Pat White, President of the Greater St. Louis Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO issued the following statement in response to executive orders issued by President Donald Trump last week.
Like so many of our brothers and sisters, we were horrified to watch over the last week as the President issued executive orders that threaten to criminalize immigrant communities, increase racial and ethnic profiling, erode due process, and in an affront to our most cherished values, use religion as a litmus test to turn away people seeking protection at our shores. These orders threaten to tear apart the threads that bind our country and our labor movement. Instead of uprooting and deporting our coworkers, neighbors, families and friends, we must bind together in solidarity and fight for policies that will promote real economic and racial justice in our country.
These are hard days for our movement and our members, locally and nationally. Although we don’t often talk about it, the roots of our local movement were planted by Irish and German immigrants who endured persecution. They endured that violence to build the power to fight for work with dignity and demand just working conditions for us and for the sakes of our families. We found strength in our diverse membership in 1978 when we first had to fend off deceptively named Right to Work, as we do in this moment when we find ourselves fighting off the onslaught of Missouri Legislature hostile to the needs of our working families.
We commit ourselves to standing with our brothers and sisters in this moment. Working people have endured worksite and community raids before. We recognize these raids for what they are – an attempt to keep working people afraid and weaken their collective power to join together as labor unions. As a labor movement, we represent thousands of refugee members, as well as the front line service providers who ensure that refugees are properly screened and have their basic human needs addressed. As our political climate grows more divisive, we must reach for each other to deepen solidarity and increase our strength. We will continue to demand that our nation’s leaders take action to lift working people up, rather than making it even harder for us to get ahead. Our country needs more bridges into the middle class, not walls to divide us.