Welcome to LaborFest 2017
The Future is in Our Hands
This year marks the 83rd anniversary of the San Francisco General Strike and West Coast Maritime strike. The results of the strike established a union hiring hall for longshore workers, and brought union power to the forefront in the middle of the depression not just for longshore and maritime workers but many others. The 1934 strike and struggles transformed San Francisco and the Bay Area as hundreds of thousands of workers built andjoined unions.
Workers were not afraid to join unions because of the collective power of working people who backed each other in solidarity. It was repeated in 1946 when workers launched a general strike to support clerical workers in Oakland.
Eighty-three years later, there is a growing frontal attack on worker rights as defined pension benefits are eliminated or changed to 401Ks and temporary part time work grows. Billion-dollar corporations and their owners want every worker to be an independent contractor with no collective labor power able fight back. Workers also continue to be fired and retaliated against for organizing and supporting unions in their workplaces, despite the fact that it is illegal to discriminate against workers for trying to form unions.
Nationally, the effort to expand a “right to work” agenda is spreading to California as more and more public funds supporting non-union workplaces. Privatization and outsourcing are constant and it is now combined with a tech revolution. Technology was supposed to make the workweek shorter and benefit the lives of working people. Instead, technology has sped up outsourcing as new platforms like UBER, Lyft, and Airbnb have deregulated our lives.
The decline in real income for workers in California, as with other parts of the country has forced workers into temporary part-time gig jobs. Hundreds of thousands of workers are forced on the road as part time drivers without benefits and decent working conditions in San Francisco, the U.S. and around the world.
While billionaires proliferate in San Francisco, with 35, and in California with over 130, public school teachers, service workers, building trade workers, and millions of others, are having trouble keeping their head above water and a roof over them and their families.
The people who do the work to selves make San Francisco go are forced out of the city, and many are driving hours to get to work. The stress on working people and their families is presenting a social crisis. At the same time, immigrant workers are blamed and scapegoated for this economic crisis, and they and their children are under threat by ICE and the growing repression.
This year also marks the 80th anniversary of the 1937 sit-down strikes. These sit-downs at GM and other companies forced them to accept the unions and negotiate living wages with union-enforced health and safety on the job. LaborFest will be commemorating this with films about these struggles and the recent struggles of workers in Madison, Wisconsin against Scott Walker.
Working people have the power in their hands to transform the situation as they have done throughout history. This year, LaborFest will have films about our struggles around the U.S. and the world. We will also look at the fight against privatization and outsourcing and how technology is challenging worker and human rights.
As in the past, the solution is in the hands of working people. It is through their creativitiy, solidarity, and united action that lives can be transformed.
The LaborFest organizing committee thanks all the unions, trade unionists, cultural workers, and labor supporters for their contributions and work to make this happen.
From The LaborFest Organizing Committee