Lyndon Johnson

Dick Meister: Sit down, punk!


By Dick Meister

Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website,, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

I spotted a forgotten hero at the memorial service for SF labor leader Walter Johnson the other day, a true but largely unacknowledged hero of the anti-Vietnam War movement – Art Carter, former head of the AFL-CIO's Contra Costa Labor Council.

The AFL-CIO, you might recall, was a major and outspoken supporter of that damned war which was waged as a key part of the Cold War against the Soviet Union.  The AFL-CIO held tenaciously to its unqualified support of the war, whether it was being waged by a long-time labor ally, Democratic President Lyndon Johnson, or by his anti-labor Republican successor, Richard Nixon.

It was in 1969, at the AFL-CIO's national convention in Atlantic City, that Carter, a 28-year-old delegate, dared stand up to oppose a resolution unconditionally supporting the Vietnam War and the Vietnam policies of then-President Nixon, which delegates had loudly cheered when a guest speaker, Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, had spelled them out. The measure was presented by hawkish AFL-CIO President George Meany and ultimately opposed by only six of the 700 delegates – including, of course, Art Carter. Read more »