How US working people have fought back

June 11, 2018

“From Clinton to Trump: How US working people are responding to the antilabor offensive of the bosses, their parties and their government” was the title of the second part of the program on the class struggle in the US at the April 24-26 conference in Havana. Members of the panel included a working farmer and four other workers with years of experience in different industries. Each made brief presentations describing not only the consequences for working people of the bosses’ four-decades-long offensive but also the labor and social struggles in which they and their co-workers have fought.

A sheet with the following brief biographical notes introducing each panel member was given to all participants. Everyone also received the prepared remarks of Harry D’Agostino, a panelist who was prevented from being present by another political responsibility in Cuba.

Alyson Kennedy. Alyson is a fourteen-year veteran union coal miner. She was among the first wave of women who broke through the barriers that coal bosses used to exclude women from underground mining jobs. She has been part of numerous UMWA battles in the coalfields from West Virginia and Alabama to Utah. Alyson was the Socialist Workers Party candidate for president in 2016 and currently lives in Dallas, Texas, where she works at the international retail chain Walmart.

Harry D’Agostino. Harry is a worker, musician, bass player, band leader, and Young Socialist. He travels and performs throughout the Northeast and North Central regions of the US. Like many millions of workers, young and old, he has held numerous jobs from small shops to warehouses, almost always as a “temp worker” who can be fired at any time and gets no health coverage or unemployment compensation.

Willie Head. Willie is a longtime family farmer from south Georgia, a veteran of the century and a half of battles by farmers who are Black to keep their land. Like most small farmers, he has also worked many nonfarm jobs throughout his life, union and nonunion, in order to bring in the income necessary to keep farming.

Jacob Perasso. Jacob is a freight rail conductor and member of the SMART-TD union in one of the largest rail yards in the Northeast. He is a leader of the work of the Young Socialists in the US and internationally. Prior to his current employment, he worked, among other jobs, in meatpacking plants in the Midwest, where he was involved in a number of union-organizing battles.

Omari Musa. Omari has worked for half a century in every kind of job, union and nonunion, from rail and oil to an ice cream factory, from California to Miami. He currently lives in Washington, DC, where he is employed by Walmart. He is a lifetime veteran of battles in defense of the rights of African Americans and a longtime national leader of the work to defend Cuba and the Cuban Revolution, both inside and outside the labor movement.

Róger Calero. Róger came to the US from Nicaragua with his family when he was fifteen. As a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), he worked in meatpacking plants in the Midwest and has been involved in union battles defending the rights of immigrant workers. In 2002 he was arrested and targeted for deportation by the US government, triggering a successful international defense effort that won the support of numerous unions. He was the presidential candidate of the Socialist Workers Party in 2004 and 2008.