By Joel Wendland
Yesterday John McCain held a town hall meeting at Worth & Co. in Bucks County, PA. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has investigated that company for intentionally refusing to pay workers the minimum wage. Pennsylvania officials say the company underpaid workers by more than $140,000. There is no doubt that McCain's actions yesterday were a deliberate statement on how he feels about working people and their rights.
Here's a brief run-down on McCain's record on working-class issues – just in case you're still in the dark:
helped block minimum wage hike in 2005
voted to filibuster minimum wage hike in 2007
compared unions to monopolies
voted to block the Employee Free Choice Act in 2007, allowing workers to form unions
opposed the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2008, which would have made it easier for women workers to sue for equal pay
McCain also failed to show up to vote last week on a measure that would have extended unemployment benefits for workers.
But McCain did pander to Big Oil on offshore drilling, and promised the most profitable companies in the country billions in new tax cuts.
By contrast, Obama backs the Fair Pay Act, for equal pay for women, would sign the Employee Free Choice Act, has proposed indexing the minimum wage to inflation, and would appoint NLRB members who would protect workers rights, wages, health and safety and so on.
John McCain favors free trade at all costs, especially to the rights of working people and the environment. He told Midwest workers that he has given up on bringing back manufacturing jobs and that more jobs would be lost under his administration.
Obama believes environmental protections and workers rights (to join unions, health and safety protections, and basic wage rights) should be central features of any international trade agreement. He voted against CAFTA and opposed the Colombia Free Trade Agreement for those reasons.
Trade is a key workers' rights issue, because if agreements prioritize trade over workers and the environment, those agreements will make it cheaper for companies to super-exploit workers and the environment in other countries, causing job losses here and the drive to bottom everywhere.
If workers are protected in all countries, however, companies have no reason to go.
On creating new jobs, McCain has offered contradictory and incoherent plans on the most important new areas staked out for job growth: green energy and green jobs.
While he is offering prizes to the biggest polluters and proposes to tie the economy forever to oil with new plans to drill offshore and in protected Arctic regions, Obama plans real investments in research and development of renewable energy alternatives, green infrastructure growth, and alternative energies.
Though John McCain has tried to lie about and hide his support for privatizing Social Security and his plans to slash Social Security and Medicare benefits, Obama opposes privatization and has offered plans to improve the financial security of the program by raising the income cap on the Social Security payroll tax to ensure that the very wealthiest Americans pay their fair share into the system.
The list on the clear and meaningful differences on working-class issues between McCain and Obama is much longer, but you get the idea.
Working people simply can't afford the risk of John McCain in the White House. In fact, we can't afford not spending every effort to work for his defeat, on ensuring an Obama victory, and on strengthening pro-worker Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress.