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July 2012

From the Officers
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Time to Change the Conversation

We won't sugarcoat it. Our loss in the Wisconsin recall election last month was a painful blow for working families — both in Wisconsin and across the country

Despite building one of the broadest pro-worker grassroots coalitions in recent history, progressive and union activists fell short of removing the most radically anti-worker governor in the country from office.

The media's efforts to paint this as a death blow for organized labor is bit of a stretch. Let's not forget the numerous political victories we've achieved in the last two years — from beating back "right-to-work-for-less" in New Hampshire and Minnesota to overturning Ohio's anti-worker SB5 by more than 20 points. Even in Wisconsin, voters turned out one of the governor's strongest allies in the state senate, returning control of that body to the Democrats, effectively putting plans for right-to-work legislation on ice.

No, it's not the last gasp of the labor movement. But Wisconsin is a wake-up call for everyone concerned about the future of working America: If we don't start turning things around, the very future of the American dream of opportunity for all is at stake.

We have an economy geared almost exclusively to the needs of the top 1 percent. Our democratic process is warped beyond recognition by the rush of corporate cash in the wake of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision opening the floodgates of corporate money into electoral politics, a ruling that allowed Walker to outspend his opponent by a staggering 7-to-1 margin.

And inside-the-beltway political discourse is focused almost exclusively on talk of austerity, punishing those who are struggling the most — the working poor, young people and the unemployed.

This is not the America for which many of us fought. And it is certainly not the America we want.

The first step is changing the conversation and countering those forces — from the tea party to Congress and K Street — that preach austerity for working families, while promoting more breaks for the Wall Street class.

That's why on Aug. 11 we will be in Philadelphia, coming together with a cross section of working Americans — union and nonunion — to stand up for the middle class, urging all our fellow citizens, especially elected officials, to stand with us.

We chose Philadelphia because as the birthplace of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, there is no better place to introduce a second Bill of Rights, inspired by President Franklin Roosevelt's 1944 economic Bill of Rights. FDR's proposition that "true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence," holds truer than ever and we want to make it part of the everyday discourse on the campaign trail and in the media.

We are timing the event to precede both the Republican and Democratic national conventions to make it clear we are broadcasting this message to both parties: a strong and prosperous America can't be measured by the stock market or GDP. It must be judged by the availability of good jobs, economic opportunity and hope — hope that our children and grandchildren will have the same shot at the American dream that we did.

We have seen what happens when conservative politicians backed by billionaires and right-wing ideologues take power. It's time to change the debate going on in this country and get working Americans fired up for November and beyond.

It is often said every election year that this is the most important election of our lifetimes, but this time, it's no exaggeration.

We only need to look at the radical change in Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida to see what a Mitt Romney presidency would look like.

Aug. 11 will only be the first step toward saving middle-class America, but we have to start somewhere. We hope you can join us — in the streets of Philly, on Twitter and Facebook and in the months to come as we build a grassroots army to put this country back on the road toward economic opportunity for all.

Check us out on the Web at, on Twitter at @Workers4America and on Facebook at

Edwin D. Hill

Edwin D. Hill
International President

Salvatore J. Chilia

Salvatore J. Chilia
International Secretary-Treasurer