Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, one of the best
friends organized labor has ever had, has some wise words of political advice
for unions and their supporters:
Throw all you've got into defeating John McCain, the
presumptive Republican candidate for president, and unite tightly behind the
Democratic candidate, presumably Barrack Obama, even though you may have
supported other candidates in the primaries.
You might think Kucinich's advice is unnecessary since,
like virtually all Republicans, McCain has never been a friend of labor - and
his policies as president would most certainly not be pro-labor. They'd most
likely be as anti-labor as the policies of George W. Bush, one of the most
anti-labor presidents in history.
Under Bush, for instance, the Labor Department has become
an anti-Labor Department, adopting regulations designed to hamper union
organizing and growth. The National Labor Relations Board has become an
anti-labor relations board, allowing employers to openly violate the laws
governing organizing. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has
been outrageously lax in enforcing the job safety laws, even as the number of
serious on-the-job injuries and deaths has grown steadily. The union rights of
federal employees have been seriously curtailed.
That's just a small part of it. As AFL-CIO President John
Sweeney says, under Bush "working people have been losing income, good
jobs, homes and hope in the future."
Kucinich says that although working people may respect
McCain as a former prisoner-of-war, they have to realize "there is no
question that on the economy he is an extension of the Bush administration. We
must challenge the economic system that is accelerating wealth upwards."
A vote for McCain would clearly be a vote for four to
eight more years of the same, four to eight more years of anti-labor,
anti-working people policies in the White House. There should be absolutely no
need for Kucinich or anyone else to urge labor to go all-out to defeat McCain.
Yet polls show that 57 percent of union members support
McCain for president. That's right, more than half of the country's union
members actually support John McCain for president -- the highest labor support
any Republican presidential candidate has ever had.
That's surely evidence of a great need to do some
heavy-duty political educating among the many union members who obviously
should know better than to in effect support four to eight more years of Bush.
There's also a great need to rebuild the labor movement.
But with a Republican president, as Kucinich notes, that would be very
difficult - if not impossible.
With a Democratic president, however, labor "will
have a major influence on our national policy," And it goes beyond labor.
For labor, Kucinich adds, is "the vanguard of the effort to re-create
America, to change the direction of history."
He says Republican control of the White House has put
"our entire way of life under attack. Our jobs are on the line, peace is
on the line, our kids' future is on the line, education, housing, everything.
America is on the line."
Copyright (c) 2008 Dick Meister