Community groups, Unions Taking Fascist Threats Seriously

The AFL-CIO labor federation, headed by Richard Trumka, is seeing the terms general strike and resistance against tyranny, bandied about.
The AFL-CIO labor federation, headed by Richard Trumka, is seeing the terms general strike and resistance against tyranny, bandied about.

By David Sole

With less than two weeks left before the November 3 U.S. elections there are signs that some sectors of the population are taking Donald Trump’s threat seriously to refuse to recognize an unfavorable outcome to the vote and are organizing for the worst.

Of course the main effort of those in and around the Democratic Party continues to be their “get out the vote” campaigns for their lackluster nominee, former vice-president Joe Biden. But a significant development has begun to emerge organizationally to deal with the possibility that Trump will carry out a “coup” in one form or another, creating a constitutional crisis. This current includes both supporters of Biden, but also forces that are not tied to the Democrats, including some socialist organizations.

Richard Trumka, president of the 12.5 million member AFL-CIO, warned in a speech on September 25 that the U.S. labor movement would take strong measures against any move by Trump to hold onto power should he lose the election. The Council of Metropolitan Washington, D.C.AFL-CIO  published a statement on September 21 that “any attempt to obstruct, sabotage or otherwise undermine the integrity of the 2020 Presidential election” would result in “immediate collective action, by any means necessary, among our united membership.”  But neither Trumka nor the D.C. body laid out any concrete program.

On September 30 an extensive article was published in the online journal calling for the formation of “People’s Committees to Defend Democratic Rights” to start well before election day. The article warned that it would be foolish and dangerous to assume that the U.S. courts or military would protect the people against Trump or his right-wing minions. This article went into great detail on how labor and community groups ought to form united front committees and prepare for a possible General Strike if conditions necessitated such action.

On October 8 the Rochester (NY) Labor Council passed a powerful resolution denouncing the threats openly voiced by Trump. A long list first outlined the dangers posed by Trump, his administration and his “white supremacist and fascist militias” supporters and warned of the danger of “the potential rise of a tyrant Dictator.”

The resolution went further, however, in calling upon

“the National AFL-CIO, all of its affiliate unions, and all other labor organizations in the United States of America to prepare for and enact a general strike of all working people, if necessary, to ensure a Constitutionally mandated peaceful transition of power as a result of the 2020 Presidential Elections.”

During the past few weeks a number of radical and progressive groups have begun discussion designed to prepare for the possibility of united front actions that might be needed. The Freedom Socialist Party has been holding virtual meetings from around the country with the aim of a united front.

Activists in Baltimore put out a call to “Occupy the Streets” that also included reference to a possible general strike and a link to the Detroit Moratorium Now Coalition’s appeal. Their effort has garnered quite a few endorsements from the Baltimore area.

In Michigan united front type meetings have begun spearheaded by Detroit Will Breathe, the local leadership of mass Black Lives Matter demonstrations. Participating organizations include representatives of Democratic Socialists of America, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Moratorium Now Coalition, the General Baker Institute among others.

At the same time religious leaders gathered around the Central United Methodist Church in downtown Detroit have been building plans for daily demonstrations starting at the church the day after Election Day. The theme is for a “peaceful transition of power” in contrast to Trump’s threats of violence and refusal to recognize himself losing.

Most interestingly are efforts being carried out by labor and labor affiliated groups in Michigan.  Aside from normal campaigning for their candidate, these forces report setting up “action councils” around the state in both urban and rural areas. They aim to ensure they have solid local leadership that are kept in touch statewide that could respond to local, statewide or national events. Activists from the other nascent coalitions are working to improve communications among themselves and also further reach out and unify with other like-minded forces that can be mobilized in a fascist-like crisis.

Perhaps sensing the movement on the ground, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued a call for top union leaders to meet on October 23. quoted AFL vice-president Tefere Gebre on October 21 that the labor federation was planning for any resistance to a peaceful transfer of power.

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