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 Friend,

As we spend time with our families today, we also have an opportunity to reflect on the profound contributions of labor to our national life. 

The determined, principled efforts of organized labor achieved the five-day work week, an end to child labor, fair wage-and-hour practices, health care and retirement benefits. These accomplishments, and many more, built stronger families and laid the foundation for the greatest expansion of the middle class in history.

But today our middle class is under siege. Unemployment in Kentucky is 7.4 percent, well above the national rate of 6.2 percent, which itself is much too high. Wages, adjusted for inflation, have fallen.

 

By BILL LONDRIGAN
President of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO
Special to the Courier-Journal

   On Monday, when we gather to celebrate the 132nd Labor Day, please take a moment to reflect on the contributions and importance of America's trade union movement. Remember that the fundamental rights enjoyed by all workers such as health and safety laws and regulations, Social Security benefits, wage and hour protections, child labor laws, pensions, health care and so much more were achieved only through the organized efforts of the working men and women of the American labor movement.
   I have heard and read many predictions about the future of the American labor movement.
   Many prognosticators advance the belief that the labor movement is comparable to the dinosaurs and will eventually face extinction from having lost its relevance and economic and political power in our hyper-capitalist economy.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   So How can you help your union get better coverage in small-town media?
   First, try getting to know the newspaper, TV and radio reporters. Introduce yourself by calling them up or sending them an email with your photo. It’s a good idea to put a face with an email. Better yet, drop by for a visit.
   The anti-union newspaper publisher or station owner may think we have horns. But reporters cover the stories. Show them we don’t.

 


By HOWARD FINEMAN
Huffington Post

   WASHINGTON -- The five words a senator least likes to hear are not “you have lost the election.” They are “the federal investigation is ongoing.”
   Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky might have a reason to be concerned that the second sentence could lead to him hearing the first.
   On Wednesday, a federal investigation in Iowa forced a state senator there to plead guilty to obstruction of justice charges stemming from $73,000 in bribes he admitted taking from Rep. Ron Paul's campaign in 2012.

 

By JOSEPH W. BRENNAN, D.S.W., M.Div.
Kentucky Labor Institute

Much is said today about the quality of life. Victor Frankel found meaning in life even in a Nazi prison camp. Millions continue to survive despite starvation, war, and violence. But isn't life more than mere survival, more than a temporal passage until death? Life's value comes from our commitment to improve the human condition for ourselves, and for others.

The Minimum Wage and Social Security are not just social programs, they are a moral commitment to preserve "The Right to Life". Conceived by America's first woman Cabinet Secretary Frances Perkins, both programs envisioned the preservation of the dignity of life during all its phases, to ensure "The Right to Life", from the indignities of poverty, sickness, starvation, and an unseemly death.

Today, some deride such programs subsidies for the indolent. They maintain that strong individualism, personal initiative, and financial planning would eliminate such dependency on government. Why should anyone subsidize those hands seeking a stipend? Aren't there churches, organizations, and family members to assume these responsibilities? 

 

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

“Why is the media so anti-union?” Many are the times this old reporter-turned-history-teacher could retire if he had a dime for every time he’s heard a union brother or sister ask that question out of deep frustration.

They mostly mean Fox News and local newspapers and radio and TV stations.
There’s not much to say about Fox except that it’s blatantly biased. It’s the Republican Party’s propaganda ministry.

“Fair and balanced” is the network’s motto, but I’ll believe that when hogs fly and kids don’t shoot hoops in my native Kentucky any more. Nah – I won’t believe it even then.
 

By THOMAS E. PEREZ

Special to the Louisville Courier-Journal

It used to be that you could support a family on a minimum wage salary. Today, a minimum wage worker has to make a choice every day: Buy a gallon of milk for the kids, or buy a gallon of gas to get to work.

The current national minimum wage, frozen at $7.25 per hour since 2009, simply hasn’t kept up with inflation. As a matter of fact, its purchasing power has declined by one-third since the 1960s, and it’s worth less today than it was in 1981. Bus fare has certainly gone up since 1981. Same with the price of a dozen eggs, or a week of child care. Landlords aren’t sending out rent decreases. And yet the value of the minimum wage is eroding.

It’s time to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, which would make a difference in the lives of 28 million people, including 497,500 Kentucky residents.

 

Frankfort –Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan made the following statement in response to news that Sen. Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton resigned: “Mitch’s campaign is in shambles. The McConnell campaign is self-destructing from within.

"McConnell's gambit to appeal to tea partiers by hiring Jesse Benton, Ron Paul's former campaign manager, was a serious error. Knowledge of Benton's potential legal and ethical breaches were well known and McConnell's hiring of Benton reveals a serious lack of due diligence. Benton's involvement in illegal campaign activities in Iowa is just the tip of the iceberg for McConnell's campaign. McConnell owes the voters of Kentucky an explanation for hiring Benton and paying him hundreds of thousands of dollars while knowing about his tainted past."

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   “Faith,” to paraphrase the Good Book, “can move mountains.”
   So can just one union member like Chris Ormes.
   President of United Steelworkers Local 1241 in Bardstown, Ormes challenged a "right to work" speaker on less than friendly union-friendly turf and won.
   Ormes’s story is worth retelling this election season because the "right to work" (for less) crowd is pouring tons of money into the coffers of state house and senate candidates who want to make Kentucky another  "right to work" state.

By JOSEPH GERTH
The Courier-Journal

   A crowd of about 70 people showed up outside Mitch McConnell's office on West Broadway Thursday to protest the U.S. Senate minority leader and call for voters to toss him out of office.
   The protest was planned by the West Louisville Urban Coalition and Moveon.org as a way to show displeasure about McConnell, who faces a tough challenge in November's election against Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
   "This is just to highlight that Mitch McConnell has not worked for the state," said Janice Rucker, who helped organize the event.
   

By JOAN McCARTER

Daily Kos 

The audio tape release of Mitch McConnell cozying up to the Kochs is raising some eyebrows back home in Kentucky. Particularly that part where he tells the billionaires gathered at the Koch retreat that the "the worst day of my political life" was when the campaign spending limits in McCain-Feingold passed. So the Courier-Journal decided to take a look at the financial relationship between McConnell and the Kochs.

My research finds $40,800 in contributions from the Koch family and PAC to     McConnell's re-election campaign. But the PAC of Koch Industries has also given $25,000 this election cycle to McConnell's own PAC, Bluegrass Committee.

 

By U.S REP. JOHN YARMUTH, D-LOUISVILLE
From Leo Weekly

   When I was considering my initial run for Congress in early 2006, one of my first priorities was a meeting with local organized labor leaders. At that point I wasn’t seeking their endorsement (That would come later.); rather, I wanted to know whether their priorities were the same as mine, namely to work to create an economy that benefits every American and not just a few.
   During our long meeting, it became clear to me that while they were certainly interested in a legislative agenda specific to unions, they were far more interested in a broader economic agenda that would help reverse decades of setbacks for the American middle class.
   Indeed, it is not stretching to argue that the stagnation in earnings growth for the vast majority of American workers corresponds almost exactly with the drop in the percentage of the workforce represented by unions. Following World War II, unions once represented about a third of all workers in the private sector; today they can claim membership of less than 7 percent. Controlling for all other factors, union members earn between 10 and 30 percent more than non-union workers doing the same job.
So I was greatly encouraged by my conversation with those union leaders, because I had long felt that without a strong, vibrant organized labor movement, the middle class would have no voice in public policy debates.
   

By BILL LONDRIGAN

President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

Remember the last government shutdown? The one that led to delays in Social Security benefits for Kentucky seniors, layoffs at the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training and that held up benefits for veterans in Kentucky? That government shutdown harmed tens of thousands of Kentuckians.

Sen. Mitch McConnell was a key player in the last shutdown that hurt working families in Kentucky—and, last week, he hinted that he might push for another one if he doesn’t get his way in Congress after the November elections. Can you believe that? Another government shutdown?!

Watch our video calling out Sen. McConnell for his shutdown-style talk, then share it with your friends.

 

LOUISVILLE – Yesterday, a secret audio recording surfaced of Mitch McConnell selling out hardworking Kentuckians and siding with millionaire and billionaire donors. At a closed-door conference hosted by the shadowy Koch brothers, McConnell shamefully assured the crowd that if they help give him a self-promotion, they could count on him to stand in the way of proposals that help Kentucky families.

As expected, McConnell was far from eager to face the press at a public event later in the day. Mitch darted from Kentucky reporters in an attempt to run away from just how out-of-touch he is with the Commonwealth.

LOUISVILLE – Yesterday, leaked secret audio revealed Mitch McConnell’s willingness to sacrifice the interests of Kentuckians’ in pursuit of his own agenda – pandering to wealthy donors to boost his own national party.

