National Workers Conference to Organize the Fightback


National Workers Conference to Organize the Fightback and Build a Solidarity Network Mission Statement

The new corporatist government is increasing attacks against workers and our communities. It is time to organize a national fight and mobilization to defend immigrants, people of color, workers rights, and our civil rights. We urgently need to establish a strong solidarity communication network and unite our struggles against the continuing economic robbery of working people. To do this we must take a strong stance against racism and sexism. It is time to organize a national and international fight using the full power of the labor movement!

In Chicago and the State of Illinois, concerned sectors of the labor movement and the community, are resisting these unjust attacks: ATU transit workers are still out of a contract. CTU teachers are still fighting against school closures and furloughs of teachers. UAW workers fought contracts that abuse temporary workers, incentivize outsourcing and scheduling that ignores our humanity. A Tea party governor is attacking AFSCME and AFT workers jobs and pensions which remain under constant government threat.

There’s a brutal attack on public services, public education, particularly in communities of color, at the city, state and federal levels of government. These attacks are a direct threat to workers and our families. The new administration has announced cuts to public education and public services while devising plans for outsourcing and privatization. This has been combined with attacks on workers rights and our pensions. Workers are being disrespected and overworked, and real wages cannot support our real lives. We need to unite all workers and join with our communities to defend union jobs, public services and the democratic rights of working people.

Workers who are forced to go on strike have been allowed to be isolated and coerced into concession contracts to give up more on wages, healthcare and pensions. This is a result of union leaders who’ve been unwilling to wage the kind of fight that will challenge the bosses. Workers have been locked out by profitable companies craving higher profits at our expense. They’re using NAFTA and other corporate trade agreements to weaken and destroy organized labor and our communities. We can no longer allow our struggles to be isolated. We must unite nationally and internationally because that is how we can win.

We also need to oppose the growing danger of world war. The trillions that have been spent on over 700 bases overseas is not to protect the working people of this country but the interests of the militarists, corporations and the billionaires that run the US and the world. The attacks on Mexican workers and other workers around the world must be met with organizing unity with our brothers and sisters against the same corporations that they are fighting. Our fight is with the bosses that carry out these attacks and not our brothers and sisters around the world.

The goal of this Workers Conference is to bring together fighting sectors of the workers movement from around the U.S. On March 25, 2017 trade unionists, workers and students as well as international delegates met at an Illinois workers conference. We voted to build a National/International Labor Solidarity network and meet in Chicago this autumn. On April 15, the Emergency Education Conference in California endorsed this Chicago gathering.

This conference will build a communication network that will link up the struggles of workers, support workers going on strike, coordinate joint participation in important national days of mobilization to bring workers and unions out, and begin a national political education campaign. It will also develop a national and international network to directly link up all our struggles, and build a united front of all working people that can build the power to win.

4/15 Blueprints for a Future: Transforming Education Conference

For Teachers, Students, Workers

and Community Members!

We need FREE high quality education for ALL! We need to stop the privatization of our schools and fight for a public education system that meets the needs of working class people, people of color, immigrants, women, LGBTQ and differently abled people. We need democratic , independent and fighting unions of teachers and staff  to build the future of education with students and parents! Let’s oppose Trump and DeVos’s attacks on public education!


This Conference is organized by Labor Rising:

It is endorsed by:

Labor Unions: Classroom Struggle (caucus of the OEA), Oakland Education Association (K-12 Oakland Teachers, UAW 2865 (representing over 16,000 Academic Student Employees (ASEs) – Readers, Tutors, TAs, and others – at the 9 teaching campuses of the University of California), ),), UC-AFT (UC lecturers and librarians,  Undergraduate Workers Union (student dining workers of UC Berkeley, United Teachers of Richmond (K-12 teachers in Richmond), UPTE Local 7 (representing professional and technical employees at UCSF),


Community, Student and Political Organizations: Anakbayan East Bay, International Socialist Organization, La Voz de l@s Trabajadores/ Workers’Voice, Left Party, Oakland Sin Fronteras, CCSF Solidarity Committee, San Francisco Living Wage Coalition, United Public Workers for Action, Workers World Party.




