Labor Party founding convention set

Charlotte Kates ckates at
Fri May 31 18:03:20 MDT 1996

>**Labor Party founding convention set**
>(Reprinted from the June 1, 1996 issue of the People's
>Weekly World. May be reprinted or reposted with PWW credit.
>For subscription information see below)
>By Wallace Kaufman
>CLEVELAND - The Cleveland AFL-CIO will host the founding
>convention for a new U.S. Labor Party June 6-9. Some 1,200
>delegates, representing a million trade unionists, will
>attend the meeting in the city's civic center.
>"Who will speak for labor?" the convention Call asks. "Four
>years ago a diverse group of labor union officials,
>spearheaded by the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union
>(OCAW), decided it was time to organize a labor-based
>political party. Membership polls across the country showed
>over half of respondents agreeing with the mission of a
>newly formed Labor Party Advocates (LPA)."
>Formation of LPA was announced by OCAW President Robert
>Wages in 1992 when he said delegates to OCAW's 1991
>convention "debated and adopted a resolution to establish
>and engage in a crusade for a new political, social, and
>economic agenda. We also took the step to say that it's time
>to start talking about a labor party in this country. So we
>started a program in our union called Labor Party
>Tony Mazzocchi, secretary-treasurer of OCAW, issued an
>invitation to all unionists to become charter members "of a
>new organization to be called, simply, Labor Party
>Advocates." He said "LPA has a single purpose to educate the
>public about the need for a Labor Party in the United
>States", and had three objectives: to recruit members,
>provide an opportunity for discussion of a Labor Party. and
>push for new economic, social, and political agenda.
>LPA gained momentum after the 1992 elections when President
>Clinton's sell-out on NAFTA and other concessions to big
>business so angered workers that the door was opened for an
>ultra-right Republican takeover of Congress.
>LPA subsequently issued a call for a national convention and
>mailed some 15,000 copies of the convention call to labor
>organizations around the country.
>As 1996 began, meetings were organized in several cities to
>discuss a program and a document titled "Principles of a
>Labor Party Program" was approved by the LPA leadership
>committee in March.
>Topping the list of principles is "a Constitutional right to
>a job at a livable wage." Referring back to the Humphrey-
>Hawkins Full Employment Act, the draft calls for a
>Constitutional amendment that "states clearly that each
>person willing and able to work shall be assured the right
>to a job at a livable wage. We are calling for permanent,
>unionized employment in a revitalized public sector that
>focuses, as government should, on meeting public needs," the
>document says.
>The draft program also calls for, among other things, a
>shorter work time with no cut in pay to "create more jobs.
>and that the "Bill of Rights ... be extended to the
>workplace" with workers guaranteed "the right to organize
>without fear of dismissal."
>At the same time, LPA leaders reiterated that the Labor
>Party would be "non-electoral" and would not interfere with
>trade union support for major party candidates.
>In a letter urging its affiliates to attend, officers of the
>Cleveland central labor organization wrote: "Realizing that
>the convention will take place and that the results could
>eventually produce a Labor Party in America, it's essential
>that organized labor becomes involved ... so that the new
>party ... reflects organized labor's viewpoints, goals, and
>aspirations," adding: "If after the convention there is a
>Labor Party ... it will not make any endorsement for the
>November elections ... Our AFL-CIO COPE endorsements must
>stand and not be interfered with."
>When a delegate to the Cleveland federation expressed
>concern that the LPA convention would "divert energy and
>time" from the urgent ask of defeating the Dole-Gingrich
>ultra-right Republicans, Mazzocchi replied that LPA would
>not interfere, that all unions affiliated with LPA have
>their own political agenda, including his own union.
>The new AFL-CIO leadership is reshaping the labor movement
>to better represent workers and give leadership to working
>families in this crucial election year. Millions of workers
>who are angry and frustrated by the whole political process
>will go to the polls to get rid of their worst tormentors -
>the ultra-right Republicans serving the interests of
>billionaires and their multi-national corporations.
>The Labor Party convention takes place in the middle of this
>momentous campaign. If the convention is successful and a
>Labor Party is formed, it cannot afford to remain aloof, but
>must find a way to contribute to a workers' victory in
>November. After November, with Dole, Gingrich, et. al.,
>retired to private life, these same workers will have a new
>U.S. Labor Party to fight for them.
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    Charlotte L. Kates     ckates at        Collingswood, NJ

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