Letter from Detroit Metro AFL-CIO President Saundra Williams

3 March 2011

For the reply to this e-mail by WSWS reporter Shannon Jones, click here.

I just read an article by Shannon Jones to which I must respond.

First I would like to thank Mr. Jones for his support of the Detroit Federation of Musicians, AFL-CIO. But that is as far as my thanks go.

I am appalled by some of his remarks regarding the AFL-CIO. I write as the President of the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO. We have supported the Musicians since day one of them bringing their issues to us. I take exception that he has never interviewed anyone in the Metro AFL-CIO or he would not continually suggest that the AFL-CIO and other unions strive to defeat the Musician’s struggle. He need only talk with Gordon Stump, the President of the Musicians and he will inform Mr. Jones that I personally have:

1. Supported the musician’s effort with a personal monetary donation.

2. Personally walked pretty much every picket line with them, including the Feb 22, 2011 one no matter how cold, snowy, or slushy.

3. Spent union dues just yesterday, Feb 22, 2011 to use the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO attorneys at Miller Cohen to successfully get a last minute court injunction to prevent the police from moving the picketers further away from the building.

4. Mobilized other unions for all the events, including yesterday’s picket. At the picket, UAW, Operating Engineers, CWA, IBEW, JWJ, AFSCME, SEIU and probably several other unions and organizations I might have missed seeing and who participated because of the mobilizing efforts of the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO.

5. Continually offered Gordon the opportunity to present information at the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO executive board meetings.

6. Loaned the Musicians the expertise of our Media Specialist, who is paid by the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO to assist with strategizing.

7. Written letters to the DSO Management urging them to settle this issue by bargaining in good faith.

8. Made contact with UAW President Bob King urging and gaining his support.

9. Personally hiring a Detroit Federation of Musician Pianist to play at an event at my home.

I felt compelled to make these remarks as Mr. Jones’ condemnation is extremely broad and appears to suggest that the entire AFL-CIO and all unions have done nothing to support the Musicians, which is quite to the contrary. I attended the Feb. 22nd picket and stood in front of Mr. Jones, even asked his name and he made no attempt to interview me or to even inquire whether there was anyone from the AFL-CIO present that he might have interviewed. Instead, he turned to a UAW member to interview, who by the way was only there because I personally brought him to the picket line.

Saundra L. Williams