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Unions Take Bold New Steps

Thinking activists know that the U.S. labor movement is potentially the greatest defense that working people have against capitalist depredations. We are fortunate that the leadership that took over in 1995 has taken a number of dramatic steps toward a truly progressive labor movement. Two more forward leaps came in January 4 through their e-news network, Work in Progress.

The first was their opening up a nationwide discussion to criticize the AFL-CIO as it exists and to suggest improvements. Anybody can get on http://www.aflcio.org/ourfuture and plug in their ideas. They will publish the comments on the site and continue urging more input.

Progressive activists know the value of such a pre-convention discussion, because we have been using it for decades. This may be the first time, and certainly an historical breakthrough, for the American union movement. It's also wonderful to see the labor movement continue to utilize the technology recently available.

You don't even have to be a union member. "Allies" are encouraged to participate, too. The announcement says, "The Strengthening Our Union Movement For The Future website is part of the AFL-CIO's broad-based examination of the issues our union movement must address to meet the challenges we face as we build strength for the future.

Suggestions made now may have a big effect. The AFL-CIO national convention will take place in late July.

Another big breakthrough, although not a first, is the AFL-CIO's effort to organize help for the tsunami victims. They say, "To contribute to the relief fund, make out a check marked Tsunami Relief, payable to Solidarity Center Education Fund, and send it to Tsunami Relief Fund, Solidarity Center, 1925 K St., N.W., Suite 300, Washington, DC, 20006-1105. Visit www.solidaritycenter.org for more information on the Solidarity Center's relief fund and for a firsthand account of the destruction and initial relief efforts in Thailand.