Northeast Kingdom, VERMONT: Today the progressive UNITED! Slate overwhelmingly won their third straight election for leadership positions within the Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO at their annual Convention. United! prevailed in winning 18 of 19 Executive Board positions including David Van Deusen for President (2nd term), Dwight Brown for Executive Vice President (1st term), and Danielle Bombardier for Secretary-Treasurer (2nd term). United! also won elections for the Chair of the Rank & File Presidential Advisory Committee (Damion Gilbert), and for President of the Green Mountain Riders Union Motorcycle Club (Dan Brush). The election results are viewed as a mandate by the incoming leadership to keep moving in a more progressive direction.
UNITED! was formed in 2019 in response to the continuing decline of the labor movement happening all over the country, including right here in Vermont. Union density — the percentage of workers who belong to a labor union — has been hovering around 10% nationally, a record low. In Vermont, union density is 11.8% as of 2020, but has climbed in 2021 due to new organizing by UFCW, AFSCME, and AFT. The Vermont State Labor Council now has over 11,000 members.
As we near the 2021 Vermont AFL-CIO Annual Convention (September 18 & 19 at Jay Peak, Northeast Kingdom) I again ask our 11,000+ Union members to support the full United! slate in our internal elections, including Ron Schneiderman (UFCW) for VP At-Large, Danielle Bombardier (IBEW) for Secretary-Treasurer, Dwight Brown (AFSCME) for Executive Vice President, and myself, David Van Deusen (AFSCME) for re-election to the office of President of our State Labor Council.
Since United! took power in 2019 (and again swept elections in 2020) we have transformed the Vermont AFL-CIO into the most progressive State Labor Council in the United States. Through United! we have also seen the Vermont Labor Movement invigorated with our rank & file taking an active part in Conventions and Political Summits (COPE) at levels not seen in decades. Over the last two years:
Today 6/29/21] I received a formal letter from National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. In the letter Trumka confirmed that the investigation against us for passing a General Strike Authorization Resolution has concluded and that he asserts we engaged in misconduct based on his (dubious) reading of national bylaws. Trumka also used the letter to attack us for developing a relationship of solidarity with the progressive rank & file caucuses within the non-AFL-CIO VSEA (Vermont State Workers United!) and NEA (Vermont School Workers Action Committee). But in the end, he stated that he would NOT take any disciplinary action against us at this time. This is a major win for Union democracy within the AFL-CIO, and the Vermont AFL-CIO is proud of our conduct, commitment to social justice Unionism, relationship building within the broader pro-Union left, and our fidelity to the defense of democracy. We may be one of the smallest and most rural States in the nation (with a population of just over 600,000), but here in Vermont our membership is growing and we are not afraid to lead. And lead we shall!
*Trump Vacates Whitehouse;
*Democratic Joe Biden Assumes Presidency;
*Threat of Fascist Violence Remains;
*The Left Must Now Advance a Progressive Agenda;
*Labor Must Continue To Defend Democracy!
Today, as the American voters directed, Democratic Joe Biden took the oath of office for United States President. Joe Biden was endorsed in the November election by the National AFL-CIO, received seven million more votes than Trump, won in key battleground States, and claimed an overwhelming victory in the Electoral College. Despite Trumps treasonous claims to the contrary, there were ZERO examples of significant voter fraud (or evidence of such) concerning the November election.
On November 3rd Trump lost the Presidential election in Vermont by a wider margin than in any other State in the union. But that did not prevent a couple dozen (peaceful) pro-Trump supporter from demonstrating in front of the Statehouse on January 6th. It was also feared that Trump’s lack of support in the Green Mountains would not prevent a minority of armed extremists from committing acts of violence today [1/17/21] in our Capital.
Warnings that fascists, those who supported the Trump coup, were planning armed actions in all 50 State Capitals in the U.S. were taken seriously here in rural Vermont. Throughout this morning and into the afternoon police in bullet proof vests, military grade helmets, and with automatic rifles in hand patrolled the streets of our Capital City of Montpelier (population: 7,800). The Mayor and City Council issued prior warnings encouraging residents to stay home. Many businesses were closed. And despite the threat of rightwing violence 100 anti-fascists converged on City Hall to demonstrate their support for democracy and unwillingness to concede to fascist threats. And the armed fascists? They were nowhere to be seen.
Today [1/6/21] thousands of neo-fascist Trump loyalists converged on Washington with the aim of forcing the annulment of the November election (which Democrat Joe Biden won by seven million votes). There they were met by Donald Trump himself who addressed the mob, falsely claiming that he won, that he would never concede defeat, and encouraging them to fight to keep him in power.
