This Labor Day working people and their families in New York State are in an exciting and challenging moment. For the first time in years, the labor movement together with its broad movement allies, has the potential to change the course of the country in a more positive direction.
The 2008 Presidential election is historic. Not only has the Democratic Party nominated an African American as its candidate for the first time, but there have also been record turnouts in the primaries and a vibrant grassroots movement has developed.
What’s at stake for working people in the election couldn’t be starker.
McCain represents four more years of the failed Bush policies of war and aggression, tax-breaks for the rich and big corporations, and destruction of social services vital to working-class communities. On the other hand, the candidacy of Barack Obama reflects and represents the massive desire for change: for a livable environment and a sustainable world, for jobs with justice, for peace and progress, for fair taxes and a program to rebuild our cities and towns. Let's be clear, there is a big difference between these two choices. McCain is no "maverick." He is a real conservative who puts the "rights" of the rich and corporations ahead of the needs of the working majority. McCain received a dismal zero percent pro-labor voting record for 2007 while Obama has a stellar 100 percent record and said he looks forward to signing the Employee Free Choice Act into law as our next President.
25 percent of the Democratic Party’s Convention delegates were union members, while the GOP Convention speakers took turns bashing unions and blaming them for the economic crisis in the country.
Of course, deeper Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and in an increase in progressives in the Congress will also shift the terrain in Washington, opening the way for legislation to turn-back the damage of the Bush years, and to repair the country from 30 years of right-wing rule. This is no time to sit out the election.
We not only have a chance to undo the Bush Agenda, but to win big transformative victories and set the stage for higher levels of struggle. A decisive electoral victory in November will lead the way to passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, the end of the occupation of Iraq and implement some form a of national health care. The working-class has been on the defensive for decades, this election has the chance to put the movements back on offense, to set the agenda for the country.
The potential for change is not just in Washington. There is a chance for a shift in the balance of forces in Albany as well. For the first time in decades, the Republicans could lose control of the New York State Senate. No longer will they be able to block progressive legislation, block taxation on the rich, and block reform of out-of-date laws like the Taylor Law, which bans public workers from striking.
A big people’s victory in November is not the end of the struggle, but a new beginning on more favorable ground. The mass movements of the people: the peace movement, student movement, civil rights movement, women’s movement, and labor movement have to keep the pressure on to ensure a new Democratic Administration and Legislature keep the promise to meet the people’s needs.
Together, we can win in November and together we can go on the to change the world.