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Where are Union Leaders on Portland?

As trade unionists are shot and gassed, there is silence from National leadership

Kris LaGrange's picture
Jul 31, 2020

For the past few weeks, federal mercenaries have been attacking peaceful protestors in Portland, Oregon. In scenes more reminiscent of Hong Kong, Americans are being gassed and shot at under the direction of Trump and the Department of Homeland Security Chief, Chad Wolfe.

As UCOMM previously reported, these "federal troops" have been brought in from ICE and CBP to “protect” federal courthouses and monuments. While local elected officials have demanded that Trump pull these troops out of Portland, he has resisted and instead sent them to other cities. Although an agreement was supposedly reached to pull them out, two union activists on the ground in Portland told UCOMM Live that they are still aggressively attacking protestors and enjoying every minute of it.

With such a blatant attack on the right to protest, our national labor leaders have been weirdly quiet on the issue. While the AFL-CIO and other national unions have taken a strong stand in defense of Black Lives Matter, they have not spoken out on the blatant, constitutional violations by Trump.

The American Union Movement has faced this before and has been criticized for not showing up in great times of need. Lest we forget the Ludlow Massacre where National Guard troops broke a mine strike by killing 20 people, including 12 children. During the turmoil of the 1960's, our nations union leaders were absent from both protests of the Vietnam War and in conversations with lawmakers on whether the United States involvement was justified. An injustice to one is an injustice to all and Americas unions are the only legitimate force that has the know-how and resources to stand up to this militarization against peaceful protestors.

It is easy to say Black Lives Matter when you are in your office on Black Lives Matter Plaza or at the National Building Trades offices, but we need more than that from our leaders. Rank and file members are out on the front lines. Scott Oldham an organizer with IUPAT District 5, told UCOMM Live that Building Trades members even organized their own solidarity march with the protestors in Portland, yet they hear nothing from their leaders in Washington. They need some help from labor's top brass in Washington. They need a strong statement from the International unions objecting to the use of federal agents to police our cities. Without push back against these actions it is only a matter of time before Trump or another President is sending in DHS mercenaries to stop a union strike.

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