Van Deusen Runs For Vermont AFL-CIO President

  • Posted on: 2 August 2019
  • By: anon (not verified)

David Van Deusen, co-founder of the Green Mountain Anarchist Collective and former member of NEFAC & ARA has announced that he is running for President of the 10,000 member Vermont AFL-CIO as part of a new progressive slate (Vermont AFL-CIO United!). The union election takes place in September. Van Deusen, as an AFL-CIO District Vice President, recently led the Green Mountain Central Labor Council into supporting the YPG/YPJ and the struggle in Rojava (as part of that support the VT AFL-CIO supported returning American fighters who served with the YPG). Two months ago he (working with allied unions and community organizations) organized a 500 strong picket line in Burlington, VT, against visiting union-buster Scott Walker. Below is his campaign announcement and his slate’s ten point program.

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

VT AFL-CIO United! Candidates For District Vice President
Bennington County: Dan Cornel, AFSCME
Caledonia/Lamoille Counties: Rubin Serrano, AFSCME
Chittenden County: Marty Gil, IATSE
Rutland/Addition Counties: Eric Steel, AFSCME
Washington/Orange Counties: Traven Leyshon, OPIU
Windham County: Robert Oeser, UFCW

If you agree that it’s time for the AFL-CIO to take a more effective leadership role in building a powerful Labor Movement in Vermont, these are the candidates to support vote at our Convention on September 14 & 15, 2019 (the election will be first thing in the morning on September 15), at the Burlington Holiday Inn. Help us make the changes we need to make by telling your Local leadership that you support VT AFL-CIO United slate & program, and by seeking to be elected/appointed as a voting delegate by your Local. Together lets change what is possible!

***

VERMONT AFL-CIO UNITED!
TEN POINT PROGRAM FOR UNION POWER
SUMMERY OF PLATFORM FOR CHANGE

UNION DEMOCRACY!
We shall seek to amend VT AFL-CIO Constitution to allow ALL members an equal vote in electing Union officers. Seek to involve the rank & file in collective decision making.

WORKING CLASS UNITY!
We oppose fascism and discrimination in all its forms. We are strong when we are united as Union members and as one working class.

OUR SOCIAL PROGRAM!
We believe that if you work 40 hours a week, you should not have to struggle to pay your bills and make ends meet. We will fight for an expansion of social programs that benefit all working class people, and we will fight to make sure these programs are paid for through progressive taxation (and not having new burdens placed on working people).

POPULAR FRONT!
We will seek coordinate on social and political efforts with allied Unions outside the AFL-CIO and with community organizations when and where those Unions and organizations interests reflect our own. We recognize that we, as a people, are stronger together than apart.

GREEN NEW DEAL!
We support investment in our public infrastructure that results in a healthy environment. We asset all such projects involving public money must guarantee prevailing wages, good benefits, and that Union labor is utilized.

ELECTORAL POLITICS!
We will NOT support candidates that do not actively support us; we do not care what party they are affiliated with. We recognize that the politicians in Montpelier have not been representing our Union interests. We will therefore explore new, more effective ways to approach electoral politics.

WORKING CLASS DEMOCRACY!
We assert that working people, as the majority, should have a direct vote and say concerning the priorities and laws of the land. We therefore will fight to implement a Town Meeting based referendum system of government.

PRIORITY ON ORGANIZING NEW SHOPS!
We know that by Unionizing new shops, we grow our Union power. We shall therefore dedicate real resources to organizing, and these resources shall support the organizing efforts of affiliated Unions.

WE ARE NOT AFRAID OF STRIKES!
We unequivocally assert that without our labor, Vermont cannot work. Therefore, one of the most powerful tools at our disposal is the withholding of our labor. When strikes occur, we shall provide support to striking workers. During contract negotiations of affiliated Unions, we shall also provide assistance by way of model contract language which, when implemented, helps build a stronger Labor Movement.

BUILDING A MORE POWERFUL LABOR MOVEMENT!
We stand with those Union members that stand with us. We further recognize moving a progressive working class program forward will take not only the participation of AFL-CIO Unions, but also that of the NEA, VSEA, UE, and other non-AFL-CIO Unions. We therefore invite like-minded members from within those Unions to adopt this 10 point program, to join us, and to seek to implement this program in ever Union in Vermont. We further recognize that it is not enough to capture the leadership of Unions; to win, we will also require rank & file engagement and action. Thus we will work to increase the involvement of the rank & file at every level.

