Like many Americans, I watched the election results in stunned disbelief and quickly sank into sadness and despair, both about the implications for my family personally, concern for those I love and fear for many others I will never know, but who will certainly be impacted by this dramatic turn in the American political landscape. At this point, it’s hard not to feel that this is a nightmare result for those of us concerned about worker’s rights, environmental and labor law, action on climate change and any other number of issues. It took some time to catch my breath, sort through thoughts and feelings trying to make meaning of it all, and figure out how to even begin expressing a vision for moving forward.
I am grateful that Cecelia Gilligan Leto (recipient of the 2016 National COSH Educator Award!) recently shared this video about Tony Mazzocchi.
As Tony prophetically said in the video, “I think we know what the solution is, it’s power.”
“The Man Who Hated Work, And Loved Labor: The Life and Times of Tony Mazzocchi,” by Les Leopold was the first book I read after being offered the director role here with WEC, and I found great inspiration in Les’ summary of Tony’s life. For those not familiar, The Tony Mazzocchi Center had this great bio:
Mazzocchi was appointed OCAW Citizenship-Legislative Director in 1965 and moved to Washington, D. C. In this capacity, he discovered that workers across the country were facing clouds of toxic substances on the shop floor. He developed a national mobilization and educational campaign that led to the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. He also was the first union activist to unite with environmentalists who helped to pass the Clean Air Act and other environmental bills. In addition to these legislative successes, Mazzocchi invented the concepts of “Right to Know” and “Right to Act” for the toxic substances we face at work and was the first unionist to conduct education on global warming.
Especially this year, as WEC celebrates 30 years since our founding (and guards against the dismantling of that progress) it’s instructive to look back to leaders like Tony.
“For our movement, that timepiece of destiny is ticking; and we are past the midnight of despair.
And for our movement, I see a thunderous dawn approaching,
and it’s exclaiming, this is the moment, this is the moment, this is our moment.”
In this moment, with a renewed sense of urgency, WEC is committed to standing with our allies. Let us know how we can support your work and we’ll do our best to show up in solidarity.
In this moment, we’re also moving forward with our newest campaign, Public Need Over Corporate Greed, focused on educating allies about the effects of Wall Street’s financial strip mining on our economy, and empowering action on a state-based policy agenda. We have already lined up some key partners, but we would like to work in partnership with many more organizations. Please get in touch if you’re interested, or apply today to participate in our free Trainer Apprenticeship program.
In our moment, we’ll need a broad-based movement to truly build collective power, protect against the potential onslaught at the federal level, and attempt to address our challenges directly through state-based action. If you want to get involved, please reach out.