At the June 24-26 Conference of the Emergency Labour Network in Kent, Ohio in the United States, amongst the resolutions voted in the Action Program, is the call to close down foreign military bases. This is an important new support for the campaign that LALIT has been part of since we helped set up the NO BASES movement in 2004. In calling for the complete closing down of the US military base on Diego Garcia, part of Mauritius, we have been working to get the anti-war movement world-wide to put base closure on its agenda.
Our first victory was when the “Bring the Troops Home” movement in the USA, after one of its leaders heard Ram Seegobin’s argumentation in a speech in Sydney, Australia in 2005, went home and convinced his organization of the need to broaden the slogan to “Bring the Troops Home from the front and from the Bases.”
By 2007, the whole of the anti-war movement in the world was beginning to adopt anti-bases strategies. The US base in Ecuador was closed down, after the NO BASES held its International Conference there, adding world-wide support to its national-level movement.
Now, a labour conference has a program including (as point number 7) the following:
Regarding the "Bring Home the War Dollars to Meet Human Needs!" demand, we urge all-out mobilizations in cities and towns around the country, as well as in Washington D.C., to build the October demonstrations marking the tenth anniversary of the Afghanistan war, with the labor movement in on the ground floor in planning such actions and with the unifying demands being "Money for Jobs and Education -- Not for Wars and Occupations! Bring the Troops, Contractors and War Dollars Home Now! End the Wars! CLOSE ALL FOREIGN MILITARY BASES WITH JOB CREATION FOR ALL DISPLACED WORKERS!" We also support the New Priorities Campaign promoted by unions and community organizations nationwide.
So, now the Labor movement in the USA is taking a stand against military bases like the one on Diego Garcia. This is extremely important. As the capitalist economy in the USA continues in crisis, the working class is under extreme pressure, with unemployment, downward pressure on wages, cuts in social spending, houses being put to “sale by levy”, broader and broader masses of people are realizing that the expenditure on war instead of on peoples’ basic needs is just outrageous. So that now when, in Mauritius people argue that the USA and UK are enemies too big to take on over the Diego Garcia issue, they can now begin to realize that more and more people in the USA are on our side, against their State.
We have pleasure in including the totality of the Program adopted at this conference, below:
Action Program Adopted by the Emergency Labor Network Conference (Kent, Ohio -- June 24-26, 2011)
1. The Emergency Labor Network Conference commits itself to helping build a strong, independent labor movement, which, together with our community partners, can defeat the corporate agenda and win a program that reflects the needs, hopes and aspirations of the overwhelming majority. Accordingly, we call upon the labor movement and our allies -- at the local, state and national levels -- to launch a national mobilizing campaign around the following central demands:
* NO CUTS, NO CONCESSIONS IN "ENTITLEMENTS," JOBS, WAGES, PENSIONS, & BENEFITS -- AND IN PUBLIC SERVICES!
* Hands off Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid!
* Improved Medicare for All!* Strengthen and Expand Social Security!
* Tax the Rich and the Corporations!
* Federal Public Works Jobs Program Paid for by Taxing Wall Street!
* Bring Home the War Dollars to Meet Human Needs!
* Defend and Expand our Collective Bargaining Rights!
* Moratorium on Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs!
2. To further these efforts, we urge all participants at the ELN Conference to go back to their cities and build Labor-Community Fightback Committees around the demands contained in this Action Program. We also urge these fightback committees to organize Regional Working People's Assemblies to advance the ELN Action Program and organize regional actions in the streets and workplaces.
3. Single-payer health care, or improved Medicare For All, would represent a most important benefit to working people in this country. The AFL-CIO has endorsed a single-payer system. Labor needs to commit more resources at all levels to mobilize to win this crucial fight. It is critical to the anti-poverty program and essential to avoiding debt and deficit spending. We recognize health care as a fundamental right to everyone in the United States and will work to promote the principle of "everybody in, nobody out" in all health-care reform proposals. With regard to Social Security, it was great when this program was put in place, but now it mainly provides poverty retirement. We need to revisit retirement to ensure retirement security. This will require expansion of Social Security to make it much more robust for retired people.
4. We support all actions called by the AFL-CIO, Change to Win and independent unions that are consistent with the demands contained in this Action Program, just as we support all actions aimed at cementing working class unity in opposition to every attempt to divide us by race, color, gender, immigration status, religion, or sexual orientation. In so doing, we will seek to engage the rank-and-file in these actions, and we will urge support for the ELN Action Program. We also support the development of a 24-hour national labor TV channel for all labor and working people where we can promote our national mobilizing campaigns.
