By Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary Treasurer of the California Labor Federation
September 1, 2021
Labor Day is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of workers. But this year feels much different. Over the last year, working people have risked everything to keep our communities safe. From essential workers on the frontlines treating COVID patients, to those who put themselves in jeopardy to provide the services and goods we needed during lockdown, to the firefighters putting their lives in danger to keep our communities from literally burning, Labor over the last year has been so much more than a way to earn a living. It has been lifesaving.
Through it all, workers showed up day-in and day-out to protect us. Educators. Nurses. Firefighters. First responders. Grocery clerks. Delivery drivers. Truckers. Janitors. Farmworkers. Public servants. Transit workers. Construction and trades women and men. The list of heroes goes on and on. Collectively, California owes working people a debt of gratitude for standing up for all of us when we needed it.
But instead of thanking these workers for their sacrifices this Labor Day, millionaires and billionaires are attacking them. Wealthy special interests are pushing a sneak attack on all the values working people hold dear in our state with a recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom. To be clear, this recall isn’t about one individual. It’s about exploiting a special election to undo decades of progress on workers’ fundamental rights.
Leading Republican candidate in the recall election, Larry Elder promises to bring Trumpism to California. What does that mean for workers? For starters, Elder says the minimum wage should be ZERO. He wants to dismantle California’s paid family leave and sick leave policy. He said he will bring Prop 187 back, barring immigrants from emergency health care and public education. He’ll defund public schools to push private charters. On Day One, he’ll attack the right to join a union.
If a candidate like Elder were running in an ordinary election, he’d have no chance of winning in California. But this election is anything but ordinary. Elder and the millionaires behind this recall know that turnout in special elections is low. A Trump Republican could seize control of the governor’s office with only a sliver of the vote. And once in power, like Trump, Elder would immediately threaten all our progress and priorities.
This is why the Labor Movement in California is running an unprecedented campaign to reach voters about the stakes in this election. In the coming days, we’ll have tens of thousands of volunteers on the streets to ensure voters know the stakes. To make sure every single worker is able to protect their job, their union, their wages and their family by voting NO on this anti-union recall.
The challenges workers faced over the last year aren’t behind us. COVID is still ravaging our communities. Fires are threatening our homes and businesses. The economic recession caused by COVID is dragging on. This Labor Day, together we need to send a message to the millionaires and billionaires behind this sneak attack: Hell NO to this anti-union recall. We honor the sacrifices of workers by securing a better future for all of us. We’re not about to go backward. California is moving ahead. And that starts with a NO vote on the recall by September 14 to ensure they we preserve our values and protect our progress.