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“Always Vote Your Job”: Vocal Sheet Metal Worker Insists that Building Trades Members Support Obama Come November

Farally's SMWIA Cuff Links

Despite the GOP’s fiercely anti-union party platform, some socially conservative members of Building Trades unions may still be tempted to vote against their best interests in November, a move that Todd Farally, a Sheet Metal Worker from Philadelphia, says they will regret if Mitt Romney makes good on promises to strip the power of unions and make “Right-to-Work” a federal standard.

The third generation SMWIA member makes excellent points in his Working Class Heroes post, “Why Building Trades Members Should Care How They Vote In November.” Ignoring Romney’s anti-union stance would be unwise, Farally writes:

George W. Bush looks like a friend to Labor Unions next to Romney. On numerous occasions Mitt has reiterated how he will take on the unions, how he will fervently support Right-to-Work (for less) laws and push to get a national version of those terrible laws on his desk to sign. And sign he will. Recently, the anti-union lobbying group Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) endorsed Mitt Romney for President. But Mr. Romney didn’t just receive this endorsement; he actively sought it out. When Romney spoke in front of the ABC several months ago he exclaimed: “One of the first things that I will do – actually on Day One – is I will end the government’s favoritism towards unions in contracting on Federal projects.” He goes on to say he will fight to repeal the Davis-Bacon Act and end Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). Does any of that sound like a good idea to you? It sure doesn’t to me.

The dangers facing union members in the event of a Republican presidential win should be sufficiently terrifying to make even the most conservative union brother think twice about casting such a ballot. Yet in June — before the party platform was penned — a Gallup poll found that 35 percent of union members planned on voting for Mitt Romney. Exit polls from the Wisconsin recall showed 38 percent of union members supported Gov. Scott Walker despite his anti-union agenda [this number is frequently disputed because of confusion about the difference between a “union household” and a “union member”].

Of course, it is the right of any citizen, Building Trades member or not, to vote for the candidate of their choice. But, as Farally puts on display, it is also the right — nay, the duty — of all union members to expose the truth about the direction our government will head if Romney can pull out a victory. Republican insistence on ending Project Labor Agreements and creating a federal “Right-to-Work” law would have a chilling effect on members of the construction trades. Farally continues…

While Right-to-Work laws vary from state to state, they can adversely affect those of us in the construction trades as well as our brothers and sisters in the manufacturing sector. Do we deserve these rotten laws? No! But don’t worry, there’s more just for those of us in the construction trades. This newly minted GOP platform is also putting construction unions in its crosshairs. The platform calls for an end to PLAs and the repeal of Davis-Bacon. So how bad could it be? Well, if you live in a large metropolitan area like I do, it will certainly make things worse. But the ones that are really going to feel the most pain from this would be our brothers and sisters in rural areas. A large portion of the work in rural areas are government or Institutional jobs and without Davis-Bacon to protect wage standards, these jobs would most likely go to non-union construction companies that pay their workers a substandard wage and probably provide no benefits.

On Labor Day, Vice President Joe Biden spoke to Michigan AFL-CIO workers in Detroit, praising them for their role in the revitalization of the American auto industry. “You’re the reason the auto plants are back,” Biden remarked. Commenting on the Republican party platform, Biden promised that the Obama Administration would continue to fight against “Right-to-Work” laws if elected for a second term.

“They don’t believe in your very right to bargain,” Biden told a crowd of about 3,500 people standing next to the Westin Book Cadillac hotel in downtown Detroit. “Right-to-work means the right to work for less. As long as we’re here, it will not happen.”

The choice couldn’t be clearer for union members: one candidate vows to protect the dwindling rights workers still have, while the other wants to rip them from our necks like a cheap chain in a back alley, only to wear them as a token of conservative zeal. Farally relates his personal story, which is undoubtedly similar to many of his peers, in his final pitch for a Building Trades Obama vote:

We in the building trades have really hit a rough patch. I was laid off for twenty four months straight from late 2009 to late 2011, was lucky enough to work for seven and a half months and am currently laid off again. I know what it’s like to wake up feeling that all you want to do is go to work, to feel like you have a purpose, and the fear of uncertainty. But things can get much worse if we either don’t vote at all or vote for people that will work against our economic interests. And saying you’ve always voted Republican is not an excuse because you simply don’t want to face the fact that your party has turned on you. I can understand that - change is hard, but betrayal is even worse, and you have to ask yourself: What has this party said or done to deserve my vote? Speaking as a union member, I can say that the Republicans seem to say and do more and more against us and our families. As my Dad used to say, “Always vote your job, because the other guy sure as hell is.”

Well said, Todd.


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