Guerrilla Vlogger: AFL-CIO hosts John Edwards in Manchester, NH with oreos

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"LABOR UNIONS are more than just 'the folks who brought you the weekend,' as the bumper stickers say. A union contract may be the best bulwark against the widening income gap afflicting America even as worker productivity climbs."

-- Boston Globe Editorial September 4, 2006

On Monday I was able to attend the annual NH AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast held at the Chateau Restaurant in Manchester, NH. It was quite a large turn out, I'd say 500 and maybe more. Most of the people that I talked to were happy to be there to see Edwards, represent their crew and have a great time. And most of them were concerned about the possible Verizon sale that could affect thousands of jobs in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

The story that I heard over and over is that unions are getting weaker because their numbers continue to decline. NH-erites that I spoke to on Monday were fairly upbeat and positive about their local union, but union participation among American workers has steadily declined in the past 30 years. So why fewer unions and union members? Well may you ask...

Cross-posted at DailyKos

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usTula Connell asked an important question in her excellent Labor Day diary.

If Unions are so great then why don't more people join them?

Today this is what employers do when you try to start a union:

  • 92% of private-sector employers, when faced with employees who want to join together in a union, force employees to attend closed-door meetings to hear anti-union propaganda.
  • 80% require supervisors to attend training sessions on attacking unions.
  • 78% require that supervisors deliver anti-union messages to workers they oversee.
  • 75% hire outside consultants to run anti-union campaigns, often based on mass psychology and distorting the law.
  • 50% of employers threaten to shut down partially or totally if employees join together in a union.
  • In 25% of organizing campaigns, private-sector employers illegally fire workers because they want to form a union.
  • In 33% of successful campaigns to form a union, employers never negotiate a contract.

Source: AFL-CIO through Tula Connell's diary

...And among other things we got this Monday from David Sirota:

On America Working, The war on workers

September 4, 2006

The flip side is obvious: The more corporations and politicians crush unions, the more all workers suffer. It is no coincidence that as union membership and power has declined under withering anti-union attacks, workers have seen their wages stagnate, pensions slashed, and share of national income hit a 60-year low. As Council on Foreign Relations scholars put it, the decline in unions "is correlated with the early and sharp widening of the U.S. wage gap."

Big Business claims union membership has declined because workers do not want to join unions -- a claim debunked by public-opinion data. In 2002, Harvard University and University of Wisconsin researchers found at least 42 million workers want to be organized into a bargaining unit -- more than double the 16 million unionized workers in America. A 2005 nationwide survey by respected pollster Peter Hart found 53 percent of nonunion workers -- that's more than 50 million people -- want to join a union, if given the choice.

More workers don't join a Union in America because they aren't allowed to join one or even have a discussion about it with their co-workers without inviting extreme intimidation at work. Then in a third of the cases the company just blows off the union anyway.

Back to the show, this is New Hampshire and John Edwards after all.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usHere are a few buzz clips if you don't have time to watch the full remarks:

Buzz Clip - 01 (2:06) "We have a responsibility to humanity."

Buzz Clip - 02 (1:38) "I love the Democratic Party, but I love my country more."

Buzz Clip - 03 (1:36) Gilding the Lily on unions

Here are the full remarks.

Video: Edwards Remarks - Part 1 (8:19)

Video: Edwards Remarks - Part 2 (7:01)

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe first part of Edwards's remarks generally deals with foreign policy these days. Ever since the UK terror plot last month, Edwards has been starting to hammer home a vitally important theme in his message.

America can demonstrate to the world that we are interested in more than just expanding our use of military power by exercising our moral leadership in the world on some of the huge issues facing the planet today.

This is the first step in reclaiming our status as a just and respected nation in the world and there are so many opportunities to lead on important issues. Opportunities that we ignore to our detriment.

Issues like:

  • Sudan - A genocide going on right in front of us and after Rwanda.
  • AIDS - For the lack of a four dollar dose a medicine a new generation of babies are born in Africa everyday with AIDS. Four dollars.
  • World Hunger - For three billion a year we could feed all the starving children in the world. That works out to 12 days in Iraq. To hell with it - you could even have Halliburton feed them with Kellog Brown and Root concessions, just feed them.
  • Human Rights Abuses - After Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib we have little credibility internationally as a defender of basic human freedoms. These freedoms are at the core of who we are as a people and we have publicly abandoned them.

How many other causes can you name that America should be leading the fight on? Twenty? Where is America?

"We are dragged kicking and screaming into doing anything."

