Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ohio goes for Obama - with a huge assist from labor

When I saw Ohio called for Obama this evening, I called my friend Bruce Bostick, a longtime steelworker and union activist, and frequent contributer of great stories to the PWW, to congratulate him. This is a huge victory for Ohio's working class, and its union movement.

In our paper Bruce reported on Ohio AFL-CIO leader Joe Rugola's walk across his state last month, stopping at towns and cities ravaged by plant closings and corporate greed, to rally Ohio workers to vote for Obama.

At a stop in Barberton, IBEW leader and newly elected mayor Bob Genet said,

“There were 1,800 good manufacturing jobs here,” said Genet. “That’s 1,800 families that have lost jobs and a huge blow to our local tax base. But it’s more than that. That is where all of our fathers worked. They used to hire family members. It was a good union shop, part of our family here. Now it’s just an old rusty building, thanks to the policies of this administration.”

Writing from Cleveland, Rick Nagin reported on the challenge issued early on by Cleveland area labor leader Loree Suggs, who told union delegates they needed to unite behind Barack Obama. “Go back to your locals. Now is the time to unite. We cannot let any bias or racial thoughts get in the way,” Suggs declared.

Nagin reported:
In case there was any doubt, Soggs said, the building trades had learned that their longtime opponent, the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), had endorsed Republican John McCain, citing his opposition to every key issue protecting unions and working conditions including project labor agreements, the Employee Free Choice Act, the Davis-Bacon Act and occupational safety and health regulations.
“If your members have a problem with racial bias, tell them to get over it,” Soggs said. “Get over it for all time, but especially now for this election, get over it. We must put Barack Obama in the White House and, if we don’t, we are in deep trouble.”

It's clear that Ohio's far-sighted labor movement has made a huge contribution to moving our country forward.

Congratulations, Buckeye Staters.

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