Cut pay, increased work load and loss of benefits are what many workers in our community are facing. On a more extreme but not uncommon level across the country, some workers experience wage theft, little attention to on-the-job safety hazards and forced labor. Labor justice is a growing movement within our communities. The movement grows more urgent in a tight economy where corners are likely to be cut and boundaries relaxed at the expense of workers at the bottom in order to keep a business afloat. It does not ease tensions when reports of executive pay increase as most workers pay decrease. The frustrations have been building for some time. Worker-led labor rights organizations such as Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL) have formed so that a worker does not stand alone and together, with other co-workers, can have more voice to address issues of labor inequality and justice.
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The Festival for Justice is a street festival event organized by CTUL and community allies to address and support workers in an unstable economy. The event will take place on Sunday, October 16, 2011 from 1 pm – 7 pm at Lake St. & 27th Ave. in Minneapolis. Organizers of CTUL are encouraging others to stand with others who live and work in the community to learn about their efforts and gain updates on their most recent campaign. As quoted from a member of CTUL, “Every evening, workers are surrounded by food as we clean stores in the Twin Cities, yet increasingly we can barely afford to put food on the plates for our own families. This Sunday we will gather with the broader community to celebrate the changes we have been able to make in the retail cleaning industry so far, and will discuss future steps we will take to ensure fair wages and working conditions for all workers.”
Expected to speak at the beginning of the program is U.S. Representative Keith Ellison. Local musicians Guante, Brass Kings, Rene Thompson, Mayda, DJ Omari Omari of the Salsa Police and Grant Hart of Husker Du will be performing. Other festival activities include face painting, foursquare competitions, free salsa dancing lessons, poetry and discounted food and drinks from participating local businesses.
The Festival for Justice is part of a series of actions being organized by Minnesotans for a Fair Economy during the week of October 10th. During this week, faith and labor groups plan to engage elected officials and local representatives of financial interests to restore opportunity to ordinary Minnesotans hurt by years of unrestrained Wall Street greed.