In McConnell’s own words:

“And we’re not going to be debating all these gosh darn proposals. That’s all we do in the Senate is vote on things like raising the minimum wage—cost the country 500,000 new jobs; extending unemployment—that’s a great message for retirees; the student loan package the other day; that’s going to make things worse. These people believe in all the wrong things.”

The McConnell campaign did not dispute the audio and played it off as just another “stump speech.” It seems denying relief to students, minimum wage workers, and unemployed Kentuckians while pocketing donations from millionaires and billionaires is just another average day for Mitch McConnell.

By BILL LONDRIGAN
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

   On behalf of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO Executive Board, affiliates and members please accept our best wishes for a safe and enjoyable Labor Day 2014! Don’t forget to attend a union-sponsored Labor Day event in Louisville, Lexington, Catlettsburg, Cincinnati or Paducah. This is your day to celebrate with your fellow workers and families and to remind the wealthy elite and their political puppets like Mitch McConnell that workers built America and we are ready to stand up and fight back against those intent on robbing us of our proud working class heritage and our pivotal role in building our economy and protecting our democracy!
   I have heard and read many predictions about the future of the American labor movement. Many prognosticators advance the belief that the labor movement is comparable to the dinosaurs and will eventually face extinction from having lost its relevance and economic and political power in our hyper-capitalist economy. Others believe that when workers become so desperate, demeaned and exploited and no longer fear the consequences of employer reprisals and illegal terminations they will channel their anxiety into creating the next wave of mass union organizing.
Like a pendulum which swings from one side to the other with economic and political power split between the wealthy few and struggling masses, these opposing viewpoints frame current discussions about the status of the American labor movement. Yet it is easy to see which way the pendulum has swung during the past forty-plus years - in the direction of the few to the detriment of the many. The facts are indisputable. The richest few have accumulated the greatest concentrations of wealth in history. While accumulating this unprecedented wealth they have denied workers an equitable share of the wealth they helped create.

 

By JOSEPH GERTH

The Louisville Courier-Journal

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told a conference of rich, politically active conservatives in June that he wouldn’t allow votes on the minimum wage and extending unemployment if he becomes majority leader, according to a leaked audio recording.

In the audio recording, which appeared on the website of The Nation, he also said that passage of the McCain-Feingold Act to limit political contributions was “the worst day of my political life.”

McConnell’s campaign didn’t deny the recording was accurate and, in fact, said it shows that he is “committed to fighting President Obama’s liberal, anti-coal agenda.”

The event was organized by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who donate heavily to conservative and tea party causes.

 

   LOUISVILLE – Today, Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton released the following statement on the new secret recording obtained by The Nation, revealing the lengths Mitch McConnell will go to please his deep-pocketed donors:
   Shockingly, Mitch McConnell will do and say anything it takes to secure his grip on personal power, including promising to hurt Kentuckians to benefit billionaires. Kentuckians who are struggling with unemployment, low wages and the soaring costs of higher education are the furthest thing from McConnell’s mind. For the past 30 years, Kentuckians have questioned Mitch McConnell’s priorities, and now we have the hard evidence that his allegiances lie with his millionaire and billionaire donors at the expense of hardworking Kentuckians.”

By JOSH ISRAEL
Think Progress

   At a Koch Brothers-hosted secret strategy conference of right-wing millionaire and billionaire political activists in June, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promised that if his party wins control of the United States Senate this November, the Senate will not waste time on things like increasing the minimum wage for people making only about $15,000 annually. Instead, audio of his remarks obtained by The Nation reveals, his Senate will focus on repealing Wall Street reforms, environmental protections, and affordable healthcare.
   McConnell spoke at an annual event hosted by oil billionaires Charles and David Koch at the St. Regis Monarch Bay resort in Dana Point, CA. The conference, titled “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society,” reportedly attracted hundreds of the nation’s wealthiest individuals and aimed to raise $500 million toward making McConnell the Senate majority leader next year and another $500 million to defeat a potential Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.
  

   LOUISVILLE – According to a new secret recording obtained by The Nation, Mitch McConnell revealed his true quest for power. In the secretive closed-door meeting with wealthy special interest backers, he outlined how he plans to hurt Kentucky families and pander to millionaires and billionaires. On issues like raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment insurance and helping Kentuckians with college affordability, McConnell promised his party’s rich backers that he stands with them, no matter the cost to Kentuckians and this nation.
   

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   I often think about the old Knights of Labor on Labor Day. Okay, I’m a retired history teacher who still packs a union card.
   The Knights “tried to teach the American wage-earner that he was a wage-earner first and a bricklayer, carpenter, miner, shoemaker, after; that he was a wage-earner first and a Catholic, Protestant, Jew, white, black, Democrat, Republican, after,” historian Norman Ware wrote.
   The Knights stressed that whatever else divided working people, work itself was what we all have in common. Work is, by far, the most important factor in our lives. Thus, workers should unite as members of the working class, the Knights urged.
   

As we get closer to the 2014 elections, a lot of things are on our minds. Even though we're working harder and harder every year, our incomes have not kept up with the cost of living. We worry about setting aside enough for a secure retirement, health expenses and our children's educations. We need to elect leaders who care about working people and side with us, not just the wealthy and corporations. What issues will be on your mind as you head to the polls this election season? Text VOTE to 235246 and let us know. Read more >>>

Please join the West Louisville Urban Coalition, Moveon.Org, organized labor and allies and supporters for a “Ditch Mitch" rally  Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) in front the Federal Building, Sixth and Broadway.

“Join us to let the public and voters know what Mitch has been doing for them since 1985 – nothing! Let’s tell the voters that Mitch has voted against seniors, veterans, children, workers, unions and the poor and it is time for him to be replaced on November 4th!,” said Bill Londrigan, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president.

For additional information please contact Janice Rucker, West Louisville Urban Coalition, at 510-364-4914.

By ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES
For the Huffington Post

Today on Women's Equality Day, we commemorate the passage of women's right to vote -- celebrating how far we have come, but also recognizing the work that remains.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was among those who paved the way for women in government as our nation's first female Secretary of State, and I am proud to accept her endorsement for my U.S. Senate candidacy on this important day.

Secretary Albright broke glass ceilings, both as Secretary of State and as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under the Clinton administration. Secretary Albright's got grit. In a career field dominated by men, she overcame many hurdles to succeed -- not just professionally, but also as a mother to two girls. I'm elated and humbled to have her in my corner.

 

LOUISVILLE – As we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright – one of the United States’ most distinguished foreign policy leaders and the first woman to serve as Secretary of State – has formally endorsed Alison Lundergan Grimes’ campaign for U.S. Senate.

“Alison is one of the brightest young leaders in America, and I am proud to stand with Alison in her campaign. Her detailed plan to build the middle class will make our country stronger at home and abroad,” Secretary Albright said Tuesday. “We need more leaders who will go to Washington and put the American people before partisan politics. I know that Alison will be one of those leaders.”

“I am honored to earn Secretary Albright’s support in this race and appreciate her wise counsel on the many issues that our country faces,” Alison said. “Secretary Albright and I share a vision for creating jobs for hardworking Americans, strengthening the middle class and maintaining American leadership in the world.”

LOUISVILLE – As Mitch McConnell promises to shut down the government again, Kentuckians remember all too well the staggering impact of McConnell’s reckless 2013 shutdown.

McConnell’s government shutdown:
Prevented Kentucky small businesses from opening their doors 
Delayed financial support for Kentucky’ small businessesStopped support for small businesses to grow and sell their products abroad

Small businesses help create jobs and foster economic growth in communities across the Commonwealth. And yet, Kentucky’s senior senator stands in the way in an attempt to score cheap political points.

Kentucky deserves better – 30 years is long enough.


 

   LOUISVILLE – Today, Alison for Kentucky releases a new web ad highlighting Mitch McConnell’s promise to shut down the government if re-elected.
   Last year’s reckless government shutdown cost Kentuckians $127 million and the country $24 billion. McConnell ignores the devastating impact his shutdown had on        Kentucky families, and instead attempts to rewrite history, taking credit for ending something he enabled.
   Mitch McConnell’s message is clear: six more years of Mitch McConnell means six more years of brinkmanship and partisan games in gridlocked Washington, DC.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   “Today is not about me,” insisted veteran union leader Jeff Wiggins after he was presented the 2014 W.C. Young Award. “It’s about doing the right thing for working people.”
   Wiggins is the 21st recipient of the annual award, the highest honor the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council bestows.
    W.C. Young was a national labor and civil rights leader from Paducah.
   “This is about you; all of you are my brothers and sisters,” said Wiggins, 53, of Reidland. He is president of the council, president of United Steelworkers Local 9447 in Calvert City and a member of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO Executive Board.
   Added Wiggins: “It’s about all of us working together to do the right thing for working people, about making sure people having a decent wage, about people being able to retire with dignity, and it’s about our kids growing up and having decent paying jobs so they can raise families.”

