Chorus of support at hunger strike launch

14 05 2008

The hunger strike launched on a bright, beautiful day with the workers in high spirits and an outstanding show of support from allies from organized labor, workers’ rights, immigrant rights, and faith communities. Just a few of the strong words in support of the hunger strikers:

AFL-CIO General Counsel Jon Hiatt:

The AFL-CIO and its 10 million members are proud to support the hunger strike by these Signal workers, and their campaign to shed light on the abuses of the U.S. Government’s H2B guest worker program.

For decades, the AFL-CIO has been fighting against so-called guest worker programs, programs that are in reality indentured worker programs.

The substantial exploitation of workers in these programs has been well documented, most recently by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and now through the struggles of these courageous workers.

These courageous workers have clearly shown us that the H2B program is a template for exploitation, and that we need to work together to expose the abuses of the program. By denying workers their labor rights, this program lowers wages and working conditions, to the detriment of all workers.

The AFL-CIO supports this strike and will stand in solidarity with the workers through this struggle.

AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department president Ron Ault

Very little has changed in the last hundred years. Welcome to the new world order.

It is my honor and privilege to stand in support of our brothers here, and I pledge the support of organized labor and the metal trades department to your fight.

Muruganantham Kandhasami, hunger striker

We know the US is a powerful country, and we know that Signal is a powerful company. That is why we are asking the Indian government to support us as we stand here with our lives shattered.

Until we get all three demands, we are standing here to strike until the end.

United Food and Commercial Workers International VP Michael Wilson

Nine score and 15 years ago, a great president—a great Republican president—signed the Emancipation Proclamation and ended slavery—but not indentured servitude.

These workers are our brothers. Their fight is our fight. Congress should insist the Department of Justice take action.

These workers shouldn’t have to wait for another Emancipation Proclamation for justice.

SAALT Executive Director Deepa Iyer

We’re here because of a heinous crime committed against our South Asian brothers—modern-day slavery.

Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip Hop Caucus

We are now eight years in the 21st century and still we have slavery in this country.

I’m not here for charity, we are here in solidarity.

You may not have come to this country for justice, but now you must fight for justice, you must fight for liberty, you must fight for dignity, and push on. You must push on for justice in America.

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