Dale Wortham, President of Harris County AFL-CIO

By James Thompson

HOUSTON – Today I attended a strong rally in front of the Houston City Hall to oppose the draconian cuts in services for working people proposed by the Texas Republican party. The rally was called by the Stonewall Democrats and a member of IBEW, Turner Wright. About 1000 working class people attended the rally and were united in their opposition to attempts by the Texas Republican party to slash the budget for state services for working people. Participants were a diverse group representing both men and women from all ethnic and racial groups mirroring the popultation of Houston.

Republicans are proposing to slash education and health care benefits for poor and working people and their families in an effort to boost profits for giant Texas corporations and enhance the lifestyles of the ultra-wealthy in this state.

A smaller, less significant, Tea Party contingent was present with the obvious agenda to disrupt the democratic process. About 75 Tea Party fanatics were present. They showed their true colors when one of them made their way to the podium of the main event and physically assaulted the President of the Harris County AFL-CIO, Dale Wortham. This maniac was easily subdued by the mounted police of the Houston Police Department (HPD) who were there to keep the peace and did their job without flaw. HPD should be commended for their support of free speech. Other Tea Party people paraded signs proclaiming profanity, hate and civil disorder as is usual of their members. One sign read “I’d rather be a right wing nut job than a left winger with no nuts and no job.”

The rally was made up of an interesting mix of various progressive groups. Union organizations as well as peace organizations were present in full force. AFSCME, CWA, UFCW, Houston Interfaith Worker Justice Center, Houston Unido, Progressive Action Alliance, Houston Peace and Justice Center, Radio Station KPFT, CRECEN, USW, SEIU, TSEU, Houston Communist Party, and the Green Party as well as progressive Democrats were present and working together to form a powerful coalition to oppose the reactionary right-wing, anti-working people forces of the ultra wealthy. As we left, we were treated to a live performance of Communist Party member Woody Guthrie’s inspiring song, “This land is your land.”

Solidarity with the public service workers in Wisconsin was at the top of the agenda. Opposition to the reduction in services of benefit to working people and their families in Texas and Wisconsin was loudly professed. Legitimate participants in the rally were well aware that what is under assault in Wisconsin and other parts of the country can be lost just as easily in Texas. Fightback is necessary and required in Texas and Wisconsin.

It should have been obvious to all present that the class war is now in full swing. The assault on working people’s rights and services is being spearheaded by the Texas Republican Party, which is merely a puppet of the ultra-wealthy in Texas. Fightback was alive and well in Houston today.

What is in question is whether working people can remain united and fight for their rights and reverse the agenda of the ultra-right who are the paid servants of the ultra-wealthy. The Tea Party distinguished themselves today as the preferred front line thugs of the richest people in the U.S.A. Their hostile, aggressive efforts were easily thwarted by the peace loving working people of Houston with help from the Houston Police Department. Working people were the real winners by standing out as an example of civility and sanity and exercising their free speech rights. There are plans for many more demonstrations in Texas to oppose the reactionary stance of the Texas legislature and Governor, Rick Perry. We should remember that the overall trajectory of human history is social progress. Unity has resulted in the abolition of slavery and institution of education and health care. Unity can prevent the right wing nut jobs from rolling back working people’s achievements. Unity will lead to progress! It is not sufficient to fight, it is necessary to win! The fuel of progress is struggle!