A MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT WATTS:
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka addresses delegates on Tuesday at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.
(photo by Bess Watts)
click on images for a larger view
Boston, Mass.-- What I remember most about what happened yesterday (Tuesday) is the riveting speech from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, the tribute to Ted Kennedy (his wife Victoria spoke) and the almost puerile child-like behavior of the delegates on the convention floor. The 800 lb. elephant in the room is the looming election for secretary-treasurer that will take place on Thursday, pitting CSEA's leader Danny Donohue against McEntee's staff assistant, Lee Saunders. Right now, it seems as if the delegates are evenly divided about who to support-- this process is heated and sometimes very ugly-- unfortunately, it brings out the worst in our brothers and sisters because we are such passionate people.
Yesterday (Tuesday) on the convention floor, we confirmed the nominations of the candidates who will lead us into the future. Earlier today we rallied outside at the Boston Commons in support of the Jobs bill now before Congress. Tons of committee meetings and caucus events were also scheduled until the end of the day.
Getting back to Trumka's speech, he recognized the success of AFSCME’s organizing program, saying, “Of all the unions of the AFL-CIO, AFSCME is the largest and fastest-growing. Even in the face of an economic crisis, large-scale layoffs, and the scapegoating of public employees by politicians from both parties, more than 145,000 workers have organized with AFSCME over the past four years.”
He spoke of the “triple whammy” state and local governments are up against. “With the severe recession and soaring unemployment, tax revenues are taking a dive. The financial crisis and the busted bubbles from Wall Street’s shenanigans are taking a big bite out of pension funds. And now as always, when hard times hit, the demand for public services actually increases — from unemployment compensation to job training, public assistance, and mental health care.”
There was also one other important moment I will never forget, and that was my conversation with Bill Lucy. I asked him if he ever knew Bayard Rustin, the longtime civil rights activist that was a contemporary of Martin Luther King, Jr. Lucy told me he did, and went on to say "when Martin got shot, everyone asked Bayard what we should do. He said everyone should give one dollar to the striking transit workers, and we wound up with $400,000 in cash stuffed inside two duffel bags." It was a short and poignant moment I will never forget told by a living civil rights legend.
Also, amid the chaos on the convention floor today, I was struck by the arrogance and rudeness of our AFSCME President Gerald McEntee. He will have alot of mending to do once this convention wraps up. I hope we can leave Boston with a sense of accomplishment and a spirit of solidarity--overcoming this diviseness might be our biggest challenge yet. We'll see.
Photo above shows a broadside image for the Donohue campaign. Lots of information and news to come so stay tuned right here at the Voice Reporter. If you have a facebook account, you can follow me here.
Yours in Solidarity,
President, CSEA Monroe County Local 828
AFSCME Delegate 2010
(All photos by Bess Watts. Photo above shows Danny Donohue flanked by heavily stickered WNY Region 6 members Sheri Ambuske and Donald Williams. You can see additional photos of the 39th Annual AFSCME Delegates Convention by clicking on the Local 828 photo gallery link on the right side of this page "My Blog List.")