By HENRY GARRIDO
Our union is part of a movement that has stood steadfast in many crises and been through long, daunting struggles.
Together, we have won major victories and suffered defeats. Yet with each battle, our union has endured and overcome challenges in order to win better pay, medical care and benefits for public sector workers in the city.
But there is no immediate challenge facing our union more critical than the upcoming presidential and congressional elections on Nov. 8.
It’s not only the balance of political power in Washington that is at stake. What matters to us is the very survival of the labor movement — and therefore the ultimate fate of millions of working Americans.
A fight for democracy
The election this November is more than a battle between former U.S. Sen. and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the authoritarian billionaire Donald J. Trump.
This election is ultimately about choosing a candidate who will protect our rights and benefits, build on the progress this country has made in equal rights, reverse the growth of income inequality, and live up to and act on the ideals of democracy and inclusiveness in our country. Hillary, who has dedicated her public service to children, women and health care, is that candidate.
This election is about standing against a dark force in our politics, steeped in fraud, wrapped in myth, embodied in a person wholly unqualified and unworthy for any position of responsibility. This person, Donald J. Trump, stands for everything we are against, and he personifies a great threat to our union — and to our nation.
Trump brings a track record that includes housing discrimination, demonization of immigrants, disregard for the U.S. Constitution and ripping off his own workers and contractors. His history of alleged sexual harassment is reprehensible. His recklessness makes us worry that he would jeopardize foreign relations and not think twice about pulling the nuclear trigger.
DC 37 activists have volunteered to work with our national union in a multi-union campaign to help Hillary win in battleground states.
We are also focused on down-ballot candidates as Trump appears to be dragging down Republicans who are running for senator, U.S. representative and other positions. Therefore it is important to remember to vote for political friends like U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, who stands to become the Senate majority leader if Democrats take back the Senate. This is a chance to start to reverse the Republicans’ lock on state and local offices. And a vote for Hillary would ensure that the U.S. Supreme Court becomes more progressive.
Clearly, we are targets of Trump. Our family members. Our friends. Our coworkers. The people who care for our children, the ones who maintain our bridges, parks, streets and highways, keep our water clean, take care of the sick and protect us from unscrupulous landlords. They are among the tens of thousands of public service workers who run New York City — and make it great.
These are people who — like you — never quit. They do their jobs every day with dedication so that all lives are better, striving to maintain the high quality of life to be expected in what we New Yorkers call the greatest city in the world.
It is time for the attack on public employees and working families to end.
We have the power. The time is now.
Henry Garrido is the executive director of District Council 37. This originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Public Employee Press.