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OP-ED: All Eyes on Georgia

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Come January 20, 2021, we will have a new President of the United States in Joseph Biden and the first female African American Vice President Kamala Harris. This election was a hard-fought, intense race full of division and emotion. But in the end, as a record number of voters turned out (in person and via mail), it was a fair and legal vote that now gives us a leader who has been a long-time friend of labor, and an individual who represents much needed progress for this country. I want to thank all my brothers and sisters from coast to coast for making sure our voices were heard in this election.

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So please, if you live in Georgia, participate in this election. If you do not live in Georgia, consider finding a way to make your own good trouble: assist through phone banking or offer assistance to organizations supporting the Warnock and Ossoff campaigns. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
So please, if you live in Georgia, participate in this election. If you do not live in Georgia, consider finding a way to make your own good trouble: assist through phone banking or offer assistance to organizations supporting the Warnock and Ossoff campaigns. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

Senate Control Crucial for the Nation

By Ray Curry, Secretary-Treasurer, UAW

These days, like the old Ray Charles song says, I’ve got Georgia on My Mind. We should all be thinking of Georgia because come January 5, the state is positioned to make a tremendous change for the better — a change that will give President-Elect Joe Biden the opportunity for real legislation and real reform; for lasting and potent legislative buy-in to make laws once again (and it has been a while now!) in service to the people. Laws that address issues important to the working men and women of this nation: healthcare, the economy, health and safety, equal justice for all, the environment, and the right to organize. And a real plan to take COVID-19 head on with a coordinated nationwide policy to address the ill effects, including relief for both businesses and the millions of sidelined workers who are just trying to hang on.

Come January 20, 2021, we will have a new President of the United States in Joseph Biden and the first female African American Vice President Kamala Harris. This election was a hard-fought, intense race full of division and emotion. But in the end, as a record number of voters turned out (in person and via mail), it was a fair and legal vote that now gives us a leader who has been a long-time friend of labor, and an individual who represents much needed progress for this country. I want to thank all my brothers and sisters from coast to coast for making sure our voices were heard in this election.

Now however, we must collectively stand and fight with him. Simply put, there is still much to do to ensure that the President-Elect has the ability to accomplish his restorative plan. Biden’s plan includes working together during this pandemic to find solutions, battling the current devastating economic and health care challenges, and continuing our fight for workplace rights and safety.

Accomplishing this critical work must include control of the Senate — which has been held by Republicans since 2015, and has in that time, often served as a barrier to progress rather than a forward-thinking channel for progress. And it is down in Blue Georgia (never thought I would be saying that, but Sister Stacey Abrams knew) that we have the opportunity to remove that roadblock.

What’s a runoff?

On election day, neither of Georgia’s Republican senators drew a majority vote. This moves both of their races to special rematches taking place in January. The outcome will determine control of the Senate and if we have a legislature that works together for working people — and with our President. Or it will determine that the political stalemate we have now continues; that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will keep things in the same go nowhere circle we have had for years.

A runoff election is required, under Georgia law, if candidates do not receive a majority (50% or more) of the vote. The Georgia runoff will occur on January 5, 2021. The results — depending on who wins — will swing the Senate majority to Democrats or leave McConnell and the Republicans in charge.

It’s the difference between do something or do nothing.

What’s at stake?

Georgia Senate Democratic candidates, Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, will go head-to-head with Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in two separate runoffs. Warnock and Ossoff have been endorsed by the UAW because they are the best choice for UAW members, retirees, and their families. They are the best choice for America, and the best choice for labor.

Both candidates understand that two essential things that must happen, and must happen quickly to address the economic and health care crisis in this country:

  • From the very beginning, Ossoff and Warnock have taken the pandemic very seriously. Together — working with the new president and fellow Congressional members — they will work to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control to save lives and get people fully back to work.
  • Warnock and Ossoff also understand that the economy isn’t working for working people. They will work to repeal tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. They will encourage bringing back our jobs from overseas. Additionally, they will protect the Social Security and Medicare benefits we earned, defend our pensions and 401(k)s, and make it easier for workers to organize and form a union.

On the flipside, their opponents — Loeffler and Perdue — both support more than $24 billion cuts to Social Security and $500 billion cuts to Medicare. More importantly, they have both used the dire circumstances of a global pandemic to their benefit as both were caught red-handed making insider stock deals based on information about the severity of the pandemic that they kept from the public. Not exactly a move that gives you faith in their ability to serve on the behalf of the citizens they represent.