 

USW Next Generation: Making History, Making Progress
The last day of the United Steelworkers of America 2014 constitutional convention concluded with high energy as delegates overwhelmingly approving Resolution No. 4, which encourages all local unions to build Next Gen committees, calls on young and new workers to become active in all parts of the union and says that our union will help fight against predatory student debt that is drowning our members, their families and many other Canadians and Americans.

The resolution lays out a path forward for the Next Generation program and can be read on the convention Website. Also Thursday, the union’s first-ever Next Generation district coordinators were recognized with a standing ovation as USW celebrated the progress it’s made in formalizing the program over the past three years.
 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Sen. Mitch McConnell knows he probably won’t get a lot of union votes on Nov. 4.
   Oh, he’ll keep trying to grab as many as he can by pandering to so-called “social issues” like guns. Neal Knox, a former NRA head, once bragged that the gun issue “is the one thing that will spin the blue-collar union member away from his union." (See “The Right Wing Attack on the American Labor Movement” by Joanne Ricca, who is retired from the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO: http://www.d.umn.edu/)
   The NRA, which is cozy with anti-union groups like the National Right to Work Committee, has endorsed McConnell. (The NRTWC is in the senator’s corner, too.)

 

LOUISVILLE – This week, Kentuckians were reminded of something they’ve known for years: Mitch McConnell cares more about himself than the hardworking families he is supposed to represent.

Below are McConnell’s five unbelievable excuses for skipping work:

1. His national party “takes precedence” over Kentuckians.

McConnell told Politico that as Senate Majority Leader, he would have no qualms about shutting down the government if it meant gaining a political advantage. Adding insult to injury, McConnell then admitted his "duties as Minority Leader take precedence" over Kentucky farmers.

2. He’s too busy selling Senate Dining Room access to high-dollar donor “friends.”

As National Journal reported this week, “only one week after Sen. Mitch McConnell took the CEO of Delta Air Lines to breakfast in the exclusive Senate Dining Room last month, the airline executive and his wife wrote $10,000 worth of checks to help fund McConnell's political operation.”

When asked, McConnell claimed that the donor was a “friend” – but evidently it didn’t cross Mitch’s mind to use the relationship to help Kentuckians.

 

   Labor historian Toni Gilpin will be in Louisville on Sept. 16 to speak on the city’s historic Farm Equipment Workers Local 236, which has been called “a groundbreaking Louisville union dedicated to the anti-racist struggle.”
   Gilpin, who earned a Ph.D. from Yale University, will give two talks, each titled “'Louisville's ‘Most Perfect Union:’ An Examination of United Farm Equipment Workers Local 236 at International Harvester.”
   The first talk is at 1 p.m. in Room 300 of the Bingham Humanities Building on the University of Louisville’s Belknap campus. The second talk will be at 6 p.m. in the National Association of Letter Carriers union hall, 4815 Poplar Level Road, which is also the meeting place for the Louisville Central Labor Council.

By GENE NETTLES
Hickman, Ky.

A major change occurred in Kentucky just a few years ago. For 350 years the population had been rural, the change came when city and environs populations out numbered others. Often we long for a return to simpler times, times when neighbors were neighborly and all were alike in eking a living from farming. Forgotten are the callouses, sweat and blisters. Farm folks knew animals quite well, even the smallest tyke knew the difference between a donkey and a jack. Girls knew from experience that an old jack was likely to bite or kick them. They little understood the vendetta the jack showed in singling them out. Times change but old jacks, such as the one we send to Washington,continue to bite and kick females. Just ask Ms. Ashley.

 

By SHANE GOLDMACHER
The National Journal

   Only one week after Sen. Mitch McConnell took the CEO of Delta Air Lines to breakfast in the exclusive Senate Dining Room last month, the airline executive and his wife wrote $10,000 worth of checks to help fund McConnell's political operation.
   The donations, which were reported to the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday, made Rick and Susan Anderson the largest contributors to McConnell's Bluegrass Committee in July. Delta Air Lines' PAC contributed another $2,500 within days of the breakfast.
   The proximity between the meal on Capitol Hill and the date of the donations provides a window into how modern Washington works. It's a place where incumbent lawmakers, especially those who—like McConnell—face a serious reelection fight, are relentlessly courting contributors at all hours to fund multimillion-dollar political campaigns.

   Veteran Kentucky labor Jeff Wiggins will receive the 2014 W.C. Young Award Saturday at the annual presentation dinner in Paducah.
   “I hope to see you Aug. 23 as we celebrate and honor labor’s own W.C. Young, a labor and civil rights icon from West Kentucky,” said Bill Londrigan, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president. “Congratulations to Jeff Wiggins on this great recognition.”
   The program begins at 3 p.m. at the United Steelworkers Local 550 hall, 2525 Cairo Road. A donation of $10 per person is suggested.

 

From the USW

Adjunct professors at Point Park University and Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA., recognized they shared common interests and common workplace challenges when their employers tried to reduce their wages and hours.

The United Steelworkers were there to provide the needed support to assist them in forming a union. Without the strength of an established union, their employers would have taken advantage of the workers.

In Toronto, Canada, a group of taxi cab drivers were struggling to make a living wage working seven days a week. The system was so terribly broken and the workers were being inhumanley exploited. The drivers realized they needed the support of a powerful union to partner with and that is why they chose the United Steelworkers.
 

From the USW

The Rev. William J. Barber II ignited the United Steelworkers on the first day of their recent convention, urging some 5,000 delegates and guests to forget about geographic, racial, age, gender or other lines and come together to build an all-inclusive movement to “save the soul of this democracy.”

Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, has already started the movement, known as the Moral Monday Movement, uniting people of faith, students, workers, unions and others.

 

By ADAM BEAM and BRUCE SCHREINER
Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky's U.S. Senate candidates had a hard time talking about farming without slinging mud.

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes took turns attacking each other in a cramped board room of the Kentucky Farm Bureau on Wednesday in the candidates' first joint question-and-answer session of the contentious campaign.

Grimes set the tone early by attacking McConnell in her opening statement for his prolonged absences from the Senate Agriculture Committee. By not showing up, Grimes said, McConnell diluted his influence, which led to his inability to stop the lapse in the federal farm bill last year that provided crop insurance for Kentucky farmers.

 

LOUISVILLE – Today, Mitch McConnell’s performance at the Kentucky Farm Bureau forum fell flat. Here are Senator McConnell’s top three gaffes from this afternoon’s candidate forum:

McConnell said he doesn't have time to show up at committee meetings because he's busy looking after national party priorities instead of Kentuckians. McConnell said, "Harry actually resigned from all of his committees because you don’t have time...Because you don't have time to do justice to committee work if you’re one of the party leaders, you’re involved in other issues, honestly, much more consequential issues than being there for particular hearings on a subject that may or may not be relevant to what’s going on."
 

LOUISVILLE – At this afternoon’s Kentucky Farm Bureau candidate forum, Alison Lundergan Grimes held Mitch McConnell accountable for his failed record and proved that she is the only U.S. Senate candidate who will fight for Kentucky agriculture.

For at least three years, Mitch McConnell has not even shown up to work for our farm families, skipping committee meetings for DC photo ops and high dollar fundraisers. The contrast in this race could not be starker. Unlike McConnell who plays hooky on the taxpayers’ dime, Alison Lundergan Grimes believes the Senator for the Future needs to show up to work every day. Mitch McConnell’s Era of the Big Earmark is over.

 LOUISVILLE – As both Kentucky Senate candidates head to the Kentucky Farm Bureau candidates forum today, Mitch McConnell is under fire for skipping Senate Agriculture Committee hearings “to make time” for “issues far removed from Kentucky’s farmers.”

Today, the Grimes campaign releases a new web ad and the following statement from campaign manager Jonathan Hurst on Mitch McConnell’s inexcusable absence from the Agriculture Committee:

 

By ALEXANDRA JAFFE
The Hill

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has touted his work for Kentucky farmers on the campaign trail, but back in Washington has a trend of skipping out on Senate Agriculture Committee hearings for events unrelated to his home state.

He’s already been hit by Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes for missing every Agriculture Committee hearing since 2009. However, it’s not uncommon for lawmakers to miss the occasional hearing — particularly members of leadership, who have varied demands that take them away from their committee duties.

But a review of committee hearings and McConnell’s public schedule reveals many times when he’s missed hearings, he’s still managed to make time for media appearances or meetings on issues far removed from Kentucky’s farmers.

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT LOCAL 1360

   Retired Paducah Fire Chief Leon Dodge, 91, doesn’t think he ever rode in a fire truck in the city’s Labor Day parade.
   He won’t this year either. His mount will be a convertible out front.
   Dodge, who spent almost 38 years in the fire department – his last 17 as chief – is grand marshal for the 39th annual end-of-summer holiday procession. “It’s quite an honor,” he said.

