Tuesday, June 2, 2020 — Cincinnati, OH — As I write this, I feel the very real pain that most of America feels as we look back at the events of this last week. No feeling human being can avoid the sense of disillusionment and loss, watching now too often repeated images of a person of color dying at the hands of those who are sworn to “protect and serve.” The image of George Floyd pinned neck down to the road by a sworn police officer; who like us is a son, a brother, a father, an American citizen and human being with full rights, freedoms and fair protections provided by the U.S. Constitution and our democratic government; crying out in anguish and desperation as his last few dying breaths are crushed out of him, as he cries out in pain for his mother. Another tragic day in what we call the United States of America, so-called land of the free, home of the brave.
More unfortunately, this heartbreaking incident is not the first time we as Americans are hearing the tortured cries of “I can’t breathe”, watching the senseless killing and murders of unarmed American Africans. In July 2014, a cellphone video captured the final words of Eric Garner as New York City police officers sat on his head and pinned him to the ground on a sidewalk. We watched the recent videos showing: Ahmaud Arbery, murdered while simply jogging in broad daylight; Freddie Gray, while being transported in a police van; Tamir Rice, a 12-year kid while playing on a playground; John Crawford, while shopping in a Walmart store; Sam Dubose, for missing a front license plate; Philando Castile, for driving with a legally permitted firearm; not to mention what happened to Terence Crutcher, Alton Sterling, Jamar Clark, Jeremy McDole, William Chapman II, Walter Scott, Eric Harris, Akai Gurley, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and on and on, a systematic continuation of what has been happening in our country for more than 400 years. When you see the same circumstances and tragic outcomes play out over and over again, simple denials and excuses are no longer possible … This is RACISM, plain, simple and truly evil. And this cancer – the original sin our nation – permeates our lives and stains our nation as it consumes the lives and livelihoods of the working people of America, especially those of color.
Why do I say, “working people?” Because as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said last week:
“… this is a labor issue because it is a workplace issue. It is a community issue, and unions are the community. We must and will continue to fight for reforms in policing and to address issues of racial and economic inequality.”
Essentially, as working people in America, we must never stop fighting for economic, social and racial justice for all. Racial privilege and prejudice must have no place our American society.
At the same time, this statement of solidarity in no way condones the actions of a few who are taking advantage of this tragedy by laying waste and inflicting destruction upon our community. Their violence and reckless disregard for life detracts from the sincere intentions and tireless efforts of those who peacefully protest in an honest effort to right this terrible wrong and bring about change that is so sorely needed and long overdue. However, as a good friend recently reminded me, let’s not confuse our most important priorities: Instead of thinking “It’s horrible that an innocent black man was killed, but destroying property has to stop”, we should be reinforcing “It’s horrible that property is being destroyed, but killing innocent black men HAS TO STOP.” If you cannot sincerely say this statement, if you cannot meaningfully live/act upon this statement, then you do not mean it.
Just know this though…no amount of violence and destruction will deter the efforts of working people of all colors to bring about the end to America’s historic and systemic inequities of economic, social, and racial justice. We stand in steadfast solidarity with our Sisters and Brothers of all colors against hate, greed, and those who seek to keep the good, honest, hard-working people of America divided. No number of burned building, or panes of broken glass will stop us. As stated by Jean-Bertrand Aristide, “If one suffers, we all suffer. Togetherness is strength”; and the great Martin Luther King, Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The work of the AFL-CIO goes on unabated. I proudly deliver this Labor message on behalf of our President Bill Froehle, twenty-one Executive Board members (who unanimously approved this message at a meeting held earlier today), one hundred and four union affiliates and over 30,000 union members covering our greater Cincinnati jurisdiction.
Peter M. McLinden, Esq.
Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council
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 democratically elected bodies 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.
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!