Saturday, September 4, 2010

Labor Day: Honoring Our History, Fighting for Our Future

On Labor Day, we celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers. However, during years such as this one, Labor Day also marks the start of election season.

You might be wondering what politics has to do with Labor Day.

The answer is: EVERYTHING.

These days, when the middle class is under attack and public employees are the target of a vicious campaign of lies and misinformation, the ballot box gives us a chance to send a clear message.

Yes, it is about standing up for the legacy of those who marched, went on strike and, most importantly, organized workers in the historic fights for safe working conditions, decent pay and the 40-hour workweek.

But it’s also about today’s pressing issues, such as creating more jobs at a time when nearly 25 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. It’s about supporting those who fought to pass a crucial Jobs Bill that will provide $26 billion in federal aid to protect hundreds of thousands of jobs instead of those like Minority House Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) who called this job-saving legislation a “bailout” for “special interests”.

It’s about protecting Main Street instead of extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich that would cost $680 billion in revenue over the next ten years – only to benefit the richest one percent of Americans. It’s about funding the vital public services AFSCME members provide in this time of need, when one out of every six Americans is in a government anti-poverty program. It’s about saving Social Security from Republicans like former Sen. Alan Simpson, who calls retirees “greedy geezers,” and his allies on Capitol Hill who want to dismantle and privatize a proven program that runs a surplus and has no impact on the federal deficit.

During these last two years, despite the distortions and obstructionism of almost every Republican in Congress, working families won some real victories. We secured more than $230 billion in the American Recovery and Revitalization Act to keep state and local governments afloat. We finally passed health care reform that reins in the insurance industry, closes the donut hole for seniors and lets kids stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26. We put through the most significant Wall Street reform since Franklin Roosevelt was President. It restricts predatory mortgage lending, eliminates hidden credit card fees and creates a Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

This November, we’ve got a choice. We can let those who ruined our economy push their agenda of tax breaks for wealthy CEOs and perks for corporations; or we can be true to labor’s history and fight for more jobs and government accountability.

What is it going to be?

No comments: