By: Trevor Loudon
Organized labor will be among President Barack Obama’s most determined supporters in 2012. Obama’s return to office will be regarded as a matter of life and death for the labor movement. However, labor will be aiming higher in 2012 than in 2008. For American workers, organized and unorganized, the 2012 election will be about much more than the race for the White House, as important as that will be.
Why should unions back Obama? Writes Sears:
First the Obama Administration has, over the last two plus years, accomplished much on behalf of working people. We have seen the passage of a stimulus package that prevented the Great Recession from deteriorating into a second Great Depression. We have seen the passage of health care legislation that expands affordable coverage to millions of working Americans and their families. And we have seen Presidential appointments to the Supreme Court, to the Cabinet and to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that all have the potential to change the environment in which American workers struggle. We have been encouraged by the President’s recent pledge that Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare would not be cut while he was in the White House. And we can point to other recent developments that underline the significance of the changes that have occurred since the departure of George W. Bush from the White House.
Despite disappointments, such as Obama’s failure to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, and the as yet not fully socialized Obamacare, Sears believes that unions will not only back Obama, but reach out to other sectors of the US left to do so:
What needs to be emphasized is that the disagreements and the disappointments should not dampen labor’s support for Obama in 2012. If anything, these experiences will strengthen labor’s determination to flex its muscle, to struggle to defeat conservative and reactionary anti-people candidates, and to build and expand its own independent role in our nation’s politics. This will require labor to reach out and build alliances with other core forces with renewed determination. This has been the message from labor speakers at rallies across the country this spring. As Patrick Eiding, President of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO told a rally against education cuts on April 4, “We are coming together as working people, union and non-union. We have to spread the word that we will not let corporate leaders steal our country.” Or as Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) told the same rally honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, “King walked to bring together the labor community and the civil rights community; we need to bring them together as never before.”
Lenin did not describe labor unions as “transmission belts of communism” for nothing.