AFL-CIO: Walesa didn't speak for Polish workers at Romney meeting


CHICAGO -- The largest labor federation in the United States is warning Polish communities nationwide, including here, that Lech Walesa's meeting with Mitt Romney in Poland this week did not have the support of Polish workers, their unions or the labor movement here in America.

The warnings by the labor movement, say AFL-CIO officials gathered now in an executive council meeting in Washington D.C., will go to Polish communities in this city and to others including those in Cleveland, Milwaukee and New York.

The AFL-CIO is commissioning its field staff to bring that message into many of the Polish neighborhoods but particularly into those in swing states like Ohio, according to Cathy Feingold, the federation's international affairs director.

Romney met Walesa, the one-time leader of the Polish trade union Solidarnosc (Solidarity) on July 30 at the end of his three-nation tour - a tour marked by Romney gaffes in London and war mongering against Iran while he was in Israel. Walesa, during his meeting with Romney, endorsed the presumptive Republican nominee.

Katherine Kowalski, a CTA worker at a downtown station here, chuckled when asked for her reaction, saying, "So here in America the Romney who exports jobs and hates unions suddenly loves workers and unions when he goes to Poland. Polish people will not fall for this." Kowalski, 40, and a mother of two elementary school children, arrived in Chicago from Gdansk, Poland 20 years ago.

"Walesa is a disgrace anyway," she said, "Because any support he gave to workers was just to boost himself. His support for workers ended when he became president of Poland."

During the period Walesa held the Polish presidency, after the collapse of socialism in that country, he pursued policies opposed by the trade union movement. Feingold told a press conference of reporters at the AFL-CIO executive council meeting yesterday: "Even today, Solidarnosc has made it clear that they had nothing to do with the invitation to Romney and even more important that they do not agree with the top-down economics Romney continues to support.

"The Polish unions have distanced themselves from the Romney policies that weaken workers rights and job creation," Feingold declared, adding, "and what is most important is that the workers and unions in Poland stand in solidarity with American workers whose rights are under attack as we speak. Romney does not stand in solidarity with American workers."

The decision by the labor movement to send its field staff into Polish communities in swing states is seen as particularly important to the Obama campaign's attempt to increase its support among white male ethnic voters.

Other speakers at the AFL-CIO press conference yesterday noted that Walesa is not a spokesman for Polish workers, that he has resigned his position with Solidarnosc and has since formed an "independent" political party. When he ran for the Polish presidency on that party's ticket in 2000 he received only 1 percent of the vote.

"Walesa's views," said Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, who has many Polish constituents, "have apparently drifted away from those of Polish workers and voters.

"But in the end," Kaptur said, "Romney's effort may be for naught, as voters focus on the economy." She said voters in her Cleveland district have told her that the Romney trip was "an embarrassment."

Photo: In Freeport, Ill., workers at Sensata Technologies protest the loss of employment to oversees workers. Sensata is owned by Bain Capital, the firm presidential candidate Mitt Romney once led. Employees have appealed to Romney to intervene. Joe Tamborello /The Journal-Standard/AP


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  • Romney is an incredible cretin. Anyone who thinks, can't take him seriously. I don't get it. He is making his tours more enjoyable than the primary races!

    wage peace

    Posted by Gabriel Falsetta, 08/02/2012 7:16pm (4 years ago)

  • Walesa's views haven't "drifted away from Polish workers." He NEVER stood with Polish workers! He was a spokesman for an anti-worker, anti-union (& anti-communist) group that mouthed support for workers while actually working to destroy progress Polish workers had fought for and gained. Solidarnosc was able to gain support from workers in Poland when the Worker's Party in that nation became beaurcratic and undemocratic, and separated themselves from the working class. Solidarnosc, while praised to the heavens by the corporate run media here, was the creation of the CIA and the reactionary Catholic church.

    When Solidarnosc came to power in Poland they instituted pro-corporate policies that destroyed union gains, and even closed the shipyard that the rat Walesa came from. That experience is potentially a great lesson in what occurs when the worker's party separates itself from the workers and what can happen when working people are conned by phony "pro-worker" retoric coming from corporate hirelings.

    Walesa, like his brother, the Russian rat Gorbachev, have both been totally rejected by the working class and people of their respective nations, neither getting above 2% of the vote in elections. Unfortunately, their damage has been done. They live in luxury, paid by their corporate masters, while the working folks they fooled & sold out now live in poverty!

    Posted by bruce bostick, 07/31/2012 9:24pm (4 years ago)

  • I suggest that Romney could do a fairly good job -- as pharoah in 2012 BCE.

    Posted by Non-Party Comrade, 07/31/2012 7:08pm (4 years ago)

  • Walesa showed his true colors as an opportunist the moment he became Poland's president. The rank and file of Solidarity supported socialism. Walesa played along until his moment of fame had come as the nation's leader. Surely, Walesa wasn't pro-union when he betrayed Solidarity, and now, what, he's anti-union? Being pro-Romney certainly is telling. His betrayal of Solidarity helped set up what Naomi Klien, in her book calls disaster capitalism, which is its title. she goes into some rather unknown details; at least things I never heard in the U.S. media.

    Posted by revolution123, 07/31/2012 4:56pm (4 years ago)

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