On Iraq:

  • "I was wrong on IWR... the foundation for moral leadership is telling the truth and I have to admit my mistake."
  • We have a responsibility to the troops now serving to have an honest national dialog about Iraq and change course. "You know - this is not rocket science. What we're doing now is not working."
  • Things continue to deteriorate in Iraq despite upbeat pronouncements from the administration:
    • 6,000 Dead in May and June
    • Attacks doubled July over January
    • More roadside bombs planted in July than at any time since we've been in Iraq
  • "We have to show that we won't be there forever. The best way to show that we're leaving is to actually start leaving." Big applause line.
    • 40-50K troop withdrawal now
    • 12-18 month phased withdrawal of remaining troops

Pretty simple folks...

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Video: Buzz Clip (2:06)

The truth of the matter is that there is a lot of danger and a lot of threats in the world. There’s no question about that. The problem is this: what the United States of America is doing over the last five or six years is that we react ... there is absolutely no long-term vision about what kind of world we want to live in and what kind of world America should be leading in.

And I'll tell you something else. We have two responsibilities. One is to make sure that we act in the interests of the United States of America. We need to be strong economically and we need to be strong militarily, but we are now the pre-eminent power in the world.

But we have a second responsibility; we have a responsibility to humanity. If we don't do it then no one will. And when we don't lead which is what we've seen over the last five or six years - there’s a huge vacuum.

So by taking some of these responsibilities head on we can repair our image abroad while we renew our long standing and I think universally accepted commitment to combating hunger, disease and regimes oppressive to human rights all over the world.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usOn the Democratic Party:

Video: Buzz Clip (1:38)

Now I know that most of this room is filled with Democrats. I love the Democratic Party, but I want to say to every one of you that I love America more. And I want us all to understand... when we're working in these really important elections, I want us all to understand what's at stake because we get all wrapped up in these elections with getting people to the polls and...

That's all important, but there are only two political parties in America and for the last six years we've seen what one of them will do to us and the world. We've seen the incredible chaos and damage that can occur when they are leading. This is not just about politics, this is about the kind of America we want to live in and the kind of world that we want to live in.

On Energy:

We need to ask each other to be Patriotic about something more than war. We cannot continue to drive vehicles that get 10 miles to the gallon and think we can solve the problem. It'll never happen. We need to be honest and tell people the truth about where we're at.

Video: Edwards Remarks - Part 3 (7:42)

This clip starts with the poverty piece of the speech.

This is in my mind the greatest moral issue that faces here at home today. And it’s not all that complicated. It’s just wrong that we have so many millions of our people who are worried about being able to survive until tomorrow.

I've been traveling around a lot and there’s one thing that I am completely sure of and that this. There is a huge hunger in America, a hunger to be inspired again. People are looking for something big and important, something they can be proud of. Something that makes them proud to be Americans and proud of what we're doing together. And people want a sense of national community.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usEnding poverty in this country can be one important way to accomplish many of these goals because Edwards doesn't talk about alleviating poverty anymore. He doesn't talk about addressing poverty anymore.

Edwards talks about ending poverty in America. Ending Poverty in America.

He starts in here with his program proposals on the domestic agenda that we need to implement to achieve our goals. He always talks about unions in this part of his speech, but Monday he took an extra minute and gilded the lily for this crowd. Here’s what he said:

Video: Buzz Clip (1:36)

When politicians or people running for public office come in front of you, in front of you - I'm talking about union members here today, come in front of you to talk about union issues I want you to ask them whether they're talking about it in front of other crowds. Hold them accountable. Hold them responsible. Don't let them come and preach the gospel to you and then when they walk out of the room and forget everything they just said. They ought to be talking about this in front of every audience they speak to even if there’s not a single union member there.

But you need to hold these people accountable, hold them responsible. But make sure they aren't just talking to you about this because they ought to be out there across America talking about unions. If they're running for office here then they ought to be out talking about it all across NH.

I’ll go you one better, Senator. How about we all demand that politicians take the issue on? How about we all express real solidarity with our fellow citizens struggling to get or keep union representation all over the country? How about if we all hold them responsible and hold them accountable on this issue whether it affects us directly or not? Personally I've never been eligible to join a union, but I'm going to find out whether or not every politician I vote for in the future is a friend to organized labor or not before I cast my ballot.

Video: Edwards Remarks - Part 4 (6:34)

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThis clip starts out with one of my favorite Edwards riffs. He doesn't do his full remarks every time he speaks. Sometimes he'll go 15 minutes and other times, "when the sun is setting he'll speak long" or something like that and end at around 25 minutes. Since he’s always adding new material some of my favorite stuff gets sidelined for the quicker stumps. Labor Day he "spoke long" and added one of my favorite bits.

It’s the one entitled:

"Why I have sleepless nights worried whether Exxon is making enough money," by John Edwards.

