Alberto Bernardez

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Alberto Bernardez is a Connecticut activist.

2014 Amistad Awards

The People's World Amistad Awards were held on Sunday, December 7 2014, to celebrate the Connecticut election victory and look forward. Awardees included Meg Riccio, chief steward of Local 35 service and maintenance workers at Yale; Alberto Bernardez, area director SEIU 32 BJ union of janitors; Daniel Durant, community organizer for AFT Connecticut.[1]

Enthusiasm was high as emcees Kit Salazar-Smith and Lisa Bergmann guided the program from the New Orleans-style sounds of Kings of Harmony and song led by Jill Marks to the finale of traditional music and dance by the Bodoma Garifuna Cultural Band.

Opening the event, held on the occasion of the 95th anniversary of the Communist Party USA, Connecticut chair Joelle Fishman's call to action evoked the chants of recent protests.

"When courageous $15 and a Union fast food strikers stand in solidarity with Hands Up Don't Shoot protests they are saying this is one struggle for dignity, for basic democratic rights, human rights and fairness. As Martin Luther King, Jr., challenged us to take on the triple evils of poverty, racism and war," she said, "we know it will take big change for our country to truly be of, by and for the people. To that we recommit today, inspired by the awardees and the people in the streets fighting for justice."[2]

"Immigration reform"

In January 2013, three days before President Obama addressed immigration, Connecticut Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Rep. Jim Himes pledged their support for comprehensive reform at a community round table in Bridgeport hosted by Connecticut Students for a DREAM.

The "Immigration Reform: The Time is now!" event held at the United Congregational Church was also attended by State Senator Ayala and scores of community leaders and families.

"Telling your personal stories will change minds and you will change hearts," said Himes adding that the entire Connecticut delegation supports "the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship."

Murphy replied that "we're closer than ever to getting this done, because of the political power represented in packed rooms like this all across the country." He also warned against half-measures that create "a subclass of semi-documented immigrants."

Alberto Bernardez of SEIU 32BJ emphasized that comprehensive reform helps the whole economy. "We will get rid of the underground economy that drags everybody down," he said.

Sen. Blumenthal pledged to "continue working for a strong bi-partisan comprehensive immigration reform plan including the Dream Act with the support of groups like Connecticut Students for a DREAM."[3]

John J. Lugo of Unidad Latina en Accion, addressed the forum.

Blumenthal, along with newly elected Senator Chris Murphy and Rep. Jim Himes, pledged support for comprehensive reform with a path to citizenship during the forum.[4]

"May Day 2016 -- Fighting for Our Future"

Big changes require big struggles, and "May Day 2016 -- Fighting for Our Future" set a powerful and inspiring framework for the labor battles and elections this year.

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An enthusiastic and diverse crowd at the King Davis Labor Center in Hartford on May 1 gave a standing ovation to People's World editor John Wojcik whose eloquent and hard-hitting speech quoted extensively from Albert Parsons' last statement made in 1886 before being hanged on a frame-up charge.

The annual People's World celebration included a panel discussion which called upon the Connecticut state legislature to reject an austerity budget with layoffs and cuts in public services and instead increase taxes on the top 1 percent. A large scroll petition signed by all present was delivered to the Speaker of the House the next day.

Ciro Gutierrez, a building cleaner and member-leader of SEIU 32 BJ who came to the United States from Peru for a better life, exemplified the international struggle for workers' rights, citing the struggle for the eight-hour work day which was won in Peru in 1918. Speaking of the hardships of income inequality on workers today, he upheld the Fight for $15 minimum wage victory in New York state and called for making this an issue in the 2016 presidential election as part of the effort to defeat Donald Trump.

Panelist Alexandra Marks, a New Haven high school student, received a standing ovation after presenting the work of the Young Communist League and New Elm City Dream in the Jobs for Youth - Jobs for All campaign.

In his remarks opening the panel, SEIU 32 BJ leader Alberto Bernardez captured the essence of May Day when he paid tribute to low wage workers forced to work multiple jobs today... [5]

References