The Texas Truth Squad- AFL-CIO Contingent

Tony Abdo aabdo at
Mon Aug 14 02:03:25 MDT 2000

Bush 'failed to hire adequate numbers of prison guards' in the State of
Texas says the AFL-CIO.        Oh wow!    This Sweeney guy is really
radical!      He's going to send out a 'truth squad' along with Gore's
campaign, to let people know how bad things can be with Bush in office,
instead of Al Gore.        Where's Molly?       She' sure to hoot an'
holler in her ever so folksy style.      Oh, it's bad down Texas way!

The truth is,  most Texans cannot see a penny's bit of difference
between the former governor, Ann Richards, and the current one of
Georgie.       Of course, maybe with a microscope, or a Texas liberal's
bleeding heart???        Not enough prison guards?    Can you imagine?

Where is Ralph?        If anyone sees him, please have him call his
alleged supporters at AFL-CIO Headquarters.      Let's see,  Molly and
Michael, am I supposed to vote for Nader in New Mexico, and Gore in
Texas, or is it the other way around?      Can you get anymore
independent than this?

'Al Gore and Joe Lieberman are absolute champions of working
families.......'      Here's Mr. AFL-CIO Reform speaking.      Some
things just seem to never change.

Tony Abdo
Chávez-Thompson rails against Bush
By Gary Martin
Express-News Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES — Linda Chávez-Thompson arrived in San Antonio 30 years
ago to organize garbage workers. This week, she will sound the rallying
cry for organized labor's nationwide efforts to elect Democrat Al Gore

Chávez-Thompson, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO, minces no
words when it comes to her commitment to keep the Republican
presidential nominee, Gov. George W. Bush, from ascending to the office
once held by his father.

"I'm going to work my como se llama off to make sure we don't have a
son-of-a-Bush in the White House," said Chávez-Thompson, who at age 56
remains a feisty and passionate defender of the working class.

"I give white hairs, I don't get them," quipped Chávez-Thompson, who
will use her speaking role at the Democratic National Convention to talk
about education, immigration, health care and other issues important to

She has traveled coast-to-coast for the Democratic National Committee to
denounce Bush's record in the Lone Star State.

A member of the "Texas Truth Squad" that attended the recent Republican
National Convention in Philadelphia,

Chávez-Thompson accuses the governor of failing to help working
families and Hispanics, while favoring policies that benefit big
business and the wealthy.
According to Chavez-Thompson, Bush tried to raid the teacher's
retirement fund to provide a tax cut, failed to hire adequate numbers of
prison guards and seems intent on "wrecking the education system."

"He speaks Spanish, but what has he done for Hispanics?" she asked.
"Agricultural workers in Texas still make $3.35 an hour."

The claims were dismissed by the Bush campaign.

"This is standard, silly, partisan attack rhetoric," said Ray Sullivan,
a Bush campaign spokesman in Austin.

"The truth is, Gov. Bush has made great strides for average Texas
working families," Sullivan said, listing increased funding for
education, pay increases for teachers and prison guards, reducing taxes
on homeowners and "keeping our economy strong."

The sharp exchange between labor and Republicans underscores a
decades-long ideological battle.

The daughter of a West Texas sharecropper from Lubbock,
Chávez-Thompson, at age 10, hulled cotton for 30 cents a day alongside
her parents. The absence of safety and health regulations spurred her
years later to take an interest in the labor movement.

In 1967, Chávez-Thompson was given a job as a secretary for the
AFL-CIO local. She was given the title of coordinator for victim's
assistance when a tornado struck Lubbock in 1970.

Impressed with the charity of the AFL-CIO, she moved to San Antonio to
take a job as an organizer for the American Federation of State, County
and Municipal Employees.

Her first task was to organize garbage haulers. In addition to battling
politicians at City Hall, she ran into other barriers.
"I literally had to show the wherewithal, the gumption, to be accepted
as a woman —much less a Mexican-American woman — who knew how to
work hard, knew what she was doing and was crazy enough to work in a
man's world," she recalled.

Over the next 20 years, the determined organizer scrapped with the city
of San Antonio and Bexar County as she sought collective bargaining
agreements for employees, often matching wits with competing unions,
such as the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas.

"She's a tough lady. She had to be tough to survive," said Rep. Ciro
Rodríguez, D-San Antonio, who served on the South San School District
board then, before being elected to the Texas Legislature and then

Union leaders in the 1970s mostly were men.

"It was a tough area. Those guys could eat your lunch," Rodríguez

Her recruitment of women and minorities to the union played a part in
her election as vice president of AFSCME in 1988 and 1992, and executive
director of AFSCME Council 42 in 1995, the statewide chapter.

Those battles helped prepare Chávez-Thompson for the biggest challenge
of her career. With growing disenchantment among AFL-CIO members, she
joined John Sweeney and Richard Trumka in a revolt against entrenched
leadership at the national level.

Sweeney defeated President Thomas Donahue, who rose to the top of the
organization when Lane Kirkland stepped down in 1995, amid scrutiny of
lavish spending on perks and other luxuries paid for by union dues.

Trumka was elected treasurer and Chávez-Thompson became executive vice

In one of the first orders of business, the AFL-CIO leadership assessed
a 15-cent dues increase on 13 million members of the federation's 78
unions to raise a war chest to defeat House Republicans.

