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‘Pray for the dead — and fight like hell for the living’

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, April 24, 2020

By Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou, President,
Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation

In the words of famed labor organizer Mother Jones: “Pray for the dead — and fight like hell for the living.”

As the days of the COVID-19 pandemic turn over to months, our collective solidarity must only deepen. Workers are sacrificing everything in this moment. We must fight to make sure these sacrifices will result in an economy and a world that is more resilient and more just for all workers.

For some workers, that sacrifice is felt at home, with uncertainty about how to pay rent, teach their children or care for ill family members. Families are facing uncertainty about when or if they will be able to go back to work.

For other workers, that sacrifice is their physical health and even their own lives. Front line essential workers do not have adequate Personal Protective Equipment. These workers undeniably are becoming ill due to workplace exposure. The lack of PPE and workplace safety regulations is literally resulting in people losing their loved ones to this terrible disease.

We will not stand by while businesses rush us back to work so they can use our labor and our lives to protect their bottom lines.

We cannot let these sacrifices we are collectively making bring us back to status quo. We will not stand by while businesses rush us back to work so they can use our labor and our lives to protect their bottom lines.

The labor movement is demanding workers rights and worker safety as a requirement for anyone to step back into a workplace. This includes extending these rights and protections to essential businesses already in operation.

We are approaching two important holidays that can help elevate our message —Workers Memorial Day coming April 28 and International Workers Day (May Day) coming May 1.

This challenging moment in history calls for reflection on how we respect those who are giving everything.

The Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation will participate in virtual events planned for both April 28 and May 1. Our hope is that all of you can join us in the chorus of action and demands for workers rights and workers safety. Visit our website and Facebook page for more information.

But our work won’t stop there. We will continue to fight to lift workers’ voices in workplaces and in the halls of our local, state and federal governments.

We know that calls for austerity will be coming from businesses and economic leaders on the other side of this pandemic—we already are seeing it. But we can counter that with our collective voice.

Our voice as the labor movement should be the answer. Workers are the ones giving all.

Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou was re-elected December 11, 2019 to a second four-year term as president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.

Contact MRLF president Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou at 612-321-5670 or chelsie@minneapolisunions.org.


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