Date: Mon, 29 Sep 97 15:48:58 CDT
From: TWHefner@aol.com (by way of Michael Eisenscher <TWHefner@aol.com>)
Subject: Inside the AFL-CIO Convention--Sept. 24, 1997
From: AFTEditor@AOL.COM (AFT Member)
Sender: AFT@LISTSERV.AOL.COM (The American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
Date: 97-09-26 04:07:19 EDT
Inside the AFL-CIO Convention--Sept. 24, 1997
By Mary Boyd and Dan Gursky, AFT
24 September 1997
Publisher's note: As an AFT member, I can't help but publish also a rebuttal to the tribute to Shanker that forms part
of this story. Shanker's election effectively forced me out of the AFT
ranks for many years. HB
THE REST OF THE STORY: CLINTON ON EDUCATION
Media coverage of President Clinton's address Wednesday
focused on his disagreement with the AFL-CIO over free trade
legislation. But what didn't come across in the newspapers and on the
nightly news was the huge emphasis he placed on the importance of
education in ensuring the nation's economic prosperity.
Essential to moving the country forward, said Clinton, is an
investment in people, and this means investing in education and
training. In pushing through the largest increase in education funding
in 30 years, Clinton said, he has put more money into Head Start,
technology for schools, programs to promote reading, child tax
credits, Pell Grants and other programs. "We have to increase the
quality of education in our schools," he said, noting that the country
needs to build on its recent progress in raising student achievement.
He asked the AFL-CIO for its support in gaining congressional
approval for his planned voluntary national tests in fourth-grade
reading and eighth-grade math.
Clinton specifically singled out the AFT for its leadership on
education issues, both under Al Shanker and Sandra Feldman, and
said he would follow the union's example of promoting high standards
for students. "I'm not going to back away from it if it takes me every
last minute of the next three years," he vowed.
TRIBUTE TO SHANKER, A 'GIANT OF THE LABOR MOVEMENT'
Delegates on Wednesday passed a resolution paying tribute
to Albert Shanker, the AFL-CIO's senior vice president at the time of
his death in February. The resolution calls Shanker "one of the giants
of the labor movement of the twentieth century," a leader who "earned
a place in history as a man whose courage, intellect and eloquence
changed American society, American education and the American
AFT president Sandra Feldman added her own words of
tribute to her predecessor, praising his contributions not only to
education but also to the entire labor movement. She also highlighted
his important legacy as the long-time chair of the AFL-CIO's
International Affairs Committee: "He traveled the world, helping
freedom fighters behind the Iron Curtain--in Poland, Czechoslovakia
and the former Soviet Union," she told the delegates."He went to
Chile and South Africa and wherever else on the globe the cause of
democracy needed support."
DELEGATES APPROVE PER-CAPITA INCREASE
AFL-CIO delegates on Wednesday approved a six-cent per-capita
increase, to be phased in over three years starting in January
1998. The per-capita tax will rise from the current 42 cents per
member per month to 45 cents in 1998, 47 cents the following
January and 48 cents in January 2000. The five-cent increase over
the next two years will be used to establish a "member mobilization
and education fund." The final one-cent increase will go to a building
renovation fund for the AFL-CIO headquarters, which is currently
undergoing a $20 million renovation.
AFT HOSTS NEA PRESIDENT CHASE
National Education Association president Bob Chase arrived
at the AFL-CIO convention on Wednesday and sat with the AFT
contingent during the tribute to Al Shanker and President Clinton's
address. The AFT later hosted a luncheon, attended by AFT vice
presidents at the convention, for Chase and Evelyn Temple, NEA's
assistant executive director for affiliate services.
TWO MOVEMENTS, ONE GOAL
Organized labor and the NAACP enjoy a long-standing
special relationship: "two movements, one goal," NAACP president
Kweisi Mfume told the AFL-CIO delegates Wednesday. And it's time
for the two organizations to strengthen that relationship in the face of
shared threats to the vitality of workers, families and communities.
Instead of being able to devote themselves to fighting for good
education, for example, "Teachers unions find themselves fighting
against voucher plans in city after city," Mfume said.
He warned that the enemies of organized labor and economic
equality are "myopic and focused," so "this is not the time to be
comfortable. This is the time to be concentrated and focused in our
efforts." Mfume added: "We have stood together, marched together,
sat in together, struggled together and suffered together. Now it is
time, ladies and gentlemen, that we start learning how to win
NEW MONUMENTS MARK PITTSBURGH'S LABOR HISTORY
Pittsburgh really is the home of organized labor. This week,
some of the city's historic labor landmarks received overdue
recognition as new monuments were unveiled throughout the city. In
fact, the Westin William Penn hotel--formerly Turner Hall--where AFT
delegates are staying, was the site in 1881 of the founding convention
of what later became the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Not
only did Pittsburgh host the first AFL convention, but it was also the
site of the founding convention of the Congress of Industrial
Organizations (CIO) in 1938. Historical markers were unveiled in
honor of that convention and also to commemorate the landmark
railroad strike of 1877. The monuments are a joint project of the
Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission and the Pennsylvania
Labor Historical Society.
"Inside the AFL-CIO Convention" is prepared daily by Mary Boyd and
Dan Gursky from the AFT offices at the convention center in
Pittsburgh. For more details, visit AFT online at www.aft.org.