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Militant rally supports Stella D’oro workers

Published Jun 6, 2009 3:56 PM

The cops were surprised when, at the end of the solidarity march to support Stella D’oro workers, protesters slipped past their barricades and charged the plant gates. After all, other than the strikers from Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers Local 50 and their families, a large number of the 900 to 1,000 marchers were either college professors from the Professional Staff Congress or high school and primary school teachers brought from Nassau County, just east of New York City, and upstate New York by New York State United Teachers.

Lead banner in May 30 labor solidarity march
supporting the Stella D'oro strike.
WW photo

The PSC represents faculty and staff at the City University of New York. NYSUT is the labor union confederation that includes all the teacher unions in New York. Its affiliates have 605,000 members.

College professors and teachers are not groups of people that the cops expect to be militant. But they, like many other workers, are angry about what is being done to working and poor people in this country.

Sheila Goldberg of NYSUT’s Nassau County Political Action Committee expressed this sentiment as she presented a check for $2,009 to the Stella D’oro workers’ strike fund, saying, “I’ve been a union member for 50 years and I think we all must fight against union busting.”

Mike di Fillippou, one of the strike leaders from BCTGM Local 50, explained, “We’ve been able to stay out for 10 months, with nobody crossing the line because we are solid like a fist.” He thanked the PSC for being “with us from day one.”

PSC President Barbara Bowen said, “Brynwood Partners [the investment firm that owns Stella D’oro] is attempting to make workers and the community poorer. The labor movement must end this attack.”

To end her talk she quoted from a poem by the famous Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, which says the people—the workers and the poor—deserve a seat at the table. Lizette Colón, a PSC chapter leader from Hostos Community College who has been active in supporting the strike, then read it in Spanish.

There were contingents from other unions, including New York Nurses United, District Council 37’s Technical Guild, the Transport Workers Union, and postal and domestic workers.