Nearly fifty labor activists gathered in Kansas City April 22-23 to discuss The Future Of American Labor. They reflected the ambitious diversity of the topics on the conference agenda, bringing together a wide range of experiences, knowledge, and opinions.

All generations were represented, running the gamut from teen-age to mid-eighties.

They belonged to many different unions: AFSCME, AFT Healthcare, ATU, Carpenters, IAM, IATSE, IBEW, IWW, KAPE, National Writers Union, NEA, UAW, USW, UTU, and Teamsters. Other movement organizations represented included the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; Cross Border Network for Justice & Solidarity; Labor Party; and US Labor Against the War. Also present were editorial board members from The Work Force, a Kansas City based working class newspaper.

While the majority were from the Kansas City metro area some came a considerable distance to attend. There were six from Minnesota; three from Illinois; two each from Tucson, Arizona, and Topeka, Lawrence, and Manhattan, Kansas; and one each from San Francisco, St Louis, and Washington, DC.

A late addition to the speakers list was Christine Frank, a member of IATSE Local 13 in Minneapolis, who spoke on labor and the environment. One scheduled speaker, Kelley Dull, president of AFGE Council 171, was called away to Washington for critical union negotiations and was unable to attend.

The biggest complaint heard was that there wasn’t time enough to discuss the many ideas raised by the eight panelists. Some were able to talk more with some of the speakers at a post-conference dinner, organized by the KC Labor Party, attended by about half of the conference participants.

The panel presentations were digitally recorded and will be posted, in one or more formats, on the conference web page soon.

Workers Gather in Kansas City To Talk About the Future of American Labor from KC Indymedia

 

Let's Talk About It In KC

The Future of American Labor
April 22-23, 2005
University of Missouri at Kansas City
Administrative Center, 5115 Oak, Kansas City, MO
Map

Sponsors: Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1287; Institute for Labor Studies; Kansas City Labor Against the War ; Kansas City Labor Party; kclabor.org

Two important anniversaries for American working people will be marked this year: the centennial of the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the fiftieth anniversary of the merger creating the AFL-CIO. But while we take pride in our heritage we must be concerned about our present—and anxious about our future.

Everyone now recognizes what's come to be known as Globalization is a dire threat to the living standards and working conditions of American workers.

A majority now feel the war in Iraq that has claimed so many lives, and robbed us of so many resources, was and is a mistake.

Today only one in eight of American workers is represented by a union—about a third of the union "density" at the time of the formation of the AFL-CIO, even lower than at the time of the launching of the IWW one hundred years ago.

Despite record mobilization of money and volunteers in the last election never in living memory has organized labor's political influence been so marginal.

This crisis has produced a long needed discussion among the leadership and within the ranks of organized labor. Whether you are a union member or not, if you work for a living–or want to work for a living–you have a stake in this debate. We invite you to join us in having our say in an exchange about the future of American labor.

Friday, April 22

Speakers listed alphabetically, not necessarily in the order they will speak

6:30PM Global Strategy—Responding to the Challenges of War and Globalization

Moderator:

Brad Fischer
Brad, a former Steward and COPE Chair in ATU Local 1287, was a founding member of Kansas City Labor Against the War. He has also taken on many assignments in the Local Organizing Committee of the Kansas City Labor Party.

Speakers:

Judy Ancel
Judy is director of the Institute for Labor Studies, a joint project of UMKC and Longview Community College. For over a decade, she has been the lead producer of the award winning Heartland Labor Forum radio show on KKFI. Long active in global labor solidarity work Ancel is president of the Cross Border Network for Justice and Solidarity and a member of the board of the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras
.

Bill Onasch
A retired member, former Vice-President, of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1287, Onasch is webmaster of kclabor.org. In January 2003 he attended the founding conference of US Labor Against the War. A week later he convened a meeting that founded Kansas City Labor Against the War
. Onasch is education task force coordinator for USLAW and represents KCLAW on the USLAW national Leadership Council.

