be held at 4 p.m. at the New Haven People's Center, 37 Howe Street, New Haven.
The three are being recognized for their contributions in mobilizing in the workplace and community and building coalitions for social change. Also featured on the program will be music and spoken word, a holiday gift table and homemade buffet.
Art Perry has been an organizer and community and political activist since working at Southbury Training School as a member of New England Health Care Employees Union / District 1199 in the 1970s. His grassroots political organizing with working families has elected many progressives to local, state and federal office. He served with1199 for 17 years, and is now Connecticut political director of SEIU 32BJ Justice for Janitors where he furthers his beliefs in justice, equality and community organization.
Anna Montalvo is the first woman and the first Latina to serve as president of the 1,500-member AFSCME Local 1522 in Bridgeport. As a child she experience discrimination in the schools of New York which gave her the drive to pursue her education, and help ensure that all parents and students are treated with respect and dignity. She is a vice-president of AFSCME Council 4 and active in many community and labor organizations, and is recipient of numerous awards.
Gwen Mills was raised in New Haven. In the 1980s she participated with CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador), and later spent a year in Mozambique working with local groups to re-establish activist organizations at the close of the civil war. In 2000 Gwen returned to New Haven where she has served as a lead organizer with the CT Center for a New Economy (CCNE). In 2007 she became political field director of Unite-Here unions for Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The event will kick off a 90th year cultural project with artists for social change. Performers include labor singer Bill Collins of the Rabble Rousers, Mexican guitarist Beto Castillo, spoken word and jazz by Ras Mo Moses, Baub Bidon, Jeff Fuller and Richard Hill, and others.
In addition, a video celebrating 90 years of struggle and moving forward will be presented. Joelle Fishman, chair of the Connecticut CPUSA, will offer a call to action.
The reception invitation emphasizes that "the historic election of 2008 presents a great challenge and opportunity to organize bigger, broader and wider than ever to achieve basic needs for working people. While right-wing demagogues depend on bigotry and fear, the hope and unity of labor and people's organizations are key to bring our country out of crisis."
Donation is $10 or what you can afford. For tickets and information call 203-624-8664.
Photo: Art Perlo/PW