Mark Gaffney

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Mark Gaffney

Mark Gaffney is a Michigan labor leader.

Anti Iraq war meeting

Almost 200 union activists filled United Auto Workers Local 600’s hall in Dearborn Michigan, to hear union leaders speak out against Bush’s war on Iraq. The panel included many leaders of union locals, leaders of the Michigan labor movement and leaders of international unions. It was moderated by Julie Hurwitz of the National Lawyers Guild.

Noel Beasley, international vice president of Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees, linked organizing opposition to Bush’s war to building a more powerful union movement. Beasley urged members to remind co-workers that “this is a war that will put working men and women on the front lines to get killed” – and to kill Iraqi men and women. “The real issue is the economy. It’s Bush’s fault and we’ve got to put the focus where it belongs,” he said.

Al Benchich, president of UAW Local 909, stated bluntly “We won’t be able to stop [this war] unless labor raises its mighty voice to stop it.” Benchich also emphasized the significance of being able to dialogue with those who may differ, especially with veterans.

“We firmly stand in opposition to Bush’s smokescreen,” concurred Millie Hall, president of the Detroit Chapter of Coalition of Labor Union Women, “that will end up in our sons and daughters being brought home in body bags.”

Hurwitz outlined some significant consequences of the USA PATRIOT Act and its proposed sequel, the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003. This law will broaden power of the authorities, reduce the ability of the public to oversea or challenge their power, redefine terrorism to include some action of union organizing, provide authorities with unprecedented power of domestic spying and wiretapping without judicial oversight, and define as terrorism any attempt to mobilize opposition to influence the government’s policies.

Following this chilling account, Mich. State AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney added the Homeland Security Act stripped the collective bargaining rights of over 140,000 workers. “The drumbeat for war is a drumbeat for war on unions,” he said.

Elena Herrada, a cafeteria worker’s union leader, emphasized the drastic effects the Bush policies have had on Detroit’s public services.

“We have a moral obligation to speak out against this war,” UAW International Vice President Bob King stated. To succeed in building an effective movement, he said, “We have to engage others in dialogue and really try to understand where they are coming from.” Education is key. Disarmament “should be done through UN inspections,” he said. “It’s not a single war [the Bush administration] wants to lead,” King said, but a whole series of wars and actions to gain control of the Middle East’s resources. [1]

2007 Frederick Douglass-Eugene V. Debs Dinner

Over 250 people attended the Greater Detroit Democratic Socialists of America 2007 Frederick Douglass-Eugene V. Debs Dinner held at UAW Local 600 in Dearborn on Saturday, November 17. The dinner honored State Representative Alma Wheeler Smith and American Federation of Teachers-Michigan President David Hecker. Michigan State AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney delivered the keynote address—a PowerPoint presentation on the threat of Right-to-Work (for less) legislation in Michigan. The dinner co-chairs were Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO President Saundra Williams and retired UAW Vice-President Richard Shoemaker. The Bill Meyer Group provided entertainment.

David Hecker captured the mood of the evening in his acceptance speech:[2]

Alice and I are proud lifetime members of DSA and have been so for about the past twenty years.We both go back to the days of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC). I realize merger with the New American Movement (NAM) some twenty-five years ago demanded a name change, but I much prefer the name DSOC. Why? Because it says ‘Organizing Committee.’ Our ability tobe effective is based on our power. We build power through organizing. You all know that. You do it every day. In fact, if Ethel Schwartz, Selma Goode, and Helen Samberg haven’t talked with you tonight and persuaded twenty of you to attend yet another event, I would be disappointed..."

Maurice & Jane Sugar Law Center

In 2009, Mark Gaffney was a member of the Host Committee for the Essential: Advocacy for Community Justice Reception & Silent Auction which was held at the Atlas Global Bistro, Detroit. The reception, which was held on Nov. 18, 2009 is the annual fundraising event to benefit the far left National Lawyers Guild-affiliated Maurice & Jane Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice. Remarks were made by Steve Tobocman and the Maurice Sugar Voice for Justice Award was presented to Marilyn Mullane, Executive Director, Michigan Legal Services.[3]

Gaffney in Tunis

Mark Gaffney (right) confers with Tunisian General Labor Union President Jerad Abdessalam in Tunis

In mid 2011, Gaffney visited Tunis.