“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Charles Dickens from A Tale of Two Cities
Most of us know this quote as the opening paragraph from A Tale of Two Cities by the remarkable Charles Dickens. And you likely also know that in A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens was offering us a close-up view into 18th century England, and across the Channel, in France. If you know about the disruptive state of affairs in England and France during this time, perhaps you’ll appreciate the allegorical reference of these phrases for us here today, more than two and a half centuries later.
With these remarks, Dickens described an age of radical opposites taking place just a few miles apart, separated only by the English Channel. It speaks of contrasts and comparisons between two cities in the midst of a revolution. And while it kept its storyline focused on London and Paris, it was certainly representative of far more. He was pointing to a major conflict between family and love, hatred, and oppression, good and evil, light and darkness, wisdom, and folly. Now if that doesn’t sound frighteningly familiar, you may want to just cease reading this now…
On Wednesday of this week, the absolute best and worst of our Nation were on full display simultaneously. While an armed rabble of seditionists breached and occupied our Nation’s capital in what is arguably the greatest threat to our democracy this nation has ever known, in Georgia – yes, I said Georgia – the very spark of that same democracy was being rekindled and casting light on what we must all now pray is a new era of American greatness. I would truly never have believed either of these stories if I hadn’t been witness to them as played out right in front of me on Wednesday, January 6, 2021.
The first of our two stories is how, after four years of his lies, deceit, greed, and indifference, an immoral, would-be tyrant lead a small, but dangerous band of misinformed followers to our nation’s capital building – “The Peoples’ House” – to try to take and keep what he had lost in a safe, fair and solemn election. There, they breached the doors of that sacred shrine to freedom, occupied, vandalized, and desecrated its hallowed rooms and halls. Even after the people had spoken and said no…not you…and not this anymore. Nature will write the remainder of that story, but It was, hopefully, the final act of a maniacal autocrat and his last trampling of the long-respected principles, practices, traditions, and laws that set our nation apart.
The second of our two stories is one of triumph. Of longshots paying off. Of the mighty being brought down by the lowly. A story where two champions of democracy, against all odds, are triumphant in their pursuit of victory in their races for the US Senate, becoming two crucial stones in the great wall defending our republic. It is the story of how sanity, stability, reason, and safety are restored to a nation savagely abused and neglected for four long years, but ultimately unbowed.
Yes, Wednesday, January 6, 2021 may well be the second date on the awful, but thankfully very short list of days that will “live in infamy,” but I cannot help but wonder if in the longer arc of history, we won’t look back and recognize it as a day that may well have ended in the tragic death of the greatest experiment in representative democracy the world has ever known but was instead given a rebirth. I wonder if the tragedy of that day will be the near-death experience that was needed to shock this nation into recognizing the weakened and ignoble state in which we now find ourselves because of our own corrosive, petty, spoiled, child-like actions.
It has been said that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants.” Andlike so many things of late, this quote is most often used badly out of context and far from its initial meaning. It comes from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to William Stephens Smith on Nov. 13, 1787 regarding Shay’s Rebellion in Massachusetts. While Jefferson was sympathetic to that cause, he did go on in his letter to note that such seditious acts were all too often fomented by treasonable actors to enrage ill-informed factions, and that the remedy to these uprisings, was to “set them right as to facts…” In short, truth!
As did Jefferson, I too believe that democracy must be vigilantly protected, and truth be the sword it wields against the mischaracterization and falsehoods of those who would have us ultimately lose our freedoms by telling us that they alone are the only means by which they can be protected and defended. History is replete with tyrants who subdued and subjugated a people in the name of protecting and defending them. Our only hope against such evil is the cold, glaring light of truth, so that we may never fall prey to the darkness and fallacy of specious promises ever again… Vagaries and platitudes such as those we have heard, over and over, these past four years.
Okay, I’ve given you Dickens and Jefferson, but I also promised some Dylan, so I will finish with this: “Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call. Don’t stand in the doorway. Don’t block up the hall. For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled. The battle outside ragin’ will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls. For the times they are a-changin’. Wow! Could he have been more prophetic?
