It should be obvious to anybody who goes to work for a paycheck that the balance of power is way out of whack.
In 2000, we saw the election of George W. Bush as a guided missile headed straight for our rights and our ability to make a decent living and get a fair share of the American Dream. But we hoped maybe it wouldnt be that bad.
Greed has been elevated to a national virtue by the rich and powerful. They are not content to control the vast majority of the wealth in this country and beyond. They want it all. They think that we only have the right to keep whatever they feel like giving us. You can almost hear them saying: "Working people standing together to fight for what is theirs? How cute, but dangerous. Wed better crush it now."
A year ago, language like this might have caused many of you to think we were overdoing it. You might have thought we were engaging in partisan flights of fancy. Still think so?
The Bush Administration and their allies in Congress claim to want what is best for our nation. So do all of us in the IBEW. So something doesnt compute.
Take a look at the issues spelled out on the next two pages and the economic chart that follows. What you see is a summary of a nation where working people must fight like hell just to get the chance at a fair shake. What you see is a national economy that was going in the right direction and has suddenly taken a turn for the worse.>
Go beyond whats printed on these pages. Take a good look around at your community. Do you see people working in secure jobs? Working at all? Are people assured of a safe retirement, or a good education for their kids? Are workers organizing and winning their fair share? To the extent that anything good is happening, its only because of heroic and extraordinary efforts on the part of working people and their unions. But we cant do it alone. We need help. We need to have our elected officials on our side, not working against us to line their already full pockets.
The sheer volume and audacity of the attacks we face today have not been seen since the early days of our Brotherhood. Back then we called the corporate greed mongers Robber Barons. And it took a courageous Republican President, Teddy Roosevelt, to curb their power and promote the common good.
Where is the ol Rough Rider when we need him?
Instead of a President to stand up to the wealthiest and most powerful, we have an administration that thinks they were elected to do their bidding. We have two people from the ranks of the very manipulators and charlatans that are undermining the North American economy and shattering the dreams of working families from sea to shining sea.
How can we talk about security against our enemies from abroad when our so-called leaders seem hell-bent on destroying the economic security of those whose labor makes this nation function?
It took an astonishingly short time for the fortunes of working people to take such a long fallless than two years. Unfortunately, the climb back is not likely to be as quick. But we must take the first step.
As you can see for yourself, control of Congress is no small matter. The majority party controls the agenda in both committees and the House and Senate floor, sets the tone, and generally shapes the final outcome of legislation. While individual members of Congress may vote with a majority of the other party on specific votes, in general issues are decided along party lines.
When it comes to the leadership of both parties in Congressthe people who will control the legislative agendaits no contest. The cold fact is that the tentacles of corporate executives, Wall Street investment bankers, and hard-core right-wing ideologues have squeezed most of the pro-worker air out of the Republican Party. We continue to support those Republicans who vote for the common good over the big-spending special interests. It should also be noted that the wealthy and powerful have hedged their bets by supporting Democrats, and have succeeded in shearing off some crucial votes from that party on important issues, such as trade.
The result has been a Congress that has tilted to the interests of big business, Wall Street, and in some cases the extremists of the right. Not by much. In fact, we come devastatingly close to winning on some issues, only to fall short at the last minute. If we could put political allies in just a few more seats in both the House and Senate, we could start the process of change for the better.
The only way for working families to defend their own interests in the U.S. Congress is to stand up and speak with a powerful voice. IBEW members and all working families can help put it there by becoming informed voters on November 5.
Now, were only going to say this once this election year, so please read this carefully: How you vote is your decision. We respect it. We understand that different influences play a role in your life. So vote your conscience.
But we are also union members. Our jobour very reason for existingis to fight for our common economic well being. And everyone in the IBEW must understand that the fight is much tougher with the current cast of characters controlling the House and the close margin in the Senate. So if you want to vote in your own best interest and in the best interest of the broader society, listen to what were saying. Your vote for pro-worker candidates in this years elections will make a big difference in your life and the lives of your family members.
Every member of the U.S. House of Representatives is up for election this year. Thirty-three U.S. Senators are on the ballot, as are 36 governorships and countless state and local offices. Well have more to say on that next month. In the meantime, read, listen, and know the issues. Be an informed union voter on November 5.