by Randy Shannon
On Tuesday evening, October 26, Beaver County local union leaders, Democratic Party activists, and Progressive Democrats gathered at the IBEW Local 712 Hall in Vanport, PA to plan a get out the vote effort for the next week. In a close off-year election in which the Republicans are spending $millions, the union turnout at the polls can make the difference between winning or losing union contracts, social security, and healthcare.
Yael Foa, National AFL-CIO senior field representative, is spending two weeks in the area pulling together the union effort and coordinating with Progressive Democrats, the regular Democratic Party and union locals. The Beaver County GOTV effort is led by Chuck Munoz, (602) 738-7878, of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA).
Ms. Foa pointed out that there are approximately 6,400 union households in Beaver County and around 11,400 members who are registered to vote. The AFL-CIO’s priority list consists of 7,500 households to contact by phone or in person. Representatives of IBEW locals, Postal Workers, USW, AFSCME, IAM committed to mobilize volunteers for the effort.
Labor Walks will be held on Saturday 9am-4pm, Sunday 1pm-6pm, Monday 9am-7pm, and Tuesday 9m-7pm, October 30 through November 2, Election Day. Volunteers can get assignments and partners at the IBEW Local 712 Hall, 217 Sassafras Lane, Beaver. (See Calendar for more details.)
A phone bank is already underway and more volunteers are needed every day through Election Day to help contact the thousands of union households. Progressive Democrats can contact Tina Shannon for more details about volunteering.
Last Sunday around sixty members of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees gathered at their annual holiday banquet. USW members Mickey Bolt, George Edwards, and Denise Winebrenner spoke to the group about the importance of participating in the GOTV effort by calling retirees.
Jean Friday, President of the PA Alliance for Retired Americans recalled the gains that working people, especially the generation represented by SOAR members had made for health, safety, security, and dignity for American workers. She recalled the fear that she and others experienced during the Second World War that Germany might win.
Randy Shannon, representing Progressive Democrats, pointed out that the threat of the World War 2 and Great Depression era was fascism. Fascism is the dictatorship of social, political, and economic life by the banks. Today the Koch Brothers, Adolph Coors, and Richard Mellon Scaife, who are backing the Tea Party, are also pushing an anti-government program, with the identical elements of the fascist agenda. Although the Democratic Party candidates might not be the best possible, they are the only alternative on November 2, 2010.
The importance of the State Representative races was also pointed out at the SOAR banquet. Two local union members, Dennis Powell and Frank Bovalino, are running against incumbent Republicans. Tina Shannon pointed out that any legislation regulating or taxing the Marcellus Shale gas drillers would be state legislation. Both candidates are in favor of environmental regulations and taxing the gas drillers. Jean Friday pointed out that we need a Democratic governor because Republican candidate Corbett would never sign such legislation.
With Democratic candidates coming from behind, labor and progressive activists can win new positions of influence to advocate for peace, health care, jobs, education, the environment, and equality by tipping the balance.