As a rank-and-file union proud of our democratic traditions, UE condemns the voter suppression bill passed in Georgia last month, as well as the hundreds of similar bills being pushed in state legislatures across the country, overwhelmingly by Republican politicians.
Our nation is at a crossroads. Forty years of continued assault on working-class living standards have eroded working people’s faith in government. Corporations have attacked wages and benefits, destroyed good jobs, busted unions, and devastated whole communities through plant closings. Meanwhile, politicians of both parties have pursued privatization and deregulation, doing their best to turn government from an instrument for the public good into an opportunity for private gain — for themselves and their wealthy friends.
UE unequivocally condemns the violent attempts by a group of supporters of President Trump to disrupt the certification of the electoral college results in Washington, DC yesterday. This was an attempt by a small group of extremists to overturn a democratic election in which record numbers of U.S. citizens participated. This assault on democracy also threatened the safety of thousands of public employees who work in the capitol.
As the presidential election draws near to its conclusion, there is growing concern around our nation that our current president will not accept the results if he is not re-elected. If this does happen, we encourage all UE members to be prepared to defend our country’s democracy.
Working people deserve a government, and a president, who will stand up for them against the corporate onslaught of the past several decades. We have to be honest that the 2020 elections will not deliver that president. Nonetheless, as UE delegates noted at our convention, “it is critical that working people remove the anti-labor and racist Trump from office.” We encourage all UE members and locals to make every effort to oust Trump from office in the November elections, recognizing that the only way to do that is to elect Joe Biden. Members should then be prepared to fight like hell to hold a Biden administration accountable to the people.
The protests that have swept our country since the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police in May have put the issue of police violence front and center. The labor movement has a special responsibility to speak out on this issue. Too many of our members have experienced violence and harassment from the police due to nothing more than the color of their skin. All workers who struggle for a better life are threatened when the police are used to violently suppress protest. And just as our country is starved of needed social services due to a bloated military budget, state and local services are underfunded due to overspending on increasingly militarized police forces.
It is with shock and horror that we watched the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minnesota this week. Along with the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, it serves as a reminder that Black lives simply do not matter to many of the people who run our society or the police forces who enforce their laws.
This year, we celebrate International Workers Day as the novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the central importance of workers to our society. It is the labor of frontline workers — healthcare workers, grocery and food workers, sanitation workers and others — that is keeping people alive right now, not the wealth accumulated by capitalists.
As working people and representatives of trade unions, we join environmental activists in marking the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with alarm and concern for the future of our planet. The time to fight for immediate and bold climate action is now, but the needed economic transition will not take place without strong guarantees for worker rights and good jobs for all.
UE officers: In order to bring the COVID-19 public health crisis under control, we must shut down all workplaces except those truly critical to sustaining life; give workers in those critical jobs everything they need to do their work safely and compensate them for the immense risk they are taking; and provide robust economic support for everyone else to allow and incentivize them to stay home.