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Voting Rights Fight & The 2022 Elections ‘Take Center Stage’ At The National AFL-CIO’s MLK Conference

Published Sunday, January 16, 2022
by Mark Gruenberg/People’s World
Voting Rights Fight & The 2022 Elections ‘Take Center Stage’ At The National AFL-CIO’s MLK Conference

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Talk about having a lot on your plate: The National AFL-CIO’s annual Martin Luther King conference will have big-ticket issues to discuss, namely criminal justice reform, an economy that works for all Workers - including Blacks - and most of all, voting rights.

That issue looms over this year’s session, scheduled for today and Monday (January 16th and 17th) via Zoom due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, just as the U.S. Senate faces a partisan showdown over the right to vote.

Because the conference is remote, it’s also still open to all.

You can register at

The Senate is battling over whether and how to enact the two key Voting Rights Bills on its agenda, in the face of a planned Republican filibuster, and how to junk the filibuster if it blocks the legislation.

One, the Freedom To Vote Act, is a stripped-down version of the original wide-ranging pro-voting rights For The People Act, which the filibuster has already halted.

That was the first of four such halts the evenly split Senate’s 50 Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell (Republican-Kentucky) and catering to Trump-led white nationalists and segregationists, have imposed.

The Freedom To Vote Act would roll back many of the anti-voting abuses GOP-dominated state legislatures have enacted since the 2020 election, all designed to deprive People of Color of their power at the ballot box - but it would leave some key roadblocks in place, especially in post-election periods where legislators have allotted to themselves the decision of whose votes should be counted, and how.

“Throughout our history, the Labor Movement has stood up for the disenfranchised and those on the margins of our Democracy,” said National AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, who will keynote the conference, along with Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre and Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond. “That work continues today as we push for passage of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which will protect the right to vote for all eligible Americans (as well as the Freedom To Vote Act). Anti-Worker politicians continue to use every tool at their disposal to rig our Democracy to their benefit.  Their actions pose a real threat to America’s representative government.  In response, Union Members are doing everything we can to promote Democracy - both in our workplaces and at the ballot box.”

The Lewis Act, named for the late long-time Civil Rights Icon and U.S. Representative from Atlanta, is more straightforward.

It would undo the wrecking ball the U.S. Supreme Court’s Republican-named majority took to the 1965 Civil Rights Act, by re-establishing a system of Federal “preclearance” of voting changes in states, cities and other governments with histories of discrimination.

To do that, there would be new standards for which governments had such racist history, rather than confining it to the former Confederacy, and selected others which discriminated against groups other than Blacks.

But both Bills face yet another GOP filibuster and the conference will brainstorm about how to force Senators to overcome it.

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