Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
Though with a bi-partisan tone, the Workers Stand For America Rally (August 11) is more about the Democratic than Republican Party. This action is clearly within the Two Corporate Party system, and at least in what I’ve seen, there is no mention of the outside the system Occupy movement. I think it’s a fair question to ask if this rally would happen without the Occupy message. Regardless, the fact that some unions are taking this step is significant. As I keep on saying, we need actions from within and without the Duopoly.
Taking a Stand for America
A disappearing middle class.
Jobs that pay less and less.
Working families and students drowning in debt.
Profits going straight to the 1 percent. …
America needs a Second Bill of Rights … that build on the political freedoms of the original by promoting economic freedom and opportunity …
Join us on August 11 when a cross section of working Americans will gather in Philadelphia … to demand an economy that works for all of us. We will send a message to Republicans and Democrats that we need to restore the American Dream for all. …
It’s time to change the conversation. It’s time to take a stand.
Both “the change” and the “stand” have already begun, even before Occupy. But this union action is significant, if for no other reason than the fact that they are putting money into the rally and not (as much or at all) into the Democratic Party convention.
From The National Journal:
Unions Divert Democratic Convention Money to Rally for Worker Rights …
Look no further than the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to measure the price that Democrats are paying for the decision to hold their national convention in union-hostile territory without labor’s input.
Traditionally a generous supporter of Democratic conventions, IBEW contributed $1 million to fund the festivities in Denver in 2008. This year, it will instead be writing its check for a ‘Workers Stand for America’ rally in Philadelphia on Aug. 11.
Among others, the AFL-CIO has joined the IBEW in the Rally, and in declaring America’s Second Bill of Rights, which organizers are asking both Obama and Romney to sign.
… We hold these rights to be essential to our vision of America and believe that the principles contained therein should guide our government, business leaders, organizations and individuals in our common goal of a just and fair society.
The Right to Full Employment and a Living Wage … to Full Participation in the Electoral Process … to a Voice at Work … to a Quality Education … to a Secure, Healthy Future.
Very basic stuff, which makes the need to state them explicitly significant in itself. From the National Journal report:
The road to the rally began almost a year ago, when IBEW President Ed Hill requested a meeting with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, and other top DNC officials about their choice of Charlotte.
It wasn’t just that North Carolina was a right-to-work state with the lowest rate of unionization in the country, Hill said. …
‘There was no discussion really with the leadership of the AFL-CIO or with the building trades’ . …
Had labor’s concerns fallen so far off the radar that they were an afterthought for the party? That was the impression Hill left with after his July 25, 2011, meeting with Wasserman Schultz … .
Apparently the DNC decided that ignoring labor wasn’t such a good idea, and agreed to participate in the rally, sign the declaration and “attempt to incorporate pieces of it into the Democratic platform.” You think fundraising concerns maybe played a role in that decision?
IBEW’s Hill emphasized that, “The rift was never with Obama,” and “unions will play their customary key role in turning out Democratic voters this fall.” He stressed, “the sour state of relations between convention organizers and labor.” This is a near perfect example of working for change from the inside – valid work to do, but it does lead to some walking of a very fine line.
IBEW, and other unions, have decreased or eliminated contributions to the convention. AFL-CIO’s Trumka sent a memo encouraging support of the Rally. As to the Dem gathering in Charlotte:
‘This year, we will not be making major monetary contributions to the convention or the host committee for events or activities around the convention.’
In another statement, an
… AFL-CIO official said that the decision was motivated solely by the organization’s strategy of focusing on grassroots efforts this election cycle … .
It isn’t clear what a focus on grassroots efforts means, especially as related to the race for the WH.
From Rally organizers, in Why We Will Be In Philly:
We are gathering to call … attention to how our politics, society and economy have been … geared almost entirely to the well-being of the richest while everyone else is left behind. …
We will not accomplish everything in one day or with one event, but we must start somewhere.
We hope you can join us … as we build a grassroots army to put this country back on the road toward economic opportunity.
A “grassroots army” will be the more powerful if it includes both inside and outside the System roles. And as it recognizes this is not a short-term effort. Toward that end, two examples, from OWS:
(Logo via Workers Stand For America)