============================================================================ From: "Brian Hill" <•••@••.•••> To: <•••@••.•••> Subject: The alliance of alliances Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 09:11:14 -0800 The greening of labor from Des Moines Business Record on January 17 By Nate Hoogeveen Unions and the green movement, polarized for decades, came together last week in Des Moines. It wasn't exactly Seattle. The DMPD didn't arrive spraying rubber bullets, thousands of protesters didn't show up, and no one dressed up like a salmon. Dubbing the rally "from Seattle to Des Moines," unionists and environmentalists came together Wednesday in a decidedly non-sexy way: They approached four presidential candidates' headquarters to ask for specifics on their issues - public land management, labor organization and strike protection. What the 50-person rally did do was to continue the convergence of environmentalism and labor beyond Seattle's demonstrations last month. They also folded new left-of-center groups into their causes. "We weren't necessarily expecting a huge crowd - it's winter in Iowa," says Tom Weis, an organizer from Montana-based National Forests Protection Alliance. "The most important thing is that we got a good cross section of Americans out there." Labor leaders, rural-issue supporters, students, religious leaders and environmental advocates from across Iowa and Western states stood on the steps of First United Methodist Church, where the rally began, to watch an ambitious roster of speakers flown in from California and Washington. Tying the rally to Seattle were anti-corporate placards and slogans, but the Des Moines demonstration spurned corporate influence in political campaigns more than World Trade Organization policy. "Since World War II, we've been in a strange situation. For about 200 years, labor unions were on the left of the political spectrum," says Nelson Lichtenstein, author of a biography on United Auto Workers leader Walter Reuther. "What's happening now is it's getting back to normal." The nexus of back to normal is a new organization, the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment, co-founded by the seasoned, 87-year-old environmentalist David Brower and Northwest director for United Steelworkers of America David Foster. The alliance includes more than 200 green and union groups. One speaker was Don Kegley, one of 2,100 Steelworkers who have been locked out of their jobs at Kaiser Aluminum in Spokane, Wash., for 16 months. "Corporations have been pretty successful in dividing us, putting the idea forward that jobs and the environment are against each other," the 6-foot-2, bearded unionist said. His bond to environmentalists was sealed with tear gas in the Seattle WTO protests. "It's a fallacy to think we're opposed." Others aren't so sure. "I think it's a very uneasy, even unholy alliance," says Dan Griswold, trade policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute. "They have different reasons to be opposed to globalism and free trade." It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see issues where labor-green collisions could develop. Environmentalists will continue to block logging, eliminating union jobs. But unions have shrunk. A third of U.S. workers in the late 1950s were organized. Today it's about a tenth. Union power hasn't vanished, but friends are important these days. For the greens' part, unions help garner much-sought attention. "They can turn out thousands of people at a rally," says Mike Petersen, president of the National Forest Protection Alliance. Environmentalists have dreamed of numbers like that for decades. The following weeks will tell whether the Des Moines rally was the beginning of the second phase of left-wing cooperation or where the convergence started to fizzle. The groups plan to announce candidates' positions, if there are any, this Wednesday in New Hampshire. More rallies are planned in other early primary states. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Richard K Moore Wexford, Irleand Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance email: •••@••.••• CDR website: http://cyberjournal.org cyberjournal archive: http://members.xoom.com/centrexnews/ A community will evolve only when the people control their means of communication. -- Frantz Fanon Permission for non-commercial republishing hereby granted - BUT include and observe all restrictions, copyrights, credits, and notices - including this one. .