Sitting with over 150 retiree activists at the SOAR (Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees) conference in Las Vegas. Our conference preceeds the United Steelworkers (USW) Convention that starts on Monday.
The atmosphere is electric. The mood and militancy here shows clearly that labor is very much a part of the general upsurge that promises big changes for working people starting after Nov 4, 2008 elections.
The energy here is aimed at what we can win after we win in November: universal health care, the Employee Free Choice Act, re-regulation of industry, protecting social security, creating jobs, ending unfair corporate trade policies, and on and on – fired up retirees don't need to be given issues – we got issues and fighting momentum...
One of the most inspiring speakers was Leo Gerard, president of the Steelworkers. He gave the SOAR delegates an exciting preview of next weeks USW convention.
Gerard likened the possibilities for change today to the elections of Franklin D. Roosevelt for his second term, the election of John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson's defeat of Barry Goldwater in 1964. He called it our time, a transformative time, a time for basic change with the election of Barack Obama and a new Congress.
Gerard also said that this USW convention will make history in three ways: 1. The founding of the first global transatlantic union, 2. a critical dues increase that will be emarked for struggle and fightback in the union's Strike and Defence Fund, and 3. the creation of a new executive board position (Vice President at Large) to be filled by a woman steelworker. Stay tuned.
More on all this later.