COPE Works for Labor Victory at the Ballot Box

The stakes are high in the Nov. 6 general election, and not just for President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt “Mr. 1%” Romney. Every working American’s life is on the line! Anonymous corporations and billionaires are funding ultra-conservative political candidates and ballot propositions from California to Pennsylvania that threaten our on-the-job safety, democratic rights, children’s education, and families’ healthcare.

Local 1700 members are adding strength to a national response by unions and other progressives to turn back this latest Big Business attack. COPE activists have been working with county and state labor federations and other ATU locals to register voters and explain our political views.

President Bruce Hamilton has been reaching out to Local 1700 members every other week with an emailed newsletter – @WAR – that includes political views, news and the Video of the Week.

“We’re creating political connections among ourselves, with other ATU locals, with other unions, with other progressives, and with elected officials,” Hamilton said.

“This will help us on Election Day and beyond, when it’s time to hold the winners to their word to help working Americans, and when we mobilize public support for our contract negotiations.”

International President Larry Hanley has focused transit workers’ energy on Ohio and Colorado, two “battleground states” where ATU has enough members and resources to contribute significantly to President Obama’s re-election.

On Sept. 30, Hanley and fired-up ATU members in Cleveland and Denver kicked off a 2-hour “webcast,” taking labor politics higher and into the digital future. Among the in-studio guests were Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Ohio Senator Nina Turner. President Bill Clinton and Governor Bill Richardson sent taped messages. Other highlights included a video about successful labor- community transit coalitions in Wisconsin and Louisiana.

For many ATU members, the differences between President Obama and “Mr. 1%” Romney hit close to home. International staff member Natalie Cruz said she is fighting to save the kinds of social services that helped her when she was young.

“I was 18 and pregnant. I wanted to keep my baby but I needed help, so I went to Planned Parenthood. They opened up a lot of opportunities. They directed me toward a shelter and services, then helped me apply for Section 8, get my GED, and line up a Pell Grant to earn a degree,” said Cruz.

The former Greyhound driver said she “didn’t get a handout. No one gave me anything except an opportunity to succeed. But many young girls today don’t know what services are out there. And if this conservative backlash wins in November, there won’t be anything left for them.”