Your vote for Obama is most important ever

Secretary-Treasurer's Report October/November 2008

Welcome to the special Election issue of Connections.

As an elected officer of this union for 33 years and Principal Officer for the past 16 years, I have devoted my career to ensuring that our members receive the best possible contracts in their industries. I have seen first-hand how politicians and the party in power can make or break our ability to improve wages, benefits and working conditions.

After eight years of the Bush administration and a Republican-dominated Congress, I have seen our power as a union diminish. This administration has put Wall Street fat cats and the rich first, leaving working people and the poor at the back of the line. Rather than strengthening pensions, supporting national health care, promoting good jobs, and enabling unions to do our jobs, their greed has created policies that only benefit the wealthiest among us.

That is why I ask, in the strongest possible way, that you vote for Barack Obama for President this year.

We are currently watching our financial institutions nearly evaporate. Why? When the Democrats attempted to regulate Wall Street to ensure enforcement of strict regulations, the Republicans would have none of it. They claimed to want the free market to work its magic.

Whether it's magic or voodoo, the result has been a disaster. Many of our members have suddenly found themselves suffering with foreclosures and the loss of their homes. While Wall Street's bad loans may be getting bailed out, who's bailing out hard-working families who just tried to live the American dream?

And what about taxes? The Republicans want to preserve the tax cuts they gave to the rich, but instead they actually want to tax your health and welfare contributions. John McCain proposes to tax health benefits that exceed $8,000 per year. That would impact all of our members. To top it off, the Republicans have opposed any type of national health care and have no plan to deal with cost increases that are eating us up.

The Republicans have no interest in pension plans. They want workers to fend for themselves, invest their own money, and, I guess, work until they die, because they will never amass enough money to retire with dignity. Looking at the stock market in recent weeks, we should pat ourselves on the back for fending off Bush's plan to privatize Social Security-but that's a proposal that John McCain wants to revive.

Add to this. their constant attacks on our union's very own existence. Bush has taken the Labor out of the National Labor Relations Board, which has resulted in overturning worker protections that we depended on for 60-odd years.

Obama and the Democrats give us hope that someone in Washington D.C. will have a concern for workers. They certainly don't always do what unions suggest, but they always come to unions to ask what we need.

Obama has committed to signing the Employee Free Choice Act, which will enable us to rebuild the labor movement and make sure your companies don't have to compete against non-union, lower-paying employers. Obama has also committed to government support of pension plans and national health care.

This election is simply too important for you and your family to sit on the sidelines. In addition to the presidential election, please take care to vote for union-endorsed candidates for state and local offices, because these positions have a direct impact on many of our contracts.

To date, we have registered hundreds of our members and their families to vote in this election. But registration is only the first step - you actually have to vote! Once you do, call your friends and family and make sure they voted. Do your part to secure a better life for all working people.