Today, I have the privilege of endorsing Joe Biden to be the 46th President of the United States of America on behalf of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. CBTU is the independent voice of 1.2 million black workers represented by 57 international unions in the U.S. and Canada.
We have been involved in presidential politics since 1972, when 1,200 black workers convened in Chicago, Illinois, at the LaSalle Hotel and endorsed progressive Democrat George McGovern for president – defying the powerful AFL-CIO’s neutral stance in the election against Richard Nixon, the hawkish Republican president.
We view the 2020 elections as a watershed in American history. Four more years of a Trump presidency could push America to the point of no return. The hate and divisiveness being poured into the veins of this democracy by the man elected to preserve it has done incalculable damage to our institutions, our families, and our communities. That’s why we must get this right. We must throw our full support behind a candidate who has the character, credibility, and game plan to lift America from the sewage of Trumpism.
Joe Biden is democracy’s best and only hope in the presidential race of 2020.
The roots of CBTU’s endorsement were planted a year ago at our international convention in Atlanta. More than 600 delegates participated in a presidential straw poll. The winner in a field of 20 Democratic candidates was Joe Biden, overwhelmingly. CBTU members knew then and they believe now, more than ever, that Joe Biden is the real deal. No blow-dried phoniness. No perfect sentences that say absolutely nothing.
Joe has lived through wrenching personal tragedies with grace and had the back of America’s first black president, Barack Obama. As senator, he was a tireless champion for civil rights, voting rights, union rights and security for seniors. In the Obama administration, he ran interference on Capitol Hill, using his experience and reputation to win key votes on both sides of the aisle.
President Obama deeply values Joe’s wisdom and his loyalty. And he’s vowed to campaign hard for his former V.P. Joe’s decency and his track record only magnifies the cruelty and incompetence of the current Occupant in the White House.
Any attempt to describe the full scale of pain and devastation and death caused by the Trump administration would exceed the time and tolerance I have today.
- Separated families
- Put immigrant children in cages
- Packed courts with young, unqualified conservative judges
- Slashed rules that protect workers on the job
- Snatched overtime pay from millions of workers
- And tried to stick a knife in collective bargaining rights
Nearly 100,000 Americans have died during this coronavirus pandemic, while he has tried to sabotage public health guidelines and smother the truth to advance his own selfishness political interests. Let me make it plain: The current Occupant in the White House has wrapped himself in white nationalism and stoked the racial anxiety of a population that sees itself shrinking, but still the center of America – its past, present and future.
He has told four American congresswomen of color to “go back to where they came from.” In just the past week, he has reposted racist tweets from one of his supporters who has called Senator Kamala Harris a “ho”; Stacey Abrams “Shamu”, and cable tv host Joy Reid “a skank.” Trump is obsessed with demonizing his predecessor, Barack Obama, who has the audacity of being competent and running a scandal-free White House for eight years.
It really boils down to this question: Will four more years of Donald Trump benefit this country or your family?
Now, don’t misunderstand, we’re not yearning for a return to some sanitized “normal.” Not when normal means a status quo that never worked for us. The crisis triggered by the coronavirus has exposed deep inequalities in our society. This is our moment to help America imagine a society that leans forward, putting working people at the center of power and racial and gender equity on the table.
Just imagine the doors of possibility we can open with a reliable ally in the White House. Joe Biden’s Lift Every Voice Plan for Black America is a good starting point to envision a post-Trump America that has the leadership and a blueprint to tackle urgent and systemic inequities. His plan, for example, calls for:
- Premium pay for frontline workers in the pandemic
- A rent freeze for the duration of the crisis and a halt to foreclosures and evictions
- A $15 minimum wage for all workers
- Increased subsidies to Obamacare
- Student debt relief
- And a boost Social Security benefits for vulnerable recipients
We look forward to engaging the Biden campaign to refine this plan and to embrace new ideas. One area where we have particular interest in having a broader conversation is criminal justice reform.
Earlier this week, Americans were shocked – again – by the brutal murder of a black man in the custody of Minneapolis police officers. Black folks are enraged and struggling to hold it together. George Floyd was lynched, on the ground, when a cop pressed his knee on his neck and ignored his pleas for air for 10 MINUTES, until he drew his last breath.
And for what? Murder? Robbery? Stealing? No. He was only “suspected” of trying to pass a fake $20 bill. “Suspected.” Now he’s dead and his family is grieving.
George Floyd is just the most recent victim of white supremacy wearing a badge. It is not enough that the four officers involved in his death have been fired. The family, the community, and their allies around the country, like CBTU, demand swift, firm, and equivalent justice.
But the larger issue here is that more and more police departments are functioning like death squads. In March, white plainclothes police in Louisville burst in an apartment – without a search warrant – and shot Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman, at least EIGHT TIMES, killing her. Neither Breonna nor George deserved to die at the hands of white police.
We need to root out every single police officer affiliated with white supremacist groups or chat networks. During the Obama-Biden administration, the FBI had an office that was responsible for identifying white supremacist police officers. When Trump took office in 2017, he re-assigned them to focus exclusively on Muslims. Surprise, surprise.
CBTU calls upon Joe Biden to commit today to reestablishing that office in his first 100 days in office, after he’s elected. We also ask him to pledge to provide that office with adequate funding to purge white supremacists from police departments. The next president must lead the eradication of white supremacists from law enforcement at every level. We hope Joe Biden is up to that task.
CBTU’s endorsement is more than a choice between competing visions for America’s future. It’s a call to action NOW to black workers across the country. We cannot afford to drift through the summer and hope to mobilize the massive turnout in our unions and communities that will deliver victory on Election Day. The fluctuating scenarios of campaigning and voting require early and sustained engagement.
These past 3 ½ years have been difficult to survive – even with prayer. And now COVID19 has pushed us all to the brink. But like other points in our history when we were nearly broken by racial violence or suffocated by poverty, the 2020 election presents us with an opportunity to rise above the hate and divisiveness. Yes, even as we bear the brunt of this horrible pandemic, we must seize the torch of hope and light the way to the polls -- or the mailbox. We deserve to be taken seriously as the most consistent working-class voters for Democratic candidates.
CBTU will take the field in battleground states and across the nation. We will use all our resources to elect Joe Biden, keep the House, take the Senate, and shift the balance of power in statehouses toward worker-friendly progressive elected officials.
America, get ready – a shift is coming!
Click here to watch the endorsement
Do you like this page?