AFL-CIO to ask parties, candidates to endorse
‘Second Bill of Rights’
From the Minneapolis Labor Review, July 27, 2012
By Bill McCarthy, President, Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation
In a few weeks, the eyes of the nation will turn first to Tampa Bay, Florida for the Republican National Convention and next to Charlotte, North Carolina for the Democratic National Convention. As working families, we want to know what the parties and their candidates will do to boost the economy, educate our kids, make health care affordable, and protect our democracy. These issues concern everyone, Republicans, Democrats, or independents.
The national AFL-CIO will ask both major parties and their candidates to endorse what it’s calling “America’s Second Bill of Rights.”
AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka outlined the five points of this “Second Bill of Rights” in a speech July 16:
• The Right to Full Employment and a Living Wage.
All Americans willing and able to work have the right to safe, gainful employment at a fair and livable wage…
• The Right to Full Participation in the Electoral Process.
Recent initiatives to disenfranchise citizens seek to reduce the rolls of eligible voters and empower money instead of people. We believe these actions constitute an assault on our nation’s democracy and…call for reinforcing our fundamental right to vote.
• The Right to a Voice at Work.
All workers have the right of freedom of association in the workplace, including the right to collectively bargain with their employer to improve wages, benefits and working conditions.
• The Right to a Quality Education.
Education is a fundamental bedrock of our democracy… Quality, affordable education should be universally available from pre-kindergarten to college level, including an expanded use of apprenticeships and specialty skills training to prepare Americans for the workplace.
• The Right to a Secure, Healthy Future:
Americans have the right to a baseline level of health care, unemployment insurance and retirement security…
The five issues outlined in the “Second Bill of Rights” are fundamental to our lives as workers, as union members and as citizens.
These concerns are not new. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944 issued a call for an “Economic Bill of Rights” which included many of the same issues.
What is new in our civic life is the unprecedented flood of funds from corporate interests into American politics, unleashed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. All this spending helps not just candidates, but advances a right-wing agenda that seeks to take away our fundamental rights as workers and citizens.
Introducing “America’s Second Bill of Rights,” AFL-CIO president Trumka emphasized that both Democrats and Republicans will be asked to sign on as supporters. “This is our way of asking those in leadership positions: Are you with us? he said. “Our goal is to refocus the national discussion on the imbalance in our country’s national priorities.”
Candidates at all levels will be asked to sign the “Second Bill of Rights.” An accountability campaign will track who signed — and who declined — and make voters aware of the candidates’ stands.
As the Labor Review went to press, the Democratic National Committee planned to hold a public hearing on its 2012 platform in Minneapolis July 27-28. Representatives of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation will urge they include the “Second Bill of Rights” in the Democratic platform.
Read the full text of “America’s Second Bill of Rights” and join the campaign to promote it by visiting a new website, www.WorkersStandForAmerica.com.