Labor's Voice for Change (68) September 8, 2009

43 Candidates Still Remain in Hiding,
With Only Days to the AFL-CIO Election

By Harry Kelber
Candidate for Vice President of the AFL-CIO Executive Council

The 43 candidates of the Sweeney-Trumka slate for Vice Presidents of the AFL-CIO Executive Council will deliberately remain nameless, faceless, voiceless and mindless until Sept. 16, when they will be nominated, while still silent. The next day, they expect to be elected by convention delegates who hardly know any of them.

But how were these 43 candidates selected? Who selected them? And were there only 43 applicants? There are a lot of unanswered questions that leave the impression that the slate is a covert operation with a secret election process that may possibly be illegal. The use of this slate is sure to be challenged prior to the election.

A Frank Talk with Convention Delegates about the Election

Let me put it on the line: I need three convention delegates to nominate me for a Vice President seat on the AFL-CIO Executive Council. No speeches are required. All you have to do is write a one-sentence statement that says: “I nominate Harry Kelber for Vice President of the AFL-CIO Executive Council.” and send it to me via e-mail (; That shouldn’t be difficult—and it will ensure that there will finally be an election.

Convention delegates will have an opportunity to vote their conscience for the first time in 14 years. And if the election is conducted fairly, I feel confident that I would be one of the 43 candidates who will be elected. All I ask is that delegates should be honest and fair in casting their votes.

Unlike the other candidates, I have been campaigning in speech and in writing on issues of major concern to America’s working families. The rank-and-file needs at least one Council member like myself, who will listen to them and also tell them what’s going on. Union members should have a voice in AFL-CIO’s policies and activities, and be treated with respect.

Recruiting new members should be given high priority, As the author of “A Training Manual for Union Organizers” and a labor professor for 20 years, I can help the Council initiate and develop training programs and educational projects.

More militant, attention-getting actions are needed by the AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions, instead of excessive reliance on e-mails, petitions and phone calls, if we expect to rebuild a bigger and stronger labor movement.

I recently had a full physical checkup, and my doctor says I am in good health. I would certainly be able to carry out my duties as a member of the Executive Council. After all, I am able to post three columns a week on the Internet and maintain a large e-mail correspondence with union members around the country.

I am staying at the Weston Hotel in Pittsburgh and will be pleased to get a phone call, an e-mail or a visit from you during the convention.

In Solidarity, Article 69 of “Labor’s Voice for Change” will be posted on Thursday, September 10, 2009.