[Marxism] AFL denounces Million Worker March: response from MWM Committee

dwalters at marxists.org dwalters at marxists.org
Wed Jun 30 13:10:01 MDT 2004

 Statement by the Organizing Committee of the Million Worker March  on 
Washington in Reply to Letter from AFL-CIO National Field  Mobilization 
Director Marilyn G. Sneiderman


 ILWU Local 10 Attention: Clarence Thomas 400 North Point Street San Francisco, 
CA 94133 www.millionworkermarch.org

 On June 23, 2004, at the behest of John Sweeney and the leadership of  the AFL-
CIO, Marilyn C. Sneiderman, Director of the Field  Mobilization Department of 
the AFL-CIO, sent out a Memorandum to "All  State Federations and Central Labor 
Councils of the AFL-CIO"  referencing the "Million Worker March," and directing 
them "not to  sponsor or devote resources to the demonstration in Washington, 

 We take note of the fact that this Memorandum was dispatched without  any 
prior communication with the organizers and official endorsers of  the Million 
Worker March. These include the entire ILWU Longshore  Division, the National 
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), the  South Carolina State AFL-CIO 
Labor Federation, labor councils across  the United States and national 
organizations such as the  International Action Committee and Global Exchange.

 In effect, the leadership of the AFL-CIO has gone over the heads of  
significant sectors of the labor, anti-war, community and inter-faith  
organizations in issuing a directive to boycott a labor mobilization  in 
Washington, D.C.

 This is unprecedented and requires us to pose the question: Why would  the 
leadership of the AFL-CIO feel threatened by a labor mobilization  that 
confronts the crisis facing working people in America and seeks  to reverse the 
wholesale attacks on our living standards, social  services, housing, health, 
and education while challenging the  diversion of trillions of dollars derived 
from the labor of working  people to fund permanent war over decades and a 
brutal war for oil  and occupation in Iraq?

 The Memorandum from the AFL-CIO states:

 "While we may agree with many of the aims and issues of the March,  the AFL-
CIO is NOT a co-sponsor of this effort and we will not be  devoting resources 
or energies toward mobilizing demonstrations this  fall. Š

 "We think it is absolutely crucial that we commit the efforts of our  labor 
movement to removing George W. Bush from office.

 "We encourage our state federations, area councils and central labor  councils 
not to sponsor or devote resources to the demonstrations in  Washington, D.C. 
but instead to remain focused on the electionŠ"

 The Million Worker March is organizing working people to put forth  our needs 
and our agenda independently of politicians and parties.

 We say that only by acting in our name can we build a movement that  advances 
our needs. The very formation of the trade union movement  was the result of 
independent organizing and mobilizing of working  people. The struggle for 
industrial unionism, the movement for  women's suffrage, the great movements 
for civil rights -- all these  flowed from the will to mobilize independently 
and in our own name.

 Our aims, with which the AFL-CIO leadership purports to agree,  include 
universal single-payer health care from the cradle to the  grave -- that ends 
the stranglehold of greedy insurance companies.

 Will the defeat of George Bush result in this?

 Our aims include an end to the corporate trade agreements that pit  workers 
against each other everywhere in a mad race to the sweatshop  bottom. Will the 
defeat of George Bush change this, when the  Democratic Party brought us NAFTA, 
MAI and Fast Track, with Disney  and J. C. Penny paying Haitian workers 21 
cents per hour?

 Will the defeat of George Bush end privatization and the destruction  of 
unions in the public sector, when the Democratic Party privatized  and 
outsourced our jobs under the rubric of "downsizing government?"  What was 
downsized were our social services, while corporate profits  and the military 
sucked trillions of dollars taken from the sweat  of  prior collective labor.

 Will the defeat of George Bush bring a crash program to restore our  decaying 
and devastated public schools, replacing them with state of  the art public 
education in every community in America?

 Will the defeat of George Bush result in the rebuilding of our inner  cities 
with free modern, state of the art housing and an end to  homelessness?

 Will that presumptive defeat see the launching of a national training  program 
in skills and capacities that enlist our people in rebuilding  this country?

 Will it end the criminalization of poverty or abolish the  prison-industrial 
complex that has destroyed generations of Black and  Latino youth?

 Will the defeat of George Bush roll back the bipartisan union-busting  and 
anti-labor legislation, such as Taft-Hartley, that has been on  the books for 
67 years?

 Will a Bush defeat secure for us a modern, free mass transit system  in every 
city and town?

 John Kerry, outflanking Bush from the far right, has called for an  
intensification of the so-called "war on terror" by targeting people  "before 
they act" -- giving explicit sanction to secret arrests,  detention without 
trial and the labeling of opponents as "terrorists."

 Will the removal of George Bush preserve the Bill of Rights, repeal  the 
Patriot Act, Anti-Terrorism Act and all the repressive  legislation that has 
set the stage for a Police State in America?

 Will the defeat of George Bush recover the $4.4 trillion dollars that  
disappeared from the Pentagon and the Department of Defense as the  military 
industrial complex loots and hijacks government in America?

 John Kerry, the presumptive candidate of the Democratic Party, has  demanded a 
dramatic increase in the number of U.S. soldiers in Iraq  and the extension of 
U.S. military control in the Middle East and  beyond.

 Will the defeat of George Bush end the occupation in Iraq and the  plans for 
greater imperial war?

 Will his defeat bring the troops home now or is the plan after the  election, 
as widely reported, for conscription of working class youth  and an expansion 
of militarism in America?

 On June 25, the United States Senate voted 98-0 to hand the Pentagon  $416 
billion. Days earlier, the Senate voted 93 to 4 to increase the  troops in Iraq 
and shortly before this the Congress approved an  initial military budget of $1 
trillion for the next decade.

