Workers need a voice, not just guidance
From the Minneapolis Labor Review, May 29, 2020
By Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou, President,
Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation
Minneapolis woke up from Memorial Day weekend and collectively unleashed an emotional mass mobilization for justice. The murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police has sparked a global movement to make our world a place where everybody can safely walk in our streets.
The labor movement is a critical voice in the resounding call to re-imagine public safety and re-imagine our communities. Together, we are taking a stand against the forces that attempt to divide us based on our race. Together, we are committing to change systems that for too long have harmed black communities and people of color.
The work of the labor movement over the past several weeks has been inspiring. Workers of every background have come together in cross-racial solidarity to rally in the streets, rebuild our communities, donate resources and protect our neighborhoods.
As the MRLF faces the COVID-19 pandemic and the awakening of a new movement for racial justice, we are in a critical role to move past simply discussing the problems we see in our neighborhoods and in our workplaces. We are squarely in a moment of action and change. Returning to normal is not an option.
Workers are supposed to be protected from retaliation if they speak up about workplace safety issues, but are only given a phone number to a state agency to a call that leads down an unknown path.
Unions must assess how our own organizations are working within the systems that perpetuate racial inequities. Here at the MRLF we are going to do a full review of our constitution and we also have committed to doing better in our campaigns to highlight issues of racial justice and advance solutions that promote racial equity.
Working people, all of us, no matter what we look like or where we come from, are being heard in this moment and heard in a way that hasn’t been felt in a very long time.
We can’t be afraid to talk to our members about this moment and the growing call for racial justice.
Now is the time to keep echoing this call to our members and to all workers.
As we look towards the future, one thing that has been crystal clear during this time is the courage, the leadership and the voice of our young workers. Young people in our unions are taking to the streets in support of black lives, in support of our unions and in support of justice. Young people are living the trauma of this moment but are also more hopeful than they have been at any other point in their lives.
These young people are the future of the workers movement. Here at the MRLF, we are going to do more to lift the voice and representation of young workers in our work and throughout our campaigns.
As we battle for dignity for essential workers during a pandemic, fight for economic recovery and work towards a more just future for all our members, we are also protecting our democracy. Every group, every politician that tries to divide us in this moment is undermining the very democracy that ensures our freedoms and our collective power as the labor movement. The more discouraged and divided we are, the more they win.
Our unions understand solidarity more than anything. As 2020 continues its challenging course, never has there been a better moment for us to live our values of solidarity and use our power and influence to help change the course of history.
Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou was re-elected December 11, 2019 to a second four-year term as president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.
Contact MRLF president Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou at 612-321-5670 or firstname.lastname@example.org.