TO: Principal Officers of State Federations
Principal Officers of Central Labor Councils
FROM: John J. Sweeney
DATE: October 16, 2001
RE: Charleston Five Defense Committees
On August 17, I sent a letter updating you on the status of the Charleston 5 Campaign. On October 15th almost two years
after being placed under house arrest, the house arrest for the Charleston 5 was lifted. This is attributed largely to the fact that Attorney General Charlie Condon has removed himself from the case. However, the trial will move forward next month. The AFL-CIO is calling on all state federations and central labor councils to participate in a National Day of Action on November 14, 2001, which is the opening day of the trial.
As the trial of the Charleston 5 approaches, we must also redouble our efforts to support their legal defense. To achieve that end, I am asking state federations and central labor councils across the country to organize Charleston 5 defense committees with the goals of increasing support for the campaign among union members, and expanding the fundraising drive so that the Charleston 5 receive the best legal defense available.
Across the country, thousands of labor and community activists have contributed to Free the Charleston 5 support activities through rallies, speaking engagements, distributing petitions and fundraisers. The Charleston 5 defense committees that have been established so far, have made tremendous contributions as coordinating bodies for many of these activities and raising money to support the legal defense fund. Please contact Dawn Lamar in the AFL-CIO Department of Field Mobilization at (202) 637-5066 for information on forming a defense committee.
Success in this campaign is vital. Whatís at stake is not only the freedom of five unjustly accused union members in South Carolina, but the rights of workers to protest and organize anywhere in America. On behalf of the AFL-CIO and the International Longshoremens Association, I am counting on each of you to support this critical campaign.