Labor Day Letter from SAGCD President Alan Robb
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
First and foremost, I hope you and your families have remained safe and healthy during these uncertain times.
I write to you as we approach a Labor Day that is perhaps unlike any other in our nation’s history. Together, we confront grave threats facing our nation and its workers—a pandemic that has taken far too many lives, the unrelenting prevalence of systemic racism, and a coordinated attack on labor and workers’ rights.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted each and every one of us. Its spread has known no bounds, as the health and safety of workers—and families—have been put at increased risk day in and day out. While much of the nation quarantined to quell the impacts of this public health emergency, resilient workers—especially those of the ILA— risked their lives to provide essential services. History will remember this moment, when the ILA led the charge against this deadly pandemic and showcased the strength and commitment of our union.
At the same time, the virus has exposed a failure of national leadership to do right by the very workers who came face-to-face with the pandemic to provide for the health and security of our communities. Many on the frontlines have been continuously denied protective equipment and benefits like paid sick leave, while those in Washington DC prioritize protecting the nation’s largest corporations. This period of mass unemployment for much of our nation’s workforce, alongside impending corporate bailouts, tells a story of national leadership that willfully disregards our work as the economic engine of this nation. This is what happens when profits are put over people, and when leaders in Washington turn their backs on the workers who built this country and are moving it forward even during these challenging times.
Meanwhile, the last four years have seen an unprecedented, far-reaching assault on organized labor. The White House’s nationwide anti-worker agenda has severely compromised collective bargaining rights and union protections. President Trump pays lip service to workers, yet has consistently sided with CEOs and corporate managers over the working people that make economic growth possible. The decisions of those he has appointed have worked to eviscerate workers’ ability to organize, to protest, and to bargain. He has packed the courts with ideologues who support union busting and fail to recognize the economic importance and legitimacy of our unions. And now, the fate, and even existence, of the labor movement itself is at stake.
As our nation reconciles with its history of racial injustice, I write to you to affirm that Black Lives Matter, and Black Work Matters. Each of us must be reminded that the fight for labor rights in this country is inextricably linked with the fight for racial justice. And, when our President energetically pursues his anti-labor agenda and fails to do what is necessary to contain COVID-19, we know that Black families and Black workers are often at the most increased risk of losing their livelihoods and even their lives.
Labor Day is, of course, a time for celebration, even in the midst of a health and economic emergency that has shaken our nation to its core. It is a time to remember and pay homage to the countless workers who, over the course of our nation’s history, have fought for the very rights and benefits that hang in the balance today. It is also a time to commend our continued work to put people over profits. And, it is a time for us to come together as a labor community and to celebrate the service we have provided to our respective communities during one of the most dangerous and turbulent times in American history.
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise while the President interferes with the ability of unions to bargain for necessary protections in response to this global pandemic, I am reminded of the importance of voting and democracy. This moment has made clearer than ever that the occupant of the White House has enormous power to advance an agenda to protect the interests of the wealthy and privileged, while threatening the health, safety, and economic welfare of us all. This November, the ILA, and the labor movement as a whole, is on the ballot. I encourage you to ensure you are registered and make a voting plan, so that the strength of our union is on display and we elect a President who stands in solidarity with our struggle for economic security and justice.
As Labor Day approaches, we are reminded that when we stand together, we are stronger, and that our movement’s triumphs rest on our collective care and our willingness to use empathy as a guidepost for our organizing. I urge you to harness the empathy that is so deeply embedded in our labor movement and within the ILA, and take it with you to the polls.
Labor Day is so emblematic of the history of the labor movement, as our communities come together and rejoice. We honor our history of marching in picket lines, joining for union meetings, and fighting for medical and financial protections for our families. In reverence of that history, we march in parades, join for barbecues, and spend time with our loved ones. We stand together, as we have for generations. Now, more than ever, the ILA must show that it stands strong against the global pandemic, against systemic racism, and against those whose mission it is to dismantle organized labor and worker protections. I know that the ILA will not back down.
As always, thank you for your service.
Alan A. Robb