PITTSBURGH, June 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- United Steelworkers (USW) International President Tom Conway issued the following statement in response to President Trump's threats to deploy the military against peaceful protesters.
"Our nation continues to be torn apart as a result of the persistent, unlawful and unchecked violence against people of color. Now our president finally decided to leave the safety of his White House bunker and address the nation in person instead of through his Twitter account.
"Yet rather than choosing to de-escalate the tensions or deliver a message of unity that recognizes the nation's pain about the ongoing racism and victimization of our fellow citizens at the hands of the police, he instead decided to fan the flames.
"The president of the United States yesterday threatened to amass the military against the protesting citizens and to send armed soldiers into our states, whether the states want them or not.
"We cannot underestimate the danger in his threats.
"When a leader threatens to use the military to quiet our nation's voice of protest, to quell our First Amendment rights, then we are all on shaky ground. We cannot tolerate this sort of intimidation, for those who would seek to quiet even a single voice will find any excuse to do so again and again.
"Our labor movement does not and has never supported the destruction of property that unfortunately has taken place under the cover of these lawful and righteous protests.
"But at a time when our economy is so troubled, when so many are dealing with the uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic and we are all trying to safely get back to work while making sure our families are healthy, we deserve solutions. Instead we get threats.
"Our labor movement was born out of our inherent right to assemble and protest. We exist solely as a result of our right to act collectively and present grievances both in our workplaces and to our government.
"The history of our union is filled with similar incidents of guardsmen and police forces being used against workers. It's not a far stretch to envision expanded use of the military against today's labor movement if we stand by while it happens against these protestors.
"We cannot support a president who threatens such acts against his own citizens. These protestors are justifiably angry, and we share their anger. We will not turn a deaf ear in these desperate times during which so many need so badly to be heard."
The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and health care as well as in the service and public sectors. For more information: www.usw.org.