UAW Convention report

A worker correspondent who attended the recent UAW convention as a delegate sent in this report:

Delegates at the UAW Constitutional Convention held in Las Vegas spent their time discussing issues important to their union and working people as a whole. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney addressed the delegates and expressed solidarity with our struggles. Sweeney said that corporate America first attached the steelworkers, then the airline workers and now the autoworkers.

Marcello Malentacchi, general secretary of the International Metalworkers’ Federation, told the delegates that today’s workers labor in a world increasingly affected by international forces. “Free-trade agreements and multinational corporations pit workers and communities against each other in a race to the bottom that nobody can win,” he continued. “In the face of such power it is more and more important for workers to work internationally to protect their interests.”

Among the resolutions passed were support for:

• Universal single-payer health care, improving the prescription drug plan for Medicare recipients, and strengthening Social Security.

• Immigrant rights: path to citizenship, equal rights and protections at work and support for unemployment and workers’ compensation.

• Fair trade: trade agreements that guarantee workers’ rights and jobs.

• An end to the war in Iraq: calling for the immediate development and rapid implementation of a plan to end the war and bring about the safe return of our troops there.

AFSCME Council defends public employees

Big corporations and anti-worker politicians are attacking public employees and the services they provide as never before, according to a report delivered to AFSCME Illinois Council 31 local presidents and executive board members June 17. The Council met to discuss the 21st Century Committee Report which was called for at AFSCME’s last international convention. The report will be ultimately discussed by delegates to the 37th International Convention this summer in Chicago.

The onslaught against decent wages, adequately funded pensions and affordable health care continues unabated, the report says. The goal of the attack is to privatize public jobs, take away workers’ rights and then dismantle the public sector. Vital services which public employees provide have been cut by President Bush and Congress in order to give massive tax cuts to the super-rich.

The report challenges the union to make big changes because, although AFSCME’s membership has grown and its political power has increased, these gains are not enough.

The 21st-century vision proposed for consideration in the report includes coordinated action at all levels of the union, a deepened commitment to organizing, strengthened political action and bold leadership in fighting for universal health care.

Henry Bayer, executive director of Council 31, stressed the need to involve the rank-and-file membership as never before, educating members through local newsletters and person-to-person contact.

The report was received with an overwhelmingly positive response by the local union leadership. This bodes well for its acceptance at the union’s upcoming convention.

One glaring omission, in this writer’s opinion, is that a discussion of the effects of the Iraq war on working people was not begun.

— Shelby Richardson (shelrichjr@msn.com), Chicago.

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