March 2011, Week 2


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REPORT on Emergency Labor Meeting (Cleveland, Ohio – March


Posted by Brian Ross Ashley on March 7, 2011 at 10:38pm
View Brian Ross Ashley's blog

Ninety-six union leaders and activists from 26 states and
from a broad cross-section of the labor move- ment
gathered at the Laborers Local 310 Hall in Cleveland on
March 4-5, 2011, in response to an invitation sent out
in January urging them to “explore together what we can do
to mount a more militant and robust fight-back campaign to
defend the interests of working people.” [See excerpts
from Letter of Invitation and list of endorsers of the
meeting in this report-back packet.]

Three weeks prior to the Emergency Labor Meeting (ELM),
unionists and community and student activists in Wisconsin
unleashed a resistance movement against Governor Scott
Walker’s union-busting and concessionary attacks that in a
short time has breathed new life into the labor movement.
The sus- tained occupation of the State Capitol and the
sustained mobilizations in the streets -- including 7,000
people who marched on March 3 “Against All Concessions for
Workers” at the initiative of National Nurses United and
50,000 people who rallied on March 5 -- have galvanized
working people across the country.

Participants in the ELM took full note of the new
situation and of the grave dangers to the U.S. labor
movement and to workers’ and democratic rights posed by
Governor Walker’s attacks. They pledged to make the fight
against union-busting and the budget cuts/concessions in
Wisconsin the centerpiece of an emergency action plan
centered on two national days of action called by the
labor movement:

* March 12: Participants pledged to go back to their
unions and workers’ organizations to promote the March 12
Day of Action called by the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. Brother
David Newby, President-Emeritus of the Wisconsin State
AFL-CIO, attended the ELM and relayed the proposal from
his state federation that all unionists and labor
activists in Wisconsin and neighboring states mobilize in
Madison on March 12, with labor-led solidarity actions the
same day in cities across the country.

* April 4: Participants welcomed the call issued by Larry
Cohen, International President of the Communication
Workers of America (CWA) to organize on April 4, the
anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a
“not-business-as-usual” Nationwide Day of Action at
workplaces and communities across the country in support
of labor rights. This call has since been supported by the
AFL-CIO Executive Board, which is urging “movement-wide
dramatic actions” on this day. Participants agreed to go
back to their unions and communities to promote broad
support for this April 4 Day of Action in all ways deemed
appropriate by unions and community organizations on the
ground, including, where possible, industrial actions.
They also urged support for these actions around demands
that link the struggle in defense of labor rights to the
struggle against budget cuts and concessions, and that
point to solutions to the federal and state budget
deficits, including taxing the rich and the corpora-
tions, cutting the war budget, and creating 27 million
full-time jobs through a massive public works pro- gram
(which could be launched immediately and without raising
the U.S. budget by a penny with a $1 trillion “Bridge
Loan” from the Federal Reserve).

To promote these actions, participants pledged to go back
to their cities to build “We Are All Wisconsin!”
committees of labor and community activists.

Also, in the event the Walker bill is approved by the
Wisconsin legislature, the state’s labor movement has
announced that it is prepared to launch a recall campaign
designed to remove from office seven members of the
Wisconsin Senate. The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, in fact,
has already initiated a fundraising campaign for this
purpose. [To send a donation, or for updates on this
campaign, go to http://www.wisaflcio.org or call

In Ohio, a bill to deny collective-bargaining rights to
public employees is likely to pass in the General
Assembly. Ohio labor and its allies are already gearing up
to get the bill rescinded through a referendum. To qualify
for a referendum for the ballot in Ohio, supporters must
gather about 230,000 valid signatures within 90 days after
the bill passes and is signed by the governor. The Ohio
labor movement is organizing to gather the necessary
number. The bill will not be implemented for 90 days
regardless, but if the requisite number of signatures is
submitted and validated, the bill will be held in abeyance
pending the November 2011 election. A bill passed by the
Ohio General Assembly in 1997 to gut workers' compensation
was never implemented because of a successful labor-led
campaign to rescind it through a referendum vote.

Participants in the Emergency Labor Meeting discussed a
“Perspectives” document submitted by the ELM Organizing
Committee. Changes and additions were made to the text,
which will serve as the framework for future efforts
undertaken by a Continuations Committee that will emanate
from the meeting. [See Perspectives document in this
report-back packet.]

Participants also took a stand urging the ELM
Continuations Committee, in collaboration with the
fighting unions and community organizations, to consider
the possibility of organizing in the not-too-distant
future a broader and open Labor-Community Conference
structured around the points included in the ELM
Perspectives document.

