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Western Mass. Labor Unions Threaten Strike If Trump Meddles In Election Results

Western Mass Area Labor Federation AFL-CIO Logo
Western Mass Area Labor Federation AFL-CIO

A group that represents more than 30 labor unions and 30,000 workers across Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin and Berkshire counties in Western Massachusetts says it’s ready to strike if President Donald Trump attempts to manipulate the outcome of the election. Lydia Wood of the Western Mass Area Labor Federation AFL-CIO spoke with WAMC about the resolution it released ahead of next week’s vote.

WOOD: This resolution, it's based on similar resolutions that have been passed by Rochester, New York, the Buffalo Central Labor Council. And other unions are starting to take similar action and through resolutions and statements calling for direct action, nonviolent direct action, if necessary, should Trump lose the election but refuse to step down. So this resolution really aims to get us thinking about how we as a labor movement intend to respond in the case of an attempted coup. We believe the labor movement must be ready to defend our democracy and to use our collective power to fight to ensure that every vote is counted, and that the results of the democratic election are respected.

WAMC: Now, when you talk about nonviolent action, what would that look like?

I mean, I think that's very much to be decided. I think the most powerful tool that the labor movement has is a strike. And that the moment this moment of crisis calls for us to consider all the tools working people have at our disposal, if necessary, including withholding our labor to fight to ensure that every vote is counted, and that there is a peaceful transition of power should Trump lose but refuse to step down. We see this- It’s definitely a last resort, but just something to consider. Right now, we're really focused on just preparing and having conversations with each other and with our affiliates, and we'll be having a special meeting the week after the election to talk about next steps.

Are there any precedents from the Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation that could be drawn on in formulating that kind of plan, should it come to that?

I think that we in the labor movement have a lot of experience using our collective power to mobilize. So I think that there's just a lot of internal knowledge that people have for how to do that effectively. So I mean, I don't think we have any precedent around electoral stuff that I know of, for this level of potential action. But we do have the knowledge and the organizing know how.

Now, the press release specifically draws a bead on Donald Trump and his “GOP enablers.” Obviously, out here in Western Massachusetts, there's relatively scant examples of GOP leadership to point at. Can you draw the connection between action here and how that would impact the GOP, should it come to that?

Really, we just want to make sure that every vote gets counted in this election. And I mean, to us, this is less about Trump. If he- If Trump wins this election fair and square, then we obviously respect that. This is much more about just defending the democratic process itself. And I think that will require, in the case of an attempted coup, large-scale action nationally. And we see ourselves as wanting to be part of that process.

What would the benchmarks be to trigger that kind of nonviolent action? Obviously, it would be somewhat of an unprecedented gesture on the part of President Trump, so what exactly would you be looking for, or this group be looking for, as indicators that it's time to take that action?

I think that that's still to be determined. And that's something that we’d determined at our special meeting the week after the election. But I think some of the things we’d be looking for is just attempts to stop the count when all the votes haven't been counted, calling results of election early when votes haven't been counted. Things to basically repress ensuring that every vote that is cast is accounted for.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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