Labor Party Convention

Jonupstny at Jonupstny at
Mon Jun 10 20:30:24 MDT 1996

CLEVELAND, June 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Declaring that the two major parties have
abandoned working families, delegates representing over one million workers
in 45 states founded the Labor Party this weekend, Labor Party officials
announced today.

Over 1,400 representatives of labor unions and local chapters concluded four
days of debate by approving a constitution and political action platform for
America's first nationwide grassroots labor party.

"Our nation stands at the crossroads," declared convention co-chair Robert
Wages, president of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union
(OCAW).  "Will our country be run by the corporations and the monied class or
by the working people who make the country run?

"Our message is going to resonate with the American people and we are going
to grow and grow," Wages told the delegates.  "There are simply more of us
than there are of them.  If we organize ourselves, we can reclaim the
political power that has been stolen from us."

Bringing to life the principles of the party's new program, delegates
adjourned early on the second day of the June 6-9 convention to hold a
massive demonstration in support of Cleveland public employees who are under
attack by Democratic mayor Michael White.

The convention also endorsed a call for a national march on Detroit in
support of the 2,000 striking workers at the Detroit News and Detroit Free

Delegates left the convention with a commitment to build the party in their
Union Halls and door-to-door in their communities and to force politicians to
address issues of concern to workers.

The party adopted a "Call for Economic Justice" that includes a campaign for
a constitutional amendment that guarantees everyone the right to a job at a
living wage.  The program's 16 major planks include support for paid family
leave, single-payer health insurance, a U.S. trade policy based on fair
international labor standards, genuine campaign finance reform, and an end to
"corporate welfare."  The convention strongly condemned hate crimes,
including the recent wave of attacks on Afro-American churches.

Former California governor Jerry Brown told the delegates that he was "glad
to be here where you are organizing something real.  Neither party is talking
about economic justice.  The Democrats and Republicans alike are nothing more
than the end products of corporate plunder."

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader, participating in the convention as a delegate,
said from the floor, "I believe this convention will be looked upon by
history as the rebirth of the labor movement after so many years of dominance
by corporate power."

Convention co-chair Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the California
Nurses Association, said the mission of the new party is "a democratic
redirection of national priorities into the hands of everyday residents."
 She said increasing corporate control over the nation's health care system
is resulting in "the decimation of health care."

Delegates were drawn from nine sponsoring International unions, some 40
chapters and over 300 local, state and regional labor organizations. The
sponsoring unions included the OCAW, the United Electrical, Radio and Machine
Workers of America (UE), the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees
(BMWE), the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU), the
California Nurses Association (CNA), the American Federation of Government
Employees (AFGE), the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), the
International Brotherhood of Dupont Workers, and the Textile Processors,
Service Trades, Health Care, professional and Technical Employees
International Union.

Organizers of the convention were surprised by the response to the convention
call.  The large number of qualifying delegates forced the convention to
shift its location from a large hotel to the downtown Cleveland convention

In one of the most hotly debated constitution provisions, the party decided
not to run candidates for office at least until after the next convention
slated for 1998.  Instead, the focus will be on organizing new members and
waging campaigns based on the party's program.

"We've got to learn to walk before we start to run.  We've got to build an
organization first," said Tony Mazzocchi, principal organizer of the Labor
Party and an official of the OCAW.

Copies of the new constitution and political platform can be obtained by
calling the Labor Party Office.

CO:  Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers Int'l Union, AFL-CIO

06/10/96 11:47 EDT

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