Hugh Giordano to unions: The two parties have sold us out and the Greens are 100% pro-labor!

The following is an open letter sent to every Philadelphia area union by Hugh Giordano, printed with permission. Make sure to check out the Green Party of Philadelphia's upcoming events, like a meeting on the 27th and a concert on the 4th.

STOP Supporting the Democrats and Republicans!
LET’S RUN OUR UNION REPRESENATIVES FOR CITY COUNCIL AT LARGE AND CITY COMMISIONER IN 2011 AS GREEN PARTY CANDIDATES!

Dear Union Brothers and Sisters,

My name is Hugh Giordano, and I am fellow union representative for the UFCW, Local 152. Many of you know me or have heard about me in my run for State Representative where I produced the highest percentage of vote of any third party candidate in a three-way race – beating the Republican in Philadelphia!

I produced this great victory because I stood for the issues, used basic union organizing skills, took NO corporate money, and had union support. Just imagine what I could have accomplished if I had all the unions behind me, the man power, and financial backing; I could have done so much more to defeat the CEO/corporate Democrat.

Although I did not win that election, I opened the doors for us, as a united labor front, to do great things for the future. We have a duty to do what is right and to fight back against the status quo. That is why we are labor leaders and chose this activist life. I use the word ‘activist’ because that is what we are supposed to be, NOT businessmen and businesswomen.

Before I get into the meat of this letter, I want to make a few quick statements that I will always say and continue to support. We, as labor leaders, have a duty to the movement, our unions, and the members to do what is right, not what is safe! We are not pawns of the Democrats and Republicans, and we owe them nothing. The two parties have not done anything for our unions and the movement. Most people in elected positions in City Council have never even been a union member! If you are a union leader and are afraid to support another party besides the Democrats because of retaliation – I suggest you retire and find another job! Sorry that I have to be blunt, but it’s the truth!

The two parties have sold unions out, especially the Democrats! They take our money, use our membership, and then leave us high and dry! They pass no legislation to help us organize membership, protect pensions, or stand up against the CEO’s and corporate attorneys. Why is this, you ask? It is simple; it’s because the Democrats and Republicans are infested with CEO’s, corporate consultants, and corporate attorneys. You can’t be a REAL labor leader and support the Democrats and Republicans… It’s a hypocritical move!

What can we do as labor leaders who care about the movement and the future of the Philadelphia unions? The answer is simple; we need to run OUR UNION REPS for City Council at Large and City Commissioner as Green Party Candidates.

The Green Party is a 100% pro-labor party that stands for workers to organize, pension plans, single payer healthcare, and is against NAFTA, Taft-Hartley “right to work laws”, and wants to prosecute CEO’s and Management that break labor laws. One of the greatest things about the Green Party is that they take NO CORPORATE PAC MONEY! It is a clean party that labor could take over and make it their own. If we make a coalition among labor unions, we would not need any corporate money; we can fund our own campaigns!

Running for City Council at Large and City Commissioner makes sense because no matter what, two ‘minority party” candidates for City Council at Large get appointed, and one for City Commissioner gets appointed. This historically has been Republicans, but IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE! It can be two Green Party candidates for City Council at Large and one for City Commissioner! Think about this for a second and you will say to yourself, “Why didn’t I think of this.” It’s ok; sometimes it takes a young union brother like me to bring us back to reality!

Attached is a statement about what we need to do to make this happen. Don’t let your union brothers and sisters down! The time to act is NOW; not tomorrow. Help me and other progressive union leadership fights back and take back our city for labor.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Hugh Giordano
Union Organizer/ Representative UFCW Local 152 and Green party city committee member.

P.S. STOP donating to the Democrats and Republicans. We need that money for our Green Party candidates!

I'm 100% with you on running Green candidates in November

for a Council seat and a City Commissioner's seat. Because our Charter mandates minority representation in those two bodies, it would certainly be better to elect Greens than Republicans. After we finish nominating the best Democrats we can for the other seats in May, we should all unite and work as hard as we can for any good candidates the Greens put up for the minority posts in November.

And when the day comes that labor gets out from under the yoke of the Democratic Party and actually raises a credible threat to them and to the Republicans, I'd love to entertain joining the Party myself. But that day, I'm afraid, is long away. In the meanwhile, it doesn't help pretending that there are no differences between Democrats and Republicans; it just hurts your credibility. The differences may not be enough to justify you to work for Democrats, but you should respect those who believe they are.

Here are just a few differences: Democrats appoint much better judges. Democrats appoint much better members of the NLRB and of the EPA. Democrats favor a much bigger role for the government in health care, as witnessed by the tremendous enlargement in Medicaid mandated by the recent health care legislation. Yes it's true that the Dems seem to be almost as much of a war party as the Republicans, and seem to have little interest in civil liberties. But they did pass repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and an arms control treaty with the Russians. So there are differences, even though not nearly enough. We each have to make a decision about whether it's enough or not, and whether it's possible to enlarge their differences with the Republicans by working within the Democrats, instead of abandoning them.

