The first Monday in September marks Labor Day and the tribute to working people. Unerased asked four PrimeTime labor leaders to reflect on the role of organized labor in 2023 and beyond.
The role of organized labor is to continue to be guided by the workers’ demands—Now and in the Future. The wave of organizing will continue to gather steam in 2023 and beyond despite broken labor laws that rig the system against workers. But we have power. Our Vote is the leverage to balance the scale of power and create platforms where our voices can be heard. And, we must be prepared to support our elected officials who hear us, and who act on our demands.
Clayola Brown is the National President of the A. Philip Randolph Institute.
The role of organized labor in 2023 and beyond must be to create inclusive
and safe spaces for all workers. Our purpose in the past and now is to advocate for workplace rights, wages, working hours, and healthy working conditions. Organized labor is beginning to address — and hopefully will continue to push for – the intersectionality of gender, sexuality, and reproductive rights in the workplace.
Vanessa Fields is the former President of AFSCME, DC 47 Retirees Chapter.
In order for the labor movement to survive and thrive in the future, leaders must make the tough decision to organize workers in the South. Industry is continuing to move south due to right to work legislation and low wages. The most likely people to be organized are Black workers, Black women first. According to the 2000 Census, 54% of Black Americans live in the South. Another important priority is multigenerational engagement. There is no successful movement without youth. Most importantly, if we are to reverse the erosion of our democratic rights, labor needs to step up and lead!
Patricia A. Ford is former Executive Vice President of SEIU.
Labor must do more to advocate not only for its members, but also to support the overall community’s efforts towards freedom; because unless we all are free, none of us are free! As a movement that mobilizes and organizes, labor must build on the strength of community coalition partners and allies. The path to a better way of life, free from poverty and oppression runs through our unions. That means sharing our stories, our resources and supporting community leadership to forge ahead.
Pierrette Talley is former Secretary-Treasurer of the Ohio AFL-CIO.