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A Referendum on Working America

In August, our work led to passage of the Jobs Bill, a huge victory that will keep hundreds of thousands of Americans — in both the private and public sectors — working.

By AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee
Roadmap to Victory - "We are rising up to defend the public services we provide," President McEntee told the 2010 AFSCME International Convention.

(Photo Credit: Luis Gomez)

A Message from the President

By Gerald W. McEntee

In August, our work led to passage of the Jobs Bill, a huge victory that will keep hundreds of thousands of Americans — in both the private and public sectors — working. This legislation provides $26 billion in federal aid to state and local governments and school districts to help with budget shortfalls and protect our fragile economic recovery. It will prevent critical public services from being decimated, including education and public safety. And it won’t increase the deficit. For details on the Jobs Bill, see the cover story.

There are those who fought to defeat this bill, calling funding to save vital public services and American jobs a handout. But creating jobs is a hand up.

There are those who cut down every measure to improve the economy and provide a better life for working women and men. We need to remember this come Election Day.

Real Accomplishments

Making history in the 2008 election was just the beginning of putting America back on its feet. While the Obama administration hasn’t fixed everything, with AFSCME’s help, there have been real accomplishments. We secured more than $230 billion in the American Recovery and Revitalization Act to keep state and local governments afloat. We put through the most significant Wall Street reform since Franklin Roosevelt, restricting predatory mortgage lending, eliminating hidden credit card fees and creating a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Its strong measures will prevent high-risk practices that result in a damaged economy, and millions of Americans losing their jobs and homes.

We finally passed health care reform that reins in the insurance industry, closes the donut hole for seniors and lets kids stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26. Now we’ve passed the Jobs Bill. But even this funding won’t stop all the threatened layoffs and cutbacks. While states and municipalities continue to reel from budget crises, it’s clear there’s more work to be done, starting this November.

Public Service Bashing

Our enemies want to turn America into a place where workers have no rights and corporations are in control. They’ve blamed us for everything from high unemployment to budget deficits. We need to get out the truth. Workers are part of the solution, not the problem. Many plan to ride this wave of anti-public worker rhetoric to the voting box. We must fight back.

A Sense of Urgency

We are under attack, with our jobs on the line and our way of life endangered. Let’s save our country from those who promote idiotic beliefs that everything will be okay if only we fire enough public service employees. Do we want folks who sat on their hands for two years, rooting for our economy to fail, to hold the majority in both houses of Congress? Do we want state and local government funding to stall in Congress, causing slashed budgets back home, with more firings, furloughs and benefit reductions and cuts to vital public services? Do we want the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy extended and historic Wall Street and health care reform repealed?

This is what they’ve promised and we can’t let it happen. Come November, let’s remember who stood with us in our fight to move America forward and who tried to shut us up and shut us down.

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