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Robert Creamer - ‘Four More Reasons Why Democrats Will Retain Control of House and Senate’

09.29.10

Robert Creamer - ‘Four More Reasons Why Democrats Will Retain Control of House and Senate’
- September 28, 2010 - HuffPost

Over the last several weeks, the Pollster.com average of polls testing the generic choice of Republican versus Democrat for Congress has begun to close from a spread of almost 5% down to only 2.3% advantage to Republicans. If the present trend continues, Democrats will soon take the lead.

That trend is just one more indicator that the momentum in the battle to control the two houses of Congress has begun to shift. This trend will accelerate in the five weeks remaining until Election Day. There are four particularly important reasons why:

1). The gap in daily spending between Democrats and Republicans will close.

The effect of the Citizens United case ## and the disproportionate advantage of corporate-backed outside groups has been substantial over the last few weeks. Some days the advantage to the right has been on the order of 10 or 15 to one. But that advantage will diminish as Election Day approaches. Campaigns and independent expenditure committees with finite amounts of money put first priority on spending during the weeks closer to the election when undecided voters tend to make their decisions. So spending by Democrats and their allies will accelerate every week until the election.

Even if, as expected, the Republicans and their supporters continue to spend more than Democrats in key races, the relative value of each dollar spent will decline dramatically as total spending on communication rises. If a voter sees a right-wing spot six times and a spot for Progressives only once, the Right has an enormous advantage. But if a voter sees a Republican spot 25 times and a Democratic spot 20 times, the relative value of the five-spot Republican margin diminishes enormously.

What’s more, in some races, Democrats and their allies are already matching Republicans. Last week in Illinois, of the $1.5 million spent on television in the U.S. Senate race, Democrats spent $700,000 ($500,000 from the Giannoulias Campaign and $200,000 from the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee) and Republicans spent $723,000 ($363,000 from the Kirk Campaign, and $360,000 from American Crossroads, the corporate attack fund organized by Karl Rove).

2). Voters are beginning to focus on the choice facing them between specific living, breathing candidates ## not “generic” ballots. That contrast will not be good for Republican chances.

In 1994, the Republicans caught Democrats off guard. Not this time. Democrats have done their home work, learning every detail about their opponents. And their task has been helped along by the Tea Party’s successful efforts to promote incredibly flawed candidates in many Republican primaries.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that Democrat campaigns have pulled the trigger on a long-planned strategy to take the offensive and use this ammunition to define their opponents.

In the past, Republicans could sometimes count on Democrats to run milquetoast campaigns. This time they are coming out with all guns blazing.

Congresswoman Betty Sutton (D, OH-13) is going after her opponent, car dealer Tom Ganley, defining him as a “dishonest used car salesman” who has been sued more than 400 times for fraud, discrimination, lying to customers and overcharging them.

The NYT reports that in Arizona, Congressman Harry Mitchell (D, AZ-5) accused his opponent, David Schweikert of being “a predatory real estate speculator who snatched up nearly 300 foreclosed homes, been cited for neglect and evicted a homeowner on the verge of saving his house, just to make a buck.”

And it reports that Representative Mike Arcuri (D, NY-24) has introduced his opponent to the voters as a millionaire who “got rich while his construction company overcharged taxpayers thousands, was sued three times for injuries caused by faulty construction and was cited 12 times for health and safety violations.”

In Wisconsin’s 8th CD, Democrat Steve Kagen has unleashed ads showing his opponent, roofing contractor Reid Ribble, on tape saying he wants to “phase out Social Security.”

In races across the country, Democrats will give voters the opportunity to examine Republicans in gory detail ## up close and personal ## before Election Day. Voters will be able to examine their beliefs and proposals ## and their personal values. Make absolutely no mistake that the Democratic Congressional and Senate Campaign Committees, and most campaigns, have every intention of taking the offensive in personalizing these races and making the choices before the voters crystal clear.

3). President Obama has switched into campaign mode. At the national level President Obama, who has the biggest bully pulpit in the country, will use every means to define the choice before American voters.

Obama’s team has decided ## correctly ## to personify this choice in the person of Republican Leader John Boehner ## with a little dash of Paul Ryan and his “Young Gun” associates, Congressmen Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy. Over the last few days they have made Swiss cheese of the Republican’s most recent wet noodle attempt to revive the famous “Contract with America” that helped propel them to victory in 1994. In particular they have challenged Republicans to “promise” to stop outsourcing American jobs ## a subject on which their “promise” is appropriately silent, given their opposition to Democratic moves to eliminate corporate tax breaks for jobs shipped overseas.

The Administration, Democratic leadership and progressive organizations will continue to ramp up campaigns to focus attention on Republican plans to privatize Social Security and replace Medicare with vouchers. They will hammer at Republican plans to repeal the Wall Street reform bill that reined in the power of the big Wall Street banks whose recklessness cost eight million Americans their jobs.

Democrats will force the Republicans to defend their attempts to hold middle-class tax cuts hostage in order to provide a $700 billion tax break to millionaires and billionaires ## which is, after all, one of the Republican Party leadership’s primary goals.

And just as important, President Obama has begun to stump the country and rouse the sleeping Obama electorate.

4). Perhaps most important, the enthusiasm gap will close.

In 1994 Democrats didn’t lose because voters disagreed with them on the issues. They lost because Republican voters went to the polls and Democrats stayed home.

The current enthusiasm gap will close for two key reasons. First, as Democrats ## at all levels ## sharpen and repeatedly define the choices facing the country, many occasional voters who have not been paying close attention will begin to understand the consequences of these elections.

One important group will be Latino voters, who have decided to stand up to the brazen attacks on Hispanics and their culture that have been spewing forth from Republicans across the country ## from attempts to repeal the 14th Amendment, to support for the Arizona “papers please” law, to last week’s united Republican opposition to even considering the “Dream Act.”

The “Dream Act” would allow undocumented kids, who were brought by their parents to the United States ## through no fault of their own ## and raised here as Americans, to continue to get a higher education, serve in the military and apply for citizenship. For years, some Republicans have supported the “Dream Act,” but were unwilling to break with their leadership to support the bill last week when it came up for a vote in the Senate.

The same goes for gay Americans, who were denied a vote on ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” last week because of united Republican opposition: occasional voters from this community, too, are beginning to more clearly feel the consequences of these elections.

The same is true for Muslims who, while they constitute only about 3% of American voters, have been pretty fired up by gratuitous exploitation of Islamophobia by Republicans coast to coast.

