‘Rising’ Labor Leader Sara Nelson ‘Targets’ Tiered Contracts & Corporate Greed At Mother Jones Dinner - Association Of Flight Attendants Union President Says: “We’re Telling The Owner Class That We’re All Done With It.”
(SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS) - One of the Nation’s rising Labor Leaders, Sara Nelson of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA)-Communications Workers of America (CWA), honored Mother Jones at the annual dinner here by declaring Labor “has had it” with Tiered Contracts.
Nelson, who serves as the International President of the AFA-CWA Union, was the keynote speaker at the annual Mother Jones Dinner held earlier this month in St. Louis and addressed those in attendance following an introduction by another national Union figure, United Mine Workers (UMW) International President Cecil Roberts.
A boisterous crowd of about 300 nearly filled the hall at Erin’s Pavilion in Southwind Park for the 35th annual dinner that was sponsored by the Springfield-based Mother Jones Foundation.
Nelson came to prominence with her strong opposition to Republican President Donald Trump’s Federal Government shutdown last year, warning of the dangers of not paying Airport Workers and suggesting a General Strike in response. As a result, Nelson has been credited with helping bring the shutdown to an end.
“The ‘strongest voice’ to end that government shutdown ‘wasn’t’ a Congressman, it ‘wasn’t’ a Senator, ‘it was the President of AFA who ended that government shutdown,’” Roberts said in introducing Nelson. “She said: ‘We’ll shut this country down if we have to because we’re not going to work for nothing.’ Somebody suggested that she ‘might become’ President of the National AFL-CIO. ‘I think she ought to be President of the United States of America!’”
Nelson touched on the United Auto Workers (UAW) Strike against General Motors GM), noting how one of the key sticking points in the negotiations - GM’s two-tiered system relegating newer Employees to lesser status despite the company’s huge profits - was an untenable situation that is far too prevalent in America. “If management ‘can weaken the power of a single Worker, it means that we are all weakened, too,’” she said.
It’s the same as company efforts to pit groups of Workers against each other, she added: “Racism, sexism, homophobia – ‘these are the tactics of the bosses to keep us divided, to make us believe we are in competition with each other, but it’s not true.’ Workers ‘are done with it and I’m done with it.’ ‘And today, we’re telling the owner class that we’re all done with it.’”
Nelson ran through a list Employee Groups facing economic discrimination in the workplace including: Adjunct Faculty and Researchers who provide vital educational services on starvation wages with no benefits or job security; Amazon Warehouse and Delivery Workers who must do their jobs in dangerous, dehumanizing conditions; Airline Workers such as those at Horizon Air who make 45% less in salary because their employers are classified as Regional Carriers; Walmart Employees who are limited to 29 hours a week so the company does not have to provide them health care benefits; and Ride-share Drivers, mislabeled as Independent Contractors instead of being considered Employees.
Said Nelson: “Solidarity - and the courage of Working People - is the ‘greatest force for good in humanity.’ ‘So let’s use it and spread the word that the Labor Movement belongs to all Working People and that all Workers deserve dignity.’ ‘We need to spread the word that Unions are for everyone.’ Women, young people and People of Color ‘join’ Unions ‘and run’ Unions. ‘We need their vision, passion, creativity and leadership.’ Our Immigrant Workers ‘were the original Members of the United Mine Workers, ‘who said to hell with the boss for trying to keep us separated so we can’t talk to one another.’ ‘When one of us dies in the mine, it doesn’t matter where we came from or what skin color we have.’ ‘We’re in this together.’”
The great Labor Organizer Mary Harris/“Mother Jones” knew this, Nelson said, when she called on the Coal Miners’ wives to bring their mops, pails and brooms to literally assault Scabs being used to break a hard-fought Strike.
“Mother Jones said: ‘I’m not a humanitarian, I’m a hell-raiser. No matter what the fight, don’t be lady-like.’ She ‘wasn’t afraid to break convention and we can’t be either.’ The Ruling Class ‘puts rules in place - stability and decorum - to hold us back.’ ‘They give us just enough to make us think we have something real to lose.’ ‘If we’re not willing to break the rules, they will continue to take until there’s nothing left.’”
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