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Beyond the Help

My latest video collaboration. This is the first part of a 3 part video that will air on May Day on Free Speech TV. Phew! feels soooooo good to be finished with production.


Castlewood lockout, year two

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61 workers at the Castlewood Country Club have been locked out for two years.

Former waiters, banquet workers and janitors marched through the streets of Pleasanton on Saturday, joined by Occupy Oakland supporters, to rally for their jobs. Many held satiric signs giving support to the 1 percent and glorifying greed. Read a related MOJO article.

In the video above, Sergio Gonzalez talks about how the country club’s management attempted to decertify the union and why an $800/month health care cost increase is not doable on a minimum wage.

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Locked out of Big Beer in Grenada

Image by (cc) flickr user abolotnov.

Workers of the Grenada Breweries Ltd (a company owned by ANSA McAL) and their IUF affiliated Grenada Technical & Allied Workers’ Union are involved in a struggle for the rights of  locked out workers. Workers have been off the job without pay since December 13 and throughout the festive period– over 45 days.

On December 21, 2011, riot police were called when hundreds of workers blockaded the plant to prevent distribution. Several were arrested and detained including  Senator Chester Humphrey, President of the Grenada Technical & Allied Workers’ Union, 1st Vice President of the Grenada Trade Unions’ Council and General Secretary of the Caribbean Congress of Labour.

Read the IUF/UITA/IUL support campaign.
Learn more about workers in “big beer”.

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Notes from the scene: protestors claim victory in port shutdown

The West Oakland BART station parking lot was packed with protesters of all ages at the shockingly early-morning hour of 5:30 am.

Chants of “We are the 99%” and “Whose Port? Our Port!” became the rally cry as Occupy Oakland moved into the streets and headed for the Port of Oakland in what became an officially “successful” morning-shift port-shutdown.

The crowd of more than 1,500 people moved quickly down the wide street to the port, with police cars leading the charge. As we arrived to the port, organizers began calling for 45-50 people to take over each terminal. Accordingly, a group would break off to seal an entrance as the rest surged onward.
Read more

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Unmodified: HAMP Fails People of Color in Foreclosure Crisis

Making Home Affordable is a key part of the Obama Administration’s effort to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. If you are struggling with your monthly mortgage payments or if you have already missed a payment, now is the time to take action and apply for HAMP the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). But what if taking action means butting up against a system that repeatedly loses your paperwork and often starts the foreclosure process without your knowing it?
Ana Romero is one of many Americans who anxiously awaits news about her loan modification application. Currently her home is set to be foreclosed on June 10th. In this segment she talks about the bureaucratic hoops she has had to go through in order to apply for a HAMP modification. Her story exemplifies some of the issues homeowners of color face when applying for loan modifications. Kevin Stein, Associate Director at CRC, provides HAMP loan modification context noting that people of color are often experiencing a harder time than other borrowers.
Unmodified was produced in 2011 for the Race Poverty and Environment Journal’s RPE Radio podcast.
Music: Kronos Quartet String Quartet #4

Photos: Irene Florez

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Francisca, study of a strong woman

Women work as a team. Photo by jakusa, flckr user, creative commons

“Without self-respect, you certainly self-destruct.”
— Cornel West

Francisca Carranza one of the 61 Castlewood workers who have been locked out since February 2010, talks about lessons she’s learned about the year, how she deals with anti-immigrant slurs, and what sustains her struggle for decency at the workplace.


Facing rising health care costs, last year the stately Castlewood Country Club shifted the burden to workers. From one day to the next janitors and servers were to pay 40% of their wages in order to receive family healthcare – $739/month.

Food service and custodial workers, who are represented by Unite Here local 2850, refused this change and were subsequently locked out. These workers now have the support of the Pleasanton Mayor Jennifer Hosterman, City Council, and various area clergy. Recently they received a letter of support from the NFL Player’s Association.