CBTU calls for re-uniting labor

ORLANDO, Fla. (PAI) — Re-uniting the U.S. labor movement after last year’s AFL-CIO-Change to Win split is critical to “ending the madness” of the GOP government of George W. Bush, declared Coalition of Black Trade Unionists President William Lucy at CBTU’s May 25 annual convention here. Lucy blasted the Bush administration for everything from the racism shown in responding to Hurricane Katrina to the deaths in the Iraq war.

The convention voted to demand talks start on “a process to identify critical issues around which discussions can take place about reconstitution of the [labor] movement.” That would let labor unify its campaign on the ground to take back the country, and the government, from Bush and his allies, Lucy said after the measure passed.

“All of labor’s resources need to be focused on better coordination on the ground of campaigns to organize workers and to mobilize our communities on issues like better schools, affordable housing and health care facilities,” said Lucy, who is also secretary-treasurer of AFSCME, now the largest AFL-CIO union. “We cannot credibly ask community leaders and our allies around the world to stand with us if we have diluted our own strength,” he added.

Making economic justice a top theme, not just in this fall’s campaign but afterwards, is also critical, Lucy said.

“Something is wrong when companies cut loyal, productive workers from their payrolls to fatten their profit margins in low-wage countries. Something is wrong when the gap between a CEO’s salary and a worker’s paycheck is wider than the Mississippi River. Something is wrong when the standard of living of American families is stagnant when the productivity of workers is increasing.

“We don’t need fickle reforms or neoliberal Band-Aids. We need a new economic order, and Black folks must lead the way,” Lucy declared. Such a new order, he added, would try to end what he called “the global and national disgrace” of “rampant inequality concealed in neighborhoods and countries marginalized by race, wealth and social power.”

Lucy took aim at Bush and his allies for incompetence and corruption. “This administration and their corrupt allies in Congress have looted the federal treasury, treating it like their personal ATM machine,” he declared.

“From refueling aircraft at the Pentagon to body armor, from war material to hot dogs in the cafeteria, they have found a way to steal from the American taxpayer. Their level of corruption is only exceeded by their level of incompetence and dishonesty.

“And no place was Bush’s incompetence, racism and hypocrisy more visible than with the federal response to the hurricane disaster in Mississippi and New Orleans. The whole world, and especially people from the Gulf region, will never forget the incredible incompetence, indifference and cronyism shown by this administration in the aftermath of one of the greatest natural disasters of our time,” Lucy said.

“This government, this superpower, this military goliath with the greatest might in the world, could not get its citizens off of bridges and rooftops, could not move people from a convention center to a place of safety, could not get water to thousands of thirsty men, women and children. Millions saw horrifying images of innocent people — mostly Black or poor or elderly — dying or suffering because their own national government had abandoned them,” Lucy stated. The Bush government, he said, “could not find its behind with both hands.”