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Summary Reports
Labor Party's First

Day Three
Sunday, November 15

Delegates Hear
Nader ... Keep House ...
And Wrap-Up

Labor Party's First Constitutional Convention  

Delegates gave a rapturous welcome to crusading consumer advocate Ralph Nader, introduced by chairperson Rose Ann DeMoro as "the shop steward of the American people." Nader told the convention that time was right to build a major new party that speaks for workers. He gave strong approval to the guidelines for electoral activity adopted by delegates on Friday afternoon. "There’s no point in going into the political arena if you don’t know where you’re going," he said. The popular speaker also counseled the Labor Party to tolerate "no infiltration and subversion" of its ranks.

Nader pointed out that working people have been losing ground while the gap between their wages and executive salaries grows ever greater. The average chief executive officer now makes 200-300 times more than the average entry-level worker; the minimum wage is one-third less, in real terms, what it was in 1950.

The consumer advocate pointed to the multinational corporations’ growing concentration of power and wealth in virtually every sphere, and encouraged the Labor Party leadership to look beyond the work environment, to see working people as consumers, taxpayers and voters as well.

In 93 major races on Election Day 1998 candidates faced no or only nominal opposition, Nader observed. "The hollowness of the two-party system is your tunnel to success." The Labor Party is very likely to win races at the local level if it chooses them carefully, he added.


Next, the convention considered and adopted a resolution setting out a fair trade campaign; the resolution rejects "NAFTA, WTO, MAI and all such ‘free’ trade agreements." The resolution also says that no goods should be allowed to enter this country unless produced under ILO-convention conditions or basic occupational safety and health and environmental conditions. Delegates rejected an amendments specifying that international boycott or solidarity campaigns be conducted only when initiated or endorsed by workers of the country concerned.


The convention adopted a number of constitutional amendments, including a revised Labor Party Implementation Agreement, that were largely housekeeping measures. Delegates approved a provision that allows the $500 affiliation fee to be reduced in case of need. The Constitution Committee accepted as a friendly amendment language requiring the next Labor Party convention to take place in the spring of 2002; the original language had left the time, date and place at the discretion of the National Council, but within five years.

The convention accepted a number of Resolutions Committee proposals for fine-tuning the language of the party’s program.

A debate ensued over the Committee’s proposed language that unions should have the right to bargain and strike free from government interference; the convention rejected narrower language. One proposal from the Committee advocated the addition of "religion" and "political beliefs" to the divisions promoted by employers; delegates approved without discussion an amendment from the floor adding "sexual orientation."

Delegates also debated the abortion issue; proposed but ultimately defeated amendments would have taken the party in two divergent directions. The convention voted overwhelmingly to keep the language adopted at the founding convention, together with this amendment recommended by the Resolutions Committee: "Unimpeded access to a full range of family planning and reproductive services for men and women, including the right to continue or terminate a pregnancy. We oppose any forms of coerced sterilization."


Kathleen O’Nan gave the final credentials report: A total of 1,414 delegates attended the convention. These included six international union delegations with 149 delegates, 177 affiliated locals and regional union body delegations with 473 delegates, 56 endorsing union delegates with 114 delegates and 39 chapter delegations with 207 delegates.

Baldemar Velasquez of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee took the microphone to respond to rumors that his delegation would have walked out had the convention adopted a resolution specifically referring to abortion. FLOC would not have walked; "we are not a one-issue organization," he said. Stressing his members’ religious beliefs, including a belief in the sanctity of life, he said the question is, would the delegates accept FLOC? Delegates responded with warm applause.


Chapter Convention Summary
Day One Summary | Day Two Summary
Summary Index

More Information About the Labor Party

Summaries Produced by Peter Gilmore, Michael Kaufman, and Laura McClure.

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