LaborTalk for November 11, 2011

AFL-CIO Plans a Last-Minute Response
To Cuts in Social Security and Medicare
Obama and Democrats Approve Spending Cuts

By Harry Kelber

The AFL-CIO will intensify its campaign during November in a last-ditch effort to prevent sharp cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The Federation campaign will end Nov. 17 — only six days before the SuperCongress panel is due to make its report to Congress.

All Republicans on the 12-member bi-partisan panel are committed to slashing workers' three major entitlements, and so are some of the Democrats who are ready to sell Social Security for a price.

What kind of "events" can the AFL-CIO and its allies produce to prevent the crippling effects of $1.5 trillion spending cuts? And without a dime for the unemployed!

It is a fact that the Obama administration had ordered an end to an annual cost-of-living benefit for retirees in an economy of rising prices and fixed incomes. Obama has willingly agreed to use Social Security and Medicare as "bargaining chips" to get Republican approval on raising taxes for those earning a million dollars or more a year and closing tax loopholes that favor the rich.

What Went Wrong with the AFL-CIO Campaigns?

From September through most of October, the AFL-CIO held dozens of rallies, marches, picket lines and other protest actions across the country. It called on union members to send e-mails and phone calls to their representatives in Congress.

It was clear that the rallies and e-mails were not working. Our lawmakers had received too many e-mails to pay attention to the latest barrage. On an Oct. 31 press conference, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka announced: "If we have to temporarily drop our jobs campaign to do this, we will."

Why drop the jobs campaign? Couldn't the AFL-CIO continue to fight for jobs, while conducting a campaign to save Social Security and Medicare? Can't Trumka see a connection between the two issues?

The AFL-CIO will conduct a new series of "events," ending on Nov. 17. What will our leaders propose in this limited time that will have a positive effect on the congressional panel? And why stop on Nov. 17-only six days before the panel's Nov. 23 deadline?

* * * * *

It's time to realize that the AFL-CIO's jobs campaign is going nowhere. Trumka's suggestions have produced no takers from Congressional legislators.

For a union of some 12 million members who live and work in most of the cities and towns in the United States, the AFL-CIO has lost the influence it had 30 or 40 years ago. What can we do to change this sorry state of affairs?

LaborTalk will be posted here on November 15, 2011 and on our two web sites www.laboreducator.org and on www.laborsvoiceforchange.org.

Powered by YMLP.com