Union operatives invade Georgia

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Fat-cat unions flex political muscle

The national AFL-CIO is sending up to 2,500 volunteers to Georgia to help Democrat Jim Martin in the U.S. Senate runoff against Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss.

The union organization said it will have 10,000 volunteers working the state over the next two weekends. About three-quarters will be from Georgia, spokeswoman Andrea Gage said Thursday.

Richard Ray, president of the Georgia AFL-CIO, put the number of incoming volunteers in the “thousands.” He said in a telephone interview: “Our goal is to touch every union member in the state at least six to eight to 10 times. Either by phone call, letter from their local union, letter from us, or a knock on the door. We’re pulling out all stops. This is the biggest thing that I’ve ever been involved in in Georgia. This is the biggie.

“This election is not so much now [about] who is Jim Martin and who is Saxby Chambliss. It’s about who can turn out the votes.”

Ray puts the union vote in Georgia at 325,000. Not an overwhelming number, but a low turnout on Dec. 2 could give it greater impact.

The storm of union activity is to include 550,000 work site flyers, 600,000 phone calls, 610,000 mailings, and knocks on 225,000 doors.

Retired workers from two closed auto assembly sites — the Ford plant in Hapeville and the General Motors plant in Doraville — have already given much time to Martin. They see their pensions jeopardized by Republican calls for the Detroit Three to embrace bankruptcy, Ray said.

“We have a large group of those retirees,” Ray said. “They’ve been working from the very first for Jim. I had a crew that went all around 285 and they put up signs at every exit. And they are mad at what they see not happening for them.”

Republicans are waving the union banner, too. Just not in the same way.

Chambliss posted an article today on redstate.com, arguing that his re-election was necessary to block an effort to make it easier to form unions — by filling out a card rather than by secret ballot.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

Wrote Chambliss:

When Georgia voters go to cast their ballot in the December 2 runoff, no one will know who they voted for unless they feel compelled to tell someone. The same should be the case in labor union votes.

True elections are conducted with anonymity for voters. Secret ballots allow people to freely vote their conscious when selecting those who will create and enforce our laws.


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