Date: Sat, 4 Oct 97 10:56:31 CDT
From: email@example.com (Brian Hauk)
Subject: AFL-CIO Convention Draws To Close
Organization: InfoMatch Internet - Vancouver BC
AFL-CIO Convention Draws To Close
By Ernie Mailhot, from the Militant, Vol. 61, no. 35
13 October 1997
PITTSBURGH - The four-day convention of the American
Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
(AFL-CIO) ended September 25 with a rally of up to 200 people
outside the convention center featuring AFL-CIO president
John Sweeney and Democratic Party politician Jesse Jackson.
Like the rest of the convention, the rally and the
deliberations of the last day reflected the impact of the UPS
strike and recent union organizing victories.
Among other speakers featured at the convention was Kweisi
Mfume, executive director of the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He urged closer ties
between labor and civil rights organizations.
Elisa Sa'nchez, leader of MANA, a national Latina
organization, gave a special presentation calling on
delegates to advance women, especially those of color, into
the AFL-CIO leadership bodies.
Jaime Marti'nez, an delegate from the International Union
of Electrical Workers in San Antonio, Texas, took the floor
on several occasions, condemning the racism and indignities
faced by immigrant workers from Mexico. "We need to work
across borders," he said, explaining why unionists should
support demonstrations for immigrant rights like the Oct. 12,
1996, march in Washington, D.C.
A resolution entitled "Civil and Human Rights" was
approved that stated, "Affirmative action continues to face
unrelenting attacks in the courts, in Congress and in state
legislatures across the country." It went on, " if there are
flaws in the execution of these methods, then by all means we
should correct them. But let us not use them as a pretext for
returning to the complacent and degrading policies of the
President William Clinton spoke to the convention
September 24. As his motorcade arrived he was met by several
Boilermakers Union members carrying signs opposing extension
of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to Latin
America. Inside, Clinton got a cool response from delegates
to his speech defending renewal of "fast-track" authority to
draft trade deals, which must be voted up or down by Congress
without amendment. His speech was interrupted briefly by
heckling from a few delegates.
Describing the U.S. capitalist rulers' interests in such
trade negotiations with other countries Clinton said, "We
have 4 percent of the world's population and we enjoy 22
percent of the world's wealth. If we want to keep that 22
percent of the wealth we have as 4 percent of the world's
people, we have to sell something to the other 96 percent."
The convention approved an amendment to the AFL-CIO
constitution titled, "Modernizing the AFL-CIO's Policies
Regarding Anti-Democratic Influences and Movements." This
amendment replaced all direct references to excluding from
union membership or office those who are members of the
Communist Party, communists or fascists.
New language was inserted calling for the exclusion of
those who support "authoritarianism, totalitarianism,
terrorism and other forces that suppress individual liberties
and freedom of association."
International greetings to the convention were given by
Robert White, president of the Canadian Labor Congress, and
Margaret Prosser of the Trades Union Congress of Britain.
Other business taken up by the delegates included the
election of all of the top officers of the 13 million-member
organization. None of the posts were contested, and all of
the current officers were reelected. A constitutional
amendment passed earlier in the convention extended the term
of office from two to four years.
Ernie Mailhot is a member of the International Association
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