It's labor's time to shine again

Gregory Floyd | 4/12/2011, 4:47 p.m.

Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana. These states are the front lines of the assault against the rights of working people and the middle class. With state and local government deficits ballooning around the country, the fight is expanding daily.

This push against unions is not simply about getting fair wage and benefit concessions during tough economic times. It is about the rich and powerful breaking the backs of labor--especially public sector unions--once and for all.

But can it happen in New York City?

If they succeed in breaking unions in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere, you can count on them trying it here in New York, the most unionized state in the nation.

We cannot let that happen. To stop it, we need strong leadership at the highest levels of government as well as troops on the ground. While there are many elected officials dedicated to protecting public sector workers, I believe we need someone from within our ranks to defend our interests.

That is why I am considering a run for mayor of New York City in 2013. It is still very early, but I am talking to other unions and business leaders about the possibility of a labor candidate.

The attacks on unions hurt us in many ways, but they have also created a once in a lifetime opportunity. Corporations--and the anti-worker politicians they fund--believe it is time to deliver a decisive blow against labor. In fact, they have kicked us and awoken a sleeping giant. They have energized and unified us against a common enemy, as we have been through history. Now, all unions are coming together again to wage a larger battle to defend our rights and livelihoods.

Unions counteract the power of Wall Street. We remind New Yorkers that it was bankers who destroyed pensions, private savings and government budgets. Someone needs to make sure that when the government belt is tightened, the pain spreads across all classes. It is time for that someone to be a true worker candidate.

Although mayors have been supportive of labor at times, it does not take them long to blame labor when things go poorly. A mayor from labor would not rush to throw unions under the bus. That mayor would come up with balanced solutions that do not hurt any one group too much.

In this debate, we must not forget that unions are good for our country. Without them, there would be no middle class. Our country is founded on the principle that citizens have the right to prosperity and happiness. Unions give average working people the ability to live that dream. More than that, the middle class creates economic growth through their purchasing power. Taking away money and security from union members would hurt not only their families, but all Americans.

We are at a turning point when labor is the last hope to lead 21st century workers in the fight of their lives for justice in the workplace. It will take strong leaders and legions of dedicated supporters. Here in New York, you can count on Local 237 to continue its leadership role as a mobilizing force and a voice of reason confronting every challenge before us.