OPINION: We are all people in the same fight

UFCW Local 655

I don’t normally directly address comments made by a candidate or politician unless they are in specific reference to the Labor Movement, but something was said this past weekend that must be commented on, and we should discuss how it does impact your workplace.

At a rally on March 15, former president Donald Trump said that some immigrants were “not people.”

“I don’t know if you call them ‘people,’ in some cases,” he said. “They’re not people, in my opinion.”

As most of you already know, myself and UFCW Local 655 does not support Donald Trump, and our basis for that is largely based on his opposition to Organized Labor and the policies and individuals he installed that weakened the Labor Movement. This is plainly clear to anyone who knows about NLRB decisions and court rulings made by his own appointees during his time in office.

Normally, that would be more than enough to oppose his candidacy. However, it is worth taking a moment to recognize the uniquely hateful language that he has introduced into our political discourse.

If you are a person who plans on voting for Trump in 2024 then I will make no attempt to change your mind here. He’s been at the center of political life for nearly a decade and anyone who still believes he deserves their vote isn’t going to change their mind after reading my column. But to all of those folks I would also say that they should consider it embarrassing and shocking that the leader of one of our two major political parties is openly dehumanizing people with such casual ease.

Regardless of how you feel about immigration policies or rules accepting asylum seekers, it is disgusting and wrong to try to remove the humanity from these people. They are not “animals” as some have liked to say. These are human beings coming to this country because they believe it offers their best chance to lift themselves up. Regardless of how we craft immigration policy, we should remember that it is a deeply human issue.

Dehumanizing other people is the first step toward neglect and open hate. You don’t have to love our public policies on handling the border to still see the familiar spark of humanity in the eyes of desperate men, women and children crossing into this country. If you cannot bring yourself to see them as people, it won’t take long for you to start treating them as something less valuable than a human being.

Viewing others as less than human is how we have come to some of the darkest points in human history. It’s how we justified locking Japanese families in camps, it’s the foundation for the argument for American chattel slavery, it’s the basis for exterminating millions of Jewish people during the Holocaust, and it’s the fundamental building block atop which the worst human behaviors are built.

We have to be able to start from a place of respect. I don’t understand some people that I might. I may not understand their viewpoints or their decisions or their lifestyles, but I still treat other people with respect and dignity because I expect the same treatment in return. Respect and dignity on the job is one of the reasons unions exist to this day, because wealthy corporate elites often view their workforce as tools rather than people.

If you can view a worker as less than human then you’re going to treat them like an object. You’re going to exploit them, abuse them, or even put them in danger. If you, a worker, views a coworker as less than human, then you’re not going to be respectful of them, and you’re certainly a lot less likely to stand side-by-side with them when the time comes to take collective action for the betterment of all.

We can’t find ourselves divided when our unity is the only thing that has ever uplifted all working people. Stoking the fires of hate in order to get us mad at each other is how the elites keep us from directing our anger toward them.

You can find common ground with nearly anyone you meet if you try. That person working next to you might live a lifestyle you don’t understand, or hold views you find confusing. You know what else that person has: a desire for safety and well-being. They want to be able to pay their bills, spend time with their loved ones, and live a life free of fear or pain.

The more we get to know each other, the more we’ll find in common. Safety and security, the chance for prosperity, the need for leisure and rest, these are core desires we all have, and we all fight for when the time comes to fight for contracts.

We don’t have to understand or relate to each other to at least see our mutual humanity. We don’t have to agree or get along. We don’t have to see someone’s beating heart to know it’s right there in their chest like our own.

The opening words to one of the most important documents of the modern world are “We the People.”

If we don’t remember that, and if we don’t embrace the sentiment that we are all bonded together as people in the same fight, then I’m frightened for what is next.

One Comment

  • Beautifully stated! Almost all of humankind’s troubles throughout history have been due to one group of people thinking they are better than another group of people due to nationality, color of skin, religion, etc. Thank you for having the courage to write this during such divisive times!


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