Fight for Working Class Unity
(This article first appeared in the November-December 2017 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
By President Mark Dimondstein
"In Our Unity, Lies Our Strength!” “An Injury to One is an Injury to All!” These are crucial union principles for building a better life for postal, and all, workers.
The corporate rulers know it. They counter our unity and solidarity path with their strategy of “divide and conquer.” As Wall Street strives for maximum profits, there are many fault lines they exploit such as dividing native from foreign born, men from women, white from black, private from public sector, career from non-career and workers here from workers around the world. When they succeed in dividing us – they laugh all the way to the bank!
For unions, a worker, is a worker, is a worker. We are all equal assets to society and to our unions. Workers all want and deserve decent wages and benefits, safe working conditions, respect and dignity, quality and affordable healthcare, dignified retirements and a bright future for coming generations. We have far more in common than we have differences.
Dangerous to workers is the divisiveness, bigotry, intimidation, and race and religious hatred of the KKK, neo-nazis/neo-fascists and the so-called “alt-right.” APWU members and those of good will across the political spectrum are rightly disturbed and outraged by the rising presence and violence of these groups in Charlottesville and elsewhere – and the green light given by the White House.
As history marches on, many younger folks may not be fully aware of the devastation fascism inflicted on the people of the world. The dictionary defines fascism as: “a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism... and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.” Fascism is most notably associated with Hitler-led Nazi Germany. Hitler took power in 1933 promising to “Make Germany Great Again” and rallying the people behind theories of the superiority of the “Aryan Master Race.”
One of Hitler’s first acts was to ban trade unions and persecute, jail and kill unionists. Hitler’s Germany invaded one country after another, leaving tens of millions murdered by the Nazis’ brutal iron heel which crushed those who did not think, talk or look like them.
It took World War II to defeat Nazism and world fascism, but not before Hitler exterminated six million Jewish people in concentration camps (including most of my family) and worked to death millions of slave laborers while German industrialists gained immense profits. 400,000 U.S. soldiers died. Great Britain was relentlessly bombed and lost 500,000 civilians/soldiers. Our other main ally, the Soviet Union, suffered the unfathomable loss of 30 million citizens.
My father, a highly decorated World War II Veteran flying 64 combat missions, was one of many millions who volunteered to defeat world fascism. Following Hitler’s defeat, after incredible suffering and sacrifice, the conventional wisdom was that the horrors of fascism could never happen in the USA. I was raised differently. Growing up, my dad’s words of warning and wisdom were that fascism indeed could happen here.
The recent events in Charlottesville, the emboldened white supremacists and their spewing of race hatred toward African-Americans, Jewish people and immigrants indicate that my dad was right. If we are not vigilant, we can wake up in Nazi America. The 40,000 in Boston who rallied for equality and against the hatemongers certainly give us hope for the future.
What does all this have to do with the APWU? Everything! Fascists are bitter enemies of workers and our unions. Their race and religious bigotry, intimidation and violence are a direct threat to our unity and ability to “stand up and fight back” to save the public Postal Service, win good contracts, gain better working condi- tions, enjoy a better life and live in a more just society. “In Our Unity, Lies Our Strength!”