charter members of the Alliance for Economic Justice (AEJ), an organization formed in October 2003 which [now] consists of 17 unions.
The focus of the AEJ is to focus on are fair trade, job creation and affordable health care and support from other unions is swelling and it is expected that the AEJ will triple our membership in a very short time. The Presidents of the unions that make up the AEJ decided that something has to be done to draw attention to what can only be described as the fleecing of America.
The fair trade issue is appalling. As if NAFTA and the WTO haven’t hit the American worker hard enough, there are plans to expand this policy to allow scores of other countries the ability to steal the few industrial jobs we have left in the United States. These other countries pay slave wages and don’t have to invest a penny in environmental protection as we do in the United States. In the last few years we have lost over ten million jobs; the kind of jobs that created the middle class in this country. The jobs that our collective memberships depend upon for many of our man hours are disappearing at an alarming rate. As one union President stated, “The World Trade Center is being rebuilt and will not contain one ounce of American made steel. All the steel is being shipped here from China.”
Job creation is another focus for the Alliance. The bridges, water treatment and other public works projects that are another large part of our livelihood, are not being funded because of our an unprecedented attack on Davis Bacon. Rather than helping the economy by creating infrastructure jobs, the present leaders in congress have drawn a line in the sand, repeatedly refusing to release transportation and other public works funding because they do not believe we deserve to be paid the prevailing wage as we have been for the last seventy two years.
Another economic injustice that affects every worker is affordable health care. You only have to look at your paycheck to know that the cost of health care has taken most or all of any increase you expected, and in some cases has required an actual decrease in your take home wages just to maintain present benefits.
The AEJ’s objectives are simple: by combining our resources we will be able to reach out to our membership with the facts. There is nothing more powerful in the political process than education. We will make it clear whether a candidate is concerned with American jobs or is on the corporate greed payroll.
One of our first obvious duties is to make sure we support a candidate for the Presidential Primary that has the same agenda as the Alliance. Fortunately one candidate stands out and indeed has been teamed up with labor, voting right on these very issues consistently for 27 years. That candidate is Dick Gephardt. It’s going to take a lot of political house cleaning before our great country reflects the will of the working majority once again, but putting Dick Gephardt in the White House will take us a long way towards economic justice for all members of the IATSE.