Labor Brought an End to the Shutdown

Richard Cucarese

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

With the outlook growing bleaker by the minute for over 800,000 Federal Employees who remained furloughed or deemed essential and working without pay for weeks, a rare sense of elation occurred, if albeit temporarily when the U.S. Government opened for business again on January 25th after the longest shutdown on record.

And although a few media outlets gave coverage to the plight of AFGE members and their valiant efforts to flood Congressional phone lines and the streets of Washington D.C. with their Labor allies, it fell far short of the expanded coverage given to members of Congress who gregariously championed their paltry efforts in front of the spotlights glare.

Although Speaker Pelosi was the face of the battle on television screens around the world, this victory is not hers or Congress’ to own; victory belongs to Labor, especially since, at best, they’re paid minimal lip service by the majority of our nations elected officials.

While some may say this is sour grapes and splitting hairs, it really isn’t when you consider that Labors’ efforts to create a more autonomous workplace, barely registers a blip on the radar of the mainstream media as well and when a network voice champions us, it’s almost immediately drowned out, shifted away from its prime-time slot and eventually rendered useless by corporate apparatchiks.   

One way to have Labor heard is, with the help of allies in the activist movements around America, to finally endear ourselves to the notion of a massive General Strike.  Galvanizing the general proletariat petrifies vast majorities of print, television and cable outlets, as well as the bulk of the sitting members on Capitol Hill (think back to the railing against Occupy Wall Street by many in these groups). 

Labor mustn’t waver on this issue anymore and instead become vanguards of a General Strike.  President Trump caved in on the shutdown when unpaid TSA and NATCA workers reported off from their jobs and created near closures of major transportation hubs around the country.  What Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants, said about this is the perfect ignition source for such a movement: “Do we have your attention now, Leader McConnell?  All lawmakers?  Open the government and get back to the business of democracy.”

Do they have your attention now, politicians and political leaders?  American workers are tired of your impertinent ways and America’s Labor Movement is ready to do the hard lifting to get America righted.  

Labor happily owns this.

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You can contact Richard on Twitter @stlwrkr4889.

Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

Human Service Workers at Persad Center Vote to Join the USW

From the USW

Workers at Persad Center, a human service organization that serves the LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS communities of the Pittsburgh area, voted last week to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

The unit of 24 workers, ranging from therapists and program coordinators to case managers and administrative staff, announced their union campaign as the Persad Staff Union last month and filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

“We care about our work and the communities we serve,” said Johanna Smith, Persad’s Development, Communications, and Events Associate. “We strongly believe this work and our connections to our clients will only improve now that we will be represented by a union.”

The Persad workers join the growing number of white-collar professionals organizing with the USW, especially in the Pittsburgh region. Their membership is also in line with the recent work the Steelworkers have been doing to engage LGBTQ+ members and improve contract language regarding issues that affect their lives.

“Workplaces are changing and evolving, and the labor movement is changing and evolving along with that,” said USW Vice President Fred Redmond, who oversees the union’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee as well as the USW Health Care Workers Council. “This campaign gives us an opportunity to diversify our great union while uplifting and empowering a group of workers who give their all for others.”

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work