Throughout the four panel discussions of the meeting,
participants submitted a whole host of proposals and ideas
aimed at bolstering the capacity of the labor movement to
assert its independence and fight back against the
employers’ and government’s offensive. These will be
incorporated into a “Tool Box” on the new website that
will be set up by the ELM Continuations Committee.

For example, proposals on how best to organize
labor-community coalitions, with reports on activities of
the “We Are All Wisconsin!” committees in different
cities, will be included in the Tool Box. Also included
will be articles and proposals geared to helping to
educate union members about the roots of the current
economic and financial crisis from a working-class
perspective. These are just two of the many sections that
will be included in the Tool Box. Participants entrusted
the new Continuations Committee with the task of
publishing as many of these texts as possible in Spanish
and other languages, to strengthen the ties with immigrant

Participants left the meeting encouraged by the new
fight-back movement in the country and by the necessary
contribution to this movement that this ELM effort can
provide. All unionists and activists interested in working
with the ELM Continuations Committee to advance the goals
contained in the ELM Perspectives document should write to
<[log in to unmask]>.

(Cleveland, Ohio – March 4-5, 2011) 

1 - As they are doing throughout most countries, the
corporate class is using the financial crisis orchestrated
by them to launch unprecedented attacks on the job
security, living standards, working conditions and useful
public services once enjoyed by the working class in the
United States. This cold-blooded offensive threatens the
very existence of our unions.

2 - Labor movement unity in action -- public and private
sector, the two federations and the independent unions --
is indispensable to success in stopping and reversing this

3 - As recent events in Wisconsin have reaffirmed, the key
to an effective fight-back is mobilization of the union
ranks. We envision a strategy that includes both actions
in the workplace and in the streets.

4 - We must go to the streets to defend trade union and
democratic rights, as public sector workers are now doing.
The right to collective bargaining is a right enshrined in
universally recognized Conventions 87 and 98 of the
UN-based International Labor Organization (ILO); it is
also a human right codified in the UN Charter. In fact,
the United States is on trial before world public opinion
for violating basic labor rights at home. The ILO ruled
recently that the state of North Carolina was out of
compliance with international labor standards for denying
collective-bargaining rights for public sector workers,
and the ILO called on North Carolina and the U.S.
government to repeal this ban on collective-bargaining

5 - We must also go to the streets to oppose the
concessions demanded by the bosses and the government.
There is plenty of money available without demanding
givebacks from public employees, but this requires
changing our nation's priorities to raise taxes on the
rich, redirect war dollars to meet human needs, and more
-- all demands that we must place on the federal
government. We can no longer effectively deal with such
crucial issues as health care and retirement through
collective bargaining alone.

6 - We not only defend the social insurance model --
Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public education,
food stamps, unemployment insurance, etc. -- but demand
that these programs be strengthened and improved. And it
is high time we follow the example won by our Canadian
sisters and brothers decades ago by extending Medicare to

7 - Nor can contract negotiations create the 27 million
full-time jobs urgently needed today. Since the private
sector has failed to do this (in fact, the corporations
continue to off-shore good full-time jobs in their
continued drive to lower labor costs), we need a public
sector that can put America back to work rebuilding our
neglected and crumbling infrastructure, revitalizing mass
transit, and promoting a sustainable economy. The public
sector and public services provide the basic core safety
net for human rights.

8 - In fighting for such independent solutions to our
country's crises we would return to what once was the
bedrock of trade unionism -- our unions champion the needs
of the entire working class, including the unemployed, not
just our dues-paying members. That approach was what
enabled the historic labor victories during the depths of
the Great Depression. This is not only the right thing to
do; with union density at near record lows we cannot win
the big struggles just on our own.

9 - To cement working class unity we reject every attempt
to divide us by race, skin color, gender, immigration
status, religion, or sexual orientation. This means not
only politically correct resolutions but active support to
all targets of such pernicious discrimination.

10 - A unified, energized working class could reach out
for even wider alliances. There are millions of students,
mom-and-pop businesses, family farmers, and others who are
being squeezed by the corporate class. Seeking to partner
with the Chamber of Commerce and corporate America,
however, can only lead to failure for labor and its

11 - Our goals cannot be met while American blood and vast
amounts of our tax dollars are being consumed by unjust
wars to advance the global corporate agenda. We say end
the wars, bring all of our troops home now -- and put the
war budget to work for human needs.

