[Marxism] AFL denounces Million Worker March: response from MWM Committee
dwalters at marxists.org
dwalters at marxists.org
Wed Jun 30 13:10:01 MDT 2004
Statement by the Organizing Committee of the Million Worker March on
Washington in Reply to Letter from AFL-CIO National Field Mobilization
Director Marilyn G. Sneiderman
MILLION WORKER MARCH ON WASHINGTON
ILWU Local 10 Attention: Clarence Thomas 400 North Point Street San Francisco,
CA 94133 www.millionworkermarch.org
On June 23, 2004, at the behest of John Sweeney and the leadership of the AFL-
CIO, Marilyn C. Sneiderman, Director of the Field Mobilization Department of
the AFL-CIO, sent out a Memorandum to "All State Federations and Central Labor
Councils of the AFL-CIO" referencing the "Million Worker March," and directing
them "not to sponsor or devote resources to the demonstration in Washington,
We take note of the fact that this Memorandum was dispatched without any
prior communication with the organizers and official endorsers of the Million
Worker March. These include the entire ILWU Longshore Division, the National
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), the South Carolina State AFL-CIO
Labor Federation, labor councils across the United States and national
organizations such as the International Action Committee and Global Exchange.
In effect, the leadership of the AFL-CIO has gone over the heads of
significant sectors of the labor, anti-war, community and inter-faith
organizations in issuing a directive to boycott a labor mobilization in
This is unprecedented and requires us to pose the question: Why would the
leadership of the AFL-CIO feel threatened by a labor mobilization that
confronts the crisis facing working people in America and seeks to reverse the
wholesale attacks on our living standards, social services, housing, health,
and education while challenging the diversion of trillions of dollars derived
from the labor of working people to fund permanent war over decades and a
brutal war for oil and occupation in Iraq?
The Memorandum from the AFL-CIO states:
"While we may agree with many of the aims and issues of the March, the AFL-
CIO is NOT a co-sponsor of this effort and we will not be devoting resources
or energies toward mobilizing demonstrations this fall.
"We think it is absolutely crucial that we commit the efforts of our labor
movement to removing George W. Bush from office.
"We encourage our state federations, area councils and central labor councils
not to sponsor or devote resources to the demonstrations in Washington, D.C.
but instead to remain focused on the election"
The Million Worker March is organizing working people to put forth our needs
and our agenda independently of politicians and parties.
We say that only by acting in our name can we build a movement that advances
our needs. The very formation of the trade union movement was the result of
independent organizing and mobilizing of working people. The struggle for
industrial unionism, the movement for women's suffrage, the great movements
for civil rights -- all these flowed from the will to mobilize independently
and in our own name.
Our aims, with which the AFL-CIO leadership purports to agree, include
universal single-payer health care from the cradle to the grave -- that ends
the stranglehold of greedy insurance companies.
Will the defeat of George Bush result in this?
Our aims include an end to the corporate trade agreements that pit workers
against each other everywhere in a mad race to the sweatshop bottom. Will the
defeat of George Bush change this, when the Democratic Party brought us NAFTA,
MAI and Fast Track, with Disney and J. C. Penny paying Haitian workers 21
cents per hour?
Will the defeat of George Bush end privatization and the destruction of
unions in the public sector, when the Democratic Party privatized and
outsourced our jobs under the rubric of "downsizing government?" What was
downsized were our social services, while corporate profits and the military
sucked trillions of dollars taken from the sweat of prior collective labor.
Will the defeat of George Bush bring a crash program to restore our decaying
and devastated public schools, replacing them with state of the art public
education in every community in America?
Will the defeat of George Bush result in the rebuilding of our inner cities
with free modern, state of the art housing and an end to homelessness?
Will that presumptive defeat see the launching of a national training program
in skills and capacities that enlist our people in rebuilding this country?
Will it end the criminalization of poverty or abolish the prison-industrial
complex that has destroyed generations of Black and Latino youth?
Will the defeat of George Bush roll back the bipartisan union-busting and
anti-labor legislation, such as Taft-Hartley, that has been on the books for
Will a Bush defeat secure for us a modern, free mass transit system in every
city and town?
John Kerry, outflanking Bush from the far right, has called for an
intensification of the so-called "war on terror" by targeting people "before
they act" -- giving explicit sanction to secret arrests, detention without
trial and the labeling of opponents as "terrorists."
Will the removal of George Bush preserve the Bill of Rights, repeal the
Patriot Act, Anti-Terrorism Act and all the repressive legislation that has
set the stage for a Police State in America?
Will the defeat of George Bush recover the $4.4 trillion dollars that
disappeared from the Pentagon and the Department of Defense as the military
industrial complex loots and hijacks government in America?
John Kerry, the presumptive candidate of the Democratic Party, has demanded a
dramatic increase in the number of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and the extension of
U.S. military control in the Middle East and beyond.
Will the defeat of George Bush end the occupation in Iraq and the plans for
greater imperial war?
Will his defeat bring the troops home now or is the plan after the election,
as widely reported, for conscription of working class youth and an expansion
of militarism in America?
On June 25, the United States Senate voted 98-0 to hand the Pentagon $416
billion. Days earlier, the Senate voted 93 to 4 to increase the troops in Iraq
and shortly before this the Congress approved an initial military budget of $1
trillion for the next decade.
