Labor - And A Whole Lot More

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OK, just four days to go until election day. Time for labor supporters to do as much more as they can to help re-elect President Obama, one of the best friends labor has ever had in the White House.

No, Obama has not done all, or maybe even most, of what unions rightly want done, and that needs to be done. But he's nevertheless done plenty and promises to do more.  Billionaire Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is not exactly a friend of labor, or a friend of anyone else with progressive views such as Obama's.

But this is not a case of "elect Obama or we'll get the reactionary Mister Romney in the White House." This is not a case of voting for Obama as the lesser of two evils.

Obama is not simply the lesser of two evils, as some on the left would have it. He's a candidate who labor should wholeheartedly support because of his record and because of his solid promises to maintain a pro-labor stance in the future.

Just consider a few of the many pro-labor actions Obama has taken since assuming office in 2008.

Under Obama, for example, the Labor Department and the National Labor Relations Board that were virtually tools of the anti-labor right wing under President Bush, have been returned to their job of enforcing the laws that guarantee workers the right to unionize without employer interference.

Those laws now include the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first bill Obama signed. It greatly helps women workers gain equal pay with men doing the same work.

Obama has been a champion all along of collective bargaining, that paramount right that all workers need and deserve. Imagine Bush supporting collective bargaining. or even recognizing its existence – except to oppose it, of course.

What's more, federal agencies are once again enforcing the minimum wage law and the other vital pro-worker laws that were seriously neglected under Bush.

Plus, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – OSHA – has actually been clamping down on the widespread violation of job safety laws that has led to the needless deaths and serious injuries of many American workers.

We shouldn't forget, either, that Obama rescinded or reversed several of the Bush executive orders that limited the union rights of some workers. And Obama has replaced openly anti-labor Bush appointees to labor-related federal agencies with openly pro-labor appointees, including Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.

Unions rightly praise Obama for loans to the auto industry, which might very well have gone under except for the bailout. Labor hails him as well for trade policies that include protecting the jobs of American workers.

Obama is also praised for establishing re-training programs for displaced workers and for middle-class tax cuts, social welfare programs and economic policies that saved or created several million jobs and lifted millions above the federal poverty line.

Kudos to him, too, for taking major steps toward creation of a badly needed national health care system that would benefit working people and everyone else, and or doubling the funding for the Pell Grants that help make college more affordable for some 10 million families.

Obama clearly meant it when he declared that "we need to level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests because we know you cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement."

Certainly Obama's administration needs to do a lot more to completely fulfill that promise. But as the president's actions over these past four years prove, his promise is sincere. And it's a promise he's quite capable of honoring.

So get out there and vote for Obama – not merely against Romney, but for Obama. And urge others to vote the Obama-Biden ticket, too. You won't be sorry you did.

Copyright © 2012 Dick Meister