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Militancy against Trump at Labor Day Parade

See how the Laborers Union woke a movement afraid to fight back

Brian Young's picture
Sep 09, 2019

This past Saturday, trade unionists from the tri-state region marched down Fifth Avenue to celebrate Labor Day. Marching past St. Patrick’s Cathedral as well as some of the most expensive retail stores in the country the parade route also conveniently passed by the home of Trump, Trump Tower.

Since the election, Trump Tower has become a popular spot for protests, yet many who call NYC their workplace just walk by. Although Trump has been in a constant war against organized labor, he has confused the ranks and many still haven’t received the message. This is even worse in the ranks of the Building and Construction Trades, where some leaders have been cozying up to him out of fear of public retaliation and backlash from their easily misled membership. Rumor has it that they are only minutes away from endorsing him. It’s not a rumor.

That’s why Saturday’s open display of hostility by Laborers union was so great. You can see what happened below:

While some folks in the trades tend to look down on Laborers, they were one of the few organizations who took action. For ten minutes the world-famous NYC Labor Day parade was stopped as the members of Local 79 let Trump know how they really felt about him and the direction that this nation is heading in. Tourists from all over the world who were shopping on Fifth Ave and looking to get their picture in front of the Skyscraper of Hate stopped in their tracks and whipped out their phones to record this very real and very raw explosion of anger. Some of those tourists may have even been from countries where expressions of anger against their “leader” would land them in jail. (but that’s their problem, food for thought)

After Local 79 moved on and the parade resumed, UCOMM’s Kris LaGrange began asking other unions if they were planning something similar. “As I spoke to these elected leaders, I saw fear in their eyes,” said LaGrange. “It was clear they were worried that doing something so forward might lead to a backlash from their conservative membership. I even talked to one elected Business Agent from a telecom union who had the gall to say he liked what Trump is doing. This passive behavior is what allows Trump to get away with dismantling labor laws, eliminating union release time, non-union Jobsite construction access, eliminating dues deduction, raiding organized workplaces, separating families, and locking up children in cages.”

This was a really stupid thing for this BA to say, but UCOMM knows from experience that his membership and leaders don’t feel the same way he does.

This has been a major problem for union leadership in the era of Trump. Trump has dismantled the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), put union-busters on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and appointed the Supreme Court Justices who gave us Janus. While prevailing wages, workplace safety, and OSHA have been cut, some labor leaders are quintessentially living in a “Let the lunatics run the looney bin” mode when it comes to political action. But don’t fret, that won’t hold because as you can see from our previous stories labor leaders are getting younger and dinosaurs that didn’t die evolved into birds and learned to fly.

An increase in militancy is needed if the union movement is going to take on Trump. The Laborers union knows this, they were originators in the “Count Me In movement.” Of course, this is to be expected from the Laborers union. They are often the muscle of the building trades, willing to throw up a rat quickly, a rat that Trump wants to make illegal. If organized labor wants to survive and take back our country in 2020, their political action needs to evolve, from dinosaurs to birds.

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