"more pro-labor news than a year of the L.A. Times"


L.A. Labor News * Editor: Jim Smith * July 12, 1995 * #6




* County budget fight.

* Interview with Tom Donahue.

* Sweeney campaigns in L.A.

* 3,000 attend organizing meeting.

* SAG president turns politician.

* Mergers & Affliliations.

* Labor Publications.

* Calendar.


Copyright 1995 L.A. Labor News. To reach L.A. Labor News:

FAX: 310/399-7352 * Voice: 310/399-8685

E-mail: LALabor@aol.com

Postal: P.O. Box 644, Venice, CA 90294

July 12, 1995 * #6




L.A. County workers are taking their fight against massive layoffs and social service cuts to the streets.

On July 6, members of SEIU Locals 660 and 535 blocked traffic at the intersection of Temple and Grand, in front of the County Hall of Administration. After about two hours, L.A.P.D. officers finally gave an order to disperse and arrested 20 demonstrators who had sat down in the street as an act of civil disobedience.

Nineteen of those arrested were taken to a police station at 6th and Wall streets and released after being given a ticket for blocking the street. Lacking a wheel-chair-accessible paddy wagon, police had to push Rusti Morgan, a disabled eligibility worker, down the street before ticketing and releasing her.

County officials blast Supervisors

Two elected officials, Sheriff Sherman Block and District Attorney Gil Garcetti, have told the Board of Supervisors they are considering suing the county to block cuts and layoffs in their departments. Both are refusing to make any cuts until a final budget is ratified by the Supervisors.

Garcetti told the Supervisors that the D.A.'s OSHA program, which he said had recently led to the indictment of two Morton Salt officials in the death of a worker, would have to be shut down (see L.A. Labor News #5). "This is a vitally important area," said Garcetti.

Emergency coalition launched

Unions, businesses and civil rights groups launched an Emergency Coalition to Save Los Angeles on June 26 and this week unveiled an "Alternative Plan to Keep Los Angeles Working."

The Alternative Plan summarizes the impact of Chief Administrative Officer Sally Reed's budget on various social services and on the County as a whole. It also proposes a range of options for increasing revenues instead of cutting jobs and services. It includes common-sense proposals such as increasing compensation to the county from the federal and state governments for the cost of medicaid and Medi-Cal programs.

More controversial proposals including charging the media to cover trials in county courtrooms and raising the sales tax.

Other proposals include a so-called "Tipplers' Tax," on drinks sold in bars. This 10-percent tax could bring in $200 million per year but would require state legislative authorization.The sale or lease of just one percent of County real estate holdings could net $220 million. A local income tax surcharge of 5 percent of state taxes could provide at least $225 million per year states the report.

The Plan also calls for the creation of a Revenue Officer and Finance Commission to concentrate on generating new revenue for the County.

Copies of the Alternative Plan may be obtained by calling 310/393-6488.

Town hall meeting

Local 660 is sponsoring a public "Town Hall" meeting on L.A. County's budget crisis at 6 p.m., Thursday, July 13 in the DWP building at 111 N. Hope St. A demonstration will follow the meeting. For more information, call 213/744-8274.




Earlier this year, AFL-CIO leadership insurgents John Sweeney and Rich Trumka called Thomas R. Donahue, "the best man to lead the AFL-CIO into the 21st Century." That was then, this is now. Since then, Donahue announced his retirement, but changed his mind last month when Lane Kirkland said he would not run for reelection.

Now AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Donahue and his running mate, CWA Vice-President Barbara Easterling, are in a hot election race with John Sweeney, Rich Trumka and Linda Chavez-Thompson (see story in right-hand column). We talked to Donahue after his speech to the CWA Convention in Anaheim, July 11. CWA President Morty Bahr is supporting Donahue.

Q. Your opponents say the AFL-CIO should be actively involved in organizing. Lane Kirkland has stated in the past that organizing is a job for the affiliates. Where do you stand?

Donahue: We are already directly involved in organizing where the affiliates want us to be. We set up the organizing institute which has been very successful. The other group has the attitude that if there's a problem you just throw money at it.


Q. Critics say the so-called Team Act in Congress, that would allow company-dominated unions, can be traced to the Dunlop Commission which you strongly supported and to a cooperative relationship with employers which you've also supported.

Donahue: The Dunlop Commission was a sound approach to making changes in the labor law. But a funny thing happened to us on the way to the Forum, that is, the Commission went sour on us. The positive changes they proposed weren't strong enough and the negative changes were too strong. What bothers me is that not a single person testified before the Dunlop Commission in favor of modifying 8(a)(2) which prohibits company unions.

But you know, the Team Act bill wasn't dependent on Dunlop. Some Republicans and the National Association of Manufacturers have been planning legislation along these lines for several years.


Q. Will you be publishing a campaign platform of your own?

Donahue: Maybe not a specific platform but I've been saying what I would like to do in every speech I've made. I believe the role of a leader is to propose ideas. If you look at Sweeney's platform, it's a list of mechanical pieces. It would also contract-out much of the normal work of the federation.

