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America's biggest unions get ready to fight Trump if he refuses to concede

Thousands of American workers are preparing to go on strike if Donald Trump refuses to peacefully leave office.

By Daniel Boguslaw - October 23, 2020
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Donald Trump

Members of the country’s largest labor union are preparing to strike if Donald Trump refuses to concede defeat after the presidential election.

On Monday, the AFL-CIO’s Western Massachusetts chapter passed a resolution to defend democracy from “Trump’s neo-fascist tactics, including his repeated refusal to denounce white supremacy, the drastic inequality of wealth and power, and other crises facing our country and the world.”

The resolution went on to name the numerous attacks Trump has launched against working people across the country, ending with a call to use “the most powerful tool of the Labor Movement in our history” — a general strike — if Trump refuses to concede defeat.”

The AFL-CIO is the largest federation of organized labor in the country, with 56 affiliate unions representing some 12.5 million workers.

The Massachusetts affiliate’s call for a rapid mobilization of its members follows a similar statement from the Rochester AFL-CIO Labor Council, which has also floated the idea of a general strike for its 70,000 members as part of its commitment “to the defense of democratic rights and the institutions of democracy regardless of party affiliations in our nation.”

On Wednesday, the MLK Labor Council — which represents 100,000 Seattle-area workers — called for a general strike, should Trump attempt a post-election coup.

“MLK Labor, in collaboration with other labor and progressive forces, will take whatever nonviolent actions are necessary up to and including a general strike to protect our democracy, the Constitution, the law and our nation’s democratic traditions,” the group wrote in a resolution.

As local unions around the country have started to voice their intentions to mobilize against Trump in the event that he refuses to cede power, national labor leaders are coordinating their own response.

Last week, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called for an “emergency meeting” of labor leaders to plan how to counter attempts by the Trump administration to undermine a free and fair voting process.

On Tuesday, dozens of labor officials met to discuss their election response, NBC News reported. The briefing included possible Election Day outcomes, intelligence on Trump’s plans, mapping out “hot spots,” message research, and period-by-period threat assessments.

“We are putting labor councils on notice: The election is not over on Nov. 3,” Tefere Gebre, the AFL-CIO’s executive vice president, told NBC News.

Also on Tuesday, the Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee hosted a webinar titled “What Can Workers Do to Stop Trump from Stealing the Election?”

At the virtual event, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson said any post-election strike plans would need to “strategically place pressure in places that are going to have a major impact.”

“We actually don’t have to have a general strike across the entire country,” Nelson said. “We can have a major impact if we know that we can shut down one specific place, and it doesn’t even have to be for a very long period of time. If we take control of the schedule of the country, we can have a tremendous effect.”

As Election Day nears, labor leaders see an opportunity to vote out a president who has long waged war on American workers. In 2019, Trump appointed Eugene Scalia — son of the late Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia — to the Department of Labor. Since then, Scalia has worked tirelessly to kneecap organized labor.

Trump has also appointed numerous anti-worker partisans to the National Labor Relations Board, the federal body that oversees labor disputes. During Trump’s time in office, the board has consistently ruled in favor of large corporations over their employees.

Trump has repeatedly refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power in the event that he loses to former Vice President Joe Biden in November.

“We’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump told reporters in September. “You know, I’ve been complaining about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster.”

Vice President Mike Pence has also refused to say whether he would concede defeat to Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). At the Oct. 7 vice presidential debate, Pence falsely claimed that mail-in voting would create “a massive opportunity for voter fraud.”

Biden enjoys broad support from organized labor. He has earned the endorsement of the AFL-CIO, the American Postal Workers Union, the Communications Workers of America, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the International Association of Fire Fighters, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, as well as the International Longshoremen’s Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union — the dockworkers unions on both the east and west coasts.

If elected, Biden has pledged to sign the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which would increase worker protections and hold corporations accountable for union-busting and worker intimidation tactics.

Biden has also pledged to ensure federal dollars do not flow to employers engaged in union-busting activities; to reinstate and expand protections for federal employees; to expand rights to farmworkers and domestic workers; and to extend the right to organize and bargain collectively to independent contractors.

Last week, Biden told United Auto Workers members in Ohio that his father taught him the importance of labor power.

“My dad said, ‘Joe, a job is about more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity, your respect. That’s what a job’s about,'” Biden told the workers. “A decent-paying job like the UAW provides.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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