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Workers’ Voice Speaks For the 99%

Theresa Brown, a United Steelworkers (USW) member at Cooper Tire's Findlay, Ohio, plant says in this election year, “Everybody is in the same fight. It doesn’t matter if you are a union member or not, this is about saving the middle class.”

Brown was speaking at a press conference at AFL-CIO headquarters today where plans were announced to activate and energize networks of working families—both online and offline—around political campaigns, legislative issues and holding elected officials accountable.

The new Workers’ Voice initiative will “build an independent voice for the working and middle class,” says AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler.

For too long, our political process has been dominated by too much money, and too much power, concentrated in the hands of too few….Mitt Romney, the Koch brothers and corporate CEOs are doing everything they can to keep power concentrated in the hands of a few—including spending unlimited money to buy elections.  

While Workers’ Voice will build upon the network of activists at 14,000 union worksites around the nation, it also will reach out beyond union members and their families and into communities. Shuler says:

Workers’ Voice will empower working people to talk to their friends, family, neighbors and co-workers about the direction of our country, and most importantly, to take action to build a middle-class America.

The new initiative isn’t about trying to match the hundreds of millions of dollars Romney, the Koch Brothers and CEOs will spend on sleazy attack ads and dirty campaign tricks, says AFL-CIO Political Director Mike Podhorzer. At the press conference, Podhorzer screened a vicious attack ad that Karl Rove’s Crossroads Super PAC is running against Massachusetts U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren.      

They are pooling the tens of millions of dollars they made hollowing out the middle class and put it into trash like that to try to fool people. They’ll outspend us 20-to-1 but we’ll out organize them 20-to-1....People talking to people is always more effective.

Along with building network of union and nonunion workers, two key areas Workers’ Voice will focus on are voter registration and voter protection, particularly in communities of color and among seniors and students—groups hit especially hard by the wave of voter suppression laws Republican governors and legislators with corporate backers have pushed across the nation. 

Saying the union movement “is the original social network,” Shuler says Workers Voice will “put boots on the ground with iPads in their hands.”

While Mitt Romney and Karl Rove’s organizations funnel massive, and secret, corporate donations into negative and misleading TV ads, Workers’ Voice will focus on slicing through the noise—activating and energizing networks of working families, with cutting-edge technologies and old-fashioned energy, to have conversations in homes, neighborhoods and workplaces across the country.

Workers' Voice will combine the online digital world and traditional organizing by:

  • Empowering people to use the Workers’ Voice website to activate their networks to join via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter;
  • Allowing people to use the Workers’ Voice website to make their home a phone bank at any time using “click to call” technology and to send their own customized direct mail postcards; and
  • Allowing people to use new relational voter data tools to merge their online networks into the phone bank and canvass persuasion and GOTV universes. 

Susan Baskett, an unemployed worker from Minnesota and a member of Working America, says she sees Workers' Voice as a way to unite all workers—union, nonunion and jobless. 

We see politicians creating distractions about social issues we thought we'd solved long ago. We need to focus on jobs. I see Working America and Workers' Voice as a solution, a way to engage all of us and give us a strong united voice in this noisy and nasty political environment.

Workers’ Voice announced it has raised a total of $5.4 million and plans to build an online and offline small-dollar fundraising program.

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