To Cliff Smith
Roofers Local 36 Business Manager
To Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers
PAME (All-Workers’ Militant Front) expresses the solidarity of the class unions of Greece with the Roofers Local 36 of Los Angeles, USA and the unionist Cliff Smith who are being threatened and blackmailed for leading the struggles and mobilizations for the rights of the working class in their region.
We are surprised to learn that the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers on behalf of the AFL-CIO, are unacceptably attacking unionist Cliff Smith and his union and demanding that he stop his militant action and initiatives for the rights of workers around the world, regardless of race, nationality, religion, color or gender.
In addition, we have been made aware of defamatory attacks and totally unfounded accusations against Cliff Smith personally for using union funds to attend international union and workers’ meetings such as the recent WFTU congress in Italy. These attacks are a continuation of a series of obstacles and restrictions on the union’s activity.
We are well aware, as are all members of Roofers Local 36, that Cliff Smith attended that Congress paying for his tickets and expenses out of his own pocket. As did many other unions and trade unionists from around the world who are not careerists trade unionists with salaries in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or bought and paid for mechanisms in the service of the employers.
Militant unions that met because they are concerned for the lives and situation of workers, discussed and decided democratically on a series of actions and initiatives. Similar actions are carried out every day by thousands of workers and trade unions all over the world.
We have the privilege to know of the militant action of Roofers Local 36 and Cliff Smith for workers’ rights in his community. We know of their action to protect both union members and to support every worker and every vulnerable person in their community, city, state, across the U.S. and internationally over the years. He has been a pioneer in organizing the workers in his sector, especially migrant workers who are subjected to the most brutal exploitation.
He faithfully serves the values of the labor movement, solidarity, struggle and demand, against injustice and exploitation. It is an example for us in its struggles and positions against the racist killings of African-Americans by the police in the USA, its action against war, for peace among peoples, for the defense of women’s right to abortion, for the improvement of working conditions and workers’ rights.
Action for which he has been arrested, persecuted, smeared and vilified but remains at the forefront of the struggles in his city and country.
In all countries of the world, militant workers and unions are collectively and democratically discussing, deciding and acting for their rights. They exchange experience, coordinate their struggle with other unions, express and receive solidarity. A key aspect of the action of all trade unions is to communicate, meet and develop initiatives with workers and trade unions in other countries to strengthen their action in the face of the common problems they face.
In this context, after the assassination of George Floyd, Cliff Smith carried the voice of his union, the struggle of US workers against racism, speaking to thousands of workers in Greece who had gathered in front of the Greek Parliament in Athens denouncing racist violence. This is a movement, an action that helps the common struggle of workers around the world.
At the same time, criticism, the confrontation of ideas and concepts, political beliefs and positions is part of the collective, democratic, open functioning of trade unions. These are the oxygen that keeps trade unions alive and does not turn them into bureaucratic mechanisms in the service of the multinationals and anti-workers’ governments.
The threats and blackmail, the smears and slander against militant trade unionists are aimed at striking the workers, deadening the unions and turning them into closed clubs for a select few, not massive working class militant organizations.
Such clubs, without democracy, without respect for the other point of view, can easily impose further restrictions. If today they demand the exclusion of those who do not agree with those in power, tomorrow they can demand the exclusion of those who do not speak the same language or are not of the same colour. Such practices that have occurred in the past have always divided the workers and supported the exploitation of the weakest, of immigrants, of minorities.
PAME, faithful to the principles of solidarity, brotherhood of workers all over the world, regardless of race, nationality, religion, colour or gender, participates in the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU-FSM), meets and cooperates with trade unions and trade unionists of different countries, despite the differences or disagreements we may have. We follow the path of common action by workers against our common opponent, the system that generates poverty, unemployment, racism and wars.
We stand with Roofers Local 36 of Los Angeles, USA, its members, our brothers and sisters and Cliff Smith.
The World Federation of Trade Unions unequivocally condemns blackmail practices employed by the AFL-CIO and the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers, and Allied Workers against the WFTU and the class trade union movement. The United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers, and Allied Workers is attempting with an ultimatum to enforce the revocation of the affiliation to the WFTU of Local 36, a local union in Los Angeles, with a strict prohibition of future re-affiliation.
The workers-members of the trade union Local 36 decided in 2016, with free and democratic procedures and after a vote, to rejoin the WFTU, the most historic and class-oriented international trade union organization. Local 36 with its important decision became the first WFTU affiliate from the USA since 1949 when, after government intervention, the CIO withdrew from the WFTU and aligned itself with the policy of imperialist governments and yellow trade unions to split the world trade union movement.
We denounce before the eyes of workers in the USA and all over the world the violation of the clear, conscious, and democratically expressed will of the worker-members of Local 36 to join the ranks of the World Federation of Trade Unions and the international class-oriented trade union movement. We denounce the timeless anti-democratic practices of silencing workers and falsifying their will in order to align the trade union movement with the line of submission and reformism.
Their efforts to erase the class pole and to proclaim the universal alignment of the trade union movement with the perception of integration and assimilation into the imperialist new order, with blackmails and exclusions, are totally in vain.
Blackmails and such methods cannot strangle the objective need of workers in the base, the workplaces, and the society to fight against exploitation to meet their contemporary needs. Despite the countless, well-orchestrated efforts of capital and imperialist states to undermine the WFTU, they did not manage to dissolve, silence, or assimilate it. Nowadays, the WFTU represents hundreds of trade unions with more than 105 million members from 133 countries of the 5 continents, holding high the banner of class struggle.
Moreover, the WFTU collective leadership, the Presidential Council is composed of trade unionists from all regions of the globe including Cliff Smith, Business Manager of Roofers and Waterproofers Local 36. In addition, the WFTU has permanent representation and consultative status in various International Organizations including the International Labour Organisation in Geneva and the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations in New York City. The WFTU and its affiliates all over the world support the leadership and militants of the Los Angeles Roofers and Waterproofers Local 36 in this challenge.
The WFTU following the guidelines of the historic 18th World Trade Union Congress and the militant tradition of the international class-oriented trade union movement continues unwaveringly and with determination to follow the path of struggles and unity of the workers based on their own class goals.