By Frank Christensen
President, International Union of Elevator Constructors
I have been sounding the alarm for years now. I know that some of you who voted for GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump have been holding out hope that your vote would not be abused by the person you trusted to run our country, but that is exactly what has happened.
By virtue of the check you collect each week, the union card you carry in your pocket, and the local union that is proud to call you Brother or Sister, you are union.… and President Trump is no friend to unions. Look no further than the latest ruling from the National Labor Relations Board — specifically the board majority appointed by Trump.
The NLRB, rather Trump’s NLRB, has just passed a ruling that makes it easier for employers to kick out unions.
Now employers can file a pending withdrawal of a union a full 90 days before a contract expires so that the minute the contract expires the union is forced out. The ousted union will have to work its way back into the employer from scratch and will only have 45 days in which to file a petition for a new election.
This ruling rolls clocks back on everything that unions have worked for. This is how a Trump-appointed National Labor Relations Board works for organized labor.
Let’s not forget that the NLRB’s general counsel, the agency’s top enforcement officer, seeks to ban the use of inflatables and stationary banners used by countless unions during jobsite actions. The general counsel asserts inflatables can feel threatening and are a form of intimidation, while the banners can be misleading. In other words, he wants to ban the Rat.
The irony in this is incredible because intimidation and misinformation have been the hallmarks of Trump’s presidency. Isn’t this an ultimate display of hypocrisy? Don’t you think the words of the supposed leader of the free world have far more impact, more far-reaching impact, than an inanimate inflatable and a pro-worker banner? Another double standard.
So, as we continue to look ahead at the next presidential election, I have to remind you of how blessed we are, or rather, what we stand to lose with another four years of Trump.
These past few years have been very difficult for labor, more so than perhaps most of you realize. The International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) is incredibly fortunate in so many ways and has been able to, for the most part, weather these challenging years probably better than some of our fellow unions.
When our market share began to slip, we were able to put more organizers on staff and bring new members and contractors into our fold, thereby weakening the power of our non-union counterparts.
When our pension was under attack due to misguided proposals coming out of the Senate, our membership put pen to paper and action in motion to voice our concerns about the damaging proposals and, for now, those proposals have been put on hold.
Our labor committee was able to negotiate our current contract a full four months ahead of time, and today our members are working under what is considered one of the best contracts in our history.
I am not sure if everyone fully understands how impressive all of these achievements are given the current climate, stemming directly from the White House, toward organized labor.
I know there are some who think we should be doing more or getting more, and I would love to get “more” for our members. However, I am intimately aware of how hard it is for labor and I am proud we have been able to do what we have in the face of a bully in the White House and an anti-labor Senate.
For those of you who think we should be doing and getting more, imagine what we could accomplish with a labor-friendly president and Senate.
Interestingly, that could be accomplished pretty easily. All we need is Americans, our own members, to use the power of their vote to benefit working men and women. A vote for Trump and his cohorts just isn’t going to do that.
Trump’s rally cry is to “Make America Great Again.” A quick review of America’s history will show America’s Middle Class was strongest in the same period of time union density was at its peak. I think an America that has a strong Middle Class, bolstered by a strong labor movement, is an America that’s great, don’t you?
But let’s be honest, that is not Trump’s America. His America is one with suppressed wages to boost corporate profits.
We should be using our time and resources to move our unions forward, to elevate working families, not playing defense and fighting off efforts to take rights and benefits away.
And in that same vein, for the benefit of our entire nation, we should have leaders in office who focus on moving the U.S. forward, not stripping freedoms from those whose minds and hands have built this country. Why go backwards, or even tread water, when we should be moving forward?
Just as there are some in our ranks who want more from our contracts and initiatives, I want more from our country and our leaders, and I definitely want better in the voting booth from my Brothers and Sisters of organized labor.
The blog is used with permission of the St. Louis Labor Tribune.