So, the good trouble that we must make this time around is going back home to the place where good fighting got it its name. This is a historic moment in our history and Georgia holds the key. If Democrats gain both Georgia seats, the 50-50 tie in the Senate will mean that Vice President-Elect Harris will cast tie-breaking votes, carrying out a pro-labor agenda.

Given the rise in COVID-19 cases, President-Elect Biden must be able to make immediate decisions and pass legislation that address the challenges we all face and make tough decisions to protect all working Americans.

Georgians, please vote!

So please, if you live in Georgia, participate in this election. If you do not live in Georgia, consider finding a way to make your own good trouble: assist through phone banking or offer assistance to organizations supporting the Warnock and Ossoff campaigns.

On January 5, the entire country is looking to Georgia to make an essential difference in the future of our nation. We are looking to voters to elect candidates that will protect retirement security, rebuild our economy and implement a national plan to respond to the pandemic. The outcome of this election will affect every single person in this nation for decades to come.

Let us send our hearts and minds south this January. Let us get back to work for working men and women. Let us take an old sweet song and make it America’s. Georgia On My Mind.

President, UAW

Ray Curry was elected President of the UAW on June 28, 2021 by the International Executive Board upon the retirement of UAW President Rory L. Gamble. Curry officially assumed the office of president on July 1, 2021 and will serve out the remainder of the term until June 2022. Elected UAW Secretary-Treasurer at the 37th Constitutional Convention in June 2018, Curry was instrumental in implementation of broad financial ethics reforms and oversight as part of the UAW’s Ethics Reforms Initiative.

Curry was elected Director of UAW Region 8 in June 2014 at the 36th UAW Constitutional Convention in Detroit after having served four years as the region’s assistant director.

As Region 8 director, Curry was instrumental in securing new labor agreements with various parts suppliers. In July 2015, under his leadership, the region successfully organized the first gaming bargaining unit of Region 8 as part of a coalition of four other unions to represent the Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore, Maryland. In October 2017, the combined coalition reached its first individual collective bargaining agreements. UAW Local 17 represents the table dealers. Under Curry’s leadership, the region also won an election for representation at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, in June 2018, bringing 1,250 new members into the union.

A North Carolina native and military veteran, Curry served three years on active duty in the U.S. Army and five years in the U.S. Army Reserve.

He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration / Finance. He holds a Master of Business Administration, MBA, degree from the University of Alabama.

Curry joined the UAW in July 1992, when he was hired as a truck assembler at Freightliner Trucks in Mount Holly, North Carolina, (now Daimler Trucks, NA) and later became a quality assurance inspector. He remained in that position until 2004. He served on the local’s civil rights committee and as a delegate for the area A. Philip Randolph Chapter. From 1998 to 2004, UAW Local 5285 members elected him to serve in numerous leadership positions, including as UAW Constitutional Convention delegate, chairman of the trustees, financial secretary-treasurer and alternate committeeperson. He also served as chairman of the UAW North Carolina State Political Action Committee, executive board vice president of the North Carolina AFL-CIO and as a UAW member organizer on the 2003 and 2004 Freightliner organizing drives in Cleveland, Gastonia and High Point, North Carolina.

In October 2004, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger appointed him as an International representative assigned to Region 8. His assignment as a servicing representative included aerospace, automotive (Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors facilities), heavy truck, and numerous automotive supplier locations in Alabama and Tennessee. He was responsible for collective bargaining, arbitration, organizing, political action and other bargaining-unit assignments. In June 2010, he was appointed Region 8 assistant director by then–Region 8 Director Gary Casteel.

Curry was elected as a 2012 Democratic National Convention alternate delegate on behalf of the state of Tennessee and later became a full voting delegate at the convention.

He is the 2017 recipient of the A. Philip Randolph Leon Lynch Lifetime Achievement Award, 2017 recipient of the Tennessee State AFL-CIO Presidential Award, the 2018 PR Latta Rank and File Award from the North Carolina AFL-CIO, as well as the 2019 National Newspaper Press Association’s National Leadership Award.

A longtime grassroots activist, Curry is a member of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Nashville, a Silver Life member of the NAACP, and member of the national NAACP Board of Directors. He is also an active member of numerous community and social organizations including but not limited to the Michigan State Democratic Party, American Legion Post 177 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Unique Masonic Lodge #85, Charlotte Consistory #35, and Rameses Temple #51 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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