***

VERMONT AFL-CIO UNITED!
THE COMPREHENSIVE PLATFORM & SLATE FOR WORKING CLASS POWER!

A TEN POINT PROGRAM FOR GROWING UNION POWER IN THE GREEN MOUNTAIN STATE
VOTE FOR THE VERMONT AFL-CIO UNITED! SLATE OF CANDIDATES ON SEPTEMBER 15, 2019
VERMONT AFL-CIO UNITED! IS WORKING CLASS POWER!

Organized Labor has been the most powerful force for change in the History of the United States of America. From the 8 hour day/40 hour work week, the establishment of the weekend, livable wages (in Union shops), to workplace safety standards; Labor has won these foundational victories through collective action and solidarity. However, for some decades Labor, nationally, has been on the decline. After endorsing Bill Clinton for President (1992), Clinton and the Democrats in Congress sent our manufacturing jobs to low wage (super exploited) nations through NAFTA and other free trade agreements (agreements which we opposed, and which we still oppose). And with these good manufacturing jobs, so went thousands of Union jobs.

Today in Vermont (2019), the 10,000 member strong AFL-CIO continues to be a major force within the Labor Movement, but few would rationally deny that we have largely stagnated. This stagnation comes as President Trump and his increasingly far-right Republican Party have launched existential attacks on Labor. The most dire of these include the politically motivated Supreme Court ruling outlawing fair share dues in public sector Unions, the Administration’s so-called rule change outlawing even voluntary dues through payroll deductions for most Unionized home healthcare providers, and the appointment of corporate stooges to the National Labor Relations Board. This is not the time for Labor to be stagnate…

This wilting of Labor does not have to be. We can (and must) be a social and political power once again; one capable not only of defending against the attacks we now face from DC, but also of going on the offensive and delivering positive life altering changes for working people. But we will not achieve our potential if we stay on the road more traveled. We cannot continue to do what we have always done and expect a different result. Nor can we be satisfied with candidates that run for Union office who support all the good things, but who neglect to tell us how we will get there. Instead we must be bold, we must experiment, and we must forge a way forward which not only transforms the Vermont AFL-CIO, but also delivers a powerful Labor Movement with the muscle needed to transform Vermont as a whole. And here, the Vermont we intend to deliver is one wherein working class people not only possess the means to live a secure and dignified life, but one where we, as the great majority, wield the democratic power required to give social and political expression to the many. Such a transformative potential presupposes first a unity around an effective program, and second the development of our immediate political power.

Therefore, in anticipation of the September 14 & 15 Vermont AFL-CIO Convention, and the elections that will be held for a new leadership at this time, VERMONT AFL-CIO UNITED! will be running a full slate of candidates under the following 10 point program:

1. UNION DEMOCRACY: The fact is the next VT AFL-CIO election (as with all past elections) will not be as democratic as is desirable. The leadership of the VT AFL-CIO is elected by a limited number of delegates. The rank & file of our Unions have little to no direct say in who will be in these leadership positions. In many past elections, the rank & file are not even knowledgeable about who is running, what the issues are, and what is at stake concerning the direction of the Labor Movement. This is not acceptable. Therefore, the VT AFL-CIO shall:

a. Petition the National AFL-CIO for a change to our Constitution whereby every member of a VT AFL-CIO Union will have a single and equal vote concerning the election of officers. Elections shall continue to be held every two years at our State Convention. However, now a concerted effort will be made to reach out to our 10,000 rank & file members in order to invite their participation and in order for them to become educated on the issues, the candidates, and ultimately place a vote in favor of those candidates they feel best represent the interests of the Labor Movement. By conducting elections in this way, we will also be able to build a stronger and more representative presence of our members at our Conventions;
b. Direct VT AFL-CIO President, Executive Committee, Executive Board, and elected officers to operate transparently, and to consult with the rank & file when contemplating action on an issue, as well as to report back to the rank & file after such bodies take action. This transparency shall be manifest through regular online and email updates which will be made available to members of affiliated Unions.
c. Direct the VT AFL-CIO President, Executive Committee, Executive Board, and elected officers to act in accordance with the general will of the membership, even when such will comes into conflict with the private views of the leadership;
d. Make a priority of re-building our local Central Labor Councils all across Vermont in order to provide a better means of giving an organized voice to our rank & file and to promote the development of personal relationships of solidarity among members from different area Unions. Here we declare that rank & file
members of non-AFL-CIO Unions (such as the VSEA, NEA, UE, etc.) shall be invited to participate, just as they have for years through the Green Mountain Central Labor Council;
e. Look into the feasibility of establishing a quarterly Labor newspaper in order to better facilitate discussion, debate, and education of Union members.

