Election of Our Lifetime--Where from Here?, Dec 7, 2008
Call to Action by Blair Bertaccini
On November 7 of this year, we the people of the United States took a great step forward to make an economic and social agenda for the workers of this country. How many of us have said to ourselves and others, “I never thought I’d see it in my lifetime”?
The “it” not just refers to the election of Barack Obama but to the movement that was created to elect him and host of pro-worker candidates at the national, state and local level.
To make this moment truly incredible we have still have a lot left to do.
The corporations and the rich have controlled our politics for decades to win many changes that have benefited a miserable minority of our population to the detriment of everyone in this room and the tens of millions like us around our great nation.
On November 7 we put a halt to this agenda. Now it is time to make the changes that our nation cries out for.
So what should be on our agenda now?
Our struggles over a long span of years show where we need to go. We have many heroes and heroines of the people’s struggles that have shown the way. Merrilee Milstein was certainly one of these. Her efforts and those of thousands of others who were not with us in the flesh on November 7 were certainly in our hearts and minds.
Merrilee was certainly a bold fighter and we must be bold now. We cannot listen to many of those in the media and positions of power who tell us that these times are so dire that we must moderate our agenda because the resources are not available to accomplish many goals that were spoken about during this recent political campaign.
Here are some that I am sure our on the minds of everyone in this room.
We must get the Employee Free Choice Act on President Obama’s desk as soon as possible. This act will give those of us in the union movement new tools to organize tens of millions of workers into unions. Every worker in America deserves to have one of these: a union contract. This is mine. It gives me respect on the job and decent standard of living. In fact I felt that maybe my local isn’t doing something right when some political pundits recently complained the United Automobile Workers inch thick contract. I measured mine and its only 3/8 of an inch. We shouldn’t be apologetic about inch thick contracts, that’s an inch of protection, an inch of rights on the job and good wages!
So the workers of America need EFCA. It is a vital part of any economic stimulus package.
We must be clear to our elected officials, now is not the time to cut spending, now is the time to spend lots of money on legislation that creates jobs in the sectors of our economy that need it; rebuilding our infrastructure, our mass transit systems, our streets and roads, sewers and water treatment plants; green industries that are almost necessary to save our planet and ourselves.
Universal health care is something else that cannot wait. We need health care system that brings affordable and comprehensive health care to every person living in this country regardless of income or immigration status. We do not have a health care system now, the word system means some type of coordinated program, we don’t have that. We can fight for this change on both the state and national level. We have to tell our representatives that this change that cannot wait to some undetermined point in the future. We must end this national disgrace as soon as possible.
The Iraq war must end as soon as possible. This war is a crime against the people of Iraq for all the death and destruction that has been inflicted on them and it is a crime against the American people for all the resources that have been wasted there and continue to be wasted no matter how well the situation has supposedly improved.
We must prepare ourselves for these struggles and we cannot let up until we win. Our enemies will not give up easily.
We need to keep ourselves informed about what is happening around our nation and the world how our fellow workers are engaging themselves to win the victories that we can achieve.
The People’s Weekly World is important and I would say an indispensable tool to do this. It is a paper that declares its allegiance to the people’s struggles that calls for the unity of the working class that says a people’s agenda can be achieved.
It is a paper that said that united working class could win this election long before others thought it possible.
Everyone here should have a subscription to this paper. You’re making a political statement when you get a subscription to the PWW. You’re saying “I’m ready to fight”.
I want to thank everyone for coming here this snowy afternoon and I look forward to seeing you all on the frontlines of our battles for a better world.