Russell Pelle

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Russell Pelle

Template:TOCnestleft Russell Pelle is a Florida/Haiti based Communist Party USA member.

Duval Soil and Water Conservation

Russell Pelle ran for election to the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District to represent Group 3 in Florida. Pelle lost in the general election on November 6, 2018.

Socialist Workers Party

In 1972, Russell Pelle was a Jefferson County, Ky. Socialist Workers Party candidate for Presidential Elector for Kentucky.

Supporting Cuba

In April 2000, hours after news of Elian Gonzalez's seizure was beamed into their Jacksonville homes from Miami, about 75 members of the city's ethnic Cuban community gathered at Friendship Fountain , expressing their outrage with placards, flags and passionate words.

The impromptu event on the city's Southbank included a brief confrontation with at least two men who came to declare their support for the government's action. Protesters twisted and tugged at the men's large yellow banner.

One of the men, Russell Pelle, a 47-year-old teacher from Florida Community College of Jacksonville, arrived at the protest with a banner that said "Return Elian to his father in Cuba."

Acosta Estrella walked up to the banner and pulled it. Others briefly joined the fray, some attempting to break it up. The short confrontation was mostly verbal, with Pelle insisting that Cuba was a safe place for the 6-year-old boy to return.[1]


After 15 years as a Professor of English as a Second Language at Florida Community College at Jacksonville , community activist Russell Pelle was told he would not be offered another teaching contract.

According to Pelle the firing is not due to his performance on the job, "I would never claim 'perfection' on the job, but I have been 'satisfactory' for 15 years," but rather, the real reason is political. Pelle had been actively involved in efforts to organize, and achieve recognition for, a union of teachers there, American Federation of Teachers Local 2397.

In the incident that led to his dismissal, Pelle was Chair of the FCCJ Downtown Campus Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Committee. "I invited Jacksonville NAACP President Isaiah Rumlin to be our featured speaker, never suspecting that this would be a problem" he recalled.

Pelle said a higher-up at the school told him to tell Mr. Rumlin that when he speaks at FCCJ for the event honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he must not say anything "too political or too controversial."

"I told the person who instructed me to deliver the message that I strongly disagreed with the message, asked that they deliver the message themselves, and stated that I did not want to be associated with the message. I am not that kind of a white person."

Pelle said that he felt trapped. He applied for tenure in June 1998 and had been fighting for it for four years. "I believed that the order for me to deliver the message emanated not from the person who imposed upon me to do so, but from the highest levels of the FCCJ administration. I believed that if I refused to deliver the message, I would be fired for 'insubordination,' but if I did deliver the message, under protest, I would, as a matter of principle, have to include my comments clearly disassociating myself from the message, and thus that I would be fired anyway. It was a lose-lose situation for me."

"When I delivered the message, by email, I clearly disassociated myself from the contents, and stated that I had argued against sending the message, and was embarrassed to have to relay the message."

Pelle says that Mr. Rumlin understood that Pelle was not at fault, but also wanted to make sure the school could not get away with this sort of violation of free speech. So Rumlin suggested a press conference to expose the school. Pelle recalls, "Out of concern for me being fired, Brother Rumlin agreed not to call a press conference until after I could arrange for him to speak with FCCJ administration. Even though I saved FCCJ from a very embarrassing press conference, FCCJ administration 'stabbed me in the back' by firing me anyway."

Since Pelle did not yet have tenure, the union could do little to defend him.

An active trade unionist, Pelle had been his union's delegate to the North Florida Central Labor Council for several years.

