Union activists held a Workers Stand For America rally in Philadelphia Saturday to introduce what they call “America’s Second Bill of Rights” and to rally supporters going into the November election.
The rights demanded by the union leaders include: the “right to full employment and a living wage”; the right to full participation in the electoral process (an implicit attack on Voter ID laws and the Citizens United decision that also empowered unions); the right to a voice at work; the right to a quality education; and the right to secure a healthy future.
The rally featured nationally known figures such as Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Sen. Robert Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) as well as a recorded address from President Obama, alongside a litany of union activists complaining about budget cuts and how they had been wronged on the job.
“This election isn’t about whether a candidate has a ‘D’ or and ‘R’ after his or her name. This isn’t about building one political party or another,” Trumka said. “It’s about our vision for the future.”
The AFL-CIO president then launched into a tirade against those who want to restrain government spending.
“Let me tell you something brothers and sisters, America has a bright future if we go ahead and pursue that vision and that promise if we do it together, if we do it united, if we do it in solidarity, if all working people stand up at the same time and say we are moving forward,” Trumka said. “We are not going backward.
“This election we will deliver our strength. We’ll campaign for our vision of prosperity, and anyone who says that we have to downsize the American dream doesn’t know what this country is all about,” Trumka continued. “They had better get out of our way because we are going to run up their chests, come down their heads and come down on their backs.”
Trumka slammed those he said don’t believe America can afford “retirement security,” health care, union wages, the postal service and other public sector employees, saying they don’t know what they are talking about.
“We won’t accept their defeatism,” Trumka said.
Trumka followed up on earlier words from President Obama suggesting that America needs to grow its economy from the “bottom up” and the “middle out” rather than from the top down – a shot against Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
“The center of my opponent’s entire plan is a $5 trillion tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, leaving middle-class families to pick up the tab,” Obama said. “Gov. Romney’s tax plan would actually raise taxes on middle-class families by an average of $2,000.
“Gov. Romney’s plan would gut education, repeal the Affordable Care Act and turn Medicare into a voucher system, ending the program as we know it.”
Obama then continued a familiar campaign theme of suggesting that future tax cuts would not work because the Bush tax cuts allegedly resulted in the current economic situation.
“We do not want to move backwards; we want to move forwards,” Obama said.
While Wasserman Schultz took the stage to play attack dog repeating many of the same talking points that have been leveled against Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan since the start of the campaign.