GOP Hopes for a Heap of Stay-at-Home Union Folks

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

Tea Party-tilting Republicans probably aren’t counting on many union votes.

But my guess is they’re hoping for the next best thing: a slew of union members will forget that the GOP’s gospel of greed caused the recession, will blame hangover hard times on the Democrats and will show their disdain by not voting.

“The Party of No doesn’t want the union vote, the working family vote,” AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka said at the AFL-CIO-sponsored Battleground States Conference. “They want us all to stay at home out of frustration.”

Bill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, says the right-wing media is contributing to worker frustration. “They portray everything the president and his party do in a negative light.”

Londrigan wants working people to switch off Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and judge the Democrats’ record for themselves. He suggests they start with the Labor Department, the NLRB, and OSHA.

“We’ve gone from an anti-labor secretary of labor, Elaine Chao, to a pro-worker secretary of labor, Hilda Solis,” Londrigan said. “Craig Becker, the president’s appointment to the NLRB, is helping restore that body to its proper role of safeguarding workers’ rights to organize unions without employer intimidation. OSHA is making our workplaces significantly safer again.”

Joblessness would be considerably worse without the president’s stimulus package, according to Londrigan and Trumka.

In his first eighteen months in office, Obama “had to dig the economy out of a deep hole” and had to battle “determined opponents,” according to Trumka, who credited the president with rescuing “the economy from a second Great Depression.”

Trumka said after hemorrhaging 700,000 jobs a month under President Bush, the economy is growing again and generating jobs. “Not enough. But gaining. That’s progress, and we’ve got to keep it going.”

Londrigan said one of the president’s most determined opponents is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky . “He’s the guy we tried to vote out in 2008.”

Echoing Trumka, Londrigan said Obama and the Democrats also have given working people historic healthcare reform and meaningful Wall Street reform, both long overdue. “Most recently, we got a jobs bill that is keeping hundreds of thousands of teachers, police and firefighters at work,” Londrigan explained.

Meanwhile, Jeff Wiggins, a Steelworker and president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky Area Council, AFL-CIO, has a message for potential non-voting union members:

“If you stay home on November 2, you’ll be helping the same sort of people who tried to push labor off the cliff under Bush. Democrats want to throw us a rope and pull us away from the edge. But Republicans still want to push us off.”

Berry Craig

The video was filmed, edited, and produced by Berry Craig IV and narrated by Berry Craig III. Copyright: 2010.

Published by the LA Progressive on September 20, 2010
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About Berry Craig

Berry Craig is an emeritus professor of history at the West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and a freelance writer. He is a member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360, the recording secretary for the Western Kentucky Area Council, AFL-CIO, and the author of True Tales of Old-Time Kentucky Politics: Bombast, Bourbon and Burgoo, Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil War, Hidden History of Kentucky Soldiers and Hidden History of Western Kentucky. He is a native of Mayfield, Ky., where he lives with his wife of 33 years and their 20-year-old son.