In the month since Congressman Ami Bera announced he would support Fast Track legislation, the California labor movement has been committed to holding him accountable for his actions. Working people in his district (CD-7) have held sit-ins at his office, hit the phone banks to educate folks about Bera’s support of Fast Track, and rallied outside his office, showing how his support of this undemocratic legislation is insulting to those who have supported him for years.
In an opinion piece to the Sacramento Bee on Sunday, “Bera broke promise of protecting jobs”, California Labor Federation Communications Director Steve Smith explained why labor unions are pulling out all the stops to hold Bera accountable:
“Bera’s support of Trade Promotion Authority is a slap in the face to those who worked so hard to elect him.
Previous fast-tracked trade pacts, such as NAFTA, led to the loss of more than 11,000 jobs in Bera’s own district, according to the Economic Policy Institute. They were not just any jobs, but good family-supporting jobs. That’s why Bera’s constituents oppose fast-track by a 2-1 margin, according to a recent poll by Lake Research Partners.
Bera’s decision to break with labor unions, environmentalists and his own constituents on fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership wasn’t politically courageous, as some have suggested. He caved to pressure from an army of corporate lobbyists who are now arm-twisting on Capitol Hill for its expedited approval.”
Countless workers spent hours phone-banking and walking door to door to urge their neighbors to vote for Bera during tough campaigns. This is what working people do for someone they trust to protect their livelihood. Smith remembered one man in particular he met before canvassing for Bera in 2012. His account of this ironworker drives home the betrayal many working people felt when Bera announced he’d support Fast Track legislation:
“On a crisp fall morning in 2012, I joined more than 100 other union volunteers at the Sacramento Labor Council to go door to door talking to voters about the stakes of the upcoming election.
Also there was Ami Bera, in a tight race with the incumbent congressman, Dan Lungren. Bera rallied the troops with a rousing speech about protecting middle-class jobs.
As I stood in line to get a cup of coffee, I met an unemployed ironworker from Sacramento. As we talked, his voice choked with emotion. He’d been out of work for nine months, his job outsourced like so many others. His house was being foreclosed upon.
I asked why he was spending his Saturday with us. ‘This is the only thing I feel I have control over anymore,’ he said. We need to elect candidates like Bera who will stand up for working people so that what happened to him doesn’t keep happening to others, he told me.
…I’m not sure what became of the ironworker I spoke to in 2012. I hope he found work to help support his family, but odds are he’s still searching for a path back to the American Dream he once lived.
When Bera turned his back on workers, I can only imagine how betrayed that ironworker felt.”
Are you opposed to this job-killing legislation? If you live in his district, give Rep. Bera a call today and urge him to change his stance and vote NO when it comes to a vote in the House of Representatives! Call (855) 712-8441 and we’ll connect you.