December 23, 2007

Dear friends: We are writing to give you an update on the year's events at *Centro Obrero.* In November, *Jessica LaBumbard* left Michigan to start an organic farm in the woods of Wisconsin. Needless to say, this left not only a gaping hole in the services of Centro Obrero, but a wound deeper than words can describe for me and the Detroit community who know and work with Jessica. The people in our community love Jessica because she is a steadfast supporter and formidable foe of injustice, as many employers in these parts will attest. There are those who will not be sad to see her go, but all people of good will who know her will miss her sorely. A more dedicated soul is not to be found, and our styles of working together are complimentary and rare. She did return to work for the month of December and is gone again. Beginning in January, *Julio Guerrero* will be working with me at Centro Obrero, and hopefully one more person on a part time basis. Julio and I have worked together on many projects for many years and it will be a real gift to have him here. He is a seasoned organizer, and continues to organize the Latino Workers conference for University of Michigan and has years of union and community organizing background. His credentials are too many to mention here, but the credentials mean nothing if one can't talk to the the people. Julio has genuine gifts of connecting with people in ways that are essential to our work at Centro Obrero. Julio has been working with us on a volunteer basis since before we actually started up as one of its founders, before we had an office here at UAW Local 22. The year has flown by, quite eventfully. We celebrated International Workers Day by asking the Detroit City Council to renew Detroit's status as a Sanctuary City. We invited members of the immigrant community to testify before City Council on the situation for immigrants in Detroit about workplace issues and our relationship to the Detroit Police. We continue to build alliances within the city and hope to strengthen our relationship to the broader community in the coming year. We held English as a Second Language classes until December and will start them up again in January. We also offer Spanish classes beginning in January. The greatest demand of Centro Obrero is English classes, followed by workplace issues, such as injuries or pay thefts. We continue to hear from people whose injuries sustained on the job are not paid for by the employer We refer these cases to our attorneys, who graciously assist us and hold legal clinics. A core group of members of the Centro meet regularly to discuss ideas and plan activities to respond to the situation in the community. We also became an independent non profit organization this year, thanks to the help of the

University of Michigan Urban Communities clinic. We will be on our own beginning in the fall of 2008, so we are compelled to raise funds in order to stay in existence. We hold discussions and lectures, which are very popular. One person who was off work due to an injury told us that one of the things the community misses is the opportunity to think and discuss ideas. We take this message to heart and think more about quality of life issues, not just survival and work. We showed a film about the struggle in Oaxaca and hosted the director, who offered to come in and show the film to our community of Centro Obrero. Several of our members are from Oaxaca and were able to make the connection with the director, who unlike our members, can go back and forth to Mexico safely. We also hosted a talk on the current situation on immigration with the Mexico Solidarity Network, which is invaluable for giving the binational picture and having discussions that allow people to contextualize their own situation and make the connection to the larger issues of immigration and globalization. We are called upon sometimes to help families track down their loved ones who are picked up by immigration and detained. We have gone from one jail to another looking for people who are not able to let their friends or family know where they are or what is required to be bonded out, etc. On some occasions, we have gone with people to post bonds and to court to translate, or to simply be with people who are getting deported. These are difficult and sometimes heartbreaking times to spend with the people we have come to know as our community. It is our goal to struggle for the right of all workers to have the dignity to have the right to make a wage claim without fear of deportation or the threat of reprisals from the employer, for all workers who are injured be entitled to workman's compensation, regardless of one's status. We must face down hateful legislation designed to attack the most vulnerable people in our midst. To this end, we make an appeal for the following: Centro Obrero needs money. We would use it to pay a *women's self defense class* instructor. The women in our community would benefit greatly from this offering. We would also use it to start paying a* grantwriter*, hopefully Jessica, who knows our work better than anyone and will be in the woods with time to think and write. We need a *new computer*. We appreciate the donation of used ones, but we are in need of a modern one that can be relied upon regularly. We need a *van.* We need this for a number of uses, such as picking up people for meetings and classes.

We need a *sound system.* We need *videotape equipment. * ** ** ** ** And of course, we need volunteers to teach English, tutor and simply stand with people as they need assistance from people in the community who have the luxury of drivers' licenses, social security numbers and the ability to communicate in English. If you would like to volunteer with us, give us a call. This is the place to be. Thank you for your support. Please make checks payable to: Fronteras Norteñas c/o Centro Obrero 4300 Michigan Ave Detroit, MI 48210 Contributions are tax deductible. In Solidarity, Elena Herrada, Director Centro Obrero Phone: 313-974-0501 E-mail: elenaherrada@comcast.net