Workers the real victors in Tuesday primary

While the national media focused Tuesday night on the duller-than-ever Romney "victories" in the low turnout GOP primaries, the workers of Western Pennsylvania fired a shot heard in every corporate boardroom in America.

Workers and their allies showed that boots on the ground can trample even the best funded pro-corporate Super Pac operations when they propelled Democratic state representative Mark Critz to victory over his opponent, Jason Altmire.

The 12th Congressional District in Pennsylvania saw two incumbents, Critz and Altmire, battle it out for the Democratic nomination for Congress. The new lines were drawn by a Republican legislature determined to get rid of a Democratic seat and, at the same time, hold onto a seat for a blue dog Democrat, Altmire, who usually voted with Republicans.

Altmire actually won his first term largely because of the support from unions who worked hard for his election.

Once in office, however, he double-crossed the workers who backed him by voting against health care reform. United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard said of Altmire: "He broke his word by his conservative voting record that put him on the side of the opposing political party more often than on the side of working families."

Breathing life into the old maxim, "the payback is a bitch," the USW and a host of other unions put together a campaign low on funds but high in the number of boots on the ground and showed Almire what can happen to lawmakers who double cross workers.

"One by one we persuaded voters and helped motivate a solid turnout to overcome the advantages in the re-drawn district that was thought to belong to Altmire," said Gerard.

When Critz entered the race he trailed Altmire by 24 points in the polls and just before election night he was behind by as much as 7 points in those same polls. "We and our labor and community allies ran an experienced, smart grassroots field program with shoe leather and sheer determination," said Gerard.

The operation labor ran for Critz is one unions hope to repeat in districts all across the country this year. It involved bringing information about the campaign into worksites, the establishment of union-run phone banks independent of any political party operation, and  "labor walks" through various neighborhoods.

The USW alone, says it had 400 members participating in the campaign on a regular basis.

Steelworkers tally sheets show that union members knocked on 5,211 doors the night before and the day of the election.

In an election night tweet, Critz wrote: Thank you Steelworkers, SEIU, AFL-CIO and all of labor! I couldn't have done it without you!"

"Working people showed the strength of their voice in Pennsylvania's 12th district last night, a model for the path ahead," tweeted AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

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  • This gives me hope. I have seen the lies that anti-Labor rich politicians post about middle class American's that belong to a union. The governor has a privatization panel and an Innovation Team to push privatization. Senator's that are making at least 170,000 dollars a years blaming people making 30-40,000 a year for the budget problems all while pushing through a voter id law that will cost between 4-11 million a year when no fraud has taken place from the lack of a photo ID, all to make it more difficult for the poor, minorities, the elderly and students to vote, these groups largely vote for Democrats. The anti-labor politicians demonizing hard working public employees because they are backed by rich corporations who do not want to pay a living wage, give health care or provide for retirement, yet those same anti-labor government officials enjoy huge wages, and the best health care and retirement plans that most people dream about. Facts cannot be changed, privatization does not save money. The figures and all the graphs a person needs are available on the internet. There is another major consideration that should bother good American's who believe in the concept that a person should not be hired because of who they know, they should be hired on experience (merit) If privatization of state run facilities happens WHO decides what company wins the contract? Any rational human being knows the answer, the company that wins the contract will be those that helped that elected official. The old saying about people not learning from the past are doomed to repeat it applies here, this is WHY the Hatch act was made into law, workers are hired on merit, not by political affiliation. There also is a human side, even if someone manages not to believe that privatization doesn't save money, does anyone with a brain or a heart or an ounce of logic want low paid workers taking care of Inmates, or Veterans or any other field where human beings are involved? We ARE public employees and we serve the public's BESTS interests. The average worker still has to be a two income household in order to have a decent quality of life. A public employee in a union can still be fired just like anyone else if they do not do their job, they simply have a two party system so to speak, they cannot be fired because of excuses or "just because" It's a fair and equitable system which balances power, where with privatization the government officials and who they hire to contract out the work has all the power. I have read from elected officials, the ones I mentioned make over 170,000 a year that public employees and their retirement plans and income are the source of the budget problems. This is simply to inflame the public. IF the budget was the primary concern the voter id act would never have been put into place. It's a huge waste of money and unnecessary. Do your own research, have an open mind and remember a laborer is worthy of their hire. Making even more people poor and taking away retirement is not going to help families or the economy, it will only help politicians who were funded by private companies keep in the good graces of those who gave them money and who themselves benefit by not giving their workers a decent living, health care and retirement. Those people don't care about their employees, they care about keeping as much money as possible in their own pocket. Inflammatory anti-labor rhetoric spouted out of the mouths of those elected officials that continue to back privatization even though the evidence backs how harmful privatization is doesn't care about how harmful it is to the public, the public employee or those the public employee are entrusted with caring for, they care about one thing, their own pocketbook because THEIR job, their income depends on campaign contributions. Remember yes, labor supports politicians that support labor BUT that support is made up of individuals not just single individuals who contribute huge amounts of money so they can continue to be rich, on the backs of their workers. Let us continue to move forward in this country and put money back into the middle class, into institutions of learning and into funding for college. We are not a country of caste systems, we are a country where anyone can become President and where we are all equal under the law, one people, OF the people and FOR the people. An elected officials FIRST duty should be to represent the people, not the rich contributors of their campaigns that have a vested interest in stopping labor from protecting public employees from unfair and/or inequitable treatment.

    Posted by Middleclassworker, 04/25/2012 6:48pm (2 years ago)

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