2. WORKING CLASS UNITY: Like our grandparents who fought unapologetically with arms against Germany and Italy in World War II, we are anti-Fascist. We oppose fascism, racism, sexism, and discrimination of all kinds wherever it raises its ugly head, and we support those that actively resist the attempts by the further-right to normalize discriminatory, racist, and fascist ideologies. We understand that Labor is strong when we stand in solidarity with each other; when we are united as one single working class regardless of the difference we may experience between each other. What matters to us is not your race, ethnicity, religion, country of origin, gender, or orientation, but rather that you stand in solidarity with their Union brothers & sisters and with working people as a whole. We shall not be fooled by those that want to divide us into antagonistic camps. We know our strength comes from our unity, and from this unity follows true working class power. An injury to one is an injury to all.

3. OUR SOCIAL PROGRAM: Within the great majority of our contracts we have already won livable wages, adequate paid time off, affordable quality healthcare, and degrees of shop floor democracy on the job for our members. In many cases, we secured these benefits for our members generations ago. And thus we will continue to place a priority on organizing new shops where we can seek to secure these benefits for thousands more working people without the need for recourse to state government. However, we also appreciate our responsibility to the larger working class who is not yet organized into a Union, and we shall continue to fight for the universal realization of these standards for all working people. As such, we support actions and legislation which guarantees all Vermonters:

a. $15 an hour livable wage (adjusted for inflation);
b. 12 weeks of paid family medical leave;
c. Single payer healthcare;
d. Free college tuition for all public colleges and universities;
e. Affordable housing (housing costs suffered by a family should never require any more than one week of one’s monthly pay);
f. Affordable childcare for all;
g. Access to healthy locally produced food;
h. Access to a defined benefit pension plan;
i. The right to a card check recognition in order to make the process by which workers gain Union representation more fair;
j. And furthermore that the creation of these new social programs will NOT be funded through any new regressive taxation schemes. Rather taxation must be progressive in nature, and we must demand that the wealthy & corporations pay their fair share;

We will fight to realize this agenda by working to build a Popular Front of fellow Labor organizations and allied groups from outside the Unions. Here we shall seek to increase levels of agitation within our communities, and we will also seek to support rank & file Union members as they advocate for these positions in their cities/towns/shops and in the Statehouse.

4. POPULAR FRONT: As we take steps to realize a more equitable and democratic Vermont, we recognize that the Labor Movement, while constituting the key strategic element concerning social forces with a direct interest in creating fundamental change, is stronger when we work in partnership with other organizations and community groups where our interests overlap (or where our interests are not in contradiction to each other). After all, the forces that oppose us, while unable to muster the numbers that we have, are presently in possession of great resources and wealth. We counter this imbalance by building bridges to other organizations whereby our constituency is further enlarged. Therefore, where non-Labor organizations, be they farmer or environmental groups, are ready and able to embrace our core working class values, and where those organizations are ready and able to work with us on our program, we shall be ready to give them a seat at the table and to work to coordinate with them to create actions in support of a common, popular, agenda. To further the development of this Popular Front members of the Executive Board of the VT AFL-CIO shall:

a. Seek to meet with non-Labor organizations in order to discuss areas where we share common interests;
b. Seek to secure a commitment from those organizations concerning support for this program;
c. Bring issues and concerns emanating from these organizations (that are not articulated in this program but which are also not in conflict with this program) back to VT AFL-CIO Conventions in order for our membership to consider taking a stand on said issues;
d. Invite delegates of such organizations to VT AFL-CIO Conventions as non-voting participants.

