Tuesday, January 22, 2013

President's Inaugural Address Resonates With Trade Unionists

President Obama
President Obama
22JAN13: President Obama’s inaugural address was particularly relevant for Guild members and local representatives continuing to negotiate for fair contracts at WPIX, Scholastic, Consumer’s Union, the Jersey Journal, and beginning preparations for upcoming contract negotiations at Standard & Poor’s.
Yesterday our President reaffirmed the promise of our democracy. He recalled that;  

“what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

President Obama asserted that;

Dr. King marches in Memphis
Dr. King marches in Memphis
“history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.”

With those sentiments in mind, we must reaffirm our commitment to the struggle, not only for a fair share of the fruits of our labor, remembering President Obama’s words; “…a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play,” but for the safety, dignity, and prosperity of all working people everywhere.

President Obama said; “we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.”

Collective Action, people coming together to work for a common purpose, has always been a core value of the American labor movement.

As it was when Dr. King marched in Memphis in support of public works employees, represented by AFSCME Local 1733, striking for higher wages and better treatment; as it was when Occupy Wall Street began the struggle for corporate accountability; so it is today, as The Guild continues to fight for safe working conditions, fair wages and benefits, and the right to continue to represent those who know the value of collective action.

I never thought I’d live to see an African American President, nor hear any President speaking out on behalf of equal rights for all so eloquently; 

“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”

Our hard earned rights and liberties may be self evident, but they are not self perpetuating. They require our continued, collective efforts to protect and grow our share of the American Dream.

So, as our President said so well at the dawn of his second term yesterday;
“With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.”

In Solidarity,

Bob Daraio
Local Representative
The Newspaper Guild of New York
CWA Local 31003

TNG-CWA Local 31003 banner

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