And the same is true for union members who increasingly understand that the economic policies of the Republicans are anti-union and anti-middle class.

And increasingly the same will go for young people, African Americans and millions of other ordinary Americans who were inspired by the prospect of economic and political change in 2008, and don’t want to go back to the failed economic policies that drove the economy off the cliff in the first place.

But there is a second reason why progressive voters will wake up before Election Day. For months, Democratic campaigns have been preparing the most robust off-year Get Out the Vote effort in American history.

For example, last Saturday the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) had a National Day of Action that engaged volunteer-staffed canvasses in contested Congressional Districts across the country. On that one day, volunteers knocked on 200,000 doors.

Democratic candidates, the DCCC, Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and President Obama’s field organization ## Organize for America ## will have serious field programs in virtually all in-play Congressional Districts and every in-play Senate state. Those field programs will contact millions of voters before Election Day, encourage vote-by-mail and vote early programs and ultimately make millions of door knocks on Election Day itself.

My consulting firm participated in a study several years ago that showed that one door to door contact within 72 hours of Election Day increased the propensity to vote by 12.5%. A second one in the same period increased turnout almost as much.

These contacts will be supplemented by major member to member campaigns launched by organized labor and organizations like MoveOn.org.

The message from candidates, the President and leaders of important Democratic constituencies like Latinos and labor about what is at stake in this election will do a lot to increase turnout. But so will the old-fashioned message: “I won’t get off your porch until you vote.”

In the end, Republicans would have to take ten Democratic seats to gain control of the Senate and 39 Democratic seats to take over the House.

Christine O’Donnell’s victory in the Delaware Republican Primary makes it almost impossible for Republicans in the Senate to take control of the gavel.

In the House, it is likely that Democrats will gain five currently-Republican seats: DE-AL, IL-10, FL-25, LA-2, and HI-1. That would mean that to take control of the House, Republicans would have to win forty-four currently-Democratic seats. Even with a huge surge at their back, that would be a real lift; more so because the polls show Republicans are actually regarded favorably by 6% fewer Americans than are Democrats. There is no clamor for Republican leadership abroad in the land ## and no charismatic Republican leader who appeals to a broad cross section of Americans.

A district by district analysis shows Democrats doing better than Republicans in many swing districts.

Five weeks from Election Day, many of the pundits have already written a script that calls for a big Democratic defeat on November 2nd. But if Democrats drive hard to the finish, if we stay on the offensive and make this election a choice, and if we do everything in our power to turn out every Democratic vote, the pundit’s script will never make it into the actual annals of American history. Instead it will be filed away in the fiction section where it belongs.

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the recent book: “Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win,” available on www.amazon.com.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-creamer/four-more-reasons-why-dem_b_741580.html?view=print

Dan Onorato endorsed by AFL-CIO and is receiving get-out-to-vote support

09.28.10

OCTOBER 2010, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Dan Onorato endorsed by AFL-CIO and is receiving get-out-to-vote support

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, August 12th- Democratic gubernatorial nominee Dan Onorato is endorsed by the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Harrisburg and the labor federation’s political program is underway in the Lehigh Valley which will attempt to convince union members to support him in November.

Mr. Onorato, currently Allegheny County Executive, in May defeated four other Democrats to become their party’s nominee for Pennsylvania Governor.

The Republican nominee for Governor is current Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO is the largest labor organization in the state, representing more than 900,000 union workers and their families. Endorsements will not be made without at least 2/3rds of the members of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Executive Council representing unions’ affiliated with the labor federation.

“Just about all of the issues and challenges facing Pennsylvania’s working families are tied to protecting and creating jobs. Dan Onorato has an excellent record of job creation and saving jobs while serving as Allegheny County’s Chief Executive,” said Richard Bloomingdale, President of the labor federation.

The Lehigh Valley Labor Council affiliated local unions have began contacting union members through labor walks and phone calls requesting they vote for Mr. Onorato.

IBEW Union Local 1600 files more complaints against PPL

09.28.10

OCTOBER 2010, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

IBEW Union Local 1600 files more complaints against PPL

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, September 1st- The newspaper has discovered the labor organization that represents employees of the PPL Corporation in Allentown filed at least one more labor complaint at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia against the electrical energy utility company.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 1600, Grange Road in Trexlertown, represents approximately 5,000 PPL workers throughout Pennsylvania.

The newspaper reported in the previous edition IBEW Local 1600 filed multiple Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges against PPL alleging the employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The newspaper previous exclusively reported Local 1600 filed on June 25th, 2010 a ULP alleging the Employer violated Section 5 of the NLRAct. Also, Local 1600 filed a complaint against PPL on June 28th, 2010 alleging the Employer violated labor law.

The ULP’s were discovered during the monthly review by the newspaper of complaints and petitions filed at the NLRB office. The newspaper is the only member of the local media that reviews the information.

According to the ULP filed on June 25th, PPL by and through its agents, failed and refused to provide relevent information to Local 1600. The June 28th complaint alleges PPL since on or about April 8th, 2010 failed and refused to bargain in good faith with the Union.

The complaint states on August 4th, 2009 the Union and Employer entered into a Memorandum of Agreement by which the parties established a new progression line which provided maintenance coverage. The parties agreed to establish a joint team to address the vacation rules and procedures. The Employer is alleged to have unilaterally implemented vacation rules and procedures by which it has denied employees vacations on all Saturdays and Sundays.

Most recently, the Union filed a complaint on August 27th, 2010, alleging the Employer has failed and refused to bargain in good faith for not providing relevant information despite repeated requests. The Union alleges PPL has delayed providing the Union with information regarding its clerical needs and duties of a newly created Analyst position.

Workers pay more for health insurance while wages are flat

09.25.10

OCTOBER 2010, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Workers pay more for health insurance while wages are flat

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, September 10th- A study released by the Rutgers’ School of Management and Labor Relations in Brunswick, New Jersey indicates the economic climate for American workers hasn’t improved much during 2010 and they are significantly worse off on most measures than they were a decade ago. While the August unemployment rate was 9.8 percent, 0.1 percent lower than last August, the rate is about 2.5 times the 4.1 percent it was in 2000. And that number does not count the workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and have stopped looking for work.

When underemployed and marginally attached workers are included in the number, the current jobless rate rises to 16.7 percent, compared to 16.8 percent one year ago and 7.1 percent in 2000, the study found. The research also found 42 percent of unemployed workers were out of work for six months or longer, more than twice the percentage in 2005 and nearly 3.5 times the rate at the decades start.