5. GREEN NEW DEAL: We recognize the threat of climate change and the environmental challenges which we face at this time in history. Adequately addressing these challenges will take a coordinated effort to, among other things, rebuild our ageing infrastructure in such as way so as to minimize our carbon footprint. This will mean the construction of new renewable energy plants. This will also mean hardening our existing infrastructure, such as powerlines, roads, bridges, culverts, etc., in such a way as to make them resilient in the face of an increasing number of extreme weather events. We also recognize the opportunities which such construction presents to a generation of workers. Therefore, the Vermont AFL-CIO supports a Green New Deal (in Vermont & nationally) insofar as such a program guarantees that:

a. Related construction projects involving public money (or tax breaks) shall be done via Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) that guarantee a prevailing wage, safe working conditions, and that this work is done with Union labor;
b. Infrastructure built with public money must be publicly owned. Furthermore, any work required to maintain or service the facility once it is operational shall be done by Union labor;
c. Any new taxation levied to pay for such projects, or that are used to encourage a positive environmental change in society shall NOT be regressive in nature. The fact is that working class people are already paying their fair share. The wealthy & corporations on the other hand have seen their taxes cut time and again. It is time for the richest 1% (that has 40% of our nation’s total wealth) to be compelled to surrender aspects of that wealth in order to right the wrongs that their profits have necessitated on the rest of us.
d. The Vermont AFL-CIO will work with climate justice organizations in order to realize a Green New Deal as long as such organizations share in our demand for economic justice (as articulated above) to be a non-negotiable aspect of this social project.

6. ELECTORAL POLITICS: The time of the VT AFL-CIO endorsing candidates simply because they are a Democrat is over. In the last election (2018) we endorsed the great majority of the Democrats who won. And in return, they FAILED to hold a single hearing on card check, FAILED to pass the livable wage, paid family medical leave, & free college tuition bills. Single payer healthcare was not even manifest as a whisper in the Statehouse last year. In brief, our practice of making broad endorsements and often picking the least bad of two less-than-idea options has again proven ineffective. At minimum, the VT AFL-CIO will only consider endorsing a candidate if they have a proven record of being a Labor champion. Here we shall require candidates who seek our endorsement to sign a pledge whereby they shall support us on our issues, as we define them, come hell or high water. Second, the VT AFL-CIO shall form a study committee, chaired by our Volunteer In Politics and composed of members from diverse affiliated Unions, who shall be tasked at looking at alternative approaches to electoral politics. These alternative approaches may include:

a. Implementing a moratorium on PAC contributions to political parties & candidates from political parties which refuse to be proactive on Labor issues;
b. Implementing a moratorium on endorsing candidates for the Vermont House & Senate from any party which refuses to be proactive on Labor issues;
c. Exploring an institutional relationship with the Vermont Progressive Party whereby Labor delegates to their executive board would hold sway over party policy on Labor issues;
d. Exploring an institutional relationship with another pro-Labor third party;
e. Exploring the formation of our own political party;
f. Consider taking a step back from electoral politics & instead putting all our resources into organizing new shops and thus growing our base political power;
g. Any combination of the above, or a different approach as may be looked at by this committee.

This committee shall report its findings to the VT AFL-CIO COPE Convention which shall be held in January 2020. At the COPE Convention these electoral issues shall be discussed and debated by Union members. A vote shall be held in regards to which approach to take. The VT AFL-CIO Executive Board shall act in accordance with this membership vote.

We shall NOT re-join the Working Vermont coalition (with VSEA and NEA) until and unless these fellow Unions come to share our views on electoral politics and on the values expressed in this program, and further commit to engaging in a meaningful discussion as to how to better involve the rank & file in such a coalition. However, we will still seek to work closely with the VSEA & NEA on specific issues of mutual interest (be they legislative or otherwise).

7. WORKING CLASS DEMOCRACY: We have seen the Democratic & Republican Parties time and again fail to sufficiently represent the interests of Organized Labor and working people generally in Montpelier (and in Washington DC). Even when they have done right by us, it often is years after Vermonters demanded action. We have also witnessed the disproportionate influence wielded by corporate lobbyists in the Statehouse. In short, even though working people constitute the great majority of Vermonters, our voice is often drowned out by big moneyed interests. We therefore propose a change in our Vermont Constitution whereby the people shall be empowered to circumvent the politicians in the Statehouse through a Town Meeting based referendum system. We shall work to realize this Constitutional change through an effort to build public support for this expansion of democracy culminating in a statewide vote on this proposal in accordance with the procedures set forth in our present VT Constitution for amending this document.

