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Labor's Place is in the Streets, not at the RNC

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Donald Trump reported that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters President Sean O’Brien had accepted an invitation to speak at the Republican National Convention, held this year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

This will mark the first time in history that a Teamsters general president has addressed the Republican National Convention.

For those with short memories, it was the Republican Party in Wisconsin, led by former Governor Scott Walker, that forced through Act 10, stripping union rights from public sector employees in the face of hundreds of thousands of workers who occupied the capitol building for nearly a month in defiance. It was the Republican Party that forced through the Right to Work (for less) law in the face of overwhelming opposition. It was the Republican party that prevented Milwaukee and other municipalities from having government-mandated paid sick days, as other cities across the country already have. It was the Republican Party that ended prevailing wage laws in our state, and that enforced and maintained a gerrymandered government that kept them in power by drawing the legislative maps in their favor for more than a decade.

When O’Brien speaks in Milwaukee, it will be in a city and state gutted by anti-worker policies and laws. When he speaks, it will be to a room full of the very people who dreamt them up, passed them through the gerrymandered state government, and support and enforce them to this day. The last 14 years of history stare us in the face. In Wisconsin, there can be no clearer enemy of working people or their unions than the attendees of this convention.

Unions have a responsibility to relate to government bodies on behalf of their members, and we need to be clear about who is who and what is what. Organized labor has the power to represent and promote a progressive agenda. Our strength lies in the workplaces and the capacity to put workers in the streets. The labor movement exists in opposition to the very people General President O’Brien will speak to in Milwaukee.

Whatever President O’Brien’s message, we encourage him, as well as all working people, to march outside of the Republican and Democratic Conventions. March alongside people who come from all different backgrounds and causes, bringing the issues of working-class Americans out into the open air. We need to chart our own course.

As the Republican and Democrat Conventions approach, and the presidential election nears, workers and labor leaders should remember that our power is based not within the walls of those conventions, but outside of it.

#Labor #PeoplesStruggles #RNC #Teamsters #Featured #FRSO #Statement


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