President’s Message, Fall 2016

From Risk to Opportunity!

D. Michael Langford, UWUA National President
D. Michael Langford
UWUA National President

Voters took great risk when they chose to elect Donald Trump president. Candidate Trump said many things during the campaign, and citizen Trump did many things in his life, that would have knocked him out of the race at any other time in the history of our nation.

Yet, voters are fed up enough with the system to risk putting an untested billionaire turned politician, warts and all, into the world’s most powerful position.

The electorate decided to go with someone who will shake things up. What we don’t know is how workers, and in particular union workers, will fare.

Both parties made a lot of promises to protect working families and rebuild the middle class. Our job now is to hold them accountable.

Republican control of government

The Republican Party will soon control all three branches of federal government. A review of the 2016 Party Platform lets us know what to expect when it comes to workers and their unions.

The Republican Platform makes no mention of workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively. It is this right, the right to be a member of a union, that is most responsible for building the great American middle class.

Instead, as written in the “Workplace Freedom for a 21st Century Workforce” section of the platform, the party’s plans are, “… our first priority is getting people back to work by fostering the kind of growth that creates jobs. That … impels us to challenge the anachronistic labor laws that limit workers’ freedom and lock them into the workplace rules of their great-grandfathers.”

So, if we read this correctly, in order to create jobs, we must do away with the labor laws that built the middle class and that our great-grandfathers fought, and in some cases, died for. Those same laws that are fundamental to democracy helped make America the greatest power the world has ever known.The Utility Worker, Fall 2016, President's Message quote

And, when it comes to Social Security and Medicare, the Republicans call for dismantling and privatizing them.

National Right-to-Work Act

The platform goes on to state, “We support the right of states to enact Right-to-Work laws and call for a national law to protect the economic liberty of the modern workforce.” In other words, Republicans support a National Right-to-Work Act.

Now the law in 26 states, history shows so-called “right-to-work” laws do not create jobs. Instead, they reduce wages for workers by weakening their unions.

There is much more in the platform worth noting. I suggest UWUA members go online and become familiar with it because it will be the federal government’s playbook for the next four years.

No friends of workers

It is clear that President-elect Trump’s appointments to lead the agencies that most directly affect the workplace — the Department of Labor, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Labor Relations Board — will not be supporting organized labor.nlrb-logo-1956x1024

The voters have taken a risk with Trump and are hoping for the best. The Republican Party, for its part, has stooped to new lows when it comes to protecting workers. As a result, I see real opportunity by doing what we do best: negotiating and enforcing our contracts. That way, we will be an example for everyone to see, and understand, why America needs unions.

I wish all the best for you and your family in the New Year.