8. PRIORITY ON ORGANIZING NEW SHOPS: Here it is not good enough to say ‘we support new organizing’; of course we do, just as we all do. Rather here we must dedicate more resources to this crucial aspect of our work. Thus the Vermont AFL-CIO shall:

a. Ask our Political Director to spend the summers working with affiliated Unions aiding in their efforts to organize new workers. Specifically, affiliated Unions shall request such AFL-CIO assistance from the five member Executive Committee. The Executive Committee shall weigh the request, typically authorizing the Political Director to provide such assistance for a defined amount of time;
b. Forgo spending $5000 on a lobbyist, and instead dedicate that $5000 towards short time organizers who shall be retained on a standby list. These organizers will be paid a livable wage of $15 an hour, and may be assigned for short periods of time to affiliated Unions who request assistance in organizing new shops. Organizers may be assigned to projects from one day to two weeks in order to provide concreate support to our affiliates;
c. Use our social media to publicize and build support for affiliated Unions which are engaged in new organizing drives.

9. WE ARE NOT AFRAID OF STRIKES: The Vermont AFL-CIO knows that when our members are united, when we stand together with our allies, our ability to withhold our labor is a powerful tool. We have seen the power of strikes in Vermont, most recently when the UVMMC Nurses went to the picket line (2018) in order to secure a more equitable share of their employer’s wealth. Nationally, in recent years, we have seen statewide teachers’ strikes across the country (some wildcat strikes), which as with our Nurses, have typically resulted in major wins for impacted workers. Historically we have also witnessed general strikes impacting entire cities, states, and even nations. Governments have been brought down by the power of a strike. And while we do not advocate for any irresponsible use of this powerful tool, we do not fear its use either. When strikes occur, the Vermont AFL-CIO shall:

a. Provide vocal and physical support for the strikers utilizing our social media, letters to the editor, op-eds, sending rank & file members of our Unions to the picket line, and providing monetary assistance whenever possible;
b. Encourage affiliated Unions to proactively establish a strike fund;

Furthermore, prior to the launch of a strike, when Unions are heading to the bargaining table, the Vermont AFL-CIO shall seek to coordinate Union building proposals among our affiliated Unions. Here, model language shall be provided to affiliated Unions which, among other things, establishes a common right for our members to NOT cross picket lines, allows for all our Unions to establish political PACs, grants our members seats on employer hiring committees, as well as on language for any other issue which our affiliated Unions express an interest in. In addition, the VT AFL-CIO will seek to provide affiliated Unions a list of other contracts in which this language is already included, for use during fact finding. Point being, we are part of a Labor federation so as to receive support from other Unions and as a means to learn from each other. And here the VT AFL-CIO will manifest this role, as was intended by those that came before us.

10. BUILDING A MORE POWERFUL LABOR MOVEMENT: We understand that having progressive Labor members capture the leadership within the VT AFL-CIO (which we intend to do on September 15, 2019), in order to implement the above program, will be a historic victory for Vermont’s Labor Movement. However, the AFL-CIO does not represent the majority of Vermont’s Organized Labor. The NEA has 14,000 members in our schools. The VSEA represents 7000 workers (largely employed by the State). The UE represents hundreds more, as do a number of other non-affiliated Unions such as SEIU & the Barre Granite Cutters. These Unions are not part of the AFL-CIO. The VT AFL-CIO recognizes that the foundational social, economic, and political change we envision, over the long run, will require a united Labor Movement (working with our allies) & a united working class in order to be victorious. Therefore Vermont AFL-CIO United! shall seek to organize itself as a kind of internal Union political party whereby progressive rank & file members of these other Unions (those that agree with this ten point program) will be encouraged to join this party, and in turn run for office within their Unions. Here Vermont AFL-CIO United! will provide encouragement and moral support for these candidates. And as we demonstrate success inside our Labor federation, we project that candidates supporting our program will also gain internal electoral success in their efforts to capture the leadership within their Unions. As this process unfolds, we shall seek to coordinate the efforts of all the Unions in our common effort to move our working class agenda forward. But capturing the leadership positions of Labor is not an end in itself. For even with a progressive leadership in place, power will only be realized in its full potential through an active and engaged rank & file. Here Vermont AFL-CIO United! will seek to grow such rank & file participation not only through seeking to expand the internal democratic rights of Labor organizations, but also by facilitating workshops on member engagement at Conventions and (upon invitation by affiliated Unions) at Local meetings throughout the State. TOGETHER WE WILL WIN!