“It’s quite striking that more than one-third of the unemployed have been out of work for at least six months. That suggest this will be a long-term problem to be solved,” stated David Finegold, Dean of the Rutgets’ School of Management and Labor Relations.

Findings showed that workers covered by their companies’ health insurance plans are paying higher costs for the protection but are not receiving commensurate wage increases. Douglas Kruse, Professor of the school and the principal investigator of the study stated the current weekly earnings of wage and salary workers are $744 compares to $748 last year. The lastest figures show employees now contribute an average of $779 for single and $3,515 for family health insurance coverage. Employees pay 87.2 percent more for individual coverage and 74.3 percent more for family coverage than in 2000.

“Even at a time when corporate profits are increasing, there is little gain being shared with the workforce. Workers clearly are being asked to share more of the cost of benefits,” said Mr. Kruse.

Second SEIU officer this year announces retirement

09.25.10

OCTOBER 2010, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Second SEIU officer this year announces retirement

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, August 27th- It was announced on August 15th Anna Berger, Secretary-Treasurer of the nation’s largest labor union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and chairwomen of the Change-to-Win (CtW) labor federation has retired. She is the second major union officer of the SEIU to retire during the past year.

The SEIU was one of the seven unions that unaffiliated from the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation and formed the CtW labor federation.

Andy Stern, President of the SEIU retired in April after serving as the leader of the union for 14 years. He replaced John Sweeney, who became the President of the AFL-CIO. Mr. Sweeney has since retired.

Ms. Berger began her career with the union in 1972 as a rank-and-file Pennsylvania state caseworker and union activist. Mr. Stern also was from Pennsylvania.

She was elected in 1983 as SEIU Local 668’s first female President. Mr. Stern was also a member of Local 668. She gained the respect of her fellow members by showing up with her three-week old daughter on the steps of the Pennsylvania state capitol to risk arrest and challenge then Pennsylvania Republican Governor Richard Thornburgh on his threats to block voter registration efforts. Mr. Thornburgh did not follow though on the threat.

SEIU Local 668 represents workers in the Lehigh Valley.

“From my days as a rank and file activist to my service as an elected officer, I have had the amazing opportunity to watch hundreds of thousands of hardworking women and men learn, grow, build and lead though our union.

When I was a girl growing up in Levittown, Pennsylvania, my parents taught me to be reponsible for myself, my family and my community and the value of hard work and the hard work of living one’s value. My dad, disabled in a truck accident always valued his union and taught me early on to stick with the union, it’s what makes a difference for working people like us,” said Ms. Berger.

On May 8th, the SEIU announced Mary Kay Henry would lead the 2.2 million member union. She stated one of her priority’s was to repair the relationships with some within the labor community.

In July the SEIU and UNITEHERE International Union jointly announced they reached a settlement on behalf of the unions’ members and elected leaders that closed the protracted dispute between the two unions.

The agreement was reached after months of negotiations and resolved all issues related to jurisdiction and asset distribution and establishes a process for determining the righful bargaining representatives for the remaining issues between the unions.

There was a dispute between the unions for several years after members of UNITEHERE were encouraged by the SEIU leadership to disaffiliate and renamed themselves “Workers United” and join the SEIU. The workers that disaffiliated work within the garment industry. The agreement was signed by the parties on July 25th.

“Despite the tensions that have existed between our unions over the past months, John Wilhelm (President of UNITEHERE), and Bruce Raynor (President of Workers United), and I have worked together to find common ground and we’ve been able to put our differences behind us. We agreed that we cannot be spending our time fighting one another over workers who are already represented when there are far too many people who want and need a voice on the job,” Ms. Henry stated

IT’S ABOUT JOBS! RALLY IN PHILADELPHIA FRIDAY

09.24.10

AFL-CIO
Media Release

September 23, 2010

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jessica Burgan 267.303.7638
Marty Marks 412.352.0317

IT’S ABOUT JOBS! RALLY IN PHILADELPHIA FRIDAY

Painters and Machinists Unions’ National Tour Buses Will Join Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Working Families Bus for Jobs Rally in Loves Park

Philadelphia, PA – As the Philadelphia labor movement’s education and mobilization political program kicks into high gear, organizers in Philadelphia are getting bus loads of help from two international unions and the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO this weekend.

The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) and the International Association of Machinists (IAM) are rolling both of their
“It’s About Jobs!” national tour buses into town for an outdoor rally in Love Park. Joining the national unions, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Working Families bus will be on hand with top union leaders aboard. IUPAT President and Philadelphia native Jimmy Williams, IAM General
Secretary-Treasurer Warren Mart, AFL-CIO Sate Federation Secretary - Treasurer Frank Snyder and Southeast Area Labor Federation President John Meyerson are hitting the road to help Philadelphia AFL-CIO President Pat Eiding fire-up the troops for the final weeks of the 2010 political season.

In addition to labor leaders, Congressman Chaka Fattah and state legislative leaders will add their voices to the chorus of pro-job speakers appearing Friday.

Workers and labor leaders will be available for comment and the buses and assembled workers and volunteers will provide appealing visuals for still and video photographers. Interviews may be conducted remotely by telephone before or after the events tomorrow by calling 267.303.7638 to make arrangements.

What: It’s About Jobs! Rally

Who: IUPAT President Jimmy Williams; IAM General Sec.-Treas. Warren Mart; PA AFL-CIO Sec.-Treas. Frank Snyder; Southeast Area Labor Federation President John Meyerson; Philadelphia AFL-CIO President Pat Eiding; local workers and union volunteers.

Where: Love Park, 16th and JFK Blvd, Philadelphia

When: Friday, September 24 from 11:00am until 1:30pm

###

Montgomery County (Pa.) workers vote to join AFSCME Council 13

09.22.10

September 21, 2010

By an overwhelming majority, 245 Montgomery County employees have voted this month to form a union with AFSCME Council 13.
The unit includes deputy sheriffs and administrative support personnel in the sheriff’s department, clerk of courts, district attorney’s office, public defender, coroner and other offices.

The workers’ resounding message to the county is that they want – and deserve – a real voice in the decisions affecting their workplaces. One of the primary concerns in seeking union representation was the rising cost of health care. Another is lack of respect in the sheriff’s department.

David Fillman, executive director of Council 13 and an AFSCME International vice president, calls the vote a “sweet victory” for the workers. “Montgomery County is one of the richest in the nation, but it isn’t reflected in the employees’ pay and benefits. Now – on to organizing the rest of the county!”