I am glad that you would be

I am glad that you would be supportive of Greens for office,
It is my job as a union representative to do what is right and good for the future of the movement. I am not stopping you from supporting your party, but I choose not to support a party of CEO’s and corporate control. I think any progressive Democrat would not be a Democrat and would realize that it hurts their credibility to think they can fix the corporate party’s from with in, and would instead work to grow the Greens and really show some leadership.
Stan, I am a Green and I am in a position to help grow the Greens. I refuse to sit back and play nice with these politicians. People are hurting, mothers and fathers are struggling, and the two corporate party political “fakes” eat nice meals, drive big car’s, and live high off the hog – While we have homeless mothers and children. I know it will take some time and a great deal of energy, but I am willing devote 100% to the Greens and building a true corporate free movement.
It’s your choice to do what you want and support who you want, and its not about respecting those who believe in the failed parties, but about getting to the progressives who want to start a real movement.
This letter was sent to my union brothers and sister to get them to wake up. I speak from experience and from knowledge. Doing a little is not enough… What’s right is right, and I want 100% of right to happen.
You have your way and I have mine, we just have to see who breaks down the wall. Until then, I will continue to speak out. My allegiance is to the people, not ANY party; but the Greens have my attention and support all the way.

Why not take Stan's advice?

Hugh-

Your post doesn't answer Stan's main question: why not run as a Green- not a Dem- for an at-large Council seat. All you need to do is beat the lowest-scoring GOP candidate, and suddenly, the Green Party has a real voice in policy making in Philadelphia. The importance of this is difficult to understate. And, if you want to grow the Greens, how better than to get a bully pulpit like a seat on City Council?

-Z

Respectfully,

it doesn't seem like you read the letter. The aim of this letter is actually to get candidates for those minority seats, candidates who will win.

And it's great that these are positions where Democrats and Greens can come together to elect Greens. But getting back to what Stan was saying, it's difficult to see how someone supporting the Democratic Party - not even just individual Democratic candidates, but the Democratic Party, like Stan does - can call themselves a progressive. And I am not saying this to be insulting, but the Democrats are indeed the party of Marge Tartaglione, Arlene Ackerman, and the austerity policies of Michael Nutter. Beyond the city level, it's the party of much of the corruption in Bonusgate, the austerity policies of Governors Cuomo and Brown, spying on citizens in many cases, the largest military budgets in US history, the dismantling of welfare, and so much more that any progressive would seemingly be outraged about.

The way to get the nation as a whole, including the Democrats, to support more humane and progressive policies is not to support them in what they're doing now, which is what progressive Democrats are doing. That simply makes no sense. The day when labor frees itself from the Democrats will not simply come - we need to make it happen. And through truly democratic (small d) action, like supporting a democratic third party (ie, the Greens if you're in Philadelphia), that is how we will make it happen.

Guilty as charged

I didn't read your original letter sufficiently before posting; many apologies.

The main gist of my post still applies, though: why don't you, personally, run for an at-large seat? Given your strong performance in the recent election, you would seem to be a natural for a city-wide office, especially given the strong union presence in Philly.

You are absolutely right that changes need to happen at the state, and even federal, levels. But look at how the far right took control of the GOP. They did it from the ground up: school boards, city councils, etc. They built a base of experienced operatives, and from that base were able to run candidates who already had name recognition.

It's a long process, but it worked. And, if it can work for reactionaries, surely it can work for the working man and woman just as well.

A thought,
-Z

One thing

This isn't Hugh. I can't speak for him, but it's always a good idea when building a party to not just build it around one person.

The far right (I'm not sure exactly what you're referring to there, but it doesn't seem like the tea party) doesn't really control the Republican Party - corporations and their lobbyists do. Same for the Democrats. THAT is the problem, and that's why a corporate free party is needed. And that's a long process, as well, but worth it.

Building the party means treating people respectfully

I respect Hugh tremendously for what he accomplished, and for what he's trying to do in developing the Greens. But it's a very uphill climb to build that party. He ought not suggest that you can't be a progressive and be a Democrat. There are, in fact, lots of progressive Democrats, and lots of them that I assume Hugh would like to attract. So, in my view, and he obviously is free to do what he thinks right, he ought to avoid ad hominen attacks. Because the truth is that what to do in these times is not a simple question.

