In 2010, Barack Obama walked into the well of the House to deliver his annual State of the Union address and declared: “A new decade stretches before us.” He spoke to us of our frustrations and anger, many of which were fresh, open wounds inflicted upon us by the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. But then he quickly pivoted to a more optimistic note and said, “In this new decade, it’s time the American people get a government that matches their decency, that embodies their strength.” Well, from where I sit at the close of that decade, that optimism has yet to be born out.
In the decade since Barrack Obama first sounded that now remote note of optimism, political, cultural, and economic gaps have widened, hearts have hardened, and anxiety born of a prolonged financial crisis, has come to define so many of our behaviors, relationships, and conversations. Divergent ideologies now determine even the sources by which we gather our news and harvest our information, resulting in alternative and irreconcilable truths. And then, just when you think the world cannot become more divided, a thing called COVID-19 comes along and adds a literal twist to what had been only a metaphor as we spoke loosely of “a nation divided.”
Well, if you are still reading this after that rather stark assessment, let me tell you that I say all that to better illustrate this… Amid all this, let’s try for a moment to take a slightly different perspective … a more horizontal view of this darker interpretation of our culture. We may even find some silver lining. To the extent that this world of ours has continued to function in these terrible times of political division and COVID 19, we have been given a unique and inspiring look at the true face of our nation. As unsolvable as it all may seem, to the extent that America continues to galumph its way along in spite of the ineptitude and false hopes of it so-called leaders, it does so riding squarely on the solid, reliable, steadfast backs of its hard-working middle class.
Yes. The hard-working people of America’s Labor Movement have once more proven to be the “not-so-little engine that could.” It’s you… it’s us… it’s our Sisters and Brothers in Healthcare, Public Safety, Building Trades/Construction, Food Workers/Retail, Transportation, Public Sector, Education and US Postal Service putting your lives on the line every hour of every day. To the extent this nation is functioning, you can thank a Union Worker. Bravo Sisters and Brothers! Its us!
So yes, live humbly, but take pride in each other… and in the very noble work we do…work too often performed in silence and out of the view of the more strident minority. However, know that today, you are heard! You are seen! Your voice rings out in the sound of our hammers and in the squeaking of our brakes…in the roar of our engines, the quenching of fires and the easing of pain… in our hands — the hands that do God’s noble work… the hands of America’s Unions! You are America at its best!
You my Sisters and Brothers are why this nation will persevere. You are why we will continue and pull out of this…Because we persist, we will see more and brighter days ahead. And here, as we stand once again… on the edge of yet another new decade, it may yet prove out yet that in this new decade, the American people will get “…a government that matches their decency, that embodies their strength.” We have the opportunity to get it right this time.
So, thank you, Sisters and Brothers, for all you do… and for all that you are. A sometimes seemingly ungrateful nation sees you now and is indeed grateful. And what they see is the absolute best of this nation’s character and its hope. You have shown them what is truly meant by “Solidarity forever!”
God bless you and God bless America!
National, State, Regional, County and City Labor and Elected Leaders to Discuss
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ― May 5, 2020 — Cincinnati, OH — Friday, May 8, 11:00 am, Labor Leaders and National, State, Regional, County and City Elected Leaders will meet in an online panel discussion covering how best to “Reopen America.” This not-to-miss event being produced by the Cincinnati AFL-CIO and hosted by Doug Bolton from CincinnatiCares.com, features a panel of representatives from the U.S. Senate and House, Ohio House and Senate, Hamilton County, City of Cincinnati, and Labor Leaders representing Healthcare, Public Safety, Building Trades/Construction, Food Workers/Retail, Transportation, Public Sector, Education and US Postal Service sectors. (A list of the Elected and Labor Leaders for this panel is located on page 2 of this release.)
At the heart of this discussion is “Safety First: Working People’s Plan for Reopening Our Economy.” Every day, health care workers, transit workers, meatpacking workers, first responders, grocery workers, utility workers, letter carriers, construction workers, doormen, retail workers, child protective service workers, factory workers, solid waste workers, corrections officers, janitors and other workers are being exposed to the coronavirus in U.S. workplaces. Hundreds of thousands of workers have been infected and thousands have died. Putting worker safety first is the first step in any viable plan to save lives, defeat the coronavirus and revive the economy, as the AFL-CIO has further laid out in America’s Five Economic Essentials. These important points will drive our discussion.