 

By ERIKA EICHELBERGER
Mother Jones

   Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will not say if he will stop blocking a major spending bill in the Senate that contains funding to help identify and prosecute rapists—or whether he would support a separate bill to break the log jam.
   As I reported last week, since June, Senate Republicans have held up a $180 billion appropriations bill that would fund several federal agencies, including the Department of Commerce, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Justice. Part of the funding allotted for the DoJ is supposed to go toward a $41 million grant to help states and localities go after rapists by funding jurisdictions to process backlogs of rape kits, the samples of DNA evidence that are taken after a sexual assault and used to identify assailants. There are over 100,000 untested kits waiting to be processed at crime labs and police departments around the country, partly because states and localities don’t have enough money to test them. The kits can go untested for decades, allowing countless rapists off the hook.
   The sweeping spending bill has hit a wall in the Senate because McConnell and other Senate Republicans want Dems to let them add several unrelated amendments to the legislation. The amendment McConnell introduced would make it harder for the EPA to enact new rules on coal-fired power plants. Democrats have complained that GOPers are abusing the amendments process to hold up a bill they don’t like. "Regardless of the outcome of the amendment votes…Republicans have indicated that they are not willing to support the underlying bill," a Senate staffer told me last week.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Timing is everything in politics, for better or worse.
The National Rifle Association is sending a mailer into Kentucky portraying Mitch McConnell as the savior of the Second Amendment against President Barack Obama and – wait for it – Michael Bloomberg, the millionaire anti-coal guy on whose foundation board the senator’s spouse sits.
   Bloomberg is also for tougher gun control laws.
   Okay, it’s Bloomberg Philanthropies’ anti-coal stand that has put Chao in the news because her husband says coal is the love of his political life.

 

 “We rate the claim Mostly False.”

PolitiFact: Mitch McConnell ad says he supported 'stronger' Violence Against Women Act than Barack Obama

Sen. Mitch McConnell enlisted the help of his wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, to push back against claims from Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes that the Kentucky Republican is anti-women.

"Have you ever noticed how some liberals feel entitled to speak on behalf of all women? As if every woman agrees with Barack Obama," Chao says in an ad released Aug. 5, 2014.

A narrator adds: "Mitch McConnell co-sponsored the original Violence Against Women Act – he’s always supported its purpose. Mitch voted for even stronger protections than Obama’s agenda will allow."

We took a look at Grimes’ ad in a separate fact-check. We said the claim that McConnell voted "two times against the Violence against Women Act" was Half True, given McConnell’s history of voting in favor of the law at times.

But what about McConnell’s response that he "voted for even stronger protections" than the Violence Against Women Act that President Barack Obama signed?

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Birds of a feather, right?
So does that make Elaine Chao, Mitch McConnell’s spouse, a closet you-know-what?
   A Liberal?
   Those of us who pack union cards remember the senator’s significant other as the conservative, anti-labor secretary of labor under conservative, anti-labor President George W. Bush.
   Well, now it’s all over the news that Chao is on the board of directors of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charity that agreed to chip in a cool $50 million to the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign. The campaign’s objective is to end the country’s reliance on “dirty coal, plant-by-plant, community-by-community, state-by-state.”

Throwing Bricks Through Glass Ceilings

In 1973, 21-year-old Barbara Moore became the first woman to enter the apprenticeship program of Bricklayers (BAC) Local 1 of Maryland. A couple of decades later, she served as both president of the former local and as Baltimore chapter chair of BAC Local 1 MD/VA/DC.

“A lot of people thought I wouldn’t make it this long,” Moore said at a ceremony honoring her 25 years of union membership in 1998. Read the full article>>>

   A Labor 2014 Political Action meeting is set for 10 a.m. (EDT) Monday at the UAW Local 862 hall, 3000 Fern Valley Rd., in Louisville. "Please make every effort to attend this important meeting to discuss our labor political action program and what we will need to make it a success," said Bill Londrigan, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president. "Please let me know if you have any questions."

By LANA BELLAMY

Ashland Independent

Eight state leaders signed their names to a letter to Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett asking for him and the association to join them in demanding Elaine Chao, former U.S. Labor Secretary and wife of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, resign from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ board of directors.

Action from these leaders, all Democrats from coal-producing regions of eastern and western Kentucky, was fueled by a Yahoo! News report on Friday that detailed Chao’s involvement with the board that had invested $50 million in the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” initiative.

Names attached to the letter included: Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg; House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook; Sen. Johnny Ray Turner, D-Prestonsburg; Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville; Rep. John Short, D-Mallie; Rep. John Will Stacy, D-West Liberty; Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville; and Magistrate Chris Harris of Pikeville.

 

LOUISVILLE – Today, Mitch McConnell will prove once again that he says one thing in Kentucky and does another in Washington. Instead of standing up for the women of Kentucky, McConnell would rather run from his disastrous record of opposition and obstruction.

In fact, when asked by a Kentucky reporter specifically about women’s issues, he ignored the question – just as he has Kentucky women and families for 30 years.

With less than three months until the election, Mitch McConnell owes the women of Kentucky an explanation for his track record on key issues, including his active efforts to block a spending bill that contains $41 million in grants for reducing the rape kit testing backlog:
 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Alison Lundergan Grimes says Bluegrass State union members are her “secret weapon.”
   Grimes is the Democrat seeking to unseat Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
“You will be the reason we bring this election across the finish line,” said Grimes, Kentucky’s secretary of state.
   “You are what Mitch McConnell can’t buy. He may be able to buy those airwaves, but he can’t buy the heart and soul of hardworking Kentuckians.”
For the second straight year, Grimes was the headliner at the Pre-Fancy Farm Picnic Luncheon in Paducah.

By CHRIS MOODY
Yahoo News

   For months, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell has accused his Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, of engaging in a “war on coal,” casting her as an outright enemy of one of the state’s most vital industries.
   But while McConnell presents himself as a defender of Kentucky coal mining, a member of his own family who serves as a key campaign surrogate is taking a role in an organization that funds one of the most aggressive anti-coal campaigns in the country.
   McConnell’s wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, sits on the board of directors of Bloomberg Philanthropies, which has plunged $50 million into the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal initiative, an advocacy effort with the expressed goal of killing the coal industry.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   With friends like Cheryl Grana, Mitch McConnell doesn’t need foes.
   “It’s not his job to go up there and hunt for jobs in Kentucky,” the McCracken County GOP vice chairwoman and McConnell fan told The Hill’s Alexandra Jaffe.
   Grana evidently figured she was showing solidarity with the senator who in April told Edmund Shelby, editor and general manager of The Beattyville Enterprise newspaper, that it “is not my job” to bring jobs to Lee County, of which Beattyville is the seat. The unemployment rate was 12.8 percent.

LOUISVILLE – Coming on the heels of Alison Lundergan Grimes’ historic Hazard rally with President Bill Clinton, today, the McConnell campaign attempted to play catch-up with an underwhelming ‘Not My Job’ bus tour in Eastern Kentucky.

Taking all of their stops today together, Mitch McConnell could not match the sheer number of people Alison Lundergan Grimes drew to one event yesterday in the same region.

By MIKE WYNN
Louisville
Courier-Journal
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- With much of the U.S. Senate race focused on coal, union miners are seeking a "game change" for Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky's embattled coalfields — starting at a stopover by former President Bill Clinton today.

The United Mine Workers of America endorsed Grimes over the weekend and is planning an undisclosed amount of advertising this fall in Eastern Kentucky, where animosity runs high toward President Barack Obama and his policies on coal.

Union leaders, who declined to back Obama in 2012, are also pulling together two busloads of miners from the western portion of the state and urging hundreds of miners from the eastern region to turn out when Clinton stumps for Grimes in Hazard, Ky.

 

 

It's pretty frustrating seeing all the headlines that claim the economy is alive and kicking. Sure, there is economic growth and a steady increase in jobs, but what kind of jobs are we talking about exactly? Well, they aren't the kind of jobs we think of first when it comes to steady, middle-class jobs. No big surprise here, low-wage service sector jobs like those in the fast-food industry are seeing the biggest gains. Bryce Covert at The New Republic has a nice summary of what America's workers are up against when it comes to wages. Read more >>>

When President Barack Obama first announced his candidacy for president, he said: “I am running in this race because of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called ‘the fierce urgency of now.’ Because I believe that there’s such a thing as being too late. And that hour is almost upon us.” Like Dr. King, our president was calling on America to make real the promises of our democracy. That fierce urgency of now is here for thousands of refugee children from Central America. I know many of these kids’ stories because it is my story, too. Read more >>>

GRIMES CAMPAIGN STATEMENT ON MCCONNELL'S 'BREATHTAKINGLY DISHONEST' NEW AD


LOUISVILLE -- Today the McConnell campaign released a new ad that a local Kentucky journalist has already called "breathtakingly dishonest." As Mitch McConnell attempts to distract from his failed record on behalf of Kentucky women and families, Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton releases the following statement:

“Simply saying, ‘I’m married to a woman’ doesn’t speak loud enough. Your actions and record over 30 years in Washington indicate where and how you will stand up for women.”


