DSA’s Danny Fetonte: The NPC Steering Committee Shows No Moral Courage

After being attacked with wide distortions, half-truths, and made up web information, the [Democratic Socialists of America] Steering Committee attacked me. The committee attacked my supposed work history and then they reinforced the lie that I mislead delegates.

The Internet does not know my work history or my views. There was zero deception. All of my work is well known. Labor union members in many of the chapters know everything about me. One local president who claimed they knew nothing about my work with CLEAT had dinner with me and one of my sons. My son remembered the dinner and the extensive conversation we had about CLEAT. People can forget things. But my activities are widely known and the people who know me the best support me the strongest.

My relations with CLEAT started with me being asked by CWA to negotiate an affiliation agreement for CLEAT to become CWA Local 6911/CLEAT. My assignment with CWA at the time was Area Director for Organizing with District 6. The National Executive Board of CWA asked me to take on as one of my many tasks to be the liaison between the police locals in CWA across the U.S. and the CWA National Executive Board. I was liaison for two years. As the liaison most of my time was spent organizing wireless workers and directing public sector organizing in three states. A law enforcement CWA member was then promoted to be the Director of Public Safety for CWA. I continued to deal with issues that arose with the police sector in my own district.

I helped get anti-union cops removed from a picket line and replaced with pro-union police. I got three young people released from charges in a rough county. I got a Labor Notes activist free from a Mexican jail with the help of CLEAT. I helped a CLEAT local in one city win their contract by getting three other unions to threaten to relocate their conventions. These activities I did while still directing organizing throughout District 6. During this period, I recruited 15 salts to go into a 1,000-person AT&T wireless call center, where we built an underground union organization. After 5 years, the call center became union.

My activities in solving problems never changed my opposition to white supremacy or homophobia. I supported the proposal abolishing prisons and police at the convention. Both systems are thoroughly broken and we have to take a new approach to working out those problems in society. I was well-known as a radical and socialist during all my years as a union organizer.

I was first promoted to national staff of CWA in 1986. I became the Director of the State Workers campaign in Texas. Correctional officers were one of the many groups we as TSEU organized. We had 18 organizers reporting to me on the work with mental health workers, social workers, highway department workers, unemployment workers, as well as correction officers. I took on an issue of AIDS in the prisons, where neo-Nazis were asking for inmates with AIDS to be tattooed with an X on their foreheads. I put together a training by an AIDS counselor for our staff and executive board. The 30 activists who went through the training learned about AIDS, ARC, and HIV and how to deal with it in the workplace. I was accused of organizing trainings on how to become a homosexual. I went to a 300-person meeting in Huntsville Texas organized by neo-Nazis where one was shouting “barbecue fat boy Fetonte.” I left the meeting with 150 correctional officers who stood with our union in opposition to the Nazis.

I retired in 2008 from CWA and volunteered for the Obama campaign. I was known to have contacts in labor and law enforcement and was asked to solve a problem. There was a dispute between the Obama campaign and a large police group that I helped get resolved. It was common knowledge among the labor movement and activists about my background. After the Obama campaign I was asked by a friend — who had just become Executive Director of CLEAT — to help him. I told him I was a socialist and had a long arrest record. He said CLEAT knew about my politics, views, and arrest record but that he needed my help.

I worked directly for CLEAT training law enforcement officers into becoming organizers. One of my assignments was to help an Association that was almost all-white organize people of color, woman, and LGBT officers into the Association and into the leadership of the Association. I helped organize a law enforcement officers for immigrant rights contingent in the Saint Guadalupe march. We marched for six miles through Brownsville Texas. I worked on a collective bargaining campaign for a large EMS group. We did a petition drive and the EMS workers won a good contract. I also worked on a collective bargaining campaign in Cameron County Texas where we got to an election. The voters turned down the Sheriff’s Department having the right to collectively bargain. I worked extensively on this campaign including involving other unions in the Rio Grande Valley on this campaign.

Everything I put out at the convention about myself was true and well known. Of the 41 candidates of the NPC, I was one of the few that actually talked about my own work history. I have asked the present NPC to write up their work history. It is unfortunate that a number of the working groups and even chapters made statements without ever talking to me. I have offered to talk to any chapter to talk about this situation. My initial reaction was not to respond to the vicious attacks which I thought were coming from a few uninformed DSA members. I was then encouraged by both staff and NPC members to continue to encourage my supporters and myself to not engage on social media. The NPC statement was never shared with me prior to its release. I found out about the statement when I was meeting with a local DSA group to answer their concerns.

What is even worse though is that much of what I write is known by the leadership of DSA and they still wrote that outrageous statement. We are in serious trouble if the NPC is led by folks who have so little backbone in standing up for what is right. I have requested a full weekend hearing to examine all aspects of this conflict including activities by some to encourage this Internet hysteria. I hope the politics does not prevent due process. Due process is more than a slogan if we actually stand for it. I am not resigning no matter how vicious the attacks are. I will stand up to any attacks by National DSA to infringe on our Austin’s local autonomy.

Please forward this to as many DSA members as possible, post on social media and encourage them to let their views be known. I will be glad to accept retractions from any group in DSA that regrets their misinformed statements.

— Danny Fetonte

DSA NPC Member from Texas