Registration for this event is HERE. Further information and details on registering to attend this panel discussion are available on the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Facebook Page, and Website. Prior to this panel meeting, please review the AFL-CIO’s “Safety First: Working People’s Plan for Reopening the Economy The Right Way” plan by clicking on the title and following the embedded link. If you have other questions, or if you wish to receive the registration information directly, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and include the phrase “Reopening America” in the subject line.
About the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council – As one of over 500 state and local labor councils of the AFL-CIO, the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council is at the heart of the labor movement in southwest Ohio. We are a democratically elected body dedicated to representing the interests of all working people at the state and local level. We mobilize our members and community partners to advocate for social and economic justice, striving every day to vanquish oppression and make our communities better for all people—regardless of race, color, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, or ethnic or national origin. For information of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council, call (513) 421-1846 or email email@example.com.
National, State, Regional, County and City Labor and Elected Leaders to Discuss
“Reopening America” – On Online Event
||Councilmember, City of Cincinnati
||Chair/Commissioner, Hamilton County
||Ohio House 28th District Rep.
||Ohio House 31st District Rep.
||Ohio House 32nd District Rep.
||Ohio House 33rd District Rep.
||Ohio Senate 9th District Senator
||Congressman, U.S. Representative 13th Congressional District
||Chief of Staff, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown’s office
||Tim Burga ― President, Ohio AFL-CIO
||Bill Froehle ― President, Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council, Business Manager, UA Plumbers-Pipefitters, Local 392
||Melissa Cropper ― President, Ohio Federation of Teachers Secretary-Treasurer, Ohio AFL-CIO
||Michelle Thoman ― President, RNA-Nurses-UC Health
||Ted Thompson ― President, NALC-Letter Carriers, Branch 43
||Matt Alter ― President, Intl. Assn. of Fire Fighters, Local 48
||Sean Grayson ― President, Ohio Council 8-AFSCME
||Kevin Garvey ― President, UFCW, Local 75
||Troy Miller ― President, Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 627
Ted Thompson, President of NALC Branch 43, sent us the most recent NALC Legislative Update. We’ve probably all read something about the USPS recently… Much is on the news with President Trump threatening a veto if any stimulus includes appropriations for the USPS. While NALC leadership along with the leadership of the UPWU continues dealing with the everyday issues the COVID-19 pandemic, our Sisters and Brothers at the USPS need our help and our voices. Please give this important document your attention and do what you can to help where you can. Thank you!
We just received this email from Lavita Payton, a registered nurse and Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1104 member, and thought you should read it.
Payton tells us why she is petitioning President Trump to use the Defense Production Act to get all front-line workers the personal protective equipment she and others need to do their jobs now.
Will you add your name to the petition?
———- Forwarded message ———
From: Lavita Payton, CWA <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, Apr 3, 2020 at 10:11 AM
Subject: Our lives are on the line.
To: Team AFL-CIO <email@example.com>
FIGHTING FOR ECONOMIC JUSTICE & DEMOCRACY
“We have done a hell of a job.”
– President Trump, March 27th, 2020 (New York Times, p. A8, March 28, 2020)
“Something’s going on. Where are the masks going—are they going out the back door? Somebody should look into that….”
– President Trump, March 29th, 2020 (New York Times, p. A7, March 30, 2020)
Is President Trump kidding?
Is he really accusing me and my co-workers of hoarding and stealing excess personal protective equipment? Does he have any clue about what’s really happening in my hospital, and hospitals like mine across the country?
My name is Lavita Payton, and I work at a major hospital in New York City. I’m writing today to let you know what’s really going on where I work and to ask you to take action now to tell President Trump to use the Defense Production Act (DPA) to get us and all public-facing essential workers the protective equipment that we need NOW.
Never in my 25 years of nursing have my co-workers and I seen anything like what we are seeing with this COVID-19 pandemic.
Ambulances streaming in hour after hour with critically ill patients in respiratory distress. ICU beds totally filled, as we frantically try to create new units for COVID patients around the hospital grounds. Doctors, nurses, respiratory techs, auxiliary personnel, working 14-16 hours a day, totally and completely burnt out, terrified of getting sick and bringing the disease home to our families.
