Response from Donna Dewitt
President Emeritus, South Carolina AFL-CIO
Co-chair, South Carolina Labor Party
Labor Party Time? Not Yet is a very good analysis of where we are as a labor movement and a good account of how we arrived at the current state of our dilemma. I think it gives an overall historical foundation for the Labor Party and the decade in which it evolved. Also, I agree that there must be a broad discussion. I believe that my entry into the Labor Party at a time beyond its inception saved me from many of the issues that stand in the way of progressive movements; organizational dependency, a focus on labor politics, rather than developing good labor leaders to run for office, strategies to create political power, rather than strategies to implement a vision. Simply stated, if we cannot afford to lose this struggle, we can not afford to depend on our unions to fight these battles.
After the discussions, there must be good strategies to implement in states to allow good leaders to share a vision. While it takes resources to continue these struggles and win the battles, it can not be done without good leaders. Too many times we lose it all because we focus solely on the financial resources. I can share three stories of candidates who never would have won in South Carolina if they had depended on the financial resources of unions and I know every state has these stories. It took individuals stepping up and helping out, knowing they weren’t going to get a paycheck, but they were getting a good candidate. If we can develop a state-by-state strategy for good candidates – labor candidates – who reflect our vision, I think we can begin to build our workers party. I think it is time to take the lessons we learned, have the discussions, and create the strategies to implement the Labor Party vision.