Less than a month after Dylan recorded that song, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. The next night, Dylan opened a concert with “The Times They Are a-Changin’.” He later told biographer Anthony Scaduto, “I thought, ‘Wow, how can I open with that song? I’ll get rocks thrown at me.’ But I had to sing it, my whole concert takes off from there.” What Dylan didn’t yet fully understand is how truth is democracy’s only real defense.
Democracy requires “the truth,” however good or bad it may be. And it must be repeated with more volume and greater frequency than the corrosive falsehoods of the would-be tyrants and depots who are always circling democracy, looking for a chink in its armor. Because the greatest truth is that democracy is fragile, and beautiful, like a glimmering piece of crystal or a small, delicate bird. If we learn nothing else from these past four years, we must come to understand that democracy is tenuous at best, and always, always under threat. Then, when the vigilance of true patriots becomes the very sunlight, air, and water that feeds that same “tree of liberty, precious democracy may be kept from crashing down around us. Because, as Bob Dylan told us, “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”
On January 5th and 6th, our nation witnessed the best and worst of American democracy and values. On Tuesday, Georgia voters went to the polls, elected officials and Board of Election workers did their jobs with fairness and full transparency, all votes were counted; American democracy worked! With the help of Union leaders and members from across the country, Georgia voters were brave and courageous enough to break the Labor unfriendly, anti-working families, partisan political blockage which has hurt working people and harmed our country’s battle with and recovery from the COVID-19 epidemic and consequential economic depression. Looking forward into 2021, we joyously celebrate the upcoming President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ new administration, to work for and represent all Americans, in one common and united front.
On Wednesday, we watched the national disgrace and indignities as an armed, pro-Trump militia/mob attacked our Capital building, threatened the lives of our elected leaders and Capital Police, carried and waved Confederate flags in Capital building hallways, and ransacking the Ohio Senate floor and government office. As angry and upset as I and many others are at these seditious, traitorous and un-American terrorists, we must focus our attention on those elected officials who encouraged, incited and literally called-to-arms this terrorist militia/mob: President Donald Trump and his Senate/Congressional Republican leaders/followers.
We must hold these un-American, un-patriotic leaders fully accountable and responsible for their words, actions and misdeeds. Laws must be upheld and Justice should prevail: investigations should be made, charges issued and criminal trial proceedings held in our courts of law.
Sadly, the world watched the worst of American hypocrisy on Wednesday.
In 2020, we saw, countless, unarmed and innocent African-Americans being killed by police officers; peaceful protesters and Black Lives Matter advocates threatened, gassed and forcefully attacked by riot-geared police and angry, racist and armed white mobs, while exercising their First Amendment rights. Now, we watched hundreds of armed insurgents attack Capital police (over fifty injured, some with life threatening injuries); occupy, steal and destroy government property in our Capital building; and causing such chaos/unrest to lead to the deaths of at least four individuals. However, at this time, only 40-45 of these terrorists have been arrested for attacking/invading the Capital building. The racial and justice hypocrisy between these two police/law enforcement actions is both obvious and clear. So, we must ask ourselves: If the mostly white, armed and pro-Trump militia/mob who attack the Capital building and police had been African-Americans, how would the outcome have differed and why is that so?
Such questions hard to ask, even harder to contemplate and answer in the United States of America in 2021.
In the late hours of Wednesday and early hours of Thursday, American democracy and constitutional principles worked once again; certified election results from the fifty states were counted and affirmed, electing President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris. On Thursday morning, the sun rose once again in the United States of America, and everyday people went to work, kids went to school (some online) and our lives continue on.
So, sisters and brothers, in the year 2021, let us now come together and be united, celebrating our strengths as a nation, recognizing our weakness and failures, reconciling our committed injustices and past grievances, and healing as one country and people, on a greater path of hope and justice. Thank you, and May God’s Blessing be with us all!
In Solidarity, U and I . . .
(Peter M. McLinden is Executive Secretary – Treasurer of Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor COuncil)
Dear Sisters, Brothers, Community Partners and Friends,
Thanks to the dedication of postal workers, 65 million Americans successfully cast their mail ballots this election.
Postal workers put in long hours, did special sweeps of facilities and made extra deliveries to make sure our votes were delivered.
On November 17, we’re coming to deliver our demands for a thriving, public Postal Service. Find an event to join or host one in your community!
