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The Point: Labor and Democracy


I cannot too often repeat that Democracy is a word the real gist of which still sleeps, quite unawakened, notwithstanding the resonance and the many angry tempests out of which its syllables have come, from pen or tongue. It is a great word, whose history, I suppose, remains unwritten because that history has yet to be enacted.

--Walt Whitman

Greetings, Colleagues:

We send you warmest wishes and the steadfast hope that you are experiencing good health and some measure of peace in your life.

What you will find here is an adaptation of a resolution sent to us by SEIU Local 509, a union of 20,000 members including many educators (at Brandeis, Northeastern, and elsewhere) and human service workers. While we have made some changes to the language of the original resolution our basic position is in complete alignment with theirs: labor must defend democracy and oppose authoritarianism.

As scholars, teachers, librarians—as citizens of the Commonwealth—we must remain committed to the defense of democratic rights and the institutions and aspirations of democracy regardless of party affiliation in our nation.  This has become especially true in what has to be called a crisis moment for the safeguarding of our core institutions—the depredations of COVID-19, white supremacy, the climate emergency, and the drastic inequality of wealth and power are taking a deep and daily toll on the basic workings of our democracy.

We are especially alarmed by efforts from the President and his minions to dismantle key elements of our democratic infrastructure, not least of which is the United States Postal Service.  Brazen acts of voter suppression, from the street level to the Supreme Court, and concerted efforts to circulate misinformation have sowed mistrust in the integrity of our national elections.   The President and the Vice President have refused to affirm that they will respect the outcome of the vote and concede should they lose.

The labor movement has historically played a central role in affirming, protecting, and expanding democracy and opposing authoritarianism not only in the United States but around the world.  The Executive Committee of the FSU joins with our comrades in SEIU Local 509, and with locals around the country, standing firmly in opposition to any efforts to subvert, distort, misrepresent, or disregard the final outcome of the 2020 elections.  Union members across the political spectrum are united in a fundamental belief that the votes of the American people must always determine the presidency and all elected positions. 

The most powerful tool of the labor movement in our history has been to join with one another, organize, and stand in solidarity. Here is one look at how unions around the country are already  discussing the proper response to any attempts to delegitimize the election.  The Executive Committee of the FSU resolves to work in collaboration with other labor unions and progressive forces to take whatever actions we can to protect those in our community—especially those already vulnerable to economic, racial, or cultural oppression—from threats related to election-related violence. We urge our membership to stay safe, vigilant, and committed to the Constitution and to our democratic institutions.  We will do our part to keep you informed of actions you can take to protect our democracy.

It has become a standard sign off at meetings, over email, and on phone calls during the pandemic to say “stay safe.”  But we can only each be safe if all of us are safe.

This is your union: please tell us at how you think we all should confront the ongoing legitimacy crisis facing our key democratic institutions.


Faculty Staff Union Executive Committee

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