Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation President Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou on ‘Let’s come together, resist efforts to divide us along racial lines’

By Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou, President, Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation

Workers today face historic economic challenges and are fighting a system designed to be a race to the bottom. And, as history has shown time and time again, those with power and influence purposefully pit workers against each other — to help drive up their own profits and increase their own power. The biggest fear of corporate CEOs is a united workforce.

From the bombing of a mosque here in Bloomington, Minn., to white nationalists march-ing in the streets of Charlottesville, Va., the moral compass of this country is being tested.

It’s important to understand these horrific events point to a much bigger, often quieter, fight: The struggle people of color, immigrants and other marginalized communities face day in and day out as they try to live their lives and support their families.

We cannot wait for tragedies to move us to action. We need the leadership of our unions, the voices of union members of color, and the creativity of our organizers to come together and put forth bold ideas to keep moving the ball forward on racial justice.

The fate of our unions requires this priority. The victories may be small and the victories may be big. Some will be fast, many will be slow. But, the victories must come.

As the events in Charlottesville were unfolding, a newly created leadership cohort of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation was just wrapping up an intensive three-day racial and economic justice training. I am hopeful that this training is just the start to a broader initiative to give unions the tools and expertise they need to effectively fight back against racism in all its forms in our workplaces and in our unions.

Coming out of that experience, it is clear to me this must be grounded in real human relationships, not directives, committees, talking points or politically-correct statements. Back-to-basics organizing always seems to be the answer.

This observation of focusing more on human relationships couldn’t be more clear as we approach the 2017 elections. There is a lot of pain in our communities. Our demographics continue to shift. Healthy — and some not-so-healthy — discussions about the “correct” or “most important” priorities abound.

Above all of this debate, however, we need to be reminded we have a very powerful shared enemy that is bigger than our city alone. It’s time for Minneapolis to start taking responsibility as the major urban center and lead a conversation based on a human connection around the issues that impact our lives — from racial justice to the economy and everything in between.

We must lead by example so workers who share our values across the state can follow.

The MRLF plans a series of community conversations throughout 2017 and leading into 2018 with hopes to unify our fractured base.

We must come together because it takes all of us to reject race-based terrorism and resist efforts to divide us along racial lines. Workers will not be silent in condemning the actions of white supremacists, but we must come together to make our voice even more powerful. Together, we will work even harder to organize for change in all of our communities.

This column first appeared in the Minneapolis Labor Review. Used by permission.

Source: PAI