The above represents the program of Vermont AFL-CIO United! Our slate of candidates are committed to carrying out this program in order to build a more powerful Labor Movement in Vermont. In order to win we need your support on election day, September 15th, 2019, at the VT AFL-CIO Convention, at the Holiday Inn, in South Burlington (first thing in the morning). If you believe in the change which we advocate for, we need YOU to speak with your Local leadership and to express that you want to be elected/appointed as an official delegate to the Convention. Only official delegates will have a vote (alternates only have a vote if their official delegate is absent). Also ask your leadership to support the Vermont AFL-CIO United! slate this September. We also need you to share this program with your co-workers & fellow Union members. It is not enough for a few of us to share a vision; our vision must be the united vision of Labor. In the end the Union is YOU and without an active and engaged rank & file we will not be able to make the foundational changes in society that we demand. When we stand together, when we have that common vision and take those steps necessary to implement that vision, we are a powerful force. Our program is just the start, not the end. UNITED WE ARE UNION STRONG!

###

Comments

Our guy

This is hilarious. Anarchists (some anarchists anyway) rightly get all bent out of shape when grad students and professors parlay their street cred into academic careers because academia is a hotbed of conformity and mediocrity. But aside from little snarky jabs, nobody seems to give much of a shit that this dude has been slowly and steadily parlaying his NEFAC cred into a bureaucratic sinecure with Lin an institution that’s even more corrupt than academia. What the actual fuck people?

I am from Vetmont. For what it's worth the VT AFL president is an unpaid position. And reading the ten point program, it is clear to me that this is pretty damn far left for a major faction within labor. And notice that this isn't just vandeusen here; IBEW, UFCW, AFSCME are all major unions. As an anarchist, I also like the program's commitment to internal union democracy and expanding participatory democracy through a town meeting based referendum system. Pretty badass actually. Hope they win.

Wait, what have we ever done about academics apart from snarky little jabs?

This is my thinking. These positions are so staggeringly far from being anarchist that I can't even get mad. Like, in the 90s when you'd get upset about a band selling out but you have a hard time caring after a while and eventually you're like "I genuinely wish them luck in their endeavors. May they sell a billion records." I hope Van Deusen wins the thing and makes the union strong and everyone gets all the raises. Also, I think the name is spelled wrong in the headline.

Same Vandusen who wrote the Black Bloc Papers?

Bernie Sanders could have written the platform. Being that it's the "Vermont" AFL-CIO, perhaps he did?

Hey, this is some cool shit. This platform is pretty damn badass for a state AFL slate. If these guys win, and begin to implement these politics, it could be the start of something that reaches further than VT. Also, have read a bunch of Van Deusen's stuff over the years (BB Papers, the new one On Anarchism) and I can see some of his ideas coming through here but under a broad umbrella. Anyway, good luck to him and the slate come Election Day.

He's a bit too old to be trying to fight cops with his bare hands and wondering what he's doing wrong lol

I guess when u get old in anarchy u either do this or do wat aragron is doing.

Lately! Hasn't always been the case and no reason it should stay that way.

Even worse, you could be Zerzan, mumbling to yourself about society on the radio while the dozen other old anarchists on the continent snicker at you for being lame … and nobody else even notices!

There's also the basic bitch parallel power systems that should be the default of anarchist orientation specifically on adjectiveless grounds. See this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XoV2zLoHA5g

So Van Deusen was in the Green Mountain Anarchist Collective. Here is what they said 15 years ago in their manifesto Neither Washington Nor Stowe:

"The future re-establishment of direct democracy in the Green Mountains will, in a large part, rely on the extension of the power of Town Meeting, though be it a power aimed at utilitarian ends – not economic chauvinism. But how will this be achieved? One thing is clear, the politicians in Montpelier will not simply hand it to us. Our only chance at winning will be through the coordination of a statewide movement, based in the towns, which seeks to extend our local authority with or without the approval of Montpelier. Imagine if you will a statewide effort to place a resolution on the majority of Town Meeting agendas which declared that:

"‘When and if fifty percent, plus one, towns/cities representing a majority of Vermonters pass any given resolution, all local revenue and cooperation will be withheld from the State government until such time as that resolution becomes the common practice of the land.’

