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Unite/Here Members Rally in San Francisco
by Richard Mellor ( aactivist [at] igc.org )
Wednesday Jan 6th, 2010 11:36 AM
The turn out at the Unite/HERE rally was good but the rank and file were well contained and the same old tactics and methods that have failed us for so long are still there.
Richard Mellor
AFSCME Local 444, retired
Oakland CA
1-6-09
http://weknowwhatsup.blogspot.com/

About 1500 San Francisco hotel workers, members of Unite/HERE Local 2, turned up for a rally in the city last night. They started at 4th and Market then split in to two separate marches meeting back up outside the Hilton where 100 or so of them sat down outside as they called for a boycott of the hotel.

Much like the strike and lockout a few years ago, the strategy of the Union leadership was not to seriously prevent people from entering. During that strike/lockout, a “safe” area was sealed off with tape and workers were contained so that picketere didn’t impede the scabs. This strategy, not to hurt business in any way, was a deal sealed between the hotel owners, the police and the Union leadership and was so effective, some Union members, many of them fairly recent immigrants and not fully aware of their 1st amendment rights, thought it was illegal to picket on a pubic sidewalk outside a business.

The event last night was similarly well orchestrated. When I asked one Local 2 staffer if he was not a bit cautious about the massive police presence he said that he was not worried because, “We helped them get a Union”. “They won’t f*^ with us” he added with confidence, “We helped elect 11 of the thirteen supervisors.”

Another admitted that the event was carefully planned and agreed to by the police and the Union.

But this was obvious to any rank and file Union activist that has been around for any length of time as among those sitting down and getting arrested were Union officials or former Union officials from the California State Labor Federation as well as San Francisco supervisor Aaron Peskin. You rarely see these people and they are not going to get arrested in a serious clash with the police.

This scenario has been played out time and time again over the years. Rank and File Union members are brought out in numbers to let off a little steam and to put increasingly ignored pressure on the employers. Union officials at the highest levels of the AFL-CIO hierarchy come out of their offices and, along with their friends from the Democratic Party, get arrested in a photo-op to show their militancy and dedication to the working man and woman, the rank and file Union members that pays the dues.

Perhaps no better evidence of the staged nature of the event was The Hilton management’s response to it in the media this morning:

“A hotel spokesman said the Hilton did not make any attempt to have the protestors arrested if all they did was sit, but protestors demanded to be taken into custody.” (My added emphasis). When a top Union bureaucrat and a big business politician are pleading to be arrested the rank and file should be wary.

Fear of the Troops
Despite the staged nature of the even,t the mood among the rank and file was upbeat and positive. The police presence was huge with hundreds of officers present and the march and Hilton rally was accompanied by a lot of Union staffers in their blue coats. The sit down at the Hilton was obviously agreed to but its clear that while Union officials have to call out their members in order to pressure the employers a little, they are equally afraid that the ranks might get out of control. I recall this happening at a rally for the Greyhound strikers in 1980 (I think it was 1980 as there were two Greyhound strikes). A crowd of about 2000 of us were being lectured to by Willie Brown, the former San Francisco mayor when suddenly, the crowd just turned, left the lecture, and headed down to the Greyhound building. I remember some of the workers shouting “vote for me, vote fore me” as they turned their backs on Brown, indicating that this was all his speech was----an election appeal. We amassed outside Greyhound and some of the workers tried to enter. The police were caught unawares as they rely on the Labor officials to keep events like these within limits set by the authorities and the Democratic Party; this wasn’t planned. Eventually though, and with the help of Labor officials, workers’ efforts were shifted to picketing around the building, a long block which strung out the numbers, until more police reinforcements arrived.

An occupation of the Greyhound building would have given a great boost to the striking transit workers.

This is why, despite agreements made between the parties, the authorities feel the need to have sufficient police presence and the top Union officials do their best to keep a tight reign on the troops so that everything goes according to plan. There is always a danger that the intense anger that exists beneath the surface in US society, the anger that workers feel at the increasing disparity between us and the rich, will break through the surface, crash the barriers set by others and take a much more militant form. The line between sitting outside the Hilton calling for the hotel customers to boycott and two or three hundred moving a few feet in one direction and sitting down inside is a very thin one.

