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labor Coalition of Black Trade Unionists President: Choice Is Democracy or Dictatorship

CBTU President Terry Melvin, keynoting CBTU’s 2023 Convention, called out the danger of a 'racist, anti-democratic America' that wants to see Black and Brown people 'eradicated from stories about America’s less than perfect self'.

The choice in the 2024 general election is between democracy and dictatorship, not just between Democratic President Joe Biden and presumed Republican nominee Donald Trump, the White House denizen whom Biden beat four years ago.

So says Terry Melvin, president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and the most outspoken speaker to address the Government Employees (AFGE) Legislative Conference in D.C. on February 12.

The key issue for attendees at the legislative conference was a 7.4% pay raise for federal workers in fiscal 2025, which begins October 1. All the speakers, led by union President Everett Kelley, pushed that cause. Delegates planned a February 13 rally plus lobbying on Capitol Hill about that. The outlook for it is murky.

“It’s getting really impossible to determine what this Congress would do,” Kelley admitted. “Now we’re listening to these little echoes” of Trump and Trumpite goals. Biden seeks a 5.2% hike.

Added veteran Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md.: “The Congress of the United States does not work. The Congress of the United States is deeply divided. The Congress of the United States is deeply divisive and dysfunctional.” That includes using federal workers as Republican political punching bags.

But, this being a presidential election year, that vote’s outcome was on everybody’s minds—including the menace of Trump, the serial misogynist and 91-count-indicted aider, abetter, and orderer of the Jan. 6, 2021, Trumpite U.S. Capitol invasion, insurrection and attempted coup d’etat.

And in 2022, Trump’s lawyers told Colorado courts he’d scrap sections of the U.S. Constitution. Just weeks ago Trump promised he’d become a dictator “but only on day one”—a limit virtually nobody else, including Trumpites, believes.

Which is what led to Melvin’s blunt analysis of the Trumpite, and Republican, threat. “The 2024 election is about the soul of this nation,” Melvin, said.

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“The question on the ballot is whether we save democracy in the United States of America or do we go to a dictatorship?”

Taking us back

“Racism, white supremacy, and xenophobia are all taking us back to pre-civil rights days,” warned Melvin, without mentioning that Trump’s advocacy of such malignant ideas brought their and his adherents out of the woodwork.

Melvin’s latest example of Trump’s stranglehold on the Republicans—and, in turn, on the republic—was the recent bipartisan “deal” on immigration which senators of both parties reached, and which gave in to most GOP demands for strong anti-migrant measures.

And then one on the Republican side, Trump said ‘Don’t sign (actually vote for) for that bill.’ And the Republicans turned around. The House Republicans called it dead on arrival.” Over 40 Senate Republicans voted not to even open debate on it, enough to stop it.

All because Trump wanted to preserve immigration bans at the U.S.-Mexico border as red meat for his legions and as a campaign issue to beat Biden with, as other Republicans admitted.

Melvin said that the way to beat Trump and other anti-worker Republicans is to emphasize Biden’s pro-worker record, point out that Republican-named Supreme Court justices and congressional Republicans stymied many of his plans, and to register increasing numbers of people of color to vote, get them to do so and ensure their ballots are counted.

Though Melvin was the most fiery Trump critic at the AFGE session, he wasn’t the only one. Union President Everett Kelley raked Trump over the coals for the Republican’s anti-union, anti-federal worker track record during Trump’s 2017-21 reign.

Kelley predicted even worse would occur for federal workers and all workers if Trump returns to the White House next January 20.

“Everybody knows our first priority is to elect a president who’s sensitive to the issues of federal employees,” Kelley told reporters after the speakers finished. “With the previous administration,” Trump’s, “we might have been dead.”

Kelley and Melvin weren’t the only Trump critics to proceed to the AFGE podium. Former House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and longtime federal worker supporter Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., also took shots at the ex-Oval Office denizen. Connolly is the House sponsor of the pay raise bill and Hoyer supports it.

“In many ways, this election is about the pay and benefits of every American,” not just the nation’s 2.2 million federal workers, Hoyer warned. Trump’s right-wing think tank is working on schemes to emasculate 50,000 civil servants by making them subject to summary Trumpite firing, Connolly said. In other words, a return to the pre-1883 spoils system.

“The civil service system is under assault by Donald Trump and his allies. They’re planning to dismantle the civil service step by step. They’re going to look at your political backgrounds” and not just for hiring. “If they see you voted Democratic at the last election,” the installed Trumpites “will say ‘We’ll get to your claim at some point.’ But it’ll be at the bottom of the pile.”

“We gotta go home to tell people what’s going on,” Melvin warned.