Greens Morton Alexander and Paige Kenney recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to speak to the Executive Board of their union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
by Morton Alexander†
GreenPages, Vol 7, No.3
Spokane, Wash. Greens Morton Alexander and Paige Kenney recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to speak to the Executive Board of their union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
They presented a resolution passed by their union, the Washington Federation of State Employees, as well as the Washington State Labor Council, the King and Spokane County Labor Councils and Pride At Work (the national Gay/Lesbian caucus of the AFL-CIO)
The resolution calls on the AFL-CIO to eliminate language it had inserted into the bylaws of all labor councils in 2000.
The clause bans members from becoming officers, employees, or leadership of a labor council if they’ve been involved in activities supporting “authoritarianism, totalitarianism, terrorism and other forces that suppress individual liberties and freedom of association.”
Many of the above groups, which believe that labor should model the democracy it demands, condemned the clause for “being vague, being a relic of the anti-communist McCarthyite witch hunts, and for having the potential to chill robust debate and to be used in a discriminatory manner against delegates or employees.”
The AFSCME Executive Board was largely receptive to the resolution. They shared the increasing concern that such a clause panders to the worst of the present atmosphere of repression, exploiting fear of some unknown “enemy” in order to squelch dissent and democratic discourse.
Many of these union leaders from across the country also expressed frustration with a seemingly authoritarian edict handed down to their labor councils by the national AFL-CIO leadership.
The issue was tabled, and AFSCME President Gerald McEntee appointed a committee of Executive Board members to bring to their next quarterly meeting a draft of their own resolution to the AFL-CIO.†
The resolution will probably ask for such language to no longer be mandatory for labor councils around the nation.