6/30/08

AFL-CIO hypes Barack's economic agenda

Federation fuels anti-GOP attack machine

Supporting its formal endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama for president, the AFL-CIO on June 26 launched a special Meet Barack Obama website at www.aflcio.org/issues/politics/obama.cfm

The site educates workers about Obama’s record, a notable one of backing union concerns and fighting for working families. It features videos, downloadable fliers and a briefing book laying out his positions on issues. Among them:

• Obama speaking to a Wisconsin audience (Photo by Labor Press).

• Obama opposes the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. He supports fair trade that protects jobs and workers.

• Obama has supported workers’ rights and pledges to sign the Employee Free Choice Act.

• Obama has voted to protect fair pay, overtime protections, prevailing wages and family and medical leave.

• Obama opposes privatizing Social Security.

• Obama wants to provide health care for all that cuts costs and improves quality.

The AFL-CIO General Board, which voted to endorse Obama, includes presidents of all 56 unions in the AFL-CIO, as well as Executive Council members and representatives of state and local federations, trade departments and constituency groups. (The General Board votes by per capita membership.)

In its endorsement statement, the General Board noted that Obama “secured the nomination of his party in a campaign that has energized millions of Americans and spoken to the hopes and dreams of people from every corner of our nation. His leadership can re-engage disenfranchised Americans and bring our country together.”

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney praised Obama as “proven, from his days as an organizer, to his time in the Senate and his historic run for the presidency. He knows what it’s going to take to create an economy that works for everyone, not just Big Oil, Big Pharma, the insurance companies, the giant mortgage lenders, speculators and the very wealthy.”

AFSCME President Gerald McEntee, chairman of the AFL-CIO Political Committee and originally a strong supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), pledged to “work our hearts out for Barack Obama. Our program is going to be worker to worker and neighbor to neighbor. We’re ready to mobilize. We’re ready to rock and roll.”

Margaret Blackshere, a teacher and former president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, says Obama listens to workers and will be a president who fights for their interests. He understands the importance of unions and the need for public policy that protects working families, she said.

“He stood by workers again and again” she recalled. “He told me one of the things he learned as a community organizer in Chicago is the difference between being union and nonunion. He saw steel mills closing—and as painful as that was, he saw that if you were in a union, you had somebody to stand up for you.”

AFL-CIO leaders simultaneously announced one of the largest grassroots political mobilizations in its history. Thousands of volunteers are helping educate millions of workers and mobilizing them to get to the polls to elect not just Obama but also a working family-friendly Congress, Sweeney noted. He described the federation as focused on mobilizing more than 13 million union voters in 24 priority states ? including union members, families of members, retirees and members of the AFL-CIO community affiliate Working America ? and said the support of organized labor is also central across the US in electing US. senators and House representatives as well as leaders for state and local governments.

(milwaukeelabor.org)

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