The Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO stands with its sisters and brothers in the Labor Movement in mourning the senseless loss of life that occurred in the early hours of Sunday, June 12, in Orlando, and prays for the recovery of the victims, the community, the city and the nation
Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka,
Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler,
Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre
Bayard Rustin said to be afraid is to behave as if the truth were not true. We in the labor movement are not afraid. We are resolved to do everything in our power to make sure this never happens again. The truth as we know it is both devastating and infuriating. Forty-nine souls were lost in a cowardly act of violence. These are our brothers, sisters and friends. At least one was our member.
For the LGBTQ community, clubs like Pulse are a space where people can feel safe and be their true selves. Sunday’s horrific act is a reminder of how fragile that safety can be. While we have made undeniable progress toward equality, too many in our country still face derision, discrimination and violence. These flames of hatred have been fanned by those in public life who want to marginalize an entire group of people for political gain. It’s despicable and it must stop.
But this was more than just an attack on the LGBTQ community. The victims were overwhelmingly young and Latino. Sunday’s massacre was an assault on everything our movement stands for: equality, justice, solidarity and inclusion.
It was also an extraordinarily difficult situation for our first responders, who had the traumatic job of sorting the dead from the living, effectively working in a war zone. We thank the police, firefighters and health care providers who saved lives and continue to care for the injured. We will stand with them in the trying days ahead.
Labor is one big family, made up of people of all races, religions, genders, sexual orientations and gender identities. As a family, we will work to provide comfort to our brothers and sisters in Orlando and across the United States. And we will make it our daily mission to ensure America’s workplaces and union halls are safe and free from bigotry.
There will be some who try to use this tragedy to further divide us, to pit communities against each other and scapegoat entire faith traditions. Let us be perfectly clear: giving in to division and fear will only add insult to injury. This is a moment for us to come together, embrace our common humanity and take the necessary steps to make our country safer, stronger and more united.
Statement by Rev. Terry Melvin
President, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
Shakespeare once asked “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” How I wish that were true. Instead we live in an age where what we call something is how we define its treatment. When we wanted to steal indigenous lands this country called them savages. When we wanted to keep Africans in slavery this country called them heathens. When we wanted to keep the Irish out this country called them Black. When we wanted to keep Blacks in permanent incarceration this country called them criminals. And when we wanted to dehumanize the LGBT community this country has called them sinners, pedophiles, and bestiality lovers. We used these words to deny them service in the military, careers in the Boy Scouts, and access to bathrooms. Yesterday we saw how these words grow from an idea into mass violence.
This language has given permission to people to hate openly and freely. And this language was used to justify the brutal and vicious mass murder of so many innocent Brothers and Sisters just enjoying life. We at CBTU stand in solidarity with the mourners, we stand in support of the justice seekers, and we hang our heads in disbelief as we witnessed the largest mass murder in US history. This is not an Islam problem. This is not an ISIS problem. This is a Hate Problem. And in America this hate finds shelter – born, bred, and raised in the language of discrimination we silently cosigned by never challenging it.
The lexicons of hate, the names we use to describe the “Other,” are all fruit of the poisonous tree that flowered into the violence we saw yesterday. Some will call this an Islamic terrorist attack, but the public support of many non-Muslims (namely Christians) in condoning the act proves this has nothing to do with Islam. This problem is ours; it’s as American as Apple Pie and as vicious as the Salem Witch Trials. We dehumanized a whole population and then wonder how they could be exterminated so heartlessly. This is what America has become. Our hate has found guns, and now our guns are finding bodies to put in the ground.
CBTU knows all too well what happens when we stay silent on these matters. We are all too familiar with the outcome if we blame some foreign religion or body. It means a continued perpetuation of violence and hate. Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered, Queer, Bi-Sexual, whatever your self-identification is it does not replace the fact that you’re a human. That you’re my brother and sister. That you have value and we love you. CBTU stands against words and acts of hate. We condemn the violence in Orlando and publicly shame those who silently support this senseless act of hate. The real crime is that we have so many words to promote hate and so few voices fighting for equality and love. We love you Orlando. We love all our brothers and sisters. We stand in solidarity with all the oppressed communities and especially with our LGBT family.