Trump has been a major beneficiary of discontent accumulated in the American working class and the robot portrait of the president’s average voter, now a candidate for the Republican Party, is that of the white, middle-aged and male worker.
This, coupled with the traditional conservatism of the American trade union organization, steeped in anti-socialist ideology from head to toe and for many decades, would have suggested that the unions remained indifferent to the concern that caused the unprecedented statements by Trump, in order to call into question an unfavorable verdict from the polls.
However, a brief summary of ongoing initiatives in the union movement, today published on the digital platform Jacobin by a prominent figure from the DSA (Democratic Socialists of America), Dan la Botz, shows that something is changing and that, for the first time in history, there are important sectors of this movement that are considering the use of something as unknown in the country’s history as would be the general strike.
After describing how unions are discussing “how to defend the rights of members [do sindicato] to vote, how to protect the voting process, the machines, the ballot boxes and the count “, La Botz quotes the statement by Richard Trumka, the president of the powerful union center AFL-CIO, on September 25:
“The AFL-CIO categorically rejects all threats to the peaceful transfer of power. The workers’ movement simply will not allow any attempt on the US Constitution or any other attempt to deny the will of the people. Members of the unions across the political spectrum are united in our fundamental conviction that the votes of the American people must always decide the presidency. American workers will remain firm in the defense of our democracy in the face of President Trump’s antics and we will be ready to do our part in ensuring that his defeat in this election followed by his departure from office. “
Despite its truculent language, the union leader’s statement does not give any practical indication as to what the organization would be willing to do in Trump’s case, as promised, to jeopardize Biden’s electoral victory.
But the Rochester Labor Council, also cited by La Botz, goes much further in specifying what could be done. In the resolution adopted there, the Council calls on the AFL-CIO and all the unions affiliated to it to “prepare to call for a general strike by all workers, if necessary, to ensure the peaceful transfer of powers determined by the Constitution as a result of the 2020 presidential elections”.
In the same vein, the Seattle Association for Education has promised to convene all of its governing bodies, and through these general assemblies of members, to decide the measures to be taken in case of any interference against the elections and the electoral result.
Especially, the Detroit Post Workers Union called on its members to be prepared to resist a “coup”, proclaiming in a pamphlet:
We will refuse to accept election results until all votes are counted.
We will occupy the streets peacefully if there is an attempted coup.
If necessary, we will shut down this country, to defend the integrity of the democratic process “.
Other unions, such as services (SEIU) or communications (CWA), are part of a network of NGOs and social movements, significantly grouped around the acronym Protect the Results, which is preparing to react to an eventual coup d’etat on election day.
La Botz recalls that there were major strike movements in the USA in the 1930s and in the period between 1944 and 1949, but generally for economic reasons and never for political reasons. And he also recalls that the general strikes recorded in the country’s history were never at the federal level, but in the best case at the city level, like Seattle in 1919 or Oakland in 1946. And political strikes were even rarer and more localized .
But, on the other hand, the situation that is now experiencing is also unique in American history and could lead to unprecedented measures in the face of unprecedented contestation of electoral results.
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