I attended the AFL-CIO telephone town hall for the kick off of the Repeal SB5 campaign. Although I am not a member of a union, but I am a member of the Working America affiliate for non union workers so I was included.
I really wanted to see how strong the union guys came out at this, and I was not disappointed. It was an energized call to arms for all workers to engage in the fight to preserve the middle class and respect in the work place for all. From President Trumka to the people calling in there was a clear recognition of the threat of the neo-cons right wing agenda.
One of the reasons I really wanted to listen to this, was to see if they were going to use the SB% enthusiasm to push back and gain ground that has been lost for workers over the past decades. The answer to that was a definite yes.
Some commentators, including me, think that the decline in union influence has allowed the right wing to charge back. Unions have focused on elections, as they should, but kind of lost ground as far as lobbying and influencing legislation between the cycles. President Trumka said they are setting up committees and organizing ways to be involved on a constant basis, probably as at least a partially volunteer effort. It was this approach in the 1950’s and 1960’s that allowed the unions to push for gains for the middle class.
He says they have also reformulated their approach to young people just entering the work place and are seeing more success with that group.
A lot of the questions were bread and butter issues about pensions and benefits, particularly from retirees. But much of what the union folks and the callers said, recognized the real threat posed by the radical right against union members and workers in general. One of the union officials, I think it was OAPSE’s Joe Ruvolo, said that there are no wage scales low for workers that is enough to satisfy the right wing. They will just keep driving wages lower as long as they have the power to do it. I believe this to be absolutely true.
The time to fight is now. Solidarity!