VT Council Delegates Must Keep Voting Until Results Please AFL Headquarters?

Steve Early

Posted June 8, 2024

In some unions, the traditional way of winning approval for a proposed contract with management, that’s not popular with the members, is to hold a series of votes on essentially the same “tentative agreement.”  Rank-and-file militants urging a “No” vote get worn down and demoralized by the prolonged ratification process. By a narrow margin, their less engaged co-workers end up accepting a deal with few noticeable improvements.

In the past, “making them vote until they get it right” often replaced rank-and-file mobilization, strike preparation, and collective action in too many unions. That’s why union reformers today try to build organizational capacity in all those areas—and use contract rejection votes to pressure employers for a better settlement, rather than help them “sell it” to the membership.

Unfortunately, the old guard strategy of dividing, demoralizing, and conquering is currently being employed in a different context–by the national AFL-CIO in response to grassroots unrest within a state labor federation. This bureaucratic intervention threatens to undo five years of impressive work by advocates of union democracy and reform in the Vermont State Labor Council (VSLC), which represents 20,000 workers in the Green Mountain state.

Another Do Over

Later this month–for the second time since 2019–delegates from unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO in Vermont will be forced to participate in a re-run of a contested election between candidates seeking to shake up the labor movement and those preferring the status quo.

Vermont labor activists strongly favor such competition between rival slates with differing political programs , which is a rarity elsewhere in the AFL-CIO. But top AFL-CIO officials have reacted negatively to the repeated electoral success of a reform caucus called United!

Its supporters—from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees (AFSCME) and other…

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New Campus Wars, 2024: A View from Ohio State

Harvey J. Graff

Posted June 10, 2024

OFTEN FORGOTTEN TODAY is that the massive anti-war protests of 1968-70 grew from foundations of more than a decade. Today’s actions began almost spontaneously with some pre-pandemic roots in Black Lives Matter and Diversity-Equity-and-Inclusion movement.

An appearance of a new anti-Gaza War and innocent Palestinian lives movement is just emerging with a “campus encampment movement” in the wake of Columbia’s violent New York City. Arrests in total have passed 3200…….

Court Rejects Kagarlitsky’s Appeal

Posted June 7, 2024

“UNJUST BUT NOT unexpected”: this is how Suzi Weissman, spokesperson for the Boris Kagarlitsky International Solidarity Campaign, described the June 5 decision of a Russian court to reject Boris Kagarlitsky’s appeal against a five-year jail term for “justifying terrorism.”…

Two Directions: The Campus Movement for Gaza

Ivan Drury Zarin

Posted June 6, 2024

SIX MONTHS INTO Israel’s escalated and open genocide in Palestine, there were signs that the global antiwar movement was beginning to flag. Rallies and marches had filled streets in hundreds of cities in the United States and Canada every week since October, and solidarity activists in many places were carrying out an impressive and diverse array of actions just as consistently.

Direct actions blocked rail lines, highways, ports, bridges, and all sorts of roads. An early morning action even…

Universities Weaponized: The Case of Israel

Michael Principe

Posted June 3, 2024

Towers of Ivory and Steel:
How Israeli Universities Deny Palestinian Freedom
By Maya Wind
Verso, 2024, 278 pages, 29.95 paperback

ALL TWELVE OF Gaza’s universities now lie in ruins, destroyed within the first 100 days of Israel’s ongoing military assault. According to a United Nations report, as of April, Israel had killed thousands of students and teachers as well as 95 university professors.

These numbers are undoubtedly higher at this point. The authors of the report…

University of Michigan President Ono & the Pepper-Spray Gang

Alan Wald

Posted May 25, 2024

IN A DEED worthy of the Theater of the Absurd, the University of Michigan (U-M) administration inaugurated its much-vaunted 2024-25 “Year of Democracy and Civil Engagement” program by pepper-spraying its most politically committed students in the face. This gratuitous act was part of a violent raid by Michigan state and U-M campus police orchestrated by the U-M Regents and President Santa Ono at 6am on May 21….

G7: Suspend Ukrainian Debt Payments — Or Not

Eric Toussaint

Posted May 24, 2024

Why is the G7 discussing Ukraine’s debt?

For more than a year, the leaders of the main powers allied against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine have been debating at the G7 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States), but they have been unable to reach agreement on how to finance the war and the reconstruction of Ukraine.

It should be noted that as part of the sanctions imposed by NATO members, the Russian Federation’s financial assets in Western…

Gaza Solidarity Encampment, University of Michigan

Ivan Drury Zarin

Posted May 21, 2024

UPDATE: The University of Michigan encampment Telegram channel reports: “This morning at 5:45 am, Michigan State Police and DPSS raided the encampment. Riot cops pushed back students and community members and attacked with pepper spray repeatedly…”

After 23 days on the University of Michigan Diag, the Gaza Solidarity Encampment is facing down a double threat. The longer-standing danger is containment, as University Regents have refused to meet with the camp occupants or discuss their…

Organizing Auto in the South

Dianne Feeley

Posted May 21, 2024

The overwhelming vote of Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee to join the United Auto Workers (UAW) was a stunning victory. VW workers ignored the advice of seven Southern governors who claimed a vote for the UAW would threaten the workers’ jobs and “the values we live by.” Fully 83% of all eligible workers voted, with 73% voting yes. The final count was 2,628 for, with 985 against. Two previous plant-wide organizing drives — in 2014 and again in 2019 — ended in failure,…

The Student Movement for Palestine Spreading Everywhere

Yorgos Mitralias

Posted May 12, 2024

AS THE STUDENT movement in solidarity with the Palestinians and denunciation of their genocide by Israel intensifies in the United States and now spreads across the planet, there are growing indications that it is succeeding in influencing the central balance of forces while it is being recognized as a major factor in international developments….

The “Antisemitism” Smear Weaponized

The ATC editors

Posted May 9, 2024

WHILE THE HORROR of the Israeli-United States genocidal war on Gaza continues with no letup or resolution in sight, there has been only one really hopeful development: the outpouring of pro-Palestinian activism in many U.S. communities, most especially the magnificent movement on college campuses organized in encampments demanding an immediate permanent ceasefire, and divestment from….

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Against the Current

The May/June 2024 AGAINST THE CURRENT (#230) features:
  • Chaos Here and There—The Editors
  • Frantz Fanon in Perspective—Alan Wald
  • Congress Fiddles While Ukraine Burns—Howie Hawkins
  • Kashmir Today—interview with Hafsa Kanjwai
  • After Roe, the Anti-Abortion Deluge—Dianne Feeley

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Pamphlets from Solidarity

THE “SOCIALISM-FROM- BELOW” tradition views the working class as the central agent of overthrowing a system based on the market and the exploitation, alienation and unequal society it perpetuates.
Steve Downs’ writings, first in Hell on Wheels (2008) and in Socialist Strategies in Unions, a working paper (2022), outline how a variety of socialists active in the NYC transit system over two decades worked to build a rank-and-file caucus with a class struggle perspective.
Unable to resolve how to be accountable once members won office, their project ultimately failed. The pamphlet and working paper offer rich lessons for today’s socialists. You can read and download the working paper, Socialist Strategies in Unions, here.
Socialism, What It Is, Why We Need It outline capitalism‘s exploitation of both workers and the environment and sketches an alternative. You can order copies of Hell on Wheels, the working paper Socialist Strategies in Unions, and Socialism, What It is, Why We Need It here.


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