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Labor Leaders Call for Bold Action as Nation Confronts Multiple Crises

Labor Leaders Call for Bold Action as Nation Confronts Multiple Crises
By AFSCME Staff ·

Labor leaders on Wednesday called for bold action in confronting the three crises gripping the nation: the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 100,000 people; the economic downturn caused by the pandemic that has led to 40 million lost jobs; and the movement for racial justice following the violent deaths of George Floyd and others at the hands of police.

They vowed to stand with protesters across the nation calling for racial justice.

“The pulsating rage we’ve seen on the streets of American cities is the product of a failure on the part of so many elected leaders to address these crises, to respond to our needs, to hear the anguished voices of our most vulnerable and marginalized people,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders.

“But we must continue to channel our anger and energy toward constructive change. We must register to vote. We must vote. We must talk to our family and friends, to our neighbors and co-workers, about everything at stake. We must educate, organize and mobilize in every community across the country. We must defeat every politician who stokes racial resentment and tries to turn Americans against each other. And we must tear down – by peaceful means, through the democratic process – the rigged system that has enabled their rise to power.”

Saunders was one of several labor leaders who spoke on the press call, streamed live on Facebook. They included AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers President Lonnie Stephenson, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades General President Kenneth Rigmaiden, UNITE HERE! President D. Taylor and International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 8 Southeast President Glenn Kelly.

Unions have been playing a role in solving these crises, fighting for COVID relief that puts working people first. AFSCME is calling on Congress to fund the front lines – to provide at least $1 trillion in aid to states, cities and towns, so that communities nationwide can continue delivering essential public services. This federal assistance is vital to help the nation overcome the current crises.

The stakes could not be higher, and the labor leaders on the call vowed to continue the fight.

“I have two sons and three grandsons – one of whom was born just a few weeks ago,” Saunders also said. “For them and their future, I will keep fighting for that change. For them and their future, I will keep fighting for an America that lives up to its promise of freedom, security and opportunity for all. 

“We can get there,” he added. “We can get there with the labor movement…with the men and women on this call…with millions of union members and working people of all races…showing the way.”

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