A beat-up van pulls to a stop just up the road. A creaky screen door opens from the apartment at the end of the building. A young African American girl runs out toward the van, barely hanging onto a large gym bag that was obviously not meant for such a pint-sized carrier. The driver of the van, a middle-aged white man with glasses and a beard, throws the passenger door to the van open and the little girl tosses the bag onto the floor before climbing in. The apartment door, which had banged shut in the meantime, creaks open again as the girl’s mother waves goodbye.
“Be good. Have fun,” she tells her daughter.
“I’ll have her back by eight,” the driver replies, as the little girl shuts the van door and waves goodbye to her mom.
AFL-CIO Political Director Michael Podhorzer sends us this.
As we head into the final stretch of the election season, these are six overarching points to keep in mind.
1. Working-class rejection of Bush-Romney-Ryan economics is the defining issue of this year.
A year ago, all the talk was that President Obama could never win with high unemployment. And even more to the point, the early conventional wisdom went further, writing off working-class voters, asserting that the only path available to Obama was upscale voters in states like North Carolina. Yet what we see is that middle-class families are not voting automatically on the basis of the current economic statistics. They are comparing alternative approaches—and rejecting the reverse Robin Hood, union-busting, extreme economic positions of the right.
When the nation’s Poet Laureate, Philip Levine, gives a reading of his work tomorrow here at the AFL-CIO, he will recite poems that weave a lyrical web of words around his visceral understanding of the world of work. Levine, whom the Library of Congress named Poet Laureate in May, and who has written of his experiences working in Detroit factories in the post-World War II years, finds his verses especially resonate with America’s workers—and that’s in part because his portrayals are so honest. (To attend the event, which begins at 1 p.m. Nov. 15, RSVP here.)
The attacks on the middle class and the ability of public employees to bargain collectively are spreading from Wisconsin and Ohio to Long Island’s Nassau County, where a proposed bill would gives the county executive the right to unilaterally open contracts and decide what provisions the executive wants to retain, change or eliminate.
How appropriate. We’re drowning in rain here in the nation’s capital, while outside the Beltway, America’s working families are drowning in one disastrous economic wave after another. A few recent nuggets.
The right to organize and collectively bargain is a fundamental American value. Since its beginnings in our country, organized labor has raised our living standards and built our middle class. It is the reason we have a minimum wage, weekends away from work to rest and spend time with family, and basic protections in our workplaces….The principles upheld by the honorable laborers of generations past and their unions continue to fuel the growth of our economy and a strong middle class.