Larry Cohen is a leading US labor official.
Serving as the fourth President in the history of the Communications Workers of America union, Larry Cohen has implemented and spearheaded movements that have lead to help workers gain union representation in various sectors. He has also expanded the union’s membership mobilization program to create a network of union stewards
New Party builder
New Party News Fall 1994 listed over 100 New Party activists-"some of the community leaders, organizers, retirees,, scholars, artists, parents, students, doctors, writers and other activists who are building the NP" the list included Larry Cohen, Jobs with Justice.
Take Back America America
On March 17, 2008, at the Take Back America conference in Washington D.C. Larry Cohen, Roger Hickey, Robert Kuttner and Andrea Batista Schlesinger spoke in a session entitled "Out of the Hole: An Economy that Works for Working People".
Blue Green Alliance
The Blue Green Alliance sponsors the annual Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference. The 2009 conference was held from Feb. 4-6, 2009.
Conference speakers included:
- Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, Ohio
- U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota
- U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Michigan
- Governor Martin O'Malley, Maryland
- Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Kansas
- Congressman Keith Ellison, Fifth District, Minnesota
- Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, United Nations Under-Secretary General
- Cathy Zoi, CEO, Alliance for Climate Protection
- Richard Trumka, Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO
- Leo W. Gerard, International President, United Steelworkers
- Larry Cohen, President, Communications Workers of America
- Van Jones, Founding President, Green For All
Economic Policy Institute
Women's National Democratic Club speech
Progressive groups and individuals, including labor, Latinos, African-Americans, women, and students must unite in a years-long campaign to restore and reclaim both workers rights and U.S. democracy, Communications Workers President Larry Cohen told a May 10 gathering of the Women's National Democratic Club in WasHington DC, may 2012. Cohen, in addition to his role as leader of one of the nation's biggest unions, was also chair of the AFL-CIO's Organizing Committee.
Cohen lamented the decline of workers' rights, saying it has led to a situation where unions represent only 6.9 percent of the private workforce, a share lower than when famed labor leader Eugene V. Debs was running the American Railroad Union in 1900.
And without restoration of political rights, workers' rights will not be restored, said Cohen.
Cohen spoke as the presidential general election campaign launched in earnest, with Obama's formal announcement the week before and back-and-forth jabs between Obama and presumed GOP foe, financier Mitt Romney.
The campaign Cohen described needed to last longer than one election cycle, he warned, estimating it would need at least "seven to 10 years" of concentrated effort. And it would have to go beyond normal party politics, too.
Indeed, Cohen said labor made a mistake after its legions helped vault Obama into the Oval Office and give Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., a new term as House Speaker. The mistake was not in helping elect them, he said, but in not keeping up the pressure on the issues important to labor.
As a result, 400 progressive measures - everything from the Employee Free Choice Act to immigration reform - passed the House in 2009-10, and then fell victim to GOP filibusters in the Senate. And in an early 2009 White House meeting, Cohen said, labor law reform in the form of the Employee Free Choice Act was sidetracked "until after they did health care."
Left in the lurch, labor must campaign for "democracy and economic justice" at the same time, to increase its clout and those of its allies -- and keep the drive going between elections, to force lawmakers it elects to approve pro-worker laws, he added.
"The limits of democracy alone have blocked us," Cohen declared.
Cohen cited a graphic, from a new CWA booklet for the campaign, with a high wall that workers must scale. The high wall that blocks achievement, he said, is built of four things: Senate filibusters, the huge flow of corporate money into politics - "It's gotten out of hand," he said - the lack of legalization of immigrants, and voter suppression legislation proposed or enacted in 38 states.
"ALEC and others like it know they can't win elections unless they shrink the electorate," he said, referring to the business-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, "the secretive author of anti-worker, union-busting, voter suppression and other right-wing laws".
The coalition Cohen envisions is in the booklet, Building A Movement For Economic Justice And Democracy, would have a potential total of 50 million people.
That included 15 million union members, at least 10 million Latinos, at least 10 million African-Americans, 5.2 million members of progressive women's groups such as Emily's List and NOW, four million students, five million senior citizens, and millions of others in progressive religious and community organizations.
"If we can blend together these groups" to fight for both democracy and workers' rights at the same time, and (sustain it) over a long stretch of years, the effort can succeed, he said. The booklet is being distributed at CWA steward and leadership training classes.
He compared the workers rights/democracy drive to two other successful mass movements. One was the 30-year effort, led by former Brazilian Metal Workers President Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva to build unions there. It eventually led to Lula's election to the Brazilian presidency - and to cutting poverty by empowering workers to bargain for living wages that let them buy food.
The other comparison Cohen used is the "Arab Spring," which started with a Tunisian street vendor burning himself to death in protest of his repressive government's restrictions. It set off popular uprisings, which toppled first that dictatorship, followed by those in Algeria and Egypt. The uprisings continue.
The alternative to such a huge and coordinated drive is dire, Cohen said.
"If we don't focus on these democracy issues, we're leading people around and around in a circle, and we're like Sisyphus, constantly pushing the rock up the hill" only to have it roll back down again, he declared. "But if we can rebuild an offense" on democracy and "a vision to recapture the American dream, then that's what we'll come up with.
Council for a Livable World, 50th Anniversary
On June 6, 2012, Council for a Livable World, along with its sister organizations Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and Council for a Livable World’s PeacePAC, celebrated the 50th Anniversary of their founding by Leo Szilard in 1962.
An evening celebration was held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Congressman Barney Frank acted as the Master of Ceremonies and, in the process, received a lifetime achievement award from former Rep. Tom Downey, a member of the Council’s Board of Directors. The Robert F. Drinan Peace and Human Award was presented to former Representative and PeacePAC Chairman David Bonior and the late Edith Wilkie, a longtime advocate and leader for peace and justice.
There were also speeches and toasts by Senator Al Franken (D-MN), Representative Shelley Berkley, former Representative and PeacePAC chairman Tom Andrews (D-ME), former Cabinet Secretary Norman Mineta and Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen.
- Campaign for America's Future website: Take Back America 2008 - Agenda (accessed on May 11, 2010)
- Green Jobs Conference website: 2009 Speakers (accessed on Jan. 28, 2011)
- top organizer sees long fight ahead, PW, Mark Gruenberg, May 14 2012
- Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation website. Council for a Livable World 50th Anniversary Celebration