L.A. County Federation of Labor officially ends communist exclusion

LOS ANGELES—On Monday, Dec. 18, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor took a historic step, closing an era of exclusion and opening another of inclusion. It was a move to edit, improve, and clean up archaic language in the constitution of the most powerful local labor organization in California, and arguably in the United States. The changes bring it into the reality of the daily life of this multicultural, multiethnic, multiracial, immigrant and native-born, young and old, gay and straight, gender diverse, abled and disabled working-class metropolis.

One of the changes was to remove the section that banned membership to communists in this workers’ organization.

The old language dates from an era when the labor movement felt coerced—by the 1917 and 1918 Alien and Sedition Acts and the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act among others—to join the U.S. government’s Cold War against communism. At times, the U.S. labor movement expelled communists from unions at home and became an active collaborator with the CIA and the State Department’s suppression of labor unions abroad on the basis that they were “communist-influenced.”

This change comes as part of a progressive trend in the County Fed, as it is lovingly known, that was quickened under the previous leadership of Maria Elena Durazo, the first woman to ever lead the organization, and brought to fruition under the current leadership of Rusty Hicks.

Communists as workers have always worked to build unions that are democratic and inclusive. Communists, like other workers, have fought against abusive companies in order to build unions, introduce better working conditions, wages and benefits so as to improve the social and civic life of our communities and society.

The new, unanimously approved constitution, rather than banning communists, instead denies and restricts members of any organization whose leadership, constitution, bylaws, or policies deny or restrict membership, individual liberties, or freedom of association on the basis of race, color, religion, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, primary language, citizenship, or immigration status.

Kudos to the L.A. County Fed and its leadership for taking yet another step to improve the world by improving it for working stiffs in this city and country. This is truly a gift of inclusion in a holiday season that is filled with scrooges like head scrooge President Donald Trump.


CONTRIBUTOR

Ismael Parra
Ismael Parra

Ismael Parra is a writer and activist living in Los Angeles.

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