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Unions Benefit Everyone Even Those Fighting Against Workers' Rights

Workers' Struggles Are Our Struggles

Yesterday was May Day, or International workers day. A day celebrating solidarity, celebrating community, and remembering the sacrifices the triumphs of the labor movement. A day which, ironically, is hardly observed in the United States. This despite the fact that the genesis of May 1st as a day focused on labor from the Haymarket affair, which was a riot and violent labor struggle in Chicago from May 1st through 4th 1886. In this violent clash between laid-off factory workers and police, four workers were killed when police opened fire on the crowd, and in the ensuing violence, seven police officers were also ultimately killed. As we find ourselves, hopefully, in a new resurgent moment of the labor struggle, with Amazon, Starbucks and other workers across the country organizing to win potential future triumphs and economic freedom, it's important to remember and understand the history and sacrifice former workers made for all of us in the process of winning concessions like the eight-hour work day and the weekend from capital. An important part of that story is also the lengths to which capital will go to protect its interests and power. Despite continuing low participation rates in unions, over the last several years, Americans have maintained a healthy support for workers and unionization. Tragically, but unsurprisingly, we find very little of this same support for workers in the halls of power. The Republican Party of course is explicitly Pro-corporate and anti-worker, and while the Democrats have a few champions of workers’ rights, like Bernie Sanders, he is by and large the exception that proves the rule. Most Democrats are milquetoast in their efforts to defend workers’ rights and power. Biden too, despite much of his rhetoric, has sent mixed messages with his actions towards labor. On the one hand, “Union Joe,” as he likes to be called, has appointed and instructed the NLRB to more rigorously go to bat for workers, which has definitely made organizing easier in the workplace. However, when push came to shove this past fall, Biden turned on workers and called on Congress to intervene in the impending railway workers’ strike. This despite the record profits of the railway companies and the incredibly reasonable demands of these workers for only a few sick days. True solidarity with workers means standing with them even when it’s politically challenging, a bar Biden has failed to clear. The attitudes in the halls of power towards labor can certainly make it easier or harder for workers to organize and gain power, but ultimately that is not the place to look in this struggle. History teaches us that it is when people join together building community and economic power that real gains are won for the average American. The most successful unions during the initial labor struggles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries involved not just activities on the shop floor, but also educational and community services to embed the union in workers' lives. This let workers see the material benefit and power afforded to them by their fellow workers in the face of profound opposition. If we are to see a new wave of Unionization and growing labor struggle it will take organizing outside of just the political sphere. It will take community building, and it will take economic power. Our government currently serves capital and it will only be by all of us banding together in growing solidarity that we take our government back. So support unions, and your fellow workers, go out and make ties in your community and in your workplace, and also don't shop on Tuesday! Together we can build an economic cudgel that can be wielded on behalf of workers and Americans at large. #DSOT #UPM

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