The Boston school bus drivers’ union, United Steelworkers Local 8751, is fighting on many fronts simultaneously. The union has a backlog of 700 grievances it is trying to settle with the notoriously anti-union Transdev, is also trying to win a just contract, has day-to-day issues with route scheduling caused by mismanagement and the illegal use of GPS tracking, and has been in a relentless two-year battle to win reinstatement for four wrongfully fired elected union officials.Yet this remarkable union has always found time to link its own uphill battle to the fight of all workers and oppressed. On Oct. 4, Local 8751’s executive board took action in support of three important struggles.The first was a resolution to demand justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal and send letters to Pennsylvania’s governor and prison officials in support of Mumia. “Given the extensive evidence of Mumia’s innocence,” wrote President Andre Francois, “wrongful incarceration in solitary confinement for nearly 30 years, his life-threatening medical crisis, and the prison medical system’s failure to diagnose or treat him properly, we add our voices to the international call for the immediate release of Mumia Abu-Jamal.”In September members of 8751 walked the picket lines in New Bedford, Mass., with sister and brother Steelworkers locked out by ATI metals corporation. The board passed a resolution stating, in part, “The Boston School Bus Drivers’ Union is in full solidarity with our sisters and brothers who have been locked out by ATI since Aug. 14. We remember the 1937 Little Steel Strike, when our members in Illinois and Ohio gave their lives fighting for our union. If ATI wants a fight, we’ll show them a fight.”Thirdly, the union — which endorsed the Million Man March 20 years ago — resolved that “whereas in the intervening years incidences of Police Killings of Black, Latino, Native, Asian and immigrant men and women are on the rise, with impunity, and … in the intervening years poverty, homelessness, mass incarceration and unemployment have skyrocketed in the Black, Latino, Native, Asian and immigrant communities throughout the country,” that “Local 8751 stands in 100% solidarity with the organizers of the 10/10/15 Justice or Else call to Washington, D.C. and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.” Several drivers took the bus to attend the march.Members of Local 8751 are community activists as well as union activists. Some are volunteering to re-elect City Councillor Charles Yancey, now under siege from the corporate and political establishment who want this progressive leader ousted. Many Haitian drivers are connected with the campaign of the Fanmi Lavalas candidate for president in Haiti, Maryse Narcisse.Team Solidarity — whose candidates swept the local union elections in March — lives up to its name.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this
In public remarks during the week, Santos exhorted Military personnel to fight the guerrillas with determination and stated that if a dialogue were to open, “it will be on our terms and under our control.” On June 13, in its final debate, the Colombian Congress passed a constitutional reform bill that will allow future peace negotiations in Colombia, a country in which two leftist guerilla groups are still active. Before the bill goes into effect, it must still undergo reconciliation with the text passed by the House of Representatives and must be approved by the Constitutional Court. Two guerrilla groups are still active in the country: the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), with around 9,200 fighters, and the National Liberation Army (ELN), with another 2,500. For almost half a century, Colombia has suffered an internal armed conflict that has left hundreds of thousands of civilian victims. In addition, it would allow guerrilla leaders to have political representation, although those convicted of crimes against humanity will not be able to run for office. By Dialogo June 18, 2012 President Juan Manuel Santos, whose administration promoted this initiative, expressed his pleasure in a message on his Twitter account, which read, “Thank you to Congress for passing legislation that could enable an end to the conflict.” With the reform, “the most serious cases and most responsible individuals will be able to be selected for investigation and sanctions,” he added. The final version, which passed in the Senate with 65 votes in favor and three against, also includes the possibility of granting those benefits to members of the Military, something that has been harshly criticized by human-rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch. In recent months, the FARC has proposed direct dialogue with Santos in order to put an end to the conflict, and at the beginning of the year, as a gesture in that direction, announced an end to kidnapping civilians as a method of financing; nevertheless, it kidnapped French journalist Romeo Langlois in April, during a clash with the Military. The bill puts forward the possibility of granting benefits such as the suspension of penalties to the leaders of armed groups who demobilize. It also establishes mechanisms for prioritizing and selecting cases of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Weeks before, the FARC released the last ten police officers and Military personnel whom it had held captive for almost 14 years.