Labor Unions met in Charlotte, North Carolina, with some misgivings, on Labor Day, to rally support for Obama. The public worker’s union AFSCME’s newly elected president, Lee Saunders, led the event with some risqué humor, addressing an empty chair as if it were Clint Eastwood — an allusion to Eastwood addressing an empty chair as if it were Obama — and then grew irate and violent with the chair.
“He’s been sitting here listening to all the speaker before me, he’s been listening to me, I want you to give Clint Eastwood a round of applause,” said Saunders. “I brought him with me to learn some things, OK? To teach him, to educate him.”
After interrogating the chair, he said, “He doesn’t have anything to say.”
“Mitt Romney doesn’t have anything to say, Paul Ryan doesn’t have anything to say.”
Things took a dark turn when he then kicked and threw the chair, yelling “Dirty Harry, make my day! We’re gonna kick ass in November!” The crowd nevertheless, cheered him on.
Perhaps not all the aggression was inspired by Eastwood, however. After all, Democrats stuck them out in the middle of North Carolina, a state that has right-to-work laws and therefore a weak union presence
“Charlotte wouldn’t have been our choice as a city,” Saunders said. “It’s in the right to work state, it’s tough to organize down here for private and public sector unions.
“But we’re beyond that now,” he continued. “I mean, it’s over. Charlotte was selected and we’ve got to keep our eyes on the prize and that’s to win in November, and we can’t get caught up in B.S. to be honest with you.”
Despite being slighted by the Democrats, an echo of president Obama’s silence during the Wisconsin recall, Saunders and other members of the labor party plugged for the Democrats unilaterally. Said Tim Burga, president of the Ohio AFL-CIO, “The Democratic Party is the party of labor. The Democratic Party and its goals are aligned with the labor movement — social and economic justice.”
“We must leave everything out on the field this year to re-elect President Obama and re-elect senator Sherrod Brown.”
Romney, of course, was out. Said George Tucker, The AFSCME regional director for the Toledo, Ohio area, Romney “doesn’t have a clue what the average working person has to go through. Not only to get a job, but to keep a job. He doesn’t have a clue on that.”
The rhetoric is standard for the democratic position, and the labor unions have made the issues simple, easy, and obvious: vote Democrat and tell all your friends to do likewise. Others, however, are more critical of Obama’s actual accomplishments in this direction.
“He talks a pretty good game, but he has not been good, and he hasn’t done what he’s said he will do” regarding labor, said Julius Getman, a labor expert at the University of Texas Law School. He also said. “His lack of support has been stunning.”
The labor group will be speaking all week.