9:30 – 10am: Welcome and Introduction to the Conference (Dwinelle Hall)


10am – 11am: Opening Plenary on the State of Public Education (155 Dwinelle)


11am – 12.30pm: Session 1 of Workshops (locations TBA)


12.30 to 1:15: Lunch (In front of Dwinelle building)


1.15 – 2.45: Session 2 of Workshops (locations TBA)


2.45 – 3pm: Break


3pm – 4.30 pm: Proposals for action and organization on May 1st and beyond and discussion (155 Dwinelle)


4.30pm – 5pm: Break / Report back of the Journey for Justice Education Conference

[Facilitation committee will consolidate proposals to prepare a clear vote]


5pm – 5.45pm: Vote on action and organization proposals (majority rule) (155 Dwinelle)


5.45 – 6pm: Closing of the Education Conference (155 Dwinelle)





Plenary Session and Workshops’ Speakers



10am – 11am


  • Blanca Missé (San Francisco State, CFA member)
  • Kristyn Jones (United Teachers of Richmond)
  • Beezer De Martelly (UAW 2865)
  • Nina Deerfield (parent)
  • John Penilla (Undergraduate Workers Union)



Rooms for the workshops will be provided at the registration table.



11am – 12.30pm


1) Profits for Betsy DeVos and the Loss of Public Education


Betsy DeVos, the millionaire appointed as the new secretary of education has a very conservative agenda and has promised a full and blunt attack against public education: from furthering the expansion of charter schools, the voucher program, promoting ultra-conservative religious evangelic education to supporting the increase of student fees in universities and undoing any relief on student debt. This panel will analyze who is Betsy DeVos,  what is her real agenda and why unions, students and community united front to defeat her and the Trump administration.



  • Kathy Carroll – fired lawyer Commission on Teacher Credentialing Whistleblower
  • Nina Deerfield – Parent and Palomar Community College Board Member


2)  Where Is The Money And How We Can Fight to Make The Wealthiest State In The World Provide The Best Education


There are over 140 billionaires in California and there is growing wealth accumulation for the oligarchy that really runs California through the Democrats and Republicans. Despite this massive wealth the UC Regents and CSU Trustees are raising tuition and public schools are being starved while privatizers hive off the public education system for big profits.

This panel will look at where the wealth is in California and why unions and supporters of public education have to beg for crumbs.  We look at how the Democratic party controlled legislature and executive branch have colluded with the billionaires to let them profit off the privatization of education and allowed the crooks to steal from the public.

It will also discuss how unions and supporters of public education can fight for redistribution of corporate wealth to fund public schools and services. We will look at the history of efforts to demand this redistribution here and elsewhere to fund public schools and services and prospects for building that struggle at this time.


  • Steve Zeltzer – KPFA Pacifica Radio WorkWeek Host, UPWA
  • George Wright – AFT 1493 Retired Skyline College and Chico State CFA
  • Craig Gordon – Oakland teacher and Oakland Education Association Rep
  • Jack Gerson – retired teacher and Oakland Education Association leader


3) What Are Charters and Vouchers and How Are They Being Used To Destroy Public Education


The AFT/CFT and NEA/CTA have argued that we have to reform charters in order to make them more transparent and less corrupt. This panel will look at the history and the role of today of charters including online charters, deregulation of education and using public money to fund religious charters such as the Gulen chain and the Christian Escondido Charter High in San Diego. This panel will also look at the role of the AFT and NEA in not only supporting good charters but taking money from the Walton Foundation, Broad Foundation and Gates Foundation to help push “Common Core” and labor management collaboration in public schools. It will also look at how Teach For American (TFA) has been used to undercut public education by providing financial incentives to get rid of senior teachers and is being used to set up a two tier contract system weakening teacher unions while undermining the California STRS pension system. Finally it will look at the racist resegregation by charters and the California Charter School Association which is funding by union busting billionaires and the targeting of African American. Latino public school teachers and senior teachers.