Meanwhile, Inside Congress Republican Representatives and Senators from the extreme right issued formal challenges to the Electoral College vote (which also spelled overwhelming defeat for Trump). Like their neo-fascist counterparts outside the Capital Building, these anti-democratic, anti-union law makers were actively seeking to carry out a coup against the majority will of the American people.
Vermont AFL-CIO Empowered To Call For General Strike If Trump Seeks To Carry Out Political Coup – Vote Overwhelmingly In Support!
At today’s Vermont AFL-CIO Convention (held over zoom due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Non 21), aprx 100 Delegates, rank & File union members, and select allies converged to consider the defense of democracy should there be a Trump coup. After much discussion, the assembled delegates overwhelmingly voted to authorize their elected Executive Board to call for a Vermont General Strike if democracy comes into crisis.
This historic authorization vote makes the Vermont AFL-CIO the first State Federation in the country to be on record ready to carry out a General Strike to defend democracy if Trump refuses to leave office.
We have a long way to go before we can claim the transformative victories for Organized Labor and the working class that our dreams, desires, and needs demand. And we know that with the continuing pandemic and the economic crisis we will have many challenges before us. Even so, over the last 365 days we have made tremendous progress in making the Vermont AFL-CIO a more powerful labor organization and the most progressive State Labor Council in the North America. We have done this by diligently advancing the goals and principles articulated in our Ten Point Program For Union Power [https://vt.aflcio.org/news/vermont-afl-cio-ten-point-program]. Since your new leadership came to power in September 2019 [and again through a special election in 8/20] we have taken the following actions:
COVID-19: From the start of the pandemic we aggressively advocated for immediate actions at the State level to mitigate the worst potential consequences of the virus and the subsequent shutdown. As part of this effort we, working with allies, saw through expanded access to unemployment insurance, free childcare for essential workers, free food provided to working families, a moratorium on evictions, and crisis pay being provided to many Vermonters including the 8000 home healthcare workers organized into AFSCME Local 4802. We also stood with our healthcare workers from AFT and OPEIU when they demanded adequate PPE and safe working conditions.
On Wednesday, April 15th, 2020, Champlain Valley Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) hosted a Zoom panel discussion with organizers from several labor and social justice groups in Vermont and around the U.S. Panelists discussed the pandemic-related challenges they are facing in their communities and workplaces and, most importantly, how they are seeking to overcome these challenges and advance bold left demands for workers’ rights and economic and social justice [and a Union based Green New Deal].
Following the panel discussion, DSA opened up the floor to questions from participants. The goal of the call was to strategize ways to coordinate our work more closely, develop shared demands and provide concrete ways for people to tap into these current campaigns and actions.
VERMONT AFL-CIO UNITED!
A TEN POINT PROGRAM & SLATE FOR WORKING CLASS POWER!
VT AFL-CIO United! Candidates For Executive Committee
President: David Van Deusen, AFSCME
Vice President: Karl Labounty, AFSCME
Secretary/Treasurer: Danielle Bombardier, IBEW
Member-At-Large: Tim LaBombard, IBEW
Volunteer In Politics: Omar Fernandez, APWU
Burlington, Vermont, 5/30/19 –Today 500+ Union members and allies picketed the GOP fundraiser in Burlington which featured extremist Union-buster Scott Walker and Vermont Republican Governor Phil Scott. The picket was organized by AFSCME-VT, IBEW Local 300, The Vermont Buildings Trades, and dozens of other Unions & pro-Labor community/political organizations. Labor appreciates the support received by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders who reached out to supporters yesterday to express his backing of the picket and to encourage Vermonters to demonstrate alongside us.
The demonstration was electric! Speakers included AFSCME Local 1343 President Damion Gilbert, myself [VT AFL-CIO District Vice President/AFSCME Local 2413 member David Van Deusen], IBEW Organizer Danielle Bombardier, President of APWU-Vermont President Omar Fernandez, and many other Labor and community leaders (*see below for full list of speakers).
Montpelier, VT, 5/10/19 -The Vermont Republican Party has invited Wisconsin’s former union-busting Governor, Scott Walker, to speak at a fundraiser in Burlington’s Hilton Hotel on May 30. On April 26, AFSCME-Vermont called for Scott Walker to be met with labor/community picket lines. To date, 22 VT labor unions (representing over 17,000 union members) have endorsed the picket, along with 5 allied community organizations, and 5 political groupings. More endorsements are expected in the coming days.
“To labor unions, woman’s groups, racial justice organizations, and pro-union progressives of all stripes, Scott Walker represents the worst of the worst in terms of the wrong direction the extremist-anti-union-right would like to take our country if given the change. Walker believes workers should have NO collective bargaining rights, that our education system should be privatized, that women should not control their own bodies, and that the wealthiest 1% should receive massive tax cuts (at the price decimating our social services).