A HOLIDAY SEASON OF CONSCIENCE
Hundreds of students marched down Fifth Avenue on Dec. 5, through throngs of holiday shoppers, in a candlelight march to end child labor and sweatshop abuses. It was the fifth annual Holiday Season of Conscience, designed to bring the message that children around the world are working in appalling conditions, for below-subsistence wages, to produce the goods we buy in such abundance during the holiday season.
The campaign is organized by the National Labor Committee in Support of Worker and Human Rights. They point out that, “after Sept. 11, it is more important than ever that we stand together and do something positive to defend worker rights and end the race to the bottom in the global economy. There can never be real security in a world full of child labor, sweatshop abuses, starvation wages, union busting and black lists; where young women are thrown out of work when they reach 25 or 30 years of age because they are worn out and exhausted after working 14 hours a day, seven days a week, to be replaced by another crop of 16-year-olds. Without the struggle for social justice, there will never be peace.”
For more information about this campaign, write the NLC at 275 Seventh Avenue, 15th floor, NYC 10001, or visit www.nlcnet.org.
“WE WANT WHAT’S FAIR!”
Home health aides employed by National Home Health Care Corp. demonstrated outside a shareholders’ meeting on Dec. 6, demanding “We Want Our Share!”
They pointed out that while the company had record-breaking profits last year, reaping some $74 million, it is resisting any improvements to their wages and benefits in negotiations for a union contract. They earn less than thousands of other home health care workers in the New York region who work for companies that are far less profitable. The company’s health insurance is too expensive, and many workers are having trouble making ends meet.
The home health care aides are represented by District Council 1707, AFSCME.
INVEST IN CUNY – INVEST IN THE PEOPLE OF NEW YORK
A Dec. 5 rally at Borough of Manhattan Community College brought together CUNY students, members of the Professional Staff Congress, and supporters of public education in New York. In October, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani had ordered city agencies to put 15 percent of their budget into a “reserve.” CUNY’s community colleges, which have been weakened by a decade of cuts, were told they had to come up with the full 15 percent, a total of $19.2 million, although the Board of Education, police and fire departments will only have to cut 2½ percent.
The PSC points out that the city’s looming financial crisis was created by the attack on the World Trade Center, a slowing economy, and another factor politicians generally ignore – the cumulative impact of years of tax cuts for New York’s wealthiest residents.
Energetic lobbying by the PSC seemed to have won the possibility of significant budget increases in the coming year, but that is now in jeopardy. The PSC is campaigning for investment that goes beyond the costs of repairing the extensive physical damage the university suffered on Sept. 11. “We seek the kind of investment that would allow CUNY to be a central part of New York’s resurgence,” said PSC President Barbara Bowen.