Trumka: Labor Day a Defining Time for Working People

The elections this year come down to a choice between leaders who will stand with working people or those whose right-wing agenda will choke off economic recovery and put corporations back in the driver’s seat.

With that said, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka outlined plans for an aggressive and massive mobilization of working people this Labor Day weekend and for the fall election. During a press conference this morning at the AFL-CIO, Trumka also announced the federation will run TV and radio ads Labor Day weekend in key markets around Major League Baseball games, NASCAR and college football games. (See video below.)

“This is a defining Labor Day for working people—and the kick-off to the final round of a defining set of elections,” Trumka said.

We will either rebuild a fundamentally different economy that values hard work and a strong middle class—or turn back toward one that puts corporate interests before people.

In his travels across the country, Trumka said he has heard decisively that people are looking for economic patriotism. While patriotism has traditionally been defined by foreign affairs, it should begin in our own back yard, in our own communities, he said.

…working people are looking for economic heroes—champions who will put themselves on the line to create a better future for our children.

Union volunteers are  engaged in a mass mobilization in 26 states and more than 400 races, Trumka said, and they already have distributed nearly 2 million fliers at more than  300 worksites—the prelude to a much bigger fall push.

Trent McNutt, an unemployed member of the Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) from Toledo, Ohio, told reporters the election is critical for workers like him and his father, a retired sheet metal worker:

I’m on track to make a third of what I made last year but things are looking up. We can’ t afford to turn back. We need to elect people who support guys like my dad and not the super wealthy.  We can’t afford to put people in office who will forget about the middle class.

Laura Jackson, a Communications Workers of America (CWA) member from Moberly, Mo., said the mobilization by union families is essential  because jobs and a good economy are the most important issues.

We definitely need to make sure that the people making the decisions make jobs their top priority. I’m going to do all I can to make sure that happens, including getting the message out to my family, union members and anyone who will listen.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler detailed the AFL-CIO’s work over the past year reaching out and engaging young workers. Shuler said young workers would be a key part of the AFL-CIO 2010 political program.  Shuler also pointed to the work of Working America, the AFLCIO community affiliate, which is energizing and mobilizing workers without a union around economic and election issues.

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker said the AFL-CIO will be a major partner in the Oct. 2 mobilization for One Nation Working Together as a part of the labor federation’s fall offensive.

The radio and television ads running this Labor Day weekend celebrate working people who are the backbone of our nation and the power of working together for a stronger America.  The ads will run during several sports broadcasts: Major League Baseball games on Sunday and Monday, the Sunday NASCAR Pep Boys Auto 500 race and the Monday night opener of NCAA football.

Trumka summed up the imporrtance of the election this way:

This election is about a lot more than just who comes to Congress in January. It will continue to define who we are as a nation, whether we’re a nation that respects workers and rewards work. And that’s the message we’ll be delivering to working people at every worksite, in every neighborhood and every community.