Writers, organizers, and activists Stewart Acuff and Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz met at City Lights Bookstore, July 8, 2012, to celebrate the 18th annual LaborFest! Local poet, activist, and organizer Alice Rogoff hosted the event.
LaborFest was established in 1994 to institutionalize the history and culture of working people in an annual labor cultural, film and arts festival. It begins every July 5th, which is the anniversary of the 1934 “Bloody Thursday” event. On that day, two workers Howard Sperry and Nick Bordoise were shot and killed in San Francisco. They were supporting the longshoremen and maritime workers strike. This incident brought about the San Francisco General Strike which shut down the entire city and led to hundreds of thousands of workers joining the trade union movement.
The Organizing committee of LaborFest is composed of unionists and unorganized workers, cultural workers and supporters of labor education and history. We encourage all unions not only to support us with endorsements and contributions but also to include activities about their own union members, their history and the work that they do.
LaborFest San Francisco supports the establishment of LaborFests around the country and internationally. There are now LaborFests in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan, every December. Laborfests have also taken place in Buenos Aires, Argentina and El Alto, Bolivia. In April of this year, the first LaborFest in Capetown, South Africa took place. In May, there were LaborFests in Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey. The need to build local, national and international solidarity is critical, if labor is going to face the challenges it faces on all fronts. LaborFests help bring our struggles together in art, film and music.
Stewart Acuff is the Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President of the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) and has been a labor organizer for more than 30 years. He writes and speaks extensively and has written articles for the Atlanta Constitution, Labor Research Review, In These Times, The Nation, Foreign Policy and Focus Magazine, Labor Studies Journal, New Labor Forum and several Georgia newspapers. He also has written essays in Which Way for Organized Labor? (edited by Bruce Nissen) and Organizing for Justice in Our Communities (edited by Immanuel Ness and Stuart Eimer). He is the co-author with Dr. Richard Levins of Getting America Back To Work.
Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz is an educator, feminist activist, writer, and life-long activist. She has produced many scholarly books and articles, and has published three memoirs, Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie (1997); Outlaw Woman: A Memoir of the War Years, 1960–1975 (2002); and Blood on the Border (2005), which is about what she saw during the Nicaraguan Contra war against the Sandinistas in the 1980s. Outlaw Woman won recognition from the Organization of American Historians as a 2003 finalist for the Liberty Legacy Foundation Award in the field of American civil rights struggles. Her writing has also appeared in Monthly Review, The Nation, and on the CounterPunch website.
Alice Rogoff is a local poet, activist, and organizer. She has served on the Labor-Fest organizing committee since its inception as one of its key organizers. She has been published in the literary magazines Pudding Magazine, Borderlands (Texas Poetry Review), BEAT, Poetrymagazine.com, and the North Coast Literary Review, and in the anthologies It’s All Good by Manic D Press and The View from Here by Street Sheet. Her poetry book MURAL won the 2004 Blue Light Press 2004 Book Award Contest. She is a member of the Authors Guild, Northern California Media Workers Guild (CWA), Academy of American Poets, IWW, Workmen’s Circle and Amnesty International. She co-edited two anthologies for Noe Valley Poets and This Far Together for the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, as well as being an editor of the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal since 1984.