On this episode of Wine, Women, and Revolution, Heather is joined in the studio by the always inspiring Carol Gay. Carol is an extremely busy woman here in New Jersey. She is the president of the NJ Industrial Union Council. She is also outspoken activist for environmental justice and a member of the Solidarity Singers.
Industrial Union Council
The industrial union council is the old CIO side of labor. When they merged into the AFL-CIO, New Jersey also kept the CIO side as an individual and separate entity. New Jersey is the only state in the country to still have an independent CIO organization. They have always focused primarily on workers rights and strike support. They are a labor federation which means they don’t directly represent workers on their jobs, but the IUC is a federation of those unions. You can join the IUC as an individual as well if you support workers rights. They are an economic and social justice organization. You can visit their website at IndustrialUnionCouncilNJ.org or their Facebook group.
Fighting for What’s Right
The Council have had funding issues recently because the state fed does not support the IUC. The IUC have always worked to be the more progressive force of labor. They focus more on social justice than the business end. They fight to help people and the community. Members are active in support of 15 Now NJ, New Jersey Universal Healthcare Coalition, Food and Water Watch.
Medicare For All
Carol is adamant that healthcare is a human right not a privilege. The US is the richest country in the world and she finds it mind boggling that we are the only country not providing healthcare for all. Our health outcomes are worse in this country and we pay far more for it. She had been involved in the Medicare for all fight for decades. If we can’t get it on the national level, we can attempt to get it here in New Jersey. Over 20 states have started initiatives to pass it on a state level. Support on the national level is growing and 125 members have signed onto HR676. In New Jersey, the bills are A-2269 and S-2598. There are only a few sponsors in NJ so far, so if you support Medicare For All call your local assembly person and let them know you want them to co-sponsor. You can set up meeting with your local assembly people and IUC and NJUHC will help you organize for those meetings.
Singing For Solidarity
Carol is also a member of the unique organization “The Solidarity Singers”. Carol was formerly the chair for Jobs With Justice, which was another human rights organization. While working for Jobs With Justice she encountered a woman who had taken Christmas carols and turned them into union songs. Titles included things like “I’m Dreaming of a Just Contract”. Carol thought this was a great idea and thus began the NJ Activist Chorus. During her first year there were 3 major strikes across the US. The IUC did a solidarity bus tour across the country and supported the strikes. Fast forward to today and the Solidarity Singers receive multiple requests to sing per week. They tailor the songs to each cause and write new verses for them. Anyone can join and raise your voice in solidarity.
Stand Against War
Carol has been opposing war since the Vietnam War. She is a strong activist for peace and is against excessive military spending. The military is also one of the biggest polluters on the planet. For Carol the peace and environmental movements are tied together. She has been a peace activist in times it was not popular to be an advocate for peace. In the 80s the IUC played a part in stopping war in El Salvador and Honduras. She was part of a coalition that traveled to those countries to investigate military spending. She has also traveled to Gaza and seen the devastation in those communities. Carol is a busy woman but she is so inspiring and we are proud to call her a comrade.
Read another activist’s take on war and the military here