Which Side Will You Be On in the 2012 Vote?

IB ImageIn 2008, Barack Obama gave hope to working Americans that our concerns would top the national agenda. Republicans have since done everything possible to block Obama from helping us cope with the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. Now, three years later, budget cuts are stripping vital public services and teachers, transit workers and other hard-working public employees are being fired. Even our right to bargain collectively is under fire.

Now, three years later, we are facing Big Business assaults at the federal, state and local level. Budget cuts are stripping communities of vital services and throwing teachers, firefighters, transit workers and other hard-working public employees onto the unemployment lines.

Even our right to bargain collectively is under fire. Republican governors from Wisconsin to Arizona have made their top priority crippling Labor’s ability to defend working Americans on the job, at the bargaining table, and in the voting booth. In New Jersey, some Democrats even voted for anti-union legislation.

Big Business and its political flunkies have declared a take-no-prisoners war, and when the stakes are win or die, there are no innocent bystanders. We must all stand on one side or the other. Either ATU Local 1700 members get active and help mobilize a massive outpouring next year to reelect President Obama and take back Congress, or we are screwed.

Our best chance at victory next November is ATU International’s Committee On Political Education. ATU-COPE has traditionally focused on electing candidates who believe in the importance of a strong middle class. That will continue, of course, but this year ATU is also launching a program to help locals organize our own grassroots campaigns.

This year, ATU-COPE will return – and match – every dollar that locals give beyond their 2010 contribution level. The goal is to help us mobilize around broader political issues, including highway safety legislation and extending Fair Labor Standards Act coverage to intercity bus drivers.

We are building a movement for the long haul. Our opponents have chipped away at our working conditions, wages, benefits and legal rights for decades, regardless of whether a Republican or Democrat sat in the White House. They have largely succeeded. Today, unions represent barely 7% of private-sector workers and our access to education, health care and pensions has been disastrously eroded. For the first time in our history, young Americans expect a lower living standard than recent generations.

Meanwhile, a relative handful of elite Americans continues to accumulate wealth at a faster and faster rate. Big Business has bought Congress, which has done everything its owners demand. Deregulate the financial system to benefit bankers? No problem. Enact regulations written by lobbyists for the industries to be regulated? No problem. Create tax loopholes that reward corporations for moving our jobs overseas? No problem.

We know, however, that there is a problem, and that these policies have caused tens of millions of working Americans to suffer needlessly. We are the majority of society and we should be able to win a fair election every time. If you’re ready to turn things around, contact your shop steward or visit our website at www.atu1700.org for more about ATU-COPE.