Photos: Tom and Nadin Abbott
video: Tom Abbott
July 22, 2015 (San Diego) Editor’s Note: As credentialed press in the County of San Diego we asked for credentials for the American Legislative Exchange Committee (ALEC) annual meeting. So not having their side on this story is due to a lack of response from ALEC.
The march drew about 3500 people, we estimate. It might have been higher, but we are being somewhat conservative. Mickey Kasparian President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) local 135 estimated that crowd at 4,000.
People from the stage were from all backgrounds, labor, the environmental movement, the faith community. Bill Cochran of the Sierra Club spoke about how ALEC has fought “to roll back renewable energy. They have fought to stop local solar and the choice for clean energy.”
Rosa Lopez spoke of the difficulties of keeping two jobs and going to college and keep her family together. She is the epitome of the American dream as a first generation American. She said “I am a single mother of two and I am forced to work 2 jobs.”
She added, that San Diego is very expensive, and that “we cannot allow these politicians who are meeting right now to make it harder for us.”
Kimberly Mullen, a nurse, told Reporting San Diego that ALEC’s bills weaken the quality of patient care since they are against a safe nurse-patient ratio. This puts people at risk.
Reporting San Diego asked Richard Barrera, Secretary Treasurer of the Central Labor Council of San Diego and Imperial County about this. He told us that the turnout, “people from all over San Diego, whether they are teachers or nurses or environmentalists. Or people concerned about community issues, they know that we can’t have a group like ALEC come into California, or come to San Diego, with their message about corrupting the political process.”
ALEC’s critiques say that ALEC does write legislation that attacks labor and other community groups. They were behind Arizona SB 1070, that was colloquially known as the “paper’s please law.” This same legislation, after it passed in Arizona, was taken almost word-by-word, to other states.
Barrera added, “what we saw today was a grass roots statement from the people of San Diego that we believe in public education, that we believe in healthcare, that we believe in the rights of workers to organize, we believe in the rights of immigrants, we believe in a sustainable environment, and we are not going to let this corrupt institution with big money to come around and take over our politics like they have in other parts of the country.”
On Faulconer Barrera said, “he’s got to be keeping his head right now. He assumed when he agreed to come in. To welcome ALEC to San Diego, that nobody would notice. And now everybody notices.”
He added, “this is the mayor that tries to keep his head down and act as if in many cases as if he is pro environment, as if he is pro- worker. As if he is pro community, and yet he is welcoming people in who like legislation that is designed to arrest young people in the community so they go into the private incarceration system so people can make a profit.”
Reporting San Diego spoke with Dolores Huerta, a well known labor leader from Los Angeles. She told us “ALEC will literally destroy the labor movement. She added, “the majority of people in the United States are working people, they are not corporations.”
She added, that they are very insidious and “will destroy the fabric of the United States of America. The labor unions created the middle class.”
She went on to speak about democracy and how it is dependent on a vibrant middle class. “They are trying to destroy labor, and there is no reason for it. Corporations are so incredibly wealthy at this point. Why do they have to attack the working people?”
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We also asked about how ALEC works. She said, “they pass legislation that is anti organized labor. That is anti women’s reproductive rights, anti immigrants, and then they use that template and take it to other states.”
She added, “They farm their ideology and take it across the United States of American, and they also elect people, republicans, that will follow their ideology which is very right wing, which I call it fascism because they are trying to destroy people’s movements, people’s organizations.”
Reporting San Diego asked about ALEC and the Black Lives Matter movement, and how ALEC goes after minorities. Huerta said that while they say they want to reach out towards minorities, they have gone after them “though the public school system, the prison pipeline, by getting members elected to school boards.”
Essentially Huerta said that while they say they want to reach out, their actions speak otherwise. “They are still going very strongly against people of color. Not only immigrants but all people of color.”
We also asked Mickey Kasparian President of Local 135 of the United Food and Industrial Workers where people came from for this march. He told Reporting San Diego that they came from “Los Angeles, Camarillo, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange County, even from the Bakersfield area.” Of course that is on top of all the local unions that showed up, as well as environmental, community and faith organizations.
Kasparian did estimate the crowd at 4,0000. It was “a huge turnout.” He added, “this wasn’t about labor, it was about community.”
We will add, the Green Party, United Against Police Brutality, Women Occupy San Diego, San Diego 350, AFIRM San Diego and the San Diego for Bernie Sanders group and Ray Lutz from Citizens Oversight. If we missed anybody, our apologies. It is not on purpose, but it was a very large turnout.