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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.

In January, I was invited to serve on President Donald Trump’s manufacturing council, along with my boss, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. At the time, I was deputy chief of staff at the AFL-CIO (the largest federation of trade unions in America) and a spokesperson for the organization on trade, manufacturing, and economic policy. President Trumka and I agreed to serve because we believed — and still do — that working people should have a voice in crucial government decisions affecting their jobs, their lives, and their families.

With you, I have watched with heartbreak the hateful and violent actions of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville this week and the subsequent offensive and troubling reaction from President Trump. The Massachusetts AFL-CIO joins AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka in condemning last Saturday’s act of domestic terrorism in Charlottesville. We mourn with the families and friends of Heather Heyer and state Troopers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates. We call on President Trump to unequivocally reject white supremacy and racism.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump stood in the lobby of his tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and again made excuses for bigotry and terrorism, effectively repudiating the remarks his staff wrote a day earlier in response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va.

We commend the jury in the US District Court who decided, in their not guilty verdict today, to protect one of the most valued and important rights we hold dear as Americans: the right to protest. I do not condone any behavior that spreads intolerance, violence or hate. But the jury understood that the Hobbs Act – a statute meant to apply to robbery and extortion – has no relevance to a picket line. Advocates for fairness and justice – whether it’s for good jobs or civil rights, equal marriage or affordable housing – should be cheering today’s decision.

The Senate version of the state budget contains two important policy changes supported by the Massachusetts AFL-CIO that will help working people:

1) Ensures transparent contracting at the MBTA by requiring management to engage in good faith negotiations with the existing workforce before privatization proposals are considered
2) Adds two additional employee representatives to the Group Insurance Commission so that workers have a stronger voice on decisions impacting the cost and quality of their healthcare

Over 4,000 activists gathered in Boston Common on Saturday, May 20 to protest the Trump administration’s planned cuts to federal education programs including scores of union members. Protestors stood together in solidarity to reject the administration’s abysmal budget proposals, to support the full funding of our public school systems and to advocate for debt free college.

Unite Here Local 226, the Nevada culinary workers' union, will deliver a one of a kind, first hand, case study on not only surviving so-called "right-to-work" legislation but actually geting stronger underneath it. Though Nevada is a so-called "Right To Work" state, 90% of Unite Here Local 226 workers decide to pay their full dues and remain determined to display a tremendous level of solidarity.

Don't miss Larry Cohen of Our Revolution, the successor organization to Bernie 2016, who will address the Gompers-Murray-Meany Conference on Thursday the 25th. Larry served as President of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) from 2005-2015, and spent nearly all of his adult life as a member, organizer, and officer. He was the founding chair of Jobs with Justice believing that workers’ rights is a community issue not just a fight for unions.