Pelle was one of those who worked to get support for and attended the March 2000 'March On Tallahassee' to protest Jeb Bush's anti-Affirmative Action 'One Florida ' plan) although he says he was "directly blocked by the FCCJ administration from building support for the march on campus." Pelle had been active in civil and human rights issues since highschool. He had also become involved in human rights issues of concern to his students, who are mostly refugees.[2]

Cesar Chavez campaign

The Cesar E. Chavez National Holiday is a campaign of the Communist Party USA. this was confirmed in a 2001 report Building the Communist Party USA in the South (PART 2) by Russell Pelle, Chair Communist Party of Jacksonville, Florida;[3]

The Party could do much more with agricultural workers, again there is the objective impediment of our small size, which of course can not be overcome without active mass work. Tactically, we can be more open as communists with these workers and their organizations than might be prudent with other unions, especially at the onset. Thanks to the outstanding, historic work of comrades in California winning the Cesar Chavez Holiday, we have a special edge in working with agricultural workers unions. The Party should organize a southern tour by Comrade Evelina Alarcon to promote the Chavez holiday; comrades should initiate work to build a movement to win a national holiday. Such a project is an avenue for comrades outside the unions to establish working relations with union labor in general and farm labor and the Spanish-speaking community in general.

Communist Party member

In 2002, Russell Pelle was confirmed as a Communist Party USA member. From a report to the National Committee of the Communist Party USA November 16, 2002, New York City.[4]

We especially appreciate and congratulate our own candidates in this election cycle, all of whom received many labor and other endorsements and support:
In Jacksonville, Florida for Soil and Water Conservation Board, Russell Pelle who received 30% of the vote, with 54,004 votes; In Waterbury, Connecticut for State Senator on the Working Families Party line, Blair Bertaccini, president of the Western Connecticut Central Labor Council, who received 8.2% of the vote with 1,115 votes achieving minor party ballot status; in the Allston-Brighton section of Boston for City Council, Gary Dotterman who received 3.25% of the vote in a field of nine.

In 2003 Russell Pelle, was chair of the Jacksonville chapter of the Communist Party USA.[5]

Soil and Water Conservation Board

In 2002, with the motto, “Protect the real Florida – for working people!” Russell Pelle ran for the Soil and Water Conservation Board in Duval County, "hammering Republican Gov. Jeb Bush for coddling corporate polluters and real estate developers".

Pelle called for protection of Florida’s fragile environment. “Everywhere I go, I tell voters I am running against Jeb Bush,” Pelle told the Peoples Weekly World. “The Soil and Water Board is pretty low on the electoral totem pole but Bush’s policies have been a disaster for the Florida environment. If I am elected, I will fight urban sprawl, fight to protect the people from toxic wastes.”

Pelle played a sparkplug role in winning recognition of AFT Local 2397 at Florida Community College at Jacksonville (FCCJ) in April 2010. As a 15-year professor of English as a Second Language at FCCJ, Pelle helped unite the faculty in the face of a unionbashing campaign. Despite heavy anti-labor propaganda, 91 percent of the faculty cast ballots and 65 percent voted in favor of union recognition, a "smashing victory in this Right to Work (for less) state".

His "popularity" was on display during a Labor Day banquet when the emcee introduced candidates in the Nov. 5 election “including one of our own, Russell Pelle.” The crowd applauded warmly. Many in the crowd later came up to Pelle and his wife, Michlove, to support both his election campaign and his battle to get his job back.[6]


Pelle was endorsed by the North Florida Central Labor Council (NFCLC), Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) and by Tony Hill, a community organizer for the Service Employees International Union who won the Democratic nomination for State Senate from Jacksonville in Florida’s Sept. 10 primary.[7]

Haiti work

Russell Pelle began working with Haitian refugees in 1992, following the 1991 military coup that overthrew President J. B. Aristide. His first trip to Haiti was in 1996, 2nd in 1997 by invitation - to attend founding congress of the left party OPL (Organization of People in Struggle), and has since visited Haiti many times - from the border with the Dominican Republic to Tiburon. Pelle has lived in Haiti summers since 2004 and speaks speak Haitian Kreyol. He established relations between UACSH and the AFL-CIO in July 2006, arranging for the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center to fly in a representative to meet with UACSH and was designated as International Relations officer for UACSH at that time. Pelle has appeared on television, radio and in newspapers in Haiti with UACSH several times and attended union conferences with UACSH and other unions in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.[8]