  • Carlos Taboada –  United Teachers of Richmond, Retired
  • Michael Dominguez – UTLA forced retirement
  • Deb McCaffrey – Community Voice For Education Richmond
  • Morris White –  Oakland Education Association
  • Michael Shane – Oakland Education Association / former teacher at KIPP


4) Swarm for Reform: Building Fighting and Democratic Unions

Public education and the labor movement is at a historic crossroads. Teachers and their unions have been under attack for the past decades, a new round of cuts and regressive measures is coming under Trump. We need a labor movement than can fight back and refuse concessions, in order to do that local unions need to mobilize and involve its members in a democratic fashion to build a real resistance, and they also need to unite across sectors to defend each other. In 2011 Academic Workers for a Democratic Union won the elections at the UAW 2865 local, and since then the student-workers union has grown its base, politicized its membership and gone on strike at each contract negotiation to increase pay and rights. Now the UC-AFT has also a new leadership and several groups of teachers and public sector activists are looking towards union reform too. Bay Area K-12 teachers have also been organizing at the grassroots level to change the priorities of their union leaderships. This panel wants to bring together the different experiences, ideas and gains achieved through this Bay Area wide reform movement and caucuses and build a network to continue doing this work through Labor Rising.



  • Blanca Missé –  CFA (San Francisco State), former AWDU/UAW 2865
  • Michelle Koerner – UC-AFT, UC Berkeley
  • Nick Palmquist and Nick Parker – Classroom Struggle, Oakland Education Association
  • Masha Albrecht and Linnette Robinson – Berkeley Schools Labor Caucus
  • Kristyn Jones – United Teachers of Richmond




5) Defending Immigrant Students and Workers, Enforcing Sanctuary Campuses and Building Solidarity Across Oppressed Sectors


The election of Trump and his anti-immigrant measures has sparked a wave of resistance across youth, immigrant communities (especially Muslim and Latino one), including student walkouts and protests in the streets and airports. March 8th was also a key moment that continued the mobilization and the momentum going, by bringing to the forefront women and LGBTQI rights. This workshop wants to bring together the experiences of organizing against racism, anti-immigrant and islamophobic campaigns in schools and campuses to advance in building a real solidarity and a network of resistance in the Bay Area, to push for action on may 1st and beyond.



  • Saleem Shehadeh – General Union of Palestinian Students, San Francisco State
  • Adrian Hernández – Berkeley Against Trump
  • Mukund Rathi – Berkeley Against Trump
  • Sagnicthe Salazar –  Xicana Moratorium Coalition and Oakland Sin Fronteras
  • Asad Kabir- Contra Costa College Teacher
  • Fatima García – Executive committee of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement in Sacramento


6) No Coal Curricula Hack-a-Thon


A workshop by and for educators to learn about the campaign to stop a coal export terminal from being built in Oakland and to collectively develop curricula on coal that explores the intersection of environmental justice, climate disruption, race, class, and community health that can be deployed in classes at various grade levels – from K-12 to university classrooms. Oakland developer Phil Tagami is trying to bring a coal export terminal to Oakland, not only accelerating climate change, but also spewing toxic coal dust in working class neighborhoods and communities of color already suffering from high incidences of asthma and cancer. Last fall, in a one-for-the-history-books kind of epic campaign, we succeeded in getting the City of Oakland to ban the storage or handling of coal in Oakland, effectively killing the plans for a coal terminal. However, Tagami is now suing Oakland to saying the ban violates his constitutionally protected right to bring coal to Oakland. If he succeeds, it is not only bad news for the environment and community health, but also sets a dangerous precedent for other communities trying to regulate toxic projects, so communities across Oakland are organizing to get Tagami to drop the lawsuit. Tagami sees himself as a champion of youth/students.



  • Brooke Anderson – Climate Workers
  • Brittany King – No Coal in Oakland


7) The Plan to Privatize Higher Public Education In California and How They Are Getting Away With It


California used to have the best schools in the United States and were fully funded. Today our higher public education is being privatized and outsourced for profit.

This panel will look at how outsourcing and corporatization of public education is taking place at California Community Colleges, CSU and the UC system. While registration fees are raising and students are in massive  debt pauperizing them while  billionaires are profiting and they are sitting on the boards that run our higher public education system appointed by Democratic and Republican governors.