Council 13 already represents approximately 120 adult and juvenile probation officers and domestic relations hearing officers in Montgomery County.

(As published by National AFSCME at www.afscme.org)

PASNAP members still without pact, union files complaint

09.21.10

SEPTEMBER 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

PASNAP members still without pact, union files complaint

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 23rd- Nurses represented by the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Professionals (PASNAP) Union employed at the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital on North River Street in Wilkes-Barre, are still without a new labor agreement with the employer.

PASNAP, Conshohocken Pennsylvania, represents approximately 440 nurses employed at the medical center. The Union also represents nurses employed at the Community Medical Center (CMC) on Mulberry Street in Scranton.

PASNAP and Community Health Systems (CHS) Inc., which operates the medical center, have been negotiating for more than fifteen months attempting to gain a successor contract agreement. The previous pact expired on August 30th, 2009. The two sides agreed to work under the terms and conditions of the previous contract while negotiations continue for a new pact.

The Tennessee based CHS Inc. is the largest owner of for-profit hospitals in the United States.

The Union filed multiple labor complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia in the spring however the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges were dismissed by the agency ruling the complaints lacked merit.

The union filed a ULP charge on March 11, 2010 alleging CHS Inc. was negotiating in bad faith and violated the NLRAct. On May 14th, the union filed another ULP charge alleging the Employer has withdrawn its agreement to specific bargaining proposals and has done so because of ULP’s filed by the Union.

On July 15th, 2010 the Union filed another ULP alleging the Employer violated the NLRAct.

“Since on or about May 10th, 2010, and at various times thereafter, the above-named Employer, by its officers, agents and representatives has failed to bargain collectively and in good faith with the Charging Party,” the ULP states.

The Union also alleges in the complaint that the President of the Wyoming Valley Nurses Association/PASNAP, Alex Rendina, has been discriminated against because they have denied Mr. Rendina reinstatement to his position, after they were ordered by an arbitration award to do so.

“Moreover, since or about July 8th, 2010 and continuing thereafter, the above-named Employer, by its officers, agents and representatives, has brought a baseless lawsuit in bad faith, seeking to overturn the June 9th, 2010 labor arbitration award reinstating Alex Rendina to his position,” states the complaint.

On July 20th, 2010, the union filed a second amended ULP against the medical center alleging the Employer has failed to negotiate in good faith.

The union alleges in the latest ULP, the Employer has refused to provide information regarding the cost incurred by participates in the company’s health insurance plan. PASNAP alleges the information is necessary to fullfill its role as the collective bargaining representatives, states the complaint.

Nonunion workers being hired for building construction in Scranton

09.21.10

SEPTEMBER 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Nonunion workers being hired for building construction in Scranton

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, Union members affiliated with the Scranton Building and Construction Trades Council labor federation have been picketing the future site of the Tobyhanna Federal Credit Union in downtown Scranton. The Credit Union is currently located in the 300 block of Mulberry Street in Scranton.

The Tobyhanna Credit Union is expanding and will constuct their own building on Franklin Avenue in Scranton. The new building will be located less than two blocks away from the Scranton Times Federal Credit Union.

According to Drew Simpson, President of the labor federation, Credit Union officials were approached before the project began and were asked to hire local union construction tradesmen.

However, members of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Union Local 542, in Wilkes-Barre, which operates heavy construction equipment, have not been hire for the site preparation. Also an nonunion company has been hired for the erection of steel for the building instead of signing an agreement with a contractor that is signed with the International Association of Bride, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union Local 489 in Yatesville.

Mr. Simpson stated Laborers’ International Union Local 130 in Scranton members have not yet been hired as well.

Jack Figured, Field Representative of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) Union Local 5 in Harrisburg, which represents BAC members throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, has participated with the informational picketed at the construction site.

The newspaper contacted officials of other affiliated local unions of the labor federation and found none that are certain their members will be hired for the project. There are fifteen unions affiliated with the labor federation.

John Gatto, Assistant Business Manager of the Painters and Allied Trades Council 21, stated he is not aware of any contractor that is under contract with his union that has been hired.

According to Vern Johnson, Northeast Manager of the United Brothrhood of Carpenters Union Local 645 in Scranton, his members have not yet been hired for the project.

“Our guys could have really use the work. Things have been slow. Work is hard to find,” said Mr. Johnson. Local 645 represents members of the carpentry trade.

Mr. Simpson told the newspaper employees of Tobyhanna Army Deport, which makes up many of the cretit union depositors, are represented by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Union Local 1647, and the unions’ leadership has been asked to help in getting union tradesmen on the project. “We are asking our union brothers and sisters for any help they can give,” said Mr. Simpson.

Scranton Firefighters asked to participate in annual flag raising event

09.21.10

SEPTEMBER 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Scranton Firefighters asked to participate in annual flag raising event

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 1st- Members of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 60, which represents the fire department of the City of Scranton, participated in raising and lowering United States flags that will be given to families of fallen firefighters.

The flags will be presented to families of fallen firefighters at a memorial service to be held on October 3rd at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. The event is held annually.

According to Local 60 member and an Scranton Fire Department Captain Robert Cetta, six from Scranton participated in the flag raising event. Mr. Cetta stated 120 United States flags were raised, lowered, and folded.

“Our guys were asked to participate,” said Mr. Cetta.

Local 60 is the largest bargaining unit the IAFF represents throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania. The union represents firefighters in Dunmore, Wilkes-Barre, Hazleton, Nanticoke and Pittston.

In photo left to right: Scranton Fire Captain Robert Cetta, Firefighters Nick Azzarelli, Robert Hannon, Robert Zoltewicz, Tim O’Connor and Scranton Fire Lieutenant Brian Scott.

Scranton firefighter James Robeson family, who was killed while fighting a fire in 2008, received a flag in 2009.

Suit against Social Security Administration goes forward

09.21.10

SEPTEMBER 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Suit against Social Security Administration goes forward

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 29th- A group of disabled employees of the Social Security Administration class action lawsuit before the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) can continue. On August 24th, 2010 the EEOC Office of Federal Operations affirmed the October 8th, 2008 decision of the Administrative Judge to certify the case as a class action.

The action alleges that the Social Security Administration discriminates against employees with targeted disabilities by creating a glass ceiling and limiting promotions and other career advancement opportunities. The cerified class includes all current and former employees with targeted disabilities at the Social Security Administration who, on or after August 2nd, 2003, has applied for promotions, appeared on a best qualified list and been denied promotion opportunities.

