Union Leaders Express Horror at Orlando Mass Killings

Union leaders expressed horror and outrage at a gunman’s mass killing of 49 people, and wounding of 53 more, at an Orlando, Fla., club that catered to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Several leaders again demanded increased gun control.

The unionists, including Randi Weingarten, the openly gay president of the American Federation of Teachers, joined other leaders across the ideological spectrum in condemning the massacre and expressing sympathy for the victims and their families.

“Hatred and violence have no place in a civilized society,” said Jerame Davis, executive director of Pride@Work, the AFL-CIO constituency group for gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgendered unionists. “Our hearts break for the families of the Orlando massacre as we wait for more information about this horrific attack. Until then, we can only honor the victims and their families by working to make sure this never happens again.”

AFT’s Weingarten added the carnage in Orlando again proves the need to curb the availability of such weapons of mass destruction. One of the large prior massacres occurred in an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., she noted.

“I don’t know where to begin,” she said. “Fifty dead, many more wounded, in the worst mass shooting in American history. I am sick and heartbroken. I pray for the recovery of those who are wounded, and my heart goes out to the dead and their families and loved ones.

“While we wait for the details, we must find the courage to extend compassion to one another, not expand hate. Texas Lieut. Gov. Dan Patrick and others are already trying to divide us by insinuating that the victims — because they are part of the LGBTQ community — deserved to die. Others have seized on the gunman’s name to promote hate against Muslims.”

“The victims are not to blame. Our Muslim neighbors are not to blame,” Weingarten continued. “If we want to assign blame, let us look to the culture of radicalization and fear that creates hatred. Let us look to the outrageous laws that make it easier for gunmen to acquire assault rifles than it will be for members of the LGBTQ community to donate much-needed blood for the victims of this crime.

“The weapon used in Orlando” was similar to the “assault rifle used by Adam Lanza when he murdered innocent children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. It is the same type of weapon used in San Bernardino, Calif. In Aurora, Colo. In Portland, Ore.

“Let us find the political courage to pass commonsense laws to make it harder to commit these crimes. And let us find the moral courage to use this tragedy to build bridges and open our hearts, not to build walls and further hatred.”

“We express our deepest condolences for everyone affected by the deadly shooting, including the victims, their families, the police force and the medical professionals,” said Steelworkers President Leo Gerard.

“In the labor movement, we live by the fundamental belief that an injury to one is an injury to all. This event was not just an attack on the LGBT community or on the attendees of the Pulse nightclub; it was an attack on all Americans who have the right to be free.

“As a union, we pledge to continue working to secure the right of everyone in this nation and in this world to live their lives free from violence and hatred, regardless of race, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or religion. In the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’”

“There is no room in our country for such hatred, yet such tragedies are occurring far too often,” the Communications Workers said. “However, it’s clear that LGBTQ people were targeted by the gunman. We call on this country to replace hate with love.

“Shamefully, some elements already are using this horrific tragedy to push their political agenda and are condemning President Obama for his call to our nation to respect all people and all faiths. We stand with the President who has called this massacre an act of terror, in this case directed at LGBTQ Americans, and join all Americans who are sickened by the continuing carnage and loss of innocent life in our nation…We join in the demand for changes that will restore responsible gun ownership to communities across the nation.

“This was an attack on all of us,” said Hector Sanchez, Executive Director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the AFL-CIO constituency group for Latino workers. Most Orlando victims were Latinos. The club was hosting a Latin American-themed night and attracted people from as far as Philadelphia.

Service Employees President Mary Kay Henry said her union also stands in solidarity with the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender community and that it will renew its efforts for stringent gun controls.

“We are reminded that the LGBTQ community has long been the target of hate and violence in their fight for freedom to love,” said Henry, who is gay. “In the past year alone, African Americans in a church, health care workers in a women’s health clinic and our union’s members attending a holiday party have lost their lives. We must all stand united against all forms of hatred and violence.

“Together, we demand our nation does everything to ensure that no more families have to feel this pain, sadness and loss ever again. It’s long past time for our nation to do something about gun violence in our communities.”

Source: PAI