Dear sisters and brothers, friends and fellow fighters of the US -Cuba Normalization Conference
I’m sorry that other commitments keep me from joining you today as I am in Canada helping Amazon workers organize a union. Please accept this message from our leadership team at the Amazon Labor Union wishing you well in your deliberations and success in your actions to end the US blockade of Cuba and remove Cuba from Washington’s list of so called terrorist nations.
The work you are doing shows the world the links between our government’s domestic and foreign policies. The 60 year-long-blockade of Cuba, and the sanctions that Washington keeps piling on, betray its hostility to any enduring conquests by working people, here and abroad.
Labor law in the United States is stacked against working people, as we have seen with the National Labor Relations Board stalling on recognizing the ALU at JFK8 for 9 months. Neither Democrats nor Republicans represent workers interests.
Another example is the national contract imposed on our brothers and sisters in the rail unions last year. The entirely predictable disaster we saw February 3rd in E. Palestine, Ohio, is the result of the constant erosion of safety systems. The big rail companies have ignored the sensible warnings of rail workers over the years in the constant pursuit of super profits. But I tell you this: rail workers move the trains and do their best to keep us all safe—and I trust them more than anyone else. Likewise, the working conditions in Amazon’s warehouses are deplorable and there have been many walkouts by workers from California to New York.
Washington’s claim that it can apply its laws and military might anywhere around the world is the other side of the same coin. The economic persecution against Cuba is illegal and has been condemned by almost all countries of the world at the UN. It is a clear attempt to reverse the gains of the working people in Cuba, who took power in 1959 and have been an example to working people the world over. All the lies about Cuba come down to this: big business and their government hate the example of a small country where working people can actually decide their future!
We in ALU have learned how even after winning a representation election fair and square, powerful companies like Amazon can drag out the fight for months or years, refusing to sit down to negotiate a contract, and hoping to weaken and ultimately defeat the union. They fire workers and union organizers, and legal action to get these workers their jobs back have not resulted in a single reinstatement. We now know that the NLRB is part of the problem, because they ultimately will not defend our interests.
That is why we have to keep fighting. We have to build a team of committed rank and file organizers who can win the trust of our fellow workers. We have to win the solidarity of other unions all over the US. We have to begin to function like a union and defend each and every Amazon employee. And finally, we have to build a democratic union that answers to the rank and file.
ALU stands with you. We should all oppose the cruel and undemocratic blockade, and ALL the additional sanctions Washington has imposed on Cuba illegally. We stand with our Cuban brothers and sisters, and we support your fight against the cruel and inhuman blockade that has been imposed on Cuba by all the US presidents for decades.
For this reason, we have a strong delegation of 10 ALU members and 3 members of CAUSE who are organizing Amazon in Raleigh, North Carolina, going to Cuba with the Los Angeles Labor and Activists delegation, invited by the Cuban Trade Union Federation and the International Committee for Friendship with the People. We look forward to learning from and sharing our experiences with Cuban workers at the docks and ports, at the fuel depot in Matanzas, in warehouses and factories with youth of the Federation of University Students, the Federation of Cuban Women and others. We will return with renewed strength to join with you to build solidarity with other labor unions in ending the blockade.
To quote Maurice Bishop, who led the Grenadian revolution until his assassination: FORWARD EVER!
Chris Smalls – President of ALU