And you know what? We don’t have the protective equipment we need. We are all reusing single-use gear like N95 respirators for a week because there aren’t enough. We don’t have enough surgical masks or surgical gowns to keep ourselves safe. Estimates are that we will need literally billions of N95s for health care workers and others in this crisis.
And it’s not just health care workers who need proper Personal Protective Equipment.
Hospital workers are on the frontlines, exposed every day on the job to sick and dying patients. But across this country, there are other public-facing “essential workers”—people in grocery and drug stores, my brothers and sisters working for phone companies like Verizon, AT&T, Altice and Frontier, NYC Traffic Agents and Supervisors, my brothers and sisters working for city and state government, transit workers, utility workers, direct care workers—who also need PPE. They are required to go to work every day, they must interact with the public, they are getting sick and dying too.
Click here to sign the petition telling President Trump to use the Defense Production Act to its fullest extent to get all of our CWA members on the front lines the protective equipment we need.
Trump says this is like a war and that he is a wartime president. Then lead like it’s a war. Stop the delays. Stop quarreling with Governors. Invoke the DPA now and get American industry moving forward on producing the protective equipment that health care and other essential workers need NOW!
If you care about health care workers, if you care about all “essential” workers, please sign our petition right now to pressure President Trump to invoke the full force of the National Defense Production Act. Take action right now to tell him to get the federal government behind producing the massive amount of PPE we need.
Please sign now. It’s literally a matter of life and death.
RN and CWA Local 1104 member
PROTECT FRONT-LINE WORKERS
- Streamline approaches for allocating and distributing personal protective equipment to working people in greatest need.
- Issue a workplace safety standard to protect front-line workers and other at-risk workers from infectious diseases.
- Provide workplace controls, protocols, training and personal protective equipment.
- Provide clear, protective federal guidance for different groups of workers with different needs.
- Increase funding for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Mine Safety and
- Health Administration for additional inspectors and health specialists, and for developing and implementing an infectious disease standard.
MITIGATE THE BROADER PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS
- Guarantee 14 days of paid sick leave for all working people.
- Provide federal resources and guidance to increase capacity of the health care system, including hospital beds.
- Use emergency federal authority to expand production of medical supplies and equipment.Increase capacity to provide testing for everyone, starting with a priority for front-line workers that includes health care workers, firefighters and paramedics.
- Provide testing, treatment and vaccination (once approved) at no cost.
- Emergency federal subsidy of premiums for multi-employer health plans.
- Remove barriers to testing, treatment and benefits for immigrant workers.
SUSTAIN PEOPLE THROUGH THE CRISIS
- Re-imagine the unemployment insurance system by dramatically broadening eligibility and increasing both benefit levels and administrative funding.
- In addition to paid sick days, guarantee 12 weeks of paid leave.
- A federal COBRA subsidy of 100% for workers who lose jobs or hours.
- Provide relief for payment on rent, mortgages and student loans.
- Issue a moratorium on foreclosures, evictions and student loan defaults.
- Increase funding and remove restrictions on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and the school lunch program.
SUSTAIN WORKERS IN SEVERELY AFFECTED SECTORS
- Severely impacted sectors include airlines, other transportation, construction, retail, manufacturing, entertainment and hospitality.
- The federal government should offer to assume payroll costs of idle or hibernating firms to ensure they stay in business and workers stay employed.
- Additional targeted assistance to private firms in particular sectors should be conditioned on providing paid sick days, with no layoffs, pay cuts, benefit cuts, outsourcing, reopening of union contracts, abrogating union contracts in bankruptcy or stock buybacks, and including workers on corporate boards.
- Provide aid to workers’ pension funds comparable to the aid available to business.
- Provide funding for public transit and Amtrak to keep workers on the job and financial relief and flexibility for the U.S. Postal Service.
SUSTAIN STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
- Provide federal funding for the full cost of Medicaid for one year.
- Provide federal grants to state and local governments equal to 7% of state and local revenues, totaling more than $175 billion.
- Pass the Students in Response to Coronavirus Act (H.R. 6275).
REBUILD THE ECONOMY AND PUT PEOPLE BACK TO WORK
- Reauthorize the Surface Transportation Act.
- Pass a $1 trillion infrastructure package.
- Pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act and guarantee comparable rights and protections for public employees.