The Electrical Worker online
October 2012

America's Second Bill of Rights
Promoted at DNC, RNC
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Supporters of the Second Bill of Rights were out in force at both major political conventions to get signatures and spread the word to delegates and politicians: it is time for Capitol Hill to get serious about reviving America's middle class.

In Tampa, Fla., site of the Republican National Convention, working families marched outside the Tampa Bay Times Forum with a six-foot-square banner enumerating America's Second Bill of Rights, which outlines a broad agenda to help restore the American dream: the right to full employment and a living wage, the right to full participation in the electoral process, the right to a voice at work, the right to a quality education and the right to a secure, healthy future.

"It was bi-partisan," says Fifth District International Representative Brian Thompson. "If we could get a Republican to sign that bill, we welcomed them to do it."

In attendance were mostly labor union affiliates of the West Central (Tampa) Central Trade Council standing out in neon yellow T-shirts — comprised of members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees; the Communication Workers of America; the National Association of Letter Carriers; the American Postal Workers Union; the United Association; the IBEW; and others.

Their ranks were thinner due to Hurricane Isaac's pummeling of the Gulf Coast and Florida's West Coast two days earlier, leaving tens of thousands without power, and pulling Tampa's IBEW utility members onto storm duty.

The Republican delegation, which a day earlier had drafted the most conservative, anti-union platform in the history of the GOP, remained oblivious to the labor gathering outside.

"Other than one or two people that may have been walking [along the parade route] from time to time, no one from the convention was around," Thompson says. "It reflects the GOP's disregard of the working people in general."

In Charlotte, N.C., host of the Democratic National Convention, union activists and other pro-worker advocates spent Labor Day celebrating union history and bringing the message of America's Second Bill of Rights to Democratic delegates.

"Everybody was excited," said IBEW Local 379 Business Manager Bob Krebs. "This was a once-in-a-lifetime event for a lot of people."

The North Carolina labor movement was out in full force, including members of the Communications Workers of America, the Teamsters, the United Auto Workers and the IBEW.

In the state with the lowest union density in the country, Krebs said that the convention offered an opportunity for members to show their union pride while stressing the need for real economic solutions from politicians.

"The workers' bill of rights goes back to our principles — not just what we want as unionists, but for the rest of America," he said. "We need to make people aware of why these rights are important. Things like the right to a voice at work ought to be common sense. And we need to show politicians that we're planning to hold them accountable if they want our support at the ballot box."


Workers in Tampa sign America's Second Bill of Rights outside the Republican National Convention in August.