The Social Security Administration is a federal agency that provides financial benefits to more than 160 million workers and their families, and pay approximately $580 billion annually to more than 49 million Americans. The Social Security Administration is headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland and employs approximately 62,000 employees.

The EEOC defines “targeted disabilities” to include deafness, blindness, missing extremities, partial paralysis, complete paralysis, convulsive disorders, mental retardation, mental illness, and genetic and physical conditions affecting limbs and/or spine. For years, the EEOC has reported an alarming decline in the number of people with targeted disabilities in the federal workforce, despite the government’s statutory obligation to be a model employer.

Class action members who would like more information about the case can call (215) 875-4656. Class members who are affiliated with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Union may contact the union’s attorney Phillip Kete at (202) 587-5757.

CMC nurses union bargaining committee elected

09.21.10

SEPTEMBER 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

CMC nurses union bargaining committee elected

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 20th- Members of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Professionals (PASNAP) Union, which represents approximately 400 nurses employed at the Community Medical Center (CMC) Hospital on Mulberry Street in Scranton, have elected their bargaing committee for the upcoming contract negotiations between the union and the employer.

On August 5th PASNAP conducted the bargaining committee election at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 87 Union building in Dunmore.

According to a member of the union and a nurse employed at the medical center, contract negotiating tactics are being discuss for the upcoming bargaining sessions between the union and management representatives.

Registered Nurses (RN’s) at the CMC have been represented by PASNAP since July 19th, 2007. The RN’s voted 209 for union representation to 117 against during a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia conducted election. A labor organization must receive 50 percent plus one of the eligible voting employees to become the representative of the workers for the purpose of collective bargaining.

PASNAP also represents around 440 nurses employed a the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital on North River Street in Wilkes-Barre. Those workers have been without a contract agreement with the medical center operator since August 30th, 2009.

The Community Medical Center contract between PASNAP and the employer expires on December 8th, 2010.

The first contract between the parties was approved by the membership in April 2008 after more than nine months of negotiations. During negotiations the union held public awareness events including holding a rally across the street from the CMC at Nay Aug Park in Scranton.

The CMC labor representation is Scranton Attorney Robert Ufberg. Mr. Ufberg is also the legal counsel for employee issues for the Scranton Times-Tribune newspaper group.

Former SDACT President working for PSEA in Wilkes-Barre

09.21.10

SEPTEMBER 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Former SDACT President working for PSEA in Wilkes-Barre

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 28th- Mike Milz, the former President of the Scranton Diocese Association of Catholic Teachers (SDACT) Union, which once represented teachers of the Scranton Diocese, is no longer involved with the union.

SDACT represented teachers of seventeen grade schools and nine of ten high schools of the Diocese of Scranton until August 2007 when the previous contracts expired between the parties. Then Scranton Diocese Bishop Joseph Martino refused to negotiate for a successor contract agreement with SDACT and implemented a Employee Relations Program. Mr. Milz stated the program was nothing but a “company Union” similar to what the area coal barons implemented in the early 1990’s in a attempt to stop the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) from organizing their miners.

Mr. Milz recently told the newspaper he has taken a full-time position with the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) Union in Wilkes-Barre that will not allow him to be involved with his former union.

Mr. Milz was laid-off by the Diocese of Scranton in 2008. He was a 33 year employee of the Diocese of Scranton working as a science teacher and later a social studies teacher at Bishop Hoban in Wilkes-Barre. The school remained open after many were closed throughout the Diocese in 2009 and is now called Holy Redemmer.

Following his termination by the Diocese of Scranton he became the Field Representative for the Northeastern Area Labor Federation of Pennsylvania. Mr. Milz left that position to join the staff of the PSEA in the Lehigh Valley. He recently joined the Union’s staff in Wilkes-Barre which represents PSEA members throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania.

It was reported in the newspaper several months ago the union had authorization cards signed by current Diocese of Scranton teachers indicating they would like to be union represented. The cards were signed by the employees after Bishop Martino agreed to allow the union to represent them providing a clear majority signed the cards. However, Mr. Milz stated Bishop Martino went back on his word and refused to discuss the situation with the union.

“The union is in my heart,” said Mr. Milz.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA unemployment rate rises again, now at 10.4 percent

09.21.10

SEPTEMBER 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

MSA unemployment rate rises again, now at 10.4 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 1st- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry, the region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 10.4 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report, which was released approximately four weeks before. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) includes Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming Counties. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 8.8 percent.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 9.3 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,395,000 with 591,000 not working and 5,802,000 with employment. The national unemployment rate is 9.5 percent, unchanged from the previous report. However, the unemployment rate does not include civilians who unemployment benefits have expired and stopped looking for work.

There are 14,599,000 civilians in the nation reported to be unemployed. That number does not include civilians that have exhausted their
unemployment benefits and have stopped looking for work. There are actually at least 21,000,000 civilians in the nation without jobs.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the fourth largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 283,700 civilians. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force at 2,962,600 with 279,100 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,221,100 with 102,300 without jobs; the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force at 422,600 with 42,200 not working; and the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fifth largest civilian labor force at 283,100 with 23,500 without employment.

Of the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the highest unemployment rate. The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment in the Commonwealth at 10.1 percent. The Allentown/Bethlhem/Easton has the third highest at 9.9 percent with the Erie MSA and the Reading MSA tied with the fourth highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 9.8 percent.

There are 29,500 residents reported to be not working in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA, increasing by 400 from the previous report and rising by 4,400 from twelve months before. That number also does not include civilians who unemployment benefits have expired and stopped looking for work.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.7 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 7.7 percent, the Lancaster MSA has the third lowest rate at 8.0 with the Altoona MSA the fourth lowest unemployment rate at 8.1 percent.

Lackawanna County and Wyoming County are tied with the lowest unemployment rate in the MSA at 9.9 percent.

The unemployment rate in Lackawanna County has increased by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and increased by one and eight-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago.

Lackawanna County has a labor force of 107,800, decreasing by 200 civilians from the previous report. There are 10,700 Lackawanna County residents without jobs, increasing by 300 from the previous report and increasing by 2,900 from twelve months ago.

Wyoming County has a labor force of 14,400, decreasing by 100 from the previous report and decreasing by the same number from twelve months ago. There are 1,400 Wyoming County residents without jobs, unchanged from the previous report and increasing by 100 during the past twelve months.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 10.8 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and increasing by one and five-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago.

