From January 11, 2021 Executive Board Meeting Minutes:
The Attempted Fascist Coup in Washington DC/Trump The troubling events last week in Washington and potential future fascist demonstrations (in DC and at State Capitols) discussed.
It was discussed how the fascism finds fertile ground to grow in economic distress/turmoil – creating division and divisiveness. The economy is hurting and people are hurting: losing homes, opioid crisis, suicide, job loss. [It is under such conditions that fascism has found new takers for its twisted ideology. It was discussed that the role of Organized Labor must be to provide real solutions to the problems working people face; we must be THE alternative beyond the neo-liberalism of the national Democratic Party.
Without establishing ourselves and our progressive vision for the future as such a real alternative, it should be expected that more people will turn towards fascism as the false counter to the status quo.It was also discussed that [a significant portion] of the attackers in Washington were middle-class, white, and funded by the wealthy [capitalists].
In Vermont, those attracted to the fascist movement are not [always] middle-class.[Even while Trump received less votes and a smaller percentage of votes in Vermont than any State in the union, Trump supports do have a base here, and too often from low income persons. The Labor Movement must take a leading role in fighting fascism. We must directly and unambiguously denounce the development of a fascist movement.
The insurrectionists [we saw in Washington last week] are class enemies to working people. [The task of Labor must be] defending democracy and putting forward an agenda to address the issues that matter to people. [Some also stated that even while we seek to push our progressive agenda further, and even while we hold serious misgivings about the national Democratic Party, we should also] support the new government coming [into power when/if that government holds true to their more progressive campaign promises and if/when they take positive steps to carry out that agenda].
The fight [against fascism and for a progressive vision of the future] is on many levels and we, as the Vermont AFL-CIO, need to be smart and prepared. We must mobilize around multi-racial class issues. Be solution driven. [The discussion then turned to the advisability of organizing an anti-fascist] demonstration in Vermont. [Much debate and reasoned back and forth was had here about timing and tactics in light of fascist calls for armed actions in state capitals in the coming days. Some VPs asserted that we should rally at a time and place of our choosing, and not be reactive to fascist mobilizations.]
President Van Deusen asserted that Italy in the 1920s and Germany in the 1930s informs us that fascism must be directly confronted, and that we can never concede control of the streets to right wing extremists. President Van Deusen supports direct confrontation as may become necessary. Other VPs contend we should mobilize on our own terms as a means to articulate our progressive vision. All agreed that the defeat of fascism will require broad alliances and cooperation with allied organization from the broader social movement.
Action Steps Against Fascism: [It was unanimously agreed that Executive Director Medina would be tasked with immediately calling leaders from other Vermont Unions and leftist organizations to express that the Vermont AFL-CIO believes we need to call for demonstrations against fascism and to gauge the support and interest level of these groups. Depending on Executive Director Medina’s findings concerning support within the broader movement to mobilize, the VT AFL-CIO will consider dates and details for a demonstration against fascism in the nearer future.]
[It was also unanimously agreed that the rise of fascism and right wing violence necessitates that the VT AFL-CIO fast track the creation of an auxiliary force for our Sergeants-At-Arms. As previously discussed at Executive Board meetings, Local 490 and Local 2413 Presidents have been coordinating efforts to draft of Union Motorcycle Club charter (the MC will be open to men and women Union members and will be anti-fascist). This MC would serve as an auxiliary to our Sergeants-At-Arms. To speed up the process of creating this new formation, the Executive Board empowered the three member Executive Committee review and provide provisional approval to the draft charter when it is ready.]
[Green Mountain Central Labor Council President Leyshon then presented an anti-fascist resolution to the Executive Board. The Resolution was read. Executive Vice President Adie makes a motion to move the resolution; VP Dwight Brown seconds the motion Amendments were made and approved by the Executive Board [details redacted].
After further discussion, President Van Deusen calls the question. Motion passes unanimously.
[Text of Anti-Fascist/Anti-Coup Resolution is attached to the end of these minutes.]
[It is of note that at the VT AFL-CIO 2020 Convention an amendment to our State Labor Constitution was passed which would clearly commits us to anti-fascism and would disallow fascists from serving in any officers roles within the State Labor Council.]
[The VT AFL-CIO is empowered and committed to calling for a Vermont General Strike if Trump is not removed from office on January 20, 2020, as the November election results demand.]
Vermont State Labor Council AFL-CIO RESOLUTION AGAINST FASCISM & IN DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACY! – ADOPTED BY THE EXECUTIVE BOARD 1/11/2021
The anti-labor, racist, right-wing extremist threat is not going away. Trump’s minions, buoyed by what they consider a successful January 6 “insurrection” and convinced that they speak on behalf of the 74 million Trump voters (which is far from true), are threatening to disrupt the nation’s federal and state capitals on Inauguration Day, weapons in hand. According to the FBI: “Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from January 16th – 20th, January, and at the US Capitol from January 17th-20th.”
In addition, Republican legislators nationwide are planning to step up voter suppression and further undermine basic voting and democratic rights on a state-by-state basis. A specific target is Black voters.
The response to these threats must not be to support the fake “national unity” drive that will only fuel the slide toward fascist rule.
The response must be for the labor movement to champion the struggle for basic democratic rights — not through confrontations with Trump’s goons (which only plays into their hands and prompts more calls for “law and order”) but rather through independent mass actions that give voice to the working-class majority. Independent mass action and working-class unity around a fightback perspective, while fully supporting Black self-determination, are the best way to push back the right-wing racists and their ilk.
More broadly, the labor movement must spearhead the fight for democracy for working people — that is, the fight for clear solutions to our urgent demands for jobs, healthcare, housing, education, equal rights for all, and more.
In addition to mobilizing our millions of members, in alliance with our community allies, in independent mass actions in the streets, we must not rely on the Democrats in the political arena, but instead begin to run our own labor-community candidates on a local level.
Among the demands that provide clear solutions for working people are the following:
– No cuts in social services; no layoffs or concessions to pay back the capitalist debt
— Bail Out Working People, Not Wall Street!
– Medicare For All / Single-payer healthcare!
– Employee Free Choice Act Now!
– End evictions and guaranteed affordable housing for all!
– Massive public-works funding to put the 30 million jobless people back to work at union scale!
– Massive funding for hospitals, Proper Protective Equipment, and research to address the scourge of COVID-19, which has taken seven times the number of lives of U.S. soldiers who died in Vietnam!
– Free quality public education; no to charter schools and vouchers!
– Stop all deportations of undocumented immigrants, citizenship for all, shut down the detention centers, and repeal the “free trade” agreements that destroy jobs both south and north of the border!