5. We support and call on labor and community organizations to mobilize to protect and expand the right to collective bargaining, demanding the repeal of all laws, especially Taft-Hartley and especially in the South, that prevent workers from having the right to bargain collectively and arrive at enforceable contracts. In this regard, we call upon all ELN participants and supporters to circulate widely the recent ruling by the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva that (1) found the state of North Carolina out of compliance with international labor standards for denying collective bargaining rights for public sector workers, and (2) called on North Carolina and the U.S. government to repeal this ban on collective bargaining rights. To promote this campaign, we will support the call and efforts to build a Southern Alliance for Collective Bargaining.
6. At the same time, "No Cuts, No Concessions" and building a genuinely independent labor movement will be our conference's signature campaigns that could unify our efforts and provide a framework for the many other efforts that we support.
7. Regarding the "Bring Home the War Dollars to Meet Human Needs!" demand, we urge all-out mobilizations in cities and towns around the country, as well as in Washington D.C., to build the October demonstrations marking the tenth anniversary of the Afghanistan war, with the labor movement in on the ground floor in planning such actions and with the unifying demands being "Money for Jobs and Education -- Not for Wars and Occupations! Bring the Troops, Contractors and War Dollars Home Now! End the Wars! Close All Foreign Military Bases with Job Creation for All Displaced Workers!" We also support the New Priorities Campaign promoted by unions and community organizations nationwide.
8. This Emergency Labor Network Conference will propose through an Open Letter to the U.S. Labor Movement and through a model resolution to be submitted to union bodies nationwide, a National Day of Action in the fall at the time of the announcement of the new federal budget to kick off the national mobilizing campaign around the central demands contained in the ELN Action Program.
9. The Emergency Labor Network Conference will also propose to the unions and community organizations that we're in touch with that they mobilize in support of the mass actions called by the SEIU "Fight for a Fair Economy" campaign and the National Nurses United's "Main Street Contract for America" campaign. In addition, we urge support for actions called by other unions and community organizations to oppose the givebacks demanded from public workers on a state level; attacks on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; and in favor of other demands that are part of a pro-working class agenda. In such actions, we will promote our ELN Action Program demands -- be it on banners, picket signs, or in any other way that can express the independent labor movement's fightback orientation.
10. With 28 million people unemployed and under-employed, we call on labor and community groups to mobilize and organize the unemployed and unorganized to fight for Jobs and Justice. The ELN-promoted Labor-Community Fightback committees, for example, could begin building actions such as solidarity and support for the campaign to organize package-handlers at FedEx, a union-busting and tax-dodging corporation.
11. The Emergency Labor Network Conference will further propose that the labor movement and community organizations promote and support strike actions around our demands, such as the strike organized by ILWU Local 10 on April 4, 2011, in solidarity with the struggle waged by Wisconsin unions and their community supporters. The workers in Wisconsin, in their struggle, posed the urgent need for workplace actions, including a general strike, to win their demands. The conference calls for the immediate dismissal of the lawsuit filed by the Pacific Maritime Association against Local 10 in retaliation for the local's action!
12. We also support solidarity campaigns to free trade unionists and other peace and justice activists at home and abroad from unjust imprisonment and/or denial of basic civil liberties and human rights. We also urge participants to support current and future mobilizations of prisoners for improved pay and benefits.
13. We urge the labor movement and its community partners to engage in education and discussion on ways to eliminate never-intended constitutional rights and powers of corporations -- as affirmed by Supreme Court decisions.
14. We call on the labor movement to mobilize against the growing wave of criminalization of immigrant workers and for a reform of our immigration laws based on the position adopted by the 1999 AFL-CIO convention -- and reaffirmed by the August 2010 national convention of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (AFL-CIO) -- that demands immediate legalization for all undocumented workers, protection of the right to organize for all workers, opposition to deportations and ICE raids, the repeal of employer sanctions (E-Verify), opposition to guest-worker programs and AgJobs, and the strengthening of family reunification.
15. In addition, given the fact that next year will be marked by the November 2012 elections, as part of this National Campaign for "No Cuts, No Concessions!," the Emergency Labor Network Conference calls on the trade unions and our community allies not to support any candidate for local, state or federal office who has voted for any budget cuts and concessions and/or who does not commit herself or himself to oppose any and all measures or pieces of legislation that include any cuts, givebacks and concessions in public services and/or in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
16. Rather than fund politicians who continue to demand major givebacks from the unions and who do not support the basic needs of working people, the unions should take the money that has been earmarked for these politicians and build a mass mobilization campaign in the streets and workplaces across the country around the main demands of the Emergency Labor Network Conference. This campaign, where possible, could include labor running its own independent candidates on platforms that oppose all cuts and concessions and offer real, pro-labor solutions to the economic crisis -- especially for women, people of color, immigrants and all those who are hardest hit by the crisis.
17. The time has come for the labor movement to promote a discussion on what it will take to build a Labor Party in this country. The ELN will make every effort to publicize and advance this goal.