CHARLOTTE – Karen Eusanio, a worker at GM’s Lordstown plant in Ohio, told the Democratic National Convention (DNC) yesterday, “For almost 20 years I have been a proud member of UAW Local 1112. And thanks to President Obama, I still am.”
Faced with shutdown of the plant and the permanent loss of her job, Eusanio said she asked herself, “How am I going to provide for my daughter and my two sons? How could I pay the mortgage? How was the Mahoning Valley going to survive when so many of us were out of work?”
President Obama came to the rescue, she said. “He didn’t think about the polls or the politics. He thought about the people. And because he put himself in our shoes, we are back on our feet.”
The 6,000 delegates gave her a roaring ovation. She was one of a procession of union members and leaders who came to the microphone praising Obama for fighting to save jobs or create jobs when the economy was in free fall, in grave danger of total collapse.
Video of Karen Eusanio speaking at the DNC
UAW President Bob King said that Obama “met the test of moral character … He stood with American workers, not just autoworkers but millions of workers in towns and cities across America, who, if the auto industry went under, wouldn’t be able to put food on the table,”
He contrasted Obama with Republican Mitt Romney, who, he said, spews “political venom” and wrote an infamous column in the New York Times headlined, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”
King praised autoworkers for upholding the principles of union solidarity, joining together in the fight to organize the unorganized and upholding collective bargaining rights.
He was echoing the ideas of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who earlier told the convention, “We have to rebuild the middle class together. Our economy works best when it works for everyone, not just the select few. We will have that under Barack Obama.”
Trumka said workers across the nation “deserve the right to organize and bargain collectively.” The Republican platform unveiled in Tampa openly proclaims the GOP’s intention of pushing for enactment of a national “Right to Work” (for less) union busting law. By contrast, Trumka said, the Democratic Party platform is “crystal clear” in promising to “fight to protect and strengthen this fundamental right” to organize and bargain collectively.
Trumka scorned Mitt Romney’s boast at the RNC in Tampa that he and his corporate cronies “built America without any help from the rest of us.”
Added Trumka, “Mitt Romney doesn’t know a thing about hard work and responsibility. We’re the ones who build it every single day, because it is our work that connects us.”
The nation faces a choice in November, said Trumka, between the Republicans’ “division and decline” and Obama’s vision of “unity and growth.”
Video of Richard Trumka’s speech to the DNC
Three workers, two men and a woman, came to the stage to tell the delegates that they were victims of Romney’s vicious policy of taking over factories and mills, stripping them of their assets, closing them down or exporting the jobs to lands of cheap labor.
David Foster, a leader of the United Steelworkers of America told the crowd he worked 15 years as a basic steelworker, laying brick and tapping the furnaces. “I also led the Steelworkers in the upper Midwest, including GST Steel in Kansas City, a 100-year-old company bought by Mitt Romney and his partners at Bain Capital in 1993.”
When Romney and Bain took over, Foster said, they loaded the company down with millions in debt. They used the borrowed money to pay themselves millions. Within a decade, debt was so large the company was forced into bankruptcy. “They fired 750 steelworkers while they pocketed $12 million in profits,” Foster said.
In 2001, Romney was still the CEO of Bain, Foster added. “I stood in front of hundreds of steelworkers in their 50s and 60s and retirees in their 70s and 80s and told them Romney and Bain had broken their promises. Jobs, vacations, severance, health insurance and pension benefits that were promised, they were all gone.”
He concluded, “We need leadership….We need Barack Obama.”
Photo: Eusanio speaking at DNC, via UAW Facebook page.