Sep 12, 2013
CWA President Larry Cohen, who co-chaired the convention committee on growth, innovation and political action, talks about critical need for movement building.
AFL-CIO convention delegates put new emphasis on organizing, building partnerships with community allies and other strategies to restore bargaining rights and make democracy work for working families.
Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson summarized some of the convention action this way: "Having banged its head against a wall for years with nothing to show for it but a headache, the American labor movement is devising a plan to bypass the wall altogether. During its quadrennial convention here this week, the AFL-CIO has acknowledged that the laws protecting employees who seek to join a union have been rendered so ineffectual that labor must come up with new ways to advance workers' interests." Read his full column here.
You can read resolutions and watch video coverage here.
CWA President Larry Cohen co-chaired the Committee on Growth, Innovation and Political Action, which developed key programs and resolutions that delegates adopted. Among them:
- Each union must develop and submit an organizing plan that covers focus, resource commitments, strategies and tactics and projected timeline of campaigns.
- The AFL-CIO and workers will hold the political parties accountable and will work to link politics to workers' ability to organize and bargain collectively through greater alignment of political and organizing campaigns at the national, state and local levels.
- Immigration reform that includes (1) An independent governmental body to assess and manage future flows, based on labor market shortages that are determined on the basis of actual need; (2) A secure and effective worker authorization mechanism; (3) Rational operational control of the border; (4) A road map to citizenship for the current undocumented population; and (5) Improvement, not expansion, of temporary worker programs.
- Continued support for the fight to break through the barriers that block effective participation by working people in our democracy, including voter suppression, the broken Senate rules, the pervasive influence of corporate money in our political process and the lack of a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants.
Cohen outlined the resolution on partnerships to reporters, explaining it was necessary to strengthen the labor movement and reverse some of the losses suffered recently in states where collective bargaining rights were rolled back. "This is the only way that we know of that's going to turn that around," he said.
Josh Coleman, a TU activist from Wichita, Kan., joins President Cohen to talk about global support for T-Mobile US workers.
Credit: Bill Burke Photography.
Below: President Cohen talks with reporters on partnership resolution.
Cohen also addressed delegates on global organizing strategies, joined by Josh Coleman, the TU activist from Wichita, Kan.
CWA delegates to the convention – Cohen, Chief of Staff Ron Collins, District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings, TNG-CWA President Bernie Lunzer, IUE-CWA President Jim Clark, Executive Board At-Large Members Nestor Soto and Greg Wynn, Senior Director Yvette Herrera and Laura Reynolds, assistant to the CWA District 9 vice president – all spoke on the floor on resolutions and constitutional amendments, including immigration reform, an end to transgender discrimination, and other issues. Soto introduced and spoke on a resolution adopted by convention delegates that called for the unconditional release of Oscar Lopez Rivera, who is the longest-held political prisoner in the history of Puerto Rico.
CWA leaders and activists also led several action sessions at the AFL-CIO convention.
Democracy Initiative With new Executive Director Marissa Brown, President Cohen outlined how the Democracy Initiative, a diverse coalition of organizations, is fighting back to take the money out of politics, fix the broken Senate, restore voting rights to put people back into our democracy and gain a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants.
Brazilian Bank Workers Campaign Vagner Freitas, president of CUT-Brazil, and other Brazilian union leaders were joined by Cohen and UAW President Bob King to discuss how strong collective bargaining and social movement unionism has enabled 40 million Brazilians to climb out of poverty over the past 10 years. Unions in Brazil have pushed democracy and development in the right direction and are pledging cooperation in organizing.
Global Organizing Partnerships Cohen and Josh Coleman, a TU activist, discussed the CWA-ver.di partnership that is helping T-Mobile US workers build their union.
Attack on Voting Rights CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings led a discussion on voter suppression and how the labor movement and allies are fighting to stop these attacks.
Delegates re-elected President Richard Trumka and Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler to new terms; Tefere Gebre, a 45-year-old Ethiopian political refugee who immigrated to the United States as a teenager, and the executive director of the Orange County, Calif., labor federation, was elected executive vice president.