Veteran and Correction Officer Amplifies Message of Hope and Unity for Working People

After serving 23 years in the military, Correction Officer Robert Beamon’s usual approach to Veteran’s Day is to take it easy. However, this year felt a bit more unique.

“Veteran’s Day is my day,” said Beamon. “The only thing that is different is we have a new leader and one that I can be proud of. I believe Joe Biden is an honorable person.”

As a veteran of the Marine Corps and Army National Guard, Beamon understands a thing or two about leadership. He has worked at Carl Robinson Correctional Institute in Enfield and has been a member of Local 391 for 15 years. He also serves as the union’s Recording Secretary. Between his military training and his current role as a local union officer, the skills he received throughout make him a good judge of what true leadership really means.  

“When you are a veteran, you get a unique look at leadership,” explained Beamon, who keenly understands the influence of the American presidency around the world and how that impacts our relationships with other countries. “I still believe we are the greatest nation in the world. That is why I dedicated most of my adult life to defending it,” he said.

Beamon also sees progress ahead for working people and unions, for the Black community, and for the economy. He links the characteristics of the President-elect and his connection with “the common person who lives a normal life” as a reason for how his policies will strengthen the middle class.

“For union people, Biden is willing to come to the table and listen to us, which is one of the key elements of collective bargaining – having a place at the table,” said Beamon. “We’re the police officers, the firefighters, the nurses and the social workers that allow America to run as it does. It’s time that [wealthy] people who have been afforded special breaks start paying their fair share. If the middle class has more income, we can buy more and keep our economy going stronger.”

Beamon is no stranger to the role of unions in building and protecting the middle class. He personally knows the difference of being a union and non-union worker. After the Janus Supreme Court ruling came into effect, he was outspoken about how unions provide better benefits and safety measures to workers compared to those without a union. 

In addition to restoring taxes on the wealthy, expanding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and minimizing the impact of COVID-19 are important policy platforms that concern Beamon.

This week, the Supreme Court is reviewing a decision that found part of the ACA unconstitutional, leaving its fate uncertain. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge and disproportionately impact African-Americans who are at higher risk for COVID-19, Beamon sees extending the laws as a potential lifeline, not just for coping with COVID-19 but for mitigating other health disparities that affect his community.

“In the Black community, having high blood pressure, hypertension, and other [conditions] like that are higher than other minority groups,” he explained. “Having a President who believes that people should have health care will make African-American families stronger. When you’re healthier, you’re a better citizen. You can participate more in your democracy, be able to work and produce, and make our economy stronger.”

This election was a historic moment to celebrate, especially for women and women of color. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris broke the “glass ceiling” and ushered in a new era of representation for women. As a father of two daughters, the moment for Beamon was truly incredible.  

“I watched with my seven-year old when [Kamala] introduced Biden on stage,” said Beamon. “The look of hope in her eyes is something I’ll never forget. I can tell my daughters that if you work hard and be a good person you can do this. It’s unforgettable to see us come from [the time] when a woman didn’t have the right to vote and to [now] see Kamala on the stage as Vice President.”

Beamon has received some backlash from colleagues on Facebook for his political views. He views those disagreements as part of a democratic process that builds a stronger union and a stronger country.  

“The things that unite us are so much more than the minute things that make us different,” said Beamon. “The fact that we are all Americans and we’re all countrymen should be the forefront of everything. Whether I voted red or blue doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if my skin is brown or white. At the end of the day, what matters is that we take care of each other, listen to each other, and we try to do what’s best for our country.”

He adds, “There is nothing we can’t do if good people in our country unite and stand as one.”