A key difference between the Republican National Convention that just finished in Tampa and the Democratic National Convention getting underway in Charlotte is visible most clearly on Labor Day: that there are Labor people here in force – AFL-CIO, SEIU, AFCSME to list but a few.
Union workers were prominent at CarolinaFest, a street festival presented by Charlotte 2012, the host committee for the Democratic National Convention being held here Sept. 2-6, to welcome delegates to Charlotte and also make the convention accessible to local people.
Union members will be prominent at the convention, as well – SEIU President Mary Kay Henry will address DNC delegates on Tuesday, Sept. 4, during the 6 p.m. hour – while in Tampa, the only union members were participating in the protest marches that preceded the convention.
It is as if the RNC were the shareholders meeting of owners and managers and the DNC are the actual workers, wage-earners and laborers who by sweat and toil actually do “build it.”
Indeed, more than 100 members and leaders of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this week
Many SEIU members were at the CarolinaFest, talking to attendees about how unions like SEIU give workers a stronger voice in the workplace (“Say thanks for weekends off!”)
“A stronger voice in the workplace also means a fairer share of the economic growth. And when the economy is doing well, there is more funding to maintain good public jobs and quality public services. Unions are an inherent and essential part of the solution.”
SEIU President Mary Kay Henry will address Democratic National Convention delegates on Tuesday, Sept. 4, during the 6 p.m. hour (the entire convention is being livestreamed).
Henry will focus on what’s at stake for working people this election and the stark difference between President Obama’s inclusive vision for America and Mitt Romney’s plan to continue failed policies of the past.
A key issue for working people is health care, and on Wednesday, September 5, the SEIU and Families USA, a group that advocates for health care, are hosting a joint forum, “Moving America Forward: Health Care Visionaries and Voices from the Front Lines” (9:30 am – 11:30 am, NASCAR Hall of Fame Museum, 400 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard)
Speakers include U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA); Nancy-Ann DeParle, Deputy Chief of Staff to the President; Mary Kay Henry, President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU); U.S. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer; Victoria Kennedy; U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA); Vivek Murthy, M.D., President, Doctors for America; Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA); U.S. House Leader Nancy Pelosi; Ron Pollack, Executive Director, Families USA; Governor Peter Shumlin (D-VT)
Then, on Thursday, September 6, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry will participate in “Envisioning Prosperity” panel (9-10 am, PPL/The big Tent, Packard Place, 222 S. Church St. Ari Melber from The Nation moderates a panel on what an America for the 99% would look like. Can we achieve an economy that prioritizes the interests and financial security of working families first?
One of the SEIU members in Charlotte as a delegate is Theresa Law, a homecare worker from Springfield, Ohio and member of SEIU District 1199.
As a home healthcare worker, Teresa understands the critical nature of programs like Medicare and Medicaid, especially as it relates to seniors and people living with disabilities. According to Teresa, the changes that President Obama has made to Medicare have made life better for so many of her own clients. “In the past, I watched clients choose between paying the electric bill and their dialysis treatment, a choice that no American should have to make,” she explains, “But President Obama closed the gap and improved the lives of millions of people in the process.”
On the other hand, Law is concerned about the damage that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would inflict on Medicare, “If we jeopardize the strength of Medicare, we jeopardize senior citizen’s independence, you will make them insecure and take away their confidence.”
A mother of two grown sons who have felt the brunt of a down economy, Teresa says, “When I hear Republicans talk about working class people in this country, I am amazed that they can be so inhuman. They discuss policies with no thought of the man trying to feed a family of four on $7.40 per hour…none whatsoever. If Republicans really understood what working people were facing, you better believe they would find a way to fix it.”
She argues that President Obama “has been a champion for working people from Day One. From equal pay for women to the DREAM Act, voting rights to women’s healthcare.”
In contrast, in her own state of Ohio, Republicans have led the charge to disenfranchise voters, recently supporting a move to keep polling places open in conservative, suburban communities longer than in liberal, urban communities. “How many times have I heard Mitt Romney and other Republicans unfairly accuse Democrats of class warfare, only to turn around and discriminate against poorer, urban voters who are unlikely to vote for them?”
“When it comes to basic, human rights, President Obama has moved us forward and Mitt Romney promises to move us backward,” Teresa believes. “Our immigration system is broken, we know this, and President Obama has done the smart thing, the human thing, by creating options for undocumented immigrant youth…Republicans have just demonized immigrants,” she explains, “President Obama has stood with women, empowered us to make decisions about our own healthcare…Republicans insist on trying to control women, tell us what to do.”
Karen Rubin, Long Island Populist Examiner
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