by Guy Page
The Vermont AFL-CIO – a left-of-center union claiming 11,000 members – opposes gun control and a carbon tax.
The Sept. 19 decision puts the Democrat-controlled Vermont Legislature on notice the AFL-CIO won’t be a “kept” union. At its annual meeting, the AFL-CIO voted to support gun rights. It also voted to oppose both a carbon tax or the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI). The TCI is a regional carbon-tax-by-another name that would force fuel dealers to pass along ‘green’ fees and assessments to consumers at the pump.
But these resolutions don’t mean the AFL-CIO has gone conservative. Its Facebook statements heavily criticize these two Democratic issues from a Progressive stance.
“The Vermont AFL-CIO Opposes All Regressive Carbon Taxes. We say NO To The Neo-Liberal Transportation Climate Initiative!,” the statement says. “Working People Pay Enough In Taxes Already!”
Saying “climate change and environmental degradation represents an existential threat to civilization and the planet,” the AFL-CIO instead calls for a Vermont Green New Deal that heavily taxes the wealthy and business interests.
The AFL-CIO is all for huge government spending to reduce carbon emissions. It just thinks low-income Vermonters paying extra to drive old gas-guzzlers while wealthy EV drivers pay nothing is regressive taxation.
Opposing gun control: like many libertarians and conservatives, the AFL-CIO supports gun ownership for self-defense. It argues that when owning a gun is a crime, only fascists will own guns.
“Fascism is on the rise in the United States,” the union resolution says. “Fascists, white supremacists, and individual extremists are already armed, and no new State or Federal gun control law is likely to reverse this fact. Armed fascists organizations, white supremacists, and individual extremists are responsible for numerous acts of violence committed against persons in various communities, labor allies, and individuals across this nation. Armed fascist organizations, white supremacists, and individual extremists stormed the U.S. Capital on January 6, 2021.”
“Organized Labor must not rely on the armed wing of the Government to defend democracy, our communities, labor organizations, allies, and regular people in the event of a crisis or attack by fascists, white supremacists, or individual extremists.”
The resolution invokes with praise “the militant actions of the Green Mountain Boys.” It notes that “Vermont has some of the lowest rates of anti-social violent crime in the nation, including crimes committed with firearms,” and “Vermont, despite having a high gun ownership rate and minimal gun control laws, has averaged less than a total of 11 murders a year (not all with firearms) over the last decade,” and “the Vermont Constitution states that ‘the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the State – and as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.”
The resolution concludes that “the Vermont AFL-CIO, being anti-fascist, recognize a people’s right to self-defense.”
If this sounds like Antifa’s justification for using violence – they’re only trying to stop fascism – that’s because it is. AFL-CIO President Dave Van Deusen has written warmly and often about Antifa as a self-defense force against violent fascism.
The VT AFL-CIO also supports the armed struggle of the Kurdish People’s Defense Units or YPG, which stands for Yekîneyên Parastina Gel.
“The fact that the YPG is fighting for a secular democracy against ISIS terrorists (and winning!) is inspiring,” Van Deusen told Vermont Daily Chronicle yesterday. “In fact, a couple years ago we sponsored a returning American after they volunteered for a tour in Syria with the YPG. Now mind you, this American went over on his own, joined the YPG as a heavy gunner, and was part of the re-taking of Raqqa (the ISIS capital at the time). In recognition of his service we hooked him up with a good IBEW job and provided 3 months of free housing and food to help him get acclimated. Since he fought against ISIS and for a real democracy in the Middle East, we figured it was the least we could do for him.
Whatever its impact abroad, it will be interesting to see whether Progressive AFL-CIO members like Rep. Brian Cina toe the Union line on gun control and carbon taxation legislation. He and other Progressives heretofore have sided with the Democratic leadership on these issues.
But that was before last week’s resolutions, and before Van Deusen won re-election to a second term. From the outset of his union presidency, Van Deusen promised the AFL-CIO would no longer do the bidding of Democratic leadership. Time will tell.