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Fifty-five years ago, in a speech to the convention of the Illinois AFL-CIO, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. laid out with characteristic moral clarity the essential role of unions in American life. “The labor movement,” he explained, “was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress … [When] the wave of union organization crested over the nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society. Civilization began to grow in the economic life of man, and a decent life with a sense of security and dignity became a reality rather than a distant dream.”

This Labor Day, America’s working families are facing unprecedented challenges.

The path to the presidency runs through the labor movement.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued a strong warning to Donald Trump Friday that the nation’s workers are ready to stop any attempt by the administration to trash the U.S. constitution.

He was reacting to announcements by Trump that he considers the mail-in voting process unacceptable and that he will not commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the election. Trump has said, essentially, that only an election he wins would be one he would recognize.

Members of the United Steelworkers (USW) at a steel factory in Columbus, Ohio, had hope when the Trump administration promised to protect their jobs. Fred Silvia, president of USW Local 9309, said: “Initially, we felt the tariffs were going to help us. Unfortunately, there was still steel coming in from overseas and our business just started dropping off.” Production at the steel factory where USW members worked was indefinitely halted in June. “The tariffs were a short-term fix to a long-term problem that we still currently have today.

Given the multiple crises facing American this year, 2020 has felt like “an absolute gut punch.” But organized labor was meant for difficult times like these, and by joining together with each other to weather these crises and tackle the problems that caused them, we will win.

This election year, America faces interlocking crises—a global health crisis, economic collapse, and systemic racism. Even as we live in fear of disease and economic ruin, we have had to watch the on-camera murders of unarmed Black people by officers who have sworn to protect and serve us. So many of us have stood outside nursing homes and hospitals as our loved ones died inside, alone. In response, we are struggling with despair and asking, Dare we hope for profound change in our public life?

Rev. William Barber, who heads the nonprofit Repairers of the Breach and the Poor People’s Campaign, joined Richard Trumka, president of the country’s largest federation of unions, at the church to announce a formal partnership to work for social, racial and economic justice. Trumka said the labor movement honors the bombing’s four young victims: Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Carol Denise McNair. “But our debt to this community is greater than that,” he said.

As the new professional football season begins, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) released the first in a series of videos of members speaking out on racial justice. The video focuses on NFLPA members’ activism and their participation in the Black Lives Matter movement. The members shared their perspectives on kneeling and what using their platform looks like this football season. “I had that mindset of I’m going to kneel this year as well.

As Labor Day approaches and economic conditions in the U.S. remain tenuous, Americans' 65% approval of labor unions is once again the highest it has been since 2003. Public support for labor unions has been generally rising since hitting its lowest point of 48% in 2009, during the Great Recession.

Read the full article in Gallup.

A lack of poll workers can lead to a lack of available polling places ― and voter disenfranchisement. Given that the pandemic has made door-knocking infeasible in so many areas, labor groups are diverting some of that energy and resources to the poll worker cause. “With COVID, door-to-door has gone by the wayside. So this is how we show up for the moment,” said Michael Podhorzer, who leads political strategy at the AFL-CIO labor federation, which includes 55 unions. “It’s a million-person workforce that kind of has to be replaced.