Rallies across country slam Big Oil, McCain

Here’s what Manny Flores, a Laborers Union member in Denver, had to say about the pain many are feeling at the gas pump.

“Two months ago, I spent $30 per week on gas for work. Now I have to pay over $60 per week. You have a choice — fill the tank, or buy milk for the kids. If I have $50, I spend $20 for gas, and the rest for bread, eggs and milk. With this economy, you can’t live on what you make.”

Flores had taken some of his free time to join fellow union and community members at a Denver rally protesting skyrocketing gas prices and John McCain’s support for Big Oil.

It was one of a series of actions around the country organized by state and local labor federations and labor-affiliated Working America. The AFL-CIO’s blog reports the events and the voices of workers experiencing a profound upheaval in their everyday lives, as they watch gas prices and oil company profits soar. They are angered by the corporate-friendly policies of candidates like McCain.

In Hermitage, Pa., along the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, United Steelworkers Local 1660 President Mike Munger said his members, who work at Wheatland Tube Co., are making personal sacrifices in order to afford to go to work.

“These people are sometimes working six days a week and traveling 60 or 70 miles round trip each day,” he said. “That’s putting a huge dent into people’s gas budget.”

In Indiana, at a June 10 rally on the state Capitol steps in Indianapolis to protest McCain’s proposals for tax breaks for oil corporations and Gov. Mitch Daniels’ increase in the gasoline sales tax, Nancy Holle, from Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU) Local 1, said:

“My son is looking for work and can’t afford to drive to and from employers to drop off his resume. He has to decide which bills to not pay this month because gas has become such an expense.”

In Louisville, Ky., 30 union members held a one-hour protest outside a local gas station, June 11. Holding signs reading “Bush & McCain Love Big Oil,” they drew honks of support from passing drivers. Donnie Colston, AFL-CIO state field director, blamed Bush and McCain policies for “driving up the price of gas for normal consumers,” the Courier-Journal reported.

In Boston, activists from the Greater Boston Labor Council and the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice met McCain’s bus as he was holding a private fundraiser at the posh Westin Copley Place hotel. Labor Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Rich Rogers said the message was: “No more tax breaks for Big Oil and the wealthy. It’s time to turn around America.”

suewebb@pww.org