WIN Week In Review October 24-26, 2008
By Doug Cunningham
Unrelenting recessionary pressures continue to pound the economy and workers. Merck said Wednesday its cutting 7200 jobs as it reported profits dropped 28 percent in the third quarter. The giant drug maker is slashing 13 percent of its workforce. Merck’s layoffs are just a drop in the bucket. Yahoo announced this week it’s slashing 14,000 jobs. More than 60,000 people lost their jobs in September. The Labor Department says there were more mass layoffs in September than at any time since 9/11. A mass layoff is defined as fifty people or more. There were 2,269 mass layoffs in September.
With the nation facing “the most complex and dangerous economic crisis since the Great Depression,” Congress must act—and quickly—to pass an economic recovery program for working families on Main Street, AFL-CIO chief economist Ron Blackwell told a congressional hearing today.
Appearing before the House Education and Labor Committee less than three weeks after Congress approved a $750 billion bailout for Wall Street, Blackwell said:
Any economic recovery program should move with the same urgency in addressing the acute pain and anxiety of working families as shown in addressing the global credit crisis.
Today in Pittsburgh, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney joined members of the Alliance for Retired Americans to rally on behalf of Sen. Barack Obama. Meanwhile, in Georgia, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker joined the Alliance and Rep. John Lewis for a forum on seniors’ issues in Atlanta.
Clinton and Sweeney spoke to more than 1,000 seniors in Pittsburgh, highlighting why Obama is the right choice for retirees in this critical state. Obama will protect Social Security benefits, eliminate income taxes on low- and middle-income seniors and ensure Medicare cuts costs for seniors by negotiating for lower drug prices.
It seems that working people in Virginia have gotten out the message about Sen. Barack Obama’s strong agenda for workers so well that Sen. John McCain‘s campaign is running scared in the traditionally Republican state. But rather than talking about real issues, like the economic crisis, McCain’s operatives are using the tired old tactic of trying to divide voters, but it’s not working.
Recently, Nancy Pfotenhauer, one of McCain’s senior advisers, said on MSNBC that Northern Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., didn’t qualify as “real” Virginia. She said:
Democrats have just come in from the District of Columbia and moved into Northern Virginia, and that’s really what you see there. But the rest of the state, real Virginia, if you will, I think will be very responsive to Sen. McCain’s message.
|Judge Greg Mathis’ radio ad|
|Edward James Olmos’ radio ad|
With Republican political operatives already engaging in election dirty tricks, it is imperative voters know and protect their rights. So, beginning this weekend, radio ads will begin running in 11 states and the District of Columbia urging voters to make sure their right to vote is protected. The ads, in English and Spanish, are sponsored by the AFL-CIO-led My Vote, My Right program and feature TV Judge Greg Mathis, rap artist Ludacris and actors Edward James Olmos and Hill Harper of “CSI: N.Y.”
The ads will run from Oct. 25- Nov. 4 in 16 media markets in Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C. (Click on the audio links to the left.)
The message in the nonpartisan ads is clear: Don’t let anyone prevent you from voting. As Mathis says:
This election is down to the wire. No vote can be wasted and every vote must be counted. It all starts with you. Don’t be found guilty of not voting.
The celebrities all give commonsense suggestions on ways to protect your vote:
- Before Election Day, verify that you are registered to vote and make sure of the location of your polling place.
- Bring some form of identification to the polling place.
- Make sure you don’t leave without voting. If you’re in line when the poll closes, you are still eligible to vote.
Don Manning, Labor 2008 state director for New Mexico, sends us this report on a GOTV rally with AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka and union members.
The Electrical Workers (IBEW) hall in Albuquerque was ablaze in union pride yesterday, as more than 120 union members came out in their orange, green, blue, yellow and black T-shirts to attend a rally with AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka. Trumka is traveling across the United States, visiting the states critical in the upcoming election. New Mexico is proud and honored to be among the most critical states for presidential, Senate and congressional elections.
Marty Marks, AFL-CIO political communications specialist, joined a dozen workers Thursday for a roundtable discussion with acclaimed economist Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Pittsburgh to discuss the current economic crisis and the upcoming election.
Asserting that “a growing economy that leaves anyone behind is a broken economy,” Bernstein made a strong case for a change in direction, touting Sen. Barack Obama’s prescription to fix our nation’s worsening economic situation that has impacted so many workers in Pennsylvania and around the country. Said Bernstein:
The economy is broken. And we know it is broken because over the last eight years productivity has actually improved but working families and the middle class are left behind. When all the economic growth flows to the top then the middle class loses.
Barack Obama’s tax plan will help working people and his tax breaks go to working families. John McCain’s tax plan is just more of what the Bush administration implemented these past eight years. It’s as if he looked at the last eight years and said “that looks good, let’s do more of that.”
Around the country, there are closely contested Senate races that will have a big impact in ending the economic crisis and making the economy work for everyone. We have a chance of making real change for real people this fall if we win 60 pro-worker votes in the Senate.
Union volunteers aren’t the only ones who know how important these Senate races are. Big Business and outside groups are dumping millions into Senate races in a desperate attempt to prevent more pro-working family candidates from joining the Senate.
Getting to a 60 pro-worker “super majority” in the Senate is important because, unlike in the House, legislation can be blocked if it does not have the support of 60 senators. For instance, when the Employee Free Choice Act was considered in the Senate in 2006, it could not come up for a vote because a minority of senators blocked it. Unless a bill has the support of 60 Senate members, a minority in the Senate can “filibuster” it—that is, prevent it from being voted on.
With less than two weeks before the most important election of our lifetime, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney is urging every working family to make sure they vote and are not thrown off by Republican efforts to suppress the vote.
In his Out Front column on the AFL-CIO website, Sweeney highlights a checklist from our My Vote, My Right project on how to prepare to vote. The checklist includes voting early, taking ID to the polls and who to contact to call for help or problems. Most important, the checklist urges voters to not get discouraged or annoyed with what may be record lines at the polls and stay in line until you vote.
Sweeney says each vote is critical, especially with widespread attempts by Republicans to suppress votes.