AFL-CIO’s Fred Redmond energizes Missouri Labor Movement to continue its fight for working people

Federation secretary-treasurer was the keynote speaker at Missouri AFL-CIO Convention

By SHERI GASSAWAY
Correspondent

TRUE SOLIDARITY: AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond thanked the Missouri Labor Movement for its commitment and dedication in an exhilarating speech during last week’s Missouri AFL-CIO’s 31st Biennial Convention at the Le Meridien Hotel in Clayton, Mo. In the last few years, Redmond said, Missouri Labor leaders have shown workers all across country the meaning of true union solidarity. – Labor Tribune photo

The commitment and dedication the Missouri Labor Movement has shown in the last few years will be key in rising to meet the challenges working families will face in the future.

That was the message underscored in an exhilarating speech delivered by AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond during last week’s Missouri AFL-CIO’s 31st Biennial Convention at the Le Meridien Hotel in Clayton, Mo.

Missouri AFL-CIO President Jake Hummel introduced Redmond as the keynote speaker Aug. 21. Hummel said he had the honor of sitting down with the Labor leader for dinner the previous evening.

PASSION FOR THE LABOR MOVEMENT
“I don’t believe I’ve met a more genuine Labor leader than Fred,” Hummel said. “I certainly appreciate all the things that he spoke to us about and you can tell, he comes from a place of passion for the Labor Movement and it comes from the heart.”

The Labor leader took the stage to address convention delegates and joked that Hummel made him sound so important that, “I don’t know about you all, but I can’t wait to hear what I have to say.” The crowd burst out in laughter.

Redmond said the last few years have been tough and the last couple years have been one of the most challenging times in U.S. history with the coronavirus pandemic. He thanked the Missouri AFL-CIO and its team for rising up to the challenge and showing workers all across country the meaning of true worker solidarity.

INSPIRED WORKERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY
“I must say that what you did in the ‘right-to-work’ fight (in 2018) made other states throughout this country reconsider whether or not they wanted to mess with us,” Redmond said. “You’re all tough here in Missouri because you all know when to stand up and fight back, and you’ve inspired workers around the county.”

He also noted that America’s workers are taking a stand. They’ve seen major corporations make record profits during the pandemic and the pay gap between CEOs and workers expand. He said working people are only asking for what’s fair: a fair return on their labor.

ST. LOUIS MACHINISTS’ STRIKE
“That’s what the 2,500 members of Machinists District 837 did when they stood their ground against Boeing,” he said. They rejected the two-tier wage system and they won a strong contract that not only improved their lives, but paved the way for future generations to have a solid job and a middle-class life.”

And workers all over Missouri – especially young people – are embracing unions as a vehicle to speak up at work, he stressed.

‘AN ENERGY OUT THERE’
“There’s an energy out there,” he said. “Just look at the number of union election petitions filed at the National Labor Relations Board this year. It’s been through the roof. They can’t keep up.”

Missouri’s workers are overcoming relentless union-busting campaigns and winning in all sectors of the economy, Redmond said. Workers are standing up to demand respect on the job and strengthen our communities.

“Missouri Labor has been there every step of the way,” he said. “You’re organizing. You’re building capacity. You’re working with elected officials. Missouri’s working people know you are fighting for a better future and have their best interests at heart. You have earned their trust.”

GOING BACK TO BASICS
Redmond said Missouri Labor needs to continue to build on that trust and leverage it and has the opportunity to do that in the upcoming election.

“This year we’re going back to the basics,” he said. “We’re going to have conversations with members at worksites. We’re going to listen. We’re going to hear what they have to say. Their struggles at work and at home. Hear what keeps them up at night. Just like in organizing, we’re going to build that trust.”

That will enable the Missouri Labor Movement to point to the candidates who will address those concerns and ease the struggles, Redmond said. The candidates who care about working people and their rights like State Representative Trish Gunby for Congress, Trudy Busch Valentine for U.S. Senate and Senator Brian Williams and Representative Tracy McCreery for State Senate.

ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES
“We know elections have consequences,” he said. “It’s our job to remind our members of that too. We may be the only institution with the infrastructure and reach to cut through the noise, to counter the misinformation and disinformation that has divided our country. And it all starts with you, our state federations and local labor bodies.” 

Redmond said this model will carry over into 2023 and 2024 and beyond and that the conversations with members will help build power in the halls of government, in organizing new workers and in the Labor Movement’s solidarity for striking workers.

‘NOTHING CAN STAND IN OUR WAY’
“We need the Missouri Labor Movement now more than ever before,” Redmond said. Keep organizing and mobilizing. Keep being a force for working people. Keep building a Missouri that works for all of us. Let’s show the nation what grassroots power looks like.

“Let’s show America our strength, our unity and that when working people stand together, nothing – NOTHING – can stand in our way!”


 

 

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