Photo: Solid Labor turnout for PDA Dinner
PA’s 4th CD
By Randy Shannon
PA 4th CD Chapter,
Progressive Democrats of America
“Welcome! Welcome retired steelworkers! Welcome union activists! Welcome Obama volunteers! Welcome Minority Coalition and NAACP! Welcome Peace Links and NOW members! And welcome PDA members,” said Tina Shannon, Chairperson of the Pennsylvania 4th CD Chapter.
To growing applause, Shannon opened the dinner and screening of “Uncounted” before 166 progressive activists from Beaver and surrounding counties at the Polish National Alliance hall in Monaca, PA. Next to her on the podium were posters celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the New Deal in Pennsylvania.
She then recognized Dennis Rousseau, a leader of the Carpenter’s Union, and Democratic candidate for 14th District Legislator, Denise Cox, Vice-President of the Beaver-Lawrence Labor Council and candidate for Home Rule Study Commission, Jean Friday, the President of the Pennsylvania Association of Retired Americans, Marie Malagreca, former national director of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees, Nancy Werme, Beaver County Prothonotary, and Carol Fiorucci, Beaver County Register of Wills.
Obama-Biden campaign posters were hung all around the hall, They were supplied by the AFL-CIO, the Machinists Union, the Service Employees International Union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, United Steelworkers, the Painters Union, the Association of Letter Carriers, and the American Federation of Teachers. The IBEW and SEIU are major forces in the union mobilization for the election in Beaver County. IBEW members of Local 712 and Local 201 were present, including Local 201 President Dominic Scassa. A large group of SEIU members were also present representing locals 668 and 1199P. Members of the USW, NALC, IAM, UE, and PSEA were also present. A large group of retired steelworkers was present with Marion Prasjner, President of SOAR Chapter 2020.
An important factor in the success of the dinner and movie event was the purchase of blocks of tickets by the Aliquippa Chapter of SOAR, by District 10 of the USW, and by the Beaver-Lawrence Counties Labor Council.
As the crowd took their seats for dinner and the excited roar died down, most people signed postcards to 4th CD Congressman Jason Altmire asking him to become a co-sponsor of HR 676 – Medicare for All. Then they examined the National PDA Healthcare Not Warfare card and the local PDA brochure on our new Win-Win campaign to gain endorsements for HR676 from local governments. A copy of the Beaver County Commissioners’ resolution endorsing HR 676 was attached. There were also flyers advertising our website, and AFL-CIO literature listing all the labor-endorsed candidates from Barack Obama at the top to Dennis Rousseau at the bottom of the ticket.
Before the film showing, row officers Nancy Werme and Carol Fiorucci explained the home rule question on Tuesday’s ballot. Vote No on the Home Rule study and vote for opponents of home rule to keep our county government in the hands of the people.
“Uncounted” told the story of how powerful forces in the nation are trying to deny minority and working families’ access to the ballot and to manipulate election outcomes to benefit vested interests. It also told the story of the many heroic individuals who are fighting to defend the right to vote. The film convinced us that electronic voting machines are not a workable substitute for a paper ballot.
After the showing of “Uncounted” Marybeth Kuznik, a leading voting rights activist in Pennsylvania, head of VotePA, and an organizer of the 2004 vote recount in eastern Ohio, spoke to the audience about securing our votes on Tuesday. She had appeared in the film, and remarked that Beaver County voting rights activists, including PDA members, were responsible for the successful effort to decertify the Unilect machines that had stolen over 10% of the 2004 Presidential vote in western Pennsylvania. The audience showed their support for paper ballots by signing Marybeth’s petition for a paper ballot in Pennsylvania.
Marybeth drew the ticket for the 50/50 prize which was won by Janet Sabat, whose husband Mike was working the evening shift at Koppel Steel. The affair ended in high spirits and almost everyone left with a copy of “Steal Back Your Vote” by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast. As clutches of people stood around comparing notes on the campaign in this key swing district, a leader of the IBEW said to me: “This is the Democratic Party I want to work with.”
Democratic State Senate candidate Jason Petrella and County Commissioner Joe Spanik made separate appearances to greet the participants. Democratic Party leaders at the dinner praised the level of camaraderie and unity among the many trends of progressive activism brought together by the PDA event. One commented: “This is the future of the Democratic Party.”
The heightened feeling of unity among so many people working separately for the same goals gave progressives a sense of power and renewed determination to continue to work after the election to win the gains that are so essential to the well being of working people and to the survival of our nation.