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.
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
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
We shouldn't forget, either, that Obama rescinded or reversed several of the Bush executive orders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."
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.
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