Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Behind organizing the SW Peoples Movements assembly tour: Southwest Workers Union

The Tour: Who organized it?

The Southwest Organizing Tour of the Peoples Movements Assembly took place between June 1-July 6, 2011 and covered the states of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California and Nevada.  The tour, a 3,000 mile drive, was worked by Ruben Solis Garcia an organizer for Southwest Workers Union (SWU) of San Antonio, Texas.  The team included, Reynaldo Padilla Teruel from Puerto Rico, and he started the tour in San Antonio and finished it in Oakland, California.  Nicole Soto Rodriguez, also from Puerto Rico, joined the tour in Albuquerque, New Mexico and participated in the tour until we reached San Diego, California after which she returned to San Juan.  Finally, Alba Mota from the Bronx in New York joined the tour in Oakland, California and drove back through California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.

Southwest Workers Union, a 23 year old grassroots based social movement organization, out of San Antonio, Texas was the anchor organization for the SW organizing tour of the PMA.  Genaro Lopez Rendon, Director of the SWU stated, "We are part of the United States Social Forum since its first proposal to the International Council in 2003 in Miami, Florida and we were part of the National Planning Committee of the US Social Forum I in Atlanta and USSF II in Detroit.  The PMA process had a before the USSF II organizing tour, the PMA had 54 PMA's during the USSF II, and this is the follow up plan after the USSF II".

Southwest Workers Union organizes workers, school and domestic workers, migrants, youth, community, and works in several strategic areas of organizing including: Youth leadership, environmental and climate justice including against military toxins, school workers, Domestic workers, global south-border justice and movement building, political and popular education including the University Sin Fronteras, and migrant rights. Additionally SWU works on civic engagement, educational voter campaigns, get out the vote and redistricting of the electoral districts.  SWU is 23 years old this year and has a membership base of 3,000 plus members.

Chavel Lopez and Ruben Solis were the founders of the Southwest Workers Union in 1988, and have now gone back to being organizers after the leadership transition that has put younger people in the leadership of SWU.  Chavel works the school worker organizing as well
Nuestra Voz (electoral strategies work) and community organizing in Hondo, Texas.  Solis works developing the University Sin Fronteras and the global-border justice work.

Southwest Workers Union organized the Border Social Forum in CD Juarez, Chihuahua Mexico in 2006 (Oct.) and was part of the National Planning Committee of the US Social Forum I & II.  SWU has participated in the Southeast Social Forum in Durham North carolina in 2006 (June), Social Forum of the Americas in all its editions, and the World Social Forum in many places and the Mexico and Puerto Rico social forums.

by Ruben Solis Garcia

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