  • Hank Chapot –  AFSCME 3299 , UC Berkeley member
  • George Wright –  AFT 1493 Retired Skyline College and Chico State CFA
  • Charles Schwartz –  UC Berkeley, Professor retired
  • Rick Baum, AFT 2121 CCSF lecturer




8) Organizing Student Action for Public Education and Labor Rights


Student activism has been a key component of any fight back against the privatization of schools and universities. This has been the case everywhere, but lately in the fight to “Save CCSF” which ended in an offensive campaign to make the college tuition free. The new round of tuition hikes at the UC and CSU level has also sparked a new wave of activism at the UC and CSU level that has the potential of bringing back the state-wide strikes and mass occupations of 2009 and 2010 in California. Yet students are not only mobilized for free public education, the vast majority of students work and are in debt. For student-workers labor issues and debt cancellation are also the burning student issues of today, like the dining commons worker activists at UC Berkeley showed by forming the Undergraduate Workers Union weeks ago. The panel will bring together these different experiences with the goal of mobilizing students for a statewide strike on May 1st for free education and labor rights and create the organizing infrastructure for a sustained joined work across sectors.



  • John Penilla – Undergraduate Worker Union at Cal
  • Celia LoBuono González – San Francisco State University
  • Win-Mon Kyi – CCSF Solidarity Committee
  • Loubna Qutami and Alborz Ghandehari – 2018 Student Strike Campaign
  • Roberta Ryan – Anakbayan East Bay




1:15 m – 2.45pm


9) International Union Struggles Against Privatization of Education


Free quality public education is under attack everywhere in the world, not only in the United States. Actually the main driving force for privatization of education is the neoliberal plans pushed by the U.S. all over the world, like it was the case in Chile and Mexico. This panel will bring together different experiences of struggle against the attacks on education, drawing on key historical experiences  to argue for the need of an international solidarity and the need to build a network to coordinate our struggles. Speakers will address the privatization wave and the student and teacher fight back in Chile over the last decade, and the still ongoing fight of the CNTE in Mexico against the so-called education reform. The panel will also reflect on the neo-colonial relation the U.S. government entertains with Puerto Rico and the experiences of struggle of the teachers in the island.



  • Guadalupe Luquin – CNTE, Sección IX (México)
  • Felipe González – UAW 2865 (Chile)
  • Javier Cordova – VP Puerto Rican Association of University Professors (A.P.P.U.) at the University of PR-Arecibo campus and also serves on A.P.P.U.’s national board and its Executive Committee (Puerto Rico)
  • Mehmet Bayron – LaborNet (Turkey)
  • Michael Noonan – Berkeley City College (Palestine)


10) Academic Workers for Academic Freedom and Against Hate Speech


In recent years, there have been numerous attacks on educators of Southwest Asian and North-African descent and educators who teach courses related to Palestine, Islamophobia, and critiques of U.S. foreign policy in the region. Our campuses have seen in particular strong campaigns against advocates for justice in Palestine. This panel discuss the need for the labor movement to organize against these attacks, thinking about academic freedom and the absence of workplace hostile environments as labor rights. How can educators, in their position as workers, organize to truly win rights such as academic freedom and other workplace rights and bring an end to these attacks? How can unions organize and educate the rest of the workforce in a defense campaign of those who have been singled out?



  • Alborz Ghandehari – UAW 2865, UC Berkeley
  • Rabab Abdulhadi –  San Francisco State University
  • Blanca Missé – San Francisco State University


11) Organizing to Build Power: How to Prepare for a Strike in your Contract Campaign


          A fundamental part of a vibrant and democratic union culture is to be able to involve members in contract negotiations, building a base to take action and having since the beginning a fighting campaign. We know that major wins and victories are never won at the table only. Most of the time they are the result of member’s mobilization and through the shifting of the existing relations of forces with management, and especially through strikes. In order to win cost of living increases, more protections for women, immigrants and other sectors, and to defeat the attacks on healthcare and pensions, any union needs to prepare for a real fighting, which includes building a base or a strike if necessary. When contract campaigns are organized in a democratic manner and from a strong refusal to take concessions, usually members get involved and transformed through this experience. This workshop will bring together different strategies and ideas on how to build for that in your local.



