Tuesday, August 19, 2014

And what does Richard Trumka have to say about Ferguson?

These people are not our friends.
Richard Mellor
Afscme local 444, retired

I just have to say something about this.

I just went to the AFL-CIO's website at AFLCIO.org to see what Richard Trumka, the head of the 12 million member workers' organization has to say about the situation in Ferguson Missouri.  I checked under issues and what did I find? Nothing. 

So I went to my former union's webpage, Afscme and the same thing, not a word.   A colleague who is down in Ferguson reported that he asked one union member what the unions were doing there and the guy said that his leadership said that it "wasn't our fight".

Well, he's right about that, it isn't the union leadership's fight.  In fact, no fight that includes defending the rights, wages and benefits of working people is their fight.  If they can't defend these things they sure won't speak up when workers get shot by the cops. They are working cap in hand with the bosses.  Why would they get involved in such a struggle? It would mean mobilizing members and that's a terrifying thought. It would increase the profile of the trade union movement among workers and workers of color in particular and that too is scary. It would offend their friends in the Democratic Party and that is the worst of all possible worlds.

Leaders of locals whether as individuals or through and with the support of the rank and file of our unions should be pressuring the leadership to act. They should demand that they condemn the activity and then call on the Internationals and the AFL-CIO to call an emergency press conference where they publicly condemn the police and the main political parties for not intervening. At the same time they should call for an emergency meeting of the AFL-CIO and the heads of all the national unions to prepare and organize mass rallies and protests throughout the country against the police brutality and militarization of our communities and this can be linked with the demand for an end to austerity and the capitalist offensive.  This can be done through the AFL-CIO central labor bodies and the district and regional councils of the national unions and can be successful through a series of coordinated work stoppages throughout the country.

We know the labor hierarchy will not continue their policy of taking no action at all but that doesn't mean the ranks of labor should pressure them to do so.  We cannot continue to do nothing any longer, we are faced with a struggle on two fronts.  One is against the bosses and the other against our own leadership. We cannot avoid this political struggle with them if we want to halt the decline further and we are obligated not only to defend what was won for us but to protect what we have and build on it for future workers and their families.

Where locals can they should help organize and support rallies in their local communities whether the leadership at the national level acts or not. The union hierarchy should be condemned by every trade unionist and local union body for their shameful silence. What is happening in Ferguson Missouri will effect all of us, in fact it already has in the form of increased attacks on union rights and the elimination of benefits that took decades and great sacrifice to win.

It is time to put an end to this nonsense.

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