Chicago Teachers Union hosts International Women’s Day Protest

April 2017 CTU meeting

By MARK UGOLINI

— CHICAGO — Over 1000 trade-union women and supporters gathered at the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) Hall on Mar. 8 to celebrate International Women’s Day and declare solidarity with women everywhere struggling to protect and extend woman’s rights.

Chairing the rally, Adriana Alvarez of Fight for $15 spoke of the struggle of woman workers against sexual harassment at Burger King and McDonalds restaurants. She reported on a demonstration earlier in the day targeting a local Burger King that woman workers charged with EEOC violations.

Context for the Mar. 8 rally were local and state government assaults on unions representing large numbers of woman. State workers represented by AFSCME recently voted overwhelmingly to strike if negotiations with Governor Bruce Rauner continue to stall. Demanding a fair contract, Charter School teachers set a strike date of Mar. 17. State worker Marion Murphy of AFSCME Local 2806 and Marines Martinez of Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff Local 4343 conveyed details of their struggles and received cheering ovations of support from the crowd.

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 308 leader Deborah Cosey-Lane addressed the plight of Chicago transit workers who have been without a contract for over 14 months. “We’re sick and tired of being sick and tired!” she said, after describing working conditions of woman drivers, who are forced to endure unsafe and demeaning rules, working long hours, and being denied bathroom facilities and breaks.

Earlier in the day, a group of CTA women workers, participating in Woman’s Strike activities, rallied at Chicago Transit Authority offices in Chicago. Joined by other ATU members, they demanded adequate bathroom break time and improved maternity leave benefits.

A local TV station quoted CTA worker Vanessa Garcia: “It’s really important that we all should get equal treatment because we all work and we are all trying to feed our families.”

Dozens of Muslim women from the Arab American Action network joined the CTU rally, and were represented by Rasmea Odeh, who addressed the crowd. A prominent figure in the Palestinian national liberation movement, Odeh in 1969 was subjected to sexual abuse and psychological torture while confined in an Israeli military prison. She endured intense abuse for three weeks, and was coerced into a false confession of involvement in Jerusalem bombings. As a result, her U.S. citizenship was revoked in 2014; her deportation is currently under review by an immigration court.

To a standing ovation Odeh declared: “I stand before you as a 50-year survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of the Israeli military.” She urged supporters to attend an upcoming court hearing in Detroit on April 4 to protest the false charges and stop deportation proceedings.

Other speakers at the March 8 rally included Karen Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union (opening remarks); Christel Williams, CTU; Liz Radford, Woman’s March of Chicago; Alyx Goodwin, Black Youth Project 100; Faith Arnold, SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana; and Katie Thiede, Planned Parenthood.

Photo by Guy Miller: Opal Staples sings at CTU meeting hall on March 8.

Related Articles

BUILDING A MASS MOVEMENT FOR REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE IN THE EAST BAY

SOCIALIST FEMINIST COALITION EAST BAY
Art build and political conversation to build an independent mass feminist movement rooted in anti-capitalist and anti-racist struggles.
When: Saturday, Sept. 17 at 2 pm
Where: 642 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland — by the Lake Merritt Boating Center

The International Food Crisis and Proposals To Overcome It

By ERIC TOUSSAINT and OMAR AZIKI
[Editor’s note: We reprint this article by the Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt (CADTM). In 1989, the Bastille Appeal was launched, inviting popular movements throughout the world to unite in demanding the immediate and unconditional cancellation of the debt of the so-called developing countries. This crushing debt, along with neo-liberal macro-economic reforms imposed on the global South, has led to an explosion of worldwide inequality, mass poverty, flagrant injustice and the destruction of the environment.

Summer Strike Wave Hits Britain

By ANN MONTAGUE
In Britain, the working class is experiencing a wave of strikes and “Industrial Action” from some of the largest established unions in the country, activity that disrupts the economy. These striking unions have made political demands in recent years to renationalize mail, rail and the electric grid.