KC conference to strategize on resisting Koch and the right
Koch brothers | Donkey Hotey/Flickr (CC)

KANSAS CITY—With the radical right-wing Koch Brothers poised to spend $400 million – or more – to take over U.S. politics and install their henchmen everywhere from city councils to Capitol Hill, a group of progressives will gather in Kansas City on August 9-10 to strategize on how to resist them.

Unions, including Service Employees Local 1 and Missouri Jobs With Justice, are among the sponsors of Kicking the Koch Habit: A Conference On Resisting The Right-Wing Agenda, at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

The conference will occur just days after Missourians vote, on August 7, on the right-wing’s state Right to Work law. The GOP-run state legislature passed it in 2017 and then-GOP Gov. Eric Greitens, who ran on a pro-RTW platform, eagerly signed it.

Unions, civil rights groups, JWJ, churches and community groups struck back with the WeAreMissouri coalition. They gathered more than 310,000 signatures statewide – three times as many as they needed – to put RTW on this year’s ballot, delaying its implementation until the voters decided. Opinion polls show double-digit margins against RTW in the Show Me State.

That didn’t stop the Koch Brothers, rich right-wing oilmen from Kansas City, from jumping late into the RTW fight. UMKC labor educator Judy Ancel, host of a pro-worker radio show on KKFI, The Heartland Labor Forum, reports the Kochs opened a pro-RTW office in nearby Liberty, Mo., and are putting volunteers on the ground.

To fight back against the Kochs, conferees will be able to strategize at dozens of workshops with progressives and allies, said Ancel, one of the conference’s organizers.

Anti-Koch speakers include national progressive commentator Jim Hightower, Nancy MacLean, author of Democracy in Chains; The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America and Jason Stanley, who wrote How Fascism Works; The Politics of US and Them. Details are available at kkfi.org/conference.

There is one irony in holding the anti-Koch conference now: The Kochs and their GOP big giver heavyweights have, with one or two exceptions, recently had their differences with right-wing GOP President Donald Trump and his congressional puppets. The Kochs are particularly upset over Trump’s opposition to so-called “free trade” and to comprehensive immigration reform. The Koch brothers also refused to back Trump in the 2016 GOP presidential primaries.


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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