See the petition circulated for several days prior to the CLC meeting:
For an update on November 3, 2011, see NYC Union Leaders Stall Working-Class Fightback
On October 19, the Delegates Meeting of the New York Central Labor Council (CLC) voted unanimously for New York’s unions to mobilize for a massive march on Wall Street on November 5. The power to act on the delegates’ vote now lies with the CLC Executive Board, which is composed of the city’s local union presidents.
The CLC brings together delegates from the AFL-CIO and other unions in New York City. If its major unions make a serious effort to mobilize their members, we could see a truly massive march on Wall Street that challenges the ongoing efforts to make working-class and poor people pay the price for the economic crisis.
Moved by AFM Local 802 Recording Vice President John O’Connor and seconded by TWU Local 100 Vice President for RTO Kevin Harrington as well as other delegates, the motion concluded:
Working People Shouldn’t Pay for a Crisis That They Didn’t Make!
No to Layoffs, Budget and Service Cuts!
Create Jobs, Build Infrastructure with a Federal Program of Public Works!
Stop Police Harassment of the Wall Street Occupation!
The idea for the march and motion to the CLC was initiated by transit, janitorial, city and college worker union members and young Wall Street protesters who are supporters of the League for the Revolutionary Party. A big boost for the motion came when an LRP supporter raised the motion at a meeting of the City College Chapter of the PSC union and it was overwhelmingly approved. A petition backing the motion quickly gained the support of other trade unionists and a large number of Wall Street occupiers and protesters, a good number of whom attended the CLC meeting to distribute the motion and speak in favor of it.
The challenge now is to make sure that the union leaders respect the CLC delegates’ vote and really build the march. That won’t be easy.
Since the economic crisis broke out on Wall Street in 2008, this country’s union leaders have barely lifted a finger in opposition to the wasting of trillions of taxpayers’ dollars on bailing out the banks and the terrible wave of layoffs and budget cuts that have followed. Comfortable in their positions of privilege, the union leaders have mostly been concerned with holding onto their power and channeling workers’ anger into the trap of voting for the Democratic Party.
In the CLC Delegates Meeting itself, there were already signs of backsliding. No sooner was the vote being taken than CLC President Vincent Alvarez, while promising to respect the decision, seemed to suggest that the CLC Executive Board might need to be flexible about some of the details of the protest.
Any union leader who takes a real step toward organizing struggles by workers against the attacks on the jobs and living standards will find us and many militant workers ready to join them in that effort. But in our experience, the pro-capitalist, pro-Democratic Party union leaders can be expected to use an inch of “flexibility” to avoid organizing a real fightback against the anti-worker attacks.
In fact the way today’s union leaders avoid organizing struggles by their own members, let alone in conjunction with militant young people like those participating in the Wall Street occupation, came through in the discussion of other topics of the meeting. For example, regarding the struggle going to vote down Ohio Governor Kasich’s vicious union-busting laws, a report was given describing the unions’ almost total reliance on phone-banking and door-knocking and very little on mass worker rallies, let alone strikes. But all experience teaches that to defend their rights, jobs and living standards, workers can only afford to rely on their own power to unite in struggle. In Wisconsin an occupation of the Capitol Building and massive protests against Republican Governor Scott Walker’s union-busting legislation led to growing calls for a general strike. But union leaders wasted that momentum and channeled the struggle into a passive election campaign that was predictably defeated.
So we must make every effort to build further support for the march and to make sure that the city’s union leaders make it happen. Union members should take every opportunity to challenge their representatives, from Shop Stewards to elected office holders, to make sure their union does everything it can build for the march. Motions in support of the march should be raised in every possible union meeting. Organizations and individuals who haven’t already endorsed the march should be encouraged to do so by writing to Workers.March.Against.Wall.Street@gmail.com .
Importantly, we must watch out for and denounce any tokenism or lip-service from the union leaders. The unions can send organizers all over to rally support for the march, they can print and distribute leaflets, record and broadcast video and radio messages, send e-mails and phone messages to all their members to build a mighty protest. That’s the sort of real mobilization we need.
The widespread support for the Wall Street protests shows that workers’ bitter sense of injustice is turning toward a recognition of the need for action. This is an important chance to take forward the fightback against the capitalists’ attacks that is so long overdue.