 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., keeps claiming Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat who wants his job, is Barack Obama’s faithful ally in the president’s “war on coal.”
   I wish a reporter would ask the senator a simple question: If Grimes really is a coal warrior, why has the United Mine Workers of America endorsed her? 
   Obviously grateful for the union nod, the Grimes campaign emailed a UMWA release announcing its support for Grimes, who the Kentucky State AFL-CIO endorsed last December.

Louisville Courier-Journal Editorial

Fancy Farm's political speeches Saturday may not decide Kentucky's U.S. Senate race in November.

But they sure revealed a lot about the candidates, five-term Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell and his Democratic challenger, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Ms. Grimes, 35, offered a checklist of reasons she wants to be elected to the U.S. Senate, using the full eight minutes allotted for her speech by organizers of the political event at the annual St. Jerome parish picnic in Western Kentucky.

LOUISVILLE – On Saturday afternoon, Alison for Kentucky clearly dominated the McConnell campaign at the most important Kentucky political event of the year: the 134th Fancy Farm Picnic. With the eyes of Kentucky and the nation upon her, Alison’s performance surpassed even the highest expectations and changed the dynamics of the race.

Here are the top takeaways from Saturday’s historic event:

Alison for Kentucky supporters outnumbered and were far more energized.
The buzz around Alison at the Fancy Farm picnic was unmistakable, verifying how well she has fired up the grassroots to volunteer their time and turn out the votes to win in November. On Saturday, Alison led a huge procession of hundreds of supporters, including Governors Steve Beshear and Martha Layne Collins, Attorney General Jack Conway and Auditor Adam Edelen, into the picnic grounds, showcasing the unprecedented unity behind her candidacy.
 

    U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, has scheduled a press conference for 10 a.m. (EDT) today in Louisville to talk about the need for raising the federal minimum wage.
The press conference will be held in in Martin Luther King Jr. Park on the north side of the Mazzoli Federal Building facing Chestnut Street.
   ”We will join Congressman Yarmuth, low-wage workers, Jobs With Justice, community groups, and elected representatives,” said Bill Londrigan, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president. “Please join us if you can.”

   Democratic senate hopeful Alison Lundergan Grimes is expected to be the featured speaker at Friday’s annual pre-Fancy Farm picnic labor luncheon at Paducah’s Walker Hall, 229 Madison St.
   The meal is sponsored by the Western Kentucky Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO, and area unions. The program starts at 11:30 a.m., Central Daylight Time.

    Minority leader Mitch McConnell and senate Republicans have killed the Bring Jobs Home Act, a measure that would limit tax breaks for American companies that send operations overseas.
   “Mitch McConnell said it is not a serious bill,” said Alison Lundergan Grimes, McConnell’s Democratic challenger. “That is because he does not take job creation seriously.”
   She added, “He is wrong. This is a bill that would produce good-paying jobs for Kentuckians and other Americans. I urge Senator McConnell to support through final passage this much-needed legislation that supports Kentucky jobs and will help grow the middle class.”

The Kentucky UAW State CAP is sponsoring a bus to Fancy Farm on Saturday.

"Seating is available to the first 55 union members or supporters interested in going to this year’s Fancy Farm event," said Bill Londrigan, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president.

Added Londrigan: "This promises to be one of the most exciting Fancy Farm events in a long time with labor-endorsed U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes going toe-to-toe with obstructionist-in-chief Mitch McConnell."

To reserve your seat call the Kentucky Truck Plant UAW union hall in Louisville: (502) 241-9491.

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

You’ve got to wonder how many Kentucky Republicans are like Barbara Knott.
She just quit the Daviess County GOP executive committee because she’s not for Sen. Mitch McConnell.
Knott heads the Tea Party in Owensboro, seat of Daviess County in conservative western Kentucky, heretofore mostly McConnell country.


LOUISVILLE – Alison Lundergan Grimes keynoted the annual Wendell Ford Dinner, firing up a packed house of more than 700 in Louisville. Grimes reflected on Sen. Ford’s embodiment of a bipartisan spirit that is missing in Washington today, and also discussed her vision for Kentucky’s future. The contrast between Alison’s strong leadership on issues important to Kentucky and Mitch McConnell’s failed 30-year Washington record could not be starker.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING:

WHAS-TV (Louisville ABC affiliate): Grimes made hard-hitting comments on Kentucky jobs and minimum wage issues

Associated Press: HEADLINE: Grimes focusing on jobs, pay equity

Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes on Thursday night portrayed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as being out of touch with the struggles of Kentuckians, and said his partisanship has hurt the state.

 

 

By DAVE JAMIESON
Huffington Post

   WASHINGTON -- If your boss tramples on your right to organize in the workplace, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) believes you should be able to sue for damages in federal court. He plans to introduce a bill in Congress next week that would grant you that very right.
  "Union busters are on the march and are aggressive," Ellison, a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told HuffPost. "I think the [legal] options that are offered by the current process are not adequate."
   Under U.S. labor law, workers have relatively limited recourse in the face of union busting. When workers are fired for union organizing, they can file what's known as an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, the agency that enforces labor law. If the board pursues the charge against the employer, the worker can win back pay and reinstatement, but not the sort of damages associated with, say, sexual discrimination in the workplace.

 LOUISVILLE – Boasting over 40,000 active and retired members in Kentucky, United Auto Workers (UAW) formally endorse Alison Lundergan Grimes’ campaign today.

“Just as she has throughout her career, Alison Lundergan Grimes will be a strong voice for Kentucky’s working men and women in the U.S. Senate,” Mark Dowell, President of Kentucky UAW CAP, said Thursday. “Alison shares our vision for a thriving middle class and will continue to be a champion for the Commonwealth’s families.”

Beattyville Enterprise / Staff

An April article in The Beattyville Enterprise continues to be the basis of political discourse in the race for the U. S. Senate between Sen. Mitch McConnell and his Democratic opponent Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Grimes has issued a new televison ad this week where she is sitting with an out-of-work coal miner discussing McConnell’s statement that he is not responsible for bringing jobs to Kentucky.

McConnell told the Enterprise in a short interview that job development is a state issue; it is not his job.

 

   Jeff Wiggins will receive this year’s W.C. Young Labor Award at the annual W.C. Young Award reception and dinner in Paducah on Aug. 23.
   The award is the highest honor bestowed by the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council. It is named for the late W.C. Young, a national labor and civil rights leader from Paducah.

EDITOR’S NOTE FROM KENTUCKY STATE AFL-CIO PRESIDENT BILL LONDRIGAN: “All: The teachers of the Jefferson County Teachers Association and classified employees of JCAESP-AFSCME Local 4011 are under attack and would like you to help them bring attention to their situation. So check out the flyer below for all of the details and a link to RSVP for this planned action on Monday, July 28th at 7:00 p.m. and plan to show up and bring some friends and fellow trade unionists. I hope to see you there! Bill.
   Rally with us to protect JCPS Teachers & Employees. RSVP here: bit.ly/jcbe2014
   Stop the Attacks on JCPS Teachers & Employees
   Join us on July 28th at 7pm as we rally at the JCPS Board of Education monthly meeting to highlight the attacks on JCPS teachers, assistant teachers, clerks, bookkeepers, technical employees, and other classified staff, and to demand that the JCPS Board of Education take appropriate action.


FROM BILL LONDRIGAN, PRESIDENT, KENTUCKY STATE AFL-CIO: “All: Below is information from Laborers Local 576 regarding the planned activities at the upcoming MSD Board of Directors meeting on Monday, July 28th beginning at 12:30 p.m. until 2:00 p.m. As many of you know, the Laborers have been in a struggle for a fair contract with MSD that protects their contractual rights and protects their members. They are asking your support for their efforts to bring justice to the MSD workers they represent by coming to the action detailed below. Please take the time to attend and support the hard working men and women of MSD struggling to achieve a fair, enforceable collective bargaining agreement. I hope to see you there. Bill.”
   We want to thank you for your continued support of the CMF MSD Workers.
We are at a very important phase of our campaign for equality and a fair binding contract.
   We are humbly asking each supporting group if they could find 4 volunteers to join us Monday, July 28th beginning at 12:30 p.m. until 2 p.m.
   Location: MSD Headquarters 700 West Liberty, Louisville, KY.
   

