by Mike Hall, Aug 4, 2010
With just three months to go before this fall’s congressional elections, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka yesterday told more than 200 AFL-CIO state federation, central labor council and local union leaders and political activists:
Sisters and brothers, in just three months, there’s going to be an election with an historic choice…Will America go back to the Bush years—with rising unemployment, shrinking wages, disappearing health care and dwindling retirement savings? Or will we move forward to a future where we generate jobs that pay middle-class wages and produce world-class products and services?
The AFL-CIO Battleground States Conference combined training for the labor movement’s election mobilization with review of the issues at stake in the Nov. 2 elections. Trumka told the participants, who will be leading the member education and get-out-the vote (GOTV) mobilization, that they and the union members in their states and cities are Labor 2010’s “boots on the ground” that will shape the election’s outcome.
AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker told the group, “We’re in for the fight of our lives.”
Our opponents smell blood and they will be spending hundreds of millions of dollars to turn the clock back to the Bush years. That will be a disaster for working people, already hard pressed by the worst economy we’ve had in 80 years.
We have to bring our “A” game to this election. Which is why I’m so glad to be here today talking to Labor’s “A-Team.”
Trumka acknowledged working families’ frustration as the economy is making its slow climb to recovery from the disastrous Bush economic years and the disappointment that a Democratic Congress and White House have not been able to achieve more because Republican obstructionist tactics have ground Senate action to halt.
Let’s be clear-eyed about what’s going on. The Party of No doesn’t want the union vote, the working family vote. They want us all to stay at home out of frustration. They figure that if they can mobilize the right-wing radicals, the corporate conservatives, the Tea Party fanatics and the talk show fans, and if they can thoroughly disgust the rest of us, then they can win this election in a walk.
But sometimes lost in the din are the accomplishments, said Trumka.
After losing 700,000 jobs a month under President Bush, the economy has been gaining jobs. Not enough. But gaining.
He also noted that the economic recovery program has saved or created 3.5 million jobs; health care reform and Wall Street reform legislation passed despite near unanimous Republican opposition and
after eight years of Bush and Cheney, we have an administration that wants to work with working Americans and our unions—and not work us over. At long last, we have a Labor Department that cares about working Americans, a National Labor Relations Board that believes in defending workers’ right to organize, an OSHA and a Mine Safety administration that believe in protecting workers’ health and safety.
The choice this election year, Trumka said is “between going backwards and moving forwards. Between the wrecking crew and the cleanup crew.”
It’s up to you to energize the working women and men who have the most to lose from going backwards and the most to gain from moving forwards…. we got America moving forward in the election two years ago. Let’s do it again in 2010. The people in this room are the people who can make it happen. Every single one of us, together.