Unions Know How to Fight This; Let's Stand Together

Via The Texas AFL-CIO Daily Email News - March 16th, 2020

The spread of coronavirus is a major crisis. The way through the crisis has a character that working families, particularly those in the labor movement, understand readily.

At long last, a broad cross-section of America is saying, again and again, "We are in this together." Unions have long known that when we speak together and act together with one voice, we gain power. As working people heed warnings based on science, we all gain power to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

With the coronavirus, an injury to one can literally become an injury to all. As union members, we internalize that maxim at work and beyond.

The battle against the coronavirus may take months or years to win. The labor movement, which often works decades for progress, knows that persistence is everything, no matter the setbacks.

As we take in information from physicians and other experts, the dread lies in the imponderables. How dangerous is the virus? Deadlier than the flu, with higher danger to older people and those with underlying medical conditions. How bad will this get? Experts have suggested it will get much worse before it gets better. How long will it take? Could be weeks, months or longer, depending on many factors. What is the economic impact? Already devastating to the travel industry, the entertainment industry, the restaurant industry and the sports world, with more to come. Hard times are visiting many working families.

The way out is to act together. The union movement lives that approach, but we would be deluding ourselves if we pretended to have all the answers or the power to fix things on our own. We can do what we can where we can, and do our level best to make the best use of our resources. The Texas AFL-CIO, the Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federation, and our affiliated unions are working in the arenas we know best, but this pandemic is already introducing new topics into our vocabulary. We cannot know all the twists and turns ahead, but we can act together to face them.

Along with our first instinct of advocating for health, safety and limits on catastrophic economic harm, we thank working people whose jobs have inevitably placed them at higher risk. First Responders, nurses and others in health care, federal, state and local employees who directly serve clients and customers, and anyone whose work puts them in direct contact with other humans are doing everything in their power to get their essential jobs done while avoiding transmission of the virus. We honor the frontline workers' expertise, experience, character and courage.

The health and safety of all Texans depends on observing rules of hygiene that will inconvenience all of us in a higher cause. For the state labor federation, avoiding contact means that except in unusual circumstances, we will be working from home, certainly for the next two weeks, maybe longer. Union meetings have been postponed, as the Centers for Disease Control suggests even crowds of 10 or more are problematic. If you remain healthy, please observe the hand-washing, social distancing and other precautions you can take if, knock on wood, you do not have the virus (and because of a too-slow rollout of testing, only a tiny fraction of Texans know for sure one way or the other). If you are ill, you know this situation is not as simple as going to a doctor or an emergency room.

The national AFL-CIO has posted well-vetted, accurate and updated information on what to do at https://aflcio.org/covid-19. The Centers for Disease Control has posted useful information here: https://bit.ly/2Uaur8X

We will remain in this together, in solidarity and in alliance with others. Let us know how we can help.