From the Labor Commission of the CPUSA, updates, information, news, analysis, and organizing materials in solidarity with workers of the world.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Jobs Demonstration @ G20 in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh labor and community coalitions held two marches today (Sunday 9.20.09) demanding jobs and immediate relief for the unemployed aimed at the G20 meetings starting on Thursday. The marches are part of a week of demonstrations, cultural events, teach-ins and workshops protesting global economic policies that benefit transnational corporations and capital at the expense of labor, workers, their families and the environment.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Labor movement 'fired up' in Pittsburgh

John Wojcik
People's World Newspaper

PITTSBURGH – Fourteen hour days, five hours of sleep maximum, grabbing a bite of fast food only now and then – it's no problem, so far, for 3,000 delegates, guests and supporters well into their second day here at the 26th Convention of the AFL-CIO.

“I’ve never been so fired up,” Dean Reynolds, a delegate who works as a staffer for AFSCME and serves as president of Pennsylvania’s Northeast Central Labor Council, told the World this morning. “The best part so far was marching for health care with hundreds of my union brothers and sisters from the convention to the Michael Moore movie.”

The famous film maker, nurses from California and national labor leaders linked arms and led 1,300 convention participants in a march for health care to a downtown theater where they viewed the U.S. premier of “Capitalism, a Love Story.” The film, an unabashed indictment of capitalism as an economic system, explores the causes and solutions for the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

“I’m not even going to get a chance to calm down from last night,” Reynolds said, “because, and I still can’t believe it, the president of the United States is coming here today to address a union convention. It’s like the end of a long nightmare and the beginning of a beautiful new day.”

Reynolds hails from central Pennsylvania, the part of the state traditionally seen as the most conservative. “My County, Clinton County actually went blue. A key factor was the way Obama has been able to inspire the youth,” he said.

The convention has been ticking off one first after another during the last two days.

This morning, Thea Wilson, the federation’s policy director, said that as of today, the AFL-CIO will approve a resolution putting itself on record in support of H.R. 676, the Medicare for all plan introduced into Congress several years ago by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) She said that although labor supports the president’s plan which calls for a strong public option, the long term goal is to win passage of H.R. 676.

The federation approved a number of policy resolutions today, including one for new financial regulations including a tax on all Wall Street trading transactions.

Bill Samuels, the federation’s legislative director, told the World this morning that he believes the 60 votes to prevent a filibuster of the Employee Free Choice Act will be present as soon as all the Democrats are seated. He was including the replacement for the seat vacated after the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy.

The convention gave a rousing reception to Hilda Solis, the Secretary of Labor.

They cheered wildly when she declared, “When labor is strong, America is strong and that’s why the president and I join you to fight for the Employee Free Choice Act.”

Delegates gave a rousing welcome to Caroline Kennedy.

She remembered her uncle: “One of Teddy’s favorite things to do at a labor rally was to count up the years that he, my father, my uncle Bobby, and my cousins Joe and Patrick had spent in the halls of Congress. Then he’d proudly proclaim, ‘That’s 85 years of Kennedy's voting with labor!’”

A major effort has been made to reach out to non-traditional labor organizations. Pablo Alvarado, president of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network addressed the full convention. He told them that every day, “over 120,000 men and women work as day laborers. And this is just in one day. The number of day laborers over the course of the year is far higher, as people move back and forth, in and out of the informal economy and in an out of permanent jobs.

“We, the day laborers, work in an economy that depends on our services but in a country that is not yet ready to grant us our rights. An economy that accepts the fruits of our labor but does not accept our humanity.”

Alvarado brought the convention to its feet in prolonged thunderous applause when he made three pledges to the crowd: “Brothers and sisters, I want to be absolutely clear: My organization makes the following pledges to you:

“First: No day laborer that belongs to our network will cross any picket line. They never have and they never will. Instead we will join the picket line to fight together. Shoulder to shoulder.

“Second: My organization will use every available resource to ensure passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. We must restore the right to organize in America.

“And Third: We will take the fight for worker rights directly to communities. Because building healthy communities requires strong unions, strong worker centers, and a strong labor center."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A labor convention like no others opens in Pittsburgh

John Wojcik
People's World Newspaper

PITTSBURGH - A labor convention different in more ways than one from any prior gathering of the labor movement in U.S. history opened here yesterday.

Some 2,000 delegates, alternates and guests kicked off the convention with a rousing tribute to retiring AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.
While labor movement gatherings often feature tributes to great leaders much of the rest of what is happening here departs from the usual.

Today, for example, the entire convention will leave the hall, enter the streets of Pittsburgh and turn itself into a mass march and rally for universal health care. The throng of labor leaders, activists and their allies, led by the federation’s secretary-treasurer, Richard Trumka and award-winning film maker Michael Moore, will end up at a theatre where they will rally and watch the U.S. premiere of Moore’s highly anticipated film, “Capitalism, a Love Story.”

The convention departs radically from tradition also in terms of the composition of its delegates.
Women, minorities and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people comprise 43 percent of the delegates. All 55 unions at the convention were required to send delegations that reflected the composition of their memberships.
The convention is different also because it is able to record accomplishments that are entirely new for the labor movement.

During John Sweeney’s tenure the AFL-CIO became the nation’s largest grassroots political action movement.

The labor movement grew under his tenure after the establishment of Working America, a vehicle for people without a union on the job that now has 3 million members. Alliances with non traditional labor organizations that represent immigrant workers were formed. One of the most important of those was with the National Day Laborers, which represents many immigrants from Latin America but also workers from Asia and the Pacific.

“Brothers and sisters, this week isn’t about what Sweeney has done, it’s about what you have done,” the outgoing president said in his final keynote address. “When we started down this road together I said it wasn’t about who heads the AFL-CIO but where the AFL-CIO was headed…We’ve taken our federation in a new, positive, progressive direction.

“We elected a champion of working families as the first African American president in the history of our country – and what a thrill it was to watch him last week as he took on the ugly forces that are ripping at the right of American families to have health care – health care as a right and not a privilege.”

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Steelworkers and Blue Green Alliance Rally for Green Jobs

Lisa Jackson, the first African American head of the Environmental Protection Agency, speaks to a rally in Gary Indiana. The theme was creating green jobs through investment in renewable energy industries. The rally was called by the United Steelworkers, the Blue/Green Alliance, the Sierra Club and other unions. Jackson called on labor to support the fight for a new economy based on replacing old dirty energy sources with new renewable energy industries.