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Why Labor's Rank and File Won't Campaign for Obama

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Message shamus cooke
A surreal fog hangs over U.S. labor unions' enthusiastic endorsement

of Barack Obama. When AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

announced the labor federation's recent endorsement, the

exaggerated pro-Obama comments likely surprised union members

everywhere. Has President Trumka paid any attention to the labor

policies of President Obama? 



In his announcement Trumka stated that: "As president, Barack

Obama has placed his faith in America's working men and women to

lead our country to economic recovery and our full potential. So we're

putting our faith in him." (March 13, 2012).



Sadly, Trumka's faith in Obama is not supported by any facts.

The "proof" that Trumka gave to support the Obama endorsement

was three-fold, and entirely misleading:



1) Obama's initial stimulus plan that created or "saved" 3.5 million

jobs (a generous estimate).

2) Obama's health care plan

3) The Wall Street reform bill



If the AFL-CIO President really wanted to assess Obama's first four

years in relation to working people, he should have included the

following points:



1) He bailed out the bankers, and his administration has refused to

prosecute any of them for the crimes they committed.



2) The shameful lack of action to create the 25 million full-time jobs

the AFL-CIO demanded, until recently, to address the jobs

depression.



3) The truth of Obama's health care plan; it slashes hundreds of

millions of dollars from Medicare; forces working people to buy

shoddy corporate health care, and taxes the health care of union

workers (so called "Cadillac" health care plans). 



4) The Wall Street "reform" bill was weak enough to allow Wall Street

to continue acting as it had been before the crisis, thus re-creating

the conditions that will inevitably lead to another crisis.



5) Obama was complicit as Democratic governors attacked the

wages and benefits of public sector union workers across the United

States, rather than raising taxes on the wealthy to handle state

deficits. The continuing attack on public sector unions aims at the

heart of the labor movement. 



6) Obama's national deficit reduction plan threatens to cut additional

hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare and reduce Social

Security benefits.



7) Obama's badly named Race-to-the-Top education program is a

direct attack on public education and unionized teachers, since it

rewards states for creating privately administered and non-union

charter schools, while attacking the seniority of union teachers in

publicly administered schools through new "teacher evaluation"

schemes.



8) Obama pushed to pass the pro-corporate South Korea, Colombia,

and Panama free-trade deals.



9) Obama promised to pass the pro-union Employee Free Choice

Act, but never aggressively promoted it. A broken promise.



10) He promised to renegotiate NAFTA, another broken promise,

because he did not even go through the motions of pretending to try.



11) He promised to make immigration reform a top priority and did

nothing, again without trying.


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Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org)
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