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   I’ve never been prouder to pack a union card than I was when I visited the Topography of Terror museum in Berlin and the Dachau concentration camp memorial near Munich.
   Both are stark, sobering memorials to victims of Nazi savagery. Both include haunting, black-and-white photos of men and women whom the Nazis murdered, tortured or imprisoned for opposing Adolf Hitler.
   Walter Miertschke and many others in the photo galleries carried union cards. His fate is evidently unknown, but he apparently did not survive the Nazi terror.
Hitler feared Germany’s powerful unions as a serious threat, says Dr. Kenneth Wolf, a retired Murray, Ky., State University historian and author. “So he destroyed them.”

 

   FRANKFORT – As Alison Lundergan Grimes’ overwhelming grassroots support smashed fundraising records this week, Mitch McConnell proved himself once again to be wildly out-of-touch with Kentucky women, students and working families. On Tuesday, Alison announced that she outraised McConnell by nearly $1-million, breaking Kentucky fundraising records and bringing in more than any U.S. Senate candidate nationwide.
   Alison’s focus on the strengthening the middle class draws a stark contrast to Mitch McConnell’s complete inability to connect with Kentuckians. Reports continue to surface on McConnell’s recent sexist and offensive comments towards women and students. In Mitch McConnell’s world, “most of the barriers have been lowered” for women, and students should simply lower their expectations to deal with the costs of higher education.
   The 30-year Washington insider’s views are disconnected with working families’ reality. Unfortunately, this news comes as no surprise given his record of voting against equal pay for equal work, college affordability and measures to help Kentuckians burdened with student loan debt.

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT LOCAL 1360

   U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Hopkinsville, probably figured his re-election was a slam dunk.
   After all, his Democratic foe is again the underfunded and largely unknown Charles Hatchett of McCracken County. Whitfield clobbered Hatchett in 2012.
   But the Whitfield bandwagon just might have hit a big bump in the road to Nov.4.

By TIM KOECHLIN
Director of the International Studies Program at Vassar College

Across the country, Republican legislatures -- encouraged and financed, as usual, by corporate money and right wing think tanks -- have undertaken a stunning array of initiatives designed to weaken unions and otherwise undermine American workers. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, along with several other Republican governors, has moved aggressively and conspicuously to disempower public sector unions. Nikki Haley, the Republican Governor of South Carolina, recently declared that unionized businesses are not welcome in South Carolina.

Republicans tell a tired, cynical story about all of this, insisting that union busting is, somehow, good for the economy and good for workers. It's the same old trickle down nonsense.

Democrats, on the other hand, have done too little to defend unions and worker rights.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan shared this AlterNet article with us. He included a sobering warning: “The outcome of November’s elections will determine what Kentucky and America will look like for decades to come. It is that serious. Getting back what is lost is much more difficult than holding onto what you have. We can hold onto what our forbearers built over a century of struggle or we can become the prey for the masters of mankind. You must choose whether you can see a future for your children and grandchildren that offers hope, kindness, peace, equality, justice and love, or a world that is just a living hell for all but a few among a wealthy elite.

Tennessee: Ayn Rand’s vision of paradise

By LES LEOPOLD

The southern state ranks dead last in per capita tax revenue, and its low-income families are paying the price

If you’re worried about where America is heading, look no further than Tennessee. Its lush mountains and verdant rolling countryside belie a mean-spirited public policy that only makes sense if you believe deeply in the anti-collectivist, anti-altruist philosophy of Ayn Rand. It’s what you get when you combine hatred for government with disgust for poor people.

 

 Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes recently lit up a crowd of more than 2,000 firefighters gathered at the International Association of Fire Fighters’ national convention in Cincinnati.
 The Kentucky Professional Firefighters Association endorsed Grimes for U.S. Senate last summer – the first professional organization endorsement in this race. Grimes thanked the association for standing by her.


By FLACO ALEMAN
Kentucky Jobs With Justice

   One of the key ways we can build an economy that works for everyone, and not just those at the top, would be to put more money in the pockets of workers. This would not only help those workers who would receive a wage increase, but it could also boost the economy.
   An ordinance has been filed, and assigned to the Labor & Economic Development Committee, that will raise the minimum wage for Louisville Metro Government employees from $9 to $10.10 an hour. In addition, this ordinance will:
   

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT LOCAL 1360

   George Brown, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for house district 77 in Tuesday's primary, has been endorsed by the Lexington Herald-Leader, but he is not labor's candidate.
   Michael Haskins is, according to Bill Londrigan, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president.
   "Brown is described as unabashedly pro-development and he also supports right to work for less," Londrigan said. "We don’t need a pro-right to work Democrat in the Kentucky House of Representatives.

   FRANKFORT, Ky. – Over the last week, Mitch McConnell’s rusted Washington campaign has been stymied as the central attacks against Alison Lundergan Grimes backfired. The shocking exposure was severe:
While Mitch McConnell desperately tried to paint Alison Lundergan Grimes as an “anti-coal” candidate, his campaign silently accepted thousands from an anti-coal advocate.
   McConnell tells Kentucky voters with a straight face that Alison should be criticized for traveling to raise funds, but Team Mitch has hosted at least eight fundraisers in New York City just this year. As reported by The New York Daily News, McConnell “has made New York's Marriott Downtown practically his third home.”
Mitch McConnell’s shady Super PAC – Kentuckians For Strong Leadership – is spending half a million dollars on a new TV ad that attempts to tie Alison to the President’s contributors. The ad, however, reeks of hypocrisy as KFSL accepts hundreds of thousands of dollars from Obama donors.

By LANA BELLAMY
Ashland Daily Independent
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Kentucky State AFL-CIO, which includes the United Mine Workers of America, endorsed Grimes last year.

   ASHLAND, Ky. — Likely Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Alison Grimes launched her 50-county jobs tour last week, just as news broke of Stanford University's decision to divest its stock in coal companies, which could jeopardize many Eastern Kentucky jobs.
   Needless to say, she is not happy.
   Following a report in the New York Times about Stanford's divestment decision in any company whose primary business is mining coal, Grimes penned a letter to University President John L. Hennessy on May 8, to voice her disapproval.

 FRANKFORT, Ky. – Over the weekend, the Alison for Kentucky Jobs Bus Tour rolled into the second and third days of its extensive 10-day, 50-county cross-Kentucky trip. From Todd County to Daviess County on Saturday and in Jefferson County on Sunday, Alison Lundergan Grimes discussed her forward-looking jobs plan, underscoring the stark contrast between her vision to strengthen Kentucky’s middle class and Mitch McConnell’s lack of a plan for the future.

Hundreds of enthusiastic Kentuckians gathered over the weekend to hear about Alison’s plan. As Mitch McConnell’s Washington grows ever more paralyzed, Kentuckians are increasingly ready to send a commonsense, problem solver to the U.S. Senate.

By MARK E. ANDERSON
Reposted from Daily Kos Labor by Laura Clawson

I get a lot of press releases about labor issues. Most of them are mass mailings trying to get coverage in an ever-crowded media market that is more concerned with the flavor of the week instead of news that actually impacts the average American.

Every once in a while one of these press releases catches my eye. This week I received a a press release about SEIU pushing for phony protests; however, I think they sent this press release to the wrong guy.

This was sent out by "Worker Center Watch," a group that according to their website: "aims to preserve the balance that has effectively governed workplace relations for many decades by exposing the direct operational linkages and funding between unions and worker centers, and by highlighting the worker center tactics that push the bounds of legality."

 

HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. – Alison Lundergan Grimes kicked off the campaign’s extensive 10-day, 50-county jobs bus tour Friday in West Kentucky.

From McCracken County to Christian County, Grimes discussed her forward-looking jobs plan, underscoring the stark contrast between Alison’s vision to strengthen Kentucky’s middle class and McConnell’s lack of a plan for the future.

Are You Ready to 'Stamp Out Hunger'? Tomorrow, you can help “Stamp Out Hunger” by joining with the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and USPS for the 22nd annual food drive—the largest one-day food drive in the nation. Letter Carriers collected more than 74.4 million pounds of food last year, bringing the 21-year total to 1.3 billion pounds. All you need to do is collect canned goods and dry food, such as tuna, canned meat, soups, pasta, rice and cereal, and leave them in a bag or box by your mailbox. Your letter carriers will pick them up as they deliver your mail.

Donations are given directly to local food pantries. While most food pantries get the bulk of their donations around Christmas and Thanksgiving, the NALC drive is done during the spring, when many food pantries are struggling to meet demand. Also, since many school meal programs are suspended during summer months, millions of children are left scrambling to find alternate sources of nutrition and food banks are a vital resource for families in need.

 

On Friday, Alison for Kentucky will launch an extensive, statewide 50-county jobs bus tour in Western Kentucky. Over the course of the tour, Alison Lundergan Grimes will discuss her forward-looking jobs plan for Kentucky.

“As the divisive GOP primary rages on, Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike are excited to get involved in our grassroots campaign,” Grimes Political Director Elizabeth Cantrell said Wednesday. “The overwhelming enthusiasm around Alison’s candidacy is unmatched as her action plan is the only in this race that will encourage businesses to grow, take full advantage of our natural resources, expand education opportunities, and most importantly, invest in what’s best about the Commonwealth: our people.”

