Bahr to Texans: Big vote can elect Kirk to Senate

DALLAS – Communications Workers of America President Morton Bahr told a “get-out-the-vote” (GOTV) meeting here Oct. 3 that the Bush administration is the “most pro-business, anti-worker administration in history!” He was speaking to union officers and activists in the headquarters of CWA Local 6215, as part of a national GOTV tour.

Bahr, chair of the AFL-CIO International Affairs Committee, told his audience, “Isn’t it interesting that right before the election, suddenly, all we have to talk about is Iraq?”

Bush, he charged, is cynically creating an international crisis in order to override the bread and butter issues that would defeat the GOP this year.

“A couple of months ago,” he explained, “when they were losing the election based on this lousy economy, suddenly, we gotta invade Iraq! [Saddam Hussein] is not bombing the United States next week. He’s not loosening biological warfare next week. We all support the president in the war against terrorism; however, they tried to make us seem unpatriotic if we spoke out on the economy!”

“In every war that’s been, it’s absolutely the workers who fought. It is outrageous, especially for those of us who have served, to be criticized by the president. You don’t see any of them out on the battlefield!”

“The fundamental freedoms that we’re fighting for that they don’t mention are the human rights, the right to organize a union without them firing you, the right to bargain a contract, the fight to go out on strike without fear that they will permanently replace you … These are the fundamental freedoms that we are out to protect. We’ve really got to make our members understand how much the union makes a difference in their lives.”

This is a fight, he said, about who will be the majority leader of the Senate, Democrat Tom Daschle of South Dakota or Republican Trent Lott of Mississippi, who recently stated, “We already have too many unions in America.”

Bahr pointed out that the average weekly pay of a union worker is $718, compared to $575 for a non-union worker. For African Americans who belong to unions it is $603 per week compared to $463 for a non-union Black worker. For Latino workers the difference is $578 union and $398 non-union.

In Right to Work (for less) states the average annual wage is $29,233, compared to $35,169 average annual wage in what he called “free states” with full collective bargaining rights.

He talked about the important races being run in Texas, with particular emphasis on Democrat Ron Kirk’s bid to become the first African American to be elected to the United States Senate from Texas.

“Turnout will determine the winner,” Bahr said. The CWA is particularly well-placed in sparsely-unionized Texas, because they are concentrated in every urban center and can have a big effect in mobilizing a big voter turnout.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org