The following statement was made by Traven Leyshon on the floor of the national AFL-CIO convention. Traven is a VPP Town Chair, County Committee Member, and State Committee Delegate. He is deeply involved with the labor movement.
Brother Chair, Sisters and Brothers: Thank you for this necessary discussion. I’m speaking for the Green Mountain Labor Council of Vermont, a proud affiliate of Labor for Our Revolution. We strongly support Res. 2 & especially Res. 48 Exploring New Directions for Labor in Electoral Politics.
In Vermont we know something about independent politics - after all our INDEPENDENT Sen. Sanders is the most popular political leader in the country and the leader most loyal to the interests of labor and the American working class. We likely have the most pro-labor Lieutenant Governor and legislators in the U.S. thanks to our labor supported independent Vermont Progressive Party.
Today we see the labor bashers salivating over the likely results of the Janus decision.
We all know what happened to labor’s priority legislation, the Employee Free Choice Act under a Democratic administration with a Democratic majority in the House and Senate, we know about the poisonous so-called “Cadillac Tax” in the Affordable Care Act - a sorry substitute for the Medicare for All system we need, the bipartisan passage of NAFTA, the failure of labor law reform to end “striker replacement” under previous
Democratic administrations, and so on… As the resolution states, “continuing to follow the same model, expecting different results, is not an effective strategy for labor”. A bit of an understatement!
The pain of RUNAWAY INEQUALITY, of the despair expressed in the opioid crisis, is deepening, Yet, the energy expressed in the battle of Wisconsin, of Occupy, of Black Lives Matter, of the social justice movements for racial and climate justice show the hunger for something entirely different. This was expressed by the massive support for the Sanders campaign and its call for a political revolution - massive support particularly among the youth who are the future of our movement. This shows the way forward.
We need to be the tip of the pear of this rising INDEPENDENT POLITICAL REVOLUTION. As we know, the alternative is the despair which is mobilized in a dangerous, twisted way by divisive, lying, demagogic, racist white nationalism and politicians in service to Wall Street and the billionaire class.
The sole criteria for our support must be our issues and our ability to hold politicians accountable to a working class platform. Whether independents, Democrats or Republicans, a majority of working class people support key class issues like a $15 minimum wage, affordable childcare, medicare for All, and paid family leave - regardless of party label.
It’s time to go on the offensive with a vision and organizing for what we really need. This is no time for small changes.