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Letters to the editor

September 3, 2004 | Page 4

TDU activist Tom Sheibley
Camejo needs to be honest
Where are the right-wingers for Nader?

NUP isn't the right solution

Dear Socialist Worker,
The letter written by Ben Dalby and Nihar Bhatt, ("Don't dismiss labor's New Unity Partnership," August 20) seems to both misread and misunderstand the criticisms raised by SW. Ben and Nihar claim that "SW should not dismiss the questions or contemplated solutions raised by the NUP solely because it is led by undemocratic bureaucrats."

But SW was clear in saying that leaders of NUP from HERE and UNITE were right to raise criticisms of the labor movement and to speak out about how labor had been unsuccessful at protecting workers in the U.S. This was contrasted to the UAW convention, in which no such criticisms were raised from the front.

Furthermore, SW was clear about saying the debate opened up at the top of the AFL-CIO leadership is a welcome and necessary part of the labor movement coming to grips with its decline and potentially changing course. Still, as socialists, we have to be able to distinguish between recognizing a problem and finding a solution.

The fact that the NUP will centralize control and decision-making at the top and that it counterposes being "democratic" with being "successful" means that the NUP leadership, for all its talk, is not prepared to lead the way to rebuilding the labor movement. The problem is not that NUP is "led by undemocratic bureaucrats." The problem is that they are leading the movement in the wrong direction--away from more democratic and open unions that seek to involve the rank and file, not just in the work of the union, but in deciding the direction the union should take.

This is ABC for socialists in unions. Rank-and-file organizing and democratic unions are essential for having the kind of mass participation in union fights that can stop the bosses. It's at the heart of both what makes a union strong and the Marxist idea that the "emancipation of the working class is an act of the working class itself."

We welcome the debate on "what now?" in the labor movement, but socialists must be clear that any solutions that do not move in the direction of more democracy and more organizing from below are "fool's gold." SW is not "dismissing or abstaining from the debate." The article itself engages the debate and points to the inherent flaws in the NUP strategy.

Ben and Nihar wonder whether "that the NUP comes from this swamp necessarily mean they will fail and fail completely?" The problem isn't the bureaucratic leaders. In this case, it's their bureaucratic solutions. The fact is that the NUP will fail to build stronger unions if it persists in its top-down methods.
Andy Libson, San Francisco

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TDU activist Tom Sheibley

Dear Socialist Worker,
I was shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden death on August 8 of longtime Teamster reform activist Tom Sheibley. Tom did not fit the popular image of Teamster tuck driver. He was an ordained minister who graduated from the Harvard Theological Seminary. He gave up his ministry and got a job driving for Roadway, one of the largest freight companies in North America.

In the mid-1990s, many people got to know Tom because of his regular commentaries on National Public Radio. Throughout this time, Tom was an active member of the Teamsters for Democratic Union (TDU), an organization that for nearly 30 years has been committed to building a stronger, more democratic union.

Tom was active in the reform campaigns of Ron Carey and Tom Leedham for general president of the Teamsters. He recently retired from Roadway and moved to Detroit to be on the staff of TDU. Tom's best days were truly ahead of him. He will be sorely missed.
Joe Allen, Teamsters Local 705, Chicago

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Camejo needs to be honest

Dear Socialist Worker,
Todd Chretien reports on discontent among Green Party (GP) members over the nomination of David Cobb as the party's presidential candidate ("Cobb or Nader: Where are the Greens headed?" August 20) as if there were a majority of Greens supporting Nader over Cobb--which the GP national convention proved false. Prior to the convention, the GP was bombarded with threats from Nader supporters that they would trounce the Cobb candidacy at the convention, but when they discovered they were the minority of Greens, they attacked the process.

Peter Camejo doesn't mention that his candidacy in the California primary was a fraud, in that he was not actually running for the nomination. And Camejo's constant refrain that the open primary results should reign supreme in the decision does not mention that there are only four states that have open GP primaries, and that open primaries are most susceptible to manipulation by other parties.

Peter Camejo fails to mention that he accepted the Nader vice presidential position just four days before the convention, and Socialist Worker's comment that "the majority hesitated to overturn the results of the national Green Party convention" is pure fantasy. If they had indeed been the majority, the convention would have not nominated Cobb.

He also fails to mention that, while it may be true that most members on the state coordinating committee support Nader/Camejo, the decision not to hold the statewide special convention was based on the fact that the majority of GP members supported the convention results out of respect for our democratic process--a process that Nader had refused to participate in, announcing instead that he would not accept the GP nomination.

I am confident they will discover that the Nader/Camejo support in Vermont is from a small but very vocal minority as well. Camejo also fails to mention that the Green Party was a signatory on the lawsuit to open up the debates.

One might get the impression from all this that Camejo is not such an "avocado" after all, but rather a lizard--green on the outside, but red on the inside. Not that there is anything wrong with that, Greens love lizards. But Greens respect honesty over much else, and Peter remains dishonest in his arguments.

The Green Party's Cobb/LaMarche ticket is also a "voice for peace, national health care, union rights and a living wage"--an inspiring working class voice that should also be included in the debates.
Howard Switzer, Green Party of Tennessee, from the Internet

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Where are the right-wingers for Nader?

Dear Socialist Worker,
The Anybody-but-Bush gang's bellowing about Nader's right-wing support is an outrageous myth. While petitioning to get ballot access for Nader in Connecticut, I was truly worried about all those right-wing nuts who would sign the petition, thinking it'll help re-elect Bush. Not a chance.

Most right-wingers that I approached thought I should be in a mental institution for supporting Nader. One guy told me Nader shouldn't be on the ballot because he's unpatriotic for not supporting the war. Another yelled at me, "Fuck all you leftists." Yet another told me to go back to where I came from, if I didn't like this country.

Many would not sign the petition, citing their principled loyalty to Bush and the Grand Old Party. The only self-identified Republicans that signed did so on the basis that there should be more debates in a democracy, and rightfully argued that the two parties have a stranglehold on debates.

What about all those Reform Party hacks? I ran into the one lonely person from the Reform Party who was petitioning on her own for Nader--which nevertheless got me worried. But she was supporting Nader for all the right reasons.

She told me that many in the Reform Party are upset that Pat Buchanan stole their ballot lines and their money in 2000. She supports the Reform Party because she supports the growth of all third parties. I challenged her on the Reform Party's anti-immigration views and she told me she was not aware of that.

I told her to go read it and explained Nader's position on immigration, and advocated my position that there should be open borders and immigrants should receive amnesty and equal rights--to which she replied, "It's only fair." So I have a question for anti-Nader progressives like Barbara Ehrenrich and Normon Solomon: where are the Nader-right-wingers?
Naveen Jaganathan, New Haven, Conn.

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