Labor Notes: Unions Defend Democracy

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Leaders from United Teachers Los Angeles were among those who signed the pledge circulated by Labor Action to Defend Democracy. Pictured here, a banner and some of the 5,000 people who attended the “Count Every Vote” rally in L.A. on November 7, 2020. Photo: UTLA

Reprinted from Labor Notes by nine labor leaders on June 8, 2021.

By late summer 2020, efforts to defeat Trump at the polls were running full-throttle—but many organizers and activists saw that even if these succeeded, the election could still be in peril. A broad array of networks and organizations began planning to defend the results and stop a possible coup. Labor Action to Defend Democracy (LADD) formed to bring union members and leaders into that work. As the election and its aftermath receded, the group took stock of what it had learned and accomplished, and reflected on where to go from here.—Labor Notes Editors

“Labor Action to Defend Democracy came together in the fall of 2020 in response to the growing threat of an attempted coup by Trump and his supporters if the November presidential election did not go his way.

“After four years of relentless lying and distortion from the Trump administration, designed to incite his supporters to violence, we assessed that it was possible that a mass action in the streets could become necessary to defend a fair election. Further, we knew that labor needed to be a part of such actions and prepared to initiate strikes if it became necessary.

“Our choice to invite labor leaders into conversation outside of the institutional structures was informed by the response those institutions had to the Bush-Gore elections of 2000. At that time, national union leadership, instead of organizing workers to stop the stealing of the election, bowed to the wishes of the Democratic Party and did not organize. This time, we wanted labor to be prepared to take action independent of directives from either the AFL-CIO or the Democratic Party. …

Labor Notes 6/8

About Jeffrey Burman 861 Articles
Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at