There is nothing more frightening to the Union hierarchy than losing control of the members. This is why they can’t raise expectations, why they call for “fair” contracts rather than raise demands that would inspire people to fight for. The official policy of the trade Union leadership is the Team Concept and concessions; so angry, active, conscious members threaten the relationship they have built with the employers and the Democratic Party around this view; they will demand what they need rather than what the employers say they can give.

But this dam will be breached at some point in the future. The Union leaders have to call out the troops to a point, and the present crisis, severe as it is, is forcing more workers to question the system and their activity in it. The Local 2 march and rally showed that the Labor leaders can still get people out; this should be a lesson to the student movement as it is why top Union officials have endorsed its call for on March 4th as opposed to a strike which is what the Union leaders should do, an action can be wearing a pink armband. The Union officials have far more numbers and resources to make a strike on March 4th a broad and successful one. That’s the problem----calling thousands of people in to activity is one thing, controlling what they do is another.



Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Peace And Freedom Party Labor Committee
Wednesday Jan 6th, 2010 2:06 PM
AFL-CIO President Trumka-All Talk NO ACTION
Trumka Refuses To Organize Any Mass Labor March & Rally In Washington

Trade unionists and labor in this country were told
that change was coming when Trumka was elected
president of the AFL-CIO last June in Pittsburgh.
Millions of US worker have been thrown out of work
and millions of workers and their families have lost
their healthcare.
At the same time, Obama and the Democrats have
allowed millions of workers to be thrown out of their
homes by the banks. These are the same banks that
Obama provided with hundreds of billions of dollars.
Obama personally prevented a law under the TARP
bill that would have allowed workers to go to a judge
to renegotiate their loans. Instead, the bankers are
now awarding themselves with hundreds of millions
of dollars. Obama, US Speaker of the House Nancy
Pelosi and the Democratic Congress have gone along
with this charade. Pelosi who declared that the “Par-
ty” was over for the banks has allowed the party to
continue with our tax dollars.
Working people were told that if Obama and the Dem-
ocrats were elected, we would get national healthcare.
Now we have a bill that keeps the insurance company
crooks in control of healthcare and even taxes good
healthcare benefits that union workers have. Is this
the “change you can believe in” that Obama and the
Democrats were talking about?
The talk about “labor law reform” and the passing
of the Employee Free Choice Act EFCA is just talk
and the California unions led by California AFL-CIO
Secretary Treasurer Art Pulaski cannot even get labor
supported Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein to
support EFCA.
At the AFL-CIO convention Trumka and the “new”
leadership promised to really fight for US workers.
What have they done with their $300,000 salaries
and staff of hundreds? They have organized no mass
marches or rallies to Washington DC to demand Sin-
gle Payer and a mass job program to put millions of
workers to work. Instead the “Tea Baggers” have had
more mass protests than this new labor leadership.
They have refused to oppose the continued expendi-
ture of hundreds of billions of dollars on the US im-
perial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, a resolu-
tion opposing the expansion of the war by Obama in
Afghanistan was pulled from even being debated by
the Trumka leadership.
The fact of the matter is that only direct labor action
including mass labor protests and occupations to stop
union busting that is taking place at the hotels in San
Francisco and around the country can really challenge
the rampage of these corporateers.
The Peace and Freedom Party supports the upcom-
ing mass labor/student strike and protest on March
4, 2010. California education workers, students, all
1.5 million public workers and working people as a
whole have to act to stop the destruction of public
education through privatization, charter schools and
school closures and fee increases preventing working
people from getting an education.
The Peace and Freedom Party does not believe that
the Democrats can solve this systemic crisis. We sup-
port democratic unions where workers have real con-
trol of their unions with regular union membership
meetings and where the unions have their own candi-
dates instead of supporting candidates who represent
the bosses and corporate USA.
Workers need to look to the tactics of the 1930’s for
answers today. We support worker occupations and
general strikes to get what we need. In 1934 in the
middle of a depression in the US workers in San
Francisco and Minneapolis shut their cities down and
won their fight for union rights. Today the survival of
the unions is again at stake. The hotel bosses in San
Francisco are counting on the use of mass unemploy-
ment to bring in scabs if workers go on strike. PR
sit-ins and arrests will not get the job done. Workers
need to prepare to occupy these hotels and surround
them with tens of thousands of trade unionists and
community supporters. Workers not only have the
power to beat these union busters but run our soci-
ety. These are the kinds of actions that will break the
back of the union busters and organize the millions of
unorganized in San Francisco, the Bay Area and the
country.
Peace and Freedom Party Labor Committee
1/5/2010
(http://www.peaceandfreedom.org)
by Inquring mind
Wednesday Jan 6th, 2010 3:29 PM
I have nothing against Civil Disobedience as a tactic .That is If it's real and designed to actually interfere with business as usual .Like the Civil rights sit-ins of the 60's . (The famous Flint strike of the 30's was bascially a militant occupation though it was called a ''sit-in "' I believe both tactics have their place) Unfortunely that's often not the case .It sounds like yesterday's CD was a pre arranged photo op ;
I do have sort of a perverse fantasy though . Can you imagine the stunned reaction of Union officials and especially Dem elected officials if after being left away by the cops they weren't promptly released but instead roughly frisked and taken off for booking and a few days in the county jail ?
No i don't want that to actually happen . I'm against any type of police repression . But there would be a sort of poetic justice if officials who mislead rank and filers that the ''cops are our friends'' suddenly experienced the hard way the true nature of the SFPD (and every other police department )

