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(en) WORKERS SOLIDARITY Volume 1 Issue 1 - Bureaucratic Putsch at National Writers Union - by Tom Wetzel NWU Local 3

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 27 Feb 2004 08:49:58 +0100 (CET)

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As a member of the National Writers Union, I was dismayed but not
surprised at the dictatorial moves of the UAW bureaucracy at the latest
national Delegates Assembly of the NWU.
In order to consolidate its hold, the UAW sent a two-person team of paid
hacks to intimidate the delegates into submission —:a sub-regional
director, Julie Kushner, and a lawyer from DC, Gary Bryner.
A series of bylaw and constitutional changes were ramrodded through,
taking away the right of union members to vote on dues increases and
future decisions. Jonathan Tasini, the president of the NWU, had
apparently made a deal with the UAW bureaucrats that the NWU would be
brought into conformity with the way UAW does things, but without this
being well publicized among the membership. The NWU delegates assembled
in Las Vegas at the Circus Hotel were bluntly confronted with what
"doing things the UAW's way" means.
When lawyer Bryner denied the appropriateness of proposed amendments to
the changes in the bylaws, often just by saying "No," debate ended and
that was that. Z Magazine reports that one delegate finally asked him
what would happen if they approved changes he didn't agree with. He
replied they would have to come before his desk for approval and he'd
deny them. And "if we insisted on keeping them she asked?" His blunt
reply was that the UAW would put the NWU into receivership — that is,
impose a dictatorship. The UAW has a long history of disgraceful,
dictatorial behavior towards local unions, so Bryner's reply simply
states the normal practice of "Solidarity House" (home of the UAW

But it was this sort of coercion that forced the majority of delegates
to resign themselves to the UAW's dictates.
When a member suggested carrying the discussion over to a second day,
Kushner insisted that the changes demanded by the UAW had to be done
that day because the next day she had to be home to oversee a birthday
party sleep-over.

The new scheme abolished the existing system of local unions of the NWU,
creating a nation-wide amalgamated local. For example, this means that
the locals — henceforth called "units" — are not permitted to have
their own bank accounts. Every single expense must be invoiced from the
national office. That national office is already overworked and barely
able to function as is, and it will be difficult for a union with a
declining membership afford the expense of hiring a professional
accountant to do the work.

San Francisco member Bruce Hartford, a former national secretary of the
union, resigned, stating that altering the NWU's structure without a
vote of the members "is an utter violation of the most basic principles
of democracy." Since the NWU's constitution had required such a vote,
not holding it means that these changes in the NWU charter are of
dubious legality.

Said Hartford: "The new...order centralizes all authority and power in a
cabal of paid functionaries, guts our NWU locals, and eviscerates the
Delegates Assembly into a meaningless charade." (Z Magazine, 12/03).
The Delegates Assembly also voted a large dues increase. In the past,
such a dues increase could not be imposed without a vote of the members.
But with the UAW-imposed changes, no such vote is now required.
The NWU was already declining, partly due to the collapse of its health
insurance program. Membership shrank from 7,200 two years ago to about
5,460 in October, 2003. With a flurry of resignations after the Las
Vegas farce, further decline seems quite likely, unless somehow the NWU
can extricate itself through disaffiliation.

This is simply another example of how the top-down, self-interested
bureaucracies of the AFL-CIO unions are incapable of being "home" to
living organizations that directly involve working people to deal with
the issues that affect them.

In the union mail ballot election, held after the national meeting, the
incumbent president, Marybeth Menaker, and her slate, were defeated two
to one by an opposition slate. Perhaps this is a backlash against the
heavy-handed UAW takeover, and the top-down methods of the outgoing
administration of the union.

Workers Solidarity is published by the Workers Solidarity Alliance (WSA).

Submissions of articles, cartoons and graphics are welcomed. Submissions
should be either mailed or emailed to the addresses below. All signed
articles do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the
Workers Solidarity Alliance.

Subscription rate: $10.00 (USD) per year.

Donations gladly accepted.

339 Lafayette Street-Room 202
New York, NY 10012
Tel: 212-9798353 or email: wsany@hotmail.com

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