"It will be through such an effort that we will begin to reclaim our democratic traditions that have been obscured through 200 years of capitalist centralization and upper class domination of the political system. In order for us to do this, we must begin to bring such self-empowering resolutions to our various Town Meetings."

Here is what Van Deusen's coalition within the Vermont AFL-CIO is saying now (in their program):

"We have seen the Democratic & Republican Parties time and again fail to sufficiently represent the interests of Organized Labor and working people generally in Montpelier (and in Washington DC). Even when they have done right by us, it often is years after Vermonters demanded action. We have also witnessed the disproportionate influence wielded by corporate lobbyists in the Statehouse. In short, even though working people constitute the great majority of Vermonters, our voice is often drowned out by big moneyed interests. We therefore propose a change in our Vermont Constitution whereby the people shall be empowered to circumvent the politicians in the Statehouse through a Town Meeting based referendum system."

Truth be told this is not so different. Here it is significant that 15 years after the Green Mountain Anarchist Collective (and their membership in NEFAC) it is not 10 or 20 anarchists calling for this, but instead credible union leaders representing 1000s of workers (from IBEW, AFSCME, UFCW, etc.). Seems Van Deusen has been building a political base in Vermont, under the radar, over the last decade and a half. Its hard for me not to be impressed. And even if we, as anarchists, often take issues with mainstream unions (and union leaders that seem to blindly follow the capitalist Democrats) it strikes me that something else is at work here. Perhaps, if they win, this can be a turning point in mass worker organizations; at least seeking to go somewhere that U.S. labor has not gone since the early days of the CIO.

I wish Van Deusen and his allies well. If I was a union member in Vermont, I would support them. But from a distance I will watch this, and I will be interested to see what happens, and what they are able to do, after they win.

Here is a link to the Green Mountain Anarchist Collective manifesto from back in the day (its worth a read):
http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/green-mountain-anarchist-collecti...

Green Mountain Anarchist Collective was pretty cool back in the day. Glad to see some of them stuck around the struggle.

A shame when anarchists default to being suspicious and hostile of every larger group. It's knee-jerk lazy analysis.

Real radicals are rare in the unions because it's hard, not impossible.

Especially when your union are a bunch of fascist orcs from the construction industry... Good luck organizing with war-mongerers of civilization.

the AFL-CIA is not merely some "larger group". it's a business union, sanctioned by the state and its laws to be labor brokers for capitalism. it's been fully integrated into the economic infrastructure of international capital since the 1940s (leading the way by imposing no-strike pledges during the second inter-imperialist world war). the lazy analysis is from you SOT, refusing to understand the actual lived history of organized labor in the united states and in its satellites. the AFL-CIA isn't even a pretend radical union federation. but this level of entryism is exactly what NEFAC's strategy was during its pathetic lifespan; they always aimed to somehow magically radicalize existing business union chapters through the injection of allegedly anarchist activists. pro-capitalist trade unions will never be turned into anti-capitalist formations, not even if one dickhead captures the leadership of the Vermont bureaucracy. and even if they did turn one state formation into a successfully anti-capitalist bureaucracy, the remaining 49 state federations would certainly not go along. every attempt to influence the direction of the national bureaucracy has been quashed by the big bosses (all corrupt scumbags in the pockets of Democratic political machines). once the CIO successfully purged its ranks of anyone suspected of being a Communist, trade unions have historically been on the side of the bosses during labor crises. you can google it. real radicals are rare in the unions because unions are anti-radical, not because "it's hard". troll harder.

Mostly true but if you pull your head out of your ass for a second, you'll notice I was talking about this person, not the union as a whole. Not defending unions, but you really want to argue against them and can't resist the opportunity to explain the same old shit to people who already agree with you like a manic broken record.

I said knee-jerk analysis to any mention of the larger group, which is exactly what you did.

Your mistake was false equivocation. Feel free to keep doubling down tho, that'll show me who's boss.

"leading the way by imposing no-strike pledges during the second inter-imperialist world war"

I ain't to fond of unions collaborating with the State, but also fuck off with that Nazi downplaying bullshit. The fascists were bigger, richer and more dangerous than the MAGA crowd back in the '40s. They were controlling Hollywood, most of Wall Street and were the reason why the US has only entered the front in 1942 after a decisive Axis attack in the Pacific.

