Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh (LIUNA) participated in a roundtable with union members at the Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 5 hall in Pittsburgh. Harris and Walsh are heading up a new task force focused on collective bargaining and organizing rights and they went directly to the source—working people. Among the workers they spoke with were Jennifer Chow, a member of the Communications Workers of America (CWA). “People are afraid to go public,” Chow said. “We’re afraid our leadership is going to come at us.” The ability to overcome that fear came from union solidarity. Chow was driven to union activism because she learned that a co-worker at another location earned $40,000 more a year than she did.
Walsh echoed Chow’s story and those of the other workers. Union membership runs in his family. Not only was Walsh a union member before winning election as mayor of Boston, his father and uncle were union members as well. “That union gave my family everything,” he said.
After the event, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder (USW), who chairs the state federation’s Organizing Committee, said: “Vice President Kamala Harris and card-carrying union member U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh participated in a worker organizer and empowerment roundtable today in Pittsburgh. We organize or we die. It’s that simple. And this administration gets it and is fighting for worker rights every day.”
The stories heard by Harris and Walsh emphasize the need for the Senate to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act that would protect and expand the collective bargaining rights that are so important in the stories of Chow, Walsh and so many others.