The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, October 10, 2014

'This election really is about organized people vs. organized money'

By The Building Tradesman

LANSING – Michigan AFL-CIO President Karla Swift provided MIRS News Service with some of organized labor’s perspective concerning the Nov. 4 election.

Following is a sampling of her comments:

On labor’s outreach efforts: “This election really is about organized people vs. organized money. Our grassroots program is a combination of mail, phone banking and door-to-door canvassing; conversations on work sites. Our member-to-member conversations include what fellow union members have to say about key issues during this campaign. And we are trying to make sure that we are supporting those conversations that are going on inside the workplaces, at the doors and on the phones with clear sets of facts about the candidates.

On the gubernatorial/Senate election: “In the case of the governor’s race, Gov. Rick Snyder’s failed policies, raising taxes on the middle class and hurting Michigan’s families and hurting Michigan’s workers. We have the third highest unemployment rate and are 49th in the nation in future job creation. People are pretty clear about those things, they talk about those things day in an day out. It’s a stark contrast to the record of Mark Schauer.

“What people have not recovered from are Snyder’s failed policies of cutting funding for our schools and hiking taxes on the middle class and giving big tax breaks to CEOs and corporations. And now we have 50 school districts with budget deficits, we’re 47th in the nation in having enough jobs for people who want to work, and we’re 49th in future job creation. So I think that’s what people have not recovered from and what’s important about this election cycle.

“People are feeling now the impact of Snyder’s failed policies. Retirees are feeling the new pension tax. Parents are feeling the loss of tax credits for their children. Everyone in the state is feeling the higher income tax.  People aren’t willing to wait to feel better. They want results and they feel like there’s been plenty of time to right the ship in Michigan and that Snyder’s policies have been failing them.  And so for all of those higher taxes, did we get better schools? Not really. Did we get better roads? No? Do we have more jobs? No.

So on the Terry Lynn Land (vs.) Gary Peters side, she’s taking money from wealthy corporate interests and she’s not standing up for Michigan families or Michigan women. Our endorsed candidates, Mark Schauer and Gary Peters, are fighters for the middle class. They have a strong record of standing up for middle class jobs in our auto industry and holding companies accountable when they’re shipping jobs overseas. They’re fighting for tax breaks for the middle class, and not rich CEOs.”

On ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council: It’s no longer a case of one political party against another political party. It is on the money side, people like the Koch Brothers, the American Legislative Exchange Council, that take legislators off to fancy resorts, wine and dine them and give them model pieces of legislation for them to take back and pass in their legislative roles.

That is something that people need to know about, it is something that is of great interest to union members.  It is something that has been part of our conversation between union members and others for a long time now. How did we get this crazy set of legislation that was never on the radar screen and not important to regular working people, yet it seems so important to some of these legislators. Terry Lynn Land has taken a lot of money from folks that are on the organized money side of the equation, and you’ve gotta ask, who is she working for?”

On labor and politics: “We have the biggest most robust labor program we’ve had in Michigan since I can remember. 2012 was an important political year for us. I think it’s important to remember that we’re in a long-term struggle. This isn’t a one time event when working people are struggling to stand up for themselves. I think what we learned in 2012 and what we achieved in 2012 was an enormous mobilization of working people to stand up for themselves and vote for a president that cared about working people.”