Not all anti-interventionism is honestly anti-war.

The fascists were NOT controlling Hollywood, it was the Commies who had sway there as they were the IDPols of the day. The real reason the US got in was because Germany was flirting with autarky and basically aggressed against inter-imperial peacecraft and state sovereignty.

Listen to this interview from 1:02 to about 1:22 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzjoFn_GPG0

If by "had sway" you mean, lived and worked openly as commies until the mccarythist purges started a few years later.

Even if you'd prefer not to use the f word (and major players like Disney were pretty open about their fascist sympathies), a lot of the real money/power players leaned hard to the right, as money often does, especially when labour strife crops up.

Where have the real anarch men and women gone who didn't need leaders?

VT AFL-CIO? I am liking it more and more every day. Good luck to Van Dusen and his slate for change.

I think that for a major union to have a ten point program like this is really something. Would I be wrong to think that if they win, this would be way farer left than any state afl-cio in the u.s.? either way, I have read this platform and support it very much. in fact I am going to email some friends I have in Vermont to see if they can have their unions (or friends in the unions) support this come September. yes, vote for van dusen for vt afl-cio president!

van deusen

Van Deusen and his full slate won the Vermont AFL-CIO election, and a left leadership is now in power. Regardless of your opinion of the national AFL-CIO, it strikes me as remarkable that the founder of the Green Mountain Anarchist Collective is now leading thousands of union workers in Vermont. This could be the start of something. Here is a link to an article on the election outcome from Enough Is Enough: https://enoughisenough14.org/2019/09/17/vermont-labor-takes-sharp-left-t...

Anyone here ever worked as rank-and-file member under Van Deusen, fighting for the self-activity and determination of coworkers who are actually making demands on bosses and in the interests of workers? His rank-and-file, pro-worker rhetoric is a joke. He couldn't even hold to our most basic request that he not meet or interact with bosses directly outside of worker presence and authorization.
Is it realized on this site that Van Deusen served 3 years as Moretown constable in VT beginning in 2007, or that currently under AFSCME he is chief negotiator/representative for at least three police union locals?
All kinds of corporate union sites could be a platform for this guy but here he is scamming the anarchists.

the AFL-CIO in Vermont supports the YPG and have actually started a program to support returning volunteers including getting them union jobs. and it looks like last week they also called endorsed a protest calling for the abolition of ICE. Show me another US union doing this type of thing. show me a so called anarchist organization doing that in the US on a big or meaningful scale. The left has got to stop being a circular firing squad.

https://vt.aflcio.org/green-mountain-labor-council/news/solidarity-strug...

https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/david-van-deusen-vt-afl-cio-welc...

https://www.facebook.com/vtworkers/

So I am looking at some of the stuff van deusen previously did outside the afl, and in vermont. Its hard not to be impressed. have you read the following on the work the green mountain anarchist collective?

http://www.interfacejournal.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Int...

And I have also taken the time to listen to van deusen's account of those times and what brought him to work within the afl:

https://itsgoingdown.org/vermont-to-seattle-black-bloc-picket-line/

It sounds like one person had an issue with something that happened in a union struggle. And it sounds like there is a desire to hold someone hyper-responsible for a political purity because a few cops are in a union with the person in question (and I got news for you here... as shitty as it may be there are a hell of a lot more then three PDs in most other state afl-cio's). but if we held everyone up to those standards, there would not be many people we would be even talking to these days; really next to no one inside organized labor...). seems self destructive and kind of crazy to go down that road...

even so, very glad to see someone that shares anti-authoritarian values leading a MAJOR union in the united states. this is a big deal, and an important movement development. only "scam" here is the potential agent provokiteer writing comments seeking to yet again divide us.

solidarity with the Vermont afl-cio,

The new leftist platform of the Vermont AFL-CIO as reported by Enough Is Enough:
https://enoughisenough14.org/2019/10/22/vt-afl-cio-adopts-leftist-platfo...

Van Deusen & the VT AFL apparent has come out against ICE and in solidarity with undocumented workers! Its posted on their social media. Never thought I would see that from an AFL-CIO union!

Add new comment