by Tim Paulson, Secretary-Treasurer
San Francisco Building & Construction Trades Council
At the California Democratic Party Convention in San Francisco last week most of the candidates for President flew into California and the Moscone Center to push their case to represent us.
The enthusiasm was riveting and the speeches were intense but the real focus of the Presidential election is still up to debate, strategy, and, essentially, the ability to win.
The easy focus, which as tradeunionists and those of us who are Democrats, is to defeat the racist anti-worker policies of Donald Trump. And we should be clear about that. Donald Trump is the real enemy of workers and is the Trojan horse of corporate interests who scheme to keep wages low, prevent workers from joining a union, and give tax breaks to the rich – not to you or me.
As chair of the labor caucus of the California Democratic Party I had the pleasure to introduce a few of candidates. The candidate who got the biggest shout out was Senator Bernie Sanders. Bernie is smart, experienced and clear. His mantra: everyone should be able to join a union, everyone should have free health care, everyone should have free public education, everyone should be allowed to vote, and we should honor the immigrants who build this country. If I could blink and he would be President I would be happy.
I also introduced Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota, the state I grew up in.Klouchar’s campaign has circled around impeachment of Trump and the shoring up of our electoral system so that all of Americans get a freedom to vote. You betcha!
Senator Kamala Harris was the first person to call and congratulate me when I was elected Executive Director of the San Francisco Labor Council 15 years ago. I will never forget that gesture. She was our District Attorney, we made a date and she picked me up and we enjoyed lunch at a hamburger joint on Potrero Hill. Kamala is one of the fiercest fighters for economic, women’s and social justice that I’ve ever met. Her skills, ambition, experience, and profession as a prosecutor embellish her ability to be a great leader. Presidential material par excellence.
Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, another New Englander, like Bernie Sanders, sets a political tone that tradesunionist cannot ignore. Health Care for All, living wages, eliminate student debt, regulate predatory banks. Jeesh, that’s called a voice at work, like being in a union. Folks went crazy after her speech on Saturday. Breath of fresh air.
Governor John Hickenlooper has done a great job turning around Colorado. But he got boo’d when, in his speech, he said that if we have “Socialism” we cannot defeat Trump.
Does anybody really know what “Socialism” is?
It’s an attack word used by big business to discredit Democrats and Union leaders. [Which means we should like it.]
It also means that we should have a system of doing business where Capitalists don’t get to call all the shots - that workers have an equal voice at work. If that is Socialism we should all be there.
Joe Biden didn’t show up in California last weekend. Who cares? Joe is the rock of civility and Democracy in America. He’s kind of like the Ivy League East Coast version of Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic Farmer Labor Senator from Minnesota.Maybe a little flawed and old school historically on some women’s issues and has some of that good old boy stuff but Joe is essentially a refreshing antidote to the crap on Pennsylvania Avenue today. He fights for workers. I take him seriously.
A shout out to a friend and underdog, California Congressman Eric Swalwell, who graciously met with the San Francisco Building Council delegates in DC last month. Eric is an up and comer on the national stage and has stuck up for us on many issues. It was good to see him in San Francisco also.
There are many more in this Presidential race and it is a circus that might quickly turn into a dinner party. One other candidate who graced San Francisco with his visit and inspiring speech was Pete Buttigieg, the LGBTQ mayor of South Bend, Indiana, the home of Notre Dame University whose trademark is the most macho football team aura of anyplace in America. He recently walked the picket line for fast food workers to get $15 per hour. Go figure. America is changing with our activism.
We are a diverse movement and nation and the 2020 election will hopefully validate that. More later.