BUILD THE LABOR PARTY:
RETURN TO THE SOURCE
Resolution submitted for consideration by the
2nd Constitutional Convention of the Labor Party. Submitted by
The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE)
The continued deterioration of the economic and political climate in the United States reminds us of the pressing
need for the Labor Party. Working people live and work under increasingly difficult circumstances, as big business steadily tightens
its grip on the levers of economic and political power. The undemocratic and corrupting hold of big business on our national
political and economic life is even greater now than when Labor Party Advocates (LPA) was created twelve years ago. We operate in a
modern political environment where the two-party "system" maintains its historic political monopoly on the United States.
That monopoly is defined today by a Republican Party that represents the most anti-labor sectors of big business, and a Democratic
Party largely content to exist to provide only a slightly less destructive version of the same thing. Working people and our unions
suffer greatly as a consequence of this two-party trap. The increasing similarity of the two major parties merely re-enforces the
political pessimism of working people, leading to a wholesale drop-off of political participation by working people and a
consequential worsening of our situation. Our desire to construct a pro-worker political alternative independent from corporate
influence is what unites us in our Labor Party effort.
The six year history of our Labor Party, and the several years of LPA organizing that preceded it, have taught us
many lessons. The creation of such a union-based, progressive political vehicle faces many challenges. The resources to build such a
movement are precariously thin, and the political terrain that permits its growth is constantly shifting. We have no choice,
however, but to work with the raw material at hand. No "perfect moment" exists for such a project. Labor Party support
within the labor movement has enabled us to establish the organization, but remains too narrow and precarious to provide long-term
stability. Some erosion of union support has already been experienced, as the political situation within individual unions shifts,
or those unions pass out of existence altogether. Many affiliate unions are also prevented from deepening their Labor Party
connection, as all attention is focused on responding to employer attacks. Our election-focused political system also provides a
major impediment to Labor Party growth, as potential supporters are inclined to expect instant electoral activity and results from
an organization still lacking a firmly consolidated base of membership and support. All these factors remind us that we have little
room for error when it comes to allocation of Labor Party resources.
The history of Labor Party growth and development has shown that a rooting within the established unions is
essential to maintaining such an organization, if even on a skeletal basis. And our experience shows us that energy and resources
expended on recruitment within the labor movement have proven far more productive than broad-based issue-oriented appeals. The
unions have provided the bulk of the membership and financial support necessary for the functioning of the Labor Party. While the
campaigns of agitation and activity around issues have won the support of working people and occasional public attention, the
balance sheet has proven that little recruitment takes place during these essentially educational functions. And for those who
desire to focus on issue-based campaigns, several other well-established national coalitions already exist expressly for this
Labor Party organizing and recruiting work has proven that groups of trade union leaders and activists within
individual unions are capable of winning affiliation to the Labor Party, and capable of recruiting numbers of rank-and-file members.
The basis for Labor Party support has sometimes been an identification with the ambitious goals of the Labor Party; but more often
than not the Labor Party impulse is the direct or indirect result of the attacks on these unions mounted by the political forces
within the two major parties. A review of the Labor Party affiliate unions will reveal a list of unions within industries that have
all suffered, to one degree or another, the harsh consequences of two-party control of our political system.
For example, in UE, the vast bulk of Labor Party affiliations and memberships came about as a response to Republican
and Democratic support for anti-worker "free trade" policies and the resulting destruction of the nations manufacturing
base. Rank-and-file UE members found it impossible to continue to support the political forces that were actively working with big
business to promote the destruction of their jobs and working conditions. This affinity for the Labor Party is also enhanced by the
fact that the Labor Party has been virtually the only organization providing at least some of the factual record to the
rank-and-file regarding the real role of Republicans and Democrats in the destruction of our jobs and communities.
Our collective experiences have shown that now is not yet the time to engage in Labor Party electoral work. Our base
is too limited, and right-wing Republican control of the White House and the U.S. House of Representatives ensures that much of the
labor movement will be single-mindedly focused on electing Democrats in the coming elections. If anything, the current electoral
landscape is similar to when LPA was launched. The conclusion therefore is to recognize the need to return to a strategy akin to
what helped generate the early momentum of LPA.
To do this, the Labor Party needs to recruit and retain union support based primarily on a compelling critique of
the two-party system and its destructive consequences for working people. We must be clear that this is a longer term project, and
assure affiliates that we will not make adventurous forays into the electoral arena until a sufficient base is built. Continued
diversions into electoral work or issue-based campaign activity in the near term will not build the Labor Party base that we need.
The source of Labor Party stamina and structure is its organized base within the trade union movement. A return to this source of
Labor Party support at this time is therefore a necessity.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THIS SECOND CONSTITUTIONAL
CONVENTION OF THE LABOR PARTY:
Directs the Interim National Council (INC) of the Labor Party to commission brief documentary reports exposing
the facts and consequences of the two-party attack on working people within the manufacturing, natural resource, transportation,
public sector, health care, construction, and other sectors, as needed;
Directs the INC to commission a brief documentary report detailing the growing convergence of the two major
parties both politically and organizationally;
Directs the INC to construct and implement a plan of work and staffing to distribute and discuss these reports
with existing affiliate unions and potential affiliates within these industry sectors as a tool to shore-up existing affiliates
and provide hard-hitting ways to demonstrate the need for Labor Party growth;
Directs the INC to systematically review the organizational state of the Labor Party, and devise a recruitment
and re-recruitment plan of both affiliates and rank-and-file members;
Directs the INC to review the literature and public relations of the Labor Party and implement a plan to make
recruitment of new affiliates and members their top priority;
Intends that this work supplant issue-based campaigns as the main focus of Labor Party activity, effort, and
resource allocation during the coming period, and that the Labor Party refrain from encouraging further electoral work until a
substantially greater base of support is created.