Luzerne County has a labor force of 161,500, decreasing by 600 from the previous report and decreasing by 100 during the past twelve months. Of the labor force, 17,400 civilians do not have a job, increasing by 300 from the previous report and rising by 1,900 during the past twelve months.

SEIU files labor complaint against Hazleton nursing home

09.21.10

SEPTEMBER 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

SEIU files labor complaint against Hazleton nursing home

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 30th- The labor organization that represents workers employed by the Northern Health Facilities, Inc., which operates Mountain City Nursing and Rehabilitiation Center in Hazleton, filed a labor complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) region Four office in Philadelphia alleging the employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Pennsylvania in Harrisburg filed the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge on August 27th. The newspaper discovered the ULP while reviewing complaints and petitions filed at the NLRB office. The Union News newspaper is the only member of the local media that reviews and publishes the information.

According to the complaint, the SEIU alleges the Employer violated Section 8 (a) 5 of the NLRAct.

Mountain City Nursing and Rehabitiation Center operates a nursing home at the facility and there are approximately 47 employees represented by the SEIU, the ULP states.

“Since on or about August 23rd, 2010, and at all times thereafter, the above-named employer, by its officers, agents, and representatives, has by refusing to bargain with the union by alleging the LPNs are supervisors contrary to the decision of the Regional Director, failed and refused to bargain collectively and in good faith with, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, CTW, CLC, a labor organization, designated or selected by a majority of the employees of said employer in an appropriate unit for the purposes of collective bargaining in respect to rates of pay, wages, hours of employment, and other conditions of employment,” states the complaint.

The employer representative named on the ULP to be contacted is David Keating, indentified as the Corporation Counsel of Labor and Employment.

Report Skewers Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile for Rights Violations

09.13.10

In a report released September 2, Human Rights Watch issued a scathing indictment of Deutsche Telekom’s union intolerance practices in the United States.

HRW A Strange Case

The human rights watchdog report cites numerous instances of interference with the freedom of association by its wholly-owned subsidiary T-Mobile USA:

- Captive audience meetings
- Managerial threats
- Interference with handbilling
- Filming workers who accept flyers
- Interviewing techniques to weed out potential union sympathizers
- Managers asking workers to spy on other workers
- Advertisements for HR managers with “union avoidance” skills

The report notes that Deutsche Telekom touts its adherence to corporate responsibility, including international labor standards.
The Real T-Mobile suggests the juxtaposition of what Deutsche Telekom advertises in its corporate branding and what T-Mobile delivers in its behavior in the U.S. shows a blatant hypocrisy.

Many of these labor rights violations took place at the Allentown, Pennsylvania, call center, the same worksite where CWA activists and local political figures recently tried to meet with management (click here and here).

The Deutsche Telekom / T-Mobile case was one of ten companies cited by Human Rights Watch for their double standards – respecting labor rights in Europe whle taking advantage of weak labor law in the U.S.

The Report, entitled “A Strange Case: Violations of Workers’ Freedom of Association in the United States by European Multinational Corporations,” is available here. Click here for the Human Rights Watch press release.

Click here for coverage in the Financial Times.

Click here for the story in the AFL-CIO blog.

Click here for coverage by Voice of America. The article also includes a 2-minutes audio.

Find out more

Find out more about our campaign for respect at T-Mobile USA on our website: www.LoweringTheBarForUs.org

Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

IBEW Union Local 1600 files more complaints against PPL

09.12.10

SEPTEMBER 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

IBEW Union Local 1600 files more complaints against PPL

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 27th- The newspaper has discovered the labor organization that represents employees of the PPL Corporation in Allentown filed at least one more labor complaint at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia against the electrical energy utility company.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 1600, Grange Road in Trexlertown, represents approximately 5,000 PPL workers throughout Pennsylvania.

The newspaper reported in the previous edition IBEW Local 1600 filed multiple Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges against PPL alleging the employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The newspaper previous exclusively reported Local 1600 filed on June 25th, 2010 a ULP alleging the Employer violated Section 5 of the NLRAct. Also, Local 1600 filed a complaint against PPL on June 28th, 2010 alleging the Employer violated labor law.

The ULP’s were discovered during the monthly review by the newspaper of complaints and petitions filed at the NLRB office. The newspaper is the only member of the local media that reviews the information.

According to the ULP filed on June 25th, PPL by and through its agents, failed and refused to provide relevent information to Local 1600. The June 28th complaint alleges PPL since on or about April 8th, 2010 failed and refused to bargain in good faith with the Union.

The complaint states on August 4th, 2009 the Union and Employer entered into a Memorandum of Agreement by which the parties established a new progression line which provided maintenance coverage. The parties agreed to establish a joint team to address the vacation rules and procedures. The Employer is alleged to have unilaterally implemented vacation rules and procedures by which it has denied employees vacations on all Saturdays and Sundays.

Most recently, the Union filed a complaint on August 27th, 2010, alleging the Employer has failed and refused to bargain in good faith for not providing relevant information despite repeated requests. The Union alleges PPL has delayed providing the Union with information regarding its clerical needs and duties of a newly created Analyst position.

Second SEIU officer this year announces retirement

09.12.10

SEPTEMBER 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Second SEIU officer this year announces retirement

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 27th- It was announced on August 15th Anna Berger, Secretary-Treasurer of the nation’s largest labor union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and chairwomen of the Change-to-Win (CtW) labor federation has retired. She is the second major union officer of the SEIU to retire during the past year.

The SEIU was one of the seven unions that unaffiliated from the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation and formed the CtW labor federation.

Andy Stern, President of the SEIU retired in April after serving as the leader of the union for 14 years. He replaced John Sweeney, who became the President of the AFL-CIO. Mr. Sweeney has since retired.

Ms. Berger began her career with the union in 1972 as a rank-and-file Pennsylvania state caseworker and union activist. Mr. Stern also was from Pennsylvania.

She was elected in 1983 as SEIU Local 668’s first female President. Mr. Stern was also a member of Local 668. She gained the respect of her fellow members by showing up with her three-week old daughter on the steps of the Pennsylvania state capitol to risk arrest and challenge then Pennsylvania Republican Governor Richard Thornburgh on his threats to block voter registration efforts. Mr. Thornburgh did not follow though on the threat.

“From my days as a rank and file activist to my service as an elected officer, I have had the amazing opportunity to watch hundreds of thousands of hardworking women and men learn, grow, build and lead though our union.