 We take note of the fact that the Department of Defense Accounting  Office 
acknowledged that $4.4 trillion have disappeared from the  Pentagon's accounts 
and the books have been cooked for decades.

 One trillion dollars represents $1,000 a minute since the birth of Jesus.

 Will the defeat of George Bush recover these looted funds or stop the  
perpetual siphoning of trillions of dollars into the arms industry,  leading 
inevitably to even more drastic cuts in all social services?

 Today, 71% of U.S. corporations pay no taxes, but John Kerry's  principal 
economic adviser is Wall Street's Warren Buffett, who,  along with George 
Shultz, performs the identical role for Arnold  Schwarzenegger.

 Do John McCain, who John Kerry sought as his running mate, or Lee  Iacocca of 
General Motors and Chrysler, who endorsed Kerry, represent  the interests of 
labor and working people?

 The official leadership of the AFL-CIO, faced with rapidly growing  rank-and-
file support for a great mobilization of working people in  America, has 
ordered organized labor to cease and desist in its  support for the Million 
Worker March.

 The entire labor movement and organized labor has been put on notice  to 
boycott the call for a Million Worker March on Washington on  October 17, 2004.

 Working people in America are under siege. The corporate and banking  
oligarchy that has power in this society is waging class war against  us all.

 In the face of attack after attack, the response of the leaders of  the AFL-
CIO has been silence and default

 Their voices are stilled. They dare not cry out "Enough Is Enough."  They fail 
to take note that the two parties are financed by the same  people and their 
address is Wall Street.

 Thirty-six years ago Martin Luther King summoned our people to a  great Poor 
People's March on Washington to address a system in crisis  and to confront the 
hijacking of our government and our country by a  banking and corporate 
oligarchy that has captured the two political  parties in America.

 Would the AFL-CIO dare send out a directive to all of labor to  boycott and 
sabotage the marches and mobilizations of the great civil  rights movement, led 
by Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X and Cesar  Chavez?

 In a very real sense, the labor movement in America is facing a  crisis of its 
own. The unrelenting class war that has been waged  against us has reduced the 
number of unionized workers to twelve  percent. This is the result of a 
conscious campaign by that one  percent of the population that owns and 
controls ninety percent of  the national wealth.

 Labor is under siege because the corporate bosses know that the trade  union 
movement is the organized expression of all working people and  of the vast 
majority of the population of the United States.

 We are at the point of production and when we mobilize our ranks, we  
represent a force that no illicit power, however concentrated, can  hold back.

 We have taken the pulse of the rank and file and of unorganized  labor. The 
overwhelming majority of working people want an end to  permanent war and the 
hemorrhage of national resources into military  production and war.

 Just this past week, AFSCME and SEIU, two of the largest trade unions  in 
America, passed unanimous resolutions calling for an immediate end  to the war 
in Iraq, an end to the occupation and a return of all U.S.  troops.

 That is why the Million Worker March reaches out to labor. We are  proud that 
labor councils across America have endorsed the March. We  are inspired by the 
knowledge that every ILWU local from San Diego to  Anchorage has endorsed. The 
are energized by the endorsement of the  Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, by 
the Farm Labor Organizing  Committee and by national organizations for 
immigrant rights.

 We are organizing in every trade union in America and drawing upon  the energy 
and passion of the labor movement wherever people desire  change.

 We are summoning working people from every walk of life to mobilize  around a 
working peoples' agenda, and a vision of an America  transformed

 Ours is a March and a Mobilization for all who say "Enough Is  Enough!" Infant 
mortality in Harlem is greater than in Bangladesh and  in Bangladesh the same 
Stevedore Association that sought to break the  ILWU is privatize their ports 
and imposing starvation wages.

 Unemployment in our inner cities has reached catastrophic proportions  with 
over 60% of black male youth without work while militarized  police units are 
deployed as an occupation army.

 One out of four children in America goes to bed hungry but hundreds  of 
millions of dollars of our union dues fund politicians who do  nothing about it.

 Our labor movement has the opportunity and the obligation to reach  out to 
hundreds of millions of working people, organized and  unorganized.

 We need not hand politicians a blank check so they can soft-soap us  at 
election time and destroy our jobs, benefits and social services  all the time 
in between.

 Join us in standing up for our rights. Join us in advancing our own  agenda. 
Join us in fighting for our communities and our jobs.

 Support  the ILWU workers who shut down the port to protest apartheid  and 
launched a mobilization against Taft-Hartley and all repressive  anti-labor 

 Support the one and quarter of a million women who marched and  mobilized in 
Washington D.C. for reproductive rights and equal pay  for equal work.

 Send a message to all the politicians -- whoever they are and under  whatever 
banner they parade: We are not for sale; we cannot be  soft-soaped, lied to or 
taken for granted.

 Let them know that we have our own agenda based upon our own  experience, our 
own needs and our own vision and that we shall hold  everyone's feet to the 

 We say to the leadership of the AFL-CIO and to all and everyone who  has hopes 
or expectations of John Kerry or any politician seeking our  support: Do not 
take us for granted; do not confound silence at the  top for acquiescence at 
the base.

 Labor has issued too many blank checks only to have our pockets  picked and 
our aspirations ignored.

 Let us join together -- everyone in the house of labor.

 Every gain we have ever made has been won under the signal banner of  labor: 
we are working people proud and strong, union strong, and we  fight for our 
rights with our own voice and in our own name.

  Come together, sisters and brothers. Let us tap into our great  strength -- 
the desire for change and for social justice.

 We call on everyone to endorse, build, finance and mobilize the  Million 
Worker March on Washington, D.C. on October 17 -- a day when  we demonstrate 
across the United States that labor and working people  are on the march and 
will no longer be denied.

 (statement issued June 27, 2004)

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