"A Startling Discovery" By Top Official Of AFL-CIO? $238,975 A Year To Be Responsible For Union's Financial Assets

From: Harry Kelber
Date: Thu, 07 Jan 2010 14:02:11 -0500

Subject: Holzer's Amazing Discovery

LaborTalk (29) January 7, 2010
An Astounding Intelligence Report
From Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler

By Harry Kelber

The reason we have not heard a word from AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler for several months is because she decided to give herself an extended journey across the United States (at our expense) to find out what was on the minds of union members.

Holzer admits that since her election to the AFL-CIO’s No. 2 spot, she has spent “a lot of her time on the road.” Her itinerary included talking to union members in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, New York, Oregon and Georgia. And what did she find out? In her own words:
“Everywhere I go, no matter who I see, what do they want to talk about comes
down to the same word we’ve been hearing on everyone’s lips. Jobs.”

What a startling discovery! Did Liz have to spend months away from her vital job in Washington to know that creating millions of decent jobs is the top priority need of American workers? Doesn’t this overpowering demand reach AFL-CIO national headquarters?

But what has the AFL-CIO actually done to replace the 10 million jobs that have vanished since the start of the recession in Dec. 2007? At each public appearance, Shuler recited, point by point, the five-point job-creating plan that AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka had presented at President Obama’s Job Summit that she said would create millions of jobs in a year. (The AFL-CIO is promoting Trumka’s five point catechism, but it hasn’t caught the serious attention of Congress,)

In her prepared speeches to labor audiences, Holzer also emphasized the economic plight of young people, who, she said, “were blocked by the jobless economy from moving into independent adulthood.” She had already pledged to commit a lot of time to organizing young workers.

Curiously, she had absolutely nothing to say about her official job as AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer. How could she spend months away from Washington, while completely neglecting her responsibilities in administering the Federation’s complex financial operations, for which we are paying her $238,975 a year and an annual pension of 60 percent of her top salary when she retires?

Is Shuler Fit to Be AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer?


Liz Shuler was hand-picked to be AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer by the Executive Council, even though she knew virtually nothing about what the Federation’s Constitution required of the secretary-treasurer. She was to be “in charge of and preserve all money, properties, securities and other evidences of investments, books, documents, files and checks of the Federation which shall at all times be subject to the inspection of the President and the Executive Council.”

