April 2012

The Power of One Person/One Vote

We all know of the courage it takes to be a union member; to stand up for principles of a safe job site, fair compensation and dignity in the workplace. Today, and this election year, our courage and commitment will face its greatest challenge in our lifetimes.

Attempting to rally their supporters, the far right continues their battle cry of labor bashing and attacks on workers’ rights, and maintains their dominance of the Republican agenda. Republican majorities in Congress, state legislatures, and municipalities have proposed and passed anti-worker legislation crafted by ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and its corporate sponsors, including the billionaire Koch Brothers, despite overwhelming public opinion against those actions. Once elected, some elected officials do the bidding of their financial backers with little concern for re-election, knowing their future is secure as corporate executives or consultants, completely leaving voters “out of the loop.” Do you think Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin will suffer economically from his recall by the Wisconsin voters, as the thousands of middle class workers affected by his policies have? Eighty percent of Americans believe government expenditures should be used to purchase American-made goods and products, so why is the “Buy America” provision of the transportation bill being fought?

The Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision equating the rights of corporations to that of United States citizens with “free speech” aided by unfettered corporate spending without the decency of transparency, threatens the bedrock of our democratic process. Our electoral representation has been eroded with district gerrymandering that this year may result in only 50 out of 435 congressional seats being considered as “competitive” or at risk by either party.

Our recourse against such attacks, not only on your union, but also on democracy, is increased activism, greater voter participation in elections, and to make the power of one person/one vote the only measure to hold elected officials accountable.

Each of us casts our vote on our own set of priorities: social, economic, or the multitude of combinations; Democrat, Independent, or Republican. For your union, our concerns are based on issues first, not candidates or parties. Our concern is the candidates’ positions on issues affecting your livelihood, and the rights of workers such as collective bargaining, organizing, safety regulations, the Davis-Bacon Act or state prevailing wages, project labor agreements, Buy America, infrastructure funding, and others having a direct effect on your potential to deliver a better standard of living for you and your family. We have and will recommend candidates from either party or an independent who vows to support our issues.

We will present to you credible and objective information from independent sources on the candidate’s position on our issues and their past voting record for your evaluation to make the important decision for whom you will vote. It will be your choice determined by your priorities.
But it is incumbent on each of us to cast our vote. To make an educated, informed decision not based on 30-second sound bites from camouflaged interests.

This is not only true for elections in the United States. The same battles are being fought in Canada, as conservative governments are following their American counterparts. We will be just as vigilant and active in our support of our Canadian brethren.

Each local union is tasked with updating their voter registration rolls and to encourage 100% voter participation. It is paramount not only to the future of your union, but democracy as well.

Thank you for helping to build our great union.