AFT-Maryland at Workers First Caravan

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The challenges of COVID-19 have altered a number of normal routines and activities. The need to alter isn’t the same as canceling however, and unions have demonstrated that better than perhaps anyone. Ordinarily, if there was important legislation that affected union households, union activists would flood Capitol Hill to agitate for their issues. The mandates for social distancing created by the ongoing global pandemic meant that labor had to be creative in how they lobbied; and creative labor was with a mass worker caravan circling through downtown Washington, DC and the U.S. Capitol complex.

AFT-Maryland and AFT were well represented in the caravan. Members flew flags and fixed signs to their cars calling for passage of the HEROES Act which would provide money to state and local governments to fund services that those governments provide. Additionally, the funding would provide frontline essential workers with the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to do their work as safely as possible. The demands were consistent from the hundreds of cars in the caravan: protect workers.

Many in the union family also took the opportunity to advocate for Black lives. A number of cars were fixed with signs that read “Union Members for Black Lives”, a nod to the ongoing social protests in the streets that demand justice for Black people victimized by police brutality and a change in systemic racism. Union activists participating in the caravan also remembered their fellow workers who are undocumented. Many undocumented immigrants are front-line workers who are among those at the greatest risk of testing positive and dying from COVID-19. Those in the caravan standing in solidarity with these workers had signs that read “Immigrant Workers are Essential Not Expendable.”

Downtown Washington, DC took notice as the labor movement (and their engines) roared through the Capitol making their voices and their horns heard. AFT-Maryland and other activists are encouraged to continue to contact their senators and demand the HEROES Act be passed. Call your senators now! Dial 833-868-8109 to be connected, or write them a letter here: go.aft.org/heroesactletter

2020-06-18