According to an April 5 article in the Guardian, US labor leaders view this year’s elections – and 2024’s — as “a goal-line stand to preserve America’s democracy.”
Shane Larson, Director of Government Affairs for the Communications Workers of America, told the Guardian, “Many union leaders used to pooh-pooh talk about saving democracy. All that changed after the January 6 assault on the Capitol and after many Republicans pushed to overturn Biden’s victory in several states.”
Just a few years ago, some union leaders would complain, ‘Why are we focusing on these do-good democratic issues?” They’d say we need to focus exclusively on labor rights and jobs, jobs, jobs. Now no one is complaining about this at all. There’s a real recognition that the entire labor movement has to be involved in this effort, that we have to do something for our democracy or we can lose it.
According to the Guardian, union leaders see two parallel strategies to preserve American democracy. One is to “battle against efforts that roll back voting rights, reduce the political voice of minorities and enable hyper-partisans to skew, even overturn vote counts.” The Service Employees International Union, for example, ran internet ads that criticized Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, and Home Depot for donating to GOP lawmakers who backed new voting restrictions. Unite HERE co-sponsored a “freedom ride” of buses to Washington to urge senators to enact new voting rights legislation.
The other strategy is to “ensure that Democrats win key battleground states, especially longtime union strongholds Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.” Unite HERE, for example, is educating voters in Arizona and Georgia about how to navigate around newly enacted voter restrictions. It plans to mobilize local poll watchers to help ensure that voters, especially voters of color, are not intimidated by the “army” of poll watchers Trump has said he will mobilize.
HERE plans to deploy hundreds of canvassers to help Democrats retain control of the Senate. Gwen Mills, Unite Here’s secretary-treasurer, says the union plans to have “500 people moving around, going door to door, reigniting people to vote.” The work of democracy, she adds, “is labor-intensive, is people-intensive.”