Does that sound like a part-time job? What was happening in the secretary=treasurer’s office, while she was spending months traveling around the country to find out what was worrying union members? How much longer will she maintain her arrogant refusal to tell union members about the status of AFL-CIO’s financial assets?
* * * * *

Holzer spent a large part of her labor career in Portland, Oregon as a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and had risen in the IBEW hierarchy to become executive assistant to the international union president, Edwin Hill, her boss, mentor and booster for the. No. 2 AFL-CIO job.

While Liz is obviously not equipped to be a competent secretary-treasurer. I believe she has the talent and commitment to become an excellent organizer, particularly among young workers.

Ideally, Holzer should resign and the AFL-CIO should hold a fair and competitive election to select the best qualified member as secretary-treasurer. Holzer could then be appointed as national organizer of young workers.—Harry Kelber

LaborTalk (30) will be posted here on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 and on our two web sites: (http://www.laboreducator.org ) and (http://www.laborsvoiceforchange.org).

by repost
Thursday Jan 7th, 2010 3:51 PM
A Startling Discovery" By Top Official Of AFL-CIO? Trumka's Handpicked $238,975 A Year Official is Responsible For Union's Financial Assets

Shuler's Amazing Discovery

LaborTalk (29) January 7, 2010
An Astounding Intelligence Report
From Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler

By Harry Kelber

The reason we have not heard a word from AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer
Liz Shuler for several months is because she decided to give herself
an extended journey across the United States (at our expense) to find
out what was on the minds of union members.

Shuler admits that since her election to the AFL-CIO’s No. 2 spot,
she has spent “a lot of her time on the road.” Her itinerary included
talking to union members in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, New York,
Oregon and Georgia. And what did she find out? In her own words:
“Everywhere I go, no matter who I see, what do they want to talk
about comes
down to the same word we’ve been hearing on everyone’s lips. Jobs.”

What a startling discovery! Did Liz have to spend months away from
her vital job in Washington to know that creating millions of decent
jobs is the top priority need of American workers? Doesn’t this
overpowering demand reach AFL-CIO national headquarters?

But what has the AFL-CIO actually done to replace the 10 million jobs
that have vanished since the start of the recession in Dec. 2007? At
each public appearance, Shuler recited, point by point, the five-
point job-creating plan that AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka had
presented at President Obama’s Job Summit that she said would create
millions of jobs in a year. (The AFL-CIO is promoting Trumka’s five
point catechism, but it hasn’t caught the serious attention of
Congress,)

In her prepared speeches to labor audiences, Shuler also emphasized
the economic plight of young people, who, she said, “were blocked by
the jobless economy from moving into independent adulthood.” She had
already pledged to commit a lot of time to organizing young workers.

Curiously, she had absolutely nothing to say about her official job as
AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer. How could she spend months away from
Washington, while completely neglecting her responsibilities in
administering the Federation’s complex financial operations, for which
we are paying her $238,975 a year and an annual pension of 60 percent
of her top salary when she retires?

Is Shuler Fit to Be AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer?


Liz Shuler was hand-picked to be AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer by the
Executive Council, even though she knew virtually nothing about what
the Federation’s Constitution required of the secretary-treasurer.
She was to be “in charge of and preserve all money, properties,
securities and other evidences of investments, books, documents,
files and checks of the Federation which shall at all times be
subject to the inspection of the President and the Executive Council.”

Does that sound like a part-time job? What was happening in the
secretary=treasurer’s office, while she was spending months traveling
around the country to find out what was worrying union members? How
much longer will she maintain her arrogant refusal to tell union
members about the status of AFL-CIO’s financial assets?
* * * * *

Shuler spent a large part of her labor career in Portland, Oregon as a
member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and had
risen in the IBEW hierarchy to become executive assistant to the
international union president, Edwin Hill, her boss, mentor and
booster for the. No. 2 AFL-CIO job.

While Liz is obviously not equipped to be a competent secretary-
treasurer. I believe she has the talent and commitment to become an
excellent organizer, particularly among young workers.

Ideally, Shuler should resign and the AFL-CIO should hold a fair and
competitive election to select the best qualified member as secretary-
treasurer. Shuler could then be appointed as national organizer of
young workers.—Harry Kelber

LaborTalk (30) will be posted here on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 and
on our two web sites: (http://www.laboreducator.org