OPINION: Biden’s election vital to Labor’s survival

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A heartfelt plea from a rank-and-file member to get out the vote this November

By ROBERT HOLST
IBEW Local 3, New York

If you, like millions of Americans, have been paying attention to the course our country is on, you are worried about a crashing economy, a global pandemic, and the largest protest movement many of us have seen within our lifetimes all happening at once.

Any one of these things alone would be enough to cause our families anxiety and concern. Lucky us, we have all three, but none of them are unprecedented. The United States is resilient, and its people for the most part are good and always striving to be better.

On top of all this, one of the most pivotal elections ever is upon us. Millions of Americans will vote for the changes they believe we need. Some will vote to clean the slate entirely. Others will vote simply along party lines.

A SPECIAL OBLIGATION
You have a very special obligation. You are a member of a trade union.

The Labor Movement is the last vestige of power for working people. It is the only organized group left that amplifies the voice of young workers paying college loans and saving for a future, of parents raising a family and doing their best to provide safety and opportunities for their children.

Organized Labor is the last advocate of those who have worked a lifetime and want to retire in dignity with the level of security and comfort a lifetime of work should provide.

All those things are at risk. They have been for quite some time, but never more than now. Those who would dismantle our union are using the cover of our current situation to advance their agenda. Greed, unfortunately, has not been shut down by COVID-19 and it has found a champion in the White House.

TRUMP’S IMPACT ON YOU
President Donald J. Trump has pushed forward an agenda that is not worker-friendly. He has at every corner done his best to unleash corporate power and silence workers. He’s rolled back wage-theft protections and overtime standards, and he has undermined OSHA. He got those done with executive orders, no Congressional approval needed.

The more lasting damage comes with lifetime judicial appointments that have already resulted in case precedents that have undermined Labor’s ability to do what it was created to do, which is to organize workers. He has found ways at the behest of corporate lobbyists and lawyers to undermine working people’s gains of the last 40 years.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE
That’s not enough, though.

Trump has also stacked the National Labor Relations Board with appointments that will rubber-stamp the complaints of employers looking to silence their workers.

The NLRB is supposed to be a way workers can be assured they can get a fair shake in the workplace. It is supposed to make sure the employers and large corporations don’t have their fingers on the scales to tip them in their favor. It is supposed to protect our rights to belong to a union and the rights of those who want to organize one.

Since at least 1980, we’ve seen what the outsized influence of corporate power in our government has done. It has put a price tag on having a voice in the halls of power – a price that you and I cannot afford as individuals.

It is only our union that allows us to match the unchecked power of Corporate America. Constant attacks on Labor have made sure corporate power is less and less challenged. It is more difficult for our union to get a seat at the table, and when it does it is getting easier to ignore it.

AND THE FUTURE?
What would be most damaging for the future of our union and the electrical industry is Trump’s refusal to move our country’s economy toward the future. We are being left behind in advancements on energy production and manufacturing. He has promoted a culture of ignorance and consumption in the United States, while foreign workers are being trained to meet the needs of the world of tomorrow.

We need a candidate in office who knows working people, who accepts the fact that our country has to move forward and believes that workers need to share in the prosperity of a country and economy rebuilt from the ground up.

Vice President Joe Biden is that candidate. He is the clear choice in this election for working people and members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

STAKES NEVER HIGHER
Now, what does this mean?

It means that you and your families need to be registered to vote. It also means that as trade unionists, you need to decide if you will vote to save your union. I hope you do. I hope you can put our union at the forefront of your political decisions because, brothers and sisters, the stakes have never been higher.

(Robert Holst is a journeyman with IBEW Local 3 in New York. He is also the vice president of the Staten Island Electrical Club and the Staten Island Assistant Political Director for Local 3. Reprinted from Ucomm Blog.)

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