Pandemic Shows How Important Unions Are

AFT Leader Randi Weingarten discusses reopening schools: (6.5 minutes)

Thursday we got this email from the Abby Finkenauer campaign:

I’m Ken Sagar, retired president of the Iowa Federation of Labor. But today I’m not here to give you an update on labor issues around the state, I’m here to support my friend, long-time labor ally Abby Finkenauer.

While I was at the AFL-CIO, we eagerly supported her first run in 2018. And although I’m no longer working for a union, I can still testify to her dedication to workers in Iowa.

She didn’t just make promises, she went out and got results for all of us.

Now it’s our turn to help her. Abby’s up against a tight deadline — and we need to rally around her. She needs to raise $5,328 before midnight tomorrow to hit her end-of-July Ad Fund goal. Making a contribution today is directly supporting a pro-labor agenda. Click here. 

Abby’s father was a union pipefitter-welder. She didn’t learn about working Iowans’ issues second-hand. She learned about them by living them — knowing her family’s well-being depended on our ability to ensure fair wages, workplace safety, and comprehensive benefits.

Now it’s even more important to back pro-labor leaders like Abby. Her opponent has taken money from a Koch backed group, AFP, that wants “to take the unions out at the knees.”

Yes, that’s a quote from a former AFP and 2016 Trump campaign staffer. Abby’s opponent has the backing of both groups.

So when I tell you we need to support Abby today, you can see why. Click here and chip in to her campaign today.

Thank you,

Ken

Unions were created to use the collective power of their withholding of labor as a bargaining chip so that workers could also benefit from the fruits of their labor. That came to include decent living wages, decent and safe working conditions and other benefits to be negotiated. I don’t care what product or service you talk about these days, without skilled labor it could not be made or done.

This note serves to remind us just how important unions are in the whole scheme of our economy and our well being. As we continue to spiral downward in the pandemic, Republican leadership that makes no bones that it is beholden to the power of corporations. Thus we saw, especially in Iowa, but also in many other states people being forced to work in awful conditions in the meat packing industry.

Labor is not and should not be treated as disposable parts in a machine. One of the most disjointed ideas during this whole pandemic is that labor is on one hand essential yet on the other hand disposable people who health and safety is of little concern. Iowa’s Governor Kim Reynolds showed her pure disdain for workers by refusing to close meat packing plants to clean up.

An individual worker is a poor match against the power and money of a corporation or governmental unit. Only by using the power that their labor collectively has can they withstand the abuses of the rich and powerful. In the scheme of a  democratic form of government, unions act as a check on the power of corporations and their money and the power of governmental leaders. Without the unions to check the accumulation of the power of money coupled with the power of governments can easily choke democracies. We are witnessing this in front of our very eyes during the Trump Administration.

We are very glad to see Abby Finkenauer proudly standing up for workers and unions. In these days when unions have been battered into submission over 40 years of Republican policies at the state and national level, seeing such a statement is always refreshing.

As the deadline for school reopenings draws near, the country may be looking for the one voice of sanity left to stop policies that will be sending our children and our teachers into what appears to be a cesspool of coronavirus known as the classroom. Mandates for reopening are coming down from on high. Few are involving those who will be in those classrooms -the teachers and the children, or the children’s parents.

Into the fray steps Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers. Teachers will be asked to put their lives on the line. So far their input to the process has not been sought. The AFT, headed by Weingarten, is the second largest teacher’s union. The AFT has said they will sanction local strikes to force school district to make schools safe.

From the AFT’s website:    

Until a vaccine is developed for COVID-19, each community is going to need support in charting a path to safely and responsibly reopen school buildings and other institutions crucial to the well-being and economic vitality of our communities.

The AFT’s detailed, science-based “Plan to Safely Reopen America’s Schools and Communities” features five core pillars based on the science as well as educator and healthcare expertise—not on politics or wishful thinking.

{a list of scientifically sound criteria is listed here – go to website to see}

The blueprint acknowledges Americans’ eagerness to return to some semblance of “normal.” But to do so, we must meet an unprecedented challenge: figuring out how to reimagine our society and the physical places we hold dear—public schools, places of worship, workplaces, restaurants and more—in ways that put our ultimate priorities first: the safety and well-being of working families, especially frontline workers, and the economic health of society.

The comprehensive document shows how, to effectively respond to the crisis, we must plan and align logistics, educational strategies and public health approaches into one coherent response. And we expect the plan to evolve as the data, and the facts, change.

AFT President Randi Weingarten said: “Our blueprint serves as a stark contrast to the conflicting guidance, bluster and lies of the Trump administration. The input of educators and healthcare workers, as well as parents, is crucial in making any reopening plan work. They are the eyes and ears, and are indispensable in making any plan work safely and effectively. We hope this blueprint will be the start of a real discussion on reopening schools, universities and other workplaces that allows our workers and families not only to dream of a safe and welcoming future, but to realize it.”

The whole AFT plan can be read here.  

We need unions more than ever folks. To keep workers from being crushed by the power of money linked with the power of government. Republicans will continue to do all they can to crush unions. Vote for Democrats in 202 for your own sake.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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