Merkley Celebrates Labor Day, Asks Supporters to Help Gulf Coast
by Sarah Lane, Mon Sep 01, 2008 at 02:23:56 PM EDT
Today is Labor Day, a day dedicated to hardworking Americans deserving of a day off. Oregon Senate candidate Jeff Merkley is spending the holiday celebrating with his labor brothers and sisters at picnics in Portland and Eugene. Before I give you an update on the day's festivities, I want to take a minute to mention a few things....
Full disclosure, I am the netroots director for OR-Sen candidate Jeff Merkley
Hurricane Gustav came ashore today on the Gulf Coast, leaving hundreds of thousands without power and flooding parts of Mississippi. Jeff Merkley sent his well wishes to those affected by the storm and called on his supporters to give what they can to the Red Cross. Here's what he had to say:
"Our brothers and sisters in the Gulf Coast region are threatened by Hurricane Gustav, and they need our aid right now. I know Oregonians are generous and compassionate, and I hope everyone does what they can in this time of need.
"In support of the relief efforts, Mary and I will be donating to the American Red Cross. If you have the ability, please join us by donating what you can to the Red Cross, so they can rush disaster relief where it is badly needed.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and families who now face Hurricane Gustav, and we hope for their continued well-being and security." - Jeff Merkley
If you can, please consider donating to the Red Cross to help with their relief efforts.
It's Labor Day!
Today in Portland Oregon, Democrats and union members were out in droves to talk about working to strengthen the unions and the middle class. Jobless claims in America have risen to their highest point in six years. Last July, we saw the unemployment rate climb to it's highest level since 2004. The cost of everything is on the rise, wages are stagnant and the number of workers being provided pensions by their employers has dropped in the past few years.
I attended the huge labor picnic at Oaks Park in Portland, Oregon where Democratic leaders took the stage to talk about upcoming elections and legislation like the Employee Free Choice Act. First up was my Representative Earl Blumenauer, who stressed the importance of electing Barack Obama, Jeff Merkley and Kurt Schrader:
"Obama didn't go to Wall Street, he went to the south side of Chicago to work with the steelworkers who lost their jobs. This is an opportunity to put someone in the White House who will be an ally for working America. Obama is endorsing Jeff Merkley, a friend of ours and a friend of working families. With Obama in the White House, Merkley in the Senate and Schrader in the House, we'll have a pro-working family legislature."
Representative David Wu was up next, he spoke about how important it is to elect people like Jeff Merkley, who is a staunch supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act. Here's what Wu had to say:
"We're going to need Jeff Merkley to get the Employee Free Choice Act through the Senate."
Republican Gordon Smith helped block the Employee Free Choice Act last year. Considering our razor thin majority in the Senate, if we want a chance to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, we really need to replace Gordon Smith with Jeff Merkley.
After Representative Blumenauer and Representative Wu finished speaking, it's was Jeff's turn to take the stage. Jeff really got the crowd pumped up, here's what he had to say:
We need to make America a place that works for working people again. We need to end the war. We need to provide affordable, accessible health care for every man, woman and child. We need to end trade and tax policies that are unfair to the American worker. We need to pass the Employee Free Choice Act! This race is a tipping point in the U.S. Senate. The Senate must no longer be a place where House bills go to die, but a place where good House bills go to thrive. Wouldn't it be great if we could do what we did in the Oregon House and Senate in the U.S. Senate and House?
The crowd yelled in unison, "Yes!" Oregon labor leaders like Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain called last year's session, "The most labor friendly session we've had in thirty years." As House Speaker, Jeff pushed through the card check, helped lower prescription drug prices, regulated payday lenders, and passed a bill to allow workers to use their paid sick leave as family leave.
Democrat Jeff Merkley and his opponent Republican Gordon Smith couldn't be more different on labor issues. Republican Gordon Smith helped block the Employee Free Choice Act last year. Jeff Merkley led the charge in Oregon and helped push through the card check in the House. There's no doubt in my mind that the Democrats are going to try and pass the Employee Free Choice Act again next year. We need to make sure that Jeff Merkley is in the Senate to help usher its passage rather than Gordon Smith who will surely work to block it. In 2007, Republican Gordon Smith received a 51% rating from the AFL-CIO while Jeff Merkley received a 95% rating from the Oregon AFL-CIO.
It's not just the difference in their stances on key labor issues, Jeff Merkley has produced results for working Americans while Gordon Smith has proven he governs for the special interests. Republican Gordon Smith voted against raising the minimum wage numerous times and he also has supported every free trade deal under the sun.
Republican Gordon Smith also infamously attached the repatriation amendment to the Jobs Act which gave billions in tax breaks to big corporations. Here's what Gordon Smith had to say about how effective his repatriation amendment would be:
"With this relief, U.S. businesses will invest almost $400 billion in our economy," Smith said. "It will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and get our economy moving again. It is exactly what we need to get people back to work."
Truth? Gordon Smith's repatriation amendment enabled corporations to make a bundle in offshore profits and pay little taxes in return. Republican Gordon Smith's massive tax giveaway FAILED to add jobs. Big pharma alone repatriated 100 billion in foreign profits and they actually ended up laying off workers. Gordon Smith's politics haven't been good for workers, but rather they have benefited a privileged few corporations.
Jeff Merkley will always fight for the rights of workers to organize and will always work to provide good paying jobs. Jeff believes we need to reform our existing trade deals and end federal giveaways to corporations who take advantage of offshore tax shelters. Jeff will make serious investments in creating alternative energies and will push for tax incentives for alternative energy companies who set up shop in America just like he did in Oregon.
If you'd like to help give voice to working Americans again, please consider donating to Jeff Merkley's campaign. Thanks and Happy Labor Day!