The violence, racism, and authoritarianism of the United States in the age of Trump is coming to a head as the November 3 elections approach. Philadelphia—across the river from our Camden campus and home to a number of members—is one of the main lightning rods.
On Monday, the city became the center of the continuing uprising against racist state violence after police shot and killed a 27-year-old African American man, Walter Wallace Jr., while he was suffering a mental health episode. A video shows the officers were in no danger when they opened fire with a hail of 14 bullets. Protests and furious confrontations with police erupted within hours and continued throughout Tuesday night.
Demonstrations are expected to go on in the coming days. We encourage all of you to show solidarity however you can. If you are in or near Philadelphia, nightly demonstrations have been meeting at 7 p.m. at Malcolm X Park (51st and Pine) in West Philadelphia. Please join us if you can.
Throughout the national reckoning with racism and inequality that began after the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Donald Trump has fanned the flames with law-and-order rhetoric blaming those who protest in outrage for the violence. Trump’s attitude throughout has been bound up with his authoritarian, anti-democratic attitudes that now threaten a peaceful transfer of power if he is defeated.
As we wrote last week, it is labor’s duty to defend democracy as Trump tries to obstruct or overturn the vote. Our Executive Council unanimously passed a resolution committing Rutgers AAUP-AFT to “take whatever nonviolent actions are necessary” if “Donald Trump and his GOP enablers attempt to obstruct, subvert, sabotage, overturn, or reject a fair and complete count of presidential ballots.” A coalition of unions, including the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, AFSCME, SEIU, Unite Here, APWU, and AFT, has organized a protest for November 7 (Independence Hall at 12 noon), and actions in the days before that are in the works.
Again, for those of you in the Philadelphia area, or if you can travel there, we ask you to pledge to join your colleagues if you can; fill out this form and share it.
The Executive Council also passed a resolution endorsing Joe Biden for president. Between now and Election Day, organized labor is planning to reach out to voters in swing states.
In the Philadelphia-Camden area, Unite Here is organizing a Four-Day Blitz to Defeat Trump from October 31 through Election Day—a GOTV canvass going door-to-door in Philadelphia. Before that, there are opportunities for paid canvassing beginning October 31; click here to apply.
The New Jersey AFL-CIO has virtual phone-banking planned Monday through Thursday evenings, and literature drops on Saturday (contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information). The CWA is participating in virtual phone-banking from October 31 through the election; sign up online here to participate.
Todd and Becky
Todd Wolfson, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rebecca Givan, Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
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Find the latest messages to members and union statements here.
Read how Rutgers AAUP-AFT is confronting the crisis here.