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   “What, me worry?” the grinning, snaggle-toothed Alfred E. Neuman, Mad magazine’s cover kid, has been famously asking for umpteen years.
   Sen. Mitch McConnell’s new campaign ad suggests he’s no longer vexed by Matt Bevin, his tea party-tilting challenger in the May 20 GOP primary. McConnell apparently figures Bevin is toast.
   If I were the captain of Team Mitch, I’d be at least a tad concerned about what Bevin and the Bevinites might do if the vote goes against them -- more on that in a minute.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT LOCAL 1360

   Let’s show our solidarity with thousands of workers and activists rallying for fair trade today in Washington by sharing this “FAIR TRADE NOW” graphic with our union brothers and sisters, families and friends.
   “We’ll be there to ask Congress for a 21st century economy that works for everyone—not just corporations,” said Celeste Drake, trade and globalization policy specialist at the AFL-CIO.
   Before she left for the rally, Drake thanked all supporters of fair trade. Because of their “efforts, we’ve changed the conversation in Washington about trade and stalled—for now—efforts by politicians and Big Business groups to pass the anti-democratic ‘fast track’ trade bill. 
  

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT LOCAL 1360

   Think there’s not much difference between Democrats and Republicans on our issues?
   Think again. Better yet, check out the AFL-CIO’s online US House and Senate Legislative Voting Record at http://www.aflcio.org/Legislation-and-Politics/Legislative-Voting-Records.
   The numbers clearly show Democrats are a whole lot more likely to vote for legislation that benefits us than Republicans are.


EDITOR'S NOTE: This just in from the Alison Lundergan Grimes campaign. Note that the map is marked with a route that would take Sen. McConnell from Washington to Durham, N.C., home of the Duke University Blue Devils, then on to Churchill Downs. 

DATE: May 2, 2014
TO: Mitch McConnell
FROM: Kentucky


Just wanted to send a quick reminder that the Kentucky Derby is this weekend, Senator. You know – in Louisville, only 542 miles away from Duke. Anyway, it would be great if you could attend. I think it should be safe – no reporters will ask you questions, you don't have to pretend to have a jobs plan and you can root to your heart's content for the colts while demanding that any fillies at the racetrack be paid less.

 

KENTUCKY STATE AFL-CIO
COPE Endorsements – 2014 Primary Elections

U.S. Senate
Alison Lundergan Grimes

U.S. Congress:
Ron Leach – 2nd CD
John Yarmuth – 3rd CD
Peter Newberry – 4th CD
Elisabeth Jensen – 6th CD

 

By HUNTER WALKER
BUSINESS INSIDER

Editor’s note: “Just when we thought it couldn’t get worse, Mitch McConnell’s high-dollar donors are now rewarding him for his votes against women across the Commonwealth,” Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton said of the Business Insider story, which ran on April 30. “From repeatedly blocking the Paycheck Fairness Act, to labeling the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act nothing more than a ‘special interest vote’ before voting against it, Mitch McConnell’s blatant disregard for issues important to women and families is incomprehensible. McConnell’s true loyalties are shining through as he does his anti-women donors’ bidding and continues to refuse to fight for the women of Kentucky.”
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has received nearly $10,000 in campaign contributions from the head of a company at the center of a high-profile sexual discrimination case. Cintas Corporation Chairman Richard Farmer has given $9,800 to McConnell over the past 13 years, the vast majority of which was contributed after the start of an ongoing lawsuit alleging the company engaged in a "pattern" of discrimination against female job applicants.

    The University of Kentucky chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops is sponsoring a May Day rally on campus at 6:30 p.m.
   "If you are in the Lexington area this evening, please join us as we support those that support us on this important day for working men and women,” said Bill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO.
   Traditionally, May Day is celebrated as a workers’ holiday throughout the world.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   It’s no secret that the Religious Right is none too fond of unions.
  “Labor unions should study and read the Bible instead of asking for more money,” said the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority. “Unions are one of the organizations leading the world to wickedness,” said the Rev. Tim La Haye, an early Moral Majority leader.
   Joanne Ricca, who is retired from the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, mined those quotes for “Politics in America: The Right Wing Attack on the American Labor Movement.” It is still timely and still online at: http://www.d.umn.edu/~epeters5/MAPL5112/5112%20Articles/Ricca%20TheRightWingAttack.pdf
   The fact is, millions of union men and women are people of faith. Every meeting of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council, where I am recording secretary, begins with a prayer (and the Pledge of Allegiance).

 

By BONIFACO ALEMAN
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
KENTUCKY JOBS WITH JUSTICE

   On April 28th, 2014, after being asked by the Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District Central Maintenance Facility workers to address the atrocious work issues on their behalf, I gave the follow address to the MSD Board. It was an honor and a pleasure to stand on behalf of the many hard working women and men who keep us safe during hazardous conditions, and with so many supporters. You can find more information on the MSD CMF issues here.
   “Hello. Thank you for the time to address the MSD Board today. My name is Bonifacio Aleman and I am the executive director of Kentucky Jobs With Justice. KYJwJ is an organization of churches, community groups and labor unions dedicated to fighting for workers’ rights. We have been asked by CMF Workers to come today. I am proudly here with sisters and brothers from LiUNA Local 576, AFSCME Organizing Committee 962, Teamsters, SEIU 32BJ NCFO, Nurses Professional Organization, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, National Action Network, Neighborhood Planning and Preservation, Louisville Showing Up For Racial Justice, C.L.O.U.T., UAW Local 862, District 1 Councilwoman Attica Scott, the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, the Greater Louisville Central Labor Council, Kentucky Laborers District Council, National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 14, International Association of Machinists Local 861, United Steel Workers Local 1693, Sowers of Justice Network, ATU Local 1447, Adjunct Professor and Social Worker Khalilah V. Collins, and many other community members.


By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   A rainy day failed to dampen the enthusiasm of about 50 people who turned up to meet the “Give America a Raise” bus when it stopped in Lexington Monday afternoon.
   The crowd rallied ‘round the big bus, which is traveling the country in support of boosting the minimum wage to $10.10 hour. Several speakers, including Democratic senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, and Bill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, called on congress to hike the wage.
   Londrigan today thanked everybody who braved the elements to come to the rally at Thoroughbred Park. He also said it’s been reported that Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the senate majority leader, “will try to get the votes this week to be able to get the minimum wage increase to the senate floor.”

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

    This just in from Joseph Gerth of the Louisville Courier-Journal:
   “Matt Bevin relies on his young daughter, Olivia, to call U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell a liar in his latest television ad, which stars Bevin and his whole clan.”
   Bevin is the anti-union tea party hero challenging the anti-union McConnell in next month’s Kentucky Republican primary. The ad opens with Olivia, one of Bevin's nine bairns, piping: "Mitch McConnell is telling a bunch of lies about my dad. Don't be fooled." The ad must have really riled Team Mitch. One of the players couldn’t resist taking a swipe at the Bevin bunch with a tweet: “I was waiting for ‘My dad went to MIT!'” 


By BERRY CRAIG
AFT LOCAL 1360

   “Safe Jobs Save Lives. Make Your Voice Heard” is the theme for this year’s Workers Memorial Day, which is Monday.
   The voice of history, the subject I taught for two dozen years, could hardly be louder or clearer when it comes to unions and worker safety and health laws. We need them both.
   In an ideal world, everybody would live by the Golden Rule, some form of which can be found in just about every religion. But we live in a real world where greed is the gospel of many employers.
   If most bosses had their way, we wouldn’t have unions or worker safety and health laws. For a long time, we didn’t have either in the United States. Not until the 1930s did Congress pass legislation giving workers the right to organize unions and requiring employers to recognize unions.

 
   The “Give America A Raise” bus tour is scheduled to stop in Lexington at 4 p.m. (EDT) Monday.
   The bus will halt for a rally at Thoroughbred Park, East Short St. at Eastern Ave. Rally sponsors include Americans United for Change, the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, Kentucky Jobs with Justice, the Bluegrass Central Labor Council and the University of Kentucky Students Against Sweatshops.
   Sponsors of the nationwide tour include the AFL-CIO, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Service Employees International Union, United Auto Workers, USAction and the National Employment Law Project.


By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a first on series of articles on union heroes in Kentucky, some well-known or others unsung. But they all embody ‘Solidarity,” that old union byword.

   When W.C. Young died in Paducah, he was living next door to his church and down the street from his last union office.
   The symbolism wasn’t lost on the national labor and civil rights leader and the man for whom the city’s W.C. Young Community Center is named.
   “I really believed what I was taught in Sunday school,” said Young, who died in 1996 at age 77. “You are supposed to love your brother and sister. That’s the way it is with the union movement.”