The dedication of postal workers kept mail ballots moving, but now that the election is over Postmaster General Louis DeJoy plans to resume his disastrous policies that created delays and chaos this summer and fall.
At the same time, the Postal Service’s finances are still devastated by COVID. The House has passed $25 billion in COVID relief twice, but this administration refused to deliver that aid before the election.
Join us November 17 to demand funding and reverse DeJoy’s delays.
The unprecedented success of vote by mail this election is more evidence that we should be expanding and strengthening the Postal Service—not undermining it.
I hope we’ll see you Nov. 17 to #SaveThePostOffice,
Senator Sherrod Brown is speaking directly to Ohio Ohio’s working families this week, speaking directly to them about why Joe Biden is the most pro-worker, pro-labor nominee in a generation. Here’s the first video of a series we’ll be featuring this week. Please feel free to share this and all of our posts with anyone you feel could benefit from the message. Thank you!
IBEW LU 212 held elections for officers for the next term and delegates to the International convention July 6th. Thank you to all who ran and the members who did their part including the tellers and election judge. New officers were sworn in August 4th. Your satisfaction with your Union is directly proportionate to your level of involvement! Our local is currently very busy. If you have family members or friends who may be working non union, reach out to them. Right now would be a perfect opportunity for them to better themselves and their future. Have them contact our office 513-559-0200. IBEW L.U.212 Newofficers sworn in. Joe Bulach (left) administered the oath to BM Rick Fischer (right) and other officers 8/4/20. Photo credit Courtney Groeschen.
We had not planned on addressing racial issues in the upcoming issue of Union Builder however with the recent incident that took place at the high profile FC Cincinnati job site as well as the opportunity for all of us to learn from it and grow as one human race; we feel it is absolutely mandatory that we do.
For those of you who have not heard, there were multiple incidents at the jobsite that included at the very least defacing property in one instance as well as the use of racist language in another incident that is unacceptable anywhere and especially on any jobsite. We could argue all day long whether the intent of these incidents were racially motivated or if the incidents were just insensitive in their intent but the fact of the matter is that we need to understand that if our words or actions cause another person to feel belittled, threatened or uncomfortable then we need to check ourselves.
The FC Cincinnati job site is one of the few jobs in recent memory that we were successful in securing a community benefits agreement on. The community benefit agreement allowed for an almost entirely union built project, over 70% so far as well as an opportunity for the labor community to show why working union is the best avenue to the middle class for all working men and women and their families. Incidents such as those that took place do nothing but cast a negative light on the entire unionized construction industry regardless of which trade was at fault. Racism in any form, whether it is overt, covert, implied or otherwise will never be acceptable and we as the building trades need to be the conduit for its eradication once and for all.
Several Building Trades leaders including Bill Froehle (392), Rick Fischer (212), Larry Thompson (265), Dave Baker (44), Brian Wear (18) and Jeff King (18) met with Turner Construction Vice President Dave Spaulding to discuss the FC Cincinnati jobsite and Turners policies moving forward on their jobsites nationwide.
Turner Construction has made it crystal clear that any defacing of property on their jobsites will result in craft workers being banned from all Turner jobsites up to and including possible lifetime bans depending on the infraction. For those of you who enjoy being porta-let poets we want you to understand that it will not be tolerated as well. In many areas of the country workers are required to sign in prior to using the “facilities” and there is a monitor who disinfects the area after each use (Covid-19). If there is graffiti found the worker who caused the damage is removed from the jobsite. Turner does not want to implement monitors here locally however they do not want to deal with childish behavior and criminal damaging either. We would venture to say that every construction manager and contractor we work for would echo this sentiment as well.
As leaders in the Building Trades we are asking each and every member to take an active part in creating an environment on every job site that allows for every worker to be free from harassment of any kind. Our forefathers and foremothers gave us all of the tools and the intellect to be able to do this and just like the physical tools of the trade that we use every day the proper care and respect of those tools will determine our success. We are all proud construction workers in our respective trades and the examples we set today will be emulated by the men and women who pick up the “tools of the trades “tomorrow.
If not us, who? If not now, when?
As leaders of the Building Trades we are asking all of our members, including us to do their part.