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Fifty-five years ago, in a speech to the convention of the Illinois AFL-CIO, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. laid out with characteristic moral clarity the essential role of unions in American life. “The labor movement,” he explained, “was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress … [When] the wave of union organization crested over the nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society. Civilization began to grow in the economic life of man, and a decent life with a sense of security and dignity became a reality rather than a distant dream.”

This Labor Day, America’s working families are facing unprecedented challenges.

This Midterm Election working people made our voices heard and labor-endorsed candidates across Massachusetts and the country won! We know that during these times when our rights as working and middle-class Americans, immigrants, people of color, and women are under attack, it is crucial that we stand together and that our voices are front and center in the public arena.

NPR's Michel Martin speaks with the president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, about union strategies following the midterm elections.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Organized labor’s record voter mobilization efforts this year, which started earlier than ever before for a mid-term election, emphasized pocketbook issues and – says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka – will produce huge “momentum at the ballot box” on Nov. 6.

It also produced a record number of unionists running for everything from city council and county commissioner to Congress and governor, Trumka and Julie Greene, the federation’s mobilizing – and politics – director said in an Oct. 30 telephone press conference.

The president is the billionaire head of a global business empire, and his mostly millionaire Cabinet may be the richest in American history. His opponent in the 2016 election was a millionaire. Most Supreme Court Justices are millionaires. Most members of Congress are millionaires (and probably have been for several years).

The Trump administration plans to tackle two important labor policy issues in the coming months: overtime pay and “joint employer” liability for companies in staffing and franchise relationships.

For the people of Flint, justice may come from a courtroom, but change comes at the ballot box.

November 6 is Election Day.

In 2010 and 2014, as families in Flint went to the voting booth, little did they know that their decisions would impact something as fundamental as the water they drink. However, policies put in place by the state and local officials elected on those days put saving money ahead of the health and water quality of Flint residents.

Thank you for registering for the 61st Annual MA AFL-CIO Scholarship Exam. The exam will be given at high schools across Massachusetts on February 6, 2019. Please note that a student cannot receive more than two (2) awards from this program.

Please contact Carla Connolly with questions: [email protected].

Click here for more information about the program, including the study guide which will be released 12/15/18.