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CARPENTER'S JAW'IN, [http://angry.at/jawin] a
rank and file carpenters internet bulletin board:

CDUI D.C. Ullico and McCarron Protest Statement
From: The Rank and File
Date: 02 Mar 2003



We, rank-and-file carpenters, auto workers and members of other unions, traveled hundreds of miles to come to AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, because we are deeply concerned about what's happening to the labor movement and the nation's working people. We came here in good faith on March 3 to talk to our national officers, because we thought they would be interested and benefit from listening to our experiences and suggestions. We requested that they meet with our delegation inside the headquarters at 2:30 p.m., after we had completed our one-hour rally. Sad to say, they indignantly refused to meet with us. In a letter to Ken Little, organizer of the Carpenters for a Democratic Union International (CDUI), Leonard Gold, AFL-CIO associate counsel, wrote: we deny any permission for you or they to associate or otherwise assemble on AFL-CIO property, nor will any AFL-CIO representative meet with anyone . . .2 AFL-CIO leaders feel no obligation to talk to ordinary union members because they are guaranteed to be re-elected, no matter how poorly they perform. In 1997, they extended their term of office from two to four years--by a voice vote of convention delegates. In 2001, they decreed that conventions will be held every four years, instead of two--also by voice vote of the delegates. They're trying to be as remote from the rank-and-file as they possibly can. And they are not accountable to anyone. Even though they haven't gained a single piece of pro-worker legislation in years and union membership is declining, the 51-member Executive Council plans to enjoy another four years in office when their current term expires in 2005. If they suffer costly defeats, members rarely hear about them. If their campaigns fail, they're swept under the rug. America@Work, the AFL-CIO's monthly magazine, never prints any item that irritates or embarrasses the leadership. A glaring omission is the insiders stock trading scandal at ULLICO, a union-owned insurance company, in which 26 current or retired national union officers were implicated, some of whom enriched themselves for a total of $6.5 million. Is it any wonder that many thousands of loyal union members have become cynical, apathetic, angry or disgusted at the undemocratic, immoral behavior of far too many union leaders? And yet, if the AFL-CIO is to grow and regain its former strength, it desperately needs to persuade millions of union members to become involved in today's economic and political struggles. We maintain that it can be done if the rank-and-file are given a voice and a role in these struggles. Here is what we propose: First, include message boards and chat rooms on the AFL-CIO Web sites and ask all affiliates to do the same. Members should be given an opportunity to communicate with their officers and to exchange views with each other on issues that concern them. Second, create a Department of Correspondence within the AFL-CIO, so that members can get answers to their questions, suggestions or criticisms. Third, establish an oversight committee to ensure that America@Work and other AFL-CIO publications print labor news that is comprehensive, fair and objective. Fourth, revise the convention voting rules so that every delegate has one, and only one, vote, in order that candidates for executive council seats have an equal chance of being elected. Fifth, initiate monthly Internet press conferences during which national labor leaders will respond to questions from union members. Sixth, create a weekly national radio and television program to reach out to millions of unorganized workers with the union story and a convincing response to attacks from labor's enemies. Seventh, provide one weekend each year when the leaders of affiliated international unions, state federations and central labor councils will be obliged to listen to their constituents on whatever problems they wish to raise. Since the AFL-CIO national officers refuse to meet with us, our delegation will enter the headquarters building and submit our seven-point program to the person in charge. We plan to post this document on the Internet to allow all union members to comment on our proposals. We intend to continue to work for union democracy and solidarity, and we call upon rank-and-filers in other unions to join us in the struggle for a brighter future for the labor movement and America's working families.

Ken Little, organizer for Carpenters for a Democratic Union International (CDUI) and
Patricia Meyer, organizer, Uniting All Workers (UAW).

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