afscme

Labor Day Message: Another World is Possible

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 7.38.37 AM

By Thom Haines — September 5, 2016

Happy Labor Day in the U.S.! Another World is Possible! Proud to be an AFSCME member!

International labor solidarity is a key component to realizing another world where people and the environment are more highly valued than profit. A vibrant labor movement in the United States acting in solidarity with workers around the world will create a politically effective force that has the power to change an exploitive system supported by the armed forces and military aid of the United States and other Global North countries.

Honduras is an especially clear example of what is wrong with the current system and what is needed to fix it. The Human Rights Delegation to Honduras Report — released last week by the Alliance for Global Justice, CODEPINK, and the Honduras Solidarity Network — helps us connect the dots. Abusive labor practices, militarization of police forces in the name of fighting drugs or communism or terrorism, killing journalists, killing union organizers, killing environmental activists like Berta Cáceres, trade deals like NAFTA, CAFTA, and the TPP, and knee jerk nationalism are all components of the same problem.

The global economic system does not want to change and will not until forced. In the United States, in spite of some hopeful signs such as the Sanders campaign and Black Lives Matter, we must admit that we have not yet achieved a politically effective force to change the world. While organized labor may be weaker than it has been, rebuilding the labor movement is possible and offers hope.

At a Keith Ellison Labor Day rally in Minneapolis on Sunday, Sen. Al Franken expressed pride in belonging to three unions. I’m only a member of one, but I am proud to be in solidarity with other AFSCME members. In the coming years, it is my fervent hope that unions grow and that we see beyond the next contract to the possibility of international solidarity. Another world is possible.

Thom Haines is an Assistant County Attorney in Minnesota, where he serves on the Minnesota State Bar Association Data Practices Committee. He is a member of the boards of the United Church of Christ Wider Church Ministries, the Mayflower Church Foundation in Minneapolis, and G Project, a 501(c)(3) supporting human rights story-telling in Guatemala. Thom is a former Teamster and CWA member, and current member of AFSCME Council 65.

Advertisements

Did Bernie Just Kinda Win?

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 7.30.33 PM

By JT Haines, December 19, 2015

Mark December 18, 2015, on your calendars.

The Sanders campaign has been gaining momentum for months, picking up a number of significant labor endorsements (CWA, AWPU, NNU), hitting two million individual contributions before Obama topped out at one million, and gaining in the polls. He’s also polling better against Republicans, and Hillary Clinton’s favorability ratings have been trending badly in the wrong direction all year. And, anecdotally, the people who say they simply won’t vote for Secretary Clinton with or without a nomination seem to this time really mean it. (Don’t they? Disclaimer: I am a Bernie Sanders supporter, and my social media feed is a verifiable silo.)

But even with all this, the conventional wisdom has continued to be: Secretary Clinton simply has too much (corporate) cash, even bigger labor endorsements (NEA, AFT, AFSCME, SEIU, Building Trades), and too many super delegates already lined up for any of the rest of it (i.e., real people voting) to matter.

That is, perhaps, until yesterday.

Briefly: A vendor-caused glitch in a voter file program recently allowed both campaigns to temporarily view one another’s voter data. At least one Sanders staffer saw some data. (It has been alleged that the Sanders campaign reported the glitch two months ago.) Yesterday, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) shut down the Sanders campaign’s access to voter files as a result of the breach.

The reaction has been swift and revealing.

For its part, the Sanders campaign immediately sued the DNC, with campaign manager Jeff Weaver making this pretty astounding statement: “The leadership of the Democratic National Committee is actively trying to undermine our campaign.” (CNN)

Here’s a tweet from David Axelrod, Obama’s chief political strategist, about the suspension of access:

And former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich said “it seems like the DNC is doing all it can to blunt the momentum of Bernie’s campaign.” (Time)

Access was granted by the end of the day, but the damage may have been done, as the general response on social media has been intense, bordering on outright revolt.

For a good example, I recommend a swing through former Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak’s facebook page. Yesterday, Rybak posted a lengthy comment seeking to explain what is going on with the data breach and subsequent DNC actions. RT is a powerful and popular Democrat, and now the Vice-Chair of the DNC, so one might expect comments on his feed to be somewhat muted. Or at least more muted than elsewhere. But the vast majority of the now 94 comments — often from Rybak’s own apologetic fans — are openly distrustful of the DNC and the Clinton Campaign.

Here’s one:

“As always, this is not a reflection on my apprecration (sic) for all you do RT. I am simply angry. This also happened October and the Sanders campaign made sure the DNC fixed it poste haste because, while the Sanders campaign could see Clinton’s campaign, the Clinton campaign could also see the Sanders’ campaign. How come no one is asking to audit the Clinton campaign? Debbie Wasserman Schultz and NGP must be fired.”

What’s the big deal, you might ask, won’t we be on to the next thing by January? Perhaps. But this to me feels different. It’s as if permission has now been granted for a lot more people to move past private suspicion and concern about things like debate timing and media coverage, to now openly questioning the DNC and democratic establishment. That’s going to be an even bigger deal come caucus/primary time. As Buzzfeed put it, “this is the war Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ progressive coalition was ready for.”

I thought my friend Matt Barthelemy captured the sentiment well:

Hesitant Hillary Clinton supporters – especially all you electeds/opinion leaders who have already publicly endorsed her – if this blow-up turns out to be the establishment-favoring-its-candidate BS it smells like, it’ll be a great chance for y’all to justify jumping ship and pivoting over to support this election’s People’s candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, so we can win this for real.

‪#‎FeelTheBern‬

So let’s see what happens. In the meantime, mark December 18, 2015, on your calendars. I wonder if, by next November, we might just look back on it as the day Bernie Sanders won the presidency.

###

Update: By the way, this Dec 21 HuffPo blog piece (Hillary Clinton Is Better Than the Republican Candidates. But I Still Wouldn’t Vote for Her) exhibits the exact sentiment I’ve been talking about. I saw some of this in 2012 among those disappointed with a perceived abandonment of progressive priorities by Obama in his first term. I see a lot more of it now. Lines in the sand are being drawn, with eyes wide open towards the costs and benefits. At some point, the DNC may have to answer a question: Is it defending the party? Or is it defending specifically HRC and the version of the party she represents?