cj#1057> solidarity rally: “from Seattle to Des Moines”


Richard Moore

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.