Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Millions of trade unionists, young people and other sectors of the population have taken to the streets in countries throughout Europe protesting austerity measures. Additional millions have been demonstrating in the ongoing worker and popular uprisings in Northern Africa and the Middle East. And the whole world is increasingly in revolt against intolerable conditions. We must resist such conditions here. Delay is our enemy - action is needed here and now! We count on our unions to act decisively and lead the fightback so desperately required.
Given the spur to get Congressional agreement by August 2 to raise the debt ceiling, substantial cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security appear certain to be enacted by that date or soon thereafter in the absence of massive and militant protest actions.
President Obama's Bi-Partisan Commission (Simpson-Bowles) decided that Draconian cuts are needed in these "entitlements," and now various schemes are proliferating calling for takeaways of one kind or another from seniors, disabled people and the population dependent on these programs for medical care. One of the politicians' favorite projected changes is increasing the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67.
The takeaways contemplated for the 54 million people on Social Security, 45 million receiving Medicare, and 53 million using Medicaid are being justified by the claim that the country is broke and we all need to share in the sacrifice to restore fiscal stability. That is a giant hoax!
Tax the corporations and the rich, close the loopholes, bring the war dollars home now, and create tens of millions of good paying jobs -- which would produce gigantic additional revenue - that is the road to ensuring the funding needed to preserve and expand our rights and gains.
The big question now is what will the labor movement do to meet this challenge confronting working people and the great majority. The choice is clear: either limit labor's protest against cuts in the social programs to pronouncements opposing them, coupled with lobbying; or combine these efforts with an all-out mobilization of the rank-and-file and our allies to prevent the cuts from being enacted.
The first option, without more, will not succeed because Democrats and Republicans alike have made clear their intention to impose the cuts, and this will not change with just a lobbying campaign. On the other hand, our labor movement has the power to turn the situation around and to stop the corporate onslaught in its tracks, by demanding "Hands Off Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid!" and organizing immediately a fightback campaign on a scope and magnitude that surpasses anything labor has done in the past several decades.
We urge the following:
· *A statement issued by the AFL-CIO, Change to Win, NEA, and other independent unions declaring their rejection of all proposals to cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security.
· *Organize a campaign to mobilize support for "No Cuts or Concessions! Tax the Corporations and the Rich!" in the streets -- where it counts the most -- and in every corner of the nation.
· *Get the wheels rolling on organizing an emergency march on Washington D.C., with the goal being to mobilize such large numbers in the capital as to preclude enactment of the cuts being demanded by the corporations, the millionaires, and billionaires and the politicians willing to do their bidding.
The growing anger and frustration expressed by so many workers makes clear that they will respond to this kind of program. All that is needed is a call to action, which must be forthcoming now by organized labor, which has the numbers and resources to make such a call a success. The task before us may appear daunting but united we can win!
[Note: Please take the attached resolution to labor organizations and let us know when, where and by whom the resolution has been adopted. Also please visit the ELN's website at www.laborfightback.org to sign on as a supporter of the Open Letter.]
Donna Dewitt, President, South Carolina AFL-CIO
Dennis Serrette, Former Education Director, Communications Workers of America
Ashaki Binta, UE Field Representative
Alan Benjamin, Executive Committee, San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Jerry Gordon, Former International Representative, United Food and Commercial