Labor Groups Mobilized to Keep Jobs in U.S.

By: Kelly Schlicht Email
By: Kelly Schlicht Email

Monday marks the 118th celebration of Labor Day -- and as tradition has it, the Greater West Central Area Labor Council met for its annual picnic. But this year, labor advocates aren't just celebrating a day off from work: They're also talking about how to get their issues addressed at the polls this election year.

"It's dedicated for all the hard work everyone has done to contribute to the building of America," explains GWCALC President Jack Connell. And this Labor Day, some local labor supporters are pushing for jobs to stay here.

"Why should we make China rich?” asks retired AFSCME member Marlys Leary. “We owe her more money than we have in Fort Knox. Think about it."

Leary says her son lost his job after working at the same place for 22 years. She says she knows he's not alone.

“Let's face it, everybody's fighting for their jobs, they're laying everything off, there's no money," Leary says.

The economy also has life-long union member Jerry La Pointe mobilized.

"This is the most important year of our lives. This whole country is in shambles right now, the republican regime has just tore it down," he says.

The national AFL-CIO has endorsed Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama. But La Pointe says the candidate's party is not as important as what they plan to do in office.

"We have supported republicans when they've supported us," he points out. But he adds that the Republican plan isn't cutting it this time around.

"McCain is not for unions. In fact, they'd like to privatize a lot of our jobs and we're certainly against that," La Pointe says.

No matter their affiliation, the Eau Claire union members we spoke to say their issues aren't that different from every other American's.

"It's good, affordable healthcare, good schools, good infrastructure, good paying, safe jobs, and bringing jobs to the US," says Connell.

And now that they've laid those issues on the table, there's just one thing left.

"We do need everybody to get out there and do their vote," says La Pointe.

Union leaders say they will reach out to union members by going door-to-door to talk about the importance of voting both in local and national elections.

The state primary election is next Tuesday, September 9.


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