Resilience is Our Strength
Since the last edition of the Journal, we continue to be tested in unprecedented ways – a global health pandemic has already claimed over 175,000 lives in North America alone; 32 million Americans and Canadians are unemployed; and widespread protests have erupted following events that cried out for social justice. Each of these challenges is unique, but all demand that we truthfully confront the reality of our circumstances, then dedicate the resources and take the actions necessary to meet the moment.
The deadly potential of COVID-19 was all too real to BAC members and contractors, who, early on, negotiated social distancing, masks and vigilant hygiene practices to mitigate the spread of the virus on our jobsites. We did not wait for, and never received, leadership from US politicians, some of who belittled COVID-19 as a hoax that would magically disappear. But, while politicians may pretend that hope is a strategy, self-delusion is not an option for us as craftworkers, family members or citizens.
Likewise, as workers who must put food on the table, we need action, not political grandstanding, to counter the devastating economic impact of the pandemic on communities across North America. That is why BAC is fighting hard for assistance to displaced workers, such as healthcare subsidies, pension protection and increased unemployment benefits. The HEROES Act that passed the US House of Representatives months ago contains much of this needed relief but is blocked in the Senate by politicians beholden to corporate interests. (see page 23)
On top of an unprecedented health pandemic and economic freefall, the murder of George Floyd provided the starkest reminder that, though we have come a long way, systemic racism still plays a role in our society. BAC supports the ensuing righteous calls for justice (see page 13). As a union with a long and proud tradition of protesting for workers’ rights, we embrace the right to seek redress through freedom of expression and peaceful protest. We must guard against politicians who would seek to fan the flames of racial division to distract us from their failures to address the COVID-19 crisis and the underlying economic and racial inequities that exacerbated it.
The November elections in the U.S. present us with a stark choice between wishful thinking and real action on behalf of working families. BAC is proud to support Joe Biden for President; he is a true believer in unions as the best advocates for safe workplaces and fair wages. Vice President Biden has a proven record of defending access to healthcare, and he has fought to protect the pensions BAC members and others have earned through a lifetime of hard work. His career-long support for us has earned him our support in return, and we are proud to stand with Joe Biden now as we unite to rebuild this country together.
They say, “prosperity tries the fortunate, adversity the great.” I am confident that this great Union and its members are more than up to the task.
Stay healthy, stay safe!