A lot of their platform are things we're already doing. We already have a pension investment system. We already have computerized data on contracts. Take another look at it. You'll see there's not much that is substantive in it. For instance, how we service the membership is not given a whole lot of attention. Smaller unions have real problems in servicing their members. They have to be able to serve existing members before they're in a position to organize new ones.


Q. What's your position on the creation of a new First Vice President office in the AFL-CIO?

Donahue: I'm opposed to it. I don't see any need for it. When I become President on Aug. 2, we'll take a look at what needs to be changed. (Tom Donahue likely has the votes to be named interim President by a vote of the AFL-CIO Executive Council when Kirkland steps down in August. He would then face election by the AFL-CIO Convention in October-ed.)


Q. You opponents claims at least 60 percent of the delegate votes at the October Convention. What makes you think you'll have a longer tenure than John McBride? (McBride unseated Gompers for one year in 1893-94-ed.)

Donahue: Well if I don't win in October, my tenure would be less than 25 percent of McBride's. They'll have to rewrite the history books. But you know, this election will be held on Oct. 26. It is not over now. Lot's of change will take place between now and then.


Q. A few weeks ago, you were scheduled to speak at the UAW Convention. But you didn't. Were you uninvited or did you uninvite yourself?

Donahue: I was scheduled to speak on a Tuesday. The day before I announced by candidacy for President. I had my airline ticket and was ready to come to Anaheim but I knew Owen (Bieber, UAW's retiring president) was with the other group. Monday night I called Owen and told him I didn't want to be a distraction or embarrassment to him. Owen said it wouldn't embarrass him for me to speak, "but you know it's a long trip. . ." I told Owen I knew it was a long trip but I already had my ticket. I asked him to talk to Steve (Yokich, who was elected president at the convention) and then tell me one way or another. Owen called back and said Steve had no problem with me coming, "but you know it's a long trip. . ." So I didn't go. Your publication then reported I was a no-show, but there was more to it than that.




AFL-CIO presidential candidate John Sweeney and candidate for first vice-president Linda Chavez-Thompson went on a whirl-wind tour of L.A. labor, July 6.

About 200 people turned out on one day's notice at the County Federation of Labor to hear SEIU President Sweeney and Chavez-Thompson make brief speeches and take questions from the audience.

The session, chaired by L.A. County Federation leader Jim Wood, capped a day-long series of events in which Sweeney cowed the L.A. Board of Supervisors with his threat to bring the full weight of SEIU to bear against cutbacks and layoffs. Unless the Board works with unions and taxpayers to find alternatives, ". . . we will put our money and our resources and our people behind a movement to massive resistance and political retribution," said Sweeney.

Later Sweeney and Chavez-Thompson spent an hour with Machinists Richard Cota and Max Chavez in touring the American Racing plant in Carson. The IAM's organizing victory of more than 1,000 Latino manufacturing workers at American Racing is one of the largest in recent years.

Sweeney then returned for a jaw-boning session with conservative-leaning County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Although he was elected with support from SEIU, Yaroslavsky had lately been refusing to meet with local union leaders.

At the County Federation reception, Sweeney said the election was, "not about who heads the AFL-CIO but where is it headed."

Asked if he would change the character of the International Affairs Dept., Sweeney said, "nothing should be left the way it is." However, he later called the Organizing Training Institute, "one of the best programs there is."

Chavez-Thompson, the leader of AFSCME in Texas, is campaigning for a position that must be created by the AFL-CIO Convention in October. "I need even more votes than John," she said. The new position would require a two-thirds vote to change the Constitution.

Both candidates stressed the need to include more women and people of color in leadership positions.

The presidential candidate drew applause when he declared that labor "should not waste our time with politicians who get elected with our members money and then turn their backs on us."

Sweeney was asked by newly-elected rank-and-filers who defeated incumbents in SEIU Local 399 if he would abide by the election results. Sweeney emphatically replied that he would.

Copies of the Committee for Change's platform, entitled "A New Voice for American Workers," were distributed at the meeting. The 14-page document is subtitled, "A summary of proposals from the Unions supporting John J. Sweeney, Richard Trumka and Richard Chavez-Thompson."

The introduction notes that a crisis is facing American workers and their families. It says "The most critical challenge facing unions today is organizing," and calls for it to be done "at a pace and scale that is unprecedented." To accomplish this, the document proposes an emergency budget that would move at least $20 million into organizing. Further, 1,000 new organizers should be trained and deployed. With these resources, next year could have a "union summer" with a massive national organizing blitz, it states.

Political action is addressed in a second point, however, the platform makes no mention of either continued support for the Democratic Party or formation of a Labor Party.

The platform proposes establishing organizations to address a number of specific problems. Among those organizations would be a National Labor Political Training Center, a Labor Center for Economic and Public Policy, a Campaign 96 Fund, a Center for Strategic Campaigns (and Fund), a Strike Support Team, a Pension Investment Clearinghouse, a Transnational Corporate Monitoring Project, a Young Workers' Task Force and a Committee 2000.

