Apr 28, 2008
A special meeting of the AFL-CIO Baltimore Metropolitan Council – advertised as a way to deal with the “Crisis in Healthcare” – attracted at least 150 local union presidents and activists, five times as many as usual. Apparently the AFL-CIO is organizing such meetings all over the country. A top level staffer showed an angry video about denials of health care for union members and their families.
So what can workers do? According to the AFL-CIO staffer, nothing except work to get Clinton or Obama elected along with so-called “labor-friendly” politicians running for Congress.
State workers and others in Maryland have already had their fill of “labor-friendly” politicians – like the current Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley. The unions helped to put him in office, but today he is cutting state workers’ jobs, and giving pay raises so small they are wiped out by increased deductions.
Of course, there was no discussion about the healthcare issue. Actually there was no discussion about anything. State and local AFL-CIO officials simply laid out a plan for turning out the vote in the coming elections and invited a local Democratic candidate for Congress up to the platform to say a few nice words.
The AFL-CIO is taking the strong desire for a better health care system – shown by the large turnout at meetings like this – and channeling it into working for the election of politicians whose records already show what they will do. Clinton, Obama and McCain all voted for the Medicare Part D prescription drug program – which was another way to drain more money out of Medicare, and out of retirees’ pockets, and funnel it into the bank accounts of the big drug and health insurance companies.
But even if one of these politicians really wanted to get better medical care for all, they couldn’t do it without a mobilized population ready to fight for it. Either way, with or without these politicians, workers won’t get improved medical care for all unless they are prepared to fight for it.
The worst thing about these political pep rallies is that the AFL-CIO doesn’t call on people who are ready to start a campaign to do anything.
It’s a real betrayal.