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Related Categories: U.S. | Labor & Workers
Democracy, General Strikes & Fascism At AFL-CIO With Van Deusen Pres Vermont AFL-CIO
by Labor Video Project
Vermont AFL-CIO president David Van Deusen reports on the refusal of the AFL-CIO Executive Council to allow his state's resolution for democracy in the AFL-CIO with direct election of the national officers by the rank and file as well as preparing for a general strike against any attempted coup or insurrection.
sm_medina_liz_afl-cio_convention_6-12-22.jpg
David Van Deusen who is president of the Vermont AFL-CIO talks about their resolutions on democracy and the need to prepare for a general strike against the threat of a coup and insurrection along with the rise of fascism. He reports that the AFL-CIO Executive Committee tabled his state's resolution stalling a debate on these issues at the convention.

This interview took place during the convention on 4/1422.

AFL-CIO CONVENTION REFUSES TO CONSIDER VT AFL-CIO RESOLUTIONS ON DIRECT RANK & FILE ELECTIONS OF OFFICERS & DEFENDING DEMOCRACY
https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=326498226318779&set=pcb.326533872981881

At day two of the National AFL-CIO Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, Union leadership has declined to allow for the two Vermont AFL-CIO Resolutions to be debated and voted on by Delegates on the floor. Therefore these progressive resolutions have been defeated without a single vote being cast.

The first resolution called for a transition towards the direct election of national officers by rank & file members as well as more democratic autonomy for State Labor Councils and Central Labor Councils regarding their ability to define their own social and political positions and public electoral recommendations.

Presently, 500 +/- Delegates, largely chosen by the Internationals, have the exclusive authority to pick national officers, including President. the twelve million+ rank & file members have no direct vote on who will lead them.

The Vermont AFL-CIO asserts that if our membership base is to be engaged, active, and willing to do what needs to be done when it comes to building a more powerful and impactful Labor Movement, our members must feel a direct ownership over the Union body which seeks to represent them. One way that such a sense of ownership is achieved is by internally democratizing the AFL-CIO and having the members themselves, all of them, elect their officers. Another is to allow for more localized labor bodies, such as State Feds & CLCs, to have the freedom to democratically chart their own social and political course, still in solidarity with the National AFL-CIO, but without suffering micromanaging and being over scrutinized by the AFL-CIO office in Washington DC.

As President of the Vermont AFL-CIO, representing Union members from across the Green Mountains, on day one I took to the floor to express my grave concern that Convention organizers had chosen to undemocratically silence a resolution which sought to bring basic democracy to the largest worker organization in the country.

On day two, today [6/13/22], this resolution on internal Union democracy briefly appeared on the official agenda for a floor discussion. However, when the time came, the resolution was ignored. VT AFL-CIO Executive Director Liz Medina (a UAW member and Delegate for the Green Mountain Central Labor Council) then made a point of order asking the Convention to follow the agenda and consider the resolution. Medina also asserted that the issue of democratizing the Labor Movement is a vital component in the task of building Union power. I also spoke up echoing Director Medina's concerns. To this National AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler explained that the resolution on internal democracy appeared on the agenda by accident, and would not be considered because the Resolutions Committee referred it to the Executive Council, and the Executive Council declined to allow it to go to a vote of the Delegates. The irony that a resolution aiming to bring more rank & file democracy to the National AFL-CIO was defeated through undemocratic means should be lost on no one.

The second resolution brought forth by the Vermont AFL-CIO, which also was not allowed to come to the floor, would have committed the National AFL-CIO to taking steps to organize a General Strike in the event of a second neo-fascist coup attempt in the wake of the upcoming 2024 U.S. Presidential Election. The methodology of the defeat of this resolution mirrored that of the one-member-one-vote resolution. Given that Congress is presently engaged in hearings about the extent of the 2020-2021 coup attempt by the Trump Administration and its rightwing supporters, it is disheartening that this issue was effectively ignored by the Convention. We do so at our own peril (and at the peril of our Republic).

Both of these VT AFL-CIO Resolutions will be available in full, at the end of this communication.

In other Convention news, in was inspiring to hear progressive labor leaders Sara Nelson (CWA) and Mark Dimondstein (APWU) speak about emerging victories and the struggles to come. Also, National AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler and a slate of candidates ran for office unopposed and were elected by the 500 +/- Delegates present.