The National Republican Congressional Committee filed unsuccessful
complaints with the Federal Election Commission, claiming the dues
increase was for political purposes.

"Big labor bosses ... have forced a dues increase down the throats of
working unionized Americans to fund a war against the Republicans," Rep.
John Boehner, R-Ohio, said at the time.

During the primaries this spring, Bush called for "paycheck protection,"
a law that would force the unions to get the permission of each worker
to spend dues on political causes.

The GOP in this election cycle also is calling on business groups and
the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help with presidential and down-ballot

Labor hopes to be able to spend up to $50 million to counter the $100
million that big business has pledged to spend during this election

More importantly, Chávez-Thompson wants to mobilize the AFL-CIO's 13
million members to vote for Gore.

"We don't have the kind of money the Republican Party has — maybe
half," she said. "But the important part is people. We have to get them
excited about this candidate, this team, the issues they care about.

"You would be surprised at the operation we have in place around the
Gore, who supported permanent trade relations with China, has had
problems with labor. Although the AFL-CIO endorsed him last year, the
Teamsters led by James Hoffa has wavered.

The vice president last week received a much-need endorsement from the
United Auto Workers, key to a Democratic victory in the swing states of
Michigan and Ohio.
A poll by Zogby International found that four in 10 union members would
consider voting for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader rather than Gore.

"It doesn't mean they would vote for Nader. It does mean there is room
to grow," pollster John Zogby said.
Chávez-Thompson, who fought against the China trade pact, said the
unions would throw their support to Gore before Labor Day.

"The best place to go is Al Gore," Chavez-Thompson said. "If we can get
90 percent of what we want for working families, and we don't get that
other 10 percent, we can disagree. We can fight on the congressional
floor to get that."
The convention this week will spotlight Democratic efforts to help
working families achieve health care, education for their children, a
stronger Social Security and Medicare, she said.

Chávez-Thompson said she would bring the same dedication to the
presidential race that she brought to organizing garbage haulers in San
Antonio some 30 years ago.

"All workers would benefit from having a president who knows how they
feel," she said. "Once we get out of the convention, there is nothing
more in my life than to make sure Al Gore is elected."
gmartin at
Despite differences, labor enthusiastic for Gore
By Dan Freedman
Hearst Newspapers

LOS ANGELES — Despite huge differences with Vice President Al Gore on
international trade, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney told boisterous
union members at a pep rally Sunday that Gore and his running mate,
Joseph Lieberman, "are absolute champions of working families, our
agenda and our unions."

Sweeney pledged a full-fledged grass-roots effort to get his
organization's 13.5 million members out to vote for the Gore-Lieberman

"Brothers and sisters, this is the beginning of a historic week for our
movement and for the Democratic Party," Sweeney told more than 800
unionists waving signs saying "Union Families for Gore" and "Working
Families for Gore."

"We'll be the leading advocates for working family issues here at the
convention and throughout the election, and our words will be heard,"
Sweeney said. "Al Gore and Joe Lieberman are absolute champions of
working families, our agenda and our unions."

Absent was any reference to the principal issue dividing the two
candidates and organized labor: more free trade, which the candidates
favor and the unions do not. As happened when Bill Clinton ran in 1992
and 1996, Gore and labor have agreed to disagree on this issue and focus
on the large number of issues where they do agree.

Notwithstanding labor's protests, Clinton, Gore and Republicans on
Capitol Hill have stood together on lowering trade barriers, from the
North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993 to permanent normal trade
relations with China, approved by the House last May. The AFL-CIO and
unions outside it such as the United Automobile Workers view these
agreements as licenses to American manufacturers to export union jobs.

But labor officials insist that Gore is significantly closer to them on
trade than Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the Republican nominee. Gore
favors negotiating labor union rights and environmental protection into
international trade agreements, which is "very close to our position on
trade," Richard Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, said in an
interview with the Hearst Newspapers on Sunday. Trumka accused Bush of
favoring "unfettered trade" without provisions seeking to improve
working conditions and human rights overseas.

"He won't give us a seat at the table," Trumka said.

By contrast, Gore and labor agree on how to preserve Social Security and
on creating a Medicare prescription drug plan, raising the minimum wage
and opposing government vouchers for private schools. Gore also supports
labor on preserving federal legislation that requires contractors to pay
prevailing wage rates to workers on government-funded projects. Often
that rate is synonymous with the union wage scale. Bush supports letting
states make the decision on wage rates.
Because of Gore's record supporting labor in his 16 years in Congress
and seven and a half years as vice president, labor is much more
comfortable with him that it was with Clinton in 1992, Trumka said. Gore
"supports working people in thought, word and voting deed," he added.
About 1,500 delegates at the convention are union members, about 30
percent of the 4,368 total. Bush leads Gore by 10 points or more in most
polls. Union members at the rally admitted that their enthusiasm for
Gore was guided in part by their fear of a Republican victory. "If Bush
gets in, we're in trouble," said Barbara Biesterfeld, a retired state
hospital nurse and alternate delegate from Tacoma, Washington.

Labor is a shadow of what it was in the 1950s and 1960s, when about 35
percent or more of the nation's workforce belonged to unions. Now 14
percent of the work force belongs to unions. But since 1997, total union
membership, including unions outside the AFL-CIO, has risen from 16.1
million to 16.5 million. Still, that number is slightly under the 1994
level of 16.7 organized workers.


More information about the Marxism mailing list