Personally, I'm a democratic socialist in the vein of Bernie Sanders. If this were Vermont, I'd be a member of his Party (whose name I forget right now.) But in this City, in this state, I don't see a path toward building the Green Party until major parts of labor, and of the black community, buy in. In the meanwhile, voting for Greens against Democrats very likely means more Pat Toomeys and Tom Corbetts in office. And, it's just not true that that doesn't matter. Tom Corbett, for instance, intends to cut upwards of $2 -- maybe as much as $5 -- billion from the state budget. That's going to hit students, the unemployed, single mothers, the handicapped and the drug and alcohol addicted hard. It may cause property tax increases across the Commonwealth. It will very likely mean completely unregulated discharges of polluted water into our rivers and streams from gas drilling. It will mean savage attacks against women's right to choose, public school students, and yes, members of labor unions. And to top it off, there will likely be efforts to make it more difficult for the poor and minorities to even vote these people out. These are not trivial matters. Would Democrats in office be perfect on these issues? No. But they'd be much better on most, if not all of them.

So we're talking about tactics, not policy here. I suspect we're 99.9% agreed on issues. We don't agree on how to get where we want to go. So let's agree to disagree as allies, rather than form the kind of circular firing squad that the left is just too famous for.

Don't worry about it, then

We'll do the grunt work and you can join the Green Party when we've got labor on board and you're ready. Bernie Sanders didn't come out of nowhere, after all. He had to build the Progressive Coalition (now the Progressive Party) up from nothing, with the help of a lot of activists.

Again, I'm not Hugh, so I can't speak for him, but speaking for myself, I don't wish to tear you down, only point out that you're supporting a fundamentally regressive institution - and considering that we probably are very similar in our views, that's a strange tactic to adopt.

More power to you

but you haven't answered the question of how much suffering we should ask people to endure under Republican rule while we build the Green Party. Because they're about to undergo a vast amount of suffering, far more than they would have under a Rendell third term (much as I dislike much of Rendell's agenda.) If these people are not turned out the next chance we get, the suffering will intensify and grow. I'm open to your pitch, but you have to tell me what the Greens are going to do to stop specific policies that Republicans have in store for us -- such as those I listed in my previous comment -- if you're going to get me, much less organized labor, to abandon the Party that can get Corbett, et al., out of office with one that can't.

There are relatively simple

There are relatively simple electoral reforms that are already being tried in several areas of the US that can deal with the "spoiler" issue. My suspicion is that if Greens start running well, such reforms will suddenly get a lot of Democratic support. The point is, there are ways to deal with "spoilage" aside from just not running 3rd party candidates, and running Greens aggressively is the best strategy to promote anti-spoilage legislation. It is perfectly possible, given some reforms that are inherently more democratic anyway, for Greens to run frequently and well without that playing into the hands of the right.

Yes, there are simple reforms that would make the system

friendlier to third parties. But how do you propose to get the Republican legislature and governor to enact them?

The same way you get a Democratic

legislature to enact them - electoral reform is not a partisan issue (in fact, Senator Mike Folmer, a Republican, has been the biggest election reform supporter in the legislature, to my knowledge) - and that's by running third party candidates and lobbying the legislature. It forces the legislature to deal with this issue.

In response to what you were saying about pain under Republicans...first, I'm still unclear about how citywide candidates would cause that pain on a statewide scale. Second, there is, of course, no perfect path. When you don't run third party candidates and you don't demand what you want (as opposed to simply asking for it within the party), what you get is a Democratic Party that is moved severely to the right and one that is severely corrupt. As Hugh pointed out, there are so many people homeless people in Philadelphia, and it's completely controlled by Democrats.

The Republican Party as a whole

has been against every political reform imaginable that would reduce the impact of big money in politics. They certainly don't want the Greens to replace the Democrats as the opposition party. However, I'll admit, there is the slightest possibility that they might help increase third party viability if they think it will help the Greens siphon off the votes of enough Democrats to keep themselves in power forever. So go for it; maybe you can get the Republicans on board. But I don't think so because most of the reforms that you're talking about wouldn't get votes for Republicans. All that would happen is that voters' first preferences would be counted first and then second preferences if first preferences lost. And that would mean either Democrats or Greens would be elected in progressive leaning districts. That would bring no obvious advantage to Republicans.

As to the City election, let me be clear. I would like the Greens to put up a viable candidate for Council at-Large. Due to peculiarities in the City Charter, that's a race that would essentially pit the Greens against the Republicans. In that case, go Greens! I would do whatever I can to support that candidate. But what Hugh raised in addition, and what he has suggested at other times, is the notion that progressive Democrats should leave that Party to join the Greens and, presumably work in as many races as possible to elect Greens instead of Democrats. In most cases that would take simply elect more Republicans, and at the state level, have the consequences I described.

For me, until otherwise persuaded, it makes much more sense to work inside the Democratic Party to change that Party than put so many people at risk in the process. Admittedly, that too is a very complicated and difficult process, with no guarantee of success. But at least in the effort, there's little chance that I would help Republicans take this State and country back to the 18th century.

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