*VT Political Parties To Back Labor Initiatives Or Face Moratorium On Political Endorsements;
*Top Priorities $15 An Hour Livable Wage For All, Card Check, Worker Miss-classification;
*Strategic Partnership With VT Progressive Party On Union Based Green Mountain New Deal;
Submitted to Enough 14.
Barre, Vermont -On December 7, 2019, the Vermont AFL-CIO held its largest political conference in years at the Old Socialist Labor Party Hall in Barre. Over 80 AFL-CIO members (along with labor supporters) gathered to hear from political parties, leaders, and allies in order to consider their perspectives before voting to make radical changes in the State Labor Council’s political direction. Speakers included Dan Justice (Northeast Senior Representative of the AFL-CIO), Lt Governor David Zuckerman (Progressive/Democrat), Conor Casey (Montpelier City Councilman), Terje Anderson (Chairman of the Vermont Democratic Party), State Senator Anthony Pollina (Chairman of the Vermont Progressive Party), VT Representative Brian Cina (Member of the Democratic Socialists of America), VT Representative Joanne Donovan (Co-Chair of the Vermont Workers’ Caucus), James Haslam (Executive Director of Rights & Democracy), Amy Lester (Organizer with the Vermont Workers Center), Andrew Sullivan (UE Local 255 Member), John Davy (President of the Chittenden County Chapter of the VSEA), Tev Kelman (Rank & File Activist in the NEA), Don Tinney (President of the Vermont NEA), and others. After considering the points of view of these political and labor leaders, and after posing many hard questions to them, VT AFL-CIO members engaged in a long and thoughtful discussion/debate concerning the political future of labor in Vermont.
In the end, the assembled Union workers, representative of the 10,000 members of the Vermont AFL-CIO, held an indicative vote stating that every biennium the Labor Council shall provide all three major political parties a set of legislative directives. If these directives are supported by the parties the VT AFL-CIO will consider making endorsements of various pro-labor candidates from said parties in specific races. However, any party that fails to advance these labor directives will face a two year moratorium on receiving endorsements for its candidates in elections. It was further affirmed that the three directives for 2020 will be a $15 an hour livable wage for all workers, card check union recognition, and moving worker miss-classification enforcement from the Department of Labor to the Attorney Generals Office. Secondary priorities the Vermont AFL-CIO will support and seek to advance (but which, if not immediately adopted, would not trigger an electoral moratorium in 2020) shall remain:
o A Union Based Green Mountain New Deal;
o 12 Weeks Of Paid Family Medical Leave;
o Free Tuition For All State Colleges/Universities;
o Single Payer Healthcare;
o Defined Benefit Pension For All;
o Affordable Housing;
o Affordable Childcare;
o Access To Healthy Locally Produced Food For All;
o Establishment Of A Town Meeting Based Referendum System Of Self-Government;
o That The Expansion Of Social Programs NOT Rely On Any New Regressive Taxation – Taxation Must Be Progressive In Nature Whereby The Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share!
In addition, Traven Leyshon, leader of the Green Mountain Central Labor Council, addressed Union members on the situation in Rojava (Syria) where there the YPG/YPJ are facing an invasion from imperialistic Turkish forces (following betrayal by the Trump Administration). This attack puts at risk the Rojava Revolution which has been seeking to establish a radical participatory democracy based on social and economic equity. The Green Mountain Central Labor Council is on record supporting this revolution and asserts that this struggle is the struggle of our times; on par with the Spanish Civil War and Paris Commune. At least two Vermonters have served as volunteers within the YPG and engaged in combat against ISIS prior to the Turkish invasion.
All attendees received the new Vermont AFL-CIO Little Green Book; a Ten Point Program For Union Power – the new progressive platform of the State Labor Council. The Vermont AFL-CIO encourages ALL labor organizations in Vermont to study this program and for rank & file Union members to make this the basis for how we, together, move labor in a new, more progressive direction.
Vermont AFL-CIO President David Van Deusen stated, “Today was a historic day. One large section of Organized Labor in the Green Mountains has turned a corner. We look forward top now doing the hard work needed to change what is politically possible in Vermont.”
