In more than 60 meetings with members of Congress or their
aides, UE members met with a full range of reactions: friendship, interest and support;
confusion and indecisiveness; bland lack of commitment; polite lack of support; outright
If a snear
Delegates took time to rally for coss-border solidarity,
specifically to show their support for the Echlin Workers' Alliance NAO complain against
the Connecticut -based Echlin Corporation.
'Building the Labor Party is a priority for UE,' said Genl.
Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark. After meeting with Capitol Hill politicians, one delegate declared:
"The Democrats and Republicans are bought and paid for; we have to do something
Representatives Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) and William Coyne
(D-Pa) stress the real issues and threats facing working people ... and tell delegates to
hold onto hope ...
UE General Secretary-Treasurer Bob Clark
Political Action Conference delegates agreed with the assessment of Genl.
Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark that "Its Labor Party time!"
"The last three days basically does show us the need for a labor
party," said Brahm Muther, Local 218 at the conferences closing session.
"It should be obvious that things arent working around
here," commented Richard Drylie, Local 683. "The Republicans and
Democrats are bought and paid for; we have to do something different."
President of an Erie, Pa.-based amalgamated local, Drylie told delegates
that he joined the Labor Party after a years reflection; his local recently
affiliated. "Its necessary to support the Labor Party today if you want your
kids to have anything in the future," Drylie declared.
Most delegates had reached the same conclusion. When Clark asked the Labor
Party members in the room to raise their hands about two-thirds of the delegates
Labor Party 'A Priority'
Building the Labor Party is a priority for UE, Clark said. He likened the
party to a permanent coalition of unions and allies that will enable working people to
defend their interests and contest power. "If were going to make a difference
we have to build a base the same way we do in an organizing campaign," Clark said.
UE can be proud that many of its district and local leaders have joined
the Labor Party; the next challenge is to sign up executive board members, stewards and
activists, said Ed Bruno, Labor Party organizer.
He encouraged delegates to ask their locals to affiliate, distribute the Labor
Party Press and sponsor the Labor Party workshop on corporate power. "Everyone
who goes through the workshop comes out a better union member and frequently a Labor Party
member," Bruno said. He announced that a New England Labor Party conference will take
place May 30.
TAKING A STAND Delegates to the 1998
UE Political Action Conference rally for
cross-border solidarity. 'The only solution
to corporate explitation across borders is to
trade union organization across borders,'
Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley (right) tells a rally
in support of the Echlin Workers' Alliance
NAO complaint against the Connecticut
corporation. (Story elsewhere on the UE web ...)
Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) shares
his thoughts with UE Political
Action Conference delegates.
The economic boom? "It is a huge lie!" declared Independent Rep.
Bernie Sanders in a Capitol briefing for delegates to the UE Political Action
Conference last month. Vermonts sole representative in the House, Sanders is
chairperson and founder of the House Progressive Caucus and a consistent friend of UE.
No Boom ... Just Increasing Disparity!
The real story is declining wages and the growing gap between the rich and poor,
Ours is an extraordinarily wealthy nation; the problem is how that wealth is
distributed, he insisted. For example, Sanders said, the U.S. spends more on health care
than any other country. A fortune goes to the insurance and drug companies while more than
40 million lack health coverage.
Politics is about creating a society in which people can live in dignity, Sanders
declared, a society where men and women who work 40 hours a week dont live in
poverty. But creating change is impossible when two thirds of U.S. citizens dont
vote, if and when corporate-controlled media keeps the facts from the people.
Unusual for a Congressman, Sanders asked the advice of the assembled union activists on
how to mobilize the majority for political change.
'They Don't Make a Penny
Unless We Produce a Product!'
Rich Drylie, Local 683 stressed the role of trade union education and said defeat
of the Republicans anti-union gag bill (misnamed the "Paycheck Protection
Act") is "a must!" Mary Larsen, Local 1111 expressed dismay at
elected officials who turn their backs on workers facing job loss. Don Wimmer, Local
123 talked about the importance of broadcast media. "Its got to start with
our kids," said a delegate.
Sanders heartfelt expression of respect for the dignity and worth of labor
received a forceful, sympathetic response from Janet Stefanik, Local 791.
"They dont make a penny unless we as workers produce a product!" Stefanik
'We Should Always Have Hope'
Rep. William Coyne (D., Pa.) outlined for delegates the anti-labor bills now before
Congress and cautioned that the danger continues. He cited the "Comp-Time," TEAM
and "Payroll Protection" bills, and warned that fast track is not dead.
"Its important to keep pressure on the swing votes," said Coyne, who sits
on the House Trade Subcommittee.
Through their so-called "Payroll Protection Act," House Republicans "are
trying to silence the only voice working families have," Coyne said. The Pittsburgh
Congressman suggested a better name for the bill would be "The Republican Incumbent
Protection and Worker Disenfranchisement Act."
Despite the dangers, Coyne said, "We should always have hope."