Texas AFL-CIO President Emmett Sheppard briefly addressed the political conference in Austin on December 2. He went over some of the most important races and issuescoming up in 2006. He encouraged unionists to "Use the Labor Neighbor program, but try to bring it closer to home."
He said to start with a list of places where precinct chairs are needed. Look for members in those precincts, then make them labor captains and help them to contact other union people. "Get a labor captain in every precinct where you can get one," Sheppard advised.
The next session had to do with communicating. Communications Director Ed Sills, who had just returned from the National Labor College, showed a computerized presentation featuring Professor George Lakoff. Lakoff said that every word in a message evokes a "frame" of meaning. Here are some of Lakoff's suggestions:
Step 1: Stop repeating the opposition's words like "tax relief" "death tax" or "globalization" "Right to Work" is a phrase that has burned us for years. Never use the opposition's language.
Step 2: Find a substitute frame. Instead of "tax relief" call it "investing in the future." People hate the term "privatization" and the right wing hates it.
Step 3: Repeat your version over and again.
Lakoff said that conservatives have taken all the good words, "We have to take them back!"
To out debate an anti-union person:
1. Don't use their terms
2. Don't just accept their frames and argue against them, even with facts
3. Frame your facts. Shift the arguments to your grounds
Sills added a lot more information about how semantics and word-games distort the truth in elections.
Privatization was the main topic of a panel with Will Rogers of the Texas State Employees Union (TSEU), Erasmo Mendieta of the National AFL-CIO, and Mickey Breaux of the Steelworkers (USW).
Rogers told the union activists that the privatizing of government services skyrocketed after 1990 when a book named "Reinventing Government" was published. In 1995, the State of Texas began a huge privatization movement to try to privatize health & human service. About 15,000 state workers would have lost their jobs, many of them TSEU members.
HB2293 was introduced in 2003 to again try to privatize Health and Human services. TSEU is still trying to defeat it by organizing. The old Arthur Anderson consulting company is handling the privatization. Health and Human Services Commission wants to portray this as a done deal to be consummated in April, but TSEU says the federal government is actually overseeing. TSEU is trying to get the feds to stop the operation. It's also going on in Indiana and other states. "There really has to be a united effort to stop privatization," Rogers said.
A question came about churches taking over government services. Rogers said that Health and Human Services says that "faith based" organizations will provide back-up to make sure the services are still available to the poor, but they basically made the story up.
Erasmo Mendieta talked about the many public activities taking place around December 10, the International Day of Human Rights. Some of them are listed on this site. He encouraged computer users to get on www.Congress.org and see who the sponsors of Employee Free Choice Act are. See who isn't.
Becky Moeller introduced Erasmo Mendieta and Mickey Breaux
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