Immediately following the Political Summit, the Vermont AFL-CIO Executive Board met in order to officially act upon the recommendations of the Political Summit. Here the Executive Board also voted to establish a strategic partnership with the [democratic socialist] Vermont Progressive Party in order to advance a Green Mountain New Deal. District Vice President Liz Medina, UAW, was appointed liaison to this far reaching effort. The following policy was also adopted, pending final edits at the January Executive Board meeting, as the State Labor Council’s position concerning political parties and elections:
Vermont AFL-CIO 2019 Resolution On Elections & Parties
The Vermont AFL-CIO’s true power is in our labor, solidarity, commitment to taking mass rank & file action, and organizational density;
the Vermont AFL-CIO shall grow our power, the power of the working class, and achieve far reaching social, economic, & political victories largely through self-organization;
The Vermont AFL-CIO is beholden to no political party;
There are presently three major political parties in Vermont (Progressive, Democrat, and Republican);
The Vermont AFL-CIO has no self interest in propping up any political party which does not effectively fight for union rights and workers rights;
A political party needs to demonstrate a unified and unqualified support for organized labor in order to be viewed as a true friend of labor;
The Vermont AFL-CIO strongly asserts that union members should never be asked, encouraged, or expected to support political candidates which do not support us on our issues;
Too often and for too long organized labor has taken a short sighted view and has backed political parties and candidates who rather then being labor champions are, at best, a lessor of two evils;
This flawed political approach has lead to a regression of union power;
The Vermont AFL-CIO understands the need to build union and working class power independent of political parties and candidates who do not stand with us;
The Vermont AFL-CIO is taking the long view of building a more profound union and working class power throughout the Green Mountains and beyond;
Electoral politics is just one part of said objective and is far from any envisioned endpoint;
Let it be resolved that:
Politics as usual is over…
That the Executive Board of the Vermont AFL-CIO, taking into account the views and priorities of the rank & file, will provide every major political party in Vermont a set of clear legislative directives every biennium;
-These legislative directives shall seek to increase the rights, better the living standards, increase the social benefits, and further the democratic reach of union members & working class people as a whole;
The Executive Board will inform the political parties that:
-Successful legislative action on said directives may result in the Vermont AFL-CIO supporting select candidates from their party in future election efforts;
-Such endorsements shall be reserved for the proven and unwavering allies of organized labor who sign an AFL-CIO pledge concerning our social, economic, and political priorities;
-Where the Vermont AFL-CIO chooses to make such endorsements, union resources shall be put to the impacted campaigns, and said campaigns shall be conducted in such a way so as to not only win the vote, but also to leave a stronger local labor movement in its wake;
-Failure to legislatively implement said directives, by all or part of a specific political party, shall carry the consequence of the Executive Board of the Vermont AFL-CIO, insofar as such action is within their defined powers, withholding any and all political endorsement of candidates for Vermont House & Vermont Senate who’s primary affiliation is of said party;
-Such a moratorium, when triggered, will remain in effect for a period of not less than two years (and may be extended by a majority vote of the Executive Committee);
Such a moratorium may only be overridden in extraordinary cases concerning specific incumbent candidates when said candidates are active members of the Vermont Workers Caucus, a like pro-labor caucus, or are an active or retired union member in good standing, and if the candidate commits to signing a Vermont AFL-CIO pledge concerning our social, economic, and political priorities;
In other extraordinary cases, non-incumbent candidates, especially those running in a primary against an incumbent viewed as an adversary by organized labor, may also be exempted from this moratorium if said candidate has a platform and proven record of supporting labor on all our issues, and if they commit to signing a Vermont AFL-CIO pledge concerning our social, economic, and political priorities;
Such exemptions shall only be acted upon through a two-thirds majority vote of the Vermont AFL-CIO Executive Board;
This policy shall remain in force within the Vermont AFL-CIO, ad infinitum, until and unless it is amended or withdrawn by official act of the Executive Board, by an act of members/delegates at a duly held Vermont AFL-CIO Convention, or by being superseded or ruled to be in conflict with any part of the Constitution of the Vermont AFL-CIO or the Constitution of the National AFL-CIO.
The following is a link to the Vermont AFL-CIO Little Green Book (Ten Point Program For Union Power): https://vt.aflcio.org/news/vermont-afl-cio-ten-point-program-union-power?
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