By ED FINKELSTEIN
The AFL-CIO will launch its 28th Constitutional Convention in St. Louis Oct. 22-25 at the Marriott Grand St. Louis downtown with a series of pre-convention unity rallies on Sat. Oct. 21 under the banner of “Join•Fight•Win Together.”
In a dramatic departure from past conventions, the AFL-CIO made the decision not to use the convention as a platform for political leaders, and instead will focus on giving voice to workers and developing serious strategies for how to meet the needs of all working people.
“There will be no parade of D.C. insiders or flashy celebrities,” an AFL-CIO spokesman said. “This will be the most worker-focused, action-oriented convention in the AFL-CIO’s history.”
As part of the weeklong union gathering, there will be several other important events:
• Oct. 19-21 – Labor communicators from across U.S. and Canada – and local union communicators are invited — to participate in the national conference of the International Labor Communication Association (ILCA).
• Oct. 20 – The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) will celebrate its 31st annual Ernest and DeVerne Calloway Awards with honors going to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Ohio AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Petee Tally and Mathew-Dickey Boys & Girls Club founder Martin Mathews.
• Oct. 21 – Union Sportsmen’s Alliance will dedicate a fishing ramp they are funding in Willmore Park with volunteers from three local unions.
Registration for the convention begins at 2 p.m. on Saturday and will be available every day beginning at 7 a.m.
An overview of the week’s activities includes:
SATURDAY, OCT.. 21
• 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. – Global Labor Symposium “Organizing To Build Power From the Workplace to the Global Supply Chain” will be a lively discussion on successful strategies used around the world to organize, secure good jobs, and defend labor and civic rights.
• 10:45 a.m. – Dedication of rebuilt fishing dock in Willmore Park. Fishing begins at noon.
• 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Diversity and Inclusion Conference will address issues surrounding racial justice, featuring leaders from the St. Louis community, recognizing that working people, especially people of color, feel under attack at all levels – and that the voice of the Labor Movement is needed now more than ever.
• 4:30 – 6 p.m. – State Federation and Central Labor Councils meeting.
• 5:30 – 7 p.m. – Reception.
• 1 – 5 p.m. – Convention Day 1: “Join Together: A Day of Solidarity.”
• 6 – 7:30 p.m. – Opening night reception.
MONDAY, OCT. 23
• 8 a.m. – noon – Convention Day 2: “Fight Together: State and Local.”
• Noon – 5 p.m. – Action and Training workshops.
• 6 – 7:30 p.m. – Reception.
TUESDAY, OCT. 24
• 8 a.m. – 5p.m. – Convention Day 3: “Fight Together, National.”
• Noon – 5 p.m. – Action and Training workshops
• 7 – 9:30 p.m. – Meany-Kirkland Human Rights Award Dinner.
Wednesday, Oct. 25
• 8 a.m. – noon – Convention Day 5: “Win Together.”
Training and action workshops throughout the week will provide delegates with opportunities to meet discuss and plan around a variety of issues to including:
• Building Political Power/Running for Office.
• Establishing a State or Local Veterans Council.
• Organizing Around Issues – Why Workers Vote Against Their Own Interests.
• Organizing for Growth.
• “Right-to-work:” Past, Present, Future.
• Organizing Outside The Box.
Additionally, there will be several forums and workshops revolving around the issues of race and inclusion, including: Strategies for Full Inclusion, Race Commission Recommendations, Immigration & Citizenship, Talking Racism and Anti-Semitism Post Charlottsville.
NO MORE BUSINESS AS USUAL
“Union members and our allies come to this convention amid a rising tide of energy and growing demand for real answers to the serious challenges working people face,” the AFL-CIO notes, adding, “The crisis before us is significant, but so are the opportunities. We simply cannot afford business as usual.
“The purpose… is to build new and surprising partnerships… come together in unity with clarity of purpose… to build an America that works for all of us. We will leave St. Louis with a renewed commitment and bold agenda to improve the lives of working families.”