  • Garrett Sishido-Strain – UAW 2865 (UC Berkeley)
  • Paul Bissember – UC-AFT (UC Berkeley)
  • Ann Robertson –  CFA (San Francisco State)
  • Joel Jordan – Co-coordinator of California Alliance for Community Schools Retired LAUSD teacher, former UTLA Director of Special Projects


12) New Grassroots Organizing Efforts from Below: The Undergraduate Worker Union at UC Berkeley and the Notre Dame University Campaigns


The UWU formed because student-workers face exploitation on two fronts: first, from the university as it increases tuition and decreases the amount resources allocated to students, and second is in the workplace since student-workers have been historically excluded from unionization. UWU will present the next steps of their struggle to have our demands met. At Notre Dame de Namur University faculty also organized in a grassroots campaign to win a union. This panel will reflect on these two very important experiences of independent new union organizing



  • Lucy Nguyen – Undergraduate Worker Union at Cal
  • Grace Lin- Undergraduate Worker Union at Cal
  • Marianne Kabir – Notre Dame de Namur University (Belmont)


13) Fighting for Immigrant Youth and Families


Newcomer immigrant students, DACA classified students, and the children of undocumented parents are dealing not only with the challenges of assimilating into a new, politically hostile society, but the vicious terror of ICE raids in community spaces including schools, a border wall meant to deepen the separation of families, and as the working poor having the least access to the most needed legal resources. Centro Legal de La Raza, based out of the Fruitvale neighborhood in Oakland, serves these students by providing free legal assistance in schools. This discussion based workshop for parents, students, and teachers will provide resources available to those in the immigrant community, provide a safe space for people to discuss the issues these students are facing and how to be effective advocates, and a Know-Your-Rights presentation. This workshop will also address concrete ways that teachers and their unions can provide a safe and supportive place in their classrooms for immigrant students.



  • Veronica Garcia – Centro Legal de la Raza
  • Judy Greenspan – United Teachers of Richmond
  • Itzel Medina  – Immigration Liberation Movement/East Bay Immigrant Youth Coalition










14) Winning Experiences of Resistance: The Occupation of Lakeview Elementary School


The occupation of Lakeview Elementary is an underrated treasure in the history of the Post-“Occupy” Left in the Bay Area. After an assault on the community by the OUSD Administration, 5 relatively healthy schools were shut down against the wishes of local parents. The OEA was paralyzed and on its back. How can we fight back? OCCUPY!

In this workshop, key participants in the Lakeview school occupations of 2012 will share stories, lessons learned, and critiques of their actions so that future organizing work can learn from and be inspired by their experience going forward.



  • Michael Shane – Oakland Education Association, Classroom Struggle
  • Frankie Little –  volunteer teacher at Lakeview
  • Joel Velasquez –  parent organizer
  • Gerald Smith –  Oscar Grant Committee
  • Jack Gerson – Oakland Education Association, retired member




Who We Are?





Labor Rising Against Trump emerged after the election of Donald Trump in November of 2016. The call for the first meetings was made by a number of activists of the UC Berkeley unit of the UAW 2865, the union that represents 16,000 academic workers in the University of California and that has a new, democratic, independent, anti-racist and anti-sexist leadership since 2011, and is committed to rank and file organizing and advocating for mass labor action whenever possible to win and defend our rights.

In the month following the election dozens of unionists from the Bay Area came to our Labor Rising meetings, in special longshore workers from ILWU Local 10, Oakland and Richmond K-12 teacher (OEA and UTR), lecturers and faculty union activists from other higher education locals (UC AFT, CFA, AFT 2121), contracted out teachers, maritime workers for IBU and performance workers from IATSE among others.

We are an open collective of union and non-union workers determined to organize to resist the coming attacks by the Trump administration and we are welcoming any workers that wants to organize with us a visible labor fight back against Trump, participate in actions for democratic, civil and environmental rights, defend public education, fight for single payer healthcare and benefits for all, and in the course of our different actions and campaigns build a base in different sectors of the labor movement. Our goal is to educate, organize and mobilize workers so we feel confident together taking action and bringing initiative to our union locals and workplaces.


