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November 3: So much at stake in this election

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Our courts are deteriorating quickly to an anti-worker mindset. Over the past four years, two very conservative Supreme Court justices have been appointed, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, moving the Court further to the right and further away from protecting our rights.  And a third anti-labor judge will likely be railroaded through in advance of the election.  In addition, more than 50 judges for the United States Courts of Appeals, more than 135 judges for the United States District Courts, and two judges for the United States Court of International Trade have been appointed during the current term. In consequence of these numerous court appointments, our courts are turning in a detrimental way against fair labor practices and human rights. Through your vote in November, you can help fend off further anti-labor control of decisions and policy.

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By Ray Curry

Vote! I cannot say it any simpler or say it enough.

Vote to restore government for the people, by the people; vote to preserve our threatened middle class; vote for America’s workers by voting for an America that works; vote up and down the ballot and vote union blue.

Sisters and brothers, I have to say that never before has there been so much at stake for the American people than in this election. From constitutional court decisions affecting human, civil and worker rights, to the ability to safely exercise our right to vote … all are on the line.  Our current way of life, fought for and worked for over so many decades, is being threatened. Ruled by the rich for the rich sure is not looking out for those of us who work for a living.

Together we can readjust America’s light to again shine on a united future — the way it was intended to be.

Here is what makes your vote so critical. Consider the issues that your ballot will impact by helping to elect representatives who support labor and the American worker —

Who represents us in the courts?

Our courts are deteriorating quickly to an anti-worker mindset. Over the past four years, two very conservative Supreme Court justices have been appointed, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, moving the Court further to the right and further away from protecting our rights.  And a third anti-labor judge will likely be railroaded through in advance of the election.  In addition, more than 50 judges for the United States Courts of Appeals, more than 135 judges for the United States District Courts, and two judges for the United States Court of International Trade have been appointed during the current term. In consequence of these numerous court appointments, our courts are turning in a detrimental way against fair labor practices and human rights. Through your vote in November, you can help fend off further anti-labor control of decisions and policy.

Who is watching out for us?

Since the 2016 election, there have been several disturbing anti-labor appointees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the government agency that enforces labor law as it relates to collective bargaining and unfair labor practice charges. This includes officials like William Emanuel, a labor lawyer at the notorious anti-worker law firm Littler Mendelson.  He is, most certainly, no friend to labor and his voting record shows it.  And we must not forget the appointment of Eugene Scalia last fall to Secretary of Labor. The New Yorker magazine has called him “a wrecking ball for labor.”

And consider that on February 6, 2020, the House of Representatives passed the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which would significantly restore workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively.  However, the Senate has failed to even allow a vote, let alone, pass the PRO Act. The UAW has endorsed the PRO Act and we must work to see that it is passed.

Protect our right to vote

Your very right to vote in this, and every election is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. It is a fundamental aspect of living in this democracy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, making our way to the polls has been a concern for many. Mail-in and absentee ballots are a viable option for a safe, secure election. However, we have seen:

  • Challenges to states’ rights and roles in overseeing the presidential election.
  • Opposed election aid for states to run safe elections with
    COVID-19 restrictions in place.
  • Opposition to funding to make elections safe and secure, including a $25 billion emergency funding bill for the U.S. Postal Service and a Democratic proposal to provide $3.6 billion in additional election funding to the states.

Keep us safe

That the current management of the pandemic favors the Chamber of Commerce interests over that of the labor force is clearly illustrated in the response to the COVID-19 crisis. Among the anti-worker, anti-safety steps taken:

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) refused to issue any required measures — via an emergency temporary infectious disease
  • standard — to protect workers from the virus.
  • OSHA is also failing to enforce the Occupational Safety and Health Act during the pandemic. Despite over 9,000 complaints from workers about unsafe working conditions from COVID-19, the agency issued only four citations for failure to protect workers as of August.
  • Petitions by unions representing affected workers and by the AFL-CIO for mandatory rules to protect workers from exposure to the coronavirus on the job were rejected.

Guide us out of this crisis

This terrible pandemic has been devastating on so many levels and recovery from the economic, public health and employment impact of the virus will take years. We need strong leadership to guide our country out of this crisis. Now, more than ever, it is time to use our right to vote to let our voices be heard. When UAW members vote, when labor votes, we win. If we stay home, we are silent and powerless and we enable those who would work against us.

Brothers and Sisters there are no excuses. Voting by mail is easy and safe. Dropping your ballot at the city clerk’s office or at a voting ballot drop box is easy and safe. You can vote early.  Or you can do it at the polls on November 3rd. But however you choose to vote, please vote. Don’t let anything or anyone stand in your way.

Our way of life is at stake.

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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