Brothers and Sisters,
Welcome to the WNY ALF’s Annual Meeting. Before I open the meeting with announcements, agenda explanation and some remarks, let me say two things:
We are meeting on the 10th day since the anti-worker, anti minority, anti-women Rush Limbaugh began, what I hope is his final descent into the dust-bin of history. Brothers and sisters over 50 advertisers have left his program, with many more to follow.
We are meeting in the home of the UAW, who in spite of attempts to break them, are making a comeback and growing strong. To quote President Obama :
“ I placed my bet on American Workers, and I’d make that same bet again any day of the week.”
Let’s thank the UAW properly with a big round of applause
Now to announcements & agenda:
For those of you in the 145th Assembly District – Special Election 3/20/12 – Vote for our endorsed candidate – Chris Fahey.
We will hold our political endorsement recommendation program tentatively on 6/29/12 for US Congress; NYS Assembly & NYS Senate.
We will hold a political action training sponsored by the NYS AFL-CIO on 6/14/12 @ 5:30 pm – Place TBA
Our Award’s Dinner is 4/26/12 at the Hearthstone Manor; Mario Cilento to speak and we will honor recent ALF + CLC board members who have retired.
As for our agenda:
The agenda itself can be found in the front of the program. Among the highlights will be,
Reports on follow-up to our Legislative Town Hall event
Reports from our resurgent Central Labor Councils
Assemblyman Sean Ryan will speak on corporate Accountability.
Congressman Higgins and Congresswoman Hochul, will address national issues of interest to our labor movement.
Brothers and Sisters,
We are more united and focused and have more legislative and political influence than we have had in several decades – let us move forward in that spirit.
Some last points on housekeeping:
There is food in the back, please help yourselves. To keep the meeting in order, I will ask a couple of things:
• If you must talk with someone, please go outside this meeting hall. Please do not
just go to the back of the room. Please power down your cell phones
• Please try to use the back door to the left, to use the restroom or leave the hall.
Using this door up front is very distracting.
I will now turn to the Annual Report of the President:
• it is my responsibility to report on the work of the last year/the prospects for the coming year and to summarize the general state of our movement.
• this report cannot be separated from the national + economic landscape and as such, I will try to connect our situation to the difficult problems of our time.
• 2011 was marked by significant achievement on the political front and with a certain “turn of the tide” on the economy. This is true from the national and local perspective.
• In March of 2011, our Annual Meeting noted the following objectives:
- To participate in the fight back against the “WAR ON WORKERS”
• to push forward highroad economic objectives including; hiring at prevailing and living wages, PLA’s for important building projects sustainable jobs and green economic growth, and
• to make Chris Collins, the most right-wing, anti-worker county executive in NYS a one-term official.
I can report today that we achieved these goals and other landmarks, as well, and we did it within budget, with great style and purpose, and we did it with iron unity. Further, it is my view that we will make greater progress in the year to come.
First, some re-cap on progress against the war on workers:
• During 2011 and into 2012, our ALF held, or was a big part of over 20 mass rallies and demonstrations in the region.
These included events that opposed:
- Right to work
- The curtailing of public sector bargaining rights
- For corporate accountability
- and in support of actual workplace struggles i.e.; Kaleida, Verizon, the postal workers and especially the BCBS workers who won a great victory against a cowardly lock out by their employer.
• We strengthened our ties with the pro-labor community – we engaged in support with the 99% occupy forces and continued our work around fiscal accountability and corporate accountability while pursuing a high road economic agenda, with our friends and constituency groups, like CEJ, Citizen’s Action, WNYCOSH and WNY Labor Today.
• We build a strong electoral presence and were the deciding factor in several races, most notably special election of Kathy Hochul in CD # 26; special election of
Sean Ryan in the 144th Assembly and of course, Mark Poloncarz as Erie County Executive
• We did these things and we did them in the growing spirit of unity and good feelings.
In 2012, We propose to do the following:
A.) Continue and strengthen our efforts against the war on workers; fight the extreme anti-worker political program of the Right wing .
• Strike/lockout support
• Support with difficult negotiations
• Use demonstrations, rallies, education forums, letter writing, etc. as needed
B.) Build the labor 2012 legislative/electoral program
• Pay attention to key races in light of re-apportionment
at the state and federal levels
• Judge all candidates based on their positions on the
key issues facing the labor movement, including but not limited to:
Tier 6, privatization and elimination of public services, urban sprawl, unfair and harmful trade policies and fair system of taxation.
• Promote a high road economic development that will positively impact on the living standards and working conditions of the region.
C.) Continue to build connections and joint work with “We are the 99%”/Occupy Wall Street movement. In this case, care must be taken to make best use of our resources.
D.) Strengthen ALF as the policy/programmatic center of the regional labor movement.
• Promote CLC’s as mobilizing centers, motivators of mass action.
• Oppose any divisive or sectarian activity that blocks or diminishes the leading role of our labor movement.
In this light, think of the economic initiatives since the Poloncarz election;
• Pledge of one billion from NYS
• UB – Med school move
• The WNY Economic Development council $100 Million dollar grant
• The push to expand the sewer project as part of the Clean Water Act
• Further growth of medical corridor
• Housing Rehab on west side
All seen as green projects
This would never be happening if Chris Collins was still the County Executive.
All this we do in the context of what is sure to be a heightened right-wing offensive.
Brothers + Sisters,
Let us pledge to redouble our efforts in 2012 and to say to each other that in our unity, is the strength, resolve, spirit and wisdom to play the leading role in the great cause of the working people!
Thank you very much