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5 Essentials: Put workers first for racial, economic justice

(June 17, 2020) — During this unsettling time of pandemic safety concerns and job losses, coupled with an overdue reckoning with the systemic racism and police accountability, it’s important to acknowledge that racism also infects our economy. As Congress debates how to address the economic fallout from COVID-19, the AFL-CIO is emphasizing that putting “Workers First” is not only the best way to protect American lives and livelihoods, it is also the best way to protect Black and brown workers who disproportionately face the negative health and economic consequences of this crisis.

Today is a national day of action in support of putting Workers First in America’s economic recovery and the AFL-CIO’s Five Economic Essentials for Racial and Economic Justice. “Workers First Caravans” are happening across the nation. In our state, the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and various Central Labor Councils are conducting a social media blitz in support of the Five Economic Essentials.

The goal is to build momentum for Congress to take action to help state and local governments and public schools avoid devastating job and service cuts, provide a lifeline to the U.S. Postal Service, place renewed emphasis on workplace safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and to emphasize how these shared goals will also advance the cause of racial justice:

1. Keep front-line workers safe and secure.
2. Keep workers employed and protect earned pension checks.
3. Keep state and local governments, our public schools and the U.S. Postal Service solvent and working.
4. Keep America healthy—protect and expand health insurance for all workers.
5. Keep America competitive—hire people to build infrastructure.

TAKE A STAND — Please visit (and follow!) the WSLC on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and please share the following graphics you’ll find there. Also add your own personal messages on these important issues, using #WorkersFirst #CongressActNow #BlackLivesMatter #1u

The AFL-CIO fully recognizes that the fight for racial justice is not limited to advocating for economic policies that lift up all Americans. The nation’s largest labor federation is also supporting police reforms that are the first step toward ridding America’s laws and institutions of systemic racism.

“Racism damages the lives of all working people by dividing us, weakening us and poisoning our lives with debilitating hate,” writes AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka today in Roll Call. “And the list of union members of color and our families who have been the victims of police violence is too long to list here. So the time for action is now. And we are hopeful that the House will soon pass the long-overdue policing reforms we seek.”

For more information, visit the AFL-CIO website.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!