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-Self Determination For Black People In The U.S.; -Free All Black Political Prisoners; -The Murders Must Be Stopped; -Black Lives Matter. Vermont AFL-CIO Position Statement On The Fight Against Racism: Now Is The Time For Unity & Action! June 28, 2020, Montpelier, VT - Black Lives Matter. The Vermont AFL-CIO understands and recognizes that the United States of America is a nation which has long been governed by a ruling class whose power (social and economic) is rooted in slavery, racism, inequity, and oppression. We further see with clear eyes that Black people, whose ancestors were brought to this country in chains, have suffered (and continue to suffer) oppression on a massive and inexcusable scale. Such facts are made plain by not only looking at history, but also by looking at contemporary unemployment figures, poverty rates, average household income, incarceration rates, and through policing data. People who are Black are also murdered by American police officers with sickening regularity. George Floyd was not an exception. He, like Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, Terence Crutcher, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray (to name but a few), was one of the latest in a long line of martyrs going back hundreds of years (and accounting for thousands of taken lives). We must not become numb to these murders. We cannot accept that Black families must educate their children on how to not become the target of unprovoked police violence. We cannot allow systematic racism and police violence against Black people to continue as the regularity that it has always been. Rather, we must resist.

United Steelworkers (USW) member Jessica Hartung has a lot on her shoulders, but her load has been lightened by one thing in particular—her debt-free college degree. “I’m a single mom, with an autistic son. I have a full-time job, and COVID-19 has changed so much stuff,” said Hartung (not pictured). Despite her range of nonstop responsibilities, it has always been important to her to finish her college degree. For her, the most significant obstacle was the cost.

On Monday in Alabama, more than 5,800 of them will be able to vote on whether to become the first Amazon warehouse in the United States to unionize. "Now it's our turn to be a disruptor," said Elizabeth Shuler, secretary-treasurer and second highest-ranking officer of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States. It's a big day for the AFL-CIO. Not only is it providing guidance to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which is organizing the Amazon warehouse workers.

California School Employees Association (CSEA) member Jacob Rodriguez leapt at the chance to join his school district’s information technology department when a position opened up. The only catch was that he was a substitute custodian and didn’t have a college degree yet. “I promised them I’d go back to school to get more qualified,” Rodriguez said. Thanks to the Union Plus Free College Program, Rodriguez was able to complete his associate degree free of charge, graduating in December 2020.

"We are going to insert ourselves at every table,” Shuler said. “If we don’t get workers to the table, there’s going to be more of what Trump tapped into,” she said, in reference to angry voters who feel left behind by globalization. “Training works better when you talk to workers. They can tell you what will and won’t work when automating. We’re not always hostile — we can be collaborators and make it go well,” she said.

Amazon is the great white whale, a target that labor groups have longed for years to organize, said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, which is providing personnel and strategic guidance to aid the RWDSU. “We’ll give them whatever they need to help them win,” Trumka said. “It’s an important, important drive.”

Read the full article in the Washington Post.

John Sweeney, who led an era of transformative change in America’s labor movement, passed away Feb. 1 at the age of 86. Sweeney was one of four children born to Irish immigrants in a working-class Bronx neighborhood shortly after the Great Depression. His parents, James and Agnes Sweeney, worked as a bus driver and a domestic worker, respectively. Sweeney always understood the struggles and the pride of working people.

“This pandemic has amplified [public support] even more. It showed how helpless workers are without a union. They couldn’t even get PPE and unions were able to get it for them,” says Trumka. “For years and years and years, people that we call ‘essential workers’ were invisible. It was as if no one knew they existed. They did their jobs every day to keep the country and the economy going.

Major labor leaders like Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, are more optimistic about the prospects for organized labor than they’ve been in many years. “I know what he is. Joe Biden’s a blue-collar guy,” said Trumka, who like Biden is from a working-class area in Pennsylvania and has known the president for 40 years. “He understands working people, the importance of a paycheck, importance of health and safety on the job, importance of having a union .… He understands all of that. It’s not something he picked up in the polls. It’s what he believes.”