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Will Unions' Calls to Resign Work?

Does organized labor still have the clout to save the nation?

Kris LaGrange's picture
Jan 12, 2021

Nearly a week ago Trump supporters attacked the Capitol in an effort to stop the certification of the Electoral College vote. They were spurred on by Trump, Senators like Missouri’s Josh Hawley, and over one hundred Congressmembers. Now unions are calling for them to resign for their role in fueling the insurrection.

It should come as no surprise that calls for Trump to resign have been the loudest. He is facing an impeachment hearing in the House of Representatives and faced numerous Cabinet secretaries resigning and some even talking about using the 25th Amendment to remove him from office. Unions have also called on him to resign with the AFL-CIO releasing a statement saying:

“The deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol by a mob looking to overturn the results of a free and fair election, encouraged and inspired by President Donald Trump, was one of the greatest attacks on our democracy in American history. And the fact that trespassers were allowed to roam the halls of Congress without consequence is one of the latest examples of why we must tear down the systems and abiders of white supremacy.

Trump is an affront to every union member, and a clear and present danger to our nation and our republic. He should resign or be removed from office at once, whether through impeachment or the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

This is not a statement America’s labor movement makes lightly. It is not driven by politics or ideology, but rather by the fundamental belief that the preservation of our democracy is essential—though never guaranteed. Hate and insurrection have no place in America.”

The North American Building Trades Unions (NABTU) also called on Trump to resign saying :,

“Today’s despicable events are unprecedented, and, as we have all seen, are extremely dangerous. North America’s Building Trades Unions call on President Trump to immediately step down and transfer power per the Constitution and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947. If he refuses, the Cabinet must immediately invoke the 25th amendment to remove the President. Any less action by the Cabinet, and America should consider them all co-conspirators.”

NABTU, whose unions tend to be more conservative, sought a working relationship with Trump earlier in his term. However, any support they might have had for him evaporated as Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol.

Trump isn’t the only one who is being called on to resign. NABTU also said in their statement that Senator’s Ted Cruz (R-Tx) and Josh Hawley (R-MO), along with the 12 Senators supporting them should resign immediately. Cruz and Hawley were the leaders of the Senate effort to challenge state’s Electoral College votes. The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the country’s largest union representing federal workers, has also pushed Hawley to resign.

“This is a man who has deep knowledge of the law. He’s a Yale Law School grad. He knows what is lawful and what is unlawful. And he threw his support – very public fist of support – behind those with no respect for the law,” AFGE National President Everett Kelley said to an assembled group outside Hawley’s St. Louis district office earlier today. “Josh Hawley has blood on his hands, and he is entirely and completely unrepentant. He is not fit to represent the good people of Missouri because he has chosen to instead represent the worst of America – the violent, fascist, thugs who desecrated our democracy on January 6 and every day since.”

AFGE was joined at Hawley’s office by several advocacy groups including St. Louis County NAACP, St. Louis Central Labor Council (AFL-CIO), St. Louis Jobs with Justice, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists - St. Louis Chapter, RESIST St. Louis, and many others.

“Josh Hawley is a dangerous, remorseless man whose lies led to the deaths of six people. He lied to his and President Trump’s supporters, and they believed him when he said they should do everything in their power to overturn a democratic election,” added Jonay McCall, AFGE Local 96 President at the VA Medical Center in St. Louis. “Regardless of what action they take, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be our next president and vice president, and Josh Hawley knows that. His actions were reckless and inexcusable, and he has lost his privilege to represent the people of Missouri. He must resign now.”

On the House side over 100 Congressmembers supported Trump’s effort to stop the count. NABTU is also calling for all of them to resign as well. One Congressman in particular, Representative Lee Zeldin (D-NY1), has received a lot of attention for his decision to support the effort. Zeldin is a big advocate for Trump, often seen on cable news defending him even though he represents a swing district that includes the eastern part of Long Island and the Hamptons. On Monday, as protestors descended on Zeldin’s office, the Long Island Federation of Labor, which represents over 250,000 union members, released a statement calling on Zeldin to resign.

“The legislation to undermine the results of the Presidential election, which you supported and voted for in Congress last week, was an unacceptable attack on our democratic system of government. This challenge to our national election was created without the slightest basis in fact or any evidence to justify its claims.

The path you chose was not a legislative strategy which could be argued on its merits. It was an act of sedition which cannot be disentangled from the despicable attack on the U.S. Capitol, orchestrated by President Trump and intended to subvert the legislative branch of government. It was a dark day for America, and we are angry and disheartened that you chose to be a part of it.

As a trade union movement, we understand the historical significance of democracy as the cornerstone of our rights. The laws protecting working people are far from perfect, and we work tirelessly to change them and make our voices heard – without violence. Any attack on our nation’s democratic institutions is a threat to the rule of law and the protections working people need.

We can find no excuse for your alignment with the most radical right-wing elements of our society. There are no benefits either to working families or America in the way you are carrying out your responsibilities.

We ask you to resign your office in Congress.”

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