Democracy Now! September 3, 2001

Program Title:
Democracy Now! September 3, 2001
Series Title:
PRA Archive #: 

Its Labor Day. Well talk to John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO about the state of the labor movement under the Bush Administration. Well go to Canada, where tens of thousands of workers are taking to the streets of Toronto today; and well continue our coverage of the UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa by talking to members of South Africas largest trade union and the LA bus riders union.

9:01-9:06 HEADLINES 9:06-9:07 ONE MINUTE MUSIC BREAK 9:07-9:26 SOUTH AFRICAN WORKERS PROTEST AGAINST PRIVATIZATION In what is believed to be the biggest protest since the end of white rule in 1994, millions of South African workers last week participated in a two-day general strike against the privatization of public services. The strike, called by the Congress of South African Trade Unions, or COSATU, has shaken the ruling so-called tripartite alliance between the dominant African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party, and COSATU. Tensions between the three mounted after the ANC took power with the first multiracial, democratic elections in 1994. According to critics, the ANC gave away too much to multinational corporations, in an attempt to lure international investors. Now, some say the ANC has sold out, and is just towing the neoliberal line. Today, on labor day, were joined by COSATUS Chief Education Officer, as well as Los Angeles Bus Riders Union member Eric Mann, who is in Durban for the conference and marched with the COSATU workers last week. GUEST: MAHLENGI BENGU, Chief Education Officer, COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) GUEST: ERIC MANN is a member of the Planning Committee of the L.A. Bus Riders Union and the director of the Labor/Community Strategy Center, and is in Durban for the conference. 9:26-9:27 ONE MINUTE MUSIC BREAK 9:27-9:46 AFL-CIO PRESIDENT JOHN SWEENEY In the early years of this country, Labor Day was an occasion for demonstrations against low pay and harsh working conditions. The Knights of Labor had their first Labor Day parade in New York in 1882. Two years later, they formally designated the first Monday in September as Labor Day. In 1894, Congress made it a legal federal holiday. This weekend a new study found that workers in this country are working nearly 50 hours a week, more than a century after workers fought and died for the right to an eight hour day. In the last six years the AFL-CIO has made an attempt to revitalize the labor movement, which now represents only 13.5% of the labor force. Unions have attempted to organize previously ignored workers in the service sector, sought alliances with students and environmental activists, and have sought to link the concerns of labor to the emergent anti-corporate globalization movement. But under the Bush Administration the assault on labor has already been fierce, with a rollback of ergonomics standards that labor sought for more than a decade. Well, as President Bush returns from his rather lengthy vacation, it might be a good time to ask how labor is responding to the challenges of organizing under the most anti-union administration in recent memory. GUEST: JOHN SWEENEY, President of the AFL-CIO Tape 9:46-9:47 ONE MINUTE MUSIC BREAK 9:47-9:58 TENS OF THOUSANDS OF WORKERS MARCH ON TORONTO FOR CANADAS LABOR DAY 30 to 40,000 workers and their families will march in Toronto today for the 130th Labor Day parade, which is a day of public celebration for all workers. Between 29 and 33% of workforce is unionized in Canada, compared to less than 15% in US. Among them will be thousands of Canadian Union of Public Employees members. CUPE is the largest union in Canada, with 500,000 employees, and 180,000 members in Ontario. It is a public sector union that covers municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals. The Canadian labor movement looks extremely strong compared to the US, but leaders say that the Canadian labor movement has a lot of work to do, especially under the new conservative government of Prime Minister Jean Cretien. CUPE members say in fact it is time for the Canadian labor movement to adopt some of the policies of the AFL-CIO--and go out and organize new workers. The leadership of CUPE publicly espouses connecting social issues to the bargaining table. Almost 50,000 union members marched in Quebec City to say that globalization is a local issue and that union members do care about its effects. Inside CUPE, some members have are working to connect the global struggle to the local one, and to create a grassroots movement that leaders have to respond to. Many are wearing gas masks and bandannas at today's celebratory parade as a symbolic gesture to highlight the fight against corporate globalization. They hope to call for a general strike of all workers across the province to highlight the repressive anti-union policies of Prime Minister Jean Cretien, as well as a push toward corporatization and a growing anti-union sentiment in the province of Ontario. GUEST: SID RYAN, general vice president for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and president of Ontario branch of CUPE, and vice president of the Ontario Federation of Labor. GUEST: OONA PADGHAM Oona Padgham (Pad-Jum), a Canadian Union of Public Employees member and spokesperson for the Committee for a General Strike. 9:58-9:59 OUTRO AND CREDITS

Date Recorded on: 
September 3, 2001
Date Broadcast on: 
September 3, 2001
Item duration: 
59 min.
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WPFW; Kris Abrams, and Brad Simpson. Anthony Sloan, Technical Director. September 3, 2001
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