Labor Party Press
Rita Shaw is a
member of the Seattle Chapter and the Transportation Communications Union. Before she
retired, she was a clerk with the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad.
|The Womens Caucus convenes.
Photo ŠLynne Baker
I was energized by the convention. I was sitting with some other people
from my union, and it was their first time to come to a meeting of the Labor Party. And
they came away very enthused. I know because Ive been getting e-mail from them ever
since the convention.
I thought the perception that was being set at the convention was a very
realistic one. There is no magic wand we can wave that is going to get us just what we
wish. Its going to take a lot of work and time. I felt very positive about accepting
the fact that were a new organization, and we dont have some role model we can
use we really just have to feel our way along.
In Seattle, our chapter had seen growth, much of it due to being active in
solidarity campaigns. But I think theres room for improvement.
There is a real need to have chapter organizations within the Labor Party.
I think the issue campaigns we talked about at the convention open up new ways to
organize. I hope that a lot of chapters see that potential, and that in the name of the
Labor Party we can form issue-oriented groups as organizing committees.
I supported the reorganization plan for the chapters wholeheartedly. I
think there are too many chapters that just have a vested interest in the continuation of
the chapter and their own positions, I guess. I think theres a tendency to focus too
much on internal discussion and argument, and not enough on organizing.
When I hear people say that the 28th Amendment Campaign didnt work,
that its not the right issue, I disagree. I think the problem is our lack of
experience in how to organize around it. My feeling is that the right to a job campaign is
a wonderful issue its so basic. And from it flows practically everything else
that affects workers lives. But you cant just go out and say isnt this a
good idea and get the 95 percent of people to sign. You have to call back, keep talking
and educating... We have to get people to see that they do have the right to demand this!
And thats one of our basic responsibilities, to educate the American worker.
Theres no shortcut. But we do need to figure out just what the long steps are to get
I spoke on the convention floor for the womens caucus on the
abortion resolution. When the womens caucus first met, we talked about the
additional language we understood was coming out of the resolutions committee on abortion.
What it did was expand the breadth of our position, but still didnt use the word
"abortion" instead it was "informed choice." And I think most
of the women liked it. But then we started to discuss it, and some people were saying they
didnt think the phrasing went far enough. And I suggested that the caucus try to
work with the resolutions committee to exchange our thinking on it.
Once the womens caucus had come up with some new language, we went
to [CNA President] Kit Costello, who was on the resolutions committee. And when she read
what we were proposing, she just gave me this big hug, and said, "This is just what
we needed!" So thats what the committee accepted the exact language that
came out of the womens caucus. And I felt very positive about it.