“Inspiration to Fight Harder”

Volume CI, No. 9September, 2001

Dennis Rivera, President of Health & Human Services Employees Union, 1199/SEIU, spent 30 days in federal prison this summer. His crime? Trespassing on Vieques, the Puerto Rican island the U.S. Navy has used for bombing practice for more than half a century. Following is a letter 802 President Bill Moriarity sent him.

Dear Dennis,

On behalf of the 10,000 members of Local 802, American Federation of Musicians, I am writing to express our support and admiration for your courageous stand in defense of the people of Vieques, Puerto Rico. Your actions are in the finest traditions of our movement and give us all confidence that our unions will continue to be the leading force of the broader people’s movement fighting for dignity and justice.

We remain appalled at the actions of Judge Hector Laffitte in sentencing you and others to jail terms for your actions. We are, however, not surprised. We recall the recent arrests and jailing of unionists in New York City, including restaurant workers at the Metropolitan Opera, who were simply defending their right to organize.

For all of us in the labor movement who regularly have to defend our fundamental constitutional right to protest, to demonstrate, to picket, and even to speak and leaflet in public places, your arrest and jailing will only serve as an inspiration to fight even harder in defense of the rights and living standards of working people.

Please know that our thoughts and concern are with you.

In solidarity,

Bill Moriarity