12 - Instead of supporting wars of intervention, the labor
movement should embrace international worker solidarity.
The mutual declarations of support between protesters in
Madison and insurgent independent unions in Egypt are a
proud example that deserve wide emulation.

13 - Since many of the attacks we face today have
bipartisan support, labor must act independently of these
two parties. To the extent that the labor movement
subordinates its demands to agreements with these parties
in the name of "shared sacrifice," it will not be able to
defend effectively the interests of its members and of the
working-class majority.

14 - The call to protect the right to collective
bargaining must include the demand to repeal all laws that
prevent workers, such as those in the U.S. South, from
having the right to bargain collectively and arrive at
enforceable contracts. All laws, such as the Taft-Hartley
Act, that prevent the consolidation of strong unions in
the Southeast and other regions of the country must be

15 - We must view organizing the South as fundamental to
rebuilding a strong national labor movement in this


“We want this meeting to address how we can spur more
effective action by the labor movement to win the creation
of millions of new jobs at the expense of Wall Street and
the rich; a moratorium on home foreclosures; defense of
Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; protection of
pensions; closing the widening gap in economic and social
inequality; enactment of the Employee Free Choice Act;
redirection of war dollars to meet human needs; and
generating federal support for state and city governments
that are poised to lay off even more teachers and other
public employees, support that includes allocating
sufficient resources to ensure that ALL of our children
have access to quality public schools and affordable
higher education.”

