TSEU participates in the AFL-CIO MLK weekend in San Antonio

The AFL-CIO held its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ‘Civil and Human Rights’ Conference in San Antonio this the year giving TSEU members an exciting opportunity to attend MLK weekend events alongside other union activists from across the country.  Joan Barasch (San Antonio HHSC) accepted an invitation to attend the conference, which was held at the Wyndam San Antonio Riverwalk from January 16th – 20th, as TSEU’s representative.  The conference reinforces the historic bond between the labor and civil rights movements by honoring the life and work of Dr. King.

During the conference, Joan attended two intriguing workshops.  The first, “Looking to the Future: Winning Strategies in Alt-Labor Organizing” was moderated by Arturo Medoza (Field Director, AFL-CIO) and featured panelists Laura Perez-Boston (Director of Fe Y Justicia Center), Galen Hook (Activist for ‘Dancers’ Alliance – SAG AFTRA), Darius Kemp (Regional Director of Working America), and Lola Smallwood-Cuezas (Director of LA Black Worker Center).  This workshop examined strategies for engaging people in the Labor Movement outside of the traditional organizing models.  The second, “Young People Decided Enough Was Enough: Watch what Happened Next” was moderated by Fred Redmond (Vice-President, United Steelworkers) and featured panelists Kirin Kanakkanatt (National Field Coordinator, Get Equal), Charlene Carruchers (National Coordiantor, Black Youth Project, Ephrin Jenkins (Next Generation Coordinator, United Steelworkers), and Tahir Duckett (Young Worker Coordinator, AFL-CIO).   This workshop examined strategies for engaging younger workers in the Labor Movement and emphasized the importance of putting younger union members in positions of leadership to foster new perspectives and utilize their energy and enthusiasm.

One of the highlights of the AFL-CIO’s annual MLK event is a Day of Service in which conference attendees go out in the host community and work side by side with local union activists on community service projects.   For the 2014 conference, the AFL-CIO organized 22 service projects throughout the San Antonio community.  On Friday, January 17th, an army of union members sporting red t-shirts was dispersed to make a difference for needy families in San Antonio.  TSEU members Joan Barasch (HHSC), Neifa Nacel-Dovalina (ROC). Linda Wilson (ROC), and Ted Hooker (TSEU) participated in the Day of Service by volunteering at the San Antonio Food Bank where they worked in the garden harvesting vegetables to be used as part of the San Antonio Food Bank’s meal programs.  The San Antonio Food Bank’s services reach 58,000 individuals per week.


The 27th Annual San Antonio MLK March was another highlight of the weekend.  San Antonio traditionally hosts one of the largest MLK Day marches in the United States and this year was no different as a reported 175,000 people participated in the march on Monday, January 20th.  TSEU was well represented as part of the national labor delegation in the march with Houston members James Nauls (ROC), Jerry Wald (ROC), David Wald (ROC), and Sean Garcia (TSEU) and Austin members Charles Shedd (HHSC), Harrison Hiner (TSEU) and Seth Hutchinson (TSEU) joining San Antonio members Paul Eisenhauer (DSHS), Arthur Valdez (DSHS), Joan Barasch (HHSC), Ana Perez-Ingram (DFPS), Neifa Nacel-Dovalina (ROC), Linda Wilson (ROC), and Ted Hooker (TSEU).  Following the 2.75 mile march up Martin Luther King Drive from Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy to Pittman Sullivan Park, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka gave a rousing speech in which he encouraged attendees to honor Dr. King’s legacy by working together to continue to fight the civil rights and social justice battles of our times.  Among the fights that he noted in his speech were marriage equality, immigration reform, fighting for a universal living wage, and dismantling the for-profit prison system.