Youth, unions in spotlight at PWW banquet

OAKLAND, Calif. – Youth groups and unions on the front line for youth and workers’ rights will be honored at this year’s Northern California People’s Weekly World/Nuestro Mundo banquet on Sunday, Nov. 9.

Following the International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s victorious contract struggle last year, Longshore Local 10 President Henry Graham said the local and its brother locals are now focused on ensuring the giant shipping transnationals comply with the pact. The contract secured vital health and pension coverage, Graham said, but the union’s biggest challenge is employers’ constant efforts to cut the workforce, with clerks’ jobs under special pressure because of new technology.

Based on a survey last year of 1,000 students at three Oakland high schools, student organizers from Kids First are pressing for real student council powers concerning school safety and security, teacher quality, classes and extracurricular activities. “We also believe helping youth take more ownership of issues affecting their daily lives is an important step to help lower the dropout rate,” Kids First Membership Coordinator Germaine Ashley told the PWW. Kids First formed eight years ago in the midst of the struggle to win more services for Oakland’s multiracial youth population.

Asian Youth Promoting Advocacy and Leadership (AYPAL) is campaigning for repeal of a 1996 federal law that says non-citizens can be deported for an offense with a prison sentence of a year or more. AYPAL says this breaks up families, punishes people twice, and sends people who grew up in the U.S. to a culture they may no longer know. AYPAL, which comprises six youth social justice organizations in the Cambodian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Laotian and Mien, Korean, Filipino and Pacific Islander communities, also works with prominent area artists to develop quality youth cultural performances.

Youth of Oakland United, the youth organization of PUEBLO (People United for a Better Oakland) is campaigning to win more jobs for both youth and adults. YOU’s video, “There Goes the ‘Hood,’” dramatized Mayor Jerry Brown’s plans to gentrify Oakland, while YOU organized against two of his favorite recent projects – a proposed anti-loitering law ostensibly against drugs, but actually targeting youth of color, and a $70 million anti-violence measure with most funds going to police instead of preventive programs.

The program will also feature Immigrant Rights Freedom Riders from HERE Locals 2 and 2850, just returned from their triumphal nationwide tour, as well as SEIU Local 1877 janitors from the Greater Bay Area.

The program will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic film, “Salt of the Earth,” with a tribute to Lorenzo and Anita Torrez, who participated in the miners’ strike and the making of the film during the very difficult McCarthy era. Also featured will be music, dance and poetry by outstanding Bay Area performers. The banquet will be held Sunday, Nov. 9, at 1:00 p.m. at Hs Lordships Restaurant on the Berkeley Marina. Reservations are $40. Call (510) 251-1050 for information and reservations.