What Have We Done So Far?


Since Labor Rising activists and organizers began to meet in the Bay Area we have managed to organize Labor Rising contingents in the inauguration protests: on January 16th in Oakland for the Reclaim MLK Day, on January 20th and UC Berkeley, Oakland and in San Francisco to protest the new president, with two unions taking labor action (UAW 2865 and ILWU Local 10), and on January 21st we participated in the Women’s Marches in San Francisco and Oakland.

We are also committed to organizing political education events in our communities, informal activities where workers can attend, and feel comfortable discussing and exchanging view on issues that are important for them. To that end we organized during the Reclaim MLK Day on January 18th a movie screening on MLK’s legacy and his support to the sanitation workers strike in Memphis on 1968, of “At the River I Stand.” We plan to continue organizing those events.

As Labor Rising we are committed to support any strikes in the Bay Area, being present to the pickets and organizing solidarity, as well as any major national strikes. We are also committed to support any new organizing campaign as we believe that today more than ever workers need a union.

We have decided to initiate two campaigns in the workplaces and unions where we are present in California, a campaign to defend and transform public education, involving union and non-union education workers from pre-k12 to higher education, and a campaign to defend immigrant rights and fight deportations and discrimination in the workplace. We continue to be supporters of the Standing Rock movement of resistance and of the Black Lives Matter movement and fight against racist police murders and abuse against the Black and Latino sectors of our class.

For the past 3 months we have been organizing with education workers, unions, students and community members an Emergency Public Education Conference on April 15th at UC Berkeley to mobilize for May 1st promoting an education strike. The conference also aims at building an organized base of connected activists across public education unions and workplaces to unite our struggles for public education and against privatization, promote solidarity push forward the transformation of the labor movement into a fighting, democratic and independent one.



What Are Our Points of Unity?


We are an open collective of union and non-union workers determined to organize to resist the coming attacks by the Trump administration but we are committed to continue our struggle for our rights and needs beyond this government, as we would like to build, with other similar rank and file union groups and individuals, an alternative to the existing course of the labor movement. We want to rebuild a democratic movement from below, a movement that fights for workers on the job and resists concessions.


We are committed to building a movement where decisions are democratically made by the rank and file, where elected union officials act transparently, are accountable, and do not gain privileges from their positions. We also believe staff should be organizing for and reporting to rank and file workers.


We believe working people are disillusioned with the two traditional parties of the establishment. We think workers need to build a political alternative of our own and that a reinvigorated democratic labor movement has a key role to play in this, especially in defending the rights of undocumented workers and challenging the disproportionate rates of police brutality and mass incarceration faced by black communities and workers.


We are committed to building towards labor action or strikes, as our power lies mainly in our capacity to withhold our labor, block the machine from working, occupying our work and community spaces to make them work for us and for the people. Labor history in the U.S. has shown that strikes are workers’ best weapon to win concrete material gains. Existing labor legislation (especially the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act) and past betrayals of labor leadership have made it difficult for workers to strike to defend our rights and fight for our needs. We are determined to introduce conversations about strikes in our locals and workplaces.

We are committed to combat racism, Islamophobia, sexism, homophobia and transphobia. We believe the struggles against discrimination and for liberation of the most impacted and oppressed sectors of the working class (LGBTQI, women, Black, Latino, indigenous peoples, etc.) are labor struggles and must be integrated in our contract fights and in unions’ political and educational campaigns. We are opposed to any Muslim registry and if one is established we will actively boycott it. We are opposed to deportations and stand for full rights for immigrant workers. If government calls for deportations are made, we will organize workplace committees to fight against them. Today the fight against white supremacy is fundamental. We oppose any discriminatory or aggressive behavior on the job. Furthermore, we are committed to the defense of the earth and to the struggle for environmental justice.

We are actively committed to international solidarity. The struggle of workers is international. For this reason, the labor movement needs to reject war, militarized borders, and the industries based on these. Because we are in the United States, an imperialist country, we need a labor movement that stands in solidarity with worker struggles around the world. 


Next Open Labor Rising Meeting:

Thursday May 4th 6.30pm.

(Location will be posted here: