It is beyond doubt that we are living in a period of potentially great
historical change in the United States.
Just a year ago we trade unionists, progressives, and Americans of good will
made history with the election of an African-American President--something
many of us never thought possible -- and large majorities of pro-working
family Democrats in both Houses of Congress.
With the implosion of our financial services sector and the consequent
economic crisis and recession, it has become abundantly clear that
unregulated, unfettered free market capitalism doesn't work for anyone. We
now have irrefutable proof that greed is not good, that the markets don't by
themselves work for the common good in the nation's interest, that if all
the money and resources go to the top, the middle and the bottom are
starved. And speaking of the middle, we now know that the middle class is in
peril -- endangered by the policies of free market economics -- unfettered
corporate-driven globalization, illegal and immoral union busting,
contracting out, working rat, privatization, benefit busting, wage
thievery -- all the policies that have made up the 30 year assault on working
families and unions. While some may have doubted these truths two or four or
more years ago, these truths are beyond doubt today.
Those who once held themselves up to be leaders of our society and
government are now scorned -- Wall St, Bush, Cheney, AIG. The recipients of
the governments bailouts continue to shovel obscene amounts of our money to
executives without a clue while we suffer 10 percent unemployment, continued
loss of health care, and declining wages and a consequent declining standard
of living, and a potentially frightening future for our kids and grandkids
Most importantly, our people are ready for and even demanding change. By
significant majorities, Americans want a public healthcare plan included in
the larger health care reform package, and Americans want the Employee Free
Choice Act to be passed to once again allow American workers to freely form
unions and bargain collectively.
America is ready for change.
Why then is change so hard to achieve?
Those who've prosecuted and benefited from the 30 year financial assault on
America's working families refuse to let go, to give up what they've come to
see as theirs -- the insurance companies, the union busters, the ABC, the Comcasts, the Walmarts, Wall St and manipulators of our finances,
the Radical Rightwing including Cheney and Rush Limbaugh and Karl Rove and
Dick Armey and the Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute.
It is clear that if we are to win the change we voted for last fall and many
of us have worked for for years, we are gonna have to fight, fight hard, and
fight outside the normal Washington lobbying box.
Washington politics and lobbying does not work for workers and working
We cannot forget that we've gotten to the verge of passing the Employee Free
Choice Act by running the largest national grassroots legislative campaign
in the history of the American labor movement. Over the six year course of
this campaign we've put literally hundreds of thousands of people on the
street and more than a million workers in motion. We delivered one and a
half million signatures to the Congress, sent half a million emails, wrote
300,000 handwritten letters and made 200,000 phone calls to Senators.
That's a ton of good work. But it is more than clear that we have to do more
While the Employee Free Choice Act has not yet passed, we have realized many
benefits -- more than a dozen states have passed new public employee
collective bargaining laws including majority authorization. Public
officials from town and county commissions to city councils to state
assemblies to governors and mayors to the Congress to the President of the
United States now realize what hell workers go through when they try to
organize and bargain for a better life. More public officials than ever have
weighed in to support workers trying to organize.
We have got to ramp up our grassroots lobbying by our members.
But just as importantly, we have to ramp up our effort to engage and
organize workers who don't have a union, to make use of the progress and
allies we've made and enlist unorganized workers in the struggle to organize
their workplaces and to fight and struggle in the public policy fight to
pass the Employee Free Choice Act. Every organizing campaign is a direct and
clear reason to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.
It is not enough to wait for the Employee Free Choice Act to pass. We have
to demonstrate its necessity with struggle--old fashioned struggle right
now, today not tomorrow. And by their actions, unorganized workers have to
demonstrate the necessity for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.
It is not enough to wait on the law to change.
History is not made and humanity is not advanced by those who accept the
status quo. History is made and the human condition is advanced by warriors
willing to struggle for a better life for their kids and grandkids, warriors
who understand what they have was won by the blood and tears and sacrifice
of our forebears.
America today needs warriors -- warriors to organize and struggle, to fight
for change, to fight the Radical Right and corporate domination, to organize
and struggle, to dare the rat bastards to stop us, to refuse to lose, to
challenge the status quo, to tell those who've run our country and too many
lives into the ditch that change is now, that we will fight in Washington
but that we will also fight all across America.
The future is ours. Let's take it.