A number of very good resolutions, those allowed to come before the Delegates, were also adopted. Thus far these include:
* Winning guaranteed Healthcare For All;
* Retirement Income Security For All;
* Building Worker Power To Increase The Pace And Scale of Organizing;
* The Time Is Now For Fixing America's Broken Labor Laws;
* Invest In Better Jobs And Stronger Families;
* Fight For Shorter Workweek And Work Life With No Loss Of Pay;
* Ensuring Public Education Remains A Beacon Of Democracy;

While the failure of the National AFL-CIO to put the Vermont AFL-CIO resolutions before the delegates is discouraging, disappointing, and short sighted, I know that bringing up these important issues at this Convention was just a start. I also know that the fight to democratize the National AFL-CIO will be long and hard, but in the end we shall prevail because we must prevail. The AFL-CIO, as the largest worker organization in the United States, is the vehicle for foundational change in our society, but to realize such victories we must first rise to the challenge before us and become that which we envision.

United!
David Van Deusen
Vermont AFL-CIO President

***

The Following two resolutions were not allowed to be debated or voted on at the 2022 National AFL-CIO Convention:

AFL-CIO SUPPORTS RANK & FILE UNION DEMOCRACY
One Member One Vote & State Labor Council Autonomy
Adopted By The Vermont AFL-CIO on April 14, 2022
By Vote of The Executive Board For Consideration of The National AFL-CIO at The 2022 Convention, Philadelphia, PA

Whereas the Labor Movement is strongest when workers, their unions, and their labor bodies are democratically empowered;

Whereas in order to make foundational change in society which will be to the benefit of union members and the working class as a whole, union members must be ready and willing to take action to advance our common agenda;

Whereas union members are most apt to take action when they are made to feel ownership over the direction, policies, and strategies of their coordinating labor bodies, and feel connection with those union officers they elect to serve in key AFL-CIO roles;

Whereas the empowerment and articulation of a collective will and judgement of the many as opposed to the few produces better decisions and cultivates ownership of such decisions by the rank & file;

Whereas the current structure of the National AFL-CIO which we have inherited can be made more democratic;

Whereas the current structure of the National AFL-CIO does not encourage rank & file participation in the decision making process, nor does it even allow for members to universally elect officers;

Whereas we would not tolerate such an undemocratic process when it comes to election of political figures, and therefore we should not tolerate it within our own organization;

Whereas a number of major unions, most recently the AFL-CIO affiliated UAW, have allowed for direct election of their officers;

Whereas union democracy should not be limited to elections, but rather should encourage rank & file debate and decision making on the local and state level;

Therefore Let It Be Resolved that prior to the next Convention the National AFL-CIO President shall work with the National Executive Board to craft a Constitutional amendment to allow for the direct election of all National AFL-CIO officers and Executive Board members by rank file AFL-CIO union members utilizing the principle of one-member-one-vote;

Let It Be Further Resolved that such a Constitutional amendment shall be voted upon at the next National AFL-CIO Convention;

Let It Be Further Resolved that should such a Constitutional Amendment be adopted by the National AFL-CIO, State Labor Councils shall be encouraged to adopt direct elections of officers as well through the amendment of their State Constitutions;

Let It Be Further Resolved that while the National AFL-CIO shall continue to possess the authority to define the national and international policies and politics of the AFL-CIO, State Labor Councils may take those positions they see fit on such matters as long as related resolutions or policy statements incorporate the acknowledgement that “This resolution represents the position of the State Labor Council and not necessarily that of the National AFL-CIO.”

Let It Be Further Resolved that while the National AFL-CIO retains the authority to make political endorsements in national elections, up until such a time when an endorsement is made, State Labor Councils may provide public recommendations to the National AFL-CIO for President of the United States. Such public statements shall not be considered an endorsement, but may express a preference. However, once the national AFL-CIO issues an official endorsement, the matter shall be considered closed, and State Labor Councils shall endeavor to maintain a united front with the National AFL-CIO concerning election matters.

And Finally Let It Be Resolved that State Labor Councils, through their own internal democratic processes, are empowered to call for and organize General Strikes as they see fit in order to uphold and advance the interests of the working class as long as the call for
a General Strike is limited to within the relevant state borders. National General Strikes may be called for by the National AFL-CIO.

