Olivia Handoko ’21 | News Staff Writer
Every year, the Pioneer Valley Central Labor Council hosts a “Legislative Breakfast”: an event where community members discuss their concerns over labor issues with legislative leaders and lawmakers. With events like these, the Labor Council strives to become a more inclusive and representative union of all members of the Pioneer Valley. Their current mission states that:
“We are the working men and women of the Pioneer Valley. We stand together with anyone committed to our mission to achieve social justice and improve the quality of life for everyone living here. We accomplish our mission by organizing ourselves and with others to gain a stronger, more powerful voice on the job and in the community. By uniting to offset the clout of the well-connected, by fighting together to secure livelihoods that provide us with dignity and respect, and by pooling our resources to further our collective action, we aim to reach our common goal of building the Pioneer Valley into a community that allows each of us to reach our full potential.”
From its findings to its current standing, the Council holds a mission to become the voice for the diverse groups of union workers here in the Pioneer Valley. The Valley, which has a rapidly growing Hispanic community and is a known “hub” for the LGBTQ community, is full of people from marginalized communities whose daily concerns revolve around how those communities are treated. Issues such as the President’s immigration laws and views on the LGBTQ community weigh on these Pioneer Valley residents as they fight for their rights. With the workplace being a place where people experience discrimination, community members can find some relief through events like this one. These breakfasts with a cause are a great way for people in the community to meet with current legislators and lawmakers who are responsible for making decisions regarding their livelihoods. It is also an important get-together where legislators and lawmakers can make better decisions when creating new laws and reflecting on current ones.
Along with several hundred other councils, the Central Labor Council accomplishes their mission of representing all. Altogether, the labor councils make up The American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations, which is the main organizer of all Labor Councils around the nation and represents “…over 13 million union workers and 61 national and international unions.” The Pioneer Valley Labor Council alone holds more than 50 voluntary union workers brought together by the same purpose: to improve the lives of labor workers. These union workers strive to protect workers by advocating for student loan repayments, job trainings and negotiated wages. One example includes a recent strike of 30,000 Los Angeles teachers who fought to bring awareness to the “…daily realities of a neglected and underfunded public school system.” These educators were fighting a variety of issues, including a lack of nurses and overcrowded classrooms. A lack of resources affects not only student performance but also the lives of teachers. Many educators marched relentlessly against an education system that has been broken for too long.
Though the Legislative Breakfast may seem like only a small step towards solving a bigger issue, it is a crucial part of progress. We shouldn’t thank the pancakes and sunny-side up eggs that’ll be present at the breakfast but rather these hard working members whose solidarity creates an unbreakable community of changemakers.