OPINION: ‘Workers to write the next chapter in America’s comeback’

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By RICHARD TRUMKA
President, AFL-CIO

We know this will be a holiday season like no other.

Many of us will be breaking with our longstanding tradition, staying home in order to keep our families and communities safe. Essential workers will deal not just with the stress of busy holiday schedules, but also will be working with extraordinary courage amid the threat of COVID-19. Just when we thought we might get a well-deserved break, many of us instead will be on the front lines of this terrible third wave, saving lives in hospitals and nursing homes. We’ll be stocking shelves and helping customers in grocery stores, making sure public services are uninterrupted, and so much more.

RISING TO THE MOMENT
Every day in every way, union members are rising to the moment—especially during this holiday season:

  • Nurses and health care workers who have been on the front lines for months, showing the utmost bravery and care for their patients in the face of unimaginable loss and danger.
  • Public service workers who keep our streets clean and safe.
  • Electrical workers who’ve kept the lights and power on when we’ve needed it most.
  • Grocery and food processing workers who made sure we have food to eat.
  • Teachers who’ve gone above and beyond in classrooms and on Zoom, showing amazing fortitude and agility under the most difficult of circumstances.
  • Construction workers who are ready to rebuild America better than ever before.
  • Steelworkers and mine workers and autoworkers who make our communities strong.
  • Fire fighters who respond to emergencies at a moment’s notice, and who have had more than their share of work to contend with this year.
  • Transportation workers who move America’s people and goods.

As if that weren’t enough, you gave even more to your communities outside of working hours. Across the country, union members fed thousands of people throughout the year, proving that unions are part of the community and the community is a member of our unions.

WE SEE YOU
I also want to say something to the working people whose lives have been put on hold, who have suffered unthinkable economic hardship in the face of this pandemic: We see you, and we will always fight for you.

Airline workers, hospitality and hotel workers, athletes and actors, theater workers, musicians, recording artists—this has been a very difficult year for you and for your families, and I want to acknowledge your sacrifice and commitment to a better path forward. No recovery is possible without you.

A NEW DAY
And recovery is not some return to normal — it’s a new day and a fairer economy that works for all of us.

There are too many workers to name. But every single one of you has made this country better, and I know we are going to come through the other side of COVID-19 stronger than ever.

This year, I am more thankful than ever for the privilege of representing America’s workers. I am so proud and honored to stand and fight with you.

So while this holiday season will be different, let it be the start of a new tradition. One where we recognize the sacrifice and dignity of every worker on every job.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or celebrate in your own way, my wish for each of you this holiday season is good health and greater peace of mind.

Together, we will ring in a new year where working people write the next chapter in America’s comeback story.

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