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ALAN POGUE Delegates caucus at the AFL-C10 Convention Bush’s Democratic Friends In Congress Pg. 4 A JOURNAL OF FREE VOICES AUGUST 18, 1989 $1.50 The Union Vote Labor Elects a President and Considers January Endorsements BY LOUIS DUBOSE Austin CON THE LAST Saturday in July, Texas AFL-CIO President Harry Hubbard handed his gavel over to Joe Gunn. Though Gunn had been unanimously elected president of state’s 250,000 union workers only a few hours earlier, the election had been won in July of 1987 when Gunn defeated by 20,000 votes the candidate Hubbard had recruited to challenge him in the secretary-treasurer’s race. When the message board at the 1987 convention read “Congratulations, Joe Gunn,” the man who had read the handwriting on the north wall of Austin’s cavernous Palmer Auditorium was Harry Hubbard. What he read was that the term he was then beginning would be his last one. The challenge to Gunn, then the incumbent secretary-treasurer, hadn’t, after all, come out of nowhere; if Ronald Cantrell hadn’t been recruited by Hubbard, he wouldn’t have been a contender. So even before the new officers were sworn in, the talk on the floor of the 1987 convention was that Gunn would challenge Hubbard in 1989. So Harry Hubbard graciously bowed out and this year’s convention was something of a four-day salute to the retiring president who had held office since he ousted incumbent Roy Evans in 1973. Hubbard had assumed office just as a constitutional convention was about to convene in Austin, with business interests determined to incor porate into a new constitution the state’s “right to work” law. The proposed constitution was defeated by a slim margin, with labor delegates \(at a convention comprised of the entire legislature, with a mandate to votes in protest of the right-to-work provision. The convention was a trial by fire for the newly-elected AFL-CIO president, Harry Hubbard. It served to consolidate his power and was sufficient to discourage Sherman Fricks, the building trades union leader elected as secretary-treasurer at the same time that Hubbard unseated Brown, from running for president at the next labor convention. During the 16 years Hubbard presided over the AFL-CIO, union membership increased from 195,000 in 1973, to 300,000 in 1984, then declined to its current 226,000. Before he walked off the stage of the Palmer Auditorium and into retirement to a Bryan bank board and the Beaumontbased John Gray Institute \(a that among his greatest disappointments was the election of “men like Bill Clements and Ronald Reagan.” The comment somehow fits Hubbard’s approach to politics. Though he had once served as the AFL-CIO’s legislative director, as president, he rarely got as personally involved in legislative affairs as most anticipate that Joe Gunn will. Hubbard seemed to be more inclined toward electoral politics. Perhaps, as some have observed, he perceived that the legislature, and particularly the House, as lost cause for labor at least until progressive candidates capture more House seats. When Hubbard came to power 16 years ago Texas labor leaders often seemed unable Continued on page 6