How can unions help create a social movement to take on Wall Street’s economic and political dominance?

That’s the question that the Communications Workers (CWA) are tackling with labor educator Les Leopold. The training program they’ve put together, based on his book Runaway Inequality: An Activist’s Guide to Economic Justice, has already reached hundreds of union members and community activists in a dozen states—where it’s getting rave reviews and helping fuel the growth of local coalitions.

On Saturday, September 8, the CWA’s training program came to Camden. Sponsored by Local 1014 and 1084 and offered in the Local 1084 offices, the program was open to both union members and the broader Camden community.

Participants got a crash course in the rapidly growing gap between the super-rich and ordinary workers. They learned how the ever-growing power of hedge funds and private equity managers has put our government in thrall to the billionaire class and contributed to environmental devastation, racial discrimination, an outsized prison population, and plummeting wages.

 The training was about showing the interconnectedness between all the issues that face people and showing how they’re tied together through this runaway inequality, financial strip-mining model.

By building a common understanding of the problems we face—that, as one chapter of the book puts it, “everything is connected to everything else” and an injury to one is an injury to all—the program aims to build a cross-movement alliance that can take on the economic and political elite. Instead of the unions doing what they do, and the Fight for 15 doing what they do, the environmentalists doing what they do, and so on, we have to back each other up—like in the 50’s and 60’s with the civil rights movement. Different groups got together to make it happen.

To turn their new knowledge into action, participants were encouraged to participate in the election campaign of Andy Kim who is running against Tom MacArthur in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District. MacArthur was responsible for rescuing the effort of the House Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as “Obamacare”, by adding provisions which would have eliminated coverage for preexisting conditions and allowed higher premiums for older Americans. Although his effort was ultimately unsuccessful, he has not given up. He also was the only member of Congress from New Jersey (both Democrats and Republicans) to vote for Trump’s Tax Cut which provided huge tax breaks to the rich while resulting in increased overall taxes to many residents in New Jersey. Andy Kim spoke briefly at the event on his vision of America which includes Medicare for all, free college education for everyone qualified to attend and full support for unions and working families. Kim has refused corporate campaign contributions and has still outraised MacArthur. The polls indicate the race is currently tied. Local 1014 will be sponsoring a “Labor Walk” day in District 3 on September 29. For additional information, contact the Local 1014 office.

(Additional photos from event)