Ohio unionists rev up to defeat Bush

CLEVELAND – In this city’s “labor walk,” 326 union members from 20 unions went door to door, talking to other union members in their homes June 12. It was a great success. They were warmly greeted and invited into hundreds of homes to talk about issues and candidates in the 2004 elections.

Laborer’s International President Terence O’Sullivan turned the pre-walk orientation meeting into a rally for “Bush out the door in 2004.” His rip-roaring speech demanded the election of John Kerry to get rid of what he called the worst president in the country’s history. O’Sullivan got a standing ovation from the union crowd when he demanded the troops be brought home from Iraq now

Records of the results of each home visit go into a central database. Follow-up contact will take place, including get-out-the-vote activity just before the election.

The walkers went out in teams of two. Many said they had never done anything like this and were very enthusiastic about the warm reception they got knocking on doors of other union members.

These visits will reverberate throughout union families, job sites, and communities, organizers said, greatly magnifying the impact of the campaign beyond the actual contacts being made.

The Cleveland walks will continue until the last week in June, with special emphasis on the weekends of June 19-20 and June 26-27.

On June 19 the campaign for contacting union families in their homes will expand to cover the entire state of Ohio. Events that day include a speech by Steelworkers President Leo Girard in Canton-Massilon.

The state has been divided up into zones with full-time AFL-CIO staff assigned to each zone. County AFL-CIO federations are working as mobilizing centers along with the staff assigned to each area. International presidents will be coming to the largest cities for rallies, speaking to the volunteers. The experience gained in the June walks will be studied, and necessary adjustments will be made. The walks will continue into August, September, and October.

The AFL-CIO’s membership mobilization for political action in the 2004 election campaign is revitalizing the Ohio labor movement and will have repercussions far beyond the ranks of labor. Allies and friends are coming forward to assist in these walks. The enthusiasm gained will assist in bringing together labor and the great number of allied and community groups involved in the campaign for “Bush out the door in 2004.”

The weekend walks are part of a massive Labor 2004 get-out-the-vote effort in which union volunteers will talk with 1 million union members in June, according to the AFL-CIO. With union households expected to account for one of every four votes in the November election, the federation has launched the largest and earliest-ever multistate mobilization of working Americans. Thousands of union members have signed up for more than 100 weekend precinct walks this month in 72 cities and 16 states.

The author can be reached at wallyk@ncweb.com.