LaborTalk for March 7, 2012

AFL-CIO's Self-Imposed Silence on Abortion and War
Has Angered Its Women Members and Its Veterans

By Harry Kelber

Without a formal decision, AFL-CIO leaders have banned any mention of abortion in any form on its web site, union literature and public statements This unofficial ban has been in effect for a few years and will be adhered to at the AFL-CIO' quadrennial convention in 2013.

What makes this blatant violation of free speech so outrageous is that it was taken in a union where women comprise roughly 42 percent of the AFL-CIO membership. Labor leaders ignore the fact that working women continue to rely on abortions as an option to deal with the problems in their lives.

It is worth noting that the decision to stifle any mention of abortion was taken by an AFL-CIO Executive Council that consists mainly of middle —or elderly —aged white males, without even consulting women members.

The basic argument they gave for the ban was that abortion was too "controversial," even though it was going to be one of the hottest issues in the 2012 election.

The AFL-CIO Blocks Mention of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

While most Americans are intensely interested in what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan and the tensions between the United States and Iran, the AFL-CIO web site has determined not to say a word about these topics

There is hardly a person who has not been touched by the two major wars, either through families, friends, co-workers or by watching TV. So why has the AFL-CIO chosen to ignore these highly newsworthy events? What will our volunteers say when asked about this egregious omission, when they visit workers on their job or in their homes?

* * * *

By unilaterally choking off discussion of vital issues by its members, AFL-CIO leaders are alienating large constituent blocks of their members. They are also weakening their influence in electoral politics in Washington

It's hard to think of any convincing answer to the blackout of two key topics than abortion and the two U.S. wars.

Will the editor of the AFL-CIO NOW website, Tula Connell, explain the reason for the her suppression of free speech?

LaborTalk will be posted here on March 9, 2012 and on our two web sites and on

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