When I was a girl growing up in Levittown, Pennsylvania, my parents taught me to be reponsible for myself, my family and my community and the value of hard work and the hard work of living one’s value. My dad, disabled in a truck accident always valued his union and taught me early on to stick with the union, it’s what makes a difference for working people like us,” said Ms. Berger.

On May 8th, the SEIU announced Mary Kay Henry would lead the 2.2 million member union. She stated one of her priority’s was to repair the relationships with some within the labor community.

In July the SEIU and UNITEHERE International Union jointly announced they reached a settlement on behalf of the unions’ members and elected leaders that closed the protracted dispute between the two unions.

The agreement was reached after months of negotiations and resolved all issues related to jurisdiction and asset distribution and establishes a process for determining the righful bargaining representatives for the remaining issues between the unions.

There was a dispute between the unions for several years after members of UNITEHERE were encouraged by the SEIU leadership to disaffiliate and renamed themselves “Workers United” and join the SEIU. The workers that disaffiliated work within the garment industry. The agreement was signed by the parties on July 25th.

“Despite the tensions that have existed between our unions over the past months, John Wilhelm (President of UNITEHERE), and Bruce Raynor (President of Workers United), and I have worked together to find common ground and we’ve been able to put our differences behind us. We agreed that we cannot be spending our time fighting one another over workers who are already represented when there are far too many people who want and need a voice on the job,” Ms. Henry stated in July.

The SEIU stated the responsibilities of Secretary-Treasurer will be temporarily fulfilled by Ms. Henry. The vote to replace Ms. Berger will be held in September.

Building Trades Unions Pre-Apprenticeship event held in Allentown

09.07.10

SEPTEMBER2010, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Building Trades Unions Pre-Apprenticeship event held in Allentown

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, August 24th- The Building and Construction Trades Council of the Lehigh Valley labor federation sponsored Pre-Apprenticeship Initiative program certification event was held on August 20th at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 375 building on Liberty Street in Allentown.

The United Community Services and the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board are also involved in the program.

The program is partly funded through Pennsylvania’s allocation from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The Pre-Apprenticeship Initiative is intended to give enrolled youths from throughout the Lehigh Valley academic preparation and work experiences so they could enter the building trades apprenticeship programs in the future.

The youths must first be eligible to enter the program and must attend classes at the Local 375 building in the unions’ apprenticeship classrooms during weekdays of the summer.

After completing the course the youths receive certifications indicating they have attended enough of the classes and participated in the program. They are required to study math, construction safety and building trade work readiness.

The youths visited job sites and learned about building trade unions and heard from speakers during the summer long program.

“We will be involved in the program at least for the next three years,” said IBEW Local 375 Business Manager Brett Helfrich, who is also the Secretary Treasurer of the labor federation.

Vicki Henshaw directs the program and told the newspaper the initiative was almost the same as last year, which was the first year of the program. She did state that unlike the 2009 program there will be meetings with the students during the fall semester.

According to Ms. Henshaw twenty youths enrolled in the program this summer while last year there was fourteen. “Twenty will the most we can handle. Because of more funding we will be able to meet with the students during the school semester,” stated Ms. Henshaw.

Several labor leaders from within the union building trades community attended the August 20th certification event including Mr. Helfrich, and William Dorward of the Sheet Metal Workers International Union Local 19.

The participating youths, their families, program supporters, and invited guests attended the event which included food, soda and special presentations.

This Fall’s Election is Not about Policies and Programs – It’s About Right and Wrong

09.07.10

This Fall’s Election is Not about Policies and Programs – It’s About Right and Wrong

By Robert Creamer

There is a tendency among people who spend their lives working to promote policy positions, Members of Congress, Congressional staffs, and even the media to discuss political issues in terms of public policy.

I don’t mean simply that they use wonky terms and acronyms – though that is often true and it is the surest way to make people’s eyes glaze. I mean that they focus on the potential “effectiveness” of a particular legislative or administrative initiative.

Now the effectiveness of a particular program or policy is enormously important – both to government and politics. But everyday voters mainly make decisions over whether a policy – or a political leader – is effective based on the objective circumstances of their day-to-day lives. If, for instance, President Obama’s policies are not ultimately effective dragging the economy out of the economic ditch into which it was driven by George Bush he will certainly have a very difficult time being re-elected.

But when it comes to the impact of political dialogue – of direct messaging – on the outcome of elections, discussions of the effectiveness of policy are not important determinants of outcomes. Often messaging focused on the effectiveness of a candidate – or a person – can in fact have a big impact on outcomes, but not the discussion of the effectiveness of a policy. The Democrats need an effective economic policy because that will ultimately impact the real circumstances of everyday people. Those real circumstances will have a huge impact on the outcome of elections. But it isn’t the “discussion” of those policies that will be determinative in the least.

Elections are decided by two groups: persuadable swing voters, and mobilizable voters who would cast their ballots for one of the two parties but are unlikely to vote unless they are mobilized.

Neither of these groups is comprised of policy wonks. In fact, both are less likely to be heavily engaged and focused on political and policy issues than more partisan voters. That doesn’t mean these voters are less intelligent than more partisan voters – just less interested.

They care about the things that normal people think about – not policy debates. They care first and foremost about the actual circumstances of their own families – about their job, their income, their kid’s school, their retirement, their hopes and aspirations.

But when it comes to what dialogue – or messaging ## affect their political decisions, they don’t focus on the potential “effectiveness” of one policy or another. Instead they want to know whether something is right or wrong.

From the standpoint of most voters there are two inter-related but distinct components of this notion of right and wrong.

On the one hand there is the moral frame that is engaged by any particular political message. Normal voters think of political decisions as choices that are measured against values – not “policies.” This fall we need to make the election a choice between our very popular progressive values and their very unpopular values.

We have to provide a clear contrast to the Right’s belief in unbridled pursuit of individual interest with our commitment to the common good; selfishness versus commitment to others; division versus unity; fear versus hope; that we’re all in this together, not “all in this alone.”

On the other hand voters make political decisions by asking the closely related question of whether you are on “my side.” Whose side is a candidate on? Is he a good guy or a bad guy? Does he represent good guys or bad guys? Are his proposals right or wrong? And remember that right and wrong, and good guys and bad guys, are always defined from the standpoint of who you are and where you sit.

In other words ## as George Lakoff argues ## from the point of view of the voters, most political decisions are moral decisions.