The sub-title for the riff is:

"The budget is an moral document and the Bush budget is immoral."

It’s a good one. Enjoy it.

Manchester Grassroots (6:15)

The Democratic primary is coming up in New Hampshire on Tuesday September 12, that's next week. If you're registered D or Independent then you can vote with a Democratic ballot.

Two candidates that are running for the same district, US Congress NH-1, were at the breakfast on Monday. They are Carol Shea-Porter and Jim Craig. The winner in Tuesday's contest will take on incumbent Jeb Bradley.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI did an interview with Carol, she says that she's running a National Election in her district.

Here’s what she thinks are some important issues:

  • Iraq - Get us out now
  • Budget Deficit - Control spending and address the budget
  • A Moral Budget - Give us a plan to make sure that we don't have a "permanent under class" in this country
  • Diplomacy - Try some

Here's what Carol had to say:

You don't build friendships with people by dropping bombs on them. You build friendships with people by feeding them when they're hunger and helping them. So I think that Edwards is exactly right about how we could get our good name back internationally and at the same time take care of people in our own country.

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Jim Craig also has some excellent stuff at his website:

A great kos diary on Jim Craig can be found here: Working to turn NH Blue by dopper0189. It's written by a Craig volunteer about the time of the Lamont win.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usCarol’s supporters also spoke with me on camera. They were a very fired-up and inspirational group of good progressives. Here’s some of what they said to me:

  • Portsmouth Herald has endorsed their candidate in the race
  • We’ll win with less than 30K total spent
  • "You can't attract grassroots, the grassroots find their candidates."
  • "Substance over hype, that’s Carol."
  • "No paid employees, just us. We are the campaign - our offices are the street corners."

You can also check out Fr. Michael Kerper of Chorpus Christi Parish in Portsmouth, N.H. He's one of only two Catholic priests in America that is also a card carrying member of a union.

AFL-CIO Rally - Manchester, N.H. (8:09)

The rally before the breakfast. Meet Bob, a fellow guerrilla.

Edwards at NH AFL-CIO - Crowd (10:00)

The crowd and a couple interviews with local unions:
IBEW 2320's President and SEIU 560's table at the event. Feel better Earl. Looks like Glenn Brackett and IBEW 2320 have coined the phrase "Stop the Sale" as concerns the Verizon deal.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usBut I promised you Oreos, didn't I?

Well I saw someone named Aaron from do the Ben Cohen budget Oreo thing as street theater. He has a big rig with 50+ giant oreos and he performs the animation that you can see here: TrueMajority Oreos live in front of an audience. I saw the animation for the first time this spring, it's awesome check it out at TrueMajority if you haven't seen it.

Here it is performed live on the street by Aaron:

Cookies and Priorities - Part 1 (8:04)

Cookies and Priorities - Part 2 (3:28)

And these puppies are available to host through priorities NH. Stop by the website, you can e-mail Melissa and ask them to come to your location to do the demo.

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Upcoming Vlogs:

Deval Patrick debate highlights and rally in Worcester with Jim McGovern early next week.

Elizabeth Edwards on her book tour for Saving Graces in Boston soon-ish.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usPrevious Vlogs:

Guerrilla Vlogger: People Powered Media - Edwards, Lamont and Deval Patrick

Guerrilla Vlogger: Meet Deval Patrick

Guerrilla Vlogger: Lamont and Edwards in New Haven

Guerrilla Vlogger: Patriotism for something more than War

Guerrilla Vlogger: WakeUp Wal-Mart assignment

Guerrilla Campaign, Iowa w/YouTube video

See you out there...



Great entry . . . and a lot to take in. Thanks!

I love the comments about Iraq.

Ya know...

This is the first time I got him talking about Iraq. I really should make this a buzz clip for future blog posts. Funny how there's almost no coverage of Edwards.

A couple weeks ago he went to NH and gave these same remarks and AP made a huge deal out of it. They reported it as, "for the first time" Edwards calls for troop withdrawal, but he's been saying this most of this year. It's basically the Murtha plan that he read and adopted. very annoying - waht-r-ya-gunna-do?

Edwards isn't running in November

It would be a shame for Ewards or any non-sitting politician to steal the media's attention from the people who have their names on the ballots in November. McCain, Frist, Kerry, etc are all still in Washington. I've noticed press of Al Gore has died down a bit also.

Now would be a good time for Edwards (while the media is distracted) to solidify his releationship with the extended Netroots/grassroots workers in his home state by coming out and supporting some of our candidates. It would be a shame for him to lose part of what should be his base of support because he ignored his own back yard.

Click on the hat to see all Citizen Journalist files

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Thanks so much mbair.

Looks like I have something to do tonight while the wife studies.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.