CHICAGO – Scores of old friends and political co-workers of labor organizer Rodolfo ‘Rudy’ Lozano gathered Dec. 1 in the Mexican neighborhood where he used to live to celebrate a belated official recognition of Rudy’s contribution to the struggle for justice and workers’ rights in this city.

Rudy Lozano was a student organizer, then a community organizer and then chief field organizer for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, which has since folded into UNITE. As a union organizer, Rudy worked to find ways to organize undocumented workers in Chicago’s tortilla factories. In 1982 and 1983, he made history by playing the major leadership role in convincing Mexican and Puerto Rican voters in Chicago to unite with each other and the African-American community to oust the Cook County machine and elect progressive independent African-American Congressman Harold Washington as mayor. Unfortunately, only a few weeks after Washington took power, on June 8, 1983, Rudy was murdered in his home in this neighborhood, where an official city commemorative marker has now finally been erected.

The Lozano family, comprising three generations of progressive, labor and left activists, invited all Rudy’s former comrades and co-workers to inspect the marker, which was erected by the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs in front of Rudy’s home, where his family continues to live. But many people who came were too young to have ever known Rudy in person. Rudy’s wife, Lupe Lozano, and their sons, Rudy Jr. and Jose ‘Pepe’ Lozano, expressed their appreciation for those who came to the little ceremony on this cold winter day. A third son, David, is at college out of the city.

Pepe Lozano said, ‘My father was a revolutionary who fought for working-class solidarity against an unjust system …. and for a society based on peace, an economic system based on equality, and a political system based on real democracy.’

While stressing the importance of organized labor and Black-Latino-white unity in all struggles, he also emphasized the critical importance of not abandoning inner-city and other youth, and working to bring them into the struggle for social justice. He pointedly denounced the Bush administration’s current push for war with Iraq, saying that when young people see the government resorting to violence in its foreign policy, it is natural that some of them try to solve their own problems with violence.

Rudy’s sister, Emma Lozano, head of the organization ‘Sin Fronteras,’ exhorted the crowd to keep meeting together through the next year, which will be the 20th anniversary of Rudy’s death, so that the ideas of unity, justice and struggle for which he stood can be transmitted in a strengthened form to future generations of people’s fighters. She denounced attacks on the Arab-American community, and called for a new effort to defend the perhaps 11 million undocumented workers in this country, a cause dear to Rudy’s heart.

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