At a Press Conference at the UACSH office in Bois Verna (Port-au-Prince) summer 2008: Russell Pelle and Retes Rejouir. “… certifies that Russell Pelle is authorized to serve as International Intermediary. Russell Pelle is authorized to establish relations and communication with the international labor movement and facilitate transfer of donations to UACSH”.[9]

Earthquake relief

Just 26 hours after the January 12 2010, earthquake devastated Haiti, the North Florida Central Labor Council voted to send the Haitian Labor Federation Unity for Constructive Action by Haitian Unions (UACSH) $1000 as direct union-to-union solidarity. UACSH International Relations officer Russell Pelle emailed a request for help for the Haitian unionists to NF CLC President Russell Harper Tuesday evening within hours of the 7.1 earthquake. Harper is a member of IBEW local 177. Harper signed a check at the end of the CLC meeting. Other union leaders present expressed their concern and desire for their locals to also "aid our brothers and sisters in the impoverished nation".

At the time of the CLC meeting it was not yet known if UACSH President Retes Rejouir had survived the quake.

Some CLC members had met Brother Rejouir in 2008 when he visited Jacksonville to attend the A. Phillip Randolph Convention. At the convention Rejouir met many unionists, including International Longshoreman’s Association leaders Charles Spence of Jacksonville and Kenneth Riley of ‘Charleston 5’ fame. The ILA workshop passed the hat and collected nearly $800 to support unions in Haiti. While in Jacksonville, Rejouir met with Florida State Senator Tony Hill, who came out of the ILA, and was interviewed by Brother Stan the Union Man for his call-in program on Jacksonville’s progressive talk radio 105.3 FM. UACSH President Rejouir also met with then Florida AFL-CIO President Cindy Hall in Tallahassee.[10]

Enlisting Corrine Brown

Russell Pelle was on the phone Wednesday with his fiancee when she started to scream. Calling from Haiti, she was in a building that started to shake from an aftershock following Tuesday's earthquake.

"I told her to get outside as quickly as possible," said Pelle, who didn't hear from her again until Friday.

Now she is sleeping on the streets because her house was destroyed, and she's had almost no food or water since Tuesday.

Pelle was one of the people who attended Saturday's news conference with U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Florida, and senior pastors from Jacksonville. The pastors will urge parishioners to bring water and make donations to Haiti relief funds today during church.

"I am confident that our nation will provide emergency relief and support to the Haitian people during this critical time," Brown said.

Pastors from St. Paul Baptist Church, Bethel Baptist Church, Shiloh Baptist Church, Open Arms Christian Fellowship, Abyssinia Baptist Church and Sanctuary at Mount Calvary will take part.[11]

Haitian Memorial Pyramid Project Timeline

Russell Pelle was the founder of the Haitian Memorial Pyramid Project.

  • Conceived in Jacksonville, Florida by Russell Pelle several months after the January 12, 2010 earthquake.
  • 1st draft executive summary & sketch of pyramid March 2010.
  • Presented to & supported by Florida State Senator Anthony Hill at a Haitian-American beach party.
  • Executive Board established and project incorporated November 10, 2010.
  • 1st endorsement: Senator Hill Nov. 24, 2010.
  • Discussed with and supported by Jacksonville mayoral candidate Alvin Brown…
  • 1st Mission to Haiti: March 26 – April 3rd, 2011
  • Endorsed by Jacksonville Fl, Mayor Alvin Brown, U.S. Congresswoman Corrine Brown, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson
  • 1st Mission to Haiti: August 6 - 21, 2011. Excellent meetings with Government Ministers, Senators, Port-au-Prince Mayor, Presidential Adviser and Prime Minister. Officials indicate project could be authorized following presentation of more detailed plans and demonstration of fund-raising ability.
  • Press conference with Minister of Haitians Living Abroad to support the Haitian Memorial Pyramid Project.
  • November 29, 2011: Russell Pelle introduces Haitian President Martelly to the Haitian Memorial Pyramid Project.[12]