Aug. 10 Press Release:

Organized Labor Announces Plans to Take Part in Democratic Convention Protests

by Jim Smith
Editor, L.A. Labor News

A front-page article in the Los Angeles Times (Labor Won’t Join Protests at Democratic Gathering, July 20) missed the real story, which is that since last November’s demonstrations in Seattle labor has become much more independent and more militant.

When labor joined the Seattle protests against the growing power of global corporations, it was wildly popular with rank-and-file members. So much so, that today in Los Angeles those leaders who are opposed to carrying the same signs and banners outside the Democratic Convention don’t even want to be quoted by name in the press.

And no wonder. Labor has a long-term interest in continuing the broad alliance of groups and individuals that was formed in Seattle to protest the widening income gap between rich and poor, and a host of social and environmental ills brought about by the growing power of the corporations. It was right to exercise our First Amendment rights by protesting and marching in Seattle, and it is right to do the same in Los Angeles. Our goal is not to disrupt the Democratic Convention but to inject these vital issues into the public arena and the convention discussion.

Labor won’t join the protests? You’ve got to be kidding. There will be marches by county workers, teachers and a large labor contingent in the August 14, “Human Needs not Corporate Greed” march. The D2K Labor Organizing Committee, made up of a score of unions, is actively recruiting for the march, both inside and outside the County Federation of Labor.

Labor’s independence is also reaching new heights. A Labor for Nader Committee has been formed in Los Angeles. And at the California AFL-CIO Convention held in Anaheim, July 18, delegates supporting the Green Party senatorial candidate, Medea Benjamin, nearly prevented Democratic incumbent, Diane Feinstein, from winning the body’s endorsement.

Union members are pleased that AFL-CIO President John Sweeney will be advocating labor’s cause inside the convention. But as for the thousands of local labor activists who can’t get past the 10-block “security zone,” we’ll be on the streets just as we were in Seattle.