Saturday, April 23

9:30AM Union Strategy—Bargaining, Organizing, Structure

Moderator:

Adam Shils
Vice-President, Aptakisic Education Association, a suburban Chicago affiliate of the NEA. Adam brings his discussion guiding skills honed as a teacher for more than twenty years—during which time he has taken a turn at holding every elected office in his union. He's a familiar face of solidarity on Chicago picket lines and is a leader of the Chicago Labor Party.

Speakers:

Trent Bell
President of the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.

Doug Bonney
Bonney is a free-lance labor attorney, based in Kansas City, who has represented many unions over the years. A member of the National Lawyers Guild he has also been involved in civil liberties cases. He is editor and on-going contributor to the Know Your  Rights section of the kclabor.org web site.

 

Kelley Dull
A DoD employee, Kelley is on point in the fight for survival of federal worker unions. She is President of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2904; and President of AFGE Council 171. Kelley was a panelist at last year's Worker Rights At Home and Abroad conference.

 

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David Riehle
An engineer on the Union Pacific railroad, Riehle is Local Chair of United Transportation Union Local 650 in St Paul, Minnesota. Riehle has a decades long record of outstanding labor solidarity work including a leading role in the P-9 Support Committee during the long and bitter strike/boycott at Hormel in Austin, Minnesota during the late Eighties. A recognized labor historian, he was a principal organizer of the commemoration of the seventieth anniversary
of the 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters Strike held in Minneapolis last summer. Riehle is a frequent contributor to such publications as the St Paul Union Advocate, Labor Standard, and Labor Advocate Online.

Jerry Tucker
Currently Executive Director, United Health Care Workers, St. Louis; former UAW regional director; a founder of the New Directions movement in the UAW; in-plant strategy adviser to local unions such as the struggle at AE Staley in the mid-Nineties; member of the Steering Committee of US Labor Against the War; recently returned from speaking about the debate in the U.S. labor movement at a conference at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Noon Lunch
We urge you to purchase a catered box lunch for ten dollars and socialize during the break.

1:00PM Video, Mouseland
An animation narrated by the late Tommy Douglas, founder of Canada's labor party.

1:15PM Political Strategy

Speakers:

Mark Dudzic
Labor Party National Organizer

Mark Dudzic served as President of Local 8-149 OCAW (now Local 1-149 PACE) for over 18 years. He was President of the OCAW District 8 Council—the largest District in the OCAW—throughout the 1990's until its dissolution shortly after the PACE merger in 1999. He held a number of elected and appointed positions within OCAW and PACE including District 8 representative to the OCAW Chemical Bargaining Committee and Trustee of the PACE Region 2 Council. As a labor activist in New Jersey he served the labor movement in a number of capacities. He was a Trustee of the Bergen County (New Jersey) Central Labor Council and a Vice President of the New Jersey Industrial Union Council. Dudzic was a long time friend, associate and ally of Labor Party Founding Brother Tony Mazzocchi. Upon Tony's death in 2002, he was appointed Interim National Organizer.

Bill Onasch
Onasch helped found Kansas City Labor Party Advocates in February, 1994 and was a delegate to the Labor Party Founding Convention in 1996—as well as the party's two other subsequent conventions. He served on the commission that developed LPs Electoral Policy
. Onasch represents Midwest chapters on the Labor Party Interim National Council.

There will be plenty of time for discussion following presentations in each session.

Conference Registration

A registration fee is required to pay for guest speaker and other expenses:

$15 for registrations received by April 18; $20 after that date.
$10 for a catered box lunch on Saturday—Lunch must be reserved by April 19

We are open to special arrangements for financial hardship or those able to attend only one session. No one will be turned away for lack of money.

Please contact us as early as possible if you are coming from outside the Kansas City area and need accommodations. A limited amount of free housing in local homes is available. When that is exhausted we can make recommendations for hotels from $50 per night and up.

If you want to register by mail print out and complete the registration form, include a check made payable to "KCALPA," and mail to:

Labor Conference
PO Box 30127 Plaza Station
Kansas City, MO 64112

Or, using a special PayPal button supplied by the kclabor.org web site, you can complete registration online.

For more information contact: kcalp@kclabor.org or call Bill Onasch at 816-753-1672