Copies of the platform can be obtained by calling the Committee for Change at 202/898-3200.




Independent truck drivers in the L.A. Harbor area have complained for years about unsafe conditions, low pay and no benefits. Because of their "independent contractor" legal status, unions have been reluctant to get involved with them.

When CWA Local 9400 invited them to a meeting in Gardena, 3,000 showed up. On July 12, between 1,000 and 3,000 are expected to ring Long Beach city hall in an effort to bring pressure on that city's political leaders.

"Some days we put in a day's work for as little as $35. The companies' in the harbors get away with what used to be called slavery," says Enrique Prado Villegas who has been driving a leased container truck for eight years.

CWA District 9 Organizing Coordinator Virginia Rodriguez-Jones estimates that 99 per cent of the drivers are Latino.

The drivers - who must lease or own, maintain, fuel and equip their trucks - load and unload ship containers directly from longshore workers.

Because of their independent contractor status, the drivers are not eligible for workers' compensation, unemployment or disability insurance. They are also excluded from the National Labor Relations Act. Barred from election procedures, union officials are planning to win contracts with the major shipping companies through direct action.




Relax, it's not Ronald Reagan. Barry Gordon and "the man who brought us Death Valley Days," were both presidents of the Screen Actors Guild, but there the resemblance ends.

Democrat Gordon, who considers himself a labor candidate, will hold a press conference at 1:30 p.m., Friday, July 14 at the Universal Sheraton to announce his opposition to Carlos Moorehead, a Republican member of Congress from the 27th District which includes Glendale, Pasadena, Burbank and other cities. Gordon is finishing his third term as SAG president.



The United Rubber Workers officially joined the United Steel Workers of America, July 1, to make a combined union 700,000 strong.

Also on July 1, the ILGWU and the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union became UNITE, the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees. The new union has 360,000 members.

Two days later, the 2.2 million member independent National Education Association voted in convention to resume talks with the American Federation of Teachers. Merger discussions had broken down the previous December.

CWA's convention voted unanimously, July 11, to welcome The Newspaper Guild which will be holding a referendum on affiliation this fall.

The California Association of Interns and Residents announced, July 11, that its mailed ballot on affiliation with the 33,000-member SEIU Local 250 won approval with an 86 percent vote.



The second edition of CALIFORNIA WORKERS RIGHTS: A Manual of Job Rights, Protections, and Remedies is now available.

The book covers hiring, pay, benefits, safety and health, workers' compensation, organizing rights, "whistleblowing," discharges and harassment, personnel records and much more.

California Workers Rights can be ordered from: The Center for Labor Research and Education, 2521 Channing Way #5555, Berkeley, CA 94720-5555. Cost per copy is $14.95 for unions or individuals.

"LUCHAS LABORALES," a 40-page comic book in Spanish or English, presents the experiences of three immigrant workers (a day laborer, a domestic worker and a factory worker) as they organize against non-payment of wages, dangerous working conditions, and sexual harassment. The book provides information about New York and federal law and about creative organizing techniques, not to mention a thrilling plot-line.

To order, send $3.00 per book to "Luchas Laborales," The Workplace Project, 91 N. Franklin St. #207, Hempstead, NY 11550.




Protest against the DOLE corporation's plan to fire 275 workers in Oxnard. Rally, with UFW President Arturo Rodriguez, in front of DOLE office, 10900 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood. Noon, Thursday, July 13, 213/734-8302.




Stop the closing of hospitals, clinics, libraries, parks and 18,000 layoffs. Alternatives will be presented to the cutbacks. 6 p.m., Thursday, July 13, DWP building, 111 N. Hope St., L.A. Free Parking. Demonstration to follow the meeting.



Coalition organizing meeting. Includes Machinists, ACLU, NAACP, SCLC, NOW and LULAC. 7:30 p.m., Thursday, July 13, IAM hall, 319 W. Broadway, Long Beach. 310/492-6478.



Testimony on need for a labor party. Keynoters: Gil Cedillo (SEIU); Humberto Camacho (UE); Larry Solomon (UAW Caterpillar strikers). Bring lunch. 10 - 3 p.m., Saturday, July 15. Teamsters hall, 1616 W. 9th St., L.A. 213/660-2891.



Tribute to the late ILWU and CIO leader Harry Bridges. Noon march and rally at San Pedro's Bloody Thursday Monument, 6th and Beacon streets. Food, music, exhibits at Angels Gate Park, 2 - 6 p.m., Saturday, July 29. Free. 310/325-2556.


Copyright 1995 L.A. Labor News. To reach L.A. Labor News:

FAX: 310/399-7352 * Voice: 310/399-8685

E-mail: LALabor@aol.com

Postal: P.O. Box 644, Venice, CA 90294

July 12, 1995 * #6