Dear Mr. President: Now, Walk the Walk

An open letter to the President of the United States:

“Dear Mr. President:

“Your speech the other day, blasting income inequality and laying out a road map to close the gap between the rich and the rest of us, was something we’ve long waited to hear.  And we’re glad that you said you’ll make that road map a priority for your remaining years in the Oval Office.

“We’re also glad that you challenged the opposition to do something other than just keep saying ‘no’ and killing everything you send up to Capitol Hill.  ‘Show us your ideas to help the middle class,’ you said, in so many words.  We agree.  And we would add to your challenge: ‘Show us your ideas to help workers.’

“That brings us to the point of this letter.  You showed us your ideas.  We particularly like the one where you demand stronger worker rights.

“’The third part of this middle-class economics is empowering our workers,’ you said.  ‘It’s time to ensure our collective bargaining laws function as they’re supposed to, so unions have a level playing field to organize for a better deal for workers and better wages for the middle class.  It’s time to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act so that women will have more tools to fight pay discrimination.  It’s time to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act so workers can’t be fired for who they are or who they love.’

“All that is great, and we applaud you for saying it.  And you’ve said it before, for workers’ rights, for non-discrimination and for equal pay for equal work.  You’ve even asked Congress to pass all three, before.  But it’s time to do more than ask.

“It’s time to put the muscle of the presidency behind an active push to jam all three measures through Congress.  Use whatever powers of the office you have to get lawmakers to approve the Employee Free Choice Act, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and equal pay for equal work bills.

“If that means calling the Republicans in and making clear that their areas and their constituents will be disadvantaged if they don’t reconsider their irrational hatred of pro-worker, pro-equality legislation, do so.  If it means that federal contracts won’t go to firms in their districts and federal facilities will move out, say so.

“If that means pressuring the Senate to once and for all end filibusters on everything – i.e. on legislation – not just on nominations, do it.

“If it means telling the foes of workers that you will go out on the fundraising trail for their opponents, come hell or high water, no matter how ‘unwinnable’ the race may seem, tell them that – and follow through.

“In short, it is time to do something other than just verbally support the Employee Free Choice Act, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and equal pay for equal work legislation.  It is time to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

“You may not succeed.  Your polls are low and the Republicans irrationally hate you, and probably not just because you’re a Democrat.  But you won’t know if you can succeed unless you try.  So try.  Workers of America will thank you.

“Sincerely,

“U.S. workers.”

-PAI