Dewitt, President, South Carolina AFL-CIO • David Newby,
President Emeritus. Wisconsin State AFL-CIO* • Jos
Williams, President, Washington Metro Council, AFL-CIO •
Ken Riley, President, International Longshoremen’s
Association (ILA) Local 1422 • Karen Lewis, President,
Chicago Teachers Union (AFT) Local 1* • Henry Nicholas,
President, National Union of Hospital and Health Care
Employees, AFSCME • Jim Savage, President, USW Local 10-1
• Lew Moye, President, St Louis Chapter, Coalition of
Black Trade Unionists • Eduardo Quintana, President,
International Association of Machinists (IAM) Local Lodge
933* • David Poklinkoski, President and Business Manager,
IBEW Local 2304 • Monadel Herzallah, President, Arab
American Union Members Council – USLAW-affiliate •
Dominick Patrignani, President IUE-CWA Local 81359 • Jeff
Crosby, President, North Shore Labor Council • Traven
Leyshon, President Green Mountain Central Labor Council,
AFL-CIO • Ron Dicks, International Vice President,
International Federation of Professional and Technical
Employees (IFPTE)* • Erin McKee, President, Charleston
Central Labor Council* • Tim Paulson, Executive Director,
San Francisco Labor Council • San Francisco Labor Council,
AFL-CIO • Laborers Local 310 • Laborers Local 483 • GEO
6300 (IFT-AFT). • Portland Jobs with Justice • Sonia
Ivany, National Vice-President, Labor Council for Latin
American Advancement, President, New York City, LCLAA •
Andrea L. Delgado, Labor Council for Latin American
Advancement (LCLAA) • Dennis Serrette, Education Director,
Communications Workers of America* • Tom Leedham,
Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 206 • Ashaki Binta,
Field Orgnizer, UE* • Sal Rosselli, Interim President,
National Union of Healthcare Workers* • Gladys McKenzie,
Field Representative, AFSCME Council 5 (Minnesota)* • Phil
Qualy, Minnesota State Legislative Director, United
Transportation Union* • Mark Dudzic, National Coordinator,
Labor Campaign for Single-Payer Health Care* • Saladin
Muhammad, member of Black Workers For Justice and
Coordinator of UE Local150’s International Worker Justice
Campaign • Jesse Sharkey, Vice President, Chicago Teachers
Union (AFT) Local 1* • Virginia Robinson, former Treasurer
and Reporting Secretary, Cleveland AFL- CIO; retired
member, Steelworkers Union • Bill Henning, Vice President,
CWA Local 1180 • Gabriel Prawl, ILWU Local 52 ,Executive
Co-chair African American Longshore Coalition • Eduardo
Rosario, Grievance Representative, AFSCME Local 375, New
York City* • John Wagner, Executive Secretary-Treasurer,
Tri-County Regional Labor Council, AFL-CIO* • Jan D.
Pierce, retired Vice President, CWA District One • Ed
Sadlowski, Staff Representative, Wisconsin Council 40,
AFSCME, AFL-CIO*; Member, Local 938; membership in Council
40 Field and Support Staff Union • Mary Prophet, Co-Chair,
Ca Teachers’ Association Peace & Justice Caucus; KPFA
Community Advisory Board; Steering Committee, USLAW* •
Jerry Tucker, former Intl UAW Exec Board Member; Center
for Labor Renewal Co- Founder • David Riehle, United
Transportation Union Local 650 Vice-Chairman; past local
Chairman 1989-2007 • Chris Silvera, Secretary-Treasurer,
Teamsters Local 808 • Sandy Eaton, RN; Chair, National
Nurses United Legislative Council* • Dr. Peter Rachleff,
professor of history, Macalaster College; author and
researcher on U.S. labor, immigration and African American
history • Mary Nichols-Rhodes, LPN, Ohio coordinator,
Progressive Democrats of America • Dean Gunderson,
Minnesota Association of Professional Employees Region 5
Director and past local president • Gregory Cendana,
Executive Director, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance,
AFL-CIO • Bill Fletcher, Jr., Center for Labor Renewal;
BlackCommentator.com • Jim Lafferty, UAW Legal Service
Workers; Director, National Lawyers Guild Los Angeles •
Dr. Jack Rasmus, Member, American Federation of Teachers
University Council, University of California Berkley;
Former National First Vice President, National Writers
Union, UAW Local 1981; former local union Vice President
and Business Representative, CWA Local 9415 and SEIU Local
715 • Alan Benjamin, Executive Committee, San Francisco
Labor Council; Co-Convenor, Workers Emergency Recovery
Campaign • Jim Hamilton, State Executive Committee,
Missouri AFT* • Carolyn Park, Steward, AFSCME Local 232* •
Mike Carano, Member Teamsters Union Local 348, member,
State Council, Single- Payer Action Network Ohio (SPAN
Ohio)* • Bill Leumer, Former President, International
Association of Machinists Local 565*; Co-Convenor, Workers
Emergency Recovery Campaign • Russell Bannan, LCLAA Denver
Metro Communication Coordinator; Colorado Jobs with
Justice Executive Board; Colorado Young Workers Steering
Committee • Bill Onasch, Retired former vice president,
ATU Local 1287* • Steve Early, labor journalist, lawyer,
and former CWA International Representative; author of
Embedded with Organized Labor and The Civil Wars in U.S.
Labor • Dan La Botz, National Writers Union/UAW* •
Clarence Thomas. Executive Board, ILWU Local 10 • Lenny
Potash, Co-Chair Labor United for Universal Healthcare* •
Fred Hirsch, Executive Board Member, Plumbers & Fitters
Local 393; Delegate to the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council
and to the Santa Clara and San Benito Counties Building &
Construction Trades Council* • Dan Kaplan, Executive
Secretary, AFT Local 1493, the San Mateo (CA) Community
College Federation of Teachers* • Ann Robertson, Executive
Board Member, California Faculty Association – San
Francisco State University - Delegate to San Francisco
Labor Council* • Allan Fisher, Executive Board Member, AFT
Local 2121 - Delegate to San Francisco Labor Council* •
Marc Rich, United Teachers Los Angeles delegate to Los
Angeles County Federation of Labor* • Paul Bigman,
Business Representative, IATSE Local 15; Treasurer,
Washington State Jobs with Justice* • Harry Kelber, The
World of Labor • Genevieve Morse, member, Massachusetts
Teachers Association, shop steward in the Classified Staff
Union at the University of Massachusetts Boston and
elected delegate to 2010 annual MTA conference • Steve
Edwards, President, AFSCME Local 2858, Chicago, IL and
Steering Committee member, Public Workers Unite! • Ira
Grupper, labor journalist, Louisville KY • Phyliss Walker,
President, AFSCME Local 3800 (clerical workers) at the
University of Minnesota • Muata Greene, Labor Liaison for
EMT’s,Paramedics & Inspectors of FDNY • Lee Sustar,
member, National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981; labor
journalist • Ron Lare, UAW Local 600, former Local-wide
Executive Board member • Bernie Hesse, Political Director
and Director of Special Projects, UFCW 1189 (St Paul MN)*
• Randy Raskin, Vice General Chairman, United
Transportation Union General Committee of Adjustment
(UP-former C&NW) St Paul/Minneapolis* • SEIU Local 49
(Portland, OR) • Jerry Gordon, Retired International
Representative, United Food and Commercial Workers Union*;
Secretary, Emergency Labor Meeting [* for id only]


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