***

THE AFL-CIO SHALL FIGHT TO DEFEND OUR DEMOCRACY!
If Democracy In The U.S. Comes Into Crisis We Shall Organize a General Strike!
Adopted By The Vermont AFL-CIO on April 14, 2022
By Vote of The Executive Board For Consideration of The National AFL-CIO At The 2022 Convention, Philadelphia, PA

Whereas in the aftermath of the 2020 U.S. election, where Democratic Joe Biden won, our country faced the very real threat of an undemocratic fascist coup by the Republican Trump Administration;

Whereas the threat of a Trump coup was taken seriously by a numerous political figures such as U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont) and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark A. Milley & other Generals;

Whereas a number of AFL-CIO Central Labor Councils and State Labor Councils took such a threat seriously and rightly took steps to defend democracy in our Republic should such a coup come to fruition;

Whereas the Trump Administration, although unsuccessful, took unprecedented and dangerous steps to implement their coup including but not limited to baseless court actions to reverse the election results, attempts to manipulate the Electoral College, efforts to halt the certification of the election, consideration of a declaration of martial law, and encouragement of armed violent actions by fascist civilian supporters;

Whereas the violent far right January 6th insurrection in our Capital showed just how precarious our democracy is;

Whereas the threats to democracy in the U.S. as experienced in 2020 and January 2021 have not sufficiently subsided and fascism remains on the rise throughout the U.S.;

Whereas it is rational to anticipate that the 2024 Presidential election (and those beyond) may likewise carry with it a new coup threat from fascist and far right elements;

Whereas the power of the Labor Movement and the working class is in our labor, and our strongest weapon is the General Strike;

Whereas the AFL-CIO, the labor Movement, and the working class generally must always be ready to defend democracy in our Republic by any means necessary;

Whereas the AFL-CIO is anti-fascist and is not only committed to defending the democracy we have but additionally to the struggle to achieve a more direct participatory democracy in the United States;

Therefore Let It Be Resolved that should democracy in the U.S. ever again come under existential threat, the AFL-CIO shall call for and organize a nationwide General Strike in order to defend democracy;

Let It Be Further Resolved that should there be a coup attempt in 2024 the AFL-CIO shall call for a General Strike;

Let It Be Further Resolved the National AFL-CIO calls on and encourages State Labor Councils, should the need to defend democracy arise, to take what steps they deem necessary to carry out a General strike;

Let It Be Further Resolved that the AFL-CIO shall commit itself to combating the rise of fascism in the United States and the National AFL-CIO President, working with the Executive Board, shall form an anti-fascism taskforce which shall meet in order to formulate a plan of action to confront the rise of this dangerous ideology of hate. And further that this taskforce shall communicate its recommendations to all affiliated State Labor Councils no later than May 1, 2023.

***

Click on the following link to read the progressive platform of the Vermont AFL-CIO (Ten Point Program For Union Power, also known as The Little Green Book): https://vt.aflcio.org/news/vermont-afl-cio-ten-point-program

Additional media:

WorkWeek 6-14-22 2022 No Democracy At AFL-CIO Convention With Mike Elk Of Payday Report
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio/ww-6-14-22-2022-afl-cio-convention-with-mike-elk-of-payday-report

AFL-CIO Convention Refuses To Consider VT AFL-CIO Resolutions On Direct Rank & File Elections Of Officers & Defending Democracy
https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=326498226318779&set=pcb.326533872981881

General Strike, Fascism, Coups & A Democratic Labor Movement With Vermont AFL-CIO David Van Deusen
https://youtu.be/SGyudkem1cY

Fascism, Imperialism & Labor With Vermont AFL-CIO President David Van Deusen
https://youtu.be/xI5wLyycy3w

Vermont AFL-CIO President David Van Deusen & The Fight To Defend Working People & The AFL-CIO
https://youtu.be/bS152f71t5A

Concerning the War in Ukraine: No Love For Putin; No Guns For Nazis
https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/03/24/concerning-the-war-in-ukraine-no-love-for-putin-no-guns-for-nazis/

