by DARIEN LAMEN
(Rochester, NY) -- With the 2020 Presidential Election less than a month away, many are increasingly concerned that President Donald Trump will attempt to hold on to power if he loses. If that happens, organized labor needs to be ready to flex its collective power, local labor delegates say.
During a meeting of the Rochester Labor Council of the AFL-CIO last Thursday, delegates unanimously approved a resolution calling on the National AFL-CIO to "prepare for and enact a general strike of all working people, if necessary, to ensure a Constitutionally mandated peaceful transition of power."
The "Defending American Democracy and Opposing Authoritarian Rule" resolution reads in part:
"Whereas, the current President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, and Vice-President Mike Pence, have consistently refused to state publicly that he will respect the outcomes of the election and, in the case of his loss, concede the office of President; [...]
"Whereas, the President has failed, on multiple occasions, to denounce the activities of white supremacist and fascist militias and organizations that have stated desires to overthrow American democracy;
"Whereas, a climate of political polarization has weakened the framework of democratic institutions in our nation, resulting in a diminished system of checks and balances to stand against the potential rise of a tyrant Dictator;
"Whereas, the Labor Movement and trade unions have played a proud and vital role in protecting democracy and opposing authoritarianism in many nations throughout the world;
"Whereas, the extreme risk currently posed to the historic institutions of democracy in our nation may require more widespread and vigorous resistance than at any time in recent history;
"Whereas, the most powerful tool of the Labor Movement in our history has been the power of the General Strike;
"Whereas, united working people refusing to work across the nation have a greater power than any political machinations of aspiring despots;
"Therefore, now be it resolved that the Rochester Labor Council, AFL-CIO stands firmly in opposition to any effort to subvert, distort, misrepresent or disregard the final outcome of the 2020 Presidential elections.
"Therefore, be it finally resolved that the Rochester Labor Council, AFL-CIO calls on the National AFL-CIO, all of its affiliate unions, and all other labor organizations in the United States of America to prepare for and enact a general strike of all working people, if necessary, to ensure a Constitutionally mandated peaceful transition of power as a result of the 2020 Presidential Elections."
The Rochester Labor Council is made up of 40 delegates from unions representing around 60,000 workers across Monroe County. Those unions include public sector workers, building and construction trades, among others.
The Rochester Labor Council appears to be the first to formally advance the idea of a national general strike in the AFL-CIO in response to the threat of an authoritarian power grab.
The idea of a US general strike last achieved some degree of mainstream traction during the 2019 government shutdown. And while US union density remains historically low, militant unionism has arguably been on the rise in recent years, with strike actions featuring prominently in the Red for Ed and Fight for $15 movements.
The AFL-CIO is the largest workers' organization in the US, representing over 12 million US workers in 56 affiliated unions. As of Tuesday afternoon, national and statewide AFL-CIO representatives had not yet responded to the Rochester Labor Council resolution.
DARIEN LAMEN is news director/producer for Reclaiming the Narrative. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org