We take note of the fact that the Department of Defense Accounting Office
acknowledged that $4.4 trillion have disappeared from the Pentagon's accounts
and the books have been cooked for decades.
One trillion dollars represents $1,000 a minute since the birth of Jesus.
Will the defeat of George Bush recover these looted funds or stop the
perpetual siphoning of trillions of dollars into the arms industry, leading
inevitably to even more drastic cuts in all social services?
Today, 71% of U.S. corporations pay no taxes, but John Kerry's principal
economic adviser is Wall Street's Warren Buffett, who, along with George
Shultz, performs the identical role for Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Do John McCain, who John Kerry sought as his running mate, or Lee Iacocca of
General Motors and Chrysler, who endorsed Kerry, represent the interests of
labor and working people?
The official leadership of the AFL-CIO, faced with rapidly growing rank-and-
file support for a great mobilization of working people in America, has
ordered organized labor to cease and desist in its support for the Million
The entire labor movement and organized labor has been put on notice to
boycott the call for a Million Worker March on Washington on October 17, 2004.
Working people in America are under siege. The corporate and banking
oligarchy that has power in this society is waging class war against us all.
In the face of attack after attack, the response of the leaders of the AFL-
CIO has been silence and default
Their voices are stilled. They dare not cry out "Enough Is Enough." They fail
to take note that the two parties are financed by the same people and their
address is Wall Street.
Thirty-six years ago Martin Luther King summoned our people to a great Poor
People's March on Washington to address a system in crisis and to confront the
hijacking of our government and our country by a banking and corporate
oligarchy that has captured the two political parties in America.
Would the AFL-CIO dare send out a directive to all of labor to boycott and
sabotage the marches and mobilizations of the great civil rights movement, led
by Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X and Cesar Chavez?
In a very real sense, the labor movement in America is facing a crisis of its
own. The unrelenting class war that has been waged against us has reduced the
number of unionized workers to twelve percent. This is the result of a
conscious campaign by that one percent of the population that owns and
controls ninety percent of the national wealth.
Labor is under siege because the corporate bosses know that the trade union
movement is the organized expression of all working people and of the vast
majority of the population of the United States.
We are at the point of production and when we mobilize our ranks, we
represent a force that no illicit power, however concentrated, can hold back.
We have taken the pulse of the rank and file and of unorganized labor. The
overwhelming majority of working people want an end to permanent war and the
hemorrhage of national resources into military production and war.
Just this past week, AFSCME and SEIU, two of the largest trade unions in
America, passed unanimous resolutions calling for an immediate end to the war
in Iraq, an end to the occupation and a return of all U.S. troops.
That is why the Million Worker March reaches out to labor. We are proud that
labor councils across America have endorsed the March. We are inspired by the
knowledge that every ILWU local from San Diego to Anchorage has endorsed. The
are energized by the endorsement of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, by
the Farm Labor Organizing Committee and by national organizations for
We are organizing in every trade union in America and drawing upon the energy
and passion of the labor movement wherever people desire change.
We are summoning working people from every walk of life to mobilize around a
working peoples' agenda, and a vision of an America transformed
Ours is a March and a Mobilization for all who say "Enough Is Enough!" Infant
mortality in Harlem is greater than in Bangladesh and in Bangladesh the same
Stevedore Association that sought to break the ILWU is privatize their ports
and imposing starvation wages.
Unemployment in our inner cities has reached catastrophic proportions with
over 60% of black male youth without work while militarized police units are
deployed as an occupation army.
One out of four children in America goes to bed hungry but hundreds of
millions of dollars of our union dues fund politicians who do nothing about it.
Our labor movement has the opportunity and the obligation to reach out to
hundreds of millions of working people, organized and unorganized.
We need not hand politicians a blank check so they can soft-soap us at
election time and destroy our jobs, benefits and social services all the time
Join us in standing up for our rights. Join us in advancing our own agenda.
Join us in fighting for our communities and our jobs.
Support the ILWU workers who shut down the port to protest apartheid and
launched a mobilization against Taft-Hartley and all repressive anti-labor
Support the one and quarter of a million women who marched and mobilized in
Washington D.C. for reproductive rights and equal pay for equal work.
Send a message to all the politicians -- whoever they are and under whatever
banner they parade: We are not for sale; we cannot be soft-soaped, lied to or
taken for granted.
Let them know that we have our own agenda based upon our own experience, our
own needs and our own vision and that we shall hold everyone's feet to the
We say to the leadership of the AFL-CIO and to all and everyone who has hopes
or expectations of John Kerry or any politician seeking our support: Do not
take us for granted; do not confound silence at the top for acquiescence at
Labor has issued too many blank checks only to have our pockets picked and
our aspirations ignored.
Let us join together -- everyone in the house of labor.
Every gain we have ever made has been won under the signal banner of labor:
we are working people proud and strong, union strong, and we fight for our
rights with our own voice and in our own name.
Come together, sisters and brothers. Let us tap into our great strength --
the desire for change and for social justice.
We call on everyone to endorse, build, finance and mobilize the Million
Worker March on Washington, D.C. on October 17 -- a day when we demonstrate
across the United States that labor and working people are on the march and
will no longer be denied.
(statement issued June 27, 2004)
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