AFL-CIO rallies Cleveland voters
On Thursday, November 2, BLE President Edward Dubroski joined AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson, USWA President George Becker, SEIU President Andrew Stern, AFSCME President Gerald McEntee, LIUNA President Terry O'Sullivan and other national and Cleveland-area union leaders for worksite appearances and a downtown rally to urge working families to get to the polls on November 7.
The labor leaders were joined by candidates both from statewide and local races in Ohio. The union leaders came to Cleveland as part of a bus tour through Ohio and Michigan, which was part of a campaign sponsored by the AFL-CIO in key Midwestern states.
More than 500 people attended the high-spirited rally, which was intended to muster support for AFL-CIO and BLE-endorsed candidates, including Al Gore and Joseph Lieberman.
Dubroski was introduced at the rally by BLE Division 3 (Cleveland) Local Chairman Mike Fitzgerald, who noted the BLE's unique position as the oldest labor organization in North America, founded in Marshall, Mich. in 1863 and headquartered in Cleveland since 1870.
After Fitzgerald's rousing introduction, Dubroski fired up the crowd by talking about what a Gore-Lieberman victory could do for the people of the United States. The focus of the rally was health care and Dubroski noted that the cost of healthcare was rising in general and specifically cited the rising cost of the BLE's healthcare.
"They say you can tell a lot about a society by how they treat their young and their old," Dubroski said. "We live in the greatest and wealthiest country in the world. And yet, despite our wealth, tens of millions of children have no health care, and many more millions of elderly Americans are forced to choose between eating well and taking their medications. Honest, decent, hard-working parents are unable to provide affordable health care for their families. So, by that standard, our society should hang its head in shame.
"In the railroad industry, the cost for our national health plan this year is right at one billion dollars... for fewer than two hundred thousand workers," he continued. "Last week, we learned that premiums are going up by almost 19% next year. Much of that is driven by prescription prices, which are rising by almost 25% a year... We need a national health plan that takes care of those children, that provides prescription benefits under Medicare for the elderly, and that makes health care affordable for working Americans."
The efforts of these leaders and other dedicated union members worked in the Cleveland area. Voters in Cuyahoga County overwhelmingly voted for the Gore-Lieberman ticket, however, George W. Bush carried Ohio's 21 Electoral College votes.
More than 500 union members and supporters crowded the downtown Cleveland Convention Center for the rally, including dozens of members from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT).
BLE President Edward Dubroski speaks about the rising cost of health care in America at an AFL-CIO "get out the vote" rally in Cleveland on November 2. Seated to the right is AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney.
BLE Division 3 (Cleveland) Local Chairman Mike Fitzgerald introduces BLE President Dubroski during the rally, flanked by AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson, left, and AFL-CIO President Sweeney.
From left: Brother Fitzgerald and BLE Special Representative John Tolman spent time working on the AFL-CIO phone bank, calling working families and encouraging them to vote on November 7.
This member of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) let the rally go to her head.
From left: BLE President Dubroski and AFL-CIO President Sweeney prepare to make their entrance into the Convention Center where the rally was held.
© 2000 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers