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Together, we made history at women’s marches. What’s next?


“Sometimes we are blessed with being able to choose the time, and the arena, and the manner of our revolution, but more usually we must do battle where we stand.” — Audre Lorde

SEATTLE (Jan. 23, 2017) — I’ve struggled to remain hopeful over the past months since election day. However, two beliefs have kept me fighting.

One is that this election is a backlash against the progress we have made toward a more just, inclusive, and democratic country — and you don’t have a backlash if you haven’t been moving forward. The other is that the complacency we might have felt under a Clinton presidency could have led to continued inequality, too few fighting to end structural racism, and a whittling away of the union movement. Under a Trump presidency, we have (or better have) no illusions about the dystopic future he and his billionaire cabinet and right-wing Congress has in store for us.

It has left me more determined than ever to articulate and fight for our vision for a better future.

And clearly, I am not the only one.

On Saturday, millions of people around the globe marched in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington. With marches in cities and towns, large and small, it now appears to have drawn more people than any other protest march in U.S. history. Organized and led by women, it was an unapologetic, unabashed demand for the future we want to see — a future where our daughters have the same opportunities as our sons, where power is not concentrated in the hands of a few wealthy white males, but is shared. Where democracy means every person has a voice and the opportunity to use it.

Thousands and thousands of signs and pussy hats, millions of voices, and the pounding of tens of millions of feet expressed not only anger at the inauguration of a corrupt president, but hope, energy, and a fierce belief in the power of good people to affect change. And in so doing, we respectfully added our feet, voices, and hearts to a rich and proud heritage in our country and around the world of courageous activists marching and fighting to end racism, heterosexism, xenophobia, and sexist inequities.

In Seattle, the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, plus the M.L. King County Labor Council and UFCW 21, hosted a labor contingent at our offices to join into the Seattle Womxn’s march as it came down Jackson Ave. With 175,000 of my closest friends, we marched both in silence and making a joyful noise. Waving Union banners and handmade signs we marched. Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, grandparents, women, men, trans, non-conforming, every race and religion marched for an alternative to the hate of the Trump administration. We marched toward a brighter, more hopeful future.

This march marked the first day of the Trump administration. It set the stage for both the resistance to bad policies and corruption, and the fight for a better country. Millions of people marched forward, and that anger, that hope, that belief in the power of people to affect change foretells new levels of activism.

So, what next? Where do we go from here? In the Labor Movement, we know how to organize, and we know how to fight; and it isn’t difficult to find ways to engage at the national and local levels. It isn’t difficult, and it is essential. Here’s how we start…

First, get active in your union, get active in organizations that are fighting for our future. Call your congresspeople every day: 202-224-3121 will get you to your Representative or Senators. You can check out, and the websites of your favorite social justice organizations for the message. Women’s March organizers have set up a website for 10 actions in 100 days.

As Trump begins his first 100 days, we begin ours. Obama’s executive orders on DACA and DAPA are at risk, as is the Affordable Care Act, funding for Planned Parenthood, cabinet appointments that will dismantle the institutions that protect and serve us. Offer your support and encouragement to our U.S. Representatives and Senators who support us, and let those who don’t know that we are not sitting idly by.

At the state level — the WSLC’s Shared Prosperity Agenda needs the voices of the people to pass. We’re fighting for union jobs and fair pay, for family leave, for worker’s compensation, for civil rights, social services, and public education. Sign up for a daily email from The Stand for the latest information and contact your state Senators and Representatives. Build your relationship with them — hold them accountable.

Locally — our best chance for progress is at the municipal level. Sanctuary cities and towns, fair labor practices, protection of workers’ rights. Know your local elected officials and help them push policies that protect our communities and build our economies. Support excellent candidates (like Teresa Mosqueda for Seattle City Council). Build alliances with your co-workers, your neighbors, your friends.

Run for office yourself. We need candidates with vision, heart, and spine (did I mention Teresa Mosqueda?) at every level of government.

Do not be afraid to stand up, speak out, fight back. We may stumble, we may fail. But we will pick ourselves up and we will be resolute and determined. We will neither back down, nor will we give up.

Saturday’s march showed us that we are not alone, and the power of a collective vision, voice, and action will overcome.

As Audre Lorde said, “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.”

15-dodson-lynneLynne Dodson is secretary treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

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