Possible Trump Coup & Vermont AFL-CIO Call For General Strike with Vermont Fed President David Van Deusen
https://youtu.be/CRfle7zUGNI
https://www.facebook.com/vtworkers/posts/2753812508174326?__tn__=K-R
https://www.rmtlondoncalling.org.uk/content/rmt-observers-attend-american-trade-union-convention-it-passed-historic-general-strike?fbclid=IwAR2lrcHCjT2gBFBfVRfSEkoHxeMgFD72dgtpiesl8fNg4FB8v39krn-H1sc

Vermont AFL-CIO & Democracy
https://vt.aflcio.org/news/vt-afl-cio-elects-new-leaders-progressive-turn-labor

Vermont AFL-CIO Members/Delegates Authorize Executive Board To Call For General Strike To Oppose Trump Coup!
https://www.facebook.com/vtworkers

WorkWeek 2-11-21 Rise Of Fascism and The Role Of Unions and Working Class
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio/ww-2-11-21-rise-of-fascism-and-role-of-unions-and-working-class

For more info:
Vermont AFL-CIO
https://vt.aflcio.org

WorkWeek
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio

Production of Labor Video Project
http://www.labormedia.net



AFL-CIO 2022 Resolution 47 Coondemn Rising Fascism, Fight For Working-Class Unity
https://aflcio.org/sites/default/files/2017-11/47_Adopted_CONDEMN%20RISING%20FASCISM%2C%20FIGHT%20FOR%20WORKING-CLASS%20UNITY.pdf
WHEREAS, “In Our Unity Lies Our Strength” is a crucial union principle for building a better life for all workers; and

WHEREAS, Wall Street and the corporate powers counter workers’ unity and solidarity with the strategy of divide and conquer, always attempting to divide native from foreign born, men from women, white from black, private sector from public sector, full time from temporary, and U.S. workers from workers around the world; and

WHEREAS, the rise of the “alt-right,” KKK and neo-Nazis/ neo-fascists and their divisiveness of white supremacy, bigotry, intimidation, and race and religious hatred is a direct threat to the working class, to the oppressed and to our union organizations; and

WHEREAS, union members and people of goodwill across the political spectrum are disturbed and outraged by the rising presence and violence of these hate groups in Charlottesville and elsewhere—and the green light given by the White House; and

WHEREAS, we should never forget the devastation fascism, most identified with Hitler-led Nazi Germany, inflicted on the people of the world behind the white supremacist theories of the superiority of the “Aryan Master Race”; and

WHEREAS, one of the first acts of Nazi Germany was to ban trade unions and persecute, jail and kill unionists. Hitler’s Germany invaded one country after the other, leaving tens of millions murdered by the Nazis’ brutal iron heel crushing those who did not think, talk or look like them; and

WHEREAS, it took World War II, led by the “Allied Powers” of the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union, to defeat world fascism, but not before Hitler exterminated 6 million Jewish people in concentration camps (the Holocaust), worked to death millions of slave laborers used to enrich the German industrialists, and cost the lives of some 80 million human beings; and

WHEREAS, the recent events in Charlottesville, including the killing of the young woman protester Heather Heyer, the emboldened white supremacists and their spewing of race hatred toward African Americans, Jewish people and Latino and other immigrants, underscore that if we are not vigilant, we could wake up in a fascist America; and

WHEREAS, for unions, a worker is a worker, is a worker. We are all equal, assets to society and to our unions; and

WHEREAS, workers have far more in common than differences; workers all want and deserve decent wages and benefits, quality and affordable health care, dignified retirements and a bright future for coming generations;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO, gathered at its 28th Constitutional Convention, condemns and actively opposes the hate mongering, intimidation and divisiveness of the fascist/neo-Nazi white supremacist groups and the political encouragement that they are receiving from the highest levels of government; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we salute and support those counter-protesters, such as the 40,000 that took to the streets of Boston for equality and against the hate mongers, who are drawing a line in the sand; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO encourage our affiliates to do the same and engage in the struggle to defend union rights and all democratic rights in opposition to rising fascism.
§Fireworks But No Debate At AFL-CIO Convention
by Labor Video Project
sm_afl-cio_2022-06-12-shuler-redmond-elected_orig.jpg
While there were noise on the stage at the AFL-CIO convention real debate on the rise of fascism, a general strike to stop coups and insurrections and union democracy within the AFL-CIO. These issues facing workers were kept off the agenda when resolutions from the Vermont AFL-CIO were prevented from coming on the floor by the AFL-CIO leadership.
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