11/12/2012 04:33 pm ET Updated Jan 12, 2013

America's Working Families Won

Election Day 2012 brought very good news for the working middle class, the Main Street movement and the American Dream.  The American people sent a clear message that we will stand with a President who stands with all Americans. From the White House to the statehouses, we pulled together to elect leaders who believe that “we are all in this together.”

President Obama received enormous support from union members. Where all voters split 50 percent to 48 percent, the President received the vote of 65 percent of union members. In battleground states such as Nevada, Ohio, and Wisconsin, union members gave the President an even greater 70 percent of their votes.

Working families reelected Pres. Barack Obama, giving him added strength in the fight to create jobs and opportunity. The voters have given a mandate to protect vital programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, and strengthen the middle class. The AFL-CIO’s election night poll conducted by Hart Research found that 73 percent of all voters support protecting Medicare and Social Security from cuts.

Of course, this election was not just about who sits in the Oval Office. It was about who stands for working people. It was about reclaiming the values our nation was founded on, including the values of fairness and fair play. We saw that play out in races from coast-to-coast:

  • In Maine, where Governor LePage spent his time taking down a mural celebrating workers, voters last night gave control of both the House and the Senate to the Democrats.
  • In New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan a pro-worker candidate for governor beat an opponent who promised to be “Scott Walker on steroids.”
  • Voters elected Sherrod Brown, Chris Murphy, Joe Donnelly, Tammy Baldwin and Tim Kaine to the U.S. Senate. Perhaps no race more clearly demonstrates the commitment of voters to uphold the values of Main Street than Elizabeth Warren’s victory in the Massachusetts Senate race. From the beginning, Warren embraced Main Street’s fight to curb Wall Street’s power – and the active role that government has to play in the struggle.
  • In California, voters defeated Proposition 32, which would have silenced workers’ voices and amplified corporations’ influence.
  • In Michigan, they voted down a local dictator law, which gave unelected officials enormous power, including the ability to revoke collective bargaining agreements.

As Chair of the AFL-CIO Political Committee, I am very proud of the role the labor movement has played in this victory. More workers than ever got involved through the AFL’s political program, the smartest, biggest and broadest effort labor’s ever run.

As President of AFSCME, I am very proud of our union’s role. Looking at the 2012 electoral landscape a year ago generated no small amount of anxiety for the leaders of my union. Faced with a rotten economy, high unemployment, decimated public services and other consequences of the failed policies of the past, the fundamentals pointed to an extremely bumpy road for President Obama’s reelection bid. That’s why AFSCME’s Executive Board jumped in and unanimously endorsed President Obama back in December. We started early and we talked to our members about what was at stake in this historic election.

Our early TV ads in the battleground states of Florida and Ohio highlighted the role Romney played during his time at Bain Capital. In Florida, we held Romney accountable for the Medicare fraud perpetrated by one of the companies he managed at Bain – and thus helped bring into focus what became a major theme of the general election campaign.

We did much the same on Romney’s position on the auto industry rescue in the key battleground state of Ohio, where we reminded voters Romney wanted to let the auto industry go bankrupt, killing 1.4 million American jobs in places just like Ohio.

Having successfully undercut Romney’s claim to be a job creator in the minds of critical swing-state voters, our activities in the Fall turned to highlighting Romney’s disdain for the 47%.

We helped put a human face on the 47% with the AFSCME members who make public services happen in Romney’s La Jolla, CA neighborhood – the result was one of the most-viewed videos of the 2012 election cycle, with more than a million and a half views on YouTube. We also highlighted Romney’s comments in our radio spots with Priorities USA this fall.

AFSCME put more than 65,000 union volunteers into action, combining cutting-edge voter communications with massive grassroots strength. Together with the rest of the labor movement, we helped create the largest, most efficient independent voter mobilization initiative in American history.

We pulled together to reaffirm the belief that if you work hard and play by the rules, you’ll get ahead. And the belief that we are not a “you’re on your own” nation, but a “we’re all in this together nation.” The AFL-CIO’s election night survey found that voters nationwide want to end tax cuts for the richest 2 percent of America, continue funding unemployment insurance and provide federal funding for local governments to protect jobs. That’s a clear message that voters want policies that are fair and help pull us all together as we move forward in the days and months ahead.

And we are moving forward, to continue the fight for the values that inspire working men and women and have helped to produce these historic electoral victories.