The American people have faced stagnant wages and rising inequality for decades. Many Americans voted for Donald Trump or decided not to vote at all because Democrats failed to communicate effectively with working people and turn out the vote – end of story. The fact is that shouldn’t have happened. The Democratic Party has long been the Party of working people, and needs to do a better job of making that case. No one knows this better than Keith Ellison, and we are proud to endorse him as the next Chair of the Democratic National Committee.
These are extremely challenging times. President Trump has put forward a nominee for Labor Secretary who openly disdains workers. Congressional Republicans are readying plans to roll back worker protections, repeal the Affordable Care Act and end Medicare as we know it. And in state capitals across the country, the assault on workers and unions has been fierce and swift. Now more than ever, working people need public servants who will stand up and fight for better jobs, higher wages, good benefits and a voice at work.
Keith knows how to win elections, and has a track record of defeating anti-worker forces wherever they are. When Keith was first elected to Congress in 2006, his district had the lowest turnout in Minnesota. Voters just didn’t feel engaged. They didn’t feel like they mattered. Keith decided to do something about it: he organized. He knocked on as many doors as possible. With labor at his side, he talked about the issues that mattered to people. It worked. Since Keith began his grassroots voter turnout campaign, his district is the highest performing in the state. And on top of all this, he’s been getting pro-worker candidates elected from the school board to the U.S. Senate, traveling to nearly 30 states just last cycle.
When nurses went on strike to keep their health insurance, Keith was there. When communications workers went on strike to protest pension cuts, Keith was there. When hotel workers went on strike for a decent wage, Keith was there.
He hasn’t done this alone. Keith has always organized alongside working people. He’s marched on our picket lines and offered support to our members. When nurses went on strike to keep their health insurance, Keith was there. When communications workers went on strike to protest outsourcing and pension cuts, Keith was there. When hotel workers went on strike to stand up for a decent wage, Keith was there.
Each and every time, he’s pounded the pavement, not for some sort of political benefit, but to stand in solidarity with those who want a better life for ourselves and our families.
That’s who Keith is, and that’s precisely why he’s long been a friend of labor – especially in the halls of Congress. He’s voted to increase the minimum wage, advocated for better working conditions and proposed a bill to make union organizing a civil right. As Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus, he’s used his microphone over and over again to speak up when unions or working people have come under attack. Simply put, labor has the strongest possible ally in Keith-someone whose primary focus is to create opportunity for all and grow the middle class, regardless of what you look like, where you were born, or who you are.
And now that he’s running for DNC Chair, he’s not wavering in his commitment to us–not one bit. He understands that many working people voted for Donald Trump because the Democratic Party didn’t make a compelling enough case. He understands we are hungry for political leaders that listen to us and work with us, and that labor’s agenda will always lead our politics, not the other way around. With Keith at the helm of one of America’s two major political parties, working people will be in a much better position to have our issues advanced and our concerns heard.
Both of us have been a part of the labor movement for decades, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. But we’re not in the business of mincing words. Tough days lie ahead for working people. And so, it is more important than ever that we have a leader who will stand up, fight, organize and win.
There is no doubt in our minds: Keith Ellison is the person for the job. He has our strong support. We encourage you to give him yours, as well.
Richard Trumka is president of the 12.5 million member AFL-CIO, America’s labor federation.. Maria Elena Durazo is a Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, and a General Vice President of UNITE HERE.
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