McConnell's office staffers didn't answer the doorbell

EDITOR'S NOTE: Click here and here to see videos of today's Paducah and Fort Wright actions. 

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

Nobody answered when Jeff Wiggins rang the doorbell at Sen. Mitch McConnell's Paducah field office this afternoon.

Hence, Wiggins, the Kentucky State AFL-CIO's secretary-treasurer, suggested the Amy McGrath campaign might reprise McConnell's famous 1984 bloodhound ad and turn it against him.

"Maybe we ought to send the hounds out to look for [McConnell], suggested Wiggins, who came bearing a letter asking the majority leader to get the Senate to pass the HEROES Act. He also wanted to speak to the office staff.

Dubbed "Hound Dog" the ad showed bloodhounds trying to track down incumbent Sen. Walter D. Huddleston who allegedly shirked his Senate duties to deliver paid speeches. "Between 1981 and 1984, according to Newsweek, Huddleston’s attendance rate in the Senate was actually ninety-four per cent—far from delinquent," wrote Jane Mayer in The New Yorker.

The ad was false. But it supposedly won McConnell the election--by about 5,000 votes. 

Anyway, "...Thousands of Americans have died—and are still dying—of Covid-19," wrote Wiggins, who lives in Reidland, a Paducah suburb. "This virus is a non-partisan killer."

He added: "Meanwhile, as the deadly pandemic wreaks havoc across the country, peaking and continuing to spread in a majority of states, laid-off workers have yet another burden to face: the end of the $600 weekly unemployment benefits provided by the CARES Act.

"This additional $600 stipend, set to expire tomorrow, has quite literally meant life or death for millions of America’s families. It’s given families the ability to pay for their rent or mortgage, make car payments, or afford groceries and prescriptions."

The HEROES Act calls for extending the $600 weekly payment through January.

Wiggins, accompanied by Al Cunningham III, IUPAT District Council 91 representative, rang the doorbell around 2 p.m. (Cunningham's father, retired IUPAT official Al Cunningham Jr., is the state AFL-CIO-endorsed Democrat running for the Sixth District state House seat against the incumbent, Republican Chris Freeland.) Cunningham and Wiggins were masked and practiced social distancing. When he got no response, Wiggins slid the letter under the door, and the two union leaders left.

Wiggins said Cunningham also wanted to talk to McConnell's representatives because the building trades have "been hit hard."

Cunningham said that because of the coronavirus epidemic, "we don't have as much work as we've had in the past....We need assistance now."

Wiggins said "$600 dollars helps people [who] out of no fault of their own have been laid off....We need help.  America needs help....We need help locally for our working people and our businesses. It is a proven fact that the more money that you give people that are laid off, the more money you put in the local economy. Every dollar goes back in the local economy."

Also in his letter, Wiggins wrote, "Let’s be clear: Nobody wants to be unemployed. A job is about more than a paycheck—it’s a source of dignity. Millions are out of work through no fault of their own.

"Unless the Senate passes the HEROES Act...Americans will needlessly suffer. Our economy will continue to spiral downward, and any recovery will take longer. It’s time to pass the HEROES Act, extend unemployment and keep working people whole."

Wiggins and Cunningham went to McConnell's Paducah office as part of a statewide effort sponsored by the Kentucky AFL-CIO. The idea was "to take our concerns over his unwillingness to provide the support that working families need right now to his doorstep by having a day of action and have our members, community supporters and unemployed workers to go directly to McConnell’s offices across Kentucky," said Bill Londrigan, state AFL-CIO president.

Londrigan said the visits to McConnell's field offices were also designed to "let him and his staff know that Kentuckians want him to do the right thing and extend the federal UI benefit of $600.00 as well as the other key elements contained in the Heroes Act, such as infrastructure funding, funding for state and local governments, mortgage relief, OSHA workplace safety and health standards, mortgage and rent relief, support for the USPS and so much more."

Another action took place at McConnell's office in Fort Wright. There were other actions in Louisville last month and Lexington earlier this month.

The state AFL-CIO unanimously endorsed McGrath, a Democrat, over McConnell.