Build Unity and Trust Among Workers Worldwide

Report by Fred Hirsch
Published here: 29/07/04

Dear Friends, Sisters and Brothers,

Thanks to us all for the steps we took toward genuine international labor solidarity!

The 'Unity and Trust' resolution that was recently circulated among us has had a profound effect at the California Labor Federation Convention. The Federation Resolutions Committee combined three resolutions which opposed government financing of AFL-CIO activities abroad . In that process 'Unity and Trust' came through with 95% of its demands intact and was augmented very positively by parts of the other resolutions. Please look over the resulting resolution below which was passed unanimously by over 400 delegates representing over two million union members in the largest and most powerful state federation in the AFL-CIO. This action will have an impact.

We can all thank each other for the work so many of us did to inform union leaders, activists and CalFed Convention delegates about the 'Unity and Trust' resolution and the need to get the AFL-CIO off the government payroll to establish genuine international solidarity and true independence in foreign affairs.

The resolution 'BUILD UNITY AND TRUST AMONG WORKERS WORLDWIDE' that the convention produced is unprecedented. In order to help shape its concepts from words on paper into real change in AFL-CIO policy, we have to bring the resolution into our union meetings for discussion and adoption and send it urgently to our international unions. Effectively building that kind of pressure cannot fail to produce the kind of change we all seek to meet the demands of workers in the the 21st century with strengthened international solidarity around the world.

What are your thoughts on this?

What can you do in your union and labor council?

Fred Hirsch
Vice President, Plumbers and Fitters Local 393
(831) 475-4192 or (408) 225-3030

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THE FOLLOWING RESOLUTION WAS PASSED UNANIMOUSLY AT THE CALIFORNIA LABOR FEDERATION CONVENTION ON JULY 13, 2004 IN SAN DIEGO CALIFORNIA.

BUILD UNITY AND TRUST AMONG WORKERS WORLDWIDE

Resolution No. 6 - Originally presented by the San Francisco Labor Council, San Francisco; the South Bay Central Labor Council, San Jose; the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council, Castroville; and Plumbers and Fitters Local 393 (San Jose).

WHEREAS, the AFL-CIO and unions generally in the U.S. are deeply committed to the concept of solidarity with labor movements in other countries; and

WHEREAS, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has a dubious history, having been deployed frequently to promote U.S. government foreign policy objectives, including assisting in overthrowing democratically elected governments and interfering in the internal affairs of the labor movements of other countries; and

WHEREAS, the conventions of the International Labor Organization guarantee workers of every country the right to choose to be represented by the labor organization or union of their own choosing, free from government, corporate or foreign interference or constraints; and

WHEREAS, the AFL-CIO leadership, through the Federation's Solidarity Center, has announced its intentions to apply for $3 to $5 million in funding from the NED for its operations in Iraq; and

WHEREAS, AFL-CIO acceptance of NED funding for its solidarity work in Iraq may give the appearance , if not the effect, of making the AFL-CIO appear to be an agent of the U.S. government and its foreign policies, which may taint the good reputation of the Federation in the eyes of labor movements in other countries and draw into question the motivation and true independence of the Federation in its international affairs; and

WHEREAS, the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council and its affiliate, Plumbers and fitters Local 393 presented the 'Clear the Air Resolution' at the July 24, 2002 California Labor Federation Convention, and though many delegates had current concern about Venezuela, 'Clear the Air' outlined an AFL-CIO role leading to the 1973 coup in Chile and, among other things, called upon the AFL-CIO, 'to fully account for what was done in Chile and other countries where similar roles may have been played in our name, to renounce such policies and practices..., describe, country by country, exactly what activities it may still be engaged in abroad with funds paid by government agencies and renounce any such ties that could compromise our authentic credibility and the trust of workers here and abroad and that would make us paid agents of government or of the forces of corporate economic globalization'; and

WHEREAS, leaders of the State Federation presented a substitute resolution, 'Looking Ahead on AFL-CIO Policy Abroad', calling 'upon the AFL-CIO to convene a meeting with the State Federation and interested affiliates in California to discuss their present foreign affairs activities involving government funds. The aim of the meeting will be to clear the air concerning AFL-CIO policy abroad and to affirm a policy of genuine global solidarity'; and

WHEREAS, leaders of the State Federation, the SBLC, Local 393 and UFCW Local 428 negotiated an agreement to accept the compromise 'Looking Ahead' resolution, based explicitly on the understanding that the meeting with the AFL-CIO had the burden of satisfying the outlined concerns and if it failed to do so, then the original 'Clear the Air' resolution would require implementation. In calls for unity, that understanding was clearly stated on the floor of the convention without discord or disagreement; and

WHEREAS, significant disagreement exists about whether the meeting that took place on October 14, 2003 fully addressed the concerns raised within the original 'Clear the Air' resolution; and

WHEREAS, questions have been raised about how the information provided in this meeting relates to information contained in newly released government documents about the AFL-CIO's involvement in Venezuela and its acceptance on National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funds; now therefore be it

RESOLVED, that this 25th Biennial Convention of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO affirm its support for the principles of autonomy, independence and self-determination embodied in the International Conventions of the International Labor Organization; and be it further

RESOLVED, that this 25th Biennial Convention of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO urge the national AFL-CIO and its Solidarity Center to exercise extreme caution in seeking or accepting funding from the U.S. government, its agencies and any other institutions which it funds such as the NED for its work in Iraq or elsewhere, and to accept these funds only to further the goals of honest international labor solidarity, not to pursue the policies of Corporate America and the United States government; and be it further

RESOLVED that the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO supports the basic demand of the 'Clear the Air' resolution to call upon the National AFL-CIO 'to fully account for what was done in Chile (and Venezuela) and other countries where similar roles may have been played in our name, and to describe, country by country, exactly what activities it may still be engaged in abroad with funds paid by government agencies and renounce any such ties that could compromise our authentic credibility and the trust of workers here and abroad and that would make us paid agents of government or of the forces of corporate economic globalization'; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO urge the National AFL-CIO to fund its international programs and activities, whenever possible, from funds generated directly from its affiliates and their members; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that the California Labor Federation send this resolution to the National AFL-CIO for immediate attention in order to move forward together in creating trust and unity among workers worldwide.