Editorial: Who's Got the Power?

May 2, 2019

The drumbeat of division is no match for organized workers.

PowerEditorial_fa.jpgThese days, it's easy to go down the rabbit hole of “why”. We’re bombarded with motivation analysis. And the pitch of that conversation is ever-rising as we churn toward the 2020 election; pundits are in a 24-hour dissection cycle of electability, likeability, wonkiness, voter identity, voter class, party, etc. We hear over and over about the aggrieved “working people” who elected Donald Trump. Less frequently do we hear about the cadre of billionaires, multinational corporations and right-wing power brokers whose collective interests and work brought us the current administration.

To be sure, working people are struggling; division and economic inequality are at levels unseen in recent history. Day-to-day working life for too many of us is about doing more with less and finding creative ways to make ends meet. (If the ends are anywhere near each other to begin with.) But 1199ers know that “working people” are not a monolith. Workers are far from docile, nor are we just an angry voting block. Anyone who was in Albany, NY, on March 19 knows that for sure. Tens of thousands of Union members demonstrated against Trump Administration program-driven Medicaid cuts that, if enacted, would have been disastrous for every area of healthcare. The victorious show of strength capped weeks of statewide actions and rallies. And this is happening all around our Union.

In Massachusetts, Personal Care Attendants are simultaneously organizing and negotiating a new contract, in spite of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions characterized as a death-knell for labor. In Washington, D. C., Union members are fighting for United Medical Center, a vital but struggling institution in the District’s underserved Southeast community.

1199’s North Star, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., time and time again highlighted the inextricable link between civil rights and workers’ rights. As President Gresham points out in his column, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s historic New Deal was realized only with the support of a muscular labor movement. And today, around the nation, we see a host of newly elected progressives promoting worker friendly policies that bridge ever widening gaps.

Though the forces trying to divide workers through our differences have a long (and sadly successful) history, workers know we have plenty in common: We all want an honest day's pay for an honest day's work, to support our families, have dependable healthcare and to one day retire in comfort.

And as members on these pages show, contrary to conventional wisdom, we know how to do it: talk about it, mobilize and organize.

1199 Magazine | March / April 2019