September 2012

Elections Have Consequences

Only history will reveal if this election is truly “the most important ever,” but in view of the continued assault on the working families of the middle class and the contrary visions for our nation, it is without a doubt an election that will have long-term consequences for workers, their unions, and our country.Every election is of critical importance and demands our undivided attention and commitment.

Think about it. What if Hubert Humphrey had defeated Richard Nixon in 1968? No Watergate. No Enemies List. No constitutional crisis. No presidential resignation. How much different would our country be today? What if Al Gore had not been denied the presidency in 2000? No squandering of the social security surplus to fund tax cuts for the rich. No wars of choice. No trillion-dollar deficits. And certainly no economic meltdown from which we are still attempting to recover.

This fall, the choice between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is clear as the two candidates present a stark contrast in their vision for you, your rights, your union, and your future.

The president’s policies are the right policies for America. Yet his commitment to investing in our future, putting people back to work, rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, moving the economy forward, and keeping our nation safe has been blocked a record number of times with filibusters by the Senate Republican minority. Being taught the lesson of 1992 and 2008 election cycles—“it’s the economy stupid”—the far right has systematically sabotaged the recovery in hope of staging an economic coup for a return to power; thus fulfilling their top priority, as stated by Senator Mitch McConnell, to make Barack Obama a one-term president.
That return of the Republican presidency, if Mitt Romney is elected, will include the outdated, outmoded, and out-of-touch policies responsible for the economic depression which we still have not climbed out of: More tax cuts for the rich; more deregulation for corporations and banks; and more power for the one percent, as the rest of us trickle down with stagnating wages into poverty.

But democracy is about votes, and as we celebrate Labor Day 2012, union workers and their families have a special obligation to carry the message forward through to Election Day and beyond. We are among the working people in America who fight for the power of a voice on the job, the benefits of collective bargaining, and membership in a union serving to protect and advance worker interests. We are democracy’s last bastion against the tyranny of economic oppression.

Because of the labor movement’s effectiveness in defending and advancing the interests of working people, the radical right in America has unleashed an attack on unions unprecedented in the past 100 years. Mitt Romney’s Bain mentality supports a comprehensive anti-union agenda in his strident assault on union workers and their union. He has made organized labor enemy No. 1.

In accepting the recent endorsement of the anti-union Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), for example, Romney pledged to pursue right-to-work laws and seek new rules which will forbid unions from collecting voluntary political contributions from members through payroll check-off.

“If I become president of the United States, I will curb the practice we have in this country of giving union bosses an unfair advantage in contracting,” Romney added to a standing ovation from the audience. “One of the first things that I will do—actually on Day One—is I will end the government’s favoritism towards unions in contracting on federal projects.” Romney, of course, was referring to project labor agreements (PLAs) that set uniform standards for all the trades—union and non-union —on large construction projects.

Our only recourse against these attacks is increased activism, greater voter participation, and the election of candidates who reflect our interests. For your union, our concerns are based on issues first, not candidates or parties. What is their position on issues affecting your livelihood; on workers’ rights, such as collective bargaining, organizing, safety regulations, prevailing wages, project labor agreements; Buy America; infrastructure funding; and others having a direct effect on your potential to earn a better standard of living for you and your family?

Mitt Romney has made it clear what the consequences will be for your job, your union, and your future if he is elected. President Obama, through actions and commitment, has repeatedly demonstrated he is the right choice and deserving of your vote this fall.

I believe that the upcoming election will be the most important vote many of us have ever cast. In November, our recommendation is for the only presidential candidate who stands with working families: President Barack Obama.