Stewart Acuff

Sep 24

Could there be a better story in the election campaign?

William Kristol and others admitted on Sunday news shows that America and Americans are better off than we were four years ago, the last time a Republican occupied the White House.

Of course, for once Kristol is right – as in correct. Four years ago George Bush’s eyes were as big as coffee saucers, the economy and jobs were in free fall, both the American and the world financial system were crumbling, Europe was falling apart (and that has never been good for the world), we’d had 30 years of stagnant wages, and Obama and McCain suspended their campaigns to deal with the reversal of history.

While those of us in the labor movement would have done some things differently, the President and his team got busy creating an economic stimulus to put spendable money in the pocket of workers who spent it and saved thousands and thousands of public sector jobs, issued a loan to GM and Chrysler not only keeping them out bankruptcy, but returning GM to the dominant automaker and auto employer.

President Obama’s plan added four million new jobs. Unemployment is dropping. Manufacturing is coming back. Obama’s National Security team killed Osama Bin Laden. And we got out of the ridiculous blood bath in Iraq.

While all that was going the President pushed through a healthcare plan that will cover almost every single American, lower healthcare costs for the rest of us, and focus healthcare decisions on what is best for patients instead of insurance companies.

President Obama has also made appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the National Mediation Board who actually believe in collective bargaining as the law requires. Both boards have made decisions that make it somewhat easier for workers to form unions and engage in collective bargaining.

The President also corrected an awful injustice when he allowed employees at the Transportation Safety Administration to form a union. Those rights were destroyed by George Bush after the 9-11 disaster, even though every person who responded to that emergency was a union public employee.

Yes, we are all better off than we were four years ago, and our country is better off too.


Stewart Acuff is America’s best-known and foremost labor organizer. He is the former organizing Director of the AFL-CIO. Acuff has also written two books: Playing Bigger Than You Are: A Life in Organizing, and Getting America Back to Work, coauthored by Dr. Richard Levins.

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