Message from AEST Michael Hand on Philadelphia Protests and Civil Unrest

June 4, 2020

Philadelphia is where I grew up and where my family has called home for generations. I am proud to have raised a family, built my career, and represented so many workers from the City of Brotherly Love. Watching the events of the past week unfold has been painful. Executive Secretary-Treasurer William Sproule, myself, and we at the Carpenters Union send our deepest condolences to the family of George Floyd and the many other families that have suffered through similar tragedies. The violence and destruction we have witnessed from people who wish to take advantage of the moment have divided us even further and is distracting us from the serious issues we need to deal with as a nation. 

Like so many of you, I am proud to be a part of a union that helped me become a skilled craftsman and more importantly, an active member of my community. Our mission is to provide equal access and opportunity for anyone looking for a career in construction, no matter race, creed, or gender or sexual-orientation. This mission has not always lived up to the standards it should have when it comes to race and we are the first to admit that our union has not been perfect. In our union’s recent history, changes have been made to ensure better standards, but this recent moment in time proves much more has to be done by our union. For as hard as we’ve worked for fair wages, the right to collectively bargain, and safe job site conditions, Philadelphians deserve the right to go to work, to raise their family, make a good living, and go home safely at the end of the day.  

Just as the labor movement was about fighting for economic justice, I want to believe that there will be a positive outcome from all of this unrest. Our tendency to shine a light on the positive and hope that the unjust things about our society will go away on their own is not enough. Our union’s founders didn’t turn away – they faced the injustice head-on. They educated themselves and others, organized for change, and agitated those who wanted not only to see them fail but tried to crush them and their spirit. 

I am proud of this City and will be a part of making sure we rebuild stronger than before. I hope that every member is inspired to do the same.

Michael Hand
Assistant Executive Secretary- Treasurer
Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters