News

News from the Central Labor Council of Middle Tennessee.

As the COVID-19 vaccine continues its successful rollout out and in-person gatherings with our Union family are beginning to feel safer and sa
The AFL-CIO Executive Council today elected Liz Shuler, a visionary leader and longtime trade unionist, to serve as president of the federation of 56 unions and 12.5 million members. Shuler is the first woman to hold the office in the history of the labor federation. The Executive Council also elected United Steelworkers (USW) International Vice President Fred Redmond to succeed Shuler as secretary-treasurer, the first African American to hold the number two office. Tefere Gebre will continue as executive vice president, rounding out the most diverse team of officers ever to lead the AFL-CIO.

Given the multiple crises facing American this year, 2020 has felt like “an absolute gut punch.” But organized labor was meant for difficult times like these, and by joining together with each other to weather these crises and tackle the problems that caused them, we will win.

This election year, America faces interlocking crises—a global health crisis, economic collapse, and systemic racism. Even as we live in fear of disease and economic ruin, we have had to watch the on-camera murders of unarmed Black people by officers who have sworn to protect and serve us. So many of us have stood outside nursing homes and hospitals as our loved ones died inside, alone. In response, we are struggling with despair and asking, Dare we hope for profound change in our public life?

Rev. William Barber, who heads the nonprofit Repairers of the Breach and the Poor People’s Campaign, joined Richard Trumka, president of the country’s largest federation of unions, at the church to announce a formal partnership to work for social, racial and economic justice. Trumka said the labor movement honors the bombing’s four young victims: Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Carol Denise McNair. “But our debt to this community is greater than that,” he said.

As the new professional football season begins, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) released the first in a series of videos of members speaking out on racial justice. The video focuses on NFLPA members’ activism and their participation in the Black Lives Matter movement. The members shared their perspectives on kneeling and what using their platform looks like this football season. “I had that mindset of I’m going to kneel this year as well.

Our Central Labor Council decided to do something a little different to celebrate Labor Day this year. Our annual celebration was off the table, so we decided to use every resource normally spent on the festivities to directly support Union members out of work.  Rather than a parade and barbecue downtown, this year we distributed grocery cards and union organizing information to out of work union members at our drive-thru Day of Solidarity Community Giveback. Union members from all over were able to stop through to receive some solidarity and support from their Union family.

Fifty-five years ago, in a speech to the convention of the Illinois AFL-CIO, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. laid out with characteristic moral clarity the essential role of unions in American life. “The labor movement,” he explained, “was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress … [When] the wave of union organization crested over the nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society. Civilization began to grow in the economic life of man, and a decent life with a sense of security and dignity became a reality rather than a distant dream.”

This Labor Day, America’s working families are facing unprecedented challenges.

COVID-19 continues to ravage our communities, with thousands falling ill and hundreds dying every day. More than 27 million people are receiving some form of unemployment assistance in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, with job losses hitting women and workers of color hardest of all.

As Labor Day approaches and economic conditions in the U.S. remain tenuous, Americans' 65% approval of labor unions is once again the highest it has been since 2003. Public support for labor unions has been generally rising since hitting its lowest point of 48% in 2009, during the Great Recession.

Read the full article in Gallup.