By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Sen. Mitch McConnell probably figures he can again win some union votes with the old social issues sucker play. Retired UA leader Larry Sanderson of Paducah, calls it "the three Gs con job," as in "God, guns and gays."
   Unfortunately, some union members will again fall for McConnell’s scam, even though the captain of Team Mitch is one of the most anti-union lawmakers in Washington.
   Don’t take my word for it. Check out his record.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT LOCAL 1360

   Jeff Wiggins, president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council, had just one question after delegates unanimously chose him as the 2014 recipient of the W.C. Young Award, the council’s highest honor.
   “Who’s going to emcee?”
   “I will,” replied council vice president Bo Johnson, an organizer-union representative with AFSCME Indiana-Kentucky Organizing Committee 962. He nominated Wiggins, who is president of Steelworkers Local 9447.

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

Early in the Great Depression, a lot of jobless Americans concluded that President Herbert Hoover didn’t care about their plight, or he was just clueless.

Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Hoover, a Republican, in a landslide in 1932.

So, what are Kentuckians, unemployed or otherwise, to make of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s comment to Beattyville Enterprise editor Edmund Shelby that it is “not my job” to bring jobs to the Bluegrass State?

McConnell sounds Hooveresque to me. Read more >>>

Now at the end of its second full day on the road, the Life in Rand Paul’s Radical World Tour has already covered hundreds of miles and hit 8 stops. We’re currently winding our way south from Metropolis, IL, but more on that later. On our way west, we hit worksites in Owensboro and Madisonville, Wickliffe and Paducah.

In Owensboro yesterday, the tour took activists to the Swedish Match Company facility where workers have processed tobacco for smokeless products since 1973. The facility is an anchor of the local economy and a testament to the quality and commitment that union workers bring to the job. More than 270 union members work at the facility in a wide variety of capacities and most of the members to whom we spoke expressed their intention to vote for Jack Conway. All around Owensboro, jobs have been shipped overseas and the need to elect a Senator who will bargain hard for friar trade policies, not just “free trade” policies, is essential if the area is going to succeed in the coming years. Click here to read more...

If you’re reading this post, you likely know that in his quest to reach the U.S. Senate, Rand Paul has waged an all out war on the Kentucky worker.

You know that if he could, Rand Paul would deregulate Kentucky’s mines, leaving thousands of workers at risk.

You know that if he could, Rand Paul would implement a Medicare deductible of $2,000 even if it bankrupts tens of thousands of retirees.

You know that if he could, Rand Paul would dissolve of the U.A.W., an organization that has fought for workers rights, civil rights and progress for decades.

You know that if he could, Rand Paul would grant and extend tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, demolishing entire communities in the process.

And now, if you click here, you'll know the newest front that Rand Paul has opened up in the war against the Kentucky worker...


Under George W. Bush, working families faced an unrelenting assault on their way of life. On his watch, tens of thousands of union jobs were shipped to China and entire communities were devastated just so shareholders could make a buck.

While the last two years have been a struggle, and times are still difficult, signs point to better days ahead. But here in Kentucky, working families are once again in a fight for their life. That’s because Rand Paul, candidate for U.S. Senate, is the greatest threat to the American worker since Ronald Reagan.

And now he wants to see the entire auto industry deunionized. Is your union next?

Click here to read more...

Fact: Rand Paul wants a $2,000 deductible for Medicare

For many, the back and forth of political campaigns is annoying at best. For most, it's enough for them to throw up their hands in despair.

But with the stakes as high as they are, we cannot afford to let dangerous ideas float past unaccounted for. Now, more than ever, the candidates running for Senate need to be taken to task for the positions they've adopted.

On Sunday, during the first debate of the general election, Rand Paul said that his statements on Medicare had been taken out of context. This, brothers and sisters, is a lie. On no less than SEVEN occassions, Rand Paul has said that he believes the solution to the Medicare "problem" is a $2,000 deductible. And we have the video to prove it: http://bit.ly/aaMqQl

Going even further, Rand Paul, just today, was quoted as calling Medicare a form of welfare. Well, 800,000 Kentucky seniors don't look at it like that. We need to ask ourselves a simple question: can Kentucky afford a Senator so disturbingly out of touch with the reality of so many citizens?

Join The Bloodhound Brigade Today!

One thing is clear: we need to get some straight answers from Rand Paul. But to do that, we need to know where he's going to be! That's why we've started this new group.

The whole purpose of the Brigade will be track Rand Paul as he travels from public campaign event to public campaign event. Today's encounter with the candidate shows just how powerful you can really be.

To sign-up for the Brigade, just click here and fill out the form.

If you read about a Rand Paul event in the paper, hear about one on tv or from a friend, or see that he's going to be in your town while out and about, please let us know.

It's time for the working men and women of Kentucky to stand up and protect themselves - this is one way you can do just that.

At a public meet and greet in Pineville today, Rand Paul once again refused to discuss Social Security and Medicare with working Kentuckians. Right before closing his car door in our brother's face, Paul even said: "Hell No" he wasn't going to answer any questions. How's that for respect?

The event took place at a Dairy Queen in a region of Kentucky where, as you know, good jobs are scare, the economy is worse than the national average, and many residents depend upon social security as their sole source of survival. Prior to Rand's escape act, a group of working Kentuckians from the UMWA, USW, and IBEW were patiently waiting at tables inside the Dairy Queen, hoping to have the chance to talk with Paul. They never got the opportunity. Click here to watch the video and here to read more...

Important news from this weekend: a new Courier-Journal/WHAS11 Bluegrass Poll shows that the U.S. Senate race, featuring our AFL-CIO endorsed candidate Jack Conway, is all tied-up! This comes after Rand Paul and his George W. Bush-era friends in Washington, D.C. have opened up their coffers to attack Jack in television ads that are filled with misinformation and outright lies. But Kentucky voters are beginning to understand just how radical Rand Paul really is. The Bluegrass Poll shows the Conway campaign absolutely surging, having made up more than ten points in three weeks. Click here to read more...

This week, the Kentucky AFL-CIO is releasing a hard-hitting piece of mail that doesn't editorialize - it just let's Rand speak for himself.

Rand Paul has gone to great lengths to avoid talking about the impact his radical agenda would have on the working class. Since winning the GOP primary, he's refused to give interviews with any reporters except those from Fox News. He's refused to offer specifics on how he'd draw down the national deficit or rework crucial programs like social security. And he's refused to talk to voters, instead preferring the company of his chauffeur...click here to read more

But just because Rand Paul won't talk today about his policies, doesn't mean he hasn't talked about them in the past. We know that Rand Paul is anti-union (the National Right to Work Committee donated $2,500 to his campaign), we know that he is anti-worker (he's been quoted as saying wages need to be lower) and we know he's anti-minority (he supports the business owner's right to discriminate on the basis of skin color), but he's also anti-retiree, anti-unemployed and anti-workplace safety.

Yesterday, Rand Paul, candidate for U.S. Senate, came to Louisville for a “meet and greet” with voters. Over three dozen union members from across Kentucky attended the public forum to ask Paul about his policies. Unfortunately though, Paul forgot to meet or greet anyone in attendance. After speaking for no more than 15 minutes, Paul quickly turned on his heels and headed for the door. Once outside, he immediately jumped into a waiting car, locked his door, and drove away.

Click here to watch the video, and here to read more

One of the most important issues for the working men and women of Kentucky, especially those that have already retired, is that of social security. The Kentucky State AFL-CIO sat down with two retired Steelworkers to discuss social security and why union members can't to have Rand Paul as their next U.S. Senator. Click here to read more; click here to watch the video.

Union members and pro-Labor candidates mobilized today at the Ford Louisville Assembly Plant in support of candidates who understand the importance of the working class in Kentucky. Close to 20 members worked the afternoon shift change, handing out literature focused on: Jack Conway's U.S. Senate race, Congressman John Yarmuth's re-election race, the Louisville Mayoral contest involving Greg Fischer, and Marty Meyer's 38th State Senate District race. Roughly 1,000 Ford employees received information and committed to campaign for pro-Labor candidates over the next 54 days. Click here to learn more...

With only 54 short days to go before Election Day, member action has kicked into high gear here in Kentucky. Two polls launched late yesterday show a statistical tie between the candidates for the open U.S. Senate seat and, riding the momentum built during Labor Day, Jack Conway has begun to raise serious money from the informed voters of the Commonwealth. Additionally, both Kentucky candidates have launched their first advertisements of the general election cycle (so too has one ultra-conservative special interest group run by George Bush’s former advisor Karl Rove). As you can imagine, both media and voter interest in this most important of races has begun to rise in earnest. Click here to learn more...

New Video of Louisville Labor Day!!!

New video from Louisville Labor Day Now LIVE!

Click here to watch your fellow members and pro-labor candidates talk about the upcoming election and the need to mobilize.

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