This is not so because swing voters and mobilizable voters are somehow more “unsophisticated” than more engaged, partisan voters. In fact, you could argue that they are actually more focused on what really matters. Whether a particular policy will “work” is important, but it is a technical question. In fact, most people know instinctively that it’s not the principal driver of political decision-making in any society or group. Normal voters want to strip away the euphemism and policy talk and get to the real question: whose interest is being served and whose is not? What real choices are being made? Is it fair?

Political decisions involve competing self-interests. Normal people know it, and they want to know whose nest is being feathered and whose ox is being gored. First and foremost they want to know if a candidate is on their side.

For many years the Republicans and the far right did a much better job of speaking to that sense of right and wrong than Democrats and Progressives. That helps explain why for much of the last 40 years they were more successful politically. That changed in 2006 and especially in 2008. Barack Obama communicated moral language about hope and possibility – about justice – about standing up for everyday people not special interests.

To win this fall, Democrats need to revive that sense of moral fervor. We have to assure that the election is not about the “effectiveness” of Democratic policies – but whose side a candidate is on.

The debate in the next two months must focus on one central question: do you want to entrust our future once again to Republicans who wrecked the economy – not because they were incompetent or had “bad” policies – but because they were bought and paid for by huge special interests like the big Wall Street Banks, Big Oil and the insurance industry. That is a moral question – not a policy question.

Voters were not outraged by the bank bailout or the huge Wall Street bonuses because they thought they were “ineffective” policies. They are furious because they saw them as unjust.

Everyday people are perfectly willing to sacrifice for a cause that is important. In fact, they long to be called upon to commit their lives to a cause that is bigger than themselves ## something to which they can make a significant personal contribution. One of the chief self-interests of every person is a desire for meaning in life and meaning comes from the commitments you make. Everyday voters want their leaders to call on them to make commitments to the greater good – to the future of their children.

But people are livid if they believe they are called upon to play by the rules and then one day get laid off from their job – for no fault of their own – because some Wall Street sharpie made horrible bets with someone else’s money and then walked off scott-free with millions of dollars when the bottom fell out. That’s wrong.

The right-wing arguments that stuck during the health care debate were not “policy” arguments. They were the myths about “death panels,” and Government controlling your life and depriving you of freedom. It was the myth that Health Care reform would cut the Medicare that you have paid into your entire working life. People view these questions in moral terms – in terms of right and wrong – not effectiveness or efficacy.

There are three additional reasons why political messaging that involves moral frames is so resonant:

. Moral questions engage the emotions, not just conscious thought. Emotion is much more likely to break through – to get people’s attention. It is especially effective at mobilizing people to vote. With mobilizable voters, the problem is not convincing them that we are right. Mobilizable voters – by definition ## are voters who would vote Democratic, but need to be mobilized to assure they will go to the polls. In 1994 we did not lose because most Americans disagreed with Democratic policies, but because Democrats stayed home and Republicans went to the polls. Mobilization is not about persuasion, it’s about motivation – motivating them to act. That is much more about emotion than thought.

· Moral questions engage value frames that are deeply embedded in each of our unconscious minds. As Lakoff points out, we often have several contradictory value frames. Our view of a subject or candidate is heavily influenced by the frame that is being activated at the particular time. If Democrats do not communicate in moral terms and the other side does, they will be much more apt to activate a clear value frame and win the day.

· A final reason we are much more likely to gain attention of the voters when we use moral language involves narrative. Everyday voters are much more likely to become engaged with our campaigns and candidates if we engaged them with a narrative – or story – about the race. Narratives always involve a protagonist and antagonist. They always involve conflict. At some level, every good story is about right and wrong. Good stories engage us because we empathize with some character and end up rooting for their success. The same is true of election campaigns.

In this election a moral frame is particularly important because it allows Democrats to play offense. We will not win a debate over whether we have been “effective” enough at digging out of the economic hole that Bush and the Republicans left. People are too unhappy with the status quo. Virtually every economist agrees that the stimulus bill did a great deal to stave off true economic disaster, but that doesn’t ring true to someone whose brother-in-law is out of work. In this election the winning ground for Democrats is the question of who’s on your side, and whether we want to hand over the country to the Republicans who will once again do the will of elite special interests.

Discussing questions in moral terms requires that we always address the question of motive. In fact, the motive is often more important than any other aspect of our message. What is important is not just that the Republicans wrecked the economy – but that they wrecked the economy at the bidding of the Big Wall Street banks. They didn’t wreck the economy because they were incompetent or stupid, but because they were – and remain – a wholly-owned subsidiary of the biggest special interests in the country.

And let’s remember that while on the one hand, this is by far the most compelling way to frame the issues in the Mid-terms; it is also without any question the most accurate description of reality.

If Democrats are to persuade and mobilize this fall, every debate must be cast in moral terms:

· Republicans want to cut guaranteed benefits and privatize Social Security for two reasons: because Wall Street wants to get its hands on the Social Security Trust Fund – and so that they allow the wealthiest people in America to keep the huge Bush tax breaks. They would much rather “balance the budget” on the backs of Social Security recipients than demand that the wealthy pay the same tax rates they did during the prosperous Bill Clinton years. It turns out, by the way, that over the next 25 years the “shortfall” in Social Security is about the same amount as the revenue lost if Congress continues the Bush tax cuts for the top 2%.

· Republicans want to replace Medicare with vouchers for private insurance from the same companies that raised their rates three times faster than wages and are now engorged with profit.

· Republicans opposed the Democratic stimulus bill, extensions of unemployment and more federal money for teachers, firemen and police because they wanted the recovery to stall for their narrow political purposes.

· Republicans oppose tough regulation of drilling by oil companies because they have been bought and paid for by Big Oil.

· Republicans want to repeal the new law reining in the recklessness of the Big Wall Street banks that cost eight million Americans their jobs, because they are owned by Wall Street.

· Republicans want to take away provisions in the new Health Care law that prevent insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions because the insurance companies dump millions of dollars into their campaigns.

· Republicans side with big business contributors when they consistently oppose measures to discourage the outsourcing of American jobs abroad.

Everything has to be about who is on your side. Everything has to be about motive ## about right and wrong.

Democrats face a tough political environment in November because the economic catastrophe that the Republicans created two years ago was so fundamental. It would be outrageous if they were allowed to reclaim control of Congress as their reward for causing that catastrophe and then doing everything they can to stall economic recovery. Now that would be wrong.

Over the next two months we have to passionately make the moral case. We must make the election a choice between those who side with everyday Americans and those who stand shoulder to shoulder with the economic elites whose greed and recklessness unleashed a flood of misery that has yet to fully recede from the Main Streets of America.

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the recent book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com.