SOUTH CAROLINA AFL-CIO SUPPORTS SANDERS –while the UERMW convention votes to endorse worldwide boycott of Israel


THE South Carolina AFL-CIO executive board passed a resolution supporting US Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for the Democratic Party presidential nomination and recommending his endorsement by the state and national labour organisation.

‘We call on the AFL-CIO, union members and working people everywhere to unite behind Bernie Sanders and elect the president America’s workers desperately need,’ the resolution said. The resolution ‘strongly urges’ the national AFL-CIO to endorse Sanders.

Erin McKee, president of the South Carolina AFL-CIO, the executive board member who recommended Sanders, said: ‘Nobody in a very long time has stood up for working people and labour like Bernie Sanders has.’

South Carolina is among the first four states in the nation to hold primaries or caucuses to begin the process of selecting the Democratic Party presidential nominee. The action by the South Carolina executive board made it the second state, after Vermont, to back Sanders.

Sanders learned the news while campaigning in Iowa, home of the first-in-the nation caucuses. We are very pleased to have received the support of the executive board and their recommendation that the South Carolina and national AFL-CIO follow their lead,’ Sanders said as he prepared to address an audience at United Auto Workers hall.

On June 13, 2015, the Executive Board of the South Carolina AFL-CIO met and voted to adopt the following resolution:

‘Whereas: The SC AFL-CIO Executive Board is committed to building a broad, effective movement for democratic change, and

‘Whereas: Our goal is a government that carries out the will of the people, not prop up the profits of the 1% at the expense of the rest of us, and

‘Whereas: We firmly believe that Senator Bernie Sanders is the strongest candidate articulating our issues. His commitment to union principles and labour’s values is longstanding and heartfelt, and

‘Whereas: As a truly progressive candidate for the Democratic Party nomination, Bernie has the chance to inspire millions of Americans with policy proposals that put the interests of the labour movement, front and centre.

His campaign will draw attention to what unions and collective bargaining have accomplished for workers and energise our movement, and

‘Whereas: Labour must step up to fundamentally change the direction of American politics, by refocusing on the issues of our time: growing inequality and pervasive racism, the power of concentrated wealth and its corruption of our democracy, an escalating pension and retirement security crisis, runaway military spending and a militarised foreign policy, Medicare for All, and the need for new, bold solutions to our shared problems.

‘Therefore be it resolved that:

‘We call on the AFL-CIO, union members and working people everywhere to unite behind Bernie Sanders and elect the President America’s workers desperately need, and

‘Be it further resolved that:

‘The South Carolina AFL-CIO Executive Board strongly urges the AFL-CIO to support Bernie Sanders 2016 and his campaign to become the nominee of the Democratic Party for president. ‘Adopted on June 13, 2015 and respectfully submitted for consideration to the AFL-CIO by the SC AFL-CIO Executive Board.’

• One of the more prominent industrial unions in the US voted to endorse the goals of the worldwide boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) movement against Israel, citing ‘its long history of violating the human rights of the Palestinians,’ thus purportedly becoming the first nationwide union to do so.

The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers’ national convention met in Baltimore last week and voted on a string of foreign and as well as domestic policy issues, including the call to boycott Israel and support the nuclear deal with Iran.

According to a statement on the UE’s website, the union voted in favour of the ‘Justice and Peace for the Peoples of Palestine and Israel’, and cited Israel’s sordid human rights record: ‘starting with the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians in 1947-48 that turned most of Palestine into the State of Israel.’

The move’s goal, the union said, was ‘to pressure Israel to end its apartheid over the Palestinians just as similar tactics helped to end South African apartheid in the 1980s.’ The union further called for the US aid to Israel to be cut off and expressed support for ‘the right to return.’

The union also voted on a number of other foreign policy issues, including the demand to end US military intervention in the Middle East and other regions. We (need) to get rid of this culture of war,’ said Mike Ferritto, a local delegate. ‘We have done enough damage. We need to get out of the Middle East,’ said Brandon Dutton, another delegate.

The vote on Israel was prompted by an encounter with Palestinian trade unionists during the World Social Forum in Tunisia. Delegate Autumn Martinez, who cosponsored the resolution and participated in the meet, said: ‘It’s absolutely disgusting what is going on. Free Palestine!’

• Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions, has blasted the Republican presidential candidates for taking ‘a very ugly and dangerous’ course discussing immigrant workers. AFL-CIO President Trumka released a video commenting on the ongoing and growing anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rhetoric made by several candidates.

He said pundits may interpret the candidates’ statements differently, but his view is the remarks were not made accidentally. ”Many republican presidential candidates are expressing views and offering proposals that are nothing short of un-American. These republican candidates, who all want to run our country, have made a point of attacking and assaulting Latinos and scapegoating all Latinos,’ said Trumka, adding these the candidates have expressed ‘hateful and racist viewpoints… intended to demean and divide.’

According to Trumka, the Republican presidential candidates’ remarks are telling Americans that some people are ‘superior’ while others are ‘inferior.’ ‘This is the politics of fear and division, and its entirely on a new level. But fear is not the basis of the American Dream. Hope is and solidarity is,’ added Trumka.

The AFL-CIO president acknowledged Pope Francis will visit the US with a message of inclusion, community and shared values. Trumka said everyone needs to welcome the pope’s message by not succumbing to fear but have dignity and respect for all. Trumka’s message comes as Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump heightened the immigration debate in recent months. Trump released his immigration reform plan, which called for a wall across the southern US border, more Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, penalties for those who overstay their visas, and swift and mandatory deportation.

Trump has also called for the end of birthright citizenship, a provision of the 14th Amendment granting US citizenship to US-born children of undocumented immigrants. It is with the discussion of birthright citizenship, the term ‘anchor babies’ have resurfaced, viewed as a derogatory phrase toward children and immigrants. Trump has defended his right to use the term, and other candidates have followed his lead with either ending birthright citizenship or saying ‘anchor babies’. The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), which comprises 40 national nonpartisan Latino organisations, issued a letter to all presidential candidates about the latest anti-immigrant rhetoric to end birthright citizenship.

‘A policy to end citizenship by birth would likely create an underclass of Latinos and Latinas who would be subject to discrimination or other adverse treatment based on ethnicity, national origin, or race, but without the protections of citizenship. The dangerous result would be a population of stateless individuals and a dramatic increase in the ‘undocumented’ population by creating a caste of people unable to prove citizenship based on their birthplace,’ the NHLA wrote.