Taxpayers host global collectivist confab at UCSC

The UC Santa Cruz Center for Labor Studies will host a public conference titled "Imagining International Solidarity: Models for U.S. Labor Solidarity with Workers in Latin America and China," on Saturday, February 2, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Oakes College, Room 105. Admission is free.

The daylong conference brings together a stellar list of experienced activists and scholars from five countries to share their ideas about "best practice" models for building effective and democratic labor solidarity across national borders.

"As we deal with the challenges of globalization facing workers today around the world, the labor movement is struggling to build effective forms of international solidarity," said UCSC professor of history Dana Frank, cofounder of the Center for Labor Studies. "This conference will explore ways for workers' movements in different countries to join together to face common challenges and concerns that are driving labor standards down all over the world."

The event will focus on how people in the United States can support labor struggles in China and Latin America over such issues as fair wages, workers' health and safety, the right to organize, and freedom of speech.

"We're particulalry interested in building democratic forms of solidarity in which regular working people's voices are heard," Frank added. "This is a public conference designed for anyone in the community who cares about these issues—not just scholars."

Funded by the Miguel Contreras Labor Fund of the University of California Office of the President, and co-sponsored by the UCSC Divisions of Humanities and Social Sciences, the UCSC Center for Labor Studies was founded in 2007. It offers conferences, workshops, and public lectures throughout the academic year. The center also provides support for the annual Reel Work Labor Film Festival held each spring in downtown Santa Cruz.

This conference is open to the public and no preregistration is required. Simultaneous English to Spanish translation will be provided. For more information, contact Karin Mak at ktmak@ucsc.edu, (831) 459-2542, or Dana Frank at (831) 459-2542.

Conference Participants:

• Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval (panelist) is an associate professor in the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at UC Santa Barbara. He is the author of Globalization and Cross-Border Labor Solidarity in the Americas: The Anti-Sweatshop Movement and the Struggle for Social Justice.

• Teresa Casertano (panelist) has been regional program director for the Americas for the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center since 1994, and is currently responsible for programs developed by field offices and national trade unions in Mexico, Central America, the Andean Region, the Southern Cone, and Brazil.

• Anita Chan (panelist)is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Contemporary China Centre, Australian National University, and has served as Co-Editor of The China Journal and editor of Chinese Sociology and Anthropology. A sociologist, she is the author of eight books on China, most recently, China's Workers under Assault.

• Jenny Chan (panelist) is chief coordinator of Students and Scholars against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) in Hong Kong and a steering committee member of GoodElectronics. She received her M.Phil. in Sociology at the University of Hong Kong in May 2006.

• Stephen Coats (panelist) has been executive director of the U.S./Labor Education in the Americas Project (USLEAP) since 1990. USLEAP is an independent non-profit organization that supports the rights of workers in Latin America. He previously served on Jesse Jackson's 1988 presidential campaign as assistant policy director.

• Jonathan Fox (moderator) is a professor in the Department of Latin American and Latin Studies at UC Santa Cruz. He served as an advisor to the Mexico-US Diálogos Project (1988-98) which led to the book, Cross-Border Dialogues: US-Mexico Social Movement Networking. His most recent books are Mexico's Right-to-Know Reform: Civil Society Perspectives and Accountability Politics: Power and Voice in Rural Mexico.

• Dana Frank (moderator and conference organizer) is a professor of history at UC Santa Cruz and co-director of the UCSC Center for Labor Studies. Her books include Buy American: The Untold Story of Economic Nationalism; Bananeras: Women Transforming the Banana Unions of Latin America, and Purchasing Power: Consumer Organizing, Gender, and the Seattle Labor Movement.

• Homero Fuentes (Jorge Homero Fuentes Aragon) (panelist) is founder and director of the Comisión para la Verificación de Códigos de Conducta (COVERCO) (Commission for the Verification of Codes of Conduct) in Guatemala. Previously he worked with the regional project, Mejoramiento Continuo en la Maquila CIMCAW-MECOMAQ, a global agency, and with the Danish Consulate on various labor support projects.

• Paul Garver (panelist) worked for the Service Employees International Union for 15 years as an organizer and staff director in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He then worked another 15 years for the International Union of Food Workers in Geneva on global labor union activities in transnational companies in the food and drink sector.

• Emily Honig (moderator) is a professor of feminist studies and history at UC Santa Cruz. Her research focuses on modern Chinese labor history, and she is the author of Sisters and Strangers: Women in the Shanghai Cotton Mills, 1919-1949; and Creating Chinese Ethnicity: Subei people in Shanghai, 1800-1980.

• José La Luz (keynote speaker) is currently director of the Leadership Academy of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). In his previous work for AFSCME, he served as Northeast Director and Associate Director and engineered the legislative and organizing campaign that led to over 100,000 public sector workers gaining a union in Puerto Rico, and worked in international affairs.

• Josie Mooney (panelist) is assistant to the International President and International Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), where she is an advisor on international affairs. Previously she was the Executive Director of SEIU Local 790 in San Francisco and the first-ever woman president of the San Francisco Labor Council.

• Jesper Nielsen (panelist) is international advisor for the United Federation of Danish Workers, which has 360,000 affiliates. He works with trade union development cooperation mainly in Central America and Africa, and with international solidarity campaigns. He was previously based in Nicaragua working with projects in Latin America.

• Paul Ortiz (moderator) is a professor of community studies at UC Santa Cruz, and co-director of the Center for Labor Studies. He teaches classes on African American and Latino/a histories, the African diaspora, and social movements, and is the author of Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920.

• Katie Quan (panelist) is associate chair of the UC Berkeley Labor Center. Her areas of specialization are woman workers and workers in the global economy. Prior to joining the Labor Center staff, Quan was a member, organizer, district council manager, and international vice-president of UNITE!

• Kent Wong (keynote speaker) is the director of the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education, where he teaches labor studies and Asian American Studies. He previously served as staff attorney for the Service Employees International Union in Los Angeles, and staff attorney for the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California.


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