Workplace standards boards offer a vehicle for participation that can improve people’s lives—and their faith in government. “We can destroy authoritarianism by giving it fewer places to take root.”

By Desmond Serrette, Convergence

In “Pro-democracy Organizing Against Autocracy in the United States,” Erica Chenoweth and Zoe Marks lay out the type of infrastructure and mobilizations needed to respond to an “authoritarian transition.” They rightly name the importance of the labor movement in mobilizing working people and leaders in such a crisis. In his follow up, “Hard Truths and Good Signs for Labor’s Role in Defending Democracy,” Bob Master goes into more detail on the ways the labor movement is key to fighting back against authoritarianism.

union workers in parade hold letters that spell UNION

The experience of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) emphasizes the importance of the paths Master lays out. But the implementation of workplace standards boards also holds great promise for deepening democracy, not only at the workplace but across society.

While SEIU has played important parts in the fight against voter suppression and anti-democratic forces in our economy for decades, 2021 was the year that SEIU built out its first ever, formalized voting rights campaign. After experiencing in real time the ways that President Trump and MAGA politicians deliberately sabotaged our elections, SEIU’s leaders and members realized that the threats to our democracy were only going to intensify and that SEIU and the labor movement as a whole would need to have a more expansive role in the voting rights space in order to defeat authoritarianism.

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