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Reflecting On Organized Labor's ‘Efforts To Defend’ Democracy

Published Thursday, June 10, 2021
Reflecting On Organized Labor's ‘Efforts To Defend’ Democracy Editor’s Note: The following was signed by these Labor Leaders & Activists: Ed Bruno, Southern Workers Assembly; Gene Bruskin, National Writers Union; Michael Eisenscher; Peralta Federation of Teachers/American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 1603, retired; Jonah Furman, former National Labor Organizer, Bernie 2020; Norine Gutekanst, Chicago Teachers Union, retired; Alex Han, Bargaining for the Common Good; Barbara Madeloni,; and Carl Rosen, General President, United Electrical, Machine and Radio Workers of America (UE).


Labor Action to Defend Democracy came together in the Fall of 2020 in response to the growing threat of an attempted coup by Republican President Donald Trump and his supporters if the November Presidential Election did not go his way.

After four years of relentless lying and distortion from the Trump Administration, designed to incite his supporters to violence, we assessed that it was possible that a mass action in the streets could become necessary to defend a fair election.

Further, we knew Organized Labor needed to be a part of such actions and prepared to initiate strikes if it became necessary.

Our choice to invite Labor Leaders into conversation outside of the institutional structures was informed by the response those institutions had to the Bush-Gore election of 2000.

At that time, National Union Leadership, instead of organizing Workers to stop the stealing of the election, bowed to the wishes of the Democratic Party and did not organize.

This time, we wanted labor to be prepared to take action independent of directives from either the National AFL-CIO or the Democratic Party.

An informal committee came together to create a network of Labor Leaders who shared our assessment of the threat and the need to prepare for a response.

We called weekly meetings, building the network through sharing of the link, lists, and word of mouth invitations.

In these meetings we:

Reported on and were able to track resolutions passed by Unions and Central Labor Councils (CLCs) exhorting Members to be prepared for action in the face of a coup.

Shared information about preparations for rallies where Labor could join with community allies.

Encouraged regional organizing efforts.

Heard from Locals where organizing efforts were taking place.

From these meetings we disseminated information, invited people to take a pledge to defend Democracy, and shared resolutions, plans for actions, etc.

We also set up a LADD resource page that included sample resolutions and letters, explanations of the steps for ensuring a fair election (and the places this could go wrong), articles, and other resources, including links to other groups engaged in organizing.

Altogether, 501 individuals signed pledge cards.

At the height of activity, leading up to and right after the election, we had more than 130 people from across the country on calls, from organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Workers.

We shared 37 resolutions passed by Central Labor Councils and local Unions.

More than 400 people logged on at some point over our 11 meetings.

These included leaders from three State Labor Federations, the United Electrical Workers (UE), United Teachers Los Angeles, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), UNITE HERE, a handful of representatives from CLCs or Area Labor Federations, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199 New England, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the Chicago Teachers Union, the NewsGuild, and Locals of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), the United Auto Workers (UAW), the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW), the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), and more.

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