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Unions Bring Famed
Activist Dolores Huerta
To University of Iowa


By SAM LOPEZ • UE Local 896, COGS

Activist Dolores Huerta ...
Activist Dolores Huerta (photo by Laurie Haag)

Solidarity was alive at the University of Iowa in March, as an unprecedented coalition of labor, community, and university groups collaborated in bringing labor and human rights activist Dolores Huerta to campus. A diverse audience of more than 400 attended the March 6 lecture, the keynote and highlight of the week-long conference entitled Global Feminisms: Activism, Art, Alternatives.

The highly enthusiastic audience responded several times to Huerta’s leading cheers and gritos in English and Spanish.

A founder and leader of the United Farm Workers of America, Huerta continues to be instrumental in the union struggles. She has also founded pension funds for workers, medical clinics, and women’s rights organizations.

We were there to hear an excellent speaker and a heroine for our times, and to listen to stories from Huerta of overcoming immense adversity in organizing, finding funds, publicizing struggle, and living a life of activism while dealing with day-to-day issues. She spoke with feeling about inspiring our youth to activism, abolishing racism and sexism, about our future and potential. "There’s nothing we can’t do if we organize and stick together!" Huerta proclaimed.

Coming together to bring Sister Huerta to Iowa City were UE Local 896-COGS, UE Local 893, UE District 11, UE Local 1111, the Iowa State Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, the Iowa City Labor Council, AFSCME Local 12, SEIU Local 188 and Operating Engineers Local 234. This represents by far the greatest collaboration of labor organizations for a single event in recent university history.

Among those in attendance were Local 896 Pres. Rob Russell, Local 893 Pres. Bill Austin, Field Org. Ryan Downing, Local 896 Finance Officer Lars Peterson, Local 896 Political Action Chair Jeff Charis-Carlson and — all the way from Milwaukee — recently retired Local 1111 member Al Harhay.

Union participation in this event made for a positive display of power. As Sister Huerta declared, with the hundreds present cheering and chanting with her, "ˇSi se puede! Yes, we can do it!"

UE News - 4/02

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