Labor's obligation and opportunity: Philly organizer challenges unions to rally around Greens
In an open letter to the leaders of the Philadelphia labor movement, the young and energetic organizer for UFCW Local 152 Hugh Giordano has challenged the city's unions to have the courage to support the Green Party. Giordano ran an exceptionally strong campaign as a Green for state legislature this year, raising almost $30,000 from unions and individuals and capturing over 18 percent of the vote in a three way race.
Now he would like to spread the same movement for honest politics, workers' rights, and a clean environment (among other things) to the rest of Philadelphia, beyond his single district.
As the members of the party, which I am aiding in every way I can, build the organization for the 2011 local elections, Giordano has seized the opportunity make the area's union leadership reconsider the popular path of supporting corporate Democrats. In his words, "Why are we, the strong men and women of the labor movement, bowing down to the corporate bosses and politicians...Union brothers and sisters, when any one of us becomes 'fearful' or 'controlled' by a political party – it’s time to step down and pass the torch on."
The full letter is printed, with Hugh Giordano's permission, below the fold.
Dear Union Brothers and Sisters,
This letter is more of a “cry for action” rather than just an informational or ideological statement or platform. It is meant to be serious and intense, and I hope you take this letter in that form! This letter is being sent to as many union brothers and sisters as possible.
I have been involved in the labor movement now for about ten years, from non-union worker/union activist, to member, and officially becoming a union representative for UFCW Local 152. I have been a part of every aspect of the union movement, and now I must take the next step – Labor leader.
What do I mean by leader? Being a leader does not mean having the title of Business Manager or President of a local.
It means standing up and saying what needs to be said against the status quo. There were numerous forms of this leadership before me, and their will be numerous ones after me – but I am worried about what is happening in today’s present labor environment.
Many of you might have heard about me in my run for State Representative as an Independent with the Green Party, and I am proud of that decision. I ended up getting the highest vote of any third party in Philadelphia and I am pretty sure I received the highest in a three way race. This is what needs to be done! I did this using basic union organizing skills and having a handful of unions behind me. Imagine what would have happened if I had all of the Philadelphia unions behind me?
Why do we support the Democrats and Republicans when all they do is take our money, use our man power, and then leave us out to dry? Why do we support CEO’s, corporate consultants, and corporate attorneys, when 365 days of the year when they are not running for office, they are fighting unions, breaking labor laws, and spreading their greed? But all of a sudden when they run for office as a ‘Democrat”, they have changed their ways? This just proves that the Democrats are as corporate as the Republicans.
Labor has the power to change this, and we must! Many labor unions still believe the Democrats are “labor’s friend”. Really? How can this be when they failed to pass EFCA, they bail out the super rich, failed to pass Single-Payer health care, pass horrible trade laws (NAFTA), attack pensions, and most of all – are in the pockets of the same people we fight everyday, the corporations! I am not writing this letter so I can fill it with boring facts, but the Democrats took 53% of the total “corporate” contributions – 53 %!
Why are we, the strong men and women of the labor movement, bowing down to the corporate bosses and politicians, when we could run for office, win, and do what we need to do – enact laws that benefit working people and poor people. We have the man power, money, and knowledge to run OUR UNION REPRESENTATIVES and win!
But here is the catch, we CANNOT run as a Democrat or Republican; those two parties are too corrupted and entrenched. We must strengthen and build a THIRD PARTY! Yes, we must do what our past labor leaders tried to do and that is build a party that is about us. Some of you might say, “That will never work, and it can’t happen”. Well I would say you are dead wrong! The corporate Democrats ONLY win because we fuel them, but then they turn their backs on us. If we run with a clean and fresh party such as the Green Party, we can call the shots and be as progressive as we choose.
It amazes me how some local leadership bows down to the Democrats and “fears” them. Union brothers and sisters, when any one of us becomes “fearful” or “controlled” by a political party – it’s time to step down and pass the torch on. WE are the voice of working people, and WE should be telling these politicians what to do; not the other way around.
We owe the Democrats and Republicans NOTHING, because they have done NOTHING for our members, for our contracts, and for the movement. How much longer are we going to support a bunch of failures? WE don’t have to because WE can blackball them just like they blackballed our members and the movement. We gave them plenty of time and opportunities and each time, they spat in our face!
Here is what needs to happen:
*We have to come together and make a collective of progressive, fearless, and strong locals that will run with the Green Party.
*We have to talk about the issues we want passed in City Council and in the State Legislature.
*We then must pick union representatives to run for these seats in City Council and the State Legislature.
*We must stick together and focus on winning for once!
*WE CAN DO IT AND WE WILL DO IT!
The Green Party is the party of labor. They have a platform that is 100% pro-labor (repeal Taft-Hartley, NAFTA, and prosecute CEO’s who break the law). Other labor unions around the country are supporting Green Party candidates in local races, I say we RUN AS GREEN PARTY CANDIDATES. Here is the link, http://www.gp.org
It’s time we make history and do the right thing. We have an obligation our members, to our future, and we have an obligation to the men and women who died to form and join unions. If we keep on doing what we are doing, then we have slapped everyone in the face that fought for us.
Hugh Giordano, Union Organizer