CWA International President Larry Cohen
to EMLC members: "Continue to Organize"
Cohen was among a panel of labor leaders and union members speaking
to the audience at the Penobscot Theater after a showing of the
HBO documentary "The Last Truck" in December, 2009. The
event was hosted by Food
AND Medicine and the Eastern Maine Labor Council as part of
lead-up to Solidarity Harvest.
The film documents the closing of the award-winning General Motors
truck manufacturing plant in Moraine, Ohio. GM shut the plant down
on Dec. 23, 2008. More than 2,500 workers lost their jobs when the
Moraine plant, an SUV manufacturing facility bigger than the Pentagon,
shut its doors. GM workers did most of the filming inside the plant,
while Steven Bognar and Julie Reichert filmed interviews with workers
outside the plant's gates.
Workers who have been through lay-offs here in Eastern Maine have
described the film as an accurate and emotionally powerful protrayal
of workers' experiences in the aftermath of plant closings here
and urge everybody in our area - young and old, employed and unemployed,
politicians and small businesses owners - to watch the film in order
to get a deeper understanding of this problem.
"Where is the class consciousness on our side?" Cohen
asked the audience after the final credits had rolled. "Big
companies don't support health care reform out of class consciousness
on their side. They lock up with the Chamber of Commerce and oppose
it. They say 'Everything has to be private sector.'"
Cohen said he hoped that after seeing the film, the audience took
away more than just a sad story.
"Our rights as workers are at an all-time low in this country,"
Cohen said. "It's about the fight for our jobs. We need more
than just jobs; slaves have jobs. We need jobs with justice."
Cohen said health care reform - his union supports a single-payer
health care system - and the passage of the Employee Free Choice
Act were key first steps to rebuilding the labor movement.
"We have to continue to organize. That's what we should take
from this film," Cohen said.
More on the Solidarity Harvest