So, I’m over at OxDown and reading e-mail when I come across this cool piece by Michael Whitney. First, let me just say, dude, right on target, and then let me also say, how much Wal-Mart cash do you think flows into this anti-union campaign of McCain and his sweetheart, Berman? I’m guessing, it’s a whole shitload. I mean, they’re shoveling shit, why couldn’t it be a shit load. (note I covered this a little yesterday, too with Not So Fast CNN)
Okay, I’ve had my say, now hear it from Michael.
McCain's New Stump Speech Stands Up for CEO Contributors over the Middle Class
By: Michael Whitney Wednesday October 15, 2008
Over the weekend, John McCain debuted a new stump speech, filling his usual message to the party faithful with plenty of red meat for conservative activists. Introduced as a "feisty ... comeback" speech, McCain lambasts Democratic leaders such as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid for having the gall to "concede defeat in Iraq" and "raise taxes."
But in the midst of McCain's new message - mixed in-between the traditional conservative mantras of taxing and spending - is a new line in which McCain talks about unions and takes the side of his CEO contributors on the issue. Here's the whole paragraph; I'll bold the key line:
Now, my friends, let me give you the state of the race today and some straight talk," McCain said. "We have 22 days to go. We're six points down. The national media has written us off. Senator Obama is measuring the drapes and planning with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to raise taxes, increase spending — take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labor elections, and concede defeat in Iraq — and concede defeat in Iraq.
So why is McCain saying Obama would "take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labor elections?" First - brace yourself - McCain is lying. Obama supports no such thing.
What Obama does support is the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill backed by Obama and virtually every other Democrat in Congress and across the country. What McCain supports is giving unfettered veto power for CEOs to deny working people the opportunity to follow the American Dream.
The Employee Free Choice Act gives workers the free choice to form a union, taking away businesses' veto power on the matter. Basically, once 50% +1 of workers in a workplace say they want a union, they get their union if the Employee Free Choice Act becomes law. But today, even if 100% of workers want a union, the employer can veto it. Rick Perlstein explains the situation well, via economist Dean Baker:
The only change with the Employee Free Choice Act is whether card check recognition is at the discretion of the employer of the worker. In other words, it changes absolutely ZERO about whether the right of workers to organize is determined by secret ballot or not. The only thing it changes is who gets to decide the manner of certification, workers or employers.
Why do workers need this Free Choice to form unions? And why is McCain all worked up about "secret ballots?" Ezra Klein explains the dire straits in which workers who want to form unions find themselves these days:
About 49 percent of employers openly threaten to close down a worksite when faced with a unionization drive. Untold more tell individual workers, in captive meetings, that jobs will be lost. 30 percent make good on the threat in real time, firing workers who engage in union activities. 82 percent hire unionbusting consulting firms which teach them how to most effectively shutter a union drive while either technically staying in the limits of the law, or breaking it in such a way that the gains will outweigh the eventual fines.
All the concern over the possible implications of EFCA would be fair enough if these same folks evinced even an ounce of anxiety over the reality that workers are being threatened, intimidated, and even fired if they dare try and organize. [...] The space we're currently occupying is brutal, and makes an utter mockery of the idea of elections. Hearing the status quo defended as free and fair is like imagining a presidential election where you can vote however you'd like, but anyone who votes against the incumbent party is informed they will lose all access to Social Security, Medicare, and the protection of their local police and fire departments. Also, they'll be audited. But nevertheless: Folks can vote however they want.
What is at stake here for both McCain and Obama is a choice about creating a new path of economic prosperity for America's workers. By suppporting the Employee Free Choice Act, Obama recognizes that when workers are able to form or join a union, more people have the chance to earn better wages and benefits. Indeed, when more workers are in unions, the wages of workers who aren't in unions rise anyway. The Employee Free Choice Act is part of the solution to get our economy back on track, and John McCain doesn't want that to happen.
It's clear John McCain is more interested in protecting his CEO campaign contributors than he is in giving working families a chance to get ahead. McCain's new anti-worker rhetoric in his stump speech indicates his economic plans leave behind the middle class while enriching the already-rich.
It's disappointing - but not surprising - that McCain's not joining Barack Obama in supporting the Employee Free Choice Act to create a new economic path for working families.