[Marxism] 98 year old to challenge senile AFL-CIO president

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jun 21 12:16:04 MDT 2012

Counterpunch June 21, 2012

“I’m going to challenge the corrupt, incompetent and self-serving 
activities of the AFL’s leadership.”
Kelber Challenges Trumka for Head of AFL-CIO

Harry Kelber will challenge Richard Trumka for the presidency of 
the AFL-CIO at the labor union’s convention September 8-12, 2013 
in Los Angeles. Remember Harry Kelber? He’s a labor activist and 
writer who runs The Labor Educator. Every week, Kelber evicerates 
the leaders of the AFL-CIO for not actively challenging the 
corrupt corporate establishment in Washington, for paying 131 of 
its executives more than $100,000 a year, and for censoring any 
criticism of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In an interview with Corporate Crime Reporter last year, Kelber 
said that Trumka was all talk, no action. “Trumka makes speeches 
to please the membership,” Kelber told Corporate Crime Reporter 
last year. “But there is no action to do anything. He comes out as 
an advocate of change, and he ends up without change. He had all 
kinds of possible opportunity for non violent action to express 
the discontent of American workers.”

Here’s the thing about Kelber – he has a sense of timing. He 
announced his candidacy to challenge Trumka June 20, 2012 – on his 
98th birthday. He’ll be 99 at the time of the AFL-CIO’s election 
next September.

“This is not a frivolous decision,” Kelber said today. “My 
candidacy guarantees that there will be an actual election, with a 
printed ballot and serious debates on the issues confronting 
American workers and their unions at the AFL-CIO Convention.”

“Trumka and his bureaucratic group have no plans to rebuild the 
Federation,” Kelber said. “They have a record of legislative 
failures. Trumka makes crowd-pleasing speeches, but he has avoided 
any direct action that will command the attention of either 
Congress or the White House.”

“I’m going for all of the marbles,” Kelber said. “I’m going to 
challenge the corrupt, incompetent and self-serving activities of 
the AFL’s leadership.”

But Kelber said that “Trumka relies on a corrupt clause in the 
AFL-CIO Constitution to guarantee him re-election without having 
to face a rival candidate in the quadrennial presidential 
election. That clause gives international unions as many votes as 
their members, but it incredibly limits State AFL-CIOs and Central 
Labor Councils to only one delegate and one convention vote apiece.”

“Thus, at the AFL-CIO’s 2009 convention, each of the 20 delegates 
from the huge American Federation of Teachers had 50,000 
convention votes, while the 2-million members of the New York 
State AFL and California AFL were awarded only one convention vote 

“This outrageously undemocratic provision is what keeps Trumka and 
his cronies in power,” Kelber said. “If this poisonous clause is 
eliminated from the Constitution and replaced by a guarantee for 
honest and open elections, Trumka would be virtually powerless. He 
has no significant base to rely on.”

“If a 98-year-old unionist is willing to spend his remaining time 
to fight for an honest, democratic AFL-CIO, there must be 
hundreds, probably thousands, of labor activists with the skills 
and experience to challenge Trumka and his hand-picked Executive 
Council. The AFL-CIO’s 2013 convention will be held in Los Angeles 
on September 8-12. That is 15 months away and there is a lot to be 
done in the interim.”

Russell Mokhiber edits the Corporate Crime Reporter.

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