Worker Rights At Home and Abroad
Conference Update—March 11

To: Conference registrants; the KC Labor List; KC Labor Party List; the KC Labor Against War List; panelists; and those requesting additional information.

Please excuse multiple postings

One Week Mark
The Worker Rights At Home and Abroad conference begins just a week from tomorrow. Here’s a quick review of where we stand on the program.

We expect most participants will not register in advance. We need a table with three volunteers to have people sign in, pay their money, pick up a name tag and program. The name tag will indicate which session[s] they have paid for, along with lunch. Those registering at the site will be paying five dollars per session, or twenty dollars for the whole event.

Needed: three volunteers for the registration table; donations of name tags.

Friday Evening
Labor Party New England Organizer Ed Bruno will review the discussion, and position paper, that launched the party’s current Campaign for Worker Rights. This is a fundamentally new strategic approach to the question that should provoke a lot of thought and discussion. We also expect to have representatives from the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), and Teamsters at Duggan, and perhaps others, speaking about their labor rights case histories.

Saturday Morning
ILS director Judy Ancel, and Kansas Workbeat webmaster Stuart Elliott, will examine how the issue of worker rights in countries such as Mexico and China is at the heart of the drive by American bosses to "offshore" jobs.

Saturday Afternoon
Ed Bruno will make some introductory remarks about US Labor Against the War’s campaign for worker rights in occupied Iraq. He will be followed by our special guest speaker Amjad Al-Jawhary, speaking for the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq.

There will be at least a half-hour, probably more, allotted for discussion from the floor after each panel presentation.

Working Lunch On Saturday
All sessions will be seated at tables. There is an excellent kitchen attached to the meeting hall. We plan to take a short break for people to go get their food, returning to their tables for the "working" part of lunch. Our tentative plan is to prepare at least two kinds of chili, have some chopped vegetables, and bottled water, preparing for about fifty meals. If it looks bigger than that on Friday evening we will have to do some additional scrambling.

Needed: Three hands for serving lunch; volunteers to prepare vegetables or desserts; donation of plastic ware and suitable paper products.

KC Labor Party and KCLAW will have banners in the auditorium. Any other endorsing organization is welcome to have a banner up as well.

Post Conference March and Rally
After the conference officially adjourns—somewhere between 3-3:30—we urge folks to march a few blocks over to the rally at the 47th & Main Fountain, commemorating the first anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Ed Bruno and Amjad Al-Jawhary will be among the speakers there as well.

In addition to the KCLAW, KC Labor Party, and any other banners, we also plan to have at least a dozen poster board signs, displaying appropriate slogans, available.

Needed: Skilled sign makers. Otherwise we’ll go with last minute slap-dash. Donation of blank poster board would also be helpful.

Our rent and air fare expenses add up to about 700 dollars. Those have to be paid. So far I have contributed the printing of leaflets. We can only guess at food expenses but we have been pricing the lunch at five bucks.

After we have paid those who are out of pocket for major expenses we should aim to have some money left over for a modest honorarium for our Iraqi guest speaker. To ensure we get enough we can:

#Take a low key collection, asking for 5-10 dollar donations, after Amjad speaks. We can’t really do much more than that with our crowd without cutting into the financial needs of the rally in the park.

#Approach unions, and other groups not yet contributing, for 50-100 dollar donations. We can acknowledge their contribution in the printed conference program—unless they prefer to remain anonymous. (I have a sample letter and talking points for such appeals if needed.)

A semi-final press release goes out tomorrow. We will have some time on next week’s Heartland Labor Forum radio show. If anyone could use leaflets to distribute at an event in the coming week please let me know.

Informative, Inspiring
I have emphasized the great number of tasks remaining to make the conference a success. It’s a lot of work but I’m sure many of you will be able to pitch in here and there to ease the burden and pull it off.

Of course we are not doing all this just to work hard. We have able speakers from whom we can learn much. And we have an opportunity to tap some synergy from a rare convergence of the labor, peace, and global solidarity movements. I look forward to an informed discussion that can lead to some informed action in advancing the cause of worker rights here and everywhere.

In solidarity,

Bill Onasch