Welcome to Spring, and the start of another election cycle.
Elections are a lot like a sports draft. We won’t really know what we’ve got until they are in the game. If a bad draft choice is made, it is an unhappy situation for the fans — but if a bad choice is made in an election, it can be devastating to our livelihood and our retirement. The freedom to determine our financial security should be foremost in our voting decisions.
As union members, we should not forget the many struggles we have had over the years, or the callousness of those that would leave us financially destitute. The outcome of these battles depended on the ferocity of working people as they defended their right to employment with dignity.
Foremost in the process, we have to know who we are putting into elected office. This applies to every elected office, from the President of the United States right down to local school board races. The battlefront is in our own neighborhood. It is imperative that we each work locally to elect quality representatives for city, county, state and federal positions. By electing those with values reflective of our own, we can make a tremendous difference in the big picture. Every election is important, but the most important decisions are made in our neighborhood.
We need to listen to the candidates. Let them tell us what they believe in, and what they intend to do politically. If they talk about providing a public service, what is their idea of a public service? This is where we have to listen carefully. Make them speak it out. Do they genuinely want to improve our lives, or is their true motive something more sinister? We may hear promises to “reduce costs,” but here’s where close listening matters most, because their plans may include doing it on the backs of workers. We must also be wary of an elected official who will talk the talk, but end up create a comfortable environment for non-elected shadow politicians to operate under the radar.
The evidence of the success of anti-worker politicians is reflected in the reduction of the financial security for all workers. Many years ago, a larger percentage of retirees had an income that met their financial needs. But today, for many reasons, the vast majority of retirees do not have true financial security. Over this same period, the incomes of working people has lagged behind inflation, while the wealth of those that hobble workers, has exploded.
Our retirement security is predicated on our income during our working years. An insufficient income will not allow us to save for our retirement. While the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ is growing wider, the true facts illustrate that sufficient wealth exists within our economy to support a living wage and a living pension for all Americans. We cannot allow wealthy elites to glutinously suck up the wealth of the middle class while screaming that a living wage ruins business and that pensions are not sustainable.
We need to pay attention and listen very carefully. If each of us concentrates on the rhetoric within our own neighborhood, we can ensure that we elect those with values similar to ours. How well we prosper throughout our life, the comfort of our retirement years, and the prosperity of